June 25, 2018… It had only been like 3 days since the start of this but it was the LONGEST 3 days of my life. The hubby and I drove to Dallas for our early morning needle biopsy appointment. Holy MOLY that is not for the weak, lol!!! I mean they stick the longest needle ever into the breast guided by imaging and take a sample of tissue to send off. I had not one, not two, but three spots that they checked…OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!
As I laid there and the radiologist did her magic, I flat out asked her. “I know you probably can’t tell me and I understand that, but you see this day after day. In your opinion, what do you think?”
“I think it’s breast cancer”
So there’s that. You would think I would have been mad or shocked or freaked out, but in that moment I felt a wave of peace. Sure it was heartbreaking, but I was so appreciative to have that. Hearing those words in that moment was more reassuring to me than sitting there for days wondering what the heck was happening to me.
I had decided that I wanted to go public with this…
But I didn’t want to do so without my husband’s approval. Let’s face it, he’s pretty private, but with the way my career had gone, it had become more normal for me to share things. I have always tried so hard to just be real and not pretend, so how the heck could I pretend when I was facing the battle of a lifetime? Not just that, but I had told him there were 2 reasons I wanted to be public and share. 1) What if it could help just ONE person? What if my story could help one woman out there to find her lump and not feel alone? 2) I believe in the power of prayer. I knew we needed more prayer warriors in our life than ever before.
We were planning on having a pool put into our backyard that summer.
We had met with the contractor and already signed all the paperwork. It was supposed to be started within the next week or so and we had been so excited! I had always had this vision of myself sitting out by my pool in the mornings drinking coffee and doing my devotional as I listened to the stream of water, it was literally a dream I had for quite some time. So I was pretty stoked that it was finally happening!!!
On the way home that day, I told my husband that we should probably rethink the whole pool thing. I mean if this is all really happening, we are going to be in for the surprise of a lifetime with our finances so a pool isn’t really too smart. He agreed and we decided we would sit down that day and figure it all out. Well, as we stood in the kitchen 30 minutes later, we heard all kinds of commotion in the backyard. We looked out the window and wouldn’t you know?!? Pool equipment being delivered and stacked in our yard. Holy moly. This was happening. I had a cancer diagnosis looming in the background and we had a freaking pool going in?!?! Not ideal timing! How were we going to make this work? What was going to happen? Where would we find the finances for everything that was headed our way?
I remember that night the kids wanting to watch a movie as a family…
I had taken them to see “I Can Only Imagine” that summer and they wanted their dad to see it. Obviously we hadn’t told them anything that was happening at this point so how could I completely squash their dreams and excitement when they saw that on our list of available movies to watch?!?! So, there we were…in the living room as a family watching an incredible movie that was so dang close to home it was hard to breathe at times. There was this silent but deafening understanding between Kaleb and I , both fighting back tears and fear and trying to make everything ok on the outside It was gut wrenching!!! But we did it, we powered through and made it…whew! It definitely became a movie to never forget 😉
2 days later on July 27, 2018 I got the call from the radiologist.
She told me the results had confirmed what she had feared and that I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I was encouraged to get an appointment with a breast surgeon ASAP and to get started with treatment right away. I took it with ease, just like it was anyone calling to give me a life changing diagnosis. I made the necessary phone calls to the husband at work and to my parents. My friend showed up at my door with my medical paperwork and the phone to her ear working as hard as she could to get me into the surgeon that day. It was a WHIRLWIND.
Hubby arrived home, mom and friends were at my house with my kids and we were off to a breast surgeon by 1:00 that afternoon. I felt the lump at 9:00pm on a Thursday night and by 1:00pm on Wednesday I was meeting with a breast surgeon learning what the heck I was up against.
Here’s where I started to learn SO much more than I would have ever thought possible or imagined!!
The way it works is you meet with a surgeon first. Some patients will be sent onto oncology while others will just do the surgery and never see an oncologist. Some do surgery first then oncology, while others do oncology first and then surgery. This was all new to me. I assumed when you got cancer, you went to an oncologist, you got the cancer cut out of you somehow and then started on chemo just to make sure nothing came back. But I had it totally backwards and was going to be on a learning experience of a lifetime…and one I never really figured I’d have to learn, lol! I always assumed cancer was cancer and there was just a cut and dry system! Nope! There would soon be an entire medical team that would be a part of my journey…breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, oncologist, radiation oncologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist.
So you meet with a surgeon who recommends their course…lumpectomy or mastectomy, oncologist or no, and gives you a bit of trajectory of what to expect. In my case, it was recommended mastectomy and onto oncology as soon as I could before surgery even took place. So we left there with a binder in hand full of diagrams of breasts and what the cancer was actually doing and how big it was and what stage and grade we were looking at. It was said that it was metastatic in nature due to it being in my lymph nodes and that I was more than likely a Stage 2 (later it would be upgraded). I called the recommended oncologist and had my appointment set for that Friday.
That day after meeting with the breast surgeon, my husband and I decided it was time to tell the older 2 kids. There were lots of appointments coming up and we felt they should know why I was gone a lot. We knew the diagnosis, we knew what we were looking at so it was time. We took them to get a snow cone and shared the news with them there…just the 4 of us together.
I remember my son, whom I was most concerned with, just kind of let it roll off of him. He didn’t cry, he just ate his snow cone and nodded. I was relieved and figured it was just a case of boys being boys 😉 My daughter on the other hand was really taken back by the news. She was having a hard time even grasping what had been shared with her and couldn’t seem to hold back her emotions. It was heart breaking and so hard to be strong when all you want to do is hold her an tell her you’re just as scared and she is and you don’t know why this is happening either. But all we could do was assure her we were going to fight this and beat this! Their daddy told them that I had a platform and God was going to use this to help lots and lots of people, so we were going to fight hard. We assured them that one day we would look back and be in awe at what we had done together as a team.