As 2022 ended, I had plans. Nothing extravagant, but perhaps a couple of adventures and a fall conference to prepare for and attend. But I quickly learned that God had other plans, and I’d rather be in His plans than anywhere else.
I’ve not publicly shared this story for family reasons, but with this week’s milestone, the roughest part is over so I’m now able to go public and offer my support, encouragement, and prayers for anyone else on a similar trek.
This new journey began 9 months ago. Armed with the full armor of God, a healthy dose of faith and hope, and surrounding myself with a small army of MIGHTY Prayer Warriors, I set out to do battle.
The first week of February this year, I performed the monthly shower breast exam like I’ve done since … forever, I think. As usual, nothing out of the ordinary, but a few days later, on February 10th, when I was changing clothes, I glanced in the mirror and noticed a golf-ball sized knot at the top of my left breast. It felt squishy – like the rest of me – but since cancer runs in our family, I took immediate action.
During the rest of February, I went through physical exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies which revealed two masses, not just one. On February 24, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 3, stage 1, HER2+. Translated, that means I had an aggressive, fast-growing form of breast cancer in a very early stage. The original lump was cancer, the second lump was benign.
In late March, they performed a lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy, removing the cancerous tumor and lots of tissue around it, which thankfully revealed no more cancer cells – the cancer was contained within the single tumor and had not yet spread. During surgery, they also installed a Medi-port where the chemo and immunotherapy drugs are administered.
As a random side trip, I broke a tooth the week after surgery, so mid-April, I had oral surgery to remove it, and then spent a few weeks healing from both surgeries before they scheduled the cancer treatments.
In mid-May, I began the first of six chemotherapy treatments, administered every three weeks. After each treatment, I returned for seven weekdays of shots. Then, once that regimen was completed, I began 21 days of radiation on October 9 and this week, the milestone: I finished radiation.
I’ll still receive immunotherapy treatments through May via the Medi-port, but the drug is not as harsh as the chemo drugs or radiation, so the hardest part is over.
My heart overflows with gratitude for my family, friends, and the mighty Prayer Warriors who supported and encouraged us and who were so faithful in their prayers for us. My daughter-in-law Jess helped navigate the overload of information and schedules when there was hardly time to breathe, and was by my side for several doc visits and treatments.
All the doctors, nurses, and pros have told me how well I’ve done, but I can’t take any of the credit. I’m a big, rebellious wimp when it comes to all things medical. But GOD never left me. He carried me through all of this without one ounce of fear – seriously. He provided for my every need every step of the way – seriously. He gave me strength. He calmed my innards as the meds kicked in. He kept my mind sound. (I heard that snicker.) He kept my car and tires in good shape the entire time, even with the crazy commute.
God deserves and gets all the credit. I feel like a walking miracle and I’m grateful, awed, and humbled because of all HE did for me.
For those who’ve asked, YES, there are books forthcoming. In the first month, I thought one of the books might be a journal, but after my first chemo treatment, I changed formats because there are already so many journals and memoirs. (Writing is a tremendous tool for processing difficult situations.) I knew I wanted this book to be different, so I changed my focus and format to better serve readers and I’m very excited about offering this resource. I’ll provide more details in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m back to work for a couple of weeks, then I’ll take a much-needed month-long break to breathe and to spend time with family.
We'll see what the Lord has planned for next year.