Being HER2+ Strengthened My Faith

Being HER2+ Strengthened My Faith

In 2013, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with triple-positive Stage 1 breast cancer. Only a year and a half later in 2015, I was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, Stage 2B. Here I was, 37 years old, being told, “Mrs. Riley, unfortunately, your breast cancer has reoccurred in the same area.”

Hearing that I had cancer the first time was horrible, but to hear it for the second time was absolutely devastating. I knew in order for me to survive this next round with cancer, I had to go back to the place of peace that God overwhelmed me with during my first battle. However, this time getting back to that place was not easy.

My treatment in 2013 had consisted of a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. I had chosen not to take chemo or Tamoxifen. But because the cancer had returned in such little time, now my best (and maybe only) option was to undergo chemo and radiation, in addition to surgery and more reconstruction.

This is when I entered into a very dark place. It was so dark that I could not see any light at the end of this tunnel. Cancer was not the scary part of this ordeal—chemo was. Chemo to me meant death; that was the “c” word that undoubtedly terrified me. I believe a lot of my fear came from knowing deep down that I had to do this, no matter what. I knew I couldn’t be selfish and allow my fears of chemo to rob me from my family. God reminded me that I have children that I wanted to see graduate from college and get married, and that I have a wonderful husband, my hero, that I want to grow old with.

So I faced my fear. I did 3 months of intense chemo and 1 year of Herceptin. I also had 33 radiation treatments and surgery. Breast cancer has dramatically changed my life but in a meaningful way. I’ve learned, not just by reading or hearing about it, but by experiencing it, that with God all things are possible. I’ve learned that facing your fears and overcoming them makes you realize that you are stronger than you could ever imagine.

This journey has also allowed my family to appreciate one another and cherish every moment together. We have become intentional about having quality time. Cancer has also allowed me to see that my husband meant every word in our wedding vows. His love, compassion and care for me through all of this have been amazing. And more importantly, my faith and trust in God has become so radical. There’s absolutely nothing I believe He cannot do. My advice to anyone going through this is to be honest with God about your fears and concerns. Combat all of the negative thoughts with positive ones. Stay in prayer, trust God and believe that He will see you through.

7 Replies

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  • So beautifully put and happy you received the support you needed.Many of us who have faced this disease find that what we once saw as a weakness in our health, actually has become a strength! Continue to enjoy every day and every moment and to continue to find the faith you need to help you and possibly others.

  • Thank you so much for your response and encouragement! God bless you!

  • God Bless You!!! My daughter at age 32 was diagnosed with HER2 Pos. Stage 3..... 6 months of chemo, then months of radiation and a double mastectomy!!! Yes, our lives have changed forever, but our biggest blessing is that of our three year old grandson born only one year prior to his mother's diagnosis!!! Ten years of tamoxifen are in her future, but she is alive...and we have our daughter, mother, wife, back!!!!

  • WOW what a testimony you guys have!! Yes it's a tremendous blessing to be alive after all we have to endure! God bless you and your family and continue enjoying one another! Thank you!

  • What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for following You Can Thrive where we offer education and wellness programs focused on the whole person to reduce symptoms, promote preventative health and wellbeing and improve long-term outcomes. Follow us on social media and visit our website youcanthrive.org

  • Thank you so much!

  • Greetings: Father/God has truly blessed you, and I. I was misdiagnosed with breast cancer

    for almost a year.Three times I was told by my oncologist that I was going to die in around a

    year, though , he was going to take me through aggressive chemo and radiation. I wasn't sad

    or crying, I knew I might die in my physical body, but I knew I would live in heaven with my

    Father/ God. I was more concerned about how my family and friends would receive the

    diagnosis/prognosis, especially those who did not have the strong faith I had..Because I was

    still positive and happy,the doctor thought I was in denial and put a therapy referral in my

    folder. I am a living testimony as to what God can do.The doctor said I had around a year to

    live, I am alive and well with no cancer in my body almost 10 years , as per Doctor/God. Yes

    like you I am more afraid of aggressive chemo than cancer or physical death. Gods continued

    blessings to you and your loved ones .Live your life, and keep your positive friends and

    family around you.