One year ago today, my life was forever changed by words no one ever imagines they’ll hear.
On August 12, 2014, I entered an exam room to receive the pathology results from a biopsy of a tumor in my left breast. A biopsy that had been performed exactly a week prior. As I sat there alone – the children were with a friend, and unfortunately Michael was away in Texas for work – I was a nervous wreck. The kids had no idea what was going on, or that I was seeing a doctor that morning, and I was able to maintain calm for them. But, once I dropped them off and began my drive to the base hospital, the reality of what I might find out in just a short while smacked me right in the face.
As the technician took my vital signs, she was absolutely shocked at my blood pressure… I reminded her to review my past, very steady, on the low side of normal history before she freaked out and had me lie down. You see, my blood pressure was higher than it has ever been (even during pregnancy), and protocol dictates they have the patient lie down for five minutes, then test again, then send them on to the emergency room if it isn’t better. I assured her that I was really just incredibly nervous and could actually feel inside of me that I had caused my own spike in blood pressure! She looked at my history and decided to try again anyway. Thankfully, I had concentrated on relaxing and helped bring it down just enough for her to let me be.
Dr. S was very kind and compassionate in the delivery of the breast cancer diagnosis. And he was very patient with me and answered the barrage of questions I threw at him after I pulled myself together. He even offered to schedule another appointment with me for the following week, since he wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get in to the oncologist before then. Overall, it wasn’t quite the retched experience I imagined it would be. I even came away with a piece of tangible advice that I immediately put into action.
After gathering the kids from our friend, driving home and feeding them lunch, I was finally able to call Michael and relay to him what I had just learned. He was as grounded and patient as ever. He did not falter, but simply stated “We’ll beat this.”
AND WE DID!
Michael was home the following day, several days earlier than he was suppose to be!
A year later I can look back on that day and it does, in some small way, feel like it was another person in that room. The months that followed were a blur and a slow moving, uphill train all at the same time. I’ve written some about the physical and emotional toll cancer has had on me, but please know that it didn’t only affect me. It affected my husband and our children, too. Probably in ways that I can’t even imagine.
My rock was strong for me, but I know he was hurting, too. He never really let me see it, but he showed that hurt to others who could help support him while he supported me. He always pointed me to scripture and to the infallible truth of God’s Word – never allowing me to pity myself or stay sad for too long.
And our kids, while absolutely resilient, wondered why they didn’t have many friends, why we couldn’t go out and do ‘stuff’, why I couldn’t remember things, why I was so darn grumpy (thank you steroids), and when they would ever feel normal again.
Our 11 year old son looks at me slightly differently now and notices when I’m not wearing my prosthesis. And I’m not very brave about going without it in public, but he did question me at the pool recently when my swim prosthesis hadn’t yet arrived, but I wanted to get into the pool with them. I did it anyway as a sign that there’s nothing wrong with being different, but let me just be honest and tell you that I don’t want to be different.
I have more to say on the emotional aspect of this journey, because it definitely isn’t over. I have many decisions still ahead of me – the biggest being about reconstruction. I’m incredibly thankful that my insurance company cannot put any limitation on me and force me to decide something before I’m ready. At this point, I still don’t actually know if I’m going to go through with it, and if I do what kind of reconstruction I’ll have. I also have a future filled with mammograms, CTs, and bone density scans (maybe – I’m not to keen on all that extra radiation – see, too many decisions). All that to go along with the long term side effects of treatment that I’m already experiencing.
Our family would be grateful if you would continue to pray for us.