Saturday, July 9, 2016

A recap: Looking back over the past 2 years

Today, as I celebrate 2 years of being in remission, I thought it would be a good time to look back and remember all God's done since my initial diagnosis. This recap includes the majority of tests, surgeries, etc. but doesn't contain a lot of the daily evidences of God's amazing sense of humor and provision throughout the past 2 years. I tried my best to jot down the main things so others would be able to see God's faithfulness during this time of trial in my life but I kept some of the "sweeter" things hidden in my heart for myself. Please rejoice with me today as I celebrate my new life, my life after cancer. God isn't through with me yet and I'm excited to see what He does in the days to come. I'm being attentive with a watchful eye seeking His direction and counting His blessings. I hope you'll do the same in your life. And just think, the Creator of the Universe calls us His friends!
Beautiful flowers from my daughter, Erin.

March 1, 2014: I discovered the mass in my breast (I was not afraid when I felt the mass. God gave me a sense of peace that I can only explain as His protection as I look backward at the situation.)

March 28, 2014: We closed on our home (our home wasn't even on the market a full week before we had a contract on it! God made provision even when we were afraid our older home wouldn't sell!)

March 29, 2014: We moved into our new home (God provided a home only 8 miles from my husband's workplace. It's much smaller so it's less to take care of and is only one level! God knew I wouldn't be able to perform a lot of housework once I found out that Cancer would be a new part of my life.)

May 1, 2014: I kept feeling a nagging sense that I needed to find a doctor in Newnan (God prompted me over and over again so I wouldn't ignore the mass in my breast. Even though it felt like nothing much to me, He knew it needed immediate attention!)

May 16, 2014: I did an internet search to find an OB/GYN in this area (I had no idea what kind of doctor I needed to see about the mass but God prompted me to call an OB/GYN)

May 27, 2014: I had my first appointment with Dr. Dyson (the OB/GYN) where she felt the mass and referred me to have more testing done at Southern Crescent Women's Healthcare (God gave wisdom to the doctor to send me for further testing and I am very grateful for not only His prompting, but her listening!)

May 28, 2014: I had two diagnostic mammograms done and an ultrasound. The radiologist discovered a suspicious mass and suggested I have a vacuum core needle biopsy done (God allowed the radiologist to see clearly that there was a problem on the ultrasound screen. I remember the doctor commenting that the mass looked like a one armed crab. Crab, by the way, is the meaning of the word Cancer!)

June 2, 2014: I had the vacuum core needle biopsy done and tissue samples sent to pathology (God prompted the radiologist to order further testing. The tissue samples revealed the malignant cells)

June 5, 2014: I received the oral report from the doctor of radiology that my tissue was malignant (CANCER) (God knew before I did that the report was going to reveal Cancerous cells in the mass. When I answered the phone call, I had no idea that I would receive the shocking news while I was alone in the house. God knew I needed to process it in my own way and in my own timing therefore, He allowed the call to come when no one was home but me.)

June 6, 2014: I received a written copy of the pathology report in the mail (God knew I needed to see the results in writing so He prompted the written report to be mailed so quickly.)

June 9, 2014: Dr. Dyson's office recommended I see Dr. Nicole Sroka (a breast specialist surgeon) in Fayetteville (God had already planned for me to see one of the best breast surgeons in Georgia even before Dr. Dyson's office recommended Dr. Sroka! When I did research on her via the internet, I found that she is one of the very best in this area. Why would God give me anything less than the very best...afterall, He loves me with an everlasting love!)

June 11, 2014: Dr. Sroka met with me for over 2 hours discussing all aspects of surgery giving detailed diagrams and advice (God knows I am a very visual person so He worked it out so Dr. Sroka would be running late that day which in turn caused our appointment to run an hour late. The office staff had already left at 5pm but Dr. Sroka told me she was going to sit down with me and take as long as I needed so she could make sure I understood exactly what was going on and what the game plan would be. She stayed with me in the exam room for 2 hours sketching and explaining every little detail of the surgery to me. She was extremely patient and kind. God reassured me that He had everything under control!)

June 23, 2014: We met with a lawyer to prepare our personal wills (God knows I'm a practical person and allowed us to have time to take care of business before my surgery. He provided an attorney who helped us write up wills, medical directives, and powers of attorney.)

June 28, 2014: Two very dear friends came to spend the day with us and ministered God's love to me (God knew how scared I was about the surgery and he sent one of my very best friends to come and comfort me!)

July 2, 2014: My daughter, Laura, came to stay overnight with us and take me to my pre-operative appointments (God knew I would need extra moral support, so He prompted Laura to want to come be with me during testing)

July 3, 2014: Pre-operative tests were performed at Piedmont Hospital in Fayetteville (God knew all the tests that the doctor would need to have done before my surgery. He provided kind people to assist me and make sure my needs were met)

July 4, 2014: We traveled to the beach for a mini vacation and to process all of the medical news we'd received (God knows how long it takes me to process things and He made a way for us to spend time at the beach. A hurricane was brewing off the coast of Florida and we thought the trip would be a total wash out, but God blew the hurricane winds away and let us have bright, sunny days of perfection!)

July 7, 2014: We returned home (God gave us a safe trip back home and allowed us time to spend in prayer before more testing)

July 8: Returned to Piedmont Fayetteville for radioactive dye injections in both breasts (God prompted the doctor to order these tests to reveal whether or not malignant cells were in my lymph nodes)

July 9, 2014: Surgery was performed to remove both breasts and lymph nodes from each arm (Surgery took about 4 hours. God guided Dr. Sroka's hands and brought me through the surgery safely. Diagnosed with stage 2B Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph glands.)

July 10, 2014: Released from the hospital late day (around 5:30 p.m.) (Nurses were very busy but God provided one lab tech, named Darci, to be my constant help. She went above and beyond the call of duty to serve me. God allowed me to progress in my healing so I could leave the hospital and be back in the comforts of my home)

July 12, 2014: My new friend, Karen Fedder, came to visit and share about her Cancer journey (God provided a sweet new friend who's already traveled the Cancer road. She has been able to give me advice, helpful hints, tips and help me know what to expect without sugar coating anything.)

July 18, 2014: Had my first fitting for prostheses and bras at Renewal in Fayetteville. (God provided a kind woman who didn’t make me feel embarrassed or afraid.)

August 7, 2014: Met with my oncologist, Dr. Trevor Feinstein to learn the results from my Oncotype DX test. (My rating was a 7 out of 100 which meant chances of recurrence were extremely low. When I saw the number 7, I immediately felt in my spirit that God was saying, “Bonnie, that’s the number of completion. You won’t have to worry about the cancer coming back again. It’s over.”) At this same appointment, Dr. Feinstein and I talked about treatment. Normally treatment would have been surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and then antihormone therapy. I was concerned about chemo because of the research I’d done and the harm it caused. I asked Dr. Feinstein what he would recommend in this exact same situation had his wife or daughter received my diagnosis. He said he would not recommend chemo because of the drastic and sometimes irreversible problems it causes in other parts of the body such as the heart or lungs. I was thankful for his honesty.

August 13, 2014: Met with the radiation oncologist to discuss my upcoming radiation treatments. I was told I needed to have 35 rounds of radiation with 5 concentrated boosts at the end of treatment. (God gave me a doctor who was direct and to the point. As she explained the plan, I knew exactly what was coming next so there were no surprises.)

August 22, 2015: Began treatment for lymphedema. Therapy sessions will be three times a week for a period of 2-3 months. (God gave me a Christian therapist. We shared out faith at each treatment and it was a great source of encouragement.)

September 2, 2014: Began radiation treatments. (God gave me such peace as my friends were praying for me and I was blessed to have no pain during treatment.)

September 3, 2014: Fitted for compression sleeves and gauntlets to manage lymphedema. (Once again, God provided a Christian to work with me. It was so nice to know God has strategically placed his people in my life.)

September 26, 2014: Radiation stopped temporarily because of severe burns to my chest. (I’m thankful the team noticed my skin deteriorating and stopped treatment for a bit.)

September 29, 2014: Radiation resumes. (My techs are so sweet and always make me laugh.)

October 1, 2014: Rushed to the hospital with chest pains. After multiple heart tests, I was released. (God put me in the hands of a caring doctor and all was fine.)

October 6, 2014: Radiation stopped once again due to dangerous burns on my chest. She wants me to apply Silvadene cream and return in 2 days. (God gave my doctor wisdom regarding treatment for the burns.)

October 8, 2014: Radiation resumes

October 15, 2014: Radiation completed!!! 28 rounds done. (I was so thankful to be finally done with radiation. I was warned to expect extreme fatigue for weeks following.)

November 15, 2015: Began antihormone therapy with Arimidex.

November 30, 2014: Stopped Arimidex due to bad side effects. (After much prayer, God prompted me to stop taking this medication.)

December 27, 2014: Began taking Tamoxifen per my oncologist

January 31, 2015: Discontinued Tamoxifen due to side effects. (Once again, God gave me wisdom to discontinue this medication.)

February 23, 2015: Began taking Aromasin but stopped one week later after much prayer and many troubling side effects. (I’m thankful my oncologist supported me in my decision and didn’t make me feel guilty. He said it’s my body and I am the one who ultimately has to decide what’s best for me.)

June 24, 2015: Ultrasound on ovaries to check for cancer. (None found! Praise God!)

July 9, 2015: Celebrated one year of being in remission. (God gave me a new year of life to enjoy and celebrate!)

July 15, 2015: MRI of the lumbar spine. (God allowed the doctors to find a suspicious mass at L5 and found a Hemangioma, bulging disks, osteoporosis and degenerative spine disease.)

July 23, 2015: PET scan done. (God performed a miracle! The suspicious mass at L5 has miraculously disappeared! No evidence of cancer. Praise God!)

August 14, 2015: Developed a seroma and had to return to the surgeon to have it drained. (God kept me from passing out as the doctor inserted a needle in my chest to remove accumulated fluid.)

August 28, 2015: Another surgery. Dr. Sroka needed to do surgery to remove necrotic tissue from the bilateral mastectomies. (God kept me safe and there were no problems)

January 12, 2016: Pain clinic for spinal pain. (After talking with that doctor, God told me not to return to that clinic. They are in the business of handing out drugs for pain and getting people hooked on opiates. I’m thankful He opened my eyes and let me see clearly.)

January 22, 2016: MRI of spine (God keep the test clear and no cancer was evident.)

March 30, 2016: Demonstration of recirculating compression pump to help with lymphedema (God used a sweet representative from the company LifeTouch to minister His love to me that day. It was a day when I was very down in the dumps and just needed a friend. She was here for about 3 hours and I enjoyed a good conversation with her while the equipment was being demonstrated on me. We talked a lot about God.)

July 8, 2016: Complete bone scan (I was able to take an anti-anxiety medication to help me remain calm while in the scanner. I was completely relaxed and able to endure the test without anxiety. The technician was very kind and pleasant.)

July 9, 2016: Celebrating my 2nd cancerversary today. (The first thought that popped into my mind when I woke up was how very blessed I was to have been given 2 years of life since being diagnosed with breast cancer. I am so very thankful to be alive today and look forward to a grand celebration tonight with my family.)

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

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