After I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I was quick to do a thorough self breast exam. To my relief, I couldn't feel anything other than what had already been found. Nothing. Well, a few weeks ago, for some reason, I was doing a self exam over an undershirt. To my surprise, I felt something. My heart sank. This was on the opposite side nearly in the same location as where the cancer had been. I had Talmage feel it. He could. The interesting thing though, is that I still couldn't feel it on my bare skin. I had to be sliding over a shirt in order to feel it. This was about a week before my last treatment. I had been looking so forward to being done with the treatments and now with this bump looming in the back of my mind I felt nothing but more worry and couldn't be excited for my last treatment. I wanted so much to celebrate and be happy and excited and to run to my children and say, "I'm Done! We did it!". I tried, I mean really tried to not let it get the better of me, but it was hard. I was pretty down that week before my treatment. Almost like I couldn't accept that it was going to be my last, but that I may need to have more. All of the "what if's" were starting to surface. Well, I went to my appointment for treatment and had my Oncologist feel it. She could, but really wasn't too concerned about it. That didn't necessarily comfort me because we all weren't "too concerned" about what ended up to be a grade 3 cancer. I went through the treatment and tried my hardest to accept that it was my last. There was no celebration after. No running to the kids and saying, "I'm done." I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Another week went by.
After dealing with the side effects of the treatment, Talmage and I had an opportunity to get out and go to a church function. I had been looking forward to this for days. I needed to get out of the house. I wanted to spend time with Talmage and just enjoy an evening together. The program consisted of a singing group. They sang songs and in-between songs, would share a personal story. One of the ladies started sharing hers. It was about her sister who had been ill. Suddenly, I was afraid again. I had a strong feeling that she was going to say that her sister had breast cancer. She did. When she uttered those words, my heart sank and I think my body temperature rose to be 105 degrees. I wanted to run. I wanted to cry. I wanted to curl up in fetal position. Instead, I sat there and listened. What else could I do? I think it was just as hard for Talmage. Truthfully, the story was a beautiful story full of miracles. However, she still died. After the program, there was some small talk with friends, who I'm sure were concerned about how I was feeling, and then we went home. After making sure the kids were in bed, I sat down to the computer to check e-mail etc. I pulled up my facebook account and one of the first things I read was about Elizabeth Edwards passing. I just couldn't take it. I immediately turned it off and went to bed. What very little sleep I got that night, was full of dreams of dieing. To say I was consumed by it would be an understatement. It's like I couldn't get away from it... not even in my sleep. Again, all of the "what if's" were surfacing and I was afraid. The next day was a teary day. While going through this whole process, the scriptures have been a great source of strength to me. Today was different. I was too afraid to open them up. This is when I knew I was in real trouble with my emotions and with fear. To my relief, my mom called. She could tell something was bothering me and I let it all out. It felt so good. Even now, as I type this, I can't hold back the tears. I have said this before, but it seems like when I am the most down or feel the most alone, tender mercies are given to me. At that moment, it was my mom - who has been a rock for me through all of this. She is so calm and reassuring and faithful. I love her. That evening when I went to bed, I could actually feel the inside of my body trembling. I could feel and hear my mind going a hundred miles per hour. Then in the quiet of the night as I tried to calm myself down, a scripture came strongly into my mind: "BE STILL and know that I am God". I have read that scripture before and thought about it many times, but this time it came with force as if a father were taking me by the shoulders sternly, but lovingly and saying, "Calm down, it will be alright". I closed my eyes and finally got some much needed, peaceful sleep.
As I go throughout my days and nights, I will often repeat to myself positive affirmations. This has helped me to try and block out any negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. That probably sounds hokey, but for me, it really helps. One of them that I repeat to myself over and over is,"I am a cancer-free, strong, healthy, happy, daughter of God." I believe that and it gives me courage and strength.
Well, this last Friday, I went in for my first mammogram. I told the tech that I had felt a lump and asked if she could really be sure to get good pictures in that area. She was great and then led me to a room to have an ultra sound of the lump. I was so grateful to be taking some action. I thought either way, knowing is better than wondering. The ultra sound tech checked for the lump and sure enough it showed up on the screen. Another heart sinking feeling. She went to get the Dr. to come and read it. It happened to be the same doctor who presented my case to the tumor board and was very familiar with me and my case - even though I had never actually met him. After looking at it carefully for a few minutes, he very confidently decided it was a benign adenoma. However, because of my history we are going to do a biopsy on it on December 29th - right after I have an MRI. After he and Talmage looked at the image and both agreed that I shouldn't worry, I felt an enormous amount of relief. I finally felt like I really had had my last chemotherapy treatment and that good things are to come.
I am so grateful for the tender mercies that I have received this past week as I went through this very dark time in my life. I have witnessed over and over again the love and understanding of a loving Heavenly Father. I have seen it in timely phone calls from loved ones, beautiful and thoughtful messages sent to me through e-mail or facebook, thoughtful gifts in the mail and most recently, a visit from faithful and inspired Home Teachers who came and offered such a beautiful prayer on our home, on me, on Talmage and on each of our children. It was just what I needed and my heart was truly touched.
"Be still and know that I am God"