I don’t talk about it much, as I learned at a young age I was not allowed to talk about the painful bad things that happened in my life. I’ve been working on changing that. It’s still a process.
Today I talk about my past only to encourage others to do the same and to show you that we can overcome the painful things together. With God it is possible.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Please go get your yearly mammogram. Early detection really does save lives.
I was diagnosed in March 2018. After that, it’s a fog of fear, confusion and a whirlwind of emotions. So many tests, so many doctor appointments and so many decisions to make in a very short time.
It’s so very hard when you don’t know or really understand what is the best decision for your life and for your family. You can research, ask questions, but then that seems to make things even more confusing. It can be scary, overwhelming and a heavy burden to carry.
My doctor and surgeon suggested I have a mastectomy and some lymph nodes removed. Surgery was scheduled for June. However, I had Missions trips planned for June and July. My heart sank as this work is a big part of my heart. And, another painful decision to make.
I prayed for direction and honestly didn’t feel like I was being guided one way or the other at the time. I asked what would be the best and quickest way for me to heal so I could still go on my mission trips. They laughed at me. But, I was serious.
Mastectomy was their best choice for me, but if I passed another test they would let me do a partial mastectomy. They didn’t think I’d pass so I was told I needed to be prepared for that.
That test revealed that they thought I had two masses with cancer on both sides of my breast. So the only choice was removal of the breast. They weren’t going to do another biopsy.
After sharing my request they said they would biopsy the second lump. The results from the second biopsy were that the other spot was not cancer. So they agreed to partial mastectomy. My decision was made.
I then decided to let a trusted friend lead my June trip, as I knew it wouldn’t be possible to go. But, I was still crazy enough to think I could go on the July trip.
July started my treatment plan — so no July trip. Having a large part of my breast taken, as well as several lymph nodes, meant recovery wasn’t going to be as fast as I had hoped. I had some side effects that made it hard also.
I started treatment at the end of July and it ended the end of September. I was so happy to ring that bell after going through the terrible side effects of the radiation. The burns were bad. My skin was very sensitive.
But the good news is it heals. Today I have one dark brown breast. A tan I’d love on the rest of my body. LOL.
I have scars, it’s half the size of the other, and is misshapen. I have some swelling from lymphedema caused by the removal of the lymph nodes. It can be painful when it flares up.
I’m still doing physical therapy with a lymphedema specialist. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But, as I said, it is the choice I made to heal quickly.
I’m sharing this in hopes it will help someone else who is in the middle of making decisions. No one told me these truthful things. I don’t know if I would have chosen a full mastectomy if I’d known the final effects. I might have. But I didn’t know.
The thing I do know is my cancer is gone. I am alive. And the things I deal with now I’m grateful for. It reminds me to be thankful for my life, my time with family and friends, and that God allows me to continue to do the things I love. Helping others, fight human trafficking and empowering others to do the same.
We postponed the July trip to November and I went a month and a half after my last treatment. It wasn’t easy, but I did it.
I traveled November, January, February, March and twice in July after my treatment. Traveling is hard on lymphedema. But I refuse to let it stop me from the things God has called me to do. I put my lymphedema support sleeve on and I’m off.
I am praying for all the amazing women and men out there just diagnosed, in treatment, or still battling this enemy called cancer. You are warriors, you are strong.
In this world, we will have painful difficult times.
“But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:3.
The Lord will give you signs that better times are coming and that you should continue trusting in him to give you the strength you need to make it through the hard times.
I pray this helps someone out there. Be encouraged we are overcomers.