There are those times in our lives when we think we are free, the plan is set and things are going our way, finally, right? Don’t ever count on that.
I will be starting chemo treatments this Friday, March 11th, 4 in all. Before last Friday I had no idea I would need chemo. I had Stage 1 breast cancer. It was multifocal, meaning I had three tumors. All indicated the mastectomy I had on December 22nd, 2015 got the cancer and hormonal follow-up treatment was all I would need to hopefully keep this insidious disease at bay. But I chose my oncologist for a reason. She’s intelligent, she leaves no stone unturned. She’s aggressive. I said from the beginning I wanted this out of me and to never have to deal with it again.
My 2nd series of genetic testing came back as high risk for recurrence. I wasn’t sure what this meant. So I spent all last weekend wondering. She had me in her office this past Monday at 5 pm. This wonderful woman didn’t want to wait to schedule me so she had me in her office as it was closing to conference with me and my husband. She said after the more recent and extensive tests came back high risk, she didn’t feel right not doing all we could do keep the cancer from coming back. I had always said if that’s what I needed, that’s what we’d do. So even though it was a shock, I was on board.
Today, Wednesday, March 9th, I had my port placed. Let me just tell you, it was NOT a good experience. Everything went fine until they started the procedure. I was supposedly given 1 mg of Versed (most people know this drug as “twilight,” which they use during things like colonoscopies, endoscopies, etc.). You don’t remember anything but you are not fully under. Not me. I take chronic pain medication so my tolerance to drugs like this is high. I couldn’t even tell that they gave me the Versed. It was, quite honestly, awful. It ranks right up there with having an NG tube shoved down my nose and throat into my stomach while fully awake. This happened last April after a colon resection when I started bleeding in my intestinal tract and throwing up blood. This procedure, the port placement, lasted a lot longer. I was so tense and hurting to much that I couldn’t ask for more medication. At one point I actually let out a yell. I have a high, high pain tolerance too. I’ve dealt with chronic pain from adhesions from old surgeries and interstitial cystitis for years, but this…this HURT. Not only are they cutting on you and shoving a piece of equipment into your chest, they are inserting a catheter into your jugular vein, which is freaky…really freaky.
After it was over and I got back to post-op, my poor husband was really worried because it took so long. He took one look at me and said, “My God, you were awake the whole time, weren’t you?” Yep. Sure was. We finally got home and I slept immediately for a couple of hours. I’m very, very sore. Not so much where the port was placed but where the catheter is in my jugular vein. From friends who’ve had ports this is common and I’ll be sore for awhile. Thank goodness I do have access to chronic pain medication.
Chemo round 1 is Friday morning at 9 a.m. I’m ready. People keep telling me how well I’m handling all this. And I keep saying, “It’s not me, it’s God.” I have no compunction asking for prayers. Nothing has gotten me through the past year and a half, and especially the past 4 months, but the prayers of so many people I know going up on my behalf and I’m humbled. Because obviously God is answering those prayers. I’ve been able to keep working, albeit only 30 hours a week. That’s not to say I haven’t had bad days and I haven’t cried. I have. And I probably will again. God never promised us this road we are on would be easy, but He did promise us He’d be with us every step of the way.
If I can testify to anything, it’s God’s amazing grace and love for us, His children who He cares so much for that He sent His only son to die on a wooden cross for our sins. Easter is a few weeks away and this year it falls on my birthday weekend. Good Friday is actually my birthday. My husband and I plan on going to SC for Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t intend to change those plans because of chemo. If God sees fit for that to happen, I’ll deal with that too, but I want to be with those I love on my special day, and I want to be at one of my dearest and oldest friends wedding on that Saturday, and I want to spend Easter praising God’s name in church and eating dinner with my family. I don’t think He’ll fail in getting me there for that wonderful weekend.
I have many breast cancer survivor sisters in my hometown, from college and even the Internet who have helped me through this too. Their advice, their honesty about their experiences, and their love have been a tremendous gift from God. Laura, Donna, Lucy, Dana, Cathy, Amy, Cecelia, Joyce and Sandra are my heroes. They’ve gone before me and their help has been invaluable. All but one of these ladies has survived breast cancer. The other has survived colon and liver cancer and is currently fighting ovarian cancer.
My favorite song right now is by a group from Brigham Young University. It’s a remix of one of the most popular old hymns that I always loved in church. If you don’t read this whole blog, at least listen to this song. The video part doesn’t matter. If God isn’t speaking to you as you listen, keep listening. I promise you, He’s there.