I didn't know if I was ever going to share this on here, but I want you to know there is more to me than disneyland days and crochet. I don't ever feel obligated to share the personal stuff, but this time it feels different. I haven't been myself lately, and feel the need to apologize to so many that I flaked on, or forgot something, or avoided all together. I finally feel able to talk openly about what's been going on in my life. Health struggles, nit-picky fights with my husband, timeouts for the two year old, tears, exhaustion… it's part of my daily. I'm just slow to share intimate, personal details. I'm a bottle-upper, that keeps it all inside. Always have been.
So I'll just dive right in... for the last three months I was living with the possibility of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Appointment after appointment, mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies… the final diagnosis on the lump I found was fibroadenoma, a knot of gland tissue that feels like a solid lump. It can be surgically removed or may lessen itself over time. Not cancer. Praise Jesus. But for so many, they don't receive those same test results they were praying for, and I have been thinking about those women a lot lately.
I have one aunt who has beaten cancer twice, and one aunt who sadly lost her life to breast cancer at age 53. My family and I walked in memory of her here.
It was a rough holiday season, my thoughts were consumed with the what-ifs and my schedule was so flooded with doctors and appointments, it was hard to focus. I would cling to Isaiah 41:10, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." And then, my hope would fade and the very next day I would want to buy every F-cancer shirt I could get my hands on. It was a process, trusting my God and finding the peace that I desperately needed, especially during the busy Christmas season. I didn't tell my family what was happening until a month in, I needed the time to process it myself first before I wanted to talk about it. I look back on that and regret not asking for help and prayer sooner. At 31 years old, I'm still learning how to ask others for help and let them see the fragile, vulnerable side of me.
Jeff went with me to most appointments, but there were a lot of them I went alone. I would go in, put on a brave face, and hold it together in the waiting room and during the appointments. The unknown of everything was scary. Then as soon as I would walk out of the hospital, the cold winter air would hit my face and immediately I would sob uncontrollably. Yet in those moments, I felt safe. Right there in the hospital parking lot. Between the cancer wing, surgery wing, fertility wing… I felt there was an understanding among those around, of the needed release. And then I would get in my car, drive home, and move on with my day as a mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter. To be honest, there were also times after appointments when Jeff would drive me to the nearest mexican restaurant for an afternoon margarita.
My journey is not over, I still have another follow up scheduled for this month. Along with the feeling that I need to be on top of it for the rest of my life now, as breast cancer runs in my family. But I rejoice in knowing that my God is in control and that his promises are true. And after a busy season, I rested. Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." It's been a few weeks since my last doctors appointment, a much needed time of rest for my soul. And I was hesitant to revisit all these feelings, but now feel relief after letting it all out.
I asked my doctor so many questions, and the answers were surprising. So I want to leave you with some important information I learned along the way...
Don't wait. If you find something abnormal, have it checked out. The breast cancer center was so helpful and welcoming. They moved quickly on appointments and care, as an early discovery and quick diagnosis can make a huge difference. Had my aunt gone to the doctor sooner, she might still be here. She waited too long, and it was too late.
Self exam. It is the only early detection of breast cancer. My doctor told me there are no other symptoms other than the physical evidence of a lump. You won't feel sick, or tired, or tender to the touch. So self breast exams are crucial to your health.
Don't worry. "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
There. I feel like we just sat down for the longest coffee / girltalk sesh. It's a relief to be open and not carry a burden alone. I love you all for reading this. XO