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Thursday, August 11, 2016

They Say I Have Cancer, But I Say Cancer Does Not Have Me.

I was lying in my bed when my fingers came across an unfamiliar mass.

"Honey, does this feel weird to you?"

My husband's fingers carefully searched the area.

"You probably need to contact the Doctor first thing on Monday morning," he said in a concerned tone.

After the initial breast exam, I was scheduled for a detailed mammogram and an ultrasound.

"And...stop breathing...".

This phrase was repeated several times as the tech took pictures of my carefully placed breast.  She returned to my side to re-position it.  She was so close to me that a strand of her hair became caught in my lipstick, helpless, much like I felt at that moment.

My left breast, a piece of my anatomy that had served in a variety of capacities throughout my life, was under inspection.  It had nourished six children, enticed during intimate moments and offered support to beautifully flowing dresses.  Now it was being squished, stretched, pulled, prodded and pushed.

"And stop breathing," the tech said again.  As I held my breath, I wondered what fate awaited me.

"Mrs. Reese, your results are abnormal.  We need you to return for a biopsy."

While the breast advocate explained the procedure, my mind wandered.

What if it is the worse case scenario?  What if I have a limited amount of time left?  What would I want to do with my time?  Will the kids remember me?  Will my husband find me attractive if I begin to look sickly.  What will people say about my life?

"Mrs. Reese, do you have any questions?  Mrs. Reese...?"

The nurse's voice penetrated my thoughts and brought me back to this new, sobering reality.

" understand."

During the days leading up to the procedure, I experienced sporadic periods of crying.  I spent a great deal of energy, however, keeping my mind on Christ and channeling positive thoughts and vibes.

Overall, the biopsy was not painful.  It certainly did not compare to child labor experiences, that's for sure!  The popping noise the biopsy tool made was unbelievably annoying.

"I'm going to remove some tissue in 3....2....1, POP!," the doctor said.  

The sound was similar to the noise elongated Bar-B-Que lighters make.  All the while, I had the song, "Good, Good Father," playing in my mind as a few tears made their way down the side of my face.

"Mrs. Reese, your tissue will be sent off for analysis and we should have your results by next Tuesday."

It was Thursday.  On Saturday, I received the call.

"Mrs. Reese, your results have returned.  I tried to reach you on Friday but did not want to leave a message.  They are not what we had hoped."

My heart immediately sank and my palms became sweaty as I reached for my husband's leg who was seated next to me on the couch.

"I have you on speaker phone so my husband can hear the news as well."

"The mass is cancerous.  Thankfully, it is in stage one and it is measuring at a small amount.  The type of cancer you have is called invasive mammary carcinoma.  It is appearing both in your ducts and in your lobes."

I looked at my husband as he sat up to hear the doctor more clearly.

"We have you scheduled to come in on Tuesday to speak with the Doctor during a consult.  I want to stress that the focus should be on the size and the fact that it is a low grade."

Once the call ended, my hubby turned to me and asked, "First, how do you feel and then what do you think?"

"There are a number of emotions right now.  Relief.  Concern.  Amazement.  Disbelief.  My life has changed forever."

Our senses were on high alert as we waited for our visit with the surgeon.  When we arrived, we knew we were in good hands when the attending nurse introduced herself to us as "Grace."  We hear you, Lord!

The consultation went better than expected and the doctor offered some comfort in an otherwise very unsettling situation.  We asked a number of questions and gained a greater understanding of my case.  We were again told to focus on the fact that it was caught early and the mass is very small.

Surgery and treatment will be scheduled soon.  My cancer survivor journey has begun.

Cancer does not have me!