My goodness it has been a while since I last posted, hasn’t it? A lot has happened in that time. I know many of you see my posts on Facebook and I keep meaning to post here too but well, life happens!
This past Tuesday I had my 5th round of chemo and I am happy to report that I am tolerating it as well as all the other rounds. I am more tired than normal, am very hungry (due to the steroids I take around treatment), and wee bit nauseous, and have some digestive sensitivities but I cannot complain at all. God has been so very gracious in protecting me from some of the more severe side effects and for that I am grateful.
A few weeks ago, I felt like I was under a spiritual attack constantly. The “what if’s” and dark thoughts kept creeping in. I was experiencing some…discomfort/nerve issues?…in my armpit on the side they biopsied the lymph nodes and I kept thinking, “what if the cancer is growing?” even though every time I turned to God, He assured me he is healing/has healed it. It’s hard to trust what we cannot SEE or tangibly KNOW for certain, isn’t it?
Well, at a visit with our chiropractor, I mentioned the discomfort so he checked my ribs and sure enough, some of my ribs were misaligned, causing the nerve issues! The cause of my ribs being misaligned was that I’d had two colds in the past month and both left me coughing pretty severely…which messed up the ribs! Something so simple caused me so much worry and I allowed it to steal my Joy!
At this point, I have to say that God really helped me change my perspective. Each of the two colds I had only lasted a week. While I was busy worrying about my armpit, God was keeping my body strong enough to be able to fight off colds while going through chemotherapy. As a few people at church pointed out to me, THAT in and of itself is a miracle; many people on chemotherapy end up in the hospital with complications due to a simple cold!
Since then, I have been doing much better emotionally and the past 2 weeks I’ve not been worrying about the future every day but instead enjoying each moment (yes even when the kiddos are at each other’s throats and I want to pull my hair out). This past week, we celebrated our youngest’s FIRST and my 31st birthdays!
I posted on FB this week, asking for prayers for God’s peace and guidance regarding the possibility of radiation after my surgery. I’ve had a bad “gut feeling” about radiation from day one, which was only compounded when we discovered I have a genetic mutation that predisposed me to breast cancer. That gene is a tumor suppressing gene and there is “insufficient evidence” regarding the safety of individuals with this gene receiving radiation. It’s scientifically proven that radiation can cause secondary tumors, cause remaining cancer cells to turn into treatment resistant stem cells, increases the risk of developing leukemia (due to chemo), not to mention it can cause osteoporosis, heart damage, lung damage, and more. There have been a limited number of studies that have shown an increased risk of the secondary cancers after radiation in individuals with my and other genetic defects though.
Because of all of that, we made an appointment to meet with my radiologist. I went there prepared to state my case and have to defend it. I printed up multiple scientific studies and was ready to go head to head. I thought for sure he would insist on radiation and I might feel backed into a corner. I asked for prayer for peace to know what GOD wanted me to do because HE alone knows what is going on in my body and what’s best for me.
I was a bit surprised (but not really), when my radiologist told us that as of right now, neither he nor my oncologist are recommending radiation. He explained that if I didn’t have the genetic mutation and they didn’t suspect metastasis in the hip/femur, he would recommend it because that’s “standard” for anyone with lymph node involvement. The hope is to keep any possible remaining cancer from spreading. Since they are assuming my cancer has spread, he feels the radiation would do more harm than good (in causing other issues). We will do the double mastectomy and re-image my body afterwards, then he will consult with some colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center but he is certain they will also advise against radiation.
He did point out that he wished the possible metastasis had been able to be biopsied because they HAVE seen women with what they thought was metastasis but when the bone was biopsied, there was no cancer….it was just arthritis or something. He would like to make his decision based on FACT but that’s just not possible. He said even if they DID biopsy those spots now, because I’ve had such a good response to the chemo in the initial tumor on my breast (that was GONE before the 2nd treatment), IF it had been cancer, it would likely come back negative because cancer that’s spread to the bones usually responds even better to chemo than the original source (the breast).
I know this news would probably devastate some people. They would hear it and think well…this is it. There’s nothing else they can do, there’s no hope. I feel the exact opposite. I feel that God has been protecting me and planing this out beautifully. My diagnosis was no surprise to Him. The timing of it, having to wait a few weeks before even meeting my team (when they usually meet days later and do surgery 3 weeks later, MAX), being able to know my lymph nodes were positive and do chemo before surgery, to see such an amazing response to the chemo in that first round (the original tumor went from marble sized to GONE before the 2nd treatment), and more. I feel like God has guided us in every step and perhaps even made those spots light up that may not even be metastasis to protect me from the radiation. I know full well that it could be metastasis but even so, I know God can heal ANYTHING. I have peace that he is walking alongside me, every step of the way, guiding me and showing us the path to healing.
God is teaching me what FAITH really is. It’s been easy to say I have faith that Jesus is my savior, that God is Lord, but to have faith that He truly has my best interest at heart in the midst of all this? It’s not easy. It’s been a growing process; I truly feel like clay being thrown about, molded, stretched, and shaped. At times it hurts, it’s definitely not comfortable, but it’s amazing to look back and see how I’ve grown in just these few months.
I encourage you to read Hebrews 11. God keeps bringing this to my attention every few weeks. It is all about faith in action; how the forefathers in the Bible acted on complete faith, even when what God was telling them to do made NO LOGICAL SENSE. But by faith, they obeyed and were richly rewarded. What seemed impossible to them was made possible and God used their faith to move proverbial mountains!
Hebrews 1:11 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”