Every Wednesday at Leaving A Legacy, I’m going to be sharing with you my journey as a breast cancer fighter. I hope you’ll join me on this journey…..I’m going to be very transparent and very real, as I share with you what the Lord has placed on my heart, one step at a time.
My husband and I went to see my surgeon with fear and dread settling in the pits of our stomachs. As we pulled into the parking lot, I thought of a million other places I would rather be, anywhere but here I thought……. anywhere on earth.
Once we reached his office and all the pleasantries had been made, we got down to business. He explained what type of cancer I had, the only parts I can remember him saying were, it was estrogen positive, and HER2-. Many cancer survivors can tell you down to the exact science what their cancers are.
I on the other hand could have cared less.
All I knew was I wanted it to be gone, and gone as soon as possible.
We discussed all available options for me. I choose the most drastic, I made the choice that no 34 year old woman should have had to make. I knew I wanted the least likely chance of it coming back, so a mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation were chosen.
It was a choice that would change my life. A choice which would cause all sense of normalcy to be gone…..and never return.
When I left my surgeon’s office I was angry and grateful at the same time. Angry, because I had just been into see him six months before when he read my mammogram and ultrasound and told me that everything looked just fine. Angry, when the radiologist at my most recent ultrasound told me, “You need to go back to your surgeon and have this biopsied and if he doesn’t do it, you need to find a surgeon who will.”
The thoughts came rushing through my head of, “Why didn’t he do something sooner, then maybe I wouldn’t be in this mess!”
That’s when I heard God’s voice, “Forgive. He did the best he could. Forgive.”
Once my spirit quieted I realized I was also grateful. Grateful, because now the Lord had given us a game plan. I was good with plans. It made me feel in control, and control was one thing that I liked to have.
Little did I know that control was something I would lose all together.
The next doctor I saw was my oncologist, Dr. B. I could hear his shoes quickly racing against the tile floors as he came into see me. I was his new patient, the next life that held in the balance, just waiting for him to perform something miraculous that just might give me the hope I needed to evade the elusive grip of deaths hands.
My PET scan soon followed. As any cancer survivor knows, this scan can strike fear in the heart of any cancer patient, because it finds the unknowns, the unknown cancer cells that can be lurking anywhere, just waiting to strike, and change your life forever.
As I laid down on the cold, sterile table, ready to go into the machine to get my scan, the technician administering the test, realized I was a Christian by the way I was talking. He told me He was a Christian was well.
He went back into his room to get everything set up properly. When he returned he came to me and said, “God has spoken to me and has something He wants you to know. He hears and He answers.” My husband and I looked at each other in amazement, not aware at the time that this would be the first of many times that God would speak to us and make His presence known.
One of the last new faces we had to meet was my plastic surgeon. He discussed with us the option that I had chosen for reconstruction, called a TRAM Flap. What this meant was; they would use part of the tissue from my stomach to rebuild the new breast. During surgery while the mastectomy was being done, the plastic surgeon would also be working on removing a significant amount of my stomach tissue, and giving me a tummy tuck at the same time. (Hey, there’s always a silver lining somewhere!) Once, the mastectomy was complete, the plastic surgeon would then begin the reconstruction process.
With my surgery date set on September 3rd, 2003, I began to prepare myself mentally for what was going to happen. I began to pray earnestly for guidance into what was one of the deepest valleys I was about to descend into.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me…” words from the 23 Psalm was the message that I replayed over and over again in my head.
When the time came to tell our precious children what was happening, my husband and I reasoned that we would tell them as little as possible, until the time came for them to need more information.
We sat in the middle of a restaurant eating dinner, and the words came from God as I began to explain to our children in their terms, what was happening. “Mommy has some nasty stuff growing inside her, and that nasty stuff needs to be cut out. So that means that Mommy will have surgery. Once the surgery is over, Mommy will have to get some medicine to make sure the nasty stuff, never ever comes back again. This medicine will make Mommy sick and make Mommy loose her hair.” Our children sat at the table in silence like they didn’t know what hit them
“Why Lord! Why do I have to do this!” I cried in the silent depths of my soul.
I told them Daddy and Mommy would always be there for them and Jesus would help us every step of the way. God heard my cries, because both children had a look of peace come over their faces as they both said “ok,” and smiled.
I could feel a weight lift off my shoulders as I knew God was right their with us caring about the smallest of details.
Before the surgery I spoke with my brother about everything that was happening. He was silent for a moment and then said, “Why don’t you have both breasts removed? That way it’ll even increase your odds for a better recovery.”
“Say what?” was my response, and then I thought. “Well, maybe your right.”
My main goal was to be around as long as possible for my children. No matter what I had to do, I would do it so they would have their mother. After discussing it with my husband, we both agreed.
When we spoke to my surgeon and got the PET scan results back, the news was good, cancer was only on the left side and nowhere else. Even after finding this out, we felt God pushing us forward to the most drastic measures, we discussed our ideas with the surgeon about having a bi-lateral mastectomy. He agreed that this would be my best chance for a full recovery and remission.
The plans were set, God was at the helm, and we were ready to take the first course of action used to fight this horrible monster, ready to move forward and see more of His story unfold.
Please join me next week for more of His story.
Click here to read, Part 1