Lean on loved ones – A journalist’s scare with deadly disease

Don't hold back...Margaret Wise (back centre) with staff of The Fiji Times west bureau. Picture: Alvin Kumar

IT is easy to spiral downwards when you receive bad news.

This is especially true when it’s a health issue concerning yourself or a loved one.

As for cancer, no doubt every journey is different.

Whether you’re the one afflicted, or you know someone who has been diagnosed, people navigate through their situations differently. This is why I have chosen not to squander this opportunity to share my brief, yet eventful encounter with you.

At the very least, as an individual still developing a prayerful life, I hope this experience will stimulate some wholesome thinking.

On August 29 this year, the Lautoka newsroom decided to do something good.

The team dug into their pockets and filled an envelope in support of the Motibhai Group’s Bushells Fiji’s Biggest Morning Tea in Nadi.

Breast cancer examination was offered inside one of the rooms of the company’s Naisoso office and so I thought, why not?

I did my own BSE (breast self exam) from time to time, but this seemed to be an appropriate time to let an ‘expert’ check me out.

A registered nurse popped me on the table – (or was it a bed, I can’t remember).

After examining both breasts she told me I had a lump. Not in one, but in both breasts.

Belinda Chan, the chief executive officer of the Fiji Cancer Society was also in the room.

She looked up some dates and arranged for an appointment two weeks later at Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

I was quite calm, I must say. There were no “what ifs” or “whys” running through my head.

This peace, I can say with confidence, comes from living a prayerful life. When you are continuously thankful for all He has done in your life, “you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Philippians 4 6-7.

Some will mock and scoff at this, but there definitely will be others who can identify with this verse.

In the meantime, my colleague, Shayal, was waiting outside the door. She didn’t want to be examined.

As we sat and sipped our tea I decided to tell her what the nurse had found, hoping the news would jolt her to bolt up those stairs and let the nurse lay her fingers on her breasts.

Anyway, I called my husband and the first thing he did was pray and send me messages of Bible verses.

We take care of 10 school aged children (not our own), so apart from my siblings and three children, they were in my “do not want to alarm or distress” list.

My youngest and five of the 10 children were also preparing for all kinds of trials and tests for external exams so I had more than 100 reasons not to tell them something sinister was happening with my boobs.

My first clinic (appointment) in Suva delivered an unpleasant ‘reawakening’ about the exhaustive and traumatic ending this journey could bring.

A room full of women from all walks of life. Splashing a brave smile, some greeted each other like they were there for a routine check-up. Finding companionship in strangers, bonded by the unknown.

This led to a tide of emotions, it was draining just soaking in that moment.

The doctor told me they would give me a date to return for a mammogram.

I decided to tell my youngest sister a little more than a week ago because I was due to visit her family last week and because a month had passed, waiting for that mammogram. Well, this sister of mine couldn’t wait to have my boobs sandwiched.

By the time I got to Suva, she had enquired with MIOT and found out there was a walk-in Pinktober special for mammograms and ultrasound.

There was a 15-minute wait for the results.

I have never been so relieved to see a medical test proven wrong.

I kissed and hugged my sister so tightly, every aspect of the two tests disagreed with the initial examination.

The biggest surge of emotion in this whole journey, however, came when I took a deep breath, went down on my knees and lifted my hands to the heavens in worship.

My husband told me that during my last travel to Suva, the children had each approached him at different times, sensing something was wrong.

And they had also begun to pray more intensely.

In the perceived ‘largeness’ of my situation and through my silence, I almost missed out on the spiritual, mental, physical, financial and emotional
support that flowed from loved ones.

To all women who can afford it, I encourage you to take yourself to MIOT for the no hassle quick result examination.

And for those facing a situation similar to mine, I encourage you to share your experience with your loved ones.

At the very least, it can change the way they pray.

It can stir them to reach out to a higher power in ways you can never comprehend.

Celebrating Pinktober Cancer Awareness month are these villagers from Nakelo in Tailevu.
Front: Adi Meiva and Joshua
From L-R Sereana, Elenoa, Bulou, Cewa, Poli, Eta and Losalini.
Back row with banner: Ratu Vereniki
Picture: SUPPLIED

A happy women’s group show peace signs following the breast examinaiton drive in Labasa. Picture: SUPPLIED

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