HINES

Jamaica Gleaner - - FLAIR PRO­FILE - Nashauna.lalah@glean­erjm.com

then her world changed in the most un­usual way in March 2010. Hines and her younger sis­ter were get­ting ready to go out and she was try­ing on var­i­ous out­fits and putting on a mini fash­ion show. Af­ter get­ting into a strap­less dress, she walked by the bath­room door, and in her re­flec­tion in the bath­room mir­ror, she saw what looked like a lump above her left breast.

She went to take a closer look but it was not very vis­i­ble head-on, so she be­gan feel­ing around for it. “I felt some­thing and asked my sis­ter, who was a med stu­dent at the time, and she sug­gested I get it checked out. There was just some­thing in my gut. It just didn’t make sense. The fol­low­ing week I went to the doc­tor. When she felt it, she said it didn’t feel like any­thing ma­jor. I was only 34 – too young to do a mam­mo­gram, so she rec­om­mended me to do an ul­tra­sound, which re­vealed lumps in the ac­tual breast,” said Hines.

Even at this point, Hines said that she never thought of can­cer. “I was not think­ing breast can­cer. I have lumps in my breast that needed to be checked out. I have three chil­dren, I have breast­fed them all, lead an ac­tive life­style and pretty good diet, and no his­tory in my fam­ily. No place in me thought I had breast can­cer.”

BIOPSY

Her doc­tor wanted the lumps re­moved as they did not look healthy, so Hines was re­ferred to an­other physi­cian who or­dered a biopsy. By the time she got to see him, the lumps had be­come more pro­nounced. Hines re­called that the ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing the biopsy was very emo­tional be­cause she knew she would have to do sugery, and that would mean time off from work – putting on pause the trazil­lion things she had go­ing on. “I was emo­tional, in that I was go­ing to in­ter­rupt work. I wasn’t try­ing to be dis­tracted.”

On April 28, al­most a month af­ter she first no­ticed the lump, she got the di­ag­no­sis that would change her life. “The day I was sup­posed to get the re­sults, I sched­uled it for a time when I didn’t have any meet­ings so I would go get it and re­turn to the of­fice. A friend asked if I was go­ing alone, and ac­com­pa­nied me. I wasn’t feel­ing wor­ried even af­ter see­ing the lumps get big­ger.”

In his of­fice, the doc­tor told her the lumps were ma­lig­nant - she had breast can­cer. “Hon­estly, I was numb. I was just sit­ting there like a brick. My mind didn’t start rac­ing; my mind was just blank. The bot­tom of my stom­ach fell out and I had no ques­tion. My friend had all the ques­tions. I just kind of sat there. I re­mem­ber walk­ing out of Med­i­cal As­so­ciates and not talk­ing. I didn’t cry. Then I was say­ing that I had to go back to work, but my friend took me home. I re­mem­ber be­ing helped in­side the house. When the kids came home was when it hit me.”

Hines was di­ag­nosed with stage two breast can­cer. She waited five days be­fore shar­ing the news with her mother. “She was trav­el­ling and I didn’t know how to tell her. I was just think­ing: I don’t want to die. My old­est child at the time was 11.”

FAC­ING DE­PRES­SION

Dur­ing that time, Hines was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing many of the things that can plunge some­one into clin­i­cal de­pres­sion. She had to make the dras­tic move with her fam­ily again; she was now di­ag­nosed with can­cer; and she was try­ing to work on her mar­riage that was in trou­ble.

“By the time I did surgery on May 26, the lumps had taken over my breast. I wanted to keep my nip­ples, but I couldn’t. When they took it off it looked like a car­cass – I had a rad­i­cal mas­tec­tomy.”

How did she get through it all? “I got through by hav­ing laser-sharp fo­cus. My fo­cus was pro­vid­ing for my kids, mak­ing sure I was avail­able to cre­ate life for them; mak­ing sure they had a home. Work didn’t stop as that kept me sane. I had to get work per­mits and ev­ery­thing needed to re­lo­cate the fam­ily.”

She was also busy re­search­ing treat­ment op­tions. The rec­om­mended course of treat­ment for her was chemo­ther­apy, ra­di­a­tion, and hor­monal ther­apy – in that or­der. But Hines knew in her heart of hearts that she didn’t want to do chemo­ther­apy. “I tried some re­ally crazy op­tions. Chemo­ther­apy scared me. When it came to ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy I was re­ally afraid of them. I de­cided I didn’t want to do chemo. I was go­ing to do ra­di­a­tion and hor­mone treat­ment.”

One day, dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with her brother, he rec­om­mended that Hines speak with nu­tri­tion­ist Jah­man J.

“I had worked with him in Atlanta when I was hav­ing my third daugh­ter. I was talk­ing to him (Jah­man J), but didn’t think he would help me. Jah­man helped me to stop the weight loss. By the time I saw him I was 93 pounds – down from 130. He helped me to clean out the tox­ins, fed me herbs and other stuff that were high in an­tiox­i­dants, an­ti­car­cino­gen­ics. My diet be­came liq­uid ve­gan for three months.”

Dur­ing all this, she made the move to Canada with her fam­ily – mi­nus her hus­band with whom the re­la­tion­ship had fallen apart. “It was a new self. It was the first time I was alone with the chil­dren, hav­ing mar­ried my high-school sweet­heart. In Jan­uary 2011, with the chil­dren in Canada was the first time by my­self – no fam­ily. Life kicked in. I had to be up at 4:30 in the morn­ing to do two types of cook­ing – I was on my ve­gan diet so ev­ery­thing was or­ganic. It was crazy.”

These days, Hines is a bun­dle of pos­i­tiv­ity. “I have no re­grets at all in that bat­tle­ground ex­pe­ri­ence – I be­came my brand. I would not be the woman I am to­day if I had not gone through that. It put me on the path of trans­form­ing my life. It was al­most like a re­birth. I de­lib­er­ately chose life trans­for­ma­tion. You can cre­ate any­thing for your­self and fu­ture.”

Hines has since re­set­tled in Ja­maica and is writ­ing a book about her ex­pe­ri­ence. She shared with Flair the main les­son that her ordeal has taught her. “Your health starts with you. It’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to take care of our­selves be­fore sick­ness. Look at what we are putting in our body. Look for the signs in your body – los­ing sleep, get­ting more headaches and things that are out of the nat­u­ral rhythm of your body.” Find out more about her jour­ney on Face­book @Stacey­hines

PHO­TOS BY NOR­MAN GRIND­LEY/CHIEF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Stacey Hines in what she calls her ‘fear I face’ dress, is not afraid of her scars.

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