Cancer patient Christene Soutar navigates through life with a new positive outlookThursday, October 14, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James —While seven months pregnant and filled with joy as she carries her second child into the world, Christene Soutar, then 33 years old, discovered a lump in her left breast.
After consulting her doctor, she was soon diagnosed HER-2 positive - a diagnosis which has changed her life.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, I was the one who self-diagnosed [at that time], I was seven months pregnant. I went to the doctor, naturally hoping that it wasn't, or it wouldn't be what it is now. I was ordered to have a biopsy done, however, I opted not to do surgery at the time because I was pregnant so I wanted to deliver my baby then do the surgery,” Soutar told the Jamaica Observer West.
Two months after giving birth to her now two-year old son in January of 2019, Soutar shared, she then decided to weather the storm and began her fight against the aggressive disease.
“In 2019 when I did the surgery, I had to start chemotherapy and ever since then, I have done eight rounds of chemo, lost my hair, I did radiation, the whole nine yards,” the Montegonian woman said.
“I think it was between November or December of 2019 when I did radiation, went back to do a CT scan, and [learned] that it had metastasised to the bones. After learning that, I was reluctant to go back and do chemo. I waited and when I did another CT scan, it had also metastasised to the lungs, and I have been doing treatment ever since,” the now 36-year-old Soutar continued.
Though she lost her left breast to the disease and is now dealing with additional diagnoses, Soutar told the Observer West that she is filled with gratitude as she now navigates through life with a new, positive outlook.
“My journey has drawn me closer to God, a whole lot closer to God. I have learned so much in terms of my spirituality and how your mind operates. The journey is hard, but I cannot tell you that I am regretful because it has taught me how to toughen up. Prior to this life, I was going wherever the wind blew me,” she said.
Added Soutar: “With me being on my own trying to survive, you know, my kids have me to depend on, so that is a big motivation for me.”
But, she said, even with this new outlook, coupled with the moral support she receives from her strong support system, some days are harder than others.
“I have good days and I have bad days, mi nah go lie to you. There are days when I literally think that I am going to die, or that today might just be my last day,” she told Observer West.
“I was hospitalised a couple weeks ago but thanks to God, I am here today. I didn't think that I wasn't going to make it. I am not one to cry for pain, I am usually very strong when it comes to withstanding pain, but it got the best of me, I don't know if it was mentally, but I know something got the best of me,” Soutar shared.
The cancer patient said that a belief that her medication was ineffective, encouraged her to seek a second opinion from doctors in the United States of America. This, she said, has resulted in the doctors discontinuing her cancer treatment because they also share such a belief, after the tests they ran came back with discrepancies.
“Unfortunately, I had to come to the States to seek additional [medical support] here. When I came here and saw an oncologist because I wanted a second opinion as I didn't know why all the medications weren't working. When they retested the pathology report, they found a discrepancy, hence why I am not on any medication right now because what they are saying is what I was originally diagnosed with, is not what they are seeing when they retested,” she explained.
“So, they had to stop me from taking the medication because they said potentially, those medications won't work…,” Soutar told Observer West.
As her journey with cancer continues, Soutar is encouraging everyone on “this similar journey” to remain positive and be mindful of the people they allow in their space.
“Stay positive. To me, your support system is a great benefit. You must try to ensure that whoever you are around is positive. You really don't want anybody to put you in a state of negativity, and I can tell you that I had to come to that last week; the person did not come outright and say 'you are on your last breath, there is no coming back' but just her tone made it seem as if,” she said.