Positive and cheerful attitude helped 2 parishioners fight breast cancer. These are their stories…

Angela Colasco is a pillar of support to cancer patients. 27 years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but the lump was dissolved with prayers (testimony), so she didn’t undergo mastectomy. However, she underwent 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 30 cycles of radiation.

A teacher at Villa Theresa High School, Angela Colasco’s life changed—from hair loss to vomiting to hysterectomy (to avoid other forms of cancer) to staying at home. However, the best advice she received from the doctor is to be positive, cheerful, eat everything, and lead a normal life.

A life threatening disease fills you with doubt about God’s love, so when she was asked, “Why did God do this to you?” she replied promptly, “He loves me. He gives more to those he loves the most”. Along with relatives and friends, she prayed to fight breast cancer and live for her children.

People have all sorts of advice, but she listened to two people—her oncologist and God. One thing she misses, “I wish for long hair I had before the treatment”.

Mary’s (name changed) tryst with breast cancer started post her annual check-up. “A nodule on the right breast was detected during mammography. There was no pain, no lumps, no external indicators”.

The following eight months Mary underwent two operations, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. “The lump was extracted for biopsy (found malignant). In the second operation, 14 lymph nodes were removed from the right breast and armpit.”

What followed was six sessions of chemo. “Before every session, I had to do blood tests and check my weight as the chemo would be adjusted accordingly.” Then radiation was administered. “A cast was made as everyone has their own casts. Radiation was worse than chemo and I still have a few burn marks”.

Hair fall had its own share of woes. “My thick mop thinned. Hair was everywhere. A former boss asked, ‘why I cut my hair so short’, which I hadn’t, so I wore a wig. It led to further speculation from those not privy to my cancer”.

The road to recovery was slow and bumpy. “Since the operation was on my dominant hand, I automatically started using it, hastening the recovery process. However, I cannot use this hand for future blood tests, injections, check my pressure or carry weights”.

There were no dietary restrictions, but Mary ate peeled vegetables and fruits to prevent consumption of insecticides. “I developed an unusual craving for East Indian wedding pickle. It became a part of my staple diet,” she muses.

Mary’s faith was no bigger than a mustard seed, okay, maybe a little bigger. She says, “I’m not a regular churchgoer, but have always believed in the power of prayer. I said, ‘God, you got me into this for whatever reason, I know YOU will get me out.’ And HE did”.

Mary concludes, “I never questioned why me. I realised cancer can happen to anyone. It can happen to people who are stressed or care-free; people who follow healthy regimes or party hard”. It was positivity and support of close family and friends that got her through this arduous time.

By Trina Remedios