PHELPS, Ky. - Imagine being a 17-year-old senior in high school, who is actively involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, a good student currently in the process of applying to colleges and universities when your life suddenly turns upside down and comes to a screeching halt when testing performed on a small lump detected in your breast rules it as “highly-suspicious.”
“I remember thinking that I’m too young to have breast cancer,” said Brianna Campbell, a Phelps. Ky. native who is now in her third year of studies at the University of Pikeville. “This had to be a mistake, I said. They must have got my test confused with someone else. Only older people are diagnosed with breast cancer, not teenagers.”
The lump in Campbell’s right breast was detected by her physician during her annual check-up.
“Even my doctor told me it was probably nothing since I was only 17 and had no family history of breast cancer, but she ordered an ultrasound just to be safe. Three days later I had the test completed and the very next day, my doctor called my mom and told her she needed to meet with us.”
The report Campbell received read as follows: “The findings of this ultrasound of the right breast contains a wide range of suspicious levels and includes an intermediate suspicion of being cancerous and additional testing including needle aspiration and biopsy is highly recommended.”
” I was devastated…then I was angry, scared and confused. I questioned my faith in God, I lashed out at anyone and everyone, withdrew away from those who loved me, and then I just cried. I cried until there was no more tears left,” said Campbell.
“I remember thinking that why would God let something like this happen to me? I was a good kid. I never got in trouble. I tutored children who needed help with their studies, I babysat for several families, I had a part time job to make things easier on my mom because she and my dad were in the process of divorcing. I made good grades, I helped teach a Sunday School class…I had never smoked, drank or abused drugs. So why me? Why was this happening?”
I was a mess,” said the teen with a small laugh. “I definitely was anything but a joy to be around during those few weeks. And then one day, I received an unsigned letter in the mail that included an inspirational poem that touched my heart. It spoke of realizing one’s own strength in the face of adversity. It spoke of overcoming whatever obstacles you are facing and to be grateful for each and every moment that we are alive, because we none have the promise of tomorrow.”
“Then and there, I made a decision that whatever the results of my biopsy were, I was going to enjoy my life. I started thinking about all of the babies that are stillborn that never even have one day of life, or the little children who battle cancer and other diseases or those that are handicapped that can only watch from the sidelines while other kids run and play.”
“I was blessed….I was blessed that I had never had any health problems besides a common cold or a stomach virus. I had perfect hearing and vision, no physical impairments, no mental or emotional issues - I suddenly felt so guilty for being angry at my situation. I was surrounded by a family who would do anything for me and the best friends a girl could wish for. I decided right then and there that come what may, I would fight as hard as I could and I would turn my problem into a light for others, I wanted to be a source of inspiration and hope. Most of all, I fell to my knees and thanked God for all the many blessings he had poured over me throughout the 17 years of my life and begged forgiveness for ever doubting that my fate was in his hands.”
“On the day that my biopsy was scheduled, the hospital staff probably thought there was a school pep rally going on in the waiting room,” laughed Campbell. “The entire cheer-leading squad was there, my family, friends, fellow church members - it was unreal how many showed up. The most touching part was that my nurse wheeled my hospital bed out into the waiting room before they took me to surgery and everyone gathered around my bed and laid their hands on me or the person in front of them and we joined in prayer.”
“I know it may sound crazy, but I heard a voice say to me during the prayer…”I got this”. That was all, just those three simple words but I know that was God telling me everything was going to be fine. The biopsy was completed, I went home later that day and three days later, my doctor called my mom and said that I was cancer-free, the mass was benign.”
How great is my God?” asked the teen. “He’s the all-mighty; he’s the great physician.”
Campbell is well aware that her results could have ended in an entirely different manner, but says that she knows she would have been a winner either way.
“I was at peace that no matter what happened, I was going to be fine and I share that message with everyone I speak with, especially cancer patients that I visit with in area hospitals.”
Campbell, who had planned to pursue a career as a CPA is now studying to be a registered nurse and wants to work in the oncology (cancer) department, where she feels she can make a difference in lives that have been changed by the potentially fatal disease.
“God just didn’t just spare my life, he picked me up and gave me a not-so-gentle shake and gave me a whole new appreciation of the value of life. That’s one lesson I plan to never forget.”