Goooooooooood afternoon! I’m sure you all are probably just sick of all my good news by now and I am sorry… but not sorry enough to not share the best news I have had to share since I started this blog! So please indulge me and I pray the Holy Spirit will smack you in the face with a whopping dose of joy, just as He has me today!
So September 11th was this week and if you’re like me, one of the biggest things you think about is “Where was I on that day?” Right? You think of where you were, what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt. And, at least for me, it helps me to remember that day and keep it’s reality alive. Well, today happens to be another one of those days for me. It happens to be one of those days for Bryan. And it happens to be one of those days for all of my family and close friends.
September 13th is a day I will never be able to remove from my mind.
September 13th is a day when my life was attacked and when several things changed that would be different forever.
September 13, 2012 is the day I was officially diagnosed with stage four, invasive ductal & lobular carcinoma.
Just like I never want to forget what happened on September 11, 2001, I never want to forget the reality of what September 13, 2012, so I want to think about it in the same way.
Where was I on that day?: I was at home, in Lexington, and going about a normal day. I was expecting to get normal results from my biopsy at any moment.
What was I doing?: I was cooking dinner and helping Bryan in any way I could as he was preparing for his first set of blocks in his second year of pharmacy school. I, myself, was in between quarters of classes and was about to start my externships at the end of the month. That was my last step before being able to become a certified medical assistant with phlebotomy. While we were also ready for colon removal at that time, once that was over, we were both very excited about being so close to a normal life.
Who was I with?: Bryan and I were home alone when we heard a knock on our door. We both looked at each other since we weren’t expecting company but I didn’t think anything of it. Bryan, however; immediately got a funny look on his face. We opened the door to see both of my parents standing there. Dad with a look I’d never seen before and Mom with old tears on her face and new tears ready to fall at any moment. They came in and all I can remember is Mom saying, “It’s cancer,” and then everyone was hugging me.
How did I feel?: Oddly enough, the first thing I did was laugh. I don’t know how to explain it without going into great detail, but I knew it was going to happen. God had actually been preparing my heart and mind for years so when it came to be, I just laughed. Now in between I never spoke it, I never wanted cancer, I prayed to never have cancer, and I never accepted it. But some part of me somehow knew it was coming. So I laughed.
Here I was, so close to finally being colon-free and working a real job. And suddenly it was gone. So close to having freedom from health complications and able to go and do whatever I wanted. And suddenly it was gone. SO close to feeling normal and like what I had always imagined your typical 22 year-old would feel like. And suddenly it was gone. We were so, so close and now all of the sudden I had colon disease AND stage four breast cancer. So all I could do was laugh.
Now eventually, I did go through a grieving period. Bryan and I both did. But at first, we were so unexplainably joyful that we just laughed and smiled! I was going to go through chemo, but we smiled. I was going to lose all my hair, but we smiled. I was going to have to drop out of school, but we smiled. I was going to be facing colon removal and a mastectomy, but we could not help from smiling. The joy of The Lord was our strength.
I know all of that sounds like a bit of a downer so, why is this day the best news that I have ever shared since I started this blog? Sit down and listen up because this is big.
This day last year, I sat exactly where I am sitting right now and I had Crohn’s disease. I was going to the bathroom 20-25 times a day. I hadn’t slept through the night in 10 years, and when I did sleep, I could only sleep on my right side. I couldn’t eat anything that I wanted to. I didn’t even let myself think about coffee. I couldn’t wear any clothing that pressed on my belly at all. I couldn’t go anywhere and if I did, I could literally instinctively find the bathroom first thing. I was in pain every day, all day. And I always, always had the anxiety of, “What if I don’t make it in time.”
But today… September 13, 2013, I am sitting in that exact same spot and I have no colon disease in my body! I actually never have to “poop” but I only empty my bag 4-5 times a day. Just last week, I slept the whole night through for the first time in an entire decade. And when I slept, I slept on my left side. I eat anything I want to, yes, I have had chili for dinner twice this week. And as we speak, I am on my second cup of coffee for the day! Praise God. I wear anything I want. I go anywhere I want, and I never even look for where the bathroom is. I have no pain, anywhere, at all, and I have not felt that anxiety for 6 months now.
“But I will restore you to health and heal you of your wounds…” Jeremiah 30:17
And that’s not all!
This day last year, I sat right here and had previously had two massive blood clots. I had to wear compression stockings if I was going to be standing up for any amount of time. I had to keep my feet up whenever I could to prevent my ankles from swelling. I periodically dealt with major swelling of my legs and feet and had to prop my feet up for days at a time. I got tired very easily and could not do any sort of exercise. I bruised all over the place from blood thinners. And the doctors said I had lupus anticoagulant and that this was something I would deal with for the rest of my life.
But today… September 13, 2013, I am sitting right here and I haven’t worn my compression stockings in 6 months. I can stand up as long as I want to and my feet do not swell. I prop my feet up when I can but it is no longer a priority. I never deal with major swelling of my legs or feet. I have abundant energy and last week I RAN a mile in 11 minutes, not to mention I just did a 5k mud run! I don’t bruise nearly as bad or nearly as often. And I have officially tested negative for every blood clotting disorder I was ever diagnosed with and will prayerfully soon be off blood thinners!
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
And still, that’s not all!
This day last year, I sat in this exact spot and was told that I had stage four breast cancer. The last stage that there is. I had cancer in my breast and in three different places in my bones. I was about to walk through chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. I was going to lose all of my hair that I had been growing out for over a year at that point. I was having to put my life on hold in order to survive this disease. I was about to go through the most awful medical procedures I had ever experienced. I was about to feel more pain than I had ever been through before. I was about to face not ever being able to have children. I was going to lose a breast. I was about to face wondering if this was it, if I was going to die soon and leave behind my husband, family, and friends. And I was about to face the longest year of my life.
But today… Today I sit, in this exact spot, and I am 100% cancer free. I have no ‘stages’ to my life any different from anyone else. I have no left breast but there is no cancer there, and I have zero cancer in any of my bones. I survived chemotherapy and surgery and am ready to tackle radiation with a healthy body. I lost all of my hair but I proudly have it back and get it trimmed once a month. I am moving on with my life and ready to get back to school and finally start working. I am thankful that The Lord brought me through all of the pain and all cancer suffering is now behind me. I am praying and believing that I will still be able to have children of my own. I no longer wonder if I am dying sooner than I had hoped but believing that I will be here to be with Bryan, my parents, my siblings, my family, and all of my friends for MANY more decades to come!!!!
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we asked or imagined, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20
So today, it may be Friday the 13th but who cares about luck when you can be a child of God and trust that His ways are higher than ours?! I have imagined many times what it would feel like to reach this day but I never imagined I would feel this much joy and peace. As Bryan said yesterday, “God used cancer to heal us.” How true that is. And the same joy that became our strength 365 days ago, is the same joy that is filling our home today.
Praise our Lord.
He. Is. Good.