Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Spiritual

Reflecting On Cancer

One year ago today, at about this exact time in the late afternoon, I received the call that I had invasive ductal carcinoma. 
Breast cancer.  
I find myself reflecting on all that has transpired this past year.  I can’t believe it has only been a year, as a whole lot of life was lived in one year.  There is much that has happened that I wish had not, but there is A WHOLE LOT MORE that has happened that I would not trade for the world.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much love has been showered upon me through words and actions.  I also can’t even begin to tell you how close God has been to me throughout the year.  He held me, never left nor will leave me, and is just an amazing, amazing God!
Here is a bit of what I have written about that day one year ago:

It all started with a lump.
A soft, small ½ inch round thickening.
I never dreamed I would eventually be told that the thickening was actually a 6 centimeter malignant tumor.

We were celebrating Christmas, 2009, I bring 3 sisters in front of a bathroom mirror and discreetly show them what I had been keeping a puzzled eye on for months.  They too, are puzzled, as we all stare with furrowed brows at this lump thickening of mine.  I go to the doctor.  She sends me for an ultrasound.  I am told it is normal tissue, and I that have some fluid filled cysts, nothing to worry about. 

But I still worry, I stand in front of mirror many evenings, while brushing my teeth, looking with eyebrows still furrowed.  I examine. Is it changing?  Am I imagining?  I am a bit unsettled.

It is May. I make the decision to go back to the doctor.  She points me to a surgeon, just in case. This surgeon is the “best in town”  She is one who deals with breast lumps daily and has for years.  She quickly looks, quickly feels.  She scoots her chair up to mine, looks me square in the eyes and says “I know what I am feeling and it is not cancer.  

I name her Dr. Confident.

She tells me to go home and quit worrying.  I sigh relief. 
My hero husband does not.  He presses, for  now he is puzzled.  He is out of place in this room, the first time he has ever come to such an appointment with me–it is even during a workday. 

Why did he come?
Because of his love and God’s plan.

Husband asks “can we at least have an ultrasound to compare to the last?”

Surgeon sighs, hastily scribbles out a consent for an ultrasound and says “If you must, so you quit worrying…but I know what I am feeling and I am  sure it is nothing”  I leave confident, because she was confident.
The order for ultrasound sits, gets buried under paper. 
I become buried in summer fun with my 3 girls—they are a 10, 9 and 7.

It is now the end of August.
I start having pain under my left rib, in the spleen area.
They want to ultrasound.
I think, “Oh, I should go dig out my other ultrasound order, the one for breast. I’ll hit two birds with one stone”  Might as well.

My spleen looked perfectly normal  BUT
My breast is now puzzling the professionals
They do a biopsy.
The procedure is incredibly painful, a searing pain that shook my core, and an experience that made me shake for over an hour later.
Why wouldn’t the anesthetic work?
Why couldn’t they get me numb? 
We now know it was because vascular areas do not numb well.
Tumors are hungry and greedy, which makes them very vascular.
We didn’t know this then, but I wonder if my kind nurse did…

I wait for 3 days.
The call comes on a Tuesday late afternoon. 
August 31.

I am in my bedroom.
My home is full of rowdy kids, mine and neighbors.
The nurse says, “will you please hold for Dr. Confident”

My heart is pounding.  I am sitting on the edge of my bed.
Elevator music in one ear, the sound of my children playing downstairs in the other.
There are more sounds, the sound of my heart pounding, and of thoughts swirling.
“Why didn’t the nurse just tell me?”  “Oh, no. It is the end of the workday.  Dr.’s save the hard calls for the end of the work day “

Dr. Confident comes on the phone, voice low and serious.
“Amy, I’m sorry to have to tell you that you have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma”
Silence… but then my breath gets louder and faster.
“Do you understand what I am saying?”  “That means you have breast cancer”

I find myself in my closet, phone still attached to my ear.  I am having to concentrate on my breath, I say the word “Ok” three times.  It is the only thing I can think of to say.  My knees feel weird.  Is this what they mean by “weak in the knees?”

She wants to see me.
I then get angry and find my words. I tell her no.
I remind her that she named herself Dr. Confident.
I remind her that hero husband had to ask for an ultrasound.
I have not spoken to her since, but I do think I have forgiven.
I pray my story has changed her name to “Dr. Humbled” for her future patients sake.
I send kids home. I call husband. He tells me later that his knees, too, had buckled.
He comes home.  We look into each others eyes, fear reflecting fear. 
His hug never felt so good.
I am so sad for this good, good, husband, sad that I am the cause of his fear reflecting eyes.

Kids go to Bible Club for 3 hours.
We spend that time making many phone calls to those who love us.
I stutter out the words “I have breast cancer” with each call.  The experience of hearing my voice say those words aloud, knowing they cause fear and pain in those I love was not one I would get used to very quickly.  Every time I say it,  I have to force it out. It sounds so harsh.  It makes me cringe.

There is a thunderstorm that night.
I listen to the thunder, and a song with this verse as a chorus
(Isaiah 43:2)” When you pass through the water I will be with you.  When you pass through the flames you will not be burned-do not fear”

It is the first of many, many times our God would comfort me with song and His Word.  He has been with me, so near, so sweet and dear. 

Despite His words to me, fear had me in its grip that night.
I tried to sleep.
I would drift off, and would wake, dry heaving. 
Fear was wreaking havoc on my body.
I tired of waking to the heaves..  so I get up.
I find myself sorting.  I sort recipes.  I think about how they will outlive me.
I throw out  recipes that are full of sugar.  I don’t want to leave junk for my girls.
I think of the junk, the baggage that I have left, will leave.  I beg God for more time to make it all right.  To turn junk into treasure.  I can’t stop thinking of dying.  I feel crazy.  Husband wakes to comfort me.  He tells me I have to shut down the thoughts.  I agree, and for a moment feel less crazy.

How does one do this?
How does one fight fear of death, while facing death?
How do I open my clenched fists and allow “no’s” to become open hands that say “come what may?”

 Answered prayer started happening the very next morning.

I wake up to the harsh reality that I had dumped Dr. Now Humbled and am left in need. God moves mountains for me and shows me a beautiful chain of events within hours that was only by His doing.  God maneuvers, and by 10:00 am I have an Oncologist. Not just any Oncologist, but one who is and has been everything I need….


I will stop there. 🙂
Facebook has a new feature where they show your status from the years before in the sidebar.  I got chills and tears when I read mine from a year ago, written in the evening, after an emotional evening of phone calls.  I vividly remember writing it, I was starring at my computer screen while in a daze, but then was shaken to the present by loud thunder.  That thunderstorm spurred this status:

the thunder outside reminds me how big our God is.

 ·  · August 31, 2010 at 8:20pm

It also reminded me of a song that we sing at church. I immediately looked up and watched this video at least 3 times in a row.  This song is a favorite and one to this day God uses to remind me of who He is.

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  • Marsha
    July 1, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Amy, I just today came across your blog. What an inspiration you are to so many. I pray that things are well in your life and God continues to watch over you and your precious family. Of course He will, He will never leave you or any of us!! We are the ones that distance ourselves from Him. Sometimes life is just plain HARD, but with the help of God and Jesus Christ we make it through our trials and come out a stronger and better person. Thank you for sharing your story with us, you are a special lady and have touched many.

  • GennieG
    April 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Hi Amy! I am new to your blog. I just want to say that I think you are wonderful. Thank you for sharing all that you have. Your faith is a beautiful thing. I am glad that your husband persisted in getting you the ultrasound. We have to be our own or our loved ones advocates because there are more Dr. Confidents out there. I had one. It wasn’t cancer that I had but Lyme Disease and sleep apnea and he just dismissed me like I was a hypochondriac when I told him all I had been feeling. I am so happy to hear that you fought and beat the cancer. My mom also had breast cancer and beat it. Her ability to stay calm in the midst of that storm I believe helped tremendously. God bless you and your family!

  • Nikki
    October 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Amy – I stumbled on your blog from another site and I am hooked. Thank you for sharing your story and journey. Your words are very powerful and remind me of all the ways God meets our needs in the moments when we are most weak. Fear has no place. Thank you for this reminder and your honesty.

    September 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I have a question about your blog. Please email me!

  • Meg Issacs
    September 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Wow… thank you for sharing this personal and beautiful story. God is good and so gracious, you are truly favored in His eyes.

    I have been dealing with much smaller worries, things that should be easy to depend on God for. But, I often feel feel shaken and worried as I try to take care of things for myself. Your beautiful story of your dependence and Faith and how God met you where you where at and delivered what you needed, it just reminded me how God is always there and ready to take care of His own. No matter what we are facing.

    Have a beautiful and blessed day,

  • SusieQTpies
    September 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Amy
    I just happened upon your blog today via 3 Boys and a Dog. What a story and thank you for sharing it. The Facebook side bar of what happened a year ago and even more is a real eye opener.
    I’m following you via gfc and enjoyed the crockpot dinners for the freezer post today. I’m a huge pinterest fan so following you there the same.
    Stop over and say HI! xoxo SusieQTpies

  • Laura Nell
    September 4, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Thank you for sharing this post. The one-year anniversary of my diagnosis with endometrial cancer is approaching in Novemeber, and your story reminds me of some of the thoughts and emotions that accompanied that terrible news.

    Your words about the sadness you felt about the way the news would affect your family and how difficult it was to share the news with the ones you love resonated deeply with me. Thankfully we know that many beautiful gifts we did not expect come with the sorrws, and God is faithful.

    I will be back to hear more of your story and to enjoy recipes and ideas on your blog.

  • Anonymous
    September 2, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Sweet, sweet Amy, you have a very special gift for expressing your thoughts and feelings in your writing. The fact that you also clearly express the depth of your faith and trust in our God makes your writing even richer and more riveting. We continue to pray for you, and want you to know that you have consistently pointed us to Jesus in your writing. God bless you again today. We love you. Aunt Linda & Uncle John

  • The Pennington Point
    September 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Amy, you stay on my mind every day. I think, “I wonder how Amy is doing today.” I think of your journey, your family and friends. The Lord pops your long ago words in my head, “I haven’t been posting lately, Ive been busy getting diagnosed with breast cancer.” Then I pray for you, your hero husband and also for Dr. Confident that she has softened and has become more careful with women’s lives.

    I can’t express how much it has meant to me, someone that has never faced this, to have followed you through. It has changed me. It has kept you and other women I know close to the front of my thoughts and praying. Thanks so much for your openness. Lisa~

  • Remodelaholic
    September 2, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Hey Amy, I haven’t been by for a while, but I just wanted to thank you for sharing your faith through your trials! I am sorry you have had to go through this! But I believe you will be blessed! Lots of Love, Cassity

  • Kathy C.
    September 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Amy, I’m new to your blog and your story…I can’t even put into words how it’s affecting me. Your love for God is so evident..and so meaningful. I’ll be staying tuned for the rest of your story.

  • Brandi
    September 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    hi sweet Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story. your words struck me to the core. i am so thankful for stumbling across your blog and reading this post. you are such an inspiration. i will get down on my knees and pray hard for you and your health. take care my dear.

  • Steve Rice
    September 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    You already know what a heroine you are to me. I love you lots and am so humbled by your precious relationship with God. You are a light…His Light in the world.

    He is faithfully completing the good work He started in you! His strength is perfect in your weakness…for you have been weak, but now are strong.

    September 1, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Thank you for sharing your journey. This post has reminded me that I am way overdue for my mammogram. BC runs in the family. I know I must be proactive and preveantative.

  • Cindy
    August 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm


    My diagnosis of endometrial cancer with mets was over 13 years ago, but I can still remember, still almost feel the knee buckling, the whole body buckling as I read your account.

    Thank you for sharing your illness and healing.

    Be well,

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