Photographer: Jennifer Willard Photography // Small Town Kids October/November/December 2016
AFTER OVERCOMING A CANCER DIAGNOSIS DURING HER PREGNANCY, LA SHUNDA MINIX EMBRACES THE JOY OF CARING FOR HER FAMILY AND BEING A MOTHER TO HER SON DENIM
3 words to describe your family:
One, Strong, God-Fearing
words to describe you:
Fighter, Motivator, Devoted, Multi-Talented
Tell us about your son?
Denim is a handsome busy little toddler that brings this family so much joy. Denim saved his mommy’s life!! Denim fought my cancer diagnosis with me (I carried him in my womb while I went through 5 of 6 rounds of chemo). Denim was born 6 weeks early. Denim had all odds against him…my husband and I were informed the worst to expect. He could be in the NICU for 10 weeks, have heart and lung complications, sucking issues, an IV in his head, feeding tube in his stomach, and possibly death. Well God and Denim said NO WAY. Denim spent exactly 2 weeks in the NICU with an IV in his hand for 4 days. He did have a nasal feeding tube because he had to learn how to suck. I received a shot, while pregnant, to help with his lungs and that was a Blessing! Denim was born weighing 4 lbs. 3 oz.; he was considered a preemie. Denim has never shown signs of slow learning; he’s actually above his age level. Denim runs through the house and repeats whatever he hears. Denim knows his body parts and he’s only a few trips away from being fully potty trained. Denim has participated in a football camp, and a parade. Denim loves kids and he is very friendly. Denim loves to love!!
Best thing about being a mom:
Wow, I don’t have just one thing…The BEST is having a son named Denim that calls me Momma, Momma, Momma!! Knowing that each day, hour, and/or min. Denim will have a surprise for me (good or bad, lol), but I LOVE every surprise!! Having and knowing someone loves you at all times, no matter your flaws. I can never be replaced!
Tell us about your experience with having cancer while being pregnant?
I was constantly sick and had a hard time breathing; we thought it was just first-trimester pregnancy symptoms. I was 23 weeks pregnant when I was diagnosed and 24 weeks pregnant when I found out the exact diagnosis. I started chemo immediately; the tumor was growing fast. I spent 6-8 hours receiving chemo and the rest of the 24 hours sleeping. I didn’t have a strong appetite and that became an issue, but I made myself eat whenever I wasn’t vomiting. I received chemo every 21 days at MD Anderson. I had to receive a full 2 hour ultrasound each trip; if my OB found anything she would cancel my chemo (happened for my 6th round, I had to have Denim early)
How has this affected your output on life and being a mom?
I look at life so differently now. I thought I was living before the diagnosis, oh but my God, I am living now. I love everyone and I show it. I find the positive in every situation. I thank God every day, all day. I have learned to ask for help; I use to be a control freak. I pray so hard that I can be around to see Denim graduate high school, college, and start his career/family! I look at Denim while he’s asleep and I just say “Thank you Jesus” because I know this was the outcome that many expected, but I just want God to know I believed and I will forever be thankful. Being a mom is a tough job, but it’s so rewarding and loving, I pray I don’t have to, but I would do it all over again if I had to…just to have the handsome and smart son named Denim!
How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom and having other demands:
I keep the calendar in my phone full. I get our clothes together at night, sometimes 2-3 days before. I keep a plan B and I make sure I call if I’m running late or can’t make it. I keep Denim bags packed in every vehicle
Favorite thing to do with your children:
I love doing “Give mommy some love” Denim puts his handsome soft face against mine and his little arms around my neck real tight…I can’t think of a better feeling! I love making up songs and dances to the alphabet and numbers.
Do you have any advice for new moms:
Show your children you love them and say it on a daily basis. Start this at 1-day-old, it will grow in them. Ask for help. Take breaks for some mommy time. It’s hard, but it is needed!
Tell us about your husband:
My husband is hardworking supportive family man. Rod has 21 years at East Texas Food Bank. This was his first and only job (commitment and consistency, I LOVE IT!) From October 2014, Rod has been by my side. He stayed with me through every treatment. He would take vacation days to stay with me during Radiation (I had to live in Houston for a month with a newborn) to give my mom a break. Rod would drive me to Houston when he got off work (10-12 hour shift) and stay with me 2-3 days at a time and drive back. My husband and I both use to drink alcohol sociably. Rod decided to give up alcohol for good when he found out about my diagnosis; I didn’t learn this until after Denim was born. Rod said that he made a vow to God to give up alcohol, if you please heal my wife and baby. To many that may be small, but that’s about as bad of a habit we had. Rod would get up at any time of the night and early mornings to get me food or just listen to me testify!! I thank God for blessing me with a God-Fearing husband, ex-boyfriend, and father of my son…I like to say this because it’s cute and true!
Best marriage advice you’ve received:
Keep God as the head of your home and everything will work itself out. With God you will have a lasting marriage! This is from my mother.
Best parenting or life advice you have been given:
Always listen to Denim and be his number 1 cheerleader! Live life and put all your worries and burdens in God’s hands
Words to live by:
Pray a sincere prayer and have strong faith! Enjoy every minute of your life, we don’t know the day nor hour that we will leave this earth!
Best thing that happened in 2016 so far:
Denim turned the BIG 1 and I was able to share it with him! I didn’t know how my health would be, but I kept faith that I would be alive to share Denim’s first birthday with him and many more!