“We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.” – Lance Armstrong
Cancer is.....hard. Cancer is.....psychological warfare. Cancer is....mental exhaustion. Cancer is.....racing thoughts in the middle of the night. Cancer is....a battle with insurance. Cancer is.....lonely. Cancer is.....a sudden need for control. Cancer is....tears gathered in a puddle on the floor under your face. Cancer is.....deadly cells trying to take the place of life. Cancer is.....sometimes treatable. Cancer is....not going to win. What a blessed day it will be to say, "Cancer is no more." I'm grateful to be surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses who have dedicated their life to fighting cancer. My cancer situation is not unique. If anything, my situation is quite common. I was unexpectedly diagnosed with a life altering disease. I don't have any great claims to wisdom. I just know that I am working at accepting my fate and that I'm going to face this.
After meeting with the surgeon, I am exhausted. However I do need to say how much I truly appreciate the surgeon that I'm working with for treatment. The appointment was long. Really long y'all. Over two hours kind of long. My Mormon mama sent her really good friend to be with me during the appointment. She's a really sweet lady and I was grateful to not have to endure the appointment alone. I am at a great facility but it's also a teaching facility. So there's the surgeon, his resident, the nurse, a nursing student, and this wonderful lady who's come to be with me. Having breast cancer means modesty is thrown out the window. I was just there with my top open and the surgeon and his resident took turns doing an exam of my breast. The doc was kind enough to ask before allowing his resident to touch me but I just felt so exposed. I wanted to ask if anyone else wanted a turn. I was just there for the world to see. But I knew it was necessary. I know it is the first of many things I'm gonna have to get use to because having cancer made it necessary.
At the appointment I had to walk down this long hallway. I swear with every step my anxiety grew even more. I left the surgeon and they were sending me for more test. I'm carrying this binder....the binder of doom. They give it to you to keep up with all the stuff you get on visits and helps keep you organized. It comes with tabs and everything. You are prepared to be treated for cancer. That binder and that hallway made me want to run away as fast as I could. My mind kept reminding me that these kinds of hallways never end well for the people in the movies. Yet my feet were quite disobedient and kept walking. I'm grateful for the part of me that overrides the intense anxiety. I don't know what to call it but it is what allowed me not to break down while talking with the surgeon, it kept those emotions in check. It let me be somewhat nice to the resident who got on my nerves. It kept me from yelling when the assistant in the next clinic asked the same questions that I'd already answered several times. It helps me be a better person than my fear would allow me to be sometimes. Whatever that is....praised be for blessing me with it.
I learned that I have a grade 3, triple negative cancer. What does that mean? Just that things are a bit more aggressive. The surgeon made the recommendation for an MRI, a consult with a geneticist, and a referral over to the medical oncologist. He wants to get an accurate size so he can stage my cancer. That coupled with the results from the genetic workup will determine whether we go with chemotherapy first or surgery first. The surgeon is leaning towards the chemo first. He's concerned about lymph nodes and doesn't want to delay treatment. But that all has to wait for two weeks because the insurance takes so long to approve an MRI. But two weeks feels like an eternity. I literally can see this mass through the skin. I joked that it was like a baby bump... except not nearly as exciting. So for two weeks I get to join more groups, do more research, and try really really hard to choose faith over fear.
That's a tough one. No lie. When my mind is racing at 1am and I think about the poison of chemo and how that's going to effect my life.. it's really hard not to dread it. To not silently wish for something different. I'm not going to pretend that I haven't cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion since I got the news. That would be a lie. While I know God is bigger than cancer and all my fears, I don't know God's will for me. I'm sure that as time goes on that will be made known but in the here and now, God's timing for my healing might not be on this side of the veil. There are many that don't get to experience that in this life and we don't get to decide. That's the part that's toughest to swallow. That's when the question from Elder Bednar rings in my mind. Do I have the faith NOT to be healed? When my sister had her stroke, I could answer that question easily. I had faith and I was willing to accept whatever the outcome may have been, even if it meant saying goodbye to my sister for a time. So do I have the faith NOT to be healed?
This is my bitter cup and if it will not pass, I will drink. In reading my scriptures this morning, I was impressed by the response given to such a question. You have these men out preaching the word of God even though they're being rejected and threatened. When Alma was asked, "perhaps they will burn us also," his response was simple. He said, "be it according to the will of the Lord." A threat of death was no small thing. They had already watched people around them being killed. But his faith wasn't shaken, if anything it strengthened his resolve and I want this experience to do the same for me. Do I want to die, absolutely not. But am I willing to accept the will of the Lord in all things..... TBC