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No, it’s not okay.

April 17, 2018

One of the lessons I’ve been learning lately is to stop saying (specifically after explaining what’s going on with my cancer) “but, it’s okay.” I think it’s our natural reaction to want to cushion the blow when delivering bad news. My sister has been telling me for a long time to stop worrying about how people are going to receive my bad news. I always want to put a happy spin on it or something.

Jonathan talked to the school secretary and told her what was going on. He finished with, “but, it’s okay”, and thankfully, she said, “No, it’s not.” I’m not throwing him under the bus – I do it too. I said it to a friend who is also a therapist and she set me straight. She said if you’re saying to someone, “I’m ok” there’s a good chance you’re more worried about making sure that they’re not feeling too uncomfortable than you are about actually being honest about how you’re feeling. Dang…

The truth is, sometimes things are just terrible. They suck. They are bad. I got my teeth cleaned today and the lady was telling me how her husband works third shift so they see each other one day a week, “but it’s okay.” Girl, it sucks. Only seeing your husband one day a week is miserable. And just because your situation isn’t as bad as the next person’s doesn’t make it any less sucky. Just because you don’t have cancer doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal that you got fired. There’s always someone in a worse spot than you, but that doesn’t minimize what you’re going through. I’m not saying go around and tell everyone how bad things are all the time, but don’t deny it when your reality sucks.

And speaking of sucky things, we saw Dr. Z yesterday. Ever since my conversation on Friday where I found out about all the lymph nodes, I had been thinking that he was going to tell me I need to do chemo. And I was right. He feels like my surgery in the fall was inadequate, and while he doesn’t know for sure, he suspects that the current cancer is a variation of the original one. The hormone receptors aren’t as strong, but my hormone levels had been significantly reduced following my fall surgery. It sounded like sometimes the cancer can adapt. He said if I don’t do anything besides surgery, there’s about a 50% chance the cancer will recur within the next 3 years, and it would likely be somewhere else (liver, lungs, bones). With chemo and radiation, it brings it down to about 30%. There’s a 40% chance chemo could drive me into permanent menopause… Ugh. I still have to heal before I can move forward, but I have an appointment with him in 2 weeks to talk about it more. Waiting to check out, I met two ladies who confused my hair with a pre-chemo buzz. It will never stop being confusing.

We left the office and drove home, asking each other questions and discussing the appointment. Christine ask what scared me most about the whole thing. Thinking about dying. Having to face that I really have cancer, stage 3 cancer, and if I don’t bring out the big guns, it very well may kill me. And I don’t want to die. Also, thinking about getting a port put in/having a port also gives me the heebie jeebies and makes my stomach turn.

When we went to Unicoi a couple weeks ago, we had to wait to check in to our cabin, so we went down to a playground and creek area. The kids started playing with other kids, talking to parents and introducing all of us. I talked to a mother who had four kids there. We chatted and eventually told a little bit of our stories including my upcoming mastectomy. I noticed that she was wearing a bracelet that said “peace”. It made me think of Betsy, a friend and also a mother of four, who had written the same word on her front door or somewhere super obvious during a time when they really needed it in their home.

We ended staying in different parts of the park and didn’t run into each other again like we had hoped, but a few days later, I got a friend request from her on Facebook. I had thought about looking her up, but didn’t even know their last name. I’m sure one of my girls told them all of our entires names, as they tend to do (good thing identify theft isn’t a concern…) She messaged me saying how nice it was to meet us and asked me for our address.

Last week I was sitting out back (I think it was my first day outside since surgery), and Jonathan came out with the mail. He asked if I knew anyone in Dalton, and handed me an envelope. In it was the bracelet I had noticed on our friend at Unicoi. She said she had felt compelled to give it to me since we met and was praying for us to have peace, whatever that might look like, during this time.

Like I said before, I don’t like to point out gifts I’ve been given. I’ve received so many beautiful, thoughtful gifts and don’t want to imply one is better in some way. But bear with me – as I went away from that appointment, I felt so calm. I had expected the news, but to be able to just accept it was really surprising to me. I can’t tell you how many times over the last 8 months I’ve said and thought “I just can’t/ won’t do chemo”. The destructiveness of it scares me. I always feel like it causes more problems than it fixes. I’ve had an almost physical repulsion to it, and wondered what I would do if it came down to that.

But here I am. It’s come down to chemo, and I feel okay. I thought maybe I was just numb or in denial, but at some point yesterday, it dawned on me – all this time, we’ve prayed for a clear path. We’ve prayed for peace with the hard decisions we have to make. Peace in our home and hearts. I’ve been wearing that prayer on my body for the past week. Is this the answer to that prayer? The peace that passes understanding? Did God prepare my heart to hear the news so I could go ahead and do what I need to do to get rid of this cancer?

Our pastor says that being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. It means that even when you are afraid, you still keeping moving forward. I am afraid. I know that chemo is going to be hard. But, I also believe that at this point, it is the best way to get rid of this cancer.

I also know that the current physical state I’m in is much healthier and more able to withstand harsh treatment than if I had tried in the fall. Others have said it better – it may be time for the big guns, but now we have a stronger fort. And Dr. B and the RHM staff will be able to provide me with supportive treatments that will build me up as the chemo does its work.

Parenting and cancer

April 15, 2018

From the very beginning, one of the biggest challenges of dealing with cancer has been the fact that you don’t get to stop being a parent just because you have cancer.

Yesterday, I sat in the yard with two of my sisters and watched the girls run around. It was the first afternoon this week that they were all home at the same time. It’s good to see their faces, but I’m mostly an observer right now. Whenever they come toward me, I guard my right side and brace for impact. They know my reflexes are slow and my reach is restricted, and their behavior often reflects this knowledge.

I watch them play and start to wonder how long I’m going to have this limited, guarded role in their life. I know thinking too far out is a really bad thing to do, but for that moment, I can’t help it. With the most recent news, it’s becoming apparent that me and cancer have a long way to go, a lot of fighting to do. It’s not going to be over when I heal from this surgery. I’ve already lost time with them, and wonder how much more I’m going to lose. I start to cry thinking about this.

This is one of the many reasons that cancer sucks and is terrible. Not only is your body struggling, but you are missing out on life. Those you love are missing out. It robs everyone, and that sucks.

When I was little and had cancer, my older two siblings spent a lot of days and nights at other people’s houses. I remember hearing about my older brother being really sad because my dad had to work and my mom was away with me, and I felt so bad and would cry thinking about it. I know that it wasn’t my fault that they went through that, just like it isn’t my fault now, but it still sucks that people you love are suffering.

Another thing that’s been really hard about parenting with cancer is that it is even more difficult than usual to be present. There’s always something else that needs my attention. I have an appointment and then after the appointment we race to pick the kids up, but while we’re doing that I’m on the phone scheduling other appointments, talking to family/friends. Then we get home and I start looking up the next medicine or lab/pathology results, all the while the kids want to eat, play, whine, fight, or just be held.

 

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I find myself being more impatient with their needs and noise, being more easily annoyed, less consistent with discipline. Then I feel really terrible about it. Thankfully I have people who speak truth into my life at times like this and remind me that most people with little kids feel this way at some point – cancer or not. I also have to constantly remind myself that all that I am doing is for them. So whatever absence this cancer treatment is causing will be made up for by my long term presence and health.

Another major cancer-with-kids stress has been dealing with childcare. Thankfully, every time I’ve reached out, I’ve received generous help, but the different pieces that had to fit together for a long day of treatment would blow your mind. Prior to my surgery, I finally sat down and made a spreadsheet that laid out our schedules for the entire month. There are way too many moving parts, and having them all in my head was making me lose sleep every night. Now, at any given time, there are multiple people who can see where the kids are, when Jonathan is working, etc… and that has given me a lot of peace.

Switching gears entirely – today I went to church. It was so good to be there. Getting dressed to leave the house is complicated though. I’m not trying to pretend I have two breasts, but I also don’t want to feel like a spectacle. Yesterday it took me three shirts. Today, only two. I thought that having a picture on the front would disguise the whole one breast thing, but it made it more obvious. I know that how I feel leaving the how is going to change day by day, so I’m not sweating it too much right now.

Tomorrow morning I see Dr. Z. I feel like I’m prepared for whatever he tells me. Looking forward to having more info regardless.

 

Friday the 13th

April 13, 2018

Because it’s late, I’ll get right to it – Dr. G called me today. The pathology report came back and it wasn’t what they had hoped for. The breast contained multiple masses, and 4 of 5 lymph nodes contained some cancer. I already felt like we had made the right decision (mastectomy) regardless of what they might find, but this confirms it.

Dr. G was really surprised about the lymph nodes. (I am tired of surprising doctors with how sneaky and ambitious my cancer is.) She recommends radiation, which I knew would be the case if there were more nodes involved. She’ll make an appointment with a radiation oncologist soon. Dr. Z was also at the tumor board this morning. We’ll find out his recommendations on Monday.

I was standing in Home Depot when she called me. I had told myself several times this week that even though things sounded good, there was still a possibility that it could go the other way, so I wasn’t as shocked like I had been in the past. I got off the phone and told Christine who was with me and then called Jonathan to tell him.

Then a little while later the fear started to creep in. The realization that it’s never going to be an open and close case like I wanted. The wondering whether we were always going to be a step or two behind the cancer. The disappointment that reconstruction isn’t my next or biggest concern. What is it going to take for me to get rid of this cancer once and for all?

A few minutes later, my parents met us there. They are going to plant our garden for us this year and were there to buy some supplies. We told them the news and we all cried together. It’s so disappointing.

We came home and were met by two good friends who had come to visit. The girls were off with different friends so we were able to talk and be sad and mad. We got the pathology report and all took turns reading it. There are so many questions – are the other masses more of the same? More of the old stuff? What about the stuff in my nodes? It’s so much more complex than any I’ve seen before because it’s dealing with so much more tissue. I wasn’t able to get anything helpful out of it, so I’ve committed myself to waiting until Dr. Z can explain it all on Monday.

I’m able to take some comfort in the clear PET scan I got just over a month ago, but even that is a little shaky right now. This cancer continues to surprise everyone, and that scares me.

In case you’re wondering why I was at Home Depot… Yesterday I made my second non-doctor outing since surgery. Over the last year (or five), we’ve been gradually repairing and painting/decorating our house. We have finally gotten to the front of the house (some windows had to be replaced) and the living room and front room. So while Christine is here and I don’t have to text her a million photos of paint squares on the wall, we wanted to get these remaining colors nailed down. So over the last two days, we’ve gone twice and gotten 11 paint samples. Both outings were pretty much all I could do for the day, but it does feel really nice to be doing something normal.

I’m so grateful for all the people who are helping/allowing/forcing me to take it easy. For all the people who have picked the girls up from school and brought them home worn out from so much fun. For the people who drop off food so none of us have to think about cooking. It’s all been so good.

 

 

I haven’t had much time to process all of this, but even as I write this I am reminded that a God who is faithful in the details of playdates and little kids is also the same God who will guide us through each treatment. I know that a huge part of the struggle in the next days will be in not letting my mind go to places created by fear. Not following those worst case scenarios trails that lead to despair. To focus on what is true and not worry about what we don’t know. To be hopeful.

I’ll continue to update as we get more info.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

April 11, 2018

It’s been the kind of week that requires regular calendar checks if one wants to know what day it is. Up until yesterday (I’m assuming thanks to my pain medicine), I was on a pretty regular nap and go to bed early schedule. While this was good and necessary, it meant that I spent most of my time working to decipher reality from dream world. I was had a lot of crazy and/or unpleasant dreams which meant I woke up feeling weird. And every time I woke up, I had to re-remember what I had just gone through. What my new reality is.

I can’t even remember how many times during those first few days I said or thought “I can’t believe my breast is gone.” “I can’t believe I only have one breast.” I still can’t believe it. I don’t know how long it will take to get used to seeing myself in the mirror. Or until the rest of my family is used to seeing me with one breast. I think all the girls have seen “my boo boo” but none want to see it again.

(My mind has been kind of mushy for days, so I’m trying to remember what’s been going on.)

I remember feeling several major disconnects. The first one was the disconnect between having my breast removed and having cancer. I have to keep remembering why I’m doing this. The mastectomy has become the main thing in my mind for several weeks now, and, for better or for worse, has drowned out the cancer thing. But I have to bring them back together for this loss to make sense.

The other disconnect is a little different. I feel disfigured, but I know I don’t have to look like this forever. There are a lot of good options when it comes to reconstruction – ones that I think I will be able to feel comfortable with. I started looking into some of them, and the type I will probably get, where they take tissue from another part of your body and rebuild your breast, is really extensive up front, but in the long term, it can be much better than an implant. So I looked on some website to see what was involved in the surgery. It was too much. Too many days in the hospital. So much recovery. I can’t even think about it right now. (I haven’t even met with a plastic surgeon either to know what my situation would be like, so I have to keep that in mind as well.) So I have to somehow keep in mind that I won’t always look like this without dwelling too deeply on what it’ll take for me to not always look like this…

On a more practical note, the healing has been going really well. I’ve had more use of my right arm from the beginning than any of us would have thought possible. The incision is clean and looks healthy. I was able to get one of the drains out Monday afternoon and the other came out this morning. I’ll spare you the details, but the removal was not a blessing. If it had lasted about 5 seconds longer, I might have thrown up.

I saw Dr. G this morning. She said that she’s taking my case to the tumor board on Friday (pathology reports usually come back sooner when a tumor board is waiting), and will call me this weekend. She is optimistic that I won’t need radiation. I know the pathology results can change that, but it was still encouraging to hear she felt that way. We’ll see Dr. Z on Monday to hear what he thinks as well.

Since the drains were out, I was able to take a shower this afternoon. And though it was glorious, I cried a lot. It’s hard seeing my body this way. And though I know how I look doesn’t affect how Jonathan loves me, it’s still kind of hard being seen. Like I said, I do feel disfigured. (I’m wondering, though, if it’s easier for those around me to maintain the no breast = no cancer, therefore no breast = a good thing connection in their minds.) I cried because I’m sad for what I’ve had to go through. And then I cried because I have someone who loves me enough to shave my armpit for me.

I stopped taking the prescription pain stuff yesterday. The label said I might die if I mixed alcohol and the medicine, and I was ready to have a glass of wine. I never really had much pain, but I don’t know how much of that was because it was managed so well or if it just wasn’t there. Any pain I have is usually in my armpit. I can sleep on my back or my left side (which is getting old), but as long as I’m able to keep space between my arm and my body, I’m pretty comfortable. (I have a squishy pillow that was given to me after my lumpectomy that is perfect for that job.)

I realized this afternoon as I went outside and was tempted to do things in the yard, that it’s going to be a struggle to give myself time to heal. It’s hard to wait and it’s hard sitting around. My right arm works pretty well, but it doesn’t take much for me to realize I’m overdoing it. So for now, I’m going to continue practicing delegating and as my cousin said, channeling my inner Cleopatra 😉

Our children have been cared for in a way that is going to have them hoping I have another surgery soon. They’ve been taken away to spend time with others and we’ve had help here at the house. I’ve had little twinges of feeling bad because I’ll see them so little this week, but thankfully, we have gotten some little moments first thing in the morning or at night where they will be still and snuggle against me and I can enjoy them without fear of them hurting me.

This morning on the way back from the doctor, we stopped by Rev for some coffee. We actually saw a few friends, which was really nice. But it felt strange to be in public after being so out of it this week, and also strange that I was so different, yet no one really knew. I admired some of the art on their walls, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when Jonathan came home later with this:

Give yourself grace – Kristen Ramsey Art

He had the perfect idea to hang it over our front door so this is the last thing you see whenever you leave the house. It’s a good reminder for me right now as I deal with physical limitations, grief, fear, healing, etc… but it’s something we all need to hear all the time.

So go on, regardless of what you’re dealing with, give yourself grace tonight.

Home again, home again

April 7, 2018

We are back home now. I’ve been awake since around 7 and haven’t had any major pain. I’m taking motrin/ibuprofin and tramadol. I had some discomfort when I was coming to yesterday, but we were able to manage it pretty quickly.

I don’t remember much from the day, but surgery went well. All my hospital duds were lavender or purple. They must’ve known that I was coming 🙂 They made me wear a silly hair net that kept sticking to my hair like velcro. The worst part was when they couldn’t get my IV to thread on the first try and had to stick me again. I don’t have the best veins, though, so it happens.

I was surprised to see a crucifix in each room and then realized the hospital was St. Joseph’s. I’m not into those, but I did appreciate the prayer they said over the loudspeaker last night and this morning.

Jonathan, my mom and my sister Christine were there while it was going on. I’ve been told she took 5 lymph nodes and only one of them seemed a little weird. It went really fast – just over an hour. We didn’t get in there until well after 1pm and I don’t remember much before 5pm.

I have a stretchy tube top on with padding protecting my incision. I looked inside of it last evening and though it is scary looking, it didn’t make my stomach turn. I have said several times that I can’t believe I only have one breast. It’s so weird to be completely flat on one side. I don’t it won’t always be that way, but it is pretty startling.

The nurses were really good about timing my checkups throughout the night so we only got woken up twice. I have two drains in that are disgusting and as my surgeon said, they may be the worst part of this whole thing. I haven’t actually seen where they got into my body, but they are on the side somewhere. They have long tubes so I can carry them around.

We FaceTimed with the girls last night, though most of them couldn’t be bothered to talk to us. Then we had a couple from church stop to bring Jonathan some food, me a couple presents and visit for a little while. It was a really nice way to spend the evening. Like a normal social evening instead of a night in the hospital.

(A side note: I always feel uncomfortable naming people and gifts because there are too many to recognize and I never want to feel like one is more important or meaningful than another. I have received so many acts of love and kindness lately and have been flooded with messages throughout the last week, texts, calls, notes. I’m sure I won’t even be able respond to most of them, but they are all so dear to me.)

Speaking of kindness we’ve received, the girls have been distributed and redistributed since yesterday and are all having a wonderful time. As much as I love them and miss their faces, I can’t imagine them being here in the house right now.

I’m probably going eat and maybe take a nap now. I’ll leave you with a picture of Jonathan and me as we left the hospital today. Over the years, we’ve spent several nights in the hospital together, but this is the first time we didn’t share the room with newborn and the first time we’ve left with less than we came with 😛

My prayer for the coming days is for peace as we await the pathology reports, good reports, and emotional stability.

The sadness of it all

April 6, 2018

Today is the day that, as Farrah said, “The doctor’s going to chop your boob off and Jesus is going to be with you.” (My surgery is at noon.)

This week has been busy as we prepare for surgery and make sure the kids are squared away. We had a good couple days in the mountains and were able to take some time with the girls and talk about what’s going on. We had to recognize that 1. this was not going to be our usual getaway. We both had to spend way more time on our phones that we would have preferred, and 2. it was our trip. We could do whatever we wanted. Just because we were in the mountains didn’t mean we HAD to go for a hike.

The thing I feel most needs to be said, though, is that on Tuesday I was finally (?) hit by the sadness of all of this. I started crying and kept on throughout the evening. I feel so sad that this is my best option. Sad that I will be losing a part of my body. Just sad. I guess the denial stage of grief had worn off.

I didn’t go around crying all the time, but I have definitely had my moments. I recalled how many of you have told me your hearts were broken for me, and I finally felt that for myself. Heart broken for my breast and the loss I’m about to experience. I imagine it might be how one feels when they have a beloved family pet who is sick and needs to be put down. Sad that it’s come to this, but still knowing it’s the best and right thing to do.

While we were gone, my mother painted two bedrooms that I had wanted to be painted for months. There were paint squares all over the walls and they looked terrible. It was so nice to come home to a beautiful new bedroom.

Wednesday night, we went to dinner and then to church for our monthly worship & prayer service, and again, the sadness hit me. This just sucks. And being sad is good and okay. They sang about God leading us and us following. It reminded me that this isn’t the destination, and that God isn’t like, good luck with that. He’s led us here and we will keep walking through it with Him.

Last night, some friends threw me a party to mark the occasion. It was such a sweet and beautiful time. So many words of wisdom and comfort. I was grateful to have to stop in the middle of a busy week and be intentional about sitting with this experience.

If only love could cure cancer. But since it doesn’t, it makes the journey that much sweeter and bearable. So many of you have sent me thoughtful texts, emails, calls. I carry them with me in my heart and know that when we go to the hospital today, we will not be alone.

The wandering way toward a decision

April 1, 2018

When I last wrote, I was waiting to see Dr. G again to talk about further biopsies.

I told her that I am a questioner and I need to be able to understand and justify to myself why I’m making the choices I’m making. Right away, she discussed the differences in what we had originally thought this cancer was (more of the same from last year) and what we had learned it to be (something entirely different.) And while it is good that it’s a less aggressive type, everyone is very concerned that my breast has managed to grow two different cancers in a fairly short period of time. It tells me that there seems to be something fundamentally wrong happening in there.

I asked about the biopsies and she showed me my most recent PET scan and my MRI from August (I don’t have a more recent one.) The PET scan is amazing, by the way. It starts at the top of my head and goes slice by slice down to my legs (not sure exactly where it ends.) She showed me the two spots that are concerning to her. Neither of them are masses per se, which is why another biopsy wouldn’t really be helpful. One of them was kind of a wisp going from the chest muscle up toward the nipple and the other was a little brightness closer to my armpit. The cancer showed up like a glowing little ball, and appeared much deeper/closer to my muscle than I had expected.

Next we went through the old MRI to see if there was any sign of this in August. The scary thing was that there wasn’t. I could understand their recommendations more. We discussed again the lumpectomy option, but you start to get the feeling that if we are leaving glowing spots behind, what else is going to show up? The tumor board was meeting on Friday so she said she would discuss it with them and let me know what they said.

After we met with her, I met the Winship breast cancer nurse navigator. They are people who you can talk to about anything regarding your illness, treatment, emotional and physical issues, family stuff, etc. They even have people who specialize in helping you talk to your kids about cancer. I had met one of these in the fall, but never followed up. I felt like because I wasn’t doing the standard treatment, it wouldn’t be a good fit, but I’m not going to throw the book away this time. We talked about our concerns about the emotional side of this, and she said she would connect me with someone I could talk to.

I left there and text my sister “it seems like mastectomy is the best option”. But then a few hours later, I was looking for information online and kept finding articles about “Why I ignored my doctor’s recommendation and healed my cancer naturally.” I felt really conflicted. I’ve seen my scans with my own eyes. No one is making anything up to sell me a surgery. Yet, maybe I should be trying harder. If other people heal naturally, maybe I should too.

My wise sister again gave me the comparison of our dad’s diabetes. He has had type 1 since he was 4, yet when he became a Christian in his twenties, two times he asked God to heal him from diabetes and quit taking his insulin. He and I talked about it this weekend, and he told me that he had (I’m sure) well meaning friends come in and tell him if he took insulin it would be a sign that he lacked faith. He almost ended up in a coma both times, and could have died. Choosing to take insulin, and therefore to stay alive, does not make him lesser. And having to have surgery, doesn’t make me lesser.

I woke up Friday morning feeling blah again. Dr. G called me first thing and said there wasn’t anything new from the other doctors, but if I wanted an MRI for my own peace of mind, that would be fine. She said to think of any questions I had over the weekend and she’d call back Monday afternoon.

We had a whole free day, but I had no energy and was struggling to think about anything around the house. Jonathan and I sat at the kitchen table and I started crying. I told him, I think somehow it’s not computing that I really have cancer. Maybe if I could get that in my head and my heart, then I could accept the decisions that I have to make. It’s been hard for both of us to process all of this since in every other way, I’m as healthy as I could be. There seemed to be a disconnect in my thinking.

I ate something nourishing, which helped me feel better, and then went on to really get shit done the rest of the day. Something in me must’ve been computing the upcoming surgery, because I nailed down an upholsterer for a sofa that’s been sitting in our garage for months, ordered the fabric online, and picked out paint colors for two rooms that are currently covered in patches of sample colors.

That night we went to the Good Friday service at church. The service was wonderful, but the conversation we had with our pastor afterwards was the beginning of a mindset change. Our pastors have prayed for us frequently throughout this time. Not only do they pray consistently for healing, they also pray for things like agreement among care providers and good sleep in our house. After we prayed, we talked through a lot of these struggles I have.

Re: healing and especially natural healing – just because something is possible doesn’t mean it is the wisest choice. One of the temptations put to Jesus was to jump off the temple because surely the angels would save him. This was possible. Jesus would not have fallen to his death. But what would have been the point? To prove he could? It wouldn’t have been a wise use of his power. Choosing not to make use of the medical options available would not be wise for me. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

During our conversation, I referenced some of these articles I’d seen and then immediately remembered that I need to be aware of the lies that are coming into my head. When I was diagnosed with PPD, this was a powerful lesson a friend shared with me, but I guess I’d forgotten. I don’t even know if you have to believe in an evil being in the world to believe this, but there are messages that come into our minds that are not true, and if you believe in the devil, you know his goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. Some of the lies I was hearing during the depression were things like, you should be strong enough to fix this, if you had it more together you wouldn’t be in this mess, taking medicine is bad/not trusting God, etc… Depression was stealing my life at that point. It was trying to destroy me and in turn destroy my family. If I had believed those lies and not gotten help (and it takes more than medicine to get well), we could have lost a lot. I need to pay more attention to the voices I’m hearing and see if they are truth or not. And healing naturally might be truth, but that doesn’t mean it’s my truth.

Another good point from that conversation was that when it comes to something like this, our emotions aren’t always going to be in agreement with our minds. Sometimes we have to let our minds lead. And along those same lines, when we are in the midst of a struggle, we often can’t see clearly. This is when we need to rely on those people around us that know us, love us, and that we trust. This is also something I had learned in a sharp way recently, but had forgotten.

Over the past school year, Jonathan had frequently commented that he regretted not signing the girls up for more days of school. It would have been really helpful, especially with all the appointments I had in the fall. I really struggled with this though. I think that sending your kids to preschool or not reflects more on the mom than on the dad (even though it shouldn’t.) Preschool wasn’t a thing when I was growing up, and a lot of people, especially ones like me who don’t work full time, don’t send their kids off when they are little. I was judging myself on whether I could spend all day every day at home with them or not. A spot opened up in Elin’s class a few months ago, and I talked to someone about whether we should take it. I don’t remember who it was, but they recommended that I just trust Jonathan on this one. The spot ended up going to someone on a wait list, but it had made me work through trusting him on a decision that I couldn’t make myself or agree with him on. He is the father of our children. He spends more time with them than most dads are able to. He knows me. He sees how our house runs (or doesn’t.) I trust him in every other way. I need to stop trying to control everything, and just trust his decision on this.

So here we are again, faced with decisions that I can’t bring myself to make. Realizing that I may just have to trust those around me when my eyes can’t see clearly. It became clear in that conversation what those specific loved ones felt like I should do. I don’t actually have anyone in my group I trust, medical or personal, telling me this is a bad idea, which should give me a lot of comfort. Our pastor prayed that I would have peace and be able to reach a decision long before the next Friday deadline Dr. G had given me.

The next morning we went to an Easter egg hunt at church, and I said, for the first time, I’m going to get a mastectomy. Then I came home and we talked to my parents more. I felt like we were all coming to a place of acceptance which helped me.

I also realized one of my most fundamental hangups with this. I have always been one to wonder what things are really supposed to be like. How did God intend our societies to exist? What should the world be like? It’s so broken right now. So much sickness, greed, poverty, loneliness, isolation. None of this is how it should be. I hear about people getting cancer and just wonder, what was wrong in their environment? How could this happen? Something must’ve happened. Must’ve gone wrong. Yet it keeps happening. Even when people live healthy lives, they can still get cancer and die. It’s been happening through all of time. Our world is broken and we are part of it. Sadly, sickness is part of that. Denying the reality of that doesn’t do me any good. Saying that cancer is awful and wrong doesn’t change the reality that it is growing in my body. This thought is so fresh that I’m still working through it.

So here we are. It’s Sunday night. I had a few more conversations today that each fit a different little piece into the puzzle of all of this. One friend shared her story of having to go medical after a lifetime of natural, and the realization that it was no longer just about her anymore. There were two kids and a husband who factored into things. Another, the wife of a man who would be dead right now without drastic medical interventions, reminded me that God does not give us a spirit of confusion, and that we have to make the best decision we can with the information we’ve been given.

I still struggle to say that I’m going to have a mastectomy, but I’m going to call the doctor in the morning and schedule it. I believe that in the short term, this decision sucks. It’s going to be painful. I’m going to be sad to lose my breast. But long term, I believe it will provide the best outcome for me and for my family.

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