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Relay for Life: Newly diagnosed cancer patient shares her fears, hopes

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One in a series of articles about battling disease

By The Staff

This cancer journey is a very new one to me as I was diagnosed Feb. 17. My prayer is that it will make a difference to someone; a positive in their life, a hope.

Most of my life has been healthy and I have had yearly mammograms since age 35.  I exercise and try to eat balanced meals; however, cancer is not choosy. Doctors have always “watched” an area in my left breast and I have had two needle aspirations over the years, one even in my mid-20s. This January I went back to do a requested repeat mammogram, followed by an ultrasound and finally a discussion with the radiologist, who recommended a biopsy of the area of concern. Of course, I was concerned and worried, but many women told me they had been through the same scare and it turned out OK. However, my world was turned upside down when I received the call from my doctor who confirmed that it indeed was cancer. I remember thinking, “ This isn’t the way it is supposed to happen.  How can this be?” The doctor was very reassuring and emphasized this was treatable; it appeared to be small and so far she could not see any node involvement. During surgery, 14 of my nodes were removed, two of which were positive for cancer and the tumor was larger than initially shown. My surgeon will do a mastectomy later this summer. Of course, this is not what we had hoped or expected. I have now had two chemotherapy treatments with four remaining. The week after treatment is hard, but I am thankful I have not been any sicker. However, I feel positive – there is a “game plan” between my doctors. It is so much better to have knowns than unknowns in this trial.

Cancer is an emotional roller coaster – it is hard to face such a serious illness; it is hard to look directly into my fears and be strong. However, uplifting and encouraging words from my doctors and nurses have blessed me. I dwell on those words, when I feel scared: “You are strong; you are otherwise healthy; you have done exceptionally well; continue to work in your business; don’t change your weekend plans; look back later at the bump in the road.”

As a friend of mine, a cancer survivor, often says, “there is always good to come out of bad circumstances – we just have to find it.” Often it is hard to see good, when the mind is embattled, but this is a fight in mind, body and soul.

When I start listing my praises to the Lord, I find I am blessed beyond my belief – loving family and friends, cards sent to me by strangers across the country and throughout our community, simple phone calls from friends, a meal lovingly prepared and delivered, an offer of transportation and most importantly – prayers. It is a very humbling and overwhelming feeling to be prayed over. I have felt myself becoming closer to God through this trial.

Scripture has never had so much meaning to me – it is like my eyes have been opened. I’m sure it was always there – I was just too busy to always see the message. My blessing is God’s presence in this and that he will always be there for me. “You are all around me-in front and in back-and have put your hand on me.”  Psalm  139:5

Remember these things:

• Have regular checkups and become educated. (The U.S. has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world.)

• Cancer is a beatable, treatable, survivable disease.

• “Hope is the foundation on which we build our wellness. It is our most vital emotion.”