When Vivienne Roberts went to Smith Clinic in December 2017 for her annual check-up, the radiologist saw something on her mammogram. Doctors ordered an ultrasound, then a biopsy.
“Within three hours, my life changed,” she remembers. “I didn’t know how to feel. I felt everything at once, and it changed minute by minute: scared, nervous, anxious, depressed.” She scheduled an appointment with her doctor the following week, “but I heard nothing he said.”
Fortunately, she brought two friends with her, and they took notes. She had an aggressive form of cancer in her right breast.
Maybe she should have anticipated this news. Someone at church had recently said to her, “I’ve been praying for you. You’re going to go through something for others to see. You will come out the other side.” Vivienne prayed for help and felt great peace. “I knew it would be okay.”
She had surgery at Ben Taub Hospital and 35 radiation treatments at Smith Clinic. “Everyone was so nice to me. I think I got a special group of people.” She is especially grateful to the radiation therapy staff, the Cancer Resource Center and the Cancer Support Group.
She’s also grateful for her personal support group, her church friends and particularly Keisha, Nickeisha and Sherrita.
Vivienne didn’t ask for this journey, but she learned a lot from it. “I made a decision to be joyful, to encourage at least one person every day and to be grateful. I heard this question: If you woke up tomorrow and only had the things you were grateful for, what would you have? That makes you look at things differently.
“Surround yourself with encouragers. If you get down, encourage someone else. Depression can be like a fog. Move past it. Wake up every morning and keep going.”
Vivienne lives and works at the Mission of Yahweh, an emergency and transitional shelter for women and children. It’s the perfect place for her to encourage and be encouraged. “I see people around me growing as they live there. Someone comes in broken, and they discover their self-worth.”
Against those odds, cancer never really had a chance.