Monday, March 18, 2013
Life is Not Always a Bowl of Cherries
Fourteen days ago I was told I have breast cancer. I know that having breast cancer doesn't make me special, because in fact one in every eight women will get it.
Still, I wonder why it happens to some of us and not others. I don't have risk factors: Our family doesn't have a history of breast cancer; - though the biopsy technician pointed out that someone has to get breast cancer for it to become "a family history" - I nursed my two babies; I've never had hormone replacement therapy; I've never smoked; I eat healthily; I exercise; I'm not overweight; and yes, I drink alcohol (wine), but definitely in moderation. Cancer can happen when you do everything right.
My tumor, which is about 9 mm in size, was identified as an abnormality during a routine mammogram in January. I couldn't, and still can't feel it. After a second mammography visit, on February 27 I had a needle-guided ultrasound biopsy. Five days later, on March 4, my husband accompanied me to the doctor's office when I received the report: invasive ductal carcinoma with tubular features. Who wouldn't be frightened to hear that!?
In the past two weeks I've seen an oncologist and a surgeon. On March 26 I'll have a lumpectomy and a biopsy of two lymph nodes under my arm. Three to eight days later the pathology report will clarify whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and/or elsewhere. The doc says there's a 90 percent chance it has not. Then, I'm a candidate for a newer radiation treatment called partial breast radiation that will be delivered directly to the lumpectomy site for only one week. No one's yet told me how I'll feel during that week, if I'll feel extra tired or even sick, but I will handle it. If one week of intense radiation means that by the end of April this could all be behind me, I'm goin' for it.
I'm also goin' for soaking in God's Word! Verses about the hope he offers for the future, his strength and how he is helping me stay strong - though I do have my moments - help me bare up. When I feel overwhelmed, he hears from me... and he's hearing frequently from me these days! He's also hearing from praying friends and family, and even people who don't know me. Such knowledge is filling me with a blanketing peace. I share this, not to draw attention to me, but to invite your prayer too. It's the only thing I covet in the way of "help." God hears.
My tumor was found early, while it is small, so I have a good prognosis.
Now I'm admonishing you women, in the nicest, most encouraging way. Take advantage of the medical technology we're blessed to have available to us. Make that mammogram appointment you've been putting off. Seriously. It could save your life. I mean it!
Today I'm celebrating my 60th birthday. Even though it's a big number, am proud to be 60. Gosh, I've made it through 60 years of living!
Weeks ago I had hoped to have a party today, but this diagnosis shook me loose of that idea. But God-willing, breast cancer won't slow me down for long. Now, I'm holding out for a Cancer-Free Party. Until then, happy 60th birthday to me! Linda