I've learned that life is a journey: there are times we coast, ride, push, pull and fight.
My fight started in June 2016 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer; to be specific: infiltrating ductal carcinoma, Nottingham histologic Grade 3, Negative 3, Stage 3 known as triple negative breast cancer in my left breast.
I'm a native of the Bahamas who moved to Columbus from New York in 2015. I became an Athletic Coach at Uncommon Athlete in Uptown, Columbus. In late December, I felt a little lump in my left breast, the size of a pea, but thought nothing of it. I checked it again in March and it seemed bigger. So, I started asking people about it. My sister Samantha said “it’s probably nothing. You're drinking coffee now so that may be causing it." She said it's probably just a cyst, coffee lump or fat deposit. But my chiropractor friend and her mother agreed that I needed to get it checked right away.
Unfortunately, I had no health insurance: I had just left my job and moved here and didn't think to look into insurance right away. My best friend Bridget made the call to the West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition, who set up the initial screening appointment and helped me through the process of getting insured so that I could be treated.
So, in June 2016, I walked into the doctors’ office alone; because this wasn't the news I thought I would hear. Me? Breast Cancer? Are you sure? Just utter disbelief, numbness and then tears.
To fight cancer, you need support. My best friend has been my Rock of Gibraltar. Then there’s my sister and her husband, my Uncommon Athlete Family, my Bridge Church family, the West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition and the team at John B. Amos Cancer Center. But most of all, my faith. I'm in good hands, the Lord’s hands. He gives me the strength and courage to stand up to cancer in a very brave and amazing way. I am even surprised at what I can do. I went to the gym the next day after chemotherapy, and everyday during radiation (chemo was harder).
For those new to this journey, DO NOT go it alone: accept support, have someone with you at appointments. Cancer and the treatment are like your thumbprint, unique to you. We may have similar symptoms, but you have to customize it for you. Getting healthy is most important in your new normal. Listen to your body; however, if you feel like going for a walk, a jog, to the gym, do it. It will be a challenge, but if you can start it, take it slow and easy and be careful, but just do it. You will feel better for it.
Also, listen to your medical team advice; keep a journal to help you remember what you want to ask the doctors or others on your team or even family/caretaker. If you want to cry, let it out, but do not take this journey alone. Faith, family and friends will make it so much easier; believe and know this too shall pass and you will win.
I hope that sharing my health challenge will inspire, empower and motivate others on the journey of life: to invest in their health, get moving, get tested, get screened, eat healthy, exercise and have hope, faith and know that NOTHING is Impossible when YOU Believe!
Nicole Monique Adderley is a Fitness and Personal Lifestyle Development Coach, a Massage Therapist and a Breast Cancer Advocate. She is the Chief Empowerment Officer of “fifty, fabulous and fit,” a health lifestyle program for women (and men) over 50. She is a certified personal trainer.
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