My name is Nina Hampton. I'm a teacher, wife and mom to a busy 6 year-old boy. I am also a stage 4 cancer warrior. I found a tiny, pea-sized lump in my breast while in the shower in October 2020, aged 38 years old. A week later it was confirmed as cancerous. My initial diagnosis was invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 1, grade 2 cancer.
I had a single mastectomy at the end of October 2020 and had chemotherapy treatment in from December 2020 to April 2021.
I also be worked with an integrative medicine doctor to help me with a holistic treatment plan between February to October 2021. He felt my biggest cause of cancer was emotional repression. Where I had ingrained coping mechanisms of people pleasing and not allowing myself to feel and express my emotions.
One of my favourite quote’s has been
"One day you will tell your story of how you've overcome what you are going through now, and it will become part of someone else's survival guide."
Since my initial diagnosis, I have made a lot of lifestyle changes including stopping classroom teaching and starting my own Baby Music Classes called Pandagroups and joining a program called Heart Matters, as a facilitator for social and emotional classes for pre-schoolers.
As well as seeing a psychologist regularly, to help me express my emotions in a more healthy way, set personal boundaries and look after my physical, emotional and mental health better.
I was also taking Tamoxifen since April 2021 and only had minor side effects and was feeling good until May 2022 when I started with upper spinal pain. My oncologist sent me for x-rays within 3 days of the back pain starting, but they only picked up muscle spasm. Come mid July 2022 and my back pain was worse despite seeing a physio and chiropractor.
So my oncologist sent me for an MRI and on 25th July 2022 I got the devastating news my breast cancer had metastasised and was now in my spine, giving me a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.
To go from stage 1 in to stage 4 diagnosis in less than 2 years was a big shock. Especially when I felt I had made important changes to my life.
Since my stage 4 diagnosis I’ve had 2 major spinal surgeries to stabilise my spine, due to me being at high risk of paralysis, with the tumors compressing my vertebrae. It’s been a challenging road to go down once again, this time with the words “incurable” and “terminal” hanging over me.
But despite the hardship, God has been so good to my family. Surrounding us with incredible friends and family who have poured out their prayers, love, support and practical care on us. We have been blown away by the generosity of others!
I’m currently recovering from my surgery and am due to start targeted radiation on my spine next week. I will also be starting a new oral drug, that has showed promising results in stage 4 breast cancer, called ribociclib.
I may need more chemotherapy too, we will see. At this stage I will do anything to be able to live as long and healthy a life as possible.
My oncologist has liked stage 4 cancer to living with HIV and being on antiretrovirals. If you can get the right treatment plan you can live a long life.
I’m also going to be doing supportive holistic treatments like Ozone therapy and colonics as well as putting strategies in place like meditation, journaling and light exercise to support my body.
I don’t want to focus on fighting the cancer. Rather I want to think of my body as a garden and the cancer as the weeds. If I nourish my plants and flowers with so much love and care, the weeds will have nowhere to grow and will shrink and fall away.
I had a lot of spiritual experiences during / after my second surgery and really felt Jesus presence very strongly. My surgeon said I woke up with a smile on my face! And I had a clear vision for my life’s purpose: To live a quiet life for Christ. My verse to live by is “For me, to live in Christ and to die is gain.” Phil 1vs21.
I plan (God willing) to write 3 books. A children’s book about our self worth as image bearers of God. A daily devotional for woman and a book of poetry with my life’s lessons.
I have started an Instagram account called faith_love_and_breastcancer to share my journey.
I pray all cancer warriors can feel God’s peace on this journey. And know that they can take all their feelings and leave them at Jesus feet… the fear, the anger, the anxiety, the frustration, the jealousy… all of it! Jesus is ready to take our burdens and love us as we are. We don’t need to walk this road alone!