A tale of a breast cancer survivor

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Written by Lillie Shelburne

Breast cancer survivor Lillie Shelburne wrote the following narrative poem in 2005:

“Breast Cancer Survivor”
In the fall of 2004, it was time for a mammogram, a yearly chore.
Our lives are so busy, we hardly find time — we rush in for the films, never looking behind.
We go right ahead full speed every day, but the telephone rings and we hear someone say,
“I’m calling today (her voice cheerful and bright) about your mammogram films — something’s just not quite right.
“We need more pictures could you come see us again? How about three weeks from today in the morning at 10?”
My heart skipped a beat as I hung up the phone. A shiver ran through me and I felt so alone.
For the next three weeks, I go on day to day. But in the back of my mind I hear a little voice-say,
“Don’t forget for a minute, something’s not just quite right.” But I push it aside — I must sleep good tonight.
Three weeks finally pass, I repeat the ordeal, then wait for results — this just can’t be real.
The call finally comes I’ve dreaded to hear. “I’m sorry to say you have breast cancer, dear.”
Oh no! My heart’s shouting this surely can’t be. This bad thing that’s happening, it can’t start with a “C.”
“Yes dear we can treat it, just be here tomorrow.” I slowly am dying and drowning in sorrow.
My life flashed before me — my husband, my children, my grandchildren and friends. Please say it’s not so, my life just cannot end.
I’ve heard of this happening, make no mistake, but this time it’s different. This is my life at stake.
I tried and I tried to just comprehend. I cried and I cried tears without end.
Fear can do many things when we let it control. It can tear us apart until we’re not whole.
The path had been chartered, others had trod. They too had cried and questioned God.
But, God has a plan, he won’t forsake us. He pulls us up and won’t let fear overtake us.
Something told me one day as I tried to deny it, “Don’t run away, girl. Face it, you’ve got it.”
From that moment on my will seemed to grow stronger. I just couldn’t wallow in grief any longer.
The next weeks and months were busy indeed. There was surgery, doctors and treatments I would need.
I finished the course — my treatments are done. It was very difficult and not any fun.
But I’m a stronger person for having been through it. I feel very thankful I was able to do it.
Now I have something I really can strive for, to remain through the years a “breast cancer survivor.”