In April 2010, I found a lump in my right breast. Something unexpected and yet always feared - cancer. I would quickly learn through scans and biopsies that I had stage 2B invasive breast cancer. Two tumors in my right breast, 2 lymph nodes involved and a DCIS cancer cluster 3mm from my breast bone. My treatment would entail a double mastectomy with reconstruction, 4 months of dose dense ACT chemo, 5.5 weeks of radiation and then reconstruction surgeries.
On my 16th wedding anniversary, my husband and I sat in my breast surgeon's office and learned of my diagnosis. Not quite the way you envision celebrating an anniversary. It was a hard, hard day clearly marked in my mind. But it was different than other trials I had gone through. My faith was stronger, more steadfast through years of refining and teaching. As the diagnosis came, my go to wasn't fear. Oh, it tried to penetrate. But I knew God would meet me on this road. I knew that no matter what laid ahead, He was there. Instead, a deep sadness penetrated my soul. I knew this cancer diagnosis would touch the lives of many around me, not just me, in ways that would forever change us. At the time, we had 5 children under the age of 13. I was homeschooling our children, construction had just been completed on an apartment attached to our house for my handicapped mother and my husband had just switched to a work at home sales job in orthopedics after working in product development for 14 years. I also had just stepped into coordinating the women's ministry at our church while teaching weekly women's Bible studies. To say that life was busy would be an understatement. What would this new life look like? Would I make it through to healing or would this cancer take my life? I was sad that my children and husband would see disease up close and personal. I was sad that my husband wouldn't have a "whole" wife. I was sad for me. What would life look like with cancer? What would this disease do to my physical body? Questions that bit by bit the Lord would answer in my heart as He tenderly and mercifully lead me and my family through diagnosis and treatment. As God orchestrated my days, ministered to me through His Word and brought many to help lighten my load.
Despite all the ugliness that comes with cancer there also is a beauty. The beauty lies in the lessons learned, the compassion of others, the love that is displayed and the deep bond that suffering brings to relationships. As the Lord stripped many things away through cancer, He brought an increase of Himself into my life. For that, I rejoice in the suffering. Today, I also get the privilege of walking beside others who are asked to face this same reality - breast cancer. God tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that He is our comforter. That with the comfort that we receive as we go through suffering, we can then give that same comfort to others. I've had the joy of walking this out in the five years since my diagnosis. It's a baton that at first, I didn't want to pass but have seen the beauty and blessing in the passing. Because of cancer, I get invited into some of the sacred and personal places of other women's cancer journeys. I get to intimately walk beside them meeting them in their need and encouraging them as they travel the unknowns of surgery, chemo and radiation hopefully dispelling some of the fears as they go. It has been a blessing for me.
Shortly after my diagnosis, I wrote on a blog entitled "His Way, Not Mine." It became my journal and outpouring of all that God was doing in me through breast cancer. So many people had questions and curiosities about my breast cancer. I used that space as a forum to not only show the physical details of cancer but share my heart. Cancer is just as much physical as it is emotional and for me, spiritual. I am a different person today because of cancer. A good different. The blog posts that follow are all taken from my blog during June 2010 through early 2011. Here is my breast cancer story.