Running Shoes

I’m lacing up my running shoes, literally and figuratively. It feels to me like the starting gun will go off when I enter the cancer center. I’ve met with surgeons before, but never an oncologist. It’s getting real.

Hebrews 12:1 says so much, but what sticks out to me this morning is this: “let us run with endurance the race which is set before us.” I think the race referred to is our Christian walk in general. However, I think we can apply it more personally as well.

Over the last 20 some years, my races have been motherhood and farm wife. Farm life. Several different income generating businesses. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Each of these has required different things of me and honestly, some of them have been obstacle courses.

Today, all of these races disappear into the background and a marathon appears. It occurs to me that perhaps God has used the other races to condition my heart and soul so that I will have the stamina and endurance for this big one.

I’m so glad for verse 2! “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Someone I trust implicitly has run an infinitely more difficult race. He is the One who will help me, guide me, train me. He will perfect my faith through this. My part is to look to Him.

I am well! But am I?

I have a degree in English, which makes me something of a grammar nazi. At the coffee shop, I am asked a hundred times a day “How are you?” To which I reply “I am well!” Grammatically speaking, this is correct. “I’m good” is not.

I also value honesty. Lately my overactive mind has asked me whether I am being honest when I answer that way. I’m not well. Physically speaking, I have a disease. Cancer is growing even as I sit here typing. So how should I answer? I hate to ambush someone with “I have cancer! How are you?” I also hate to be untruthful.

As I pondered this yesterday, (my mind is really, really overactive right now) the song It Is Well came to mind. I love that song. It may be my favorite hymn of all time. That is my heart’s cry through this whole ordeal. . . that it would well with my soul.

And so, I have found peace with this dilemma. Is my body well? Nope. But my soul is.

Learning

I love to learn. I google things at least a dozen times a day, just because I want to know. Things like why otters hold hands when they sleep and how big a platypus is and what’s the difference between almond and amaretto. Trivia, all of it, but it fascinates me.

This week I have been googling other things. Things like HER2 and what foods feed cancer and what mastectomy scars look like. None of it is trivial. And if I don’t guard my eyes and thoughts, it leads me down a deep, dark hole of despair.

I now know more about cancer than I ever thought I’d need to, and I have barely scratched the surface. The learning curve with cancer is steep one; it comes at you fast and furious and you try to tread water and discern what applies to you and what doesn’t.

A week ago, none of it applied to me. Cancer was blissfully something that happens to other people–not that I would ever wish it on anyone or take it lightly for them–it was just something I rarely had to think about. Now, here I am and it occupies every corner of my life.

They say ignorance is bliss. It isn’t when knowing what’s going on in my body will likely save my life. As difficult as this new education is, I am grateful for how much the medical community has learned, and for the privilege of living in a time when medical advancement is immense.

Regardless of my feelings on the subject, school is in session. God grant me the presence of mind and wisdom to be a good student.

How it all started

I had a bruise. It had no color; it just felt like a bruise on my left breast. I couldn’t feel a lump or anything, but I figured since I had blown off the routine mammograms for the last 8 years (I’m 48, and they recommend starting at 40) I’d go ahead and get it checked out. I had no idea how providential that little bruise would be. Really.

By the time my appointment rolled around, the bruise was gone, but I figured I’d go in anyway. My nurse practitioner felt a lump in my right breast! She recommended mammogram and sonogram, which I had the following week. I went home feeling confident that all was well and I’d go back in a year to do my routine duty.

Not so. I was called back for a second set of tests, and then again for imaging and possible biopsy in Duluth. That was a tough appointment. When you are called to the Breast Center for tests, stuff gets real and fear sets in. I cried silently through much of the 3 hours I was there.

Then I went home to wait. As I waited and prayed and committed it to the Lord, He gave me the peace that I would indeed be found to have cancer, but that all would be well. I had no guarantee of what that meant, but I could rest in it.

The call came late in the day Friday, and was as I expected. Friday dragged into Saturday and then Sunday. . . finally on Monday I got a call with appointments. Finally, I had something I could DO. There was something on my calendar. It was a start.

That brings me to today. I met the surgeon and found some encouraging news–I can avoid radiation by having a more radical surgery, my lymph nodes are clear, and I really like my surgeon. I also found some discouraging news–as much as I want to avoid chemo, it’s not likely, as the type of cancer I have involves HER2, a protein that enables faster growth and greater recurrence. I’ve always thought if I ever got cancer I’d go a more natural route and skip the attack of chemo on my body. Turns out I did get cancer, and it’s an aggressive sort that will perhaps make it unwise to take the time to try other methods. This makes me deeply sad, and so I pray that if I am to have chemo, both my husband and I will feel a great peace about it.

My schedule is beginning to be crazy. . . days I don’t work, I have appointments. Oh, the appointments.

Here I am. . .

I’ve started several blogs over the years. I love to write and have always enjoyed the idea of keeping up with a blog, more for my own love of writing than anything.

Enter life. Exit blog.

Here I am, starting again. This time, it’s not for me. I am commissioned to write, and I will trust that He who commissioned me will enable me to keep up, for His glory. You see, this time it’s different. I’m going to have a story to tell, and maybe someone will find strength and encouragement in it.

Exactly 5 days ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But you know what’s cool? I expected it. No, I never expected to get reproductive cancer of any sort. There is no history in my family, and it’s scientifically proven that the more time you spend lactating and the more children you bear, the less likely you are to get it. I have 6 biological children, y’all. I’ve done my time. And yet, here I am.

From the time of my biopsies last Wednesday, I had a deep and abiding peace that the results would be positive. I also knew that all will be well and very well. Does that guarantee that I will beat it and live a long and happy life, not remotely.

I could ask “why me?” But then, why not me? What makes me special, that I should be above this diagnosis? Absolutely nothing. And since I KNOW that The Lord my God has everything in His hand, I can trust Him with this. (I will likely need you all to remind me of this as the journey gets rockier–just please be gentle!)

So, that’s my intro. If you’re intrigued, keep reading. If you have other things to do, God’s blessings as you go.