“God Will Carry You Through” became not only a book of comfort for Marshall resident, LeaShondria Harden, who was diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer at the young age of 33; it also became her testimony.
“When I found out, I was 33 years old and my baby was just six months old,” the now 36-year-old mother of three boys and one girl said, sharing her oldest was just 16 at the time.
Fearing the unknown, rampant thoughts of: “Why me, what am I going to do, how am I going to take care of this baby and these kids and myself” naturally crossed her mind. Hearing the constant phrase — “You’re so young” — from perplexed doctors, gave her little peace.
“Nonetheless, I am beyond thankful for God’s healing power, the support I received from my mother, the support I received from Aunt Esther, and Aunt Sythia and my extended family,” Harden wrote on a recent Facebook post as she shared her story in observation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Discovery/ Diagnosis
Within a month after receiving a clean bill of health at her annual healthy checkup, Harden discovered a lump in her breast while doing a self breast exam.
“I was actually showering and I felt something,” she shared with the News Messenger. “It felt like a little rock or a little pebble in my breast; and from there on I went to the doctor to follow up on it.”
The physician initially suspected it was just hormones.
“His initial thought was: ‘You’re too young; it can’t be cancer,’” Harden recalled.
“He went on and ordered further testing, which I’m glad he did,” she said.
Harden remembers the anguish she felt the day she learned of her diagnosis.
“The doctor called me on July 25, 2016,” she said. “I would never forget.”
Speechless, she first shared the news with her sister, who was at home with her, at the time.
“Then I went to my mother’s job. I went to her office and shared it with her,” said Harden.
“I broke down crying; I couldn’t do anything else, but cry,” she recalled. “And my mother, she told me it was going to be alright.”
“We definitely pushed through and here I am today,” she smiled.
Harden said the road wasn’t easy, however, as she underwent two different chemotherapy treatments, which drained her energy.
“I was going every other week with the first chemo and that was from about October to December or January; and with the second type of chemo it was from January to the end of February,” she recounted.
In the end, it was a blessing to be able to ring the bell to mark the culmination of the chemo treatment. From there, she opted to do a bilateral mastectomy.
“I could’ve gotten a bilateral mastectomy and I would not have needed radiation, so that’s what I decided to go with,” she said. “After going through chemo that was too much for me.”
Through it all, Harden found renewed strength through her journey.
“I felt like it was really a test of my faith,” said Harden. “My faith was already strong, but it’s even stronger now.
“When I sit back and I think about it, I can say: ‘Thank you God,’” said Harden.
Harden said she’s thankful for having a good support system during her time of need.
“A support system is very important,” said Harden.
Her mother, Patricia Harden, not only accompanied her to every doctor’s appointment and chemotherapy treatment, but gave her a book to uplift and inspire.
“My mother gave me a book and she told me to just to read it,” Harden shared. “It’s called ‘God Will Carry You Through’; and in between doctor appointments and trying to get my chemo set up, I would read that book.
“It was at one point in time when I was here at home and reading the book, I heard something speak to me. It was nobody other than God and He told me: ‘It’s alright,’” Harden recounted. “From that moment on, I kept that mindset: ‘It’s alright. This too shall pass.’”
Harden said she’s grateful for her aunts, who always checked on her welfare, throughout her journey.
“Esther Wilson, she has passed now, and Sythia Gaut … they always made sure that the kids and I had food, that we were taken care of in addition to my church family, of course,” said Harden. “And when I got home (from chemo treatments) I was getting a phone call from one of the two making sure we were OK.”
A single mother at the time, Harden said her oldest, D’Sherrick Williams, who was 16 then, stepped in as a strong support as well. Realizing the financial strain the cancer diagnosis caused the family, he sought employment to help pay for his school activities.
“He actually went out and found a job,” she shared. “He was active in MHS (band) color guard and fine arts. He said: ‘There’s no way you’d be able to afford that. I have to get a job.’”
Harden is proud of the valor he showed.
“He’s a successful young man now,” the mother said. “I’m so proud of him and very thankful for him and being my support. He never let it get to him at all.”
A survivor, Harden encourages all — male and female — to do a self breast examination because early detection is key.
“Early detection helped save my life, so I encourage you — young and old — to do a self breast exam and get a mammogram,” Harden said.
“If you feel anything different, contact your doctor immediately,” she urged.
Because breast cancer attacks any age, she encourages young ladies to start getting mammograms early, especially if the disease is in their family history.
“It could be genetics,” she said of the family history. “In that case, I really do encourage them to do genetic testing as early as 18 years old.”
Most importantly, she encourages those who are currently in the battle, to lean on their faith.
“Remember this too shall pass,” said Harden. “Keep the faith in God and press through, push through.”
For young mothers, like her, that went through the battle with their young families, Harden advises to pray and stay strong.
“It’s not going to be easy. Definitely get you a support system,” she said.
“If you don’t have the support (then) journal,” Harden advised. “Write everything out; pray about it. It’s all going to work out for the good.”