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A day she will always remember: Jill Bryant’s breast cancer story

May 24, 2019 will always be a day that former teacher Jill Bryant will remember.

“It was the day of my daughter’s high school graduation,” Bryant said. “I had an appointment for what I thought would be a very quick check of a lump in my breast. I had felt this knot for several weeks, but it was a busy time of the year. I was winding down my 26th year of teaching school, and there were all the high school senior festivities that kept us hopping. I just hadn’t taken the time to go see the doctor. The spot was painful, and I had always heard that breast cancer didn’t hurt, so I wasn’t exceptionally concerned.  For the nine years that I had been having mammograms, I had always been told that I have dense breast tissue. I had previously had ultrasounds in the past as a result. Besides, it had not even been a year since my last mammogram.

Bryant said everything had always been fine, so she was secretly hoping and praying that this would be just like all the times before.

“After the physical exam took place, I was immediately sent to the hospital for a mammogram,” Bryant said. “Numerous images were taken and I began to sense something wasn’t quite right. After hearing, ‘the radiologist needs me to get one more picture’ for what seemed like the longest afternoon of my life, the uneasy feeling sank in and took hold of all my senses. I knew for sure that something definitely wasn’t right. When it was mentioned that it could possibly be cancer and further testing needed to be done, it was then that I went numb, zoned out, and went into a state of what must be shock. The world was moving around me. People were talking, but I stopped hearing what they said. I was completely frozen in that moment. When my husband arrived to drive me home, I realized that I had to pull it together. After all, in just a few short hours, it would be time for my baby girl’s graduation ceremony. It was a happy, joyous occasion and I fully intended to keep it that way. No one would know until some time after this life event was celebrated.”

Fast forward past many doctors appointments with a surgeon, oncologist, radiologist, gynecologist, family practitioner, bloodwork, tests, a few surgeries, a hospital stay, pathology reports and the diagnosis of stage two breast cancer. It was determined that chemotherapy and radiation were the best course of treatment for Bryant.

After a very emotional summer, Bryant began her first chemo treatment on August 13, 2019, and her last treatment was January 7, 2020.

“God continuously poured out His love and provision on me and my family by using His people to reach out to me and pray for me daily,” Bryant said. “I had days when it was so undeniable that people were praying for me. A sense of peace would wash over me and I knew I was being lifted in prayer.  As I’m thinking about this, I glance over at the large basket beside my bed still overflowing with every card and note I received during those treatment days. It continues to be a visual reminder of God’s love for me and the countless people who prayed for me.”

Bryant finished her 33rd radiation treatment on Friday, March 13, 2020.

“During this journey, I also lost my mama,” Bryant said. “She had been with me, caring for me and taking me to every appointment until she suffered a stroke. She fought such a good fight to recover, but wasn’t able to come home. I learned so much during this journey. I am incredibly grateful for all of my doctors and nurses, for my dear and true friends, my immediate, extended and church family, and my prayer warriors who have all been my support system. Above all, I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who saw me through. It is now my prayer every day that I can be a support to other women who are facing challenging days after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.”

Now, Bryant is currently cancer free.

“I am now healed of the disease that forever changed my perspective and my outlook on life,” Bryant said. “I look back on what was the saddest, yet most beautiful time of my life with much gratitude. I am blessed.”