I sit writing this, with big, fat, snowflakes falling outside and Christmas music playing inside. I feel at peace in this moment.
The last few days I have fluctuated between feelings of anxiety and feelings of peace. More peace than worry, for we have been in this place of waiting before, but this time it feel different. Heavier.
I went to see my Oncologist last week for a routine checkup. I was expecting to be in and out of there quickly, as I have been feeling much better compared to this summer, and have even gained weight, which was truly a comfort to me.
My doctor came in and congratulated me on reaching the 5 year mark. She said it is encouraging, but also cautioned that as a grade 3 breast cancer survivor, she can never use the word “cured.” Regardless, there was a lightness about her and lots of smiles. She commented on my 5 pound weight gain and said my “eyes and cheeks look so much better..filled out instead of sunk in.” Why, thankyouverymuch! This made me smile.
She did her usual routine check, her capable hands sweeping over my body, feeling for lumps and bumps. She runs her fingers along my lymph lines, a familiar path she takes every checkup, but this time they paused at the left side of my neck. I remember a short pause in that very spot 3 months ago during my last exam. During that exam she asked me to come back in 3 months instead of the usual 6, due to my weight loss and unexplained nausea. I had moved on from worrying about my physical symptoms, thinking it was not anything to do with cancer and blamed anxiety that I have been fighting this past year. It has been in the back of my head that I am still experiencing morning nausea if I don’t take anti-nausea medication, but the meds work so well it is easy to just continue on and forget the extreme of my illness this past summer.
It could still blame it on anxiety, and it very well may be, but her hand stayed on my neck, and I knew she had found something that made her eyes turn concerned. And then she voiced concern.
It is a hard lymph node, higher up in my neck, a bit below my ear. It feels hard as a pebble & stagnant. She also found another node under my right arm, but that one was less concerning as it was soft and movable, although swollen.
The lightness in the room turned heavy, and she said she wants a CT scan done right after the holiday weekend.
This was 2 days before Thanksgiving, and I have been concentrating on inhaling and exhaling and trying to find my thankful in the perspective that facing one’s mortality brings. It is a love/hate thing, this facing. It is a scary place, one that I want to deny and turn away from, but it just turns with me and follows me, front and center, in my face. On my neck.
It is also a precious perspective, for we all are mortal, and every day is such a beautiful and delicate gift and I GET IT, but I lose it in the comfort of the absence of lumps, bumps & scans.
My CT scan of the brain, neck and chest is scheduled for Thursday, 12-3-15.
I am afraid. I do not like looking on the insides. Especially the insides of my head.
We sat as a family and explained all that is happening to our 3 girls. They are sweet and strong & asked all the right questions. A few tears due to the unknown and scary, but they were very brave tears. This world of cancer has been their world most of their growing up years, and I know God is faithful in working it out for their good–this news and the waiting that they endure. I am the proudest of Moms.
If this node does contain cancer, the location of it makes it tricky. It places me at an automatic stage IV, and that is what brings the heavy. Nodes above the collar-bone have their own entitlement to staging–who knew? We do now.
I am hopeful for the all clear, and then I will go on and not waste this deep knowing, this reminder of how quickly life can go from ordinary to not, and how each moment is truly a gift. I will continue to work out anxiety and do what it takes to overcome it. I will continue to find my voice once again during this hard season.
I know I am not alone in these hard seasons of life. I know so many of you are facing your own bumps that bring on the heavy. I pray that we all remember that we have HOPE, especially in this advent season. It is a season of waiting on the one who comes whose name is Emmanuel, which means GOD WITH US. This is my hope. It is a real, true hope, one that overcomes the heavy. Yes, He is with us. He is holding me, holding you, and holds the heavy so we don’t have to.
Want to join me in advent? I am following along with IF:EQUIP. If you sign up, you will get a daily email that will walk you through this Christmas season & will point us all toward true hope.
I will keep you all informed. Be sure to follow my social channels (instagram, facebook, twitter) as I usually am able to get to them before getting to writing a full post. I expect results from the CT scan the second week in December, hopefully by the 9th or 10th.
Love to you all!