Hi, I'm Lisa Hatfield and I survived cancer. This is my family. This is our story.
I survived cancer but I'm not the same person I was before. We are not the same family as before. I was young, didn't smoke and lived a healthy lifestyle but at the age of 34 I was diagnosed with a rare form of salivary gland cancer. Luckily it was caught early enough for treatment.
"I didn't want radiation but I was told that if I didn't have radiation I would more than likely die"
Preparing for the end
The oncologist told me to look at my three girls, ages 3, 4 and 6 at the time, and prepare them for life without a mom. My reaction to this was to pray. I prayed to God, "If you get me through this, I promise I will continue to be the best mom ever, raising these kids with the most loving hearts." I wanted to survive because I knew nobody could do a better job of raising my children than me.
"The first day I could feel, taste, smell and hear the radiation; they say you can't but I did"
When people talk about surviving cancer they also mean surviving treatment, which is almost always a permanent change to your physical self and every other part of life forever after. My treatment was to go through a six hour surgery to remove the tumor followed by months of radiation. I didn't want radiation but I was told that if I didn't have radiation I would more than likely die. The doctors told me you can never be sure that all the cancerous cells are removed in surgery and that it could come back very aggressively.
Needless to say I went through 35 rounds of radiation. These were the hardest, most grueling months of my life. I was tied down to a table and had my face locked in a mask while it was blasted with radiation.
The first day I could feel, taste, smell and hear the radiation; they say you can't but I did. It made me sick every time I went in. I felt like a monster. My face was not only burned, but deeply damaged. All the years of sunscreen, moisturizer and fancy creams down the drain. It felt selfish and vain but the radiation that was keeping me alive was also emotionally destroying me.
"My daughter asked me if I got the stuffed animal she made for me"
In the Waiting Room
I would go into the oncology office and sit and wait for the treatment to begin. The waiting room was the hardest part of every visit. You see people go in the room and come out of the room and you wait for the doctor to call your name, all the while just trying to hold on and not visibly break down in front of everyone.
One day while waiting in the room I was digging through my purse for my phone to distract me and I found a stuffed animal made out of paper, cotton balls and tape. I knew one of my daughter's had made it and smiled, thinking about my precious girls, instead of the looming treatment.
"These small creatures the girls made me literally changed my treatment"
A Gift of Love
When I got home my daughter Juliet asked me if I got the stuffed animal she made for me. She told me she made it for me earlier but had to love it first before she gave it to me. I said it was the best part of my morning. She said she wanted to make me a stuffed animal because I always gave her one when she was really sick. The next day I found another cute paper, tape and cotton ball stuffed animal from my oldest daughter Camille. A couple days later I found one from my middle child Chloe who didn't want to be left out of all the fun.
I continued to get these hand-made gifts of love throughout my treatment. These small creatures the girls made me literally changed my treatment. They made me focus on the love of my family and I felt so blessed that they took time to make these and to love them before putting them in my purse. With God's good grace and the love of my family, I finished treatment and have been in remission ever since.
"They wanted to make their little creatures by hand with needle and thread"
Making it real to help others
When my three girls told me they wanted to make "real" stuffed animals to cheer up other mommies, daddies and kids afflicted by cancer, I thought, "What a great idea!" They wanted to use fabric and stuffing, stitched together. I said we could get a sewing machine but they said no. They wanted to make their little creatures by hand with needle and thread. I did not have any experience with sewing so we learned how to do it together.
So stitch by stitch they started making little creatures, monsters and animals. They have been poked by needles and become frustrated when they "mess up" and the thread gets tangled. The girls have never said they wanted to stop though. When they finish a creature they say a prayer for the person it will go to and then they run upstairs and play with it and love it.
"We named our cause Creatures Against Cancer"
Starting a Non-Profit
Eventually we needed to decide if we wanted to take the next step. We all agreed and took the steps to start a non-profit.
We named our cause Creatures Against Cancer. Our hope is that each creature can bring some happiness, peace or comfort to the person receiving it.
If you would like to help us in this mission, please contact us to donate, volunteer or just give some encouragement. We love to hear from people who want to help and anyone who has a survior or warrior in their life.Read more about our Mission