Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Looking Back

“To Know God and to be known by Him-this is an indescribable blessing” – David Jeremiah from When Your World Falls Apart

I read this statement the morning after my last surgery, the final big step in my ten-month journey through breast cancer.  I try to imagine walking the journey without the truth of this statement and I shudder.  In the agonizing moments of lying on a table waiting to hear the results of a sonogram, I became acutely aware of what Jesus meant when he told us “in this world, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) In the gut-wrenching ten months that followed, I became even more aware of what He meant when he said “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Is 41:13) In every step of the journey, in every encounter with a medical professional, and in every loving deed done to care for our family, His Presence and His knowledge of me were undeniable. 

Although it is not a journey I would have chosen for myself, I understand that it was part of God’s marching orders so that I would never forget a few precious truths.   When your path brings you to a bend in the road, it is crucial to have “your people” in place.  As we like to say, these are the people with whom you do life. The ones that are ready and willing to drop whatever they are doing to text, email, call, pray, care for your kids, cook you a meal or rub your back when you are overwhelmed with nausea. One thing is certain; we would never have made it through the last ten months without some amazing friends and family that know how to love us well. Another important lesson that cancer teaches is that as much as we strive to maintain control of our lives, we are always subject to what might be waiting at that next bend.  I have come to realize that the only preparation I can make is to believe that God and His Word are sufficient and we cannot be consumed. Lastly, cancer has the power to make us stare death in the face; but it also has the power to give us a longing for heaven like we have never known before.  I pray there is never a day that I don’t thank the Lord for His healing and the ability to be with my family on this earth. However, I am more aware that the best is yet to come. 

Today was my two-week follow-up with the plastic surgeon.  He is pleased with how the grafted tissue at the areola/nipples is healing. I was able to have some more stitches removed, and my daily dressing changes are slightly less involved. Although I had been noticing some accumulating fluid above the incision along my lower abdomen, I didn't expect that today's visit would include a rather large needle being used to drain it.  I am due back to see him again in another week with the expectation that it will most likely need to be drained again. I was also told to lay low for the next week because the greater the activity, the greater the fluid accumulation. I am struggling with feeling a bit discouraged that I have taken a few steps backward since I really had felt almost normal again prior to this surgery. It helps to see noticeable healing of the tissue every day and to be amazed that all this reconstruction can even be done.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Walking the journey of diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer was certainly one of the most challenging things I have ever encountered in my life; however, there is another journey that far exceeds the difficulty of cancer for me. That is the journey of motherhood.  One would think that with the mother God gave me, knowing how to be a great mom might not be so hard to figure out.  The challenge for me lies in the constant struggle against being a lover of me.  Mother’s Day can be a bit tricky for me.  On one hand, I appreciate a day to let my own mom know how much she means to me but on another hand, I struggle with my own inadequacies about the mom I am to my kids.  Very little rivals the feelings I have for my kids, but there are days (and many of them) that I must consciously decide to deny myself for the sake of loving them.  It is hard to not feel entitled to 5 minutes of quiet so I can catch up with a girlfriend on the phone or finish eating my meal before it turns cold.  It often irks me to not be able to shop, exercise or date my husband whenever I want.  And more recently the time that I get to spend with the Lord reading and writing never seems to be enough. Then I realize (and cancer has helped me to realize) that this season with these two little people that rely on me for so much is indeed short.  There will be a time when I will long for them to crawl up into my lap at the dinner table, long to be soaked with bath water, and long to spend the time talking, singing and praying with them at night.  Because this time will inevitably come, I will continue to strive to be less of a lover of self and more of the mom that God has called me to be.  

This week marks what we know to be the final step in our ten month journey.  On Wednesday at 7:30 am, I will undergo the last surgery for the reconstruction process following the double mastectomy.  It consists of a nipple/areolar reconstruction using tissue that is grafted from my lower abdominal region.  The recovery from this procedure should be similar to the last procedure with the exception of a six-inch incision in the area where the grafts are taken.  I will be out of work again for 2 weeks and unable to run for another 6 weeks.  I will also be dealing with some pretty bulky dressings that must stay in place for 2 weeks to allow for healing of the grafted tissue.  We appreciate your prayers once again for protection and healing as we seek to finish well.