Bonita H. on May 21, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
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