“There are no boundaries when it comes to a mother’s love,” Michelle Callands told the Times-News this week.
Callands is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Her mother Annie Bryant shaved her head Thursday in support of her daughter.
“I told her, ‘Mama, don’t do it; you are crazy,’” Callands said. Caught between laughter and tears, the 44-year-old was torn over how to feel about her mother’s decision.
Also having her head shaved in support on Thursday was their friend Darnell Reinhardt.
Callands’ husband and son have already shaved their heads shaved, something she forced herself to do after her second chemotherapy treatment started making her hair fall out in clumps.
Doctors diagnosed the Vale resident with stage two breast cancer following a lumpectomy July 6 at Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln. Callands hadn’t had a mammogram in quite some time when she detected a ping-pong sized lump in one of her breasts earlier this summer.
“I felt something that was not there before and thought, ‘I need to go get this checked out,’” she said.
Callands had been scheduled to get a mammogram done at the hospital right after it opened but never received a confirmation call.
“With the building of the new hospital, no one ever called me,” she said.
Callands is the first person in her immediate family to get breast cancer.
Doctors immediately sent her to a surgeon before doing a biopsy, which she was more than thankful for at that point.
“I wanted it taken out,” she said.
Less than two weeks later, she heard the heart-stopping news that the lump was, indeed, cancer.
While Callands currently remains positive about her prognosis, her spirits haven’t always proved so upbeat.
“I didn’t start out that way,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of support, and that keeps me going and my strong faith.”
Members of her home church, Mt. Vernon Baptist in Iron Station, regularly pray for her, check-in on her and bring her meals.
She currently has half her chemo treatments completed with her next one set for Oct. 30. She typically has her husband or mother drive her to the location in Cornelius, but it’s not until five or six days following treatment that she starts to feel side effects, which have primarily included numbness of the hands and loss of energy. She’s grateful that she’s yet to experience the ongoing nausea frequently associated with chemo.
“I’ve haven’t been sick since I’ve had it,” she said.
Callands opted to have a port placed under her chest for the treatments rather than continuously pricking her skin with needles.
“My poor arm’s been stuck so many times it can’t handle no more,” she said.
In addition, because the nature of her job forces her to do heavy lifting, she’s had to stop working in order to prevent possible damage to the port.
Callands encouraged all newly-diagnosed cancer patients to talk with others who’ve survived the disease.
“You have to stay positive–you really do,” she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of women who’ve been through it (breast cancer), and they are OK.
She’s especially drawn inspiration from knowing other women much older than her have survived the disease.
Doctors are now hopeful they’ve removed all of Callands’ cancer, while at first they were apprehensive it may have spread to her bones due to the lump’s close proximity to her breast bone.
The timing has yet to be determined, but Callands is also set to undergo a mastectomy and radiation in the future. She’s chosen to remove both her breasts in order to prevent a second future scare.
“I don’t want to have to go through this again,” she said.
Callands also advised women to never refrain from getting a lump checked.