“My Voice” by Christina Olachia

Christina Olachia - 'Survivor'

I was diagnosed with Triple Negative, stage 2, node positive Breast Cancer in 2006 at the age of 32. Life changed for not just me, but for my family. I was dumbfounded, taken back as I had my feet knocked right out from under me. How could this happen? I was so young. My life was still in front of me, how could God take it all from me now? I was scared, hurt and shocked. I became painfully aware my life was not my own nor was time on my side. I was not just looking death in the face, but she and I were eye to eye!

The holidays had just come to a close and it was the beginning of the New Year. I found the lump at the start of December 2005. I was concerned as “it” continued to grow through the Christmas holidays. I sat on this turn of events for a while. I didn’t want to ruin Christmas for my boys who were just 9 and 6 at the time. We had just bought our very first home, Johnny and I. This was our first Christmas in our new home. I wanted the memories to be special, not marred by some silly worry of mine.

You know the story… Breast biopsy, cancer, mastectomy, chemo, hysterectomy and the list goes on. Life for sure changed. I was just completely side swiped. I dealt with this new change of events fairly well it seemed. I lost my breast, my hair and my once rosy life in a very short time. Many would ask why not be bitter? Why not be angry? Why not be mad at God? Well the truth is this: I did feel hurt and yes abandoned, at first. I did not understand but I did have my faith, and my family.

The real deal is I had already gone through the whole being angry at God thing much earlier in my life. I was 8 years old to be exact. It was the same year I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Following a blood test in the doctor’s office I was placed in the hospital and placed on insulin injections all just days after my birthday. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, the very same one some 24 years later I was hearing this Breast Cancer diagnosis in. I had already let my anger and fear fester in this very same place. I had already shouted at my Maker and felt His gentle touch in my 8 year old life. As a child I was angry, I wanted a normal life and I feared not being able to have children of my own one day. I was scared I would never marry or have children until I met my dietician who was a diabetic herself , married and having a child of her own. I cried, I told Him off and then I surrendered all my hurt to His plan. I did not understand the full depth of things then, how could I? I really did not like the idea of dealing with this new scary beast, inwardly I was terrified. What I learned over time was this was my burden, yes, but I did not have to carry it alone. I lived through the bullies and there were lots of them believe me, both kids and adults alike. I was punched in my stomach once for petting a kids dog in my own yard. (He was afraid I would give diabetes to his four legged friend.) Then as I got older I was looked at different by teachers and down upon even a by a few pastors as they taunted me in their own ways. Life was hard, but those times, those hurtful, painful times taught me a lot about who I was and who I believed in.

I stopped being mad at God and started being grateful for the gifts I had. I was alive for starters. I was also loved. I had a good family who loved me, who were there for me every step of the way. They believed in me and all they saw in me. My parents would have moved mountains and through the years made sacrifices beyond my understanding all so I would be taken care of. As life moved forward I came to terms with this plan. I adapted to the shots, no sugar and the bullying I continued to endure. You ask how I can be so forgiving of my Lord, especially when some in His name were some of my worst offenders. Well I realized as I got older it wasn’t the Lord who was out to get me or who was causing my hurt. Sadly, it was those who spoke in His name, yet had no real understanding of His compassion, those who were led by their own fears who caused my hurt. (He may have allowed it, but He surely didn’t cause it.) I may not have understood His plan, and to be blunt I didn’t exactly like this plan of His, but He was there with me every step of the way. I spent more time in the hospital than I did out it would seem, but you know what? I grew into a compassionate woman who found love and who did have her own babies, (in the very same hospital) two boys to be exact. I can feel and honestly relate to pain and sorrow now because I have actually been there.

As time marched on Johnny and I made a life together and it wasn’t so bad. Maybe we didn’t have grand things but we had each other, we had our children and we had our faith. I have to say I was still caught off guard though when this new beast came to town dragging me off into her den. I wasn’t ready for her stench and so I was completely turned around off course on some detour road when the cancer took my breast. I was not happy at all. I was not pleased with my God at the time either, but I did trust Him. As time went on I found over and over again He was my shelter and was where my Hope truly is. Yes, I faltered, I turned away for a while, I sank below the water’s surface for a while too. But then I heard His joy calling me home. If I am not bound to this earth, then why was I throwing such a fit? Isn’t my faith and trust in His grace enough? It was then; in a moment of pure clarity did I see His plan. He knew this beast would come. He knew I would struggle and endure pain beyond measure but He also knew I would come through it stronger for the journey. Yes, He allowed my childhood beast to approach, circle and to attack. Why you ask? I was just a child, how very true. But I know this deep down beyond a shadow of a doubt it was to prepare me for the stronger beast coming years later not only to destroy but to devour all of me.

In those dark waters I found myself laughing, crying, and hearing His voice so clearly I was completely taken back. It was as if I had just found the missing puzzle piece I had been searching for all my life. Suddenly strength I didn’t know I had was building inside of me. I knew I could survive this kick in the gut even if I had to go through hell to do it. I was surrounded by love, family and angels. His grace was flowing through my life and He had a plan even if I didn’t have all the pieces. All those years I dealt with the highs and lows of my diabetes I was growing stronger, my faith was building and God was slipping all the right pieces of my life together.

I could hate God, yes. I could be angry at His choices for my life, absolutely. But looking at my path at where I stand now from where I have come from I see His hands molding every part of my spirit and this life He has given me. I trust my Maker. I may not always like what I see Him doing, but I do know I am loved and held together by His Grace and Mercy. Even if I can’t see past today, I know right here and right now my God is for me and not against me. He loves me and no, my life is not passing me by. I am right where I belong. So with all my might I will continue to embrace all life has to offer and all He has to give me.

I have pondered my path, this journey and accepted what may come. I have gained experiences and friendships along this road worth the battle I now fight. Yes, the pathway may not always be lit but I will always have a lantern and a slightly crumpled up map guiding me for sure. I will get there in His time. I am an open book, a living breathing testament of God’s grace. My soul is at peace, my life is in bloom, and I am definitely stronger for the journey. I have a place in this world, a family who loves me and a path set before me. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and though I plan to live a 100 years, my time may come earlier than I expect. My body may tire or give out too soon, so why would I waste a minute being angry? I want to live completely in every moment I have. Then, when I take my last breath and pass into the unknown I am ready.

This I know, when I meet my Maker I know I will not cross the veil alone. I will not leave this world with regrets. I will not leave my own legacy behind, for it is His. A legacy of strength, of hope and of faith I leave to my children. I am His creation, His child and when this life is over I will be Home in His arms.