I feel alive and grateful for what I have today...Save as Favorite
- I was Diagnosed with:
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
- Date of Diagnosis:
- December 12, 2003
- Employment Status:
- Type and Description of Treatments:
- I had a lumpectomy with removal of 17 lymph nodes, followed by 4 months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.
- How do you feel today?
I feel alive and grateful for what I have today. I never thought the pain in all my joints and despair would go away but I am happy to say I feel good again and it is great to be alive!
- Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I married the man of my dreams Gregory who is also a cancer survivor (testicular). I am a realtor and the market has slowed down so I re-invented myself and took my design of my unique headscarf I wore while going through chemo and filed for trademark of ABonita Scarf and filed for two patents and now manufacture them and sell them to boutiques all over the world.
- What is going well for you right now?
I am busy getting my ABonita Scarf out to the public so others going through hair loss can enjoy the comfort and stylish solution to their hair loss. I am now in over 180 stores nationwide. I also am still doing real estate. Things are picking up! I am happy and in love and just got married Feb 21, 2009! My health is good, I am cancer free over 5 years now!
- What is not going well for you right now?
My right arm (the side of my lumpectomy and lymph node removal) is always in pain but I deal with it without taking pain meds.
- What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
My hair loss and the pain I went through. My nerves hurt, my bones hurt, I felt 90 years old and thought with the pain I was having I would never feel good again. My hands didn't work well, I couldn't even open my water bottles or mascara or grate cheese!
- When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I went to my doctor and I joined a breast cancer survivor group.
- How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
Yes I was able to start my dream of manufacturing my design of ABonita Scarf. I found so many people stop me when I wore mine while going through treatment asking where I got my beautiful scarf I told myself if I ever got better I should manufacture them so others can enjoy them. After getting better I kept busy with real estate then when the market slowed down in 2006 I ended up getting a second job. My girlfriend came to visit me and had me watch the movie The Secret. I had my ah ha moment and said I need to manufacture my scarf design. I now have my design patent and am waiting for my utility patent. I attend trade shows across the country and sell wholesale to hospital boutiques, wig stores, fashion boutiqes, hat stores, marinas etc. I also started my own website store so others can shop out of the comfort of their own home. I know I did not feel comfortable when I was bald trying on hats, wigs and scarves in public.
- What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work everyday! I am on still a Realtor and I work out of my home on my business. I also travel all over the country attending trade shows and on some weekends I sell at biker events (the ABonita Scarf is also a favorite of bikers because the headband snaps on tight and it stays on while riding).
- Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
When I was diagnosed and going through treatment I was single and had to continue to work. I had bad days when I was exhausted and had "chemo brain" but I kept on going. Now I work harder then ever but I enjoy my job.
- What has helped you continue to work the most?
That I am helping others with hair loss feel comfortable and fashionable.
- What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
To watch your diet, read books on alkalize versus acidity. And you will feel better in time!
- How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
I used to take pain pills every 4 hours and sleeping pills at night but then I started reading about diet and started drinking rice protein drinks in the morning with flax seed oil and unsweetened frozen fruit with ice. I stopped eating so much dairy (I am a cheese lover), and sugar. I ended up not taking any more pain pills and for sleeping pills I take Melatonin
- If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Oh my what is this lump I feel?
It can’t be there
It can’t be real!
I had my mammogram last year,
This can’t be cancer
The thing I fear!
After being mashed, squished, poked and prodded
I asked my Dr.
And he just nodded
But I exercise, eat healthy, and don’t smoke
This can’t be real
It must be a joke!
All these thoughts went through my head
Will I live or will I be dead?
I am still young, only 47
Will I die and go to heaven?
I looked at my Dr. with a tear in my eye
I told him to fix me
I am not ready to die!
He looked at me with compassion and assurance
And all I could think is
I am glad I have insurance!
4 Months of chemo
6 Weeks of radiation
5 years of Tamoxifen
Would be my cure
It would clean my body
And make me pure
I swallowed hard and held my breath
I prayed these treatments would save me from death
Five years have passed
And I am happy to say
I am alive and healthy
To this day!
By: Bonita Halley-Sands
Owner of ABonita Scarf LLC
Merritt Island, FL