My story begins September 19, 2017. It was a Tuesday and had almost been a week since my breast biopsy and lymph node aspiration. I’d anxiously waited for the call at work to confirm that all was okay and that there was nothing to worry about. That call never came. Instead, I heard the words I’d never imagine hearing. “I’m sorry, Mona Lisa,” began the doctor, “it wasn’t the news we were expecting. You have cancer.” The rest of the conversation is a blur. I remember hearing words like “nurse navigator,” “surgeon”, “cancer” and then silence. Time stood still. It was as if I was watching my body go through the motions of texting my sisters and calling my husband at work and telling them “I have cancer.”
Then tears and more tears...and more tears.
Slowly I stood on weak legs and walked down the hall to my boss, sat in a chair, and in shock said “I have cancer.” We hugged. She told me to go home and assured me we would beat this.
I went back to my office and within minutes saw my husband standing in front of me and saying “Mona, I’m here. We are going to beat this.” I held on to him as if the floor itself was trying to pull me into it. It was as if death found the password to my life and nothing would ever be the same. As I left the office, I looked at everything as if it was my last time seeing it the way I did. My car felt different. The house my husband and I saved five years for and purchased a month earlier looked different. I thought about my marriage and the time we wasted thinking we had forever. I thought of our first dance as husband and wife. Who knew that our song, “Spend my life with you” would be so appropriate seven years later? I thought about my five year old daughter, Mia, and lost my breath imagining leaving her and her growing up not having her mother. I thought about life and how fleeting it was. I held my daughter that night and vowed to her I would fight. I didn’t know how, but I was going to figure it out. As my husband held me close we slept knowing the next day would begin a journey into the unknown; but one we, as a family, would take.
My primary care physician called an urgent meeting with my husband and I two days later and by the weekend, we had a game plan : "Lose the emotion and demystify cancer". My doctor knew that the only way he could get me on the offense of this disease was to challenge me to research and learn as much as I could. In the meantime, I went straight vegan and pressed in to my relationship with God deeper than I'd ever done.
God led me to receive my treatment at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer with Malignant Neoplasm and Lymph Node Involvement. My treatment started in October, a day after my daughter got her tonsils out. This journey gave me new eyes, a new outlook on life, and increased my faith. I even started a Facebook Live post to demystify cancer called “Cancer Quest”. As I learned, I felt compelled to teach others. Throughout the tests, imaging, procedures, and therapies, I’d constantly ran into my spiritual brothers and sisters who would strengthen me with prayer and scriptures. My Oncology Team consisted of believers including an ordained minister. Chemo was literally beating me up and I was hitting back like a girl. One day, my sister, Priscillia, told me about this organization called Claudette’s Kids and how they wanted to bless me with a scholarship. I was overjoyed as the scholarship would help me to purchase some much needed over the counter medication I didn’t have the funds for as well as some organic grocery.
After over five months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, I was declared “Cancer Free”! I’m now on my next phase of recovering from surgery, radiation treatments, hormone therapy and will complete the journey with reconstruction sometime in 2019.
I’m grateful for the support of your organization and all of the prayers and support I continue to receive.
This is my story but I give God the glory for what He has done and what He will do.
Mona L. Watson