Well, I finally got the news I’ve been waiting for today (from my Oncotype test) and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. In one of my last posts, I asked you all to pray for a score lower than 20 so that I wouldn’t have to do chemotherapy. And you were so sweet to leave tons of comments like ‘Praying for under 20!’ and ‘Lord please let the score be less than 20!’. As Dr. O’ Shaughnessy (oncologist) explained to me at my last visit, a score of 18 and below would mean no chemo. And a score of 20 and above would indicate chemo. I’ve always been slightly complicated, so I wasn’t too surprised when my score came back as this…
In hindsight, I should have been a little more specific on my prayer request.
NINETEEN. Seriously?! I believe that puts me in the GREYest of GREY areas. However, with cancer, grey may as well be black. Because who’s going to gamble with 1 point? NOT ME.
I will meet with Dr. O’ Shaughnessy tomorrow morning to go over the details, but her nurse told me that due to my young age, Dr. O was going to recommend chemo. I’m not gonna lie, the news hit me really hard. Like cry for hours hard. I mentioned this earlier, but cancer has a funny way of humbling you at every turn. Just when you think you’re gaining momentum, you get knocked down again. It’s maddening.
The good news is the Lord TRULY (and I mean in every sense of the word) has gone before me (Deuteronomy 31:8) and paved the way so beautifully with so many details even in times like this. For instance, my best friend from Boston, Kim, had already planned on being in town this week and was with me ALL day to process. Normally we spend an hour or two on the phone each morning analyzing life, but having the GIFT of processing together face to face was priceless. Never mind that we took our SEVEN, yes SEVEN, boys to Jump Street during all of this, and that our processing took place at a picnic table in the party room.
Cause I can think of no better place than the party room at a trampoline park to cry it out about chemo.
Another way the Lord went before me was that I had the opportunity, through FRAMILY (friends who are like family), to connect with MD Anderson a few weeks ago and make an appointment for a second opinion. It seemed like overkill at the time because my situation felt pretty simple in cancer terms. But I was so grateful for the connection and felt the Lord prompting my heart to continue down that path. A few days prior to making the appointment, I had a conversation with my friend, Kay, who is battling lymphoma like a BOSS. She asked me if I was going to get a second opinion and I was a little speechless. I told her that I ALWAYS recommend a second opinion to anyone with cancer, but oddly hadn’t even considered it for myself. Thus, the reason for my follow through and for my upcoming summer vacation in Houston. The Holy Spirit is good like that.
My thought in securing an appointment with MDA early on was that if my Oncotype score was low and chemo was not recommended, I would love to hear that twice. But if the score was high and chemo was recommended, I wanted someone else to lay eyes on my case and concur. I’m a bit paranoid because the list of those close to me who have been diagnosed with cancer is growing rapidly (more on that later). All that said, I am beyond grateful that my appointment with MDA is scheduled for July 12th, which is only 2 weeks away. They even called me today to let me know that all of my scans, labs, etc. had already arrived and my case file was 146 pages long. I don’t know whether to be nervous or happy about that. But I do know I’m thrilled that I’m not scrambling now to make that appointment, and feel confident that the Lord set all of that in motion before I even knew I needed it.
Emotionally, chemo is a tough pill to swallow. I told my friend Alyson that because Jen didn’t have a double mastectomy, there haven’t been too many memories of her journey associated with my recent surgery and recovery. But undergoing chemo will most assuredly usher in so many of those as I’ve sat in that treatment room with her at Baylor 1000 times. But I keep reminding myself that the same God who orchestrated friends in town and MD Anderson appointments is the same God who will walk every step of the way with me down this unknown path.
In other news, I went in for my second inflation on Monday, the 26th, and it was so much better than the first. Dr. Potter’s (plastic surgeon) office provides these beautiful thick waffle robes for their patients, so I just closed my eyes this time and pretended I was lying on a massage table by the beach instead of being blown up like a balloon for a five year old’s birthday party. This is when I’m so thankful for such a vivid imagination. The only negative from the appointment was that every where I looked that day I saw things like this:
This is about the time in my post when I feel compelled to apologize to all of the sweet men who are following my journey. I am so sorry, but I’ve always been a bit unfiltered.
With all of the humor I have about such a dreaded disease, however, there are times when my heart is literally broken. And one such time happened almost 2 weeks ago on June 16th. It was my dear friend, Stephanie’s, birthday. Remember the beautiful birthday party I had the day before my mastectomy when my friends prayed for me? Stephanie hosted that party. She’s the beauty on the front row in BLUE right beside me:
(Catherine, Stephanie, Courtney, me & Casey; AKA “Five Blondes that Walked into a Plastic Surgeon’s Office”)
Stephanie is one of the first friends I met when I moved to Dallas in 2010, and I’ll never forget something she said after we got to know one another a few weeks later. She and I were standing on the Hyer playground and she said, ‘I think you are my speed’ (referring to how we raise our kids and live our lives). And if I didn’t say it out loud, I was thinking ‘well, if you are a sloth then I think we are good.’ And we have been slothing together ever since.
Stephanie found out on her birthday (while Casey and I just happened to be at her house with her) that she has breast cancer. I’m sorry, but WHAT DID YOU SAY?! How is it even possible that I have another close friend inducted into this club? Thank the Lord Stephanie’s prognosis is good, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the memories of caring for a friend with cancer are all too vivid and painful. Her diagnosis brought back a FLOOD of emotions, and I’m still perplexed that we are here.
I love my friend with all of my heart and am struggling to make sense of this. But thankfully, we’ve already been able to laugh through tears and recognize the sweetness of traveling this road together. Even if it is at a sloth’s pace.
I would appreciate your prayers for my appointment tomorrow, as well as my upcoming surgery on July 6th (removal of the nips – sorry again, men). I will update tomorrow if I learn anything new about chemo, but for now I just ask (BEG) you to continue encouraging me with your sweet cards, calls, prayers, texts and visits. They literally FEED MY SOUL.
Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,
PS: I was on a walk with my dog this morning and was confronted by a lady for not having Dodger on a leash. Admittedly, I should have. But I blurted out before thinking, ‘I’m sorry but I just had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, and I cannot have my 55 pound Labradoodle pulling on me right now.’ She literally took 3 steps back and said, ‘I shouldn’t have said that.’ I assured her it was okay and that yes I should have my dog on a leash, but that I needed a little extra grace today. To which she said, ‘of course.’ So to you, nice lady just trying to follow the rules, I sincerely apologize and I hope I didn’t send you into what Jen used to call a SHAME SPIRAL.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8