Coming close to her 8 year anniversary, breast cancer survivor Ernestine “Tina” Mills recalls being diagnosed on her oldest daughter’s birthday.
“Cancer runs in my family. My mom died of ovarian cancer and my father died of prostate cancer and I had another sister that died-I had two sisters that died of lung cancer and one that died of bone cancer,” Tina said.
Tina mentioned that because she always does her own self- examination the news didn’t catch her too much off guard. “I’m a very Christian person so of course my first thing was to get on my knees and give it to God.” Tina’s doctor suggested that they remove the tumor but to refrain from them having to see her for the second time she requested her breast to be removed. “I only give them one chance. If you’re going to do surgery on me you’re only going to get one chance so you better do it all at once,” she says jokingly.
Tina’s story is different. As a breast cancer survivor she has never taken chemotherapy or radiation.
Would you say your relationship with God grew stronger from that experience?
“My relationship with God has gotten so strong because not only did he delivered me from that but at the time Ciara (her daughter) having the relationship she had with God and speaking to Him and He was speaking to me through her, it just gave me just that much more positivity that you can’t tell me, you can’t make me doubt God because I know too much about Him. He’s done too much for me. And I thank him every day for that. Some people would say, well you still should’ve did this, you still should’ve did that-if my God says I don’t need it, I don’t need it. I’m not gone go against his word. I’m a very Christian person, I’m always in church I’m always doing something but I haven’t always walked with God. So that’s why, like why did I waste all these years not walking with God? Who wouldn’t want to serve a God who could do something like that?”
Tina didn’t have both breasts removed and has a scar on the side she had surgery on. Every year she schedules a mammogram and the breast cancer has not returned.
“This month is breast cancer month, I support whoever I can, however I can, and it’s just an encouraging word. I have a niece that’s about 35 and she was diagnosed with breast cancer probably about 4 or 5 years ago and she was very upset and everything and I told her you know- everybody wants to know well how did you make it through? Me having a relationship with God kept me through it and she didn’t take the whole breast out so she ended up having to have chemo and radiation. Her hair came out and all that stuff. Everybody was like well aunty it didn’t happen to you-it’s your relationship with God because God can do anything but fail. So I know that He keeps me going.”
Tina’s drive came from wanting to see her daughter get married which was scheduled a year after Tina was diagnosed.
When you were diagnosed did you tell your daughter the news on her birthday?
“Yes I did because every time I go to the doctor if they’re not there with me I get 50 phone calls. So when she called me, she said mom what did the doctor say? I said well he says I have breast cancer and I just kept on talking and she just burst out crying.”
Tina kept her faith strong and comforted her daughters, telling them that the God that she serves has a cure.
What led you to go to the doctor before finding out that you were diagnosed?
“I felt a knot, but I kept saying, you know it didn’t feel like a knot. It felt like a bump or a pimple. But the only thing was you couldn’t see it, but you could feel it.”
Tina’s bumps were very small-like pimples and the doctor had to test it for cancer. Very patient for her doctor to have an opening, Tina waited for surgery until her doctor was available.
As a survivor, what do you think has changed after being diagnosed?
“I’ve gotten closer in my walk with God. God and I are, I guess you can say like on a first name basis. And as far as me growing as a person, I think me going through what I went through, I think me going through that it made me more sympathetic to people and closer to people. I get along better with them.”
Tina mentions that while in the hospital she was given a book by a nurse that was written by one of the employee’s and titled “A Mother’s Daughter.” The book helped her have the passion to be a mother to everybody. “My kids are always saying mom you can’t be a mom to everybody but I just feel that motherly love with everybody,” she said.
Tina said that living for her family is what helps her stay strong.