Out of the storm

Running through the storm

The short of it…

*This first blog post was my original Facebook post to tell those not in my close network of friends and family about my cancer journey. There is a lot more to the story, but this is the short version and the impetus to starting my blog. I have hope to share and sometimes that’s all we have.

The past six months have been an incredible and bittersweet journey where I have shed so many tears and have followed my mind to places I was not yet prepared to go.  Every run I could coax myself into inevitably brought tears–sadness, anger, isolation, fear, loss, and incomprehensible anxiety.  Today, though, the tears that came as I ran past the vibrant signs of spring were for gratitude and joy!  Six months ago, I found out I had breast cancer and the recommended course of action was a double mastectomy and removal of axillary lymph nodes on my left side. After that, they would know the extent of the cancer and if treatment would be necessary.  With a BRCA 2 gene mutation, I knew my risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer was extremely high.  I just didn’t expect it so soon…

On November 6, 2018, I had my double mastectomy and lymph node removal.  Two weeks later, my surgical oncologist handed me my pathology report telling me they didn’t find any more cancer in my tissue other than what they found in the original biopsy! No treatment would be necessary!! The road to recovery and reconstruction was not nearly over though.  Just as I was starting to get back on my feet after the mastectomy, it was time for reconstruction.  On February 5, I had another surgery for breast reconstruction and removal of ovaries.  The breast reconstruction was a welcome relief from the painful months with tissue expanders, but the oophorectomy meant I was immediately thrust into menopause.  I am now 6 weeks past that last surgery and I am clear to resume all manner of normal life.  With each surgery came physical restrictions, some doctor ordered and some simply as a result of the surgery and changes to my body, but all entailed me not being able pick up and hold my kids.  It seems like so much has happened in the past six months.  Frances turned 3.  Nathan turned 5.  We made new friends.  We grew closer as a family.  Frances became a daddy’s girl. Frances sleeps in a toddler bed and is potty-trained.  Nathan is a ninja in training and broke his first board. Nathan is showering now.  Charles and I are birding again. It seems like we have all grown so much individually and together in such a short amount of time.

I haven’t done nearly all of the things I wanted to do over the past six months, but I realized that not all of the things I want to do are terribly important.  I’m not grateful for cancer, but I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me to gain perspective on life and what matters.  It allowed me the space to find incredible moments of transcendence  as I sought to draw closer to God.  I’ve dealt with some hard experiences where I have turned away from God in anger and not returned for long periods of time.  This time, I turned straight towards Him for comfort, answers, clarity, and escape.  And I don’t think I could have made it through this season of life richer than I was before without Him. 

This song perfectly describes how I felt after my cancer chapter ended.