My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

27 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

The other day I was thinking back on 2013, and I realized its been kind of a crappy year. Let's make a list:

* The first 3-4 months of this year, Josephine threw daily tantrums that would sometimes last 30 minutes. She chose to throw these gargantrums (gargantuan tantrums) in parking lots and grocery stores. It might not sound like much now, but at the time it consumed our household. She and I dissolved into tears on a regular basis.

* I spent the first five months of this year exhaustingly pregnant. Never have I been so sapped of energy, be it physical, mental or emotional.

* During my c-section to have Eowyn, my bladder was torn, and I had to have a catheter in for a whole week.

* About two weeks after having Wynnie, I had to have a root canal, followed by a crown. A painful, and very expensive, procedure.

* At the end of the summer, I stabbed my hand, requiring a trip to the emergency room and three stitches.

* Ten days after that I saw the doctor, who was concerned enough about the lump in my breast to send me to have it checked out.

* On October 11th I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was given one week to make a decision about what to do about my diagnosis.

* On November 7th I had a bi-lateral mastectomy. Recovery is taking FOREVER. After three weeks I still can't pick up my baby comfortably, or reach any tall shelves.

* I will start chemotherapy in December, which will last anywhere from 3 to 4 1/2 months.

* Through all of this we've had finances to juggle, a bigger stress than a lot of people admit, I think.

* I have a nearly-3-year-old who still doesn't say anything intelligible, making daily interacting quite frustrating, for all of us. She makes some of the most routine daily tasks some of the most aggravating things I do all day.

* Wynnie, that sweet baby I gave birth to in May, is six months old and STILL wakes up several times a night. Neither Caleb nor I have slept more than a few hours together since she was born. We're really sleepy, all the time.

If I were a complaining person, I would say I have a right to complain a little about this year. I've even considered becoming superstitious about the number 13, this year being 2013 and all.

But I believe we have a choice about how we feel about our lives. There is always another side to this coin. And not only is tomorrow Thanksgiving, but I believe a spirit of gratefulness is the key to happiness, contentedness. Whatever one's circumstances, we can find things to be thankful for. So, here is the flip side to my previous list:

* Josephine is growing up. She has almost completely outgrown her crazy tantrums and is becoming a delightful little girl, more and more willing to talk through her frustrations.

* I am no longer pregnant! And though the catheter was a nuisance, my bladder is healed! And I gave birth to the sweetest little girl you'll ever meet. She even has a belly laugh! She might be up half the night, but she melts all frustration away with her easy smile.

* If I hadn't stabbed my hand, I may have caught this breast cancer too late. I've never been more grateful for stitches in my life. That was $150 well spent.

* I have not once regretted my decision for a double mastectomy. The cancer is gone. We're on the road to recovery.

* I still anticipate chemo with a little trepidation, but God has been so extremely good throughout my life, not to mention this crappy year, that I don't doubt he will continue to carry me through the tough times ahead.

* Our financial woes are not even woes. Through the generosity of others and a seemingly decent health insurance plan, we have so far been able to cover every expense the doctors have thrown our way. Praise God!

* My 3-year-old is starting to attempt language, and though there is still a lot of frustration in our communication, we're beginning to see some light in a previously dark place.

I go into Thanksgiving this year with a truly thankful heart, even in the midst of a very difficult year. I am thankful for a loving husband; healthy, boisterous, fun-loving kids; a truly generous community of friends and family, who've selflessly come along side us in our times of need. We have much to be thankful for.

"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:5b-7

I am truly at peace. And it is a wonderful place to be. I highly recommend it. In the midst of your bad day, week, or year ... what are you thankful for?

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