NICOLE NORRIS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Exodus 14:14 “the Lord will fight for you; you need only be still,” are words that Heather Odom rely on daily. Heather is a wife to husband Dusty of 7 years, super hero mom to sons Kayden 6, Karson 3 and Kayson 1.
Her life was normal; Heather got up every day, fixed breakfast for the boys, went to her full time job where she worked as an LPN and then the unthinkable happened. Heather began to experience back pain and as most mothers do, she ignored it. On Aug. 9, 2016 the back pain became unbearable and refused to be ignored any longer. After having a CT scan a MRI was performed. The MRI confirmed there was a mass. The mass was believed to be metastatic and a biopsy was performed.
“I still remember the day we were told the results of the biopsy as if it were yesterday. I just couldn’t comprehend what the doctor was saying. As she said the words “breast cancer” I immediately began to panic and cry. For the most part I just sat in silence and cried as questions were rolling through my head. How? I hadn’t felt anything abnormal or anything I believed was abnormal. And I had no family history of breast cancer. I’m only 30. I’m too young for breast cancer. You aren’t even supposed to have a mammogram until the age of 40 unless you have a family history or abnormality. And why? Why me? Why now? We were about to celebrate a year of good health.”
On Aug. 31, 2015 Heather went into early labor with Kayson at 34 weeks. Heather admits they weren’t quite ready for his arrival.
“That whole morning all I kept saying was how we weren’t ready yet. His room wasn’t finished. We didn’t have everything we needed for him. We hadn’t prepared Kayden and Karson enough for his arrival.”
When Kayson was born he weighed 6 pounds and 2 ounces, he was transferred to another hospital and admitted to NICU. After being discharged Heather fought through the pain of the C-section and began preparing to see Kayson hooked to machines and tubes.
“It was overwhelming. I was scared. I prayed so hard for my new little miracle and I was comforted by my favorite Bible verse Exodus 14:14, just “be still”. I whispered to him over and over “be still, the Lord is fighting for you. He has a purpose for you and a plan.” I remember his sweet nurse who let me stay just a little bit longer than I was supposed to bond with him. She said everything stabilized when he heard my voice and he stabilized even more when I held him. I knew he was in good hands and he was a fighter. Looking back now, I can see God’s blessings through that time. I needed that few hours to help me fight through the next few weeks.”
After already having two previous C-sections, Heather could tell something just wasn’t right. The pain she was experiencing was much worse than her previous C-sections. Heather was rushed to the hospital when she began experiencing uncontrollable vomiting, nausea and the worst pain she had ever felt in her life. Days later she became septic.
“I had fought hard and prayed even harder, but my body was just too tired. As I prayed I was reminded again to just “be still, the Lord is fighting for you.” That night I was rushed to surgery where they found I had a perforated bowel and had to remove a large portion of my large intestine. I remained on the ventilator for the next few days to give my body time to rest and try to heal. I remember my husband saying all he could do was pray. He was going back and forth between two hospitals, trying to be in two places at the same time, and just praying we would both be okay, along with trying to make sure our other two boys were taken care of back at home. Eighteen days later Kayson and I were released on the same day and were finally heading home.”
A year of good health and many blessings came to an abrupt end when on Sept. 2, 2016 just 5 days before Heathers 31st birthday; she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that is hormone receptor positive.
“It was confirmed the cancer was in my right breast, lymph nodes under my right arm, a tumor on T10, and a spot on my pelvic bone. Most worrisome of all, the tumor on my spine was quickly deteriorating the bone and they were worried about it collapsing. So on September 14, I had surgery on my spine to remove what they were able to of the tumor on T10 and to stabilize my spine so it would not collapse. I have also been started on injections; one to help strengthen the bones affected by the cancer and one to stop my hormones to help keep the cancer from potentially spreading.”
“Cancer is a scary. It doesn’t care how old or young you are. It takes things away physically, financially, and emotionally, but I refuse to let cancer beat me! It’s not going to be easy but I will come out the winner! I have too much to fight for and too many people wanting to see I succeed. Again I have been comforted by my favorite verse: Exodus 14:14 “the Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” My battle with breast cancer has had some positive. It has taught me to accept the help and generosity of others and to not fight alone. You do not have to fight alone. There are good people in this world and they are willing and wanting to be a blessing. It is such a huge blessing to be accepted as a recipient for the Cancer Freeze Organization. Please continue to pray for not only me but all of the recipients of the Cancer Freeze Organization.”
Heather has been as a recipient for Cancer Freeze. Cancer Freeze was started in 2007 to help provide financial assistance to individuals from South Alabama and Northwest Florida who are battling cancer. An annual fundraiser is held the first Saturday in February at Lake Jackson in Florala. This will be a day of fundraising, with a 5k walk/run, a fishing tourney, car show, chili cook off and much more. If you are interested in donating visit www.cancerfreeze.com or visit them on Facebook.