In April of 2003, I felt
a lump in my breast, and that started my journey on a very
scary road. It is a well-traveled road, filled with
women who have gone through this experience and have taken the
time to help others on their journey. Now it is my time
to be a guide and an encourager. I won’t go into the
details of my cancer or my treatment here. I would be
happy to answer any questions you might have, but I wanted to
highlight some of the important parts of this journey for me.
1. “In all of your circumstances, look for God’s
There were some dark days following my diagnosis. I had
to come to terms with “in whom would I put my trust” and
“in whom would I place my hope.” I hoped that the
medical treatments would work and I trusted my medical team to
make good decisions on my behalf. But there were no
guarantees. Ultimately, my trust and my hope had to be
in God, my Father, my Creator. Coming to this
realization brought a poem to mind. The first line of
that poem is “In all of your circumstances, look for God’s
entire poem here.) That was the choice that I made, to look
for God’s blessings no matter my circumstances.
God’s blessings are always there for us to see, if we choose
to see them.
2. “Not accepting help is either a form of denial or pride
— I suffered from both.”
I had many, many kind people help me and my family in one way
or another. At times, I was flat on my back after
surgery or after chemotherapy and I didn’t really have a
choice but to accept that help. Other times, it was
harder for me. Surely I can do that, I would think.
And maybe I could have, but maybe I would pay for it later by
being too tired to do something else. I realized at one
point that by not admitting that I needed help, I was in
denial about what was happening to my body. And I was
also refusing help because of pride. Neither is a good
thing when you are recovering from cancer treatment. It
takes a toll on your body that you don’t even fully realize
until you feel better again. So, should you ever have to
go through cancer treatment, accept the help offered and know
that one day you will be able to help someone else because you
know how important it is to her recovery.
3. “Keep busy.”
I debated about whether or not to try to keep my business
going during this time. I have an online business
dressing teddy bears in theme clothing. I did shut down
briefly after my surgery, as I needed two weeks to recover.
After I started feeling better, my husband advised me to
resume business, pacing myself so that I did not overdo it.
He thought that I needed something else to think about
other than my cancer and the treatment. I think staying
busy doing something you enjoy is important. (I could have
stayed busy cleaning house, but that was not something I would
have looked forward to!) It is important to keep planning
ahead, keep doing things that you enjoy. I relied
heavily on a Bible verse that has been my favorite for many,
many years, “For I know the plans that I have for you,“
declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope.” —Jeremiah 29:11
Having things to look forward to can ward off depression and
self-absorption, both of which are easy to succumb to when you
do not feel well.
4. “Please, do your monthly self exams!”
If I learned one thing about breast cancer from all of this, I
learned how important it is to do your monthly breast exams.
That is how I found my lump, and there was no doubt in my mind
that the “golf ball” that I was feeling did not belong
there. I was not scheduled for my annual mammogram for
another three months. I don’t like to think what my
chances might have been had I waited those three months.
The annual mammogram is important too, but, in my case, the
mammogram that I had following the discovery of the lump
showed nothing. NOTHING! And my tumor was rather
large. I don’t understand why the mammogram results
were what they were, I just know that there was something
there and it needed to be removed. I am thankful that,
despite the results of the mammogram, the medical personnel
were proactive and immediately recommended seeing a surgeon.
The rest is history.
I want to sum up my personal experience with cancer with this
Bible verse, another of my favorites for many years:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in
believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the
Holy Spirit.” —Romans 15:13
Thank you for reading
my story. I hope it has been of help to you.
Please feel free to pass my story on to anyone who could
benefit from reading it.
UPDATE:It is now 2009 and it
has been 6 years since my diagnosis, 5 years since the end of
chemo and radiation treatment. I have spent the last 5
years taking an estrogen blocker of one kind or another as the
final part of my treatment. I am no longer taking any
medication and am considered cancer free, with little chance
of recurrence, because of all of the treatment that I had. I
feel good and live the normal busy life as a mother of 3
teenagers. I am indeed a survivor and enjoying life by
RECENT UPDATE: In April of 2013, it will
have been 10 years since I found the lump in my breast.
My oldest children are no longer teenagers, and the oldest
one is a senior in college. My youngest teenager is a
senior in high school. I am blessed to still be around
to experience the challenging and exciting years in the
lives of my children.
MORE RECENT UPDATE: In late May of 2013,
I noticed a very small lump in my remaining breast. It
seemed so small to the medical professionals that they were
surprised that it was indeed cancer again. The
good news with this cancer diagnosis was that I found it
early and it was not in my lymph nodes. The not so
good news was that I agreed to have genetic testing done and
I was found to have the BRCA gene. So, 6 months of
chemo, followed by a total mastectomy, followed a year later
by a hysterectomy because of the BRCA gene as ovarian cancer
is the second most likely cancer to occur when you have this
lovely gene. Skin cancer is the third most likely.
Since I can't have my skin removed like I did my breasts and
ovaries, I have a complete check once a year. Other
than visiting with my oncologist once a year, probably for
the rest of my life, and blood tests that show indicators
for certain cancers, plus the skin examination, I'm good to
go. I say that in a joking manner, but I really am
good to go. I'm one of the fortunate survivors and
thankful to be so. My sister had ovarian cancer and
passed away in 2016, I wish she had been a fortunate
survivor with me.