BEATING BREAST CANCER: Survivors share stories of hope

 Three breast cancer survivors, Vanessa Edwards Young, Gale Cook Shumaker and Velma King, spoke to a group at Northside Christian Church Wednesday, about beating cancer with God's guidance.
Staff Writer

Approximately one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Northside Christian Church asked three breast cancer survivors to speak and share hope for beating the disease.

Gale Cook Shumaker, author of “One Out of Eight: The Struggle,” discussed her personal battle with the disease.

"With one out of eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer," Shumaker said. "What if it's you? What will you do? That is the reason I wrote the book. It has details about my journey. It is a hands-up testimony to the Lord."

She encouraged her audience to self-check and have a yearly mammogram.

Shumaker's struggle began with symptoms, she had a poison ivy-like rash on her leg. She was given a cream to apply and it went away. But it came back with a vengeance, according to Shumaker. Then her hand began to swell. She was checked for an insect bite and not finding one, her doctor sent her to Meridian for more thorough testing.

"After that I decided I needed a good, hot, relaxing bath to de-stress,' Shumaker said. "That was when I found the bump. I asked my husband to feel it and his look assured me he had felt it and he was frightened too. I was diagnosed soon after."

The doctor did a lumpectomy, but they didn't get it all and what was there was malignant. She was told she would need to have a mastectomy. There was the internal struggle with the idea of giving up a body part.

"I had it done," Shumaker said. "To give up a body part was worth my life. After that, the true struggle began with chemo and radiation therapy. I lost my hair with the second round of chemo."

In reading healing scriptures from the Bible, she read where people often had their head anointed with oil. She heated some olive oil and poured it on her head.

"That was the most beautiful thing about losing my hair," Shumaker said. "It was so wonderful. It made me feel so good. I understand why they did this during Biblical times."

She continued reading healing scriptures and sharing them with others who needed them.

"As physical as my cancer was, fighting it was more spiritual,” Shumaker said.

Vanessa Edwards Young said her story was very similar to Shumaker’s. She found the lump during a monthly self-exam.

"God allowed me to go through this because He knew I could handle it," Young said. "I was told I was stage one, then I was told I was stage two B. I had to have chemo, but no radiation."

Young was talking about it to a co-worker, her friend did a self-exam and she found a lump.

"God was using my situation to help others," Young said. "I prayed a lot and I would claim the scriptures for my healing. I reminded God about his promises."

Velma King said her story was different. She had suffered an injury and her diagnosis was due to an infection.

"I had an infection in my breast before they found the cancer," King said. "Just because you hear that breast cancer presents in one way, doesn't mean that it is always that way."

When she saw an oncologist, he gave her situation no hope.

"My surgeon on the other hand, had faith," King said. "He lifted me up. He knew God was in control and he gave me the hope and strength that I needed."

She said Satan kept whispering in her ear that her life was over. That the oncologist was right.

"But God told me I was not going to die of cancer. I put my faith in Him. I had to believe God to live, if I had put my trust in man, I would have died. That was 22 years ago and I'm still here."