Monday, July 12, 2021

On this day, 7 years ago...

 


I was just 3 days out from surgery to remove both my breasts when a stranger came to visit me. We'd "found" each other through a Facebook breast cancer group and she'd been a wealth of information so when she offered to come see me, I hesitantly agreed. I wanted a new friend, but I was scared. Although Karen was also a breast cancer patient, she was six months ahead of me in her treatment. She'd already been through everything I was going to face and she wanted to help ease my fears. I didn't realize it then, but that gift was one of the biggest blessings I'd ever receive. 

When I heard the gentle knock on my front door, I was nervous. I didn't feel well and was in a good deal of pain. My husband opened the door and greeted Karen, my new friend and pink sister. As he welcomed her in, she immediately came over to my chair and gave me a gentle hug. She made a joke about the way we looked, laughing and pointing to her practically bald head as she exclaimed, "We're quite the pair!" That ice breaker was perfect.

I was embarrassed to be wearing a surgical compression top underneath my blouse. There was no way to fully hide the dangling JP drains, or the bloody fluid they contained, but Karen didn't mind. She'd already been there and done that. She didn't see all that surgical stuff. Her eyes were fixed on mine. She saw me for me. 

We sat and talked for hours. It felt like we'd known each other forever. No question was off limits, she told me, and she even offered to let me see her new breast prostheses if I wanted to, but I wasn't quite ready for that. 

Karen gave me hope as she explained what lay ahead of me. Knowing what to expect made things more bearable. 

I don't know what I would have done if Karen hadn't come to see me that day. She went out of her way to help me and I'll never forget it. 

That's one thing about the breast cancer community - we're all about helping each other. Whether it's sharing helpful hints and tricks or just offering a listening ear, the compassion between pink sisters is real.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Tomorrow is the big day


Tomorrow is the big day, the day I celebrate 7 years of being cancer free. 

As I think back on all God's brought me through, I can't believe I've made it this far. 

A friend I met through an online breast cancer site and I share the exact same diagnosis and we were diagnosed just a few months apart from each other. She's not doing well at all and is about to enter hospice. I can't help but wonder why God's allowing me to live on while she is facing the end of her life. It hurts my heart and while I can't quite understand it, I have to remember God is God and I am not. He and He alone has numbered our days. My only hope is that my friend will know she was well loved and she will certainly be missed when she goes home to meet the Lord. I'm so thankful for her faithful witness, her strength and her resilience. Though she chose a different treatment path than I, I can't help but wonder if perhaps the chemotherapy and all of the other medications she endured during treatment may have contributed to her ill health. 

When I first began fighting cancer, I chose to go the natural route. The only conventional treatment I agreed to was surgery and radiation therapy. I felt those were the best choices for me and for the most part, I've been happy. Other than the burns I suffered and the cording, I think I've done quite well. It hasn't been a bed of roses though, by any means. And the side effect of lymphedema in both arms sucks, but I'm still here, so how can I complain? 

Everyone has to make their own decisions in the fight against cancer and we can never fault someone for choosing a treatment plan that differs from our own. We all want to live and we'll do anything possible to gain better odds toward that end goal, but sometimes, we react from fear and don't always make the best decisions. 

It would be nice if doctors would present all choices and allow the patient to make an informed decision, but that isn't usually the case. Most doctors steer patients toward conventional therapies and those usually involve severe life altering remedies. Chemotherapy and radiation both kill the good and bad cells in our bodies. There's no way to only target the cancer cells. If there were, we'd have so many more survivors than we currently have. 

I've always wondered why doctors don't help their patients discover natural, less invasive solutions to fighting cancer. Their Hippocratic oath of "Do no harm" should be all encompassing, but there are big bucks in big pharma and many doctors are all about the dollar signs. 

Seven years seems like a lifetime ago. It's hard to remember what life was like B.C. (before cancer) but I try. Some of the things I do remember and miss terribly are my physical stamina and my body image. I used to have so much energy I could go for days, now, I'm lucky if I make it to 9:00 p.m. without flopping into bed exhausted. I used to look in the mirror and think, "Hey, you're one hot chick!" But now, I can't help but look at my body with sadness and disgust. 

God has been faithful and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, He understands all of the emotions I've faced throughout these past 7 years. He's watched me cry tears of heartbreak and joy. He's held me tight when I felt I was unloved and unlovely. He's comforted me and given me strength on days I never thought I'd make it. I am so grateful He's deemed me fit to continue on. I know He still has work for me to do. 

Throughout my 63 years on Earth, I've learned, over and over again, through every trial I've ever faced that God is loving and kind. He has a good plan for me, a plan to prosper me and not to harm me. A plan to give me a future and a hope. 

And so, I press on. 

Now instead of watching the clock, I move through life minute by minute trusting God for the next step along the way. Jesus is my portion. He is my one true love. He is my everything. His eye is on the sparrow And I know He watches me


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