Tag Archives: recurrence

Step Up! Share the Love!

Step Up! Share the Love!

A few years ago, I had just returned back to school after winter break. I was in my classroom, preparing for class, when I got a phone call. It was a good friend of mine. She had lost my home phone number, but she knew I would be back at school that day. When she told me her news, I burst into tears. She was barely 30 years old and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Last summer, I ran into a friend of my sister-in-law’s at a funeral. I looked at her short, curly hair, finally growing back after chemo. This mother of two, in her 40’s, told me how relieved she would feel if she could just reach the five year survival anniversary. Five years. I smiled and agreed. Inwardly, I cringed, thinking that the fear of cancer recurrence never goes away. Not after five years. Not even after fifteen years.

Just last week, something happened that made me tearfully collapse in my husband’s arms. “It’s not fair!” I wailed. “I’m the one who had cancer. I’m the one who had needles poked into my arms for chemo. It’s not fair!”

Yes, even fifteen years after my diagnosis of breast cancer, I still have a self-pity party every once in a while.

The three of us have survived breast cancer, even though we were diagnosed young. However, the breast cancer community online was shocked by the loss of two young women who had been fighting metastatic breast cancer. Rachel, author of The Cancer Culture Chronicles and Susan, of Toddler Planet, both passed away on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. While I never met them, I read their blogs and am so saddened by their loss.

I’ve been praying a lot these days. Amy, the Matron Down Under, just discovered she has breast cancer, and she is only 35. Her sister Becky (Suburban Matron) had her own fight with breast cancer two years ago. I just don’t understand why so many of us are diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age.

 

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Dr. Love/Avon’s Army of Women is going to Share the Love to help further breast cancer research. LOVE Goes Beyond a Cure, and So Do I! Below is a video I made in October which answers the question, “When did you know breast cancer was going to change your life?” Since this video was made, I also was able to joinĀ  a breast cancer research study. What a great feeling! (If you are reading this post in your email or a reader, you may have to click to Lemon Drop Pie to watch the video.)

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Words Cannot Express {Simple Moment, Bigger Picture}

I have heard through the grapevine that a college acquaintance of mine has started the journey; the healing path toward remission from breast cancer. On a mutual friend’s Facebook wall, she wrote about leg hair. That’s right; LEG HAIR! I remember telling others that while my head was bald, I still had to shave my legs. GAH! But eventually, the chemo made even that stubborn leg hair fall out.

Grateful.
I am grateful for the healing I received.
For the hair brushing my cheeks.
For the hair bristling on my legs.
(Yes, I am even grateful for the need to shave!)
I am grateful for the doctors I continue to see.
For the words I heard just this month, “Your labs look fine.”
I am grateful, so grateful, for the forty-two years God has given me;
For my husband and daughters; there are not words enough to express my love for them.
But yet, in the pit of me, a ball of fear reigns, like a tightly wound ball of yarn.
Panic’s claws threaten to unravel the ball; to pick at it; to make it–and me–come undone.
Fear’s tendrils weave through my body, threatening to stop me in my tracks.
With God’s help, those tendrils of fear dissolve. Words cannot express His love for me.
He gently winds that fear back up into a ball and weaves the fear away.
He was with me through my diagnosis and healing;
He will be with me at the end.
Fear has no hold on me.
He is with us now.
And I am thankful.

Bigger Picture Moments this month are all about Gratitude. Visit Sarah at This Heavenly Life  for more thoughts about thankfulness.

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The Bells Are Ringing

My bathroom window was open as I was putting on make-up. The sounds of traffic and dogs barking drifted through the window, along with the faint sounds of church bells ringing the hour. The bells are a few blocks away, at the church where I teach preschool. If I didn’t know that the bells ring every hour, I might not have noticed their sound. I love those church bells; they remind me of the bells that rang across the street when I was little. I lived in a red brick parsonage with my family; on a street paved with red bricks, by the red brick church with a tall, tall steeple.

Our grade school was just down the street. In the middle of the morning, while we were at class, we would occasionally hear the bells ring out…but at the wrong time.

Imagery of a bell tolling is used as a symbol of death. And that’s exactly why those bells were ringing. A funeral was taking place at the church. As kids, we knew what the bell ringing meant. Listening to the peal of the bells would cause us to pause in our school work, and then we would bend our heads down again to the task at hand. And so, life went on.

It is harder for life to go on after hearing those funeral bells as an adult. I have been thinking about my mother a lot these days. She’s been gone for almost two years. The month of October, with all the pink for breast cancer awareness, used to be easier to face together. Pink is good; pink reminds us that we still need to fight. But pink can also be a lonely color when I worry about the recurrence of cancer.

But yet, I have to laugh as I read that last sentence. In the children’s book, “Purplicious”, the main character moans, “I’m the only on in the whole wide world who likes pink. I am all alone. No one understands me,” when all her friends declare that pink is out and black is in.

By moaning that I am all alone in my breast cancer journey, I am like that pouting little girl in the book. I am not really alone. I am surrounded by love. And of course, I am forgetting that death has no hold on me–a lesson my mother taught me. She had no fear of breast cancer; no fear of death, as one of her favorite hymns proclaims:

Lord, let at last thine angels come, to Abr’hams bosom bear me home, that I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep my body safe in peaceful sleep until thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me that these mine eye with joy may see,
O Son of God, thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, My prayer attend, my prayer attend, and I will praise thee without end!

What a joyful sound, the ringing of the bells!

The words above are from the hymn “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart.”

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Make pink more powerful by joining the Army of Women to help breast cancer research.

The Breast Cancer Month

I used to dread October. October: Pink ribbons everywhere, reminders of the word that Wendy’s mother in St. Elmo’s Fire has to whisper: cancer. October screamed to me: You’re only 28 and you’ve had cancer!! ha HA!! I was positive that I would get cancer again, and October only served to remind me that I was going to die in the near future.

At that time, if you had asked me if I seriously thought I would die, I would have said no. Occasionally I entertain thoughts that I’ll have a recurrence and leave my children motherless. I really don’t think I’m going to die anytime soon, and I no longer dread October. Now, the month of October makes me think back about where I’ve been, the decisions I’ve made, and future choices. I’d like to share some of these thoughts with you during the breast cancer month.

Today, I’m embracing pink. I have my eye on a pair of adorable pink shoes on sale at Carson’s!

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