A little over five years ago, I had a baby boy, our third child. Seven days later, I went to the doctor for something else and was unexpectedly told that I had an aggressive type of breast cancer, and it was metastatic. Stage IV. A diagnosis of doom, humanly speaking. We were crushed. My tears flooded the floor as I tried to sweep up the fragments of our hopes and dreams and toss them in the trash.
But those were feelings, and I knew the intensity would pass. Being a Christian, I went into my closet and cried for two or three hours, praying to the God in heaven. Having cast my cares on His big shoulders, so to speak, I came out to take care of my children much calmer and at peace. I had assurance that God would take care of me, my husband, and our precious little ones. I began intense alternative treatments, some of which I still use to this day.
Fast forward two years. The cancer spread all over my body. My liver was so full of cancer that I was dying and in extreme agony. Fear threatened to overwhelm me at any point. The emergency room controlled the pain with morphine. We prayed desperately. I couldn’t believe that it was my time to go. I leaned on God, and not Him only. I rested in the faith and hope that so many friends and family had for me. A new targeted chemo conjugate brought the liver tumors under control, and we thanked God and our oncologist.
The next year, 2019. Again symptoms indicated that I was very rapidly approaching death. Approximately fifteen unrealized brain tumors filled my skull.
Two of them were quite large. An emergency MRI showed a mid-line shift in my brain, caused by a left parietal lesion. Emergency surgery was scheduled and whole head radiation recommended. My husband and I didn’t believe that whole-brain radiation was the correct treatment for me. So we prayed a lot, asking God to help us because we couldn’t help ourselves. Everything we had done, all the “right” things, had not been enough to cure this body of cancer. With our radiation oncologist’s support and her willingness to be on standby, we declined whole-brain radiation, which made the medical oncologists angry and chose our own chemo (an approved course) to use. We asked God to bless it, and for it to show the oncologists that He is alive and active. Well, bless it He did! The chemo shrunk the tumors until they were almost nothing, astonishing the oncologists so much that thereafter they treated me very kindly!
Sometimes life has a way of discouraging a person, even for long times. Because I believe in God and in His stronger good power in my life, I have hope when life looks hopeless. I have the strength to continue when I feel weak. I look at my life and think, “I’m still here. There is a point to my life,” even when I’m sick with side effects. Having Someone much bigger and outside of myself helps ground me to the fact that there’s a lot more than what I feel at the moment, and that helps me be a better human being. I couldn’t ever imagine going through life without a spiritual connection to a loving God.
Mother to three beautiful children, Jedidiah, Abigail, and Caleb. And wife to Jamie Crouse. Shallena is a Breast Cancer Warrior, spiritual giant, and the inspiration behind Pinkies Up for Wellness.