Written Saturday, April 29th
Well it’s been a few days since I’ve written and much to my dismay, I still have cancer. I’ve been to several doctors since my diagnosis and I think a tiny piece of me hoped one of them would say this was all a bad mistake. That the pathologists somehow got it wrong or switched my slides. But unfortunately they were right and it is, in fact, cancer.
The good news is that I am in such a sweet place with the Lord. He has continued to give me daily assurances that He is still in control regardless of these unfortunate circumstances.
A few days after my diagnosis, the strangest thing happened. I hesitate to even mention it out loud for fear I’ll be held accountable to keep it going should things change. (You know how when you proclaim you are on a diet but a few days later find your friends giving you that “look” when you are diving into the queso? Yeah, that.) However, I believe 100% it is somewhat of a miracle, and I am committed to sharing with you how the Lord is working in remarkable ways. I am a self proclaimed Diet Coke addict and have been for over 20 years. But after my cancer diagnosis, I became extremely thirsty and Diet Coke did not quench that thirst. For days I tried to tell myself to keep trying and surely it would do the trick. When that strategy failed, I was forced to turn to the dreaded bottled water. To say I don’t like water is an understatement. I detest water. Yes, I know it’s good for me. Yes, I know the benefits for my skin and hair. But literally the only time I ever drink water is right after I work out. And I won’t even talk about how often that happens. Anyway, for the past 8 or so days, water is the ONLY thing that quenches my thirst. And Diet Coke (I feel so disloyal even saying this) tastes terrible to me. I guess you could say I’m 8 days sober.
Now, I feel like that story in and of itself is a miracle. But you throw in the next piece and I promise you’ll be blown away. The other day I had to run errands and take my x-rays from one doctor’s office to another. My sweet friend, Meredith, had texted me the night before and offered to ‘run errands or ride along with me’ not even knowing what I had planned the next day. I was happy to have a friend along, so she joined me for the mundane tasks ahead. We had a running tally of things we needed to talk about as we drove around Dallas, and the last one on the list was ‘diet coke’ (I wanted to share what was happening because I still couldn’t believe it myself). When I told Meredith about being repulsed by my old mainstay, she got huge tears in her eyes. Surprised by her reaction, I asked what was making her cry. She responded, “I’ve been praying about ways to talk to you about Diet Coke and how it wasn’t good for you especially in light of your diagnosis.” I’m sorry, but what?! I got teary myself and said, “Well, now I know who to blame!”. Seriously, though, statements like that can make you cringe because the last thing you want to worry about is what you are eating and drinking after being diagnosed. But Mere has street cred because her family has been negatively affected by cancer and she is super savvy on nutrition and all the latest cancer fighting agents. That, plus I know she loves me dearly, made what she was saying so so sweet. And since we broke the dam, all of my friends who have been worried about my caffeine/aspertame consumption have come out of the woodwork and breathed a collective sigh of relief. And aside from multiple naps and headaches, I think the positives of this incredible change outweigh the negatives. GO GOD.
As if that’s not enough, this morning I awoke praying (I’ve been doing this lately, which is bizarre but so comforting) for the Lord to “illuminate my path”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically use the word “illuminate”, so I knew something was up. I quickly remembered the verse in the Bible that talks about the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf when we don’t know how to pray. ( “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…” Romans 8:26). It was an incredible and overwhelming experience. The Holy Spirit was not only praying IN me, but FOR me as well. I couldn’t wait to go read my devotion to see what the Lord was saying to me. Would you believe the verse in my devotion was Psalm 118:105 (“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”)? I’m not even kidding. Things like this are happening on a daily basis and I get so excited to see what the Lord will show me everyday. Just as I have developed an increased thirst for water, I have also developed an increased thirst for His word. For His guidance. For His wisdom. God knows what we need each day. Whether that be for our bodies, our minds or even our souls. He is the only one who can quench our thirst. Thank you, sweet Jesus.
Today, Trevor and I (along with my sisters and parents) went to see another physician for a second (or 4th) opinion. I’ve learned it’s a good thing to be thorough and not rush this process. In one of the packets I received, it says, “It is much more important to do things correctly than to do them quickly.” Thank goodness, because about 15 days out from my diagnosis and am just now figuring out what I’m going to do. After much prayer and a lot of analyzing, I have decided to have a double mastectomy. And even though I’m very much an open book, it feels weird to send that personal information out on the internet (hello everyone, I’m getting new boobs!). However, I’m taking a chance with being vulnerable in an effort to help anyone else that might go through this process someday. I know those that have shared their stories breathe life into mine, and I hope I can, in turn, help the next person who needs it. This was not an easy decision, but one I am confident in and one I feel is best for me.
The process of choosing the right team of doctors has been interesting to say the least. Because of my decision to do the double mastectomy, I have to choose both a surgical oncologist and a plastic surgeon (both of whom work side by side during surgery). I have absolutely loved so many of the physicians I have seen thus far, so that decision has been tough. Dallas is bursting at the seams with capable and excellent surgeons, and I am growing increasingly grateful for access to amazing healthcare. After today’s appointment, I am one step closer to securing my team. And I know the Lord is already preparing the hands of the surgeons for my upcoming surgery. Before I have the mastectomy, however, I have to have what is called a sentinel node biopsy to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes. Did I really just write that? Seriously, it still feels so surreal that I’m talking about my own body this way. All scans thus far have not indicated any spreading, however, they want to cross every “t” and dot every “i” before giving me the all clear. This is more than likely going to happen early next week. And if I had my hunch, it will probably be Tuesday, which also happens to be my 19th wedding anniversary. And NOTHING says romance like holding hands while having your nodes biopsied. Am I right, ladies? It will be a day surgery and I will be laid up for a day or two afterwards due to soreness. The pathology report should return within 2-3 days after the surgery. I would greatly appreciate your prayers for a huge ‘ALL CLEAR’ on my lymph nodes, as well as something other than gauze from my spouse on that lovely day.
(Next week, I should also have the results back from my genetic testing, which will help the physicians determine the best possible course of treatment.)
I think I’m going to close out EVERY. SINGLE. POST. with how beautiful friendship and family are. The ways you’ve shown you care is truly mind blowing. Thank you. Words fail me every time in this category as there is no way to express my gratitude. But please know how much I love each of you, and how much I appreciate your prayers. I feel so ‘carried’ (that is the only word that continually comes to mind when describing the feeling) by your prayers. Literally carried. The other night Trevor and I ordered Chinese food (because Meredith told me to have broccoli every day ;)) and my fortune cookie could not have been more on point.
I love you, and have never needed you more than I do now.
Until next time…much love to you all & Make Every Day Count,
“…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14