Well….that’s what I feel like anyway- a novice surfer stranded out in the middle of some of the biggest waves on earth. I think metaphorically (just the way God made me)- and up until this point this has been an ocean experience. I say that because it feels like the waves keep crashing in on a perfectly rythmical cycle. Just when I feel like I have things under control, an even larger wave comes crashing down.I wonder when a surfer knows without a doubt that he is “in trouble”? This is definitely as they say, a “journey”, and I expect that things will calm down a bit from here on out.
I had an echocardiogram yesterday. They have to include that in the battery of diagnostic exams because chemotherapy agents are very hard on the heart, and could cause damage. They establish a baseline so they can detect unhealthy changes early. There are so many things that can go wrong while a person is undergoing chemo, which could delay treatment. And a delay in treatment could make all the difference between life and death. I also discovered yesterday that my cancer is estrogen/progesterone negative. Anything negative sounds good, right? Well….not exactly. If cancer is hormone receptive that means it’s reproductive cycle is at least somewhat dependent on hormones. This is highly treatable through hormone suppressants and leads to a better prognosis. Of course there’s side effects of the suppressants which can be unpleasant, but if given the choice, being hormone positive is the good one to make. I also found out I am HER-2 positive. In this case, being positive is not a good thing. (http://www.her2status.com/public/public_home.htm). This means that my cancer cells reproduce very rapidly. Fortunately, there is a treatment for this (Herceptin), that was made available just a few years ago. All of this news doesn’t surprise me- it pretty much goes with the whole IBC thing. But it was one more reality test of the nature of this beast….. and a reminder of my oceanic state.
I’m not going to lie and tell you this has been a spiritual ‘cake walk’. It’s been extremely difficult- and not because my faith is faltering. To the contrary! I’ve had countless people tell me, “think positive”, “have faith”, “walk into the healing”, “rebuke the devil”, “don’t accept the fear/cancer”, blah blah. I know they mean well. And I am sure part of it is consequence of our attendance at a Four Square church. I’m not intentionally being divisive here, but this type of ministry weakens my faith more than it does strengthen it. It makes me wonder about the countless women before me who have died of breast cancer. Was it their fault? Were they somehow negative…weak in faith…..? God is the God over every part of my life……EVEN DOWN TO THE CELLULAR LEVEL. And even if I die from breast cancer, He is still a loving and sovereign God, and I still will not be ‘defeated’ by the enemy. And for me, that means embracing my cancer….accepting it. That doesn’t mean I am negative. It doesn’t mean my faith is weak and I don’t believe God can heal me. He can. All it means is that I have cancer- and I don’t deny it. And it’s pretty bad- and I don’t deny that either. And it doesn’t matter if it is the devil…or God….or sin….or whatever that caused this. What matters is what I do with it now that I have it. So I am finding that even in the midst of my own trial here, my faith is being attacked by some of those very people who are trying to strengthen and encourage me. I hope my sharing this doesn’t detract you personally from whatever words you may want to share with us. I certainly don’t want to alienate people at this time. But I am feeling so alienated………
Another time this feeling is reinforced for me is in relating to other breast cancer survivors. They come out of the woodwork, and it’s a good thing. There’s a certain unspoken “sisterhood” amongst women who have gone through it. The benefit is in being able to “talk shop”. Most people don’t have a clue what the cancer patient goes through. They don’t really want to know. But even among the sisterhood, I feel isolated. I imagine it’s how the pregnant woman who is suffering from hypertension, gestational diabetes, and preclampsia feels when she waddles off to Lamaze to look into the eyes of these petite and perfectly rounded pregnant women with manicured nails, professionally done hair styles, and color-coordinated maternity clothes. It’s hard to receive encouragement from survivors who were looking at 95% survival rates when they got out the gate. With those types of odds- who wouldn’t “think positive”? Amazingly, there are some women who don’t. I am barely 30 years old, and I have been diagnosed with a rare breast cancer that is considered the most aggressive and deadliest there is. The cards are pretty much stacked against me. The only “positive” piece of this puzzle so far is that I don’t have Stage IV cancer (it hasn’t metastasized to distant places). So it’s real hard to look into the face of a 50+ year old woman worried about seeing her grandkids come into the world (not that that’s trite) and accept the cliche “think positive”. It’s like the perfectly petite pregnant woman saying to the distressed pregnant woman, “oh isn’t pregnancy so hard, I just can’t wait to get it over with”. Maybe this is my hang-up. Maybe not. One thing I do know: the emotional components of this are like an onion- there are layers. And this feeling of isolation is the outer-most layer. At the innermost is my relationship with Jesus, which is so deep and so personal that I can’t even utter the things that are going on there. I just hope the outer layers don’t penetrate their poisons deeper in…….
Another thing I do know and will share for those of you who are seriously considering that I may be having a faith crisis, is that my type of circumstance……you know, the ones where the odds are very unfavorable, are the exact types of circumstances where God does miracles, where His Glory shines the brightest, where He sends His angels to minister……..
So….had my first chemo treatment today. It went as well as could be expected. They couldn’t get my port-a-cath to work, so I took it through an arm vein. After treatment (which took 4.5 hours) they got it fixed……..so all is well in love and cancer.
We lead a Bible study/home group every-other Friday, and tonight’s our night, so we’ll be doing that. Usually the hardest days are the 2nd and 3rd, I am told, so I won’t “feel it” probably until then. Then it should level off a bit. But we’re not making major plans for the weekend…..just gonna finish up some home improvement projects still lingering, do the umpteen loads of laundry, and watch some movies!