MY JOURNEY TO SURVIVAL I’m still Standing…… I dedicate this journey of survival to the woman who exemplified survival every day of her life, my mother, Edyth Lorraine Jefferson Myles Henderson. My mother was an extraordinary woman. I am so blessed and honored to have received her strength, grace, courage, integrity, determination, strong will and most of all her unconditional love. She was and always will be a phenomenal woman. Rest in peace Mommy. I love you more………- My journey to survival began on May 26, 2017 when I had my annual mammogram. It revealed “questionable findings” which led to a second mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy on June 21, 2017. The results of the biopsy were revealed on June 23, 2017, I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. It was in my left breast and lymph nodes. Needless to say, this was unexpected news that left me shocked, stunned and amazed. I had normal mammograms for years then bam out of the blue this diagnosis. In hindsight, it wasn’t out of the blue. It was an assignment that God chose me for. Clearly, I had some spiritual muscle to build. I was at work meeting with my staff when I got the news. After receiving the news, I called Al to let him know the results of my biopsy. How do you tell your husband that you have breast cancer? As with me, this was unexpected news for him as well. He needed time to process. In true Robin fashion, I sucked it up for the time being, concluded business with my staff, returned home, took a conference call and then began to process the news I had just received from my doctor. I didn’t cry, although I did get emotional, I was still trying to digest what I had just been told. Me, breast cancer. Why? That was the million-dollar question. And thus, the journey began. At that very moment, I so missed my mother and would have given anything to lay my head in her lap, cry and be comforted by her gentle touch and soothing voice telling me everything was going to be alright. Mommy’s here. Well, that was not going to happen so I had no choice but to draw from the love, strength, and perseverance that I carry every day in my spirit to be the substitute for her physical presence. When you face an unexpected challenge such as this it really validates what you are made of. I like to think of myself as a woman of strong faith and people have told me that I am such a woman. Well now is where the rubber meets the road. In such a time as this God chose me to carry out this assignment and I am committed to being the messenger to share this journey with other women in an effort to positively touch their lives, show them that survival is most definitely an option, give them hope and most importantly demonstrate thru action, that we serve a mighty and amazing God. The first visit with the surgical oncologist post diagnosis was an interesting one. As Al and I sat in a conference room, Dr. Tolnich explained the results of the biopsy and my treatment options. I began to zone out as I embarked on a trip to Planet Zutar (a fictional but nice place). I saw her lips moving and I heard what she said, yet I continued to hang out on Planet Zutar. The good news is despite my incoherent appearance I took in everything she said. At one point, as nicely as she could, (Dr. Tolnich must have noticed my absence) and asked me if I understood what she was saying! A CAT scan determined the cancer was confined to my breast and lymph nodes and had not spread anywhere in my body, my surgery was set for July 11, 2017. I would have a Lumpectomy and the cancerous lymph nodes removed. As the cobwebs of the news I had been given began to clear, “Team Robin” emerged. First and foremost, God is at the helm along with my beloved Mother Edyth by his side and in my spirit. My wonderful husband Al, an awesome man of God, and my soulmate, was the Captain of Team Robin! My handsome and highly intelligent son Cameron, Co-Captain, my childhood and lifelong friend Lori, Head Cheerleader and my friend Kelli who I truly believe is my sister from another mother, the HNIC. (It should be noted that Kelli is Caucasian! -) The foundation of my team is built on faith and prayer warriors. The sisters that I shared this with had mobilized. Paula, an 18-year survivor, Mikki, a 10-year survivor, Raquel a God-fearing woman, Vanessa, one of the most anointed women I know, Georgia, a treasured friend and God-fearing woman, and my Auntie Ida who also had a lumpectomy and is a 7-year survivor. They were the “Executive Team”. “Senior Management” consisted of my brothers Lloyd and Daryl, Luiza, Melanie, David and Meemie, who is a dear friend, Chaplain and prayer warrior. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my RNCC church home family. The support was started with a truly anointed man of God, Elder James Freeman and his wife Stephanie. I have had the support, prayer and love from the parking ministry, led by Darryl Wiggins, his beautiful wife Denise, Reggie Basden, head of the Men’s Ministry and his beautiful wife Carol, deacons and their wives. It should be noted that Reggie has been a rock for my husband along with the parking ministry in ensuring that he was lifted up and supported as well. This challenge impacts the whole family. I made a conscious decision to limit the number of people at work I disclosed to, but those who knew and are counted among Team Robin are: my CEO, Dr. Peggy Terhune, my supervisor Chris Thompson, three of my direct reports, Natasha Suber and another anointed man of God, Reverend Ben Marsh. Talk about stepping up. The support from all has been phenomenal and positively overwhelming. You may wonder, what about my father? Well, our journey has not been a smooth one since the homegoing of my beloved Mother on 2-14-13, but I know he supports me and loves me and has made it clear that whatever I need he is there and willing to meet that need. The rest I leave in God’s hands. When challenges present in life God has a way of showing up and revealing things to you in his way and his time. In this case the time frame was 35 years. This is the amount of time I have been in a relationship with Al, married, 28. My mother-in-law is also a survivor and upon hearing the news was not immediately able to reach out as her mother died of breast cancer and her sister also died of cancer. She was taken aback by the news. However, once composed, Bernice made it clear that her prayers were with me as well as her support. I have spoken to Bernice more since the start of my journey than I have in 35 years. How amazing it is how God brings people together. Now, let’s take a step back so I can provide the framework of the other things that were going on in my life as my journey began. With me things are never simple or cut and dry. I go big or go home and this was no different. Professionally, I had been carrying a professional cross since November of 2016. There have been many changes and challenges that I had difficulty understanding and embracing. My emotions were all over the place, my stress level was high and I just wasn’t “smelling what the Rock was cooking”. It took this physical challenge to show me once again, that God is in charge and as the Lord’s Prayer clearly states, “Thy will be done”. It doesn’t say, “Robin’s will be done”. I was headed to BJ’s on June 30, 2017 to do the grocery shopping when I had an “ah ha moment” also known as a revelation. The changes and challenges at work were not designed by happenstance, but instead orchestrated by God. You see, I had so much responsibility on my plate that if God hadn’t removed some of it I would not have the capacity to handle the assignment he placed before me. Well I’ll be damned, God has a plan and if we just stop resisting and trying to do things ourselves he will present that plan and the blessing that goes along with it. I began to let go of the hurt, anger, disappointment and everything else and embrace my new role. I remained employed and there had been no reduction in my pay. What a blessing! Personally, we were in the midst of moving. We sold our house in 1-day for a full price offer and was now in the midst of packing and finding out new home. Now anyone who has ever moved will likely tell you there is a level of stress and trauma, yes, trauma that goes along with it. I am no different. So, we’ve sold our home, found and bought a new one and knee deep in packing up and purging ten years of ‘stuff’. Oh joy! That being said, this diagnosis didn’t exactly happen at a calm moment in my life. But again, as I have previously stated, it’s not my will but ‘Thy will’ be done. We’ve all heard the saying that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. My retort is always, “Dude, how much do you think my shoulders can bear? This load is heavy”. I’m sure God just chuckles and heaps it on until he feels I’ve reached max. One day, hopefully in the very distant future we can sit down and discuss this. – A few of the powerful lessons I am learning from this challenge are: (1) to learn how to accept and receive the help that Team Robin and others are offering me. It is intrinsic for me to nurture and readily give, love, mentor, guide and counsel others. I have been blessed to touch many lives during my adult years and I must be open to the reciprocation of all that I have given. I must let others show me that same love, help, mentorship and guidance in my time of need and (2) learning how to ask for help. It is also intrinsic for me to be wonder woman and very independent. I’ve got to hang up my cape and let others demonstrate that they are there for me. It is a blessing for them and for me. I have been truly humbled and positively overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, prayer and support I have received from Team Robin and others. Ready, Set, Go! Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. I’d been saying I want to get the party started and well, it officially started. I had my lumpectomy on July 11th. The good news is that the drugs they gave me in the hospital were absolutely fantastic! I didn’t see, feel, or hear anything until the nurse in recovery was bringing me out of my euphoric state of drugged bliss. Al shared that he watched the nurse anesthetist give me a shot in my IV and within 30 seconds my eyes rolled around in the back of my head and I went ‘fade to black’. He said he told me he loved me as they were wheeling me to the OR and apparently, I was coherent enough to respond in kind. Needless to say, I don’t recall any of that exchange. I came thru surgery like a champ. My surgeon went in and took everything out. Now the first stage of healing would begin. I was given my post op instructions and off to the hizzy I went. Upon my arrival, I was still enthralled in that wonderful feeling of the “top shelf” (their words not mine) drugs I received at the hospital and continued on in my euphoric state with a much-needed slumber. When I awakened I told Al I had something very important for him to do……go get me some more “top shelf” drugs from the pharmacy which he did. By now I was not feeling a lot of pain, just some discomfort. For that I was grateful. It’s important to know that the past 20+ years of my career I have worked in the field of behavioral health and substance use. So, I am acutely aware of “top shelf” drugs, their propensity for addiction and if I were inclined my ability to sell them for a slight profit. After all we are moving so every little bit helps. I say all this to say that while being a martyr was not my intention nor on my agenda, I was apprehensive about taking these drugs for any prolonged period of time. Fortunately, my pain threshold was very low and Tylenol did the trick. I did take the medication at night. Didn’t want to wake up in pain and wanted to guarantee a restful sleep. After all, top shelf drugs ought to be good for something right? Emotionally, I was in a pretty good place. I was encircled by Team Robin via phone, text and visits. It’s truly a blessing to be surrounded in prayer and love. God is amazing and he manifests it daily in so many ways. It was 24 hours before I was able to shower and when I did I was afraid of what physical changes I would see as a result of my surgery. So, with the help of my team captain, we undid the surgical bra to find that the physical changes were minute as a result of the skilled hands of my surgeon, guided by God and her training. What a relief that was for me. Next came the news from my surgeon. The pathology report was back within 24hours and the news was I would need chemotherapy and radiation. My surgeon had removed a 3.6cm tumor from my left breast and 12 lymph nodes, 5 of which were cancerous. In order to ensure that there was nothing else, cell wise, in my body that shouldn’t be there this was the course of treatment I had to endure. My surgeon told me I was a warrior and we would get thru this. My prognosis was good. This would be the second person to use the word warrior to describe me. Hmm……. Throughout this process I can’t help but continue to mention how God has made his presence known in so many different ways and through so many people. I was at my desk working (yes, I went back to work, from home, the day after surgery) when I got an email from a minister friend of mine, Reverend Ben Marsh. He said he spoke with a woman that day whose voice sounded just like mine and at that moment, he was immediately led to pray for me. All I could say was wow! Chills went thru my body. I immediately emailed him back and shared my diagnosis and surgery. He told me his mother in law had cancer and she beat it, and I would as well because I was a warrior. (There’s that word again.) Without hesitation, he accepted my invitation to be on Team Robin and vowed to continue the prayers. If that isn’t an awesome and amazing display of God, I don’t know what is. Next was my post op appointment with the surgeon and the medical oncologist. We would map out the chemo and radiation process. Both Dr.’s Tolnich (my surgeon) and Spiritos (my medical oncologist who by the way is the Chief Medical Officer) concurred that my healing process from the surgery was going well. My next reality check came on July 19th when I met with Dr. Spiritos to discuss the details of my treatment. The plan was mapped out. I would need 3-6 cycles of chemo (I have subsequently learned that the new word for chemo is infusion) with radiation to follow. It would be determined after I got started how many infusions would be required. August 10th would be my first treatment and subsequent treatments would be every 3 weeks. Then came the “real’ part, all of the potential side effects I could experience. At that point, I began to float back and forth between planet Zutar and the doctor’s office. Two things in particular caught my attention during my float in the doctor’s office, both deeply rooted in vanity. The loss of my hair and discoloration of my beautiful and well-manicured nails. At that point, I immediately returned to Planet Zutar. In a subsequent conversation I had with Reverend Marsh he shared with me that the hair loss was God’s way of stripping away the vanity and replacing it with a blessing. I needed a minute to receive that. On August 4th, the preparation for my first treatment began and I spent the day with my Co-Captain Cameron by my side getting my port placed, having a 2nd CAT scan and a bone scan. Long day but successful. Results from both scans indicated that there was no evidence of the cancer had spread to other parts of my body. To God be the glory. I was prepped and ready for my first treatment on August 10th. Let’s talk about my Co-Captain Cameron and the most anointed woman I know, Vanessa. My initial thought when I learned of my diagnosis was to delay informing my 22-year old son. He was in Columbus, Ohio preparing to return home on July 31st for a couple of weeks, (he graduated in May from The Ohio State University) before heading to DC to continue his graduate and doctorate education at Howard University. I said, “I’ll tell him when he gets home, after I’ve had the surgery and know what the next treatment steps are”. Truth be told that plan was more about me than him. I rationalized it by reflecting on when I had to inform him, via skype that his cherished and beloved grand mommy had consented to be Jesus’ valentine on February 14, 2013. That was the hardest thing as a parent that I have ever had to do. I watched my son crumble after hearing the news and I couldn’t touch him, hold him or personally comfort him. As of this writing my heart still hasn’t fully healed from that gut wrenching experience. When I shared this thought with Vanessa she immediately read me from cover to cover as only she, and very few others I allow to do this can, and I take it! She told me that I wasn’t giving Cameron enough credit and that I would be taking away his right to support me and deal with this real-life experience that would only serve him well in the future. While Vanessa could empathize with my rationale she made it clear that it was selfish, it wasn’t about me, and it was about Cameron. Well, my final answer was that I would take it under advisement. Once again, God stepped in and paved the way for his will to be done, which happened to coincide with Vanessa’s advice. Cameron called me on a Friday afternoon which in and of itself wasn’t unusual but what was different about this call was it was a video call which we typically didn’t do. I heard God’s message loud and clear and I proceeded to tell my son of my physical challenge. Needless to say, he took it in like an adult and began to process it. I told him in no uncertain terms that mommy was going to be fine. When I informed Vanessa of this development she just chuckled and didn’t hesitate to say, “I told you so”. Chemo: Round 1 So here we are, August 10th my first chemo (infusion) treatment. I was a bit nervous, anxious and very cognizant that I was entering into unchartered territory. I arrived with God, my Team Robin Captain and Co-Captain by my side to start this phase of my journey. Dr. Spiritos and the team met with us and gave a brief explanation of the events to take place and off I went to the infusion area. We all settled in for what would be my longest treatment because things had to be “tweaked” based on how I would tolerate the drugs that were being introduced to my body temple. Well the first treatment went well? Let’s just say after a few tweaks, and several hours it was all over. I felt OK leaving and had made an appointment for my next treatment which was late August. The next few days were sort of the “honeymoon” period. Chemo is different for everyone so I didn’t know how soon and at what intensity I would begin to feel the side effects. The next two days I went about my activities as I normally would. On Sunday, the 3rd day after my chemo was when things started to get hinky, translation……. real. I was feeling fatigued, tired, and just plain worn out. I communicated this to my Oncologist and he said this was normal. That quickly changed. The fatigue increased and my ability to ambulate effectively started to become an issue. I had to have assistance getting up, going to the bathroom, and with other things that I previously completed without blinking an eye. On August 23rd, Al could no longer watch what was happening and felt strongly that what I was experiencing was not “normal”. He called my Oncologist and I was given an appointment to come in the next day. The Hospitalization – Part 1……Duke Raleigh On August 24th, I was admitted to Duke Raleigh Hospital as what I was experiencing had surpassed “normal” and further testing needed to be done. Those tests had quite a story to tell. They revealed that I had developed staph bacteremia after the first cycle of chemo, complicated by septic emboli in the lungs, port infection, right knee septic arthritis as well as discitis. I had the port removed and required multiple drainage procedures and surgery to my right knee. During my stay at Duke Raleigh I changed units several times. I went from a ‘regular’ bed to ICU to step down, back to ICU and finally back to a ‘regular’ bed. I also had 2 MRI’s, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone, CAT scans, constant blood draws and I remained on IV antibiotics during my entire stay. Based on blood culture results the goal was to get the strongest antibiotic that would eliminate my multiple infections. I was monitored for so many things that I’d never experienced. For example, my blood sugar was out of whack, I had daily sticks and insulin shots, my heart rate was high and I had to take medication for that, and I got shots in my stomach to avoid clotting. I was for the most part bed bound and it seemed like it would never end. I used a bed pan to relieve myself as I was unable to make it to the bathroom. There was a moment in time when I thought I was going to be with my mother. The pain, the hospitalization, the constant tests, sticks, being bed bound began to weigh heavily on me. It took all I had left in me to lean not unto my own understanding but to focus on the fact that God chose me for such a time as this to be a constant source of hope, to witness first hand how mighty he is and to have faith that he would bring me through. Yea though I ‘walked’ thru the valley of the shadow of death, I feared no evil because God was with me walking me thru. Clearly God was not finished with me yet and there was an assignment that he had for me to fulfill in the kingdom. I was given PT and OT to address the infection in my knee, however it was so painful for me to just stand up I would often be on the verge of tears when my therapist asked me to do so. That being said, I am a fighter and most times I pushed thru, got up, took some steps and worked on my upper body strength. I was determined. My hospital stay at Duke Raleigh lasted until September 13th when I was finally discharged to Wake Med Rehabilitation Hospital for the next phase of my journey. The Hospitalization – Part 2………… Wake Med Rehabilitation On the afternoon of September 13th, I experienced the outside. I hadn’t been outdoors since my admission to Duke Raleigh on August 24th. I was transported to Wake Med Rehabilitation Hospital, a journey my beloved mother traveled post stroke. It is no coincidence the similarities in our journey’s. Hers was due to stroke, mine, breast cancer and an infected port. I was swathed in the sunshine and warmth as the transportation drivers wheeled me to a waiting ambulance. I simply took in the fresh air and the activity around me. It was as if I were experiencing the outside for the first time. I arrived at Wake Med Rehab and was greeted by a caring staff and transferred to yet another bed. This is where the hard work would begin. My number one goal was to walk out of the hospital. Fortunately, on the day of my arrival the staff goal was simply to get me settled in, as the next day the work would begin. On day 2 at Wake Med Rehab Hospital I was given my daily schedule. I had PT/OT for 3 hours a day. That was a bit daunting at first. I had no idea what to expect and the only thing that resonated with me was that I needed to get my knee better so I could walk. Maureen and Lindsey would be my primary PT and OT caregivers during my stay. I started off really sluggish as I was not accustomed to this level of activity on a daily basis. I would soon have another “ah ha moment”. Since January I had been going to the gym at least 3x per week and that conditioning would prove to serve me well during my rehabilitation. At first it was a struggle because I had to fight thru pain, the urge to just stay in the bed as I had at Duke Raleigh, and the simple challenge to do what it took to get better. Once again, God showed up and showed out. He placed Maureen and Lindsey in my life for a reason and as such the bond began and the work intensified. One of my early and fond memories was when Lindsey asked me if I wanted to take a shower. You would have thought I’d won the lottery! I was ecstatic. It felt so good to have a hot shower. Since my energy level was not at an optimal level yet, the process of a shower and getting dressed wore me out. Still I had a smile on my face because I felt good! Every day my strength and commitment to hard work increased in tandem with my goal of walking out of the hospital without assistance. I didn’t mind because I was on a mission and I had the right people on my team pushing me to and sometimes beyond my limits. The prayers and support of Team Robin were felt and gave me the energy and courage to persevere. As I continued my journey I met some outstanding care givers who became my biggest fans. They cheered for me on daily basis and were a constant source of encouragement. On the morning of October 11th, after 4 weeks of therapy, the discharge orders and necessary prescriptions were written, and I was packing to finally go home! I woke that morning with a song by Marvin Sapp on my heart. The song was “My Testimony”. “Somehow, I made it, I made it through, despite all the storms, I never lost faith in you”. It goes on to say in spite of calamity, he still has a plan for me……… What a feeling to clearly see what he brought me through. I was so grateful to soon be reunited with my family in our new home. Home………Reunited and it Felt Good! What a feeling it was to walk in the front door of a new home that I had spent less than a month in prior to my hospitalization. So glad I made it. (Thanks Marvin Sapp for your inspiration) I missed my Dooney (that’s my 4-legged son). When I called out to him, he looked at me kind of strange. When we last saw each other I was Mommy, normal. When I came back I was still Mommy, minus my hair and moving a little slower. It took him a little time to understand that it was still me. Animals are so astute, especially my Dooney. It didn’t take long before he was purring and loving on me. To go to sleep in my bed, to eat good food, to say goodnight in person to my husband and son was amazing. I watched their anxiety level drop significantly. I recall talking with Cameron one day and I asked him how he was doing. He paused and my 22 yea-old said, “I want my Mommy to come home”. If that wasn’t inspiration I don’t know what is. Mom was finally home. The house was now complete. We were a family united in the same place under the same roof. God is good. In-Home……. Nursing and Physical Therapy…………. On October12th the next phase of my journey began. I was assessed by the in-home nurse and told that my PT treatments would begin on October 14th. I came home from the hospital with a pic line which was the entry way for my continued antibiotic, Ancef, which was to be administered three times per day. Al was trained in the hospital prior to my discharge and we trained Cameron. For the next 18 days post discharge, morning, midday and night I got Ancef faithfully and lovingly administered by Al and Cameron. The plan was the nurse would come weekly to change the dressing on my pic line and draw blood. PT would be three days per week for the first two weeks, then two days a week for two weeks, with a transition to outpatient PT after that. Once again, a shower was a luxury that required planning. I could not get the pic line wet so my arm had to be wrapped in saran wrap, a garbage bag and more saran wrap in preparation for the event. I had follow-up appointments with my Oncologist, Infectious Disease and Orthopedic docs. The Oncologist and I agreed that Chemo and Robin would no longer be in the same sentence. I had been thru enough. I was ready to be released from FMLA. That chapter was done and Momma needed a paycheck. The next step was radiation and continued medication for the next 5 years. I was cleared to return to work and did so on October 30th. The Infectious Disease doc gave me wonderful news. My blood work was within normal limits and the pic line would be pulled on October 28th. I had another benchmark to look forward to. The Orthopedic doc also gave me good news. He said there was no infection in my knee, gave me a cortisone shot and a follow-up appointment in 6 weeks. The healing process continued unthwarted. God is good. On the morning of October 28th nurse came and pulled my pic line. I was finally free from all contraptions attached to or in my body! This milestone paved the way for my return to the House of the Lord on November 5th. I was so grateful to get a word in the House of the Lord. My return was met with smiles, hugs, warm wishes and most of all the love of God’s people. It was amazing. It was really good to be home. Radiation……. The Glow of Love……. On October 23rd the next phase of my journey began. I went for my consultation with the radiology physician. Al and Cameron were in tow and we all got the story first hand. I would have radiation daily for 5 weeks with a sixth week of targeted radiation referred to as a boost. I guess the good news is that unlike my first visit with my breast surgeon I didn’t go running for Planet Zutar and completely zone out. I was much more coherent but still needing to pause and take it all in. On October 25th the party preparations began. I went for what they call radiation simulation. This is where they draw all over you (I looked like a treasure map) and take x-rays to be used for developing a computer model/simulation of what my treatments would look like. On November 8th I received my first radiation treatment. Life was getting real interesting……radiation daily, PT three times a week, and I had returned to work as well as my non-paying job. (laundry, house cleaning, groceries). Now that being said, all in moderation. I am continuing to keep the need to slow down and listen to my body in the forefront of my thoughts every day. I am progressing through the radiation and seem to be tolerating it pretty well. I have “sunburn”/skin discoloration under my arms, some swelling, and moderate fatigue. I push thru what I can push thru and then I go lay down when I’m tired. On December 4th I went for a new set of mapping for the final phase, the boost portion of my radiation. Oh boy, another road map. The good news is my knee is improving. I’ve had to learn a bit of patience with it as it is not improving fast enough for me. I’ve got to pump my brakes and continue to support the healing process as it unfolds vs. how I would like it to unfold. I saw my surgeon on November 27th. She admired her handy work and said she’d see me in 6 months for a baseline mammogram and another look at things post radiation. I saw my Orthopedist on November 30th and he was liking the way my knee looked. He reiterated that there was no infection and noted there might be some cartilage damage that was not visible on the x-ray. This could be related to why it is taking longer for the swelling to do down. (See that’s was why I was inpatient!) Thanksgiving Interlude……. I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with the Captain and Co-Captain of Team Robin. There was so much to be thankful for and we were all extremely grateful for God’s mercy, grace, unconditional love and healing. It was a day full of Thanksgiving, peace and love. We ate well and positioned ourselves on the couch for football! I stayed in my PJ’s all day. Um boy. Radiation……. The Glow of Love Finale ……. As I continue radiation the side effects become more pronounced. My energy level drops fairly quickly. The cosmetic side effects have also made themselves well known. I have skin tears which require a different medication, I’m still using the moisturizer on a daily basis for the sunburn, I have what the nurse calls “electrical pulses” in my breast and of course the infamous hot flashes! My back talks to me a at least 3 different languages due to laying on that hard table for the past six weeks and also muscle aches. Some parts of me look like I went the full 15 rounds and all I have to show for it are the bruises. Now all of that may indicate that I need some cheese with that whine but no…………..maybe just a little. – I can now see the mountaintop, the end of the tunnel, completion. These last couple of weeks have been particularly draining. Partially because of the process but also because I have not been consistent in balancing everything. It’s hard for this little red corvette to slow down. It’s in my DNA to keep it moving. I’m a work in progress. I will be so glad to put this part of my journey behind me so that the healing process can resume uninterrupted. I’m looking forward to removing the daily trip to Duke Raleigh Hospital from my schedule. On December 20th, I had my last radiation treatment. I got a cute certificate that was signed by the staff. It made me emotional. I walked out the doors of radiation to the rain. God was crying tears of joy on my behalf. I sat in my car and joined him. I just cried. So glad I made it, I made it through. I felt a sense of lightness. “In spite of calamity, he still has a plan for me and it’s working for my good and building my testimony. I made it through, I didn’t lose.” Thank you, Marvin Sapp. I will also conclude PT on December 29th. My plan is to return to the gym in the New Year to strengthen my muscles and rebuild my healing body. Throughout this process I continue to be grateful for the ongoing support, love and prayers from members of Team Robin. I am also creating a stronger relationship with God built on an even stronger faith. If it had not been for the Lord on my side…………Amen. I have follow-up appointments with my radiology and oncology physicians in January. After that follow-up will likely be quarterly. I will remain on one medication for the next 5 years. I can live with that. 2018 The Year of Open Doors…………… Dr. Jeffrey Chapman, Sr. , my pastor, has decreed that 2018 is the year of open doors. For me, the first door will lead to a healthy and fully restored Robin who will share, as the Lord leads me, my testimony. In Jesus name, Amen.