I often find myself in tears without explanation. Last evening Rachel came downstairs, I was sitting alone. She asked if I needed something. I lowered my head as my tears fell from my eyes. I began to cry just as I am writing this at this very moment. I curled in tight and she came in close. I cried harder.
My tears, my weeping, are the outcry of my heart. I explained to Rachel how much I hate this. That this hurts. I look in the mirror and the physical self is no longer someone I recognize. I look down to my feet and my drains dangle, evidence of surgery. I am unable to dress alone and have to ask for someone to help me put on my shirt. My arms are limited.
My body recovering remarkably well, is only a shell of what is inside….. a broken heart, of a girl that was once fearless. That lived boldly. That couldn’t wait for the next plane to catch to explore more of this world. That stood on chairs to sing songs about the alphabet and the days of the week in a second grade classroom in Honduras. That tried and tried again surfing in Nicaragua until I decided a pina colada was a better alternative than being tossed by the waves. Just five weeks ago I rode my bike for nearly thirty miles and laughed in the sun as the joy that was that day………
I never knew brokenness until this diagnosis. I never knew hurt. I also never truly knew joy either.
For some of you just finding your way to my story, may not know that when I started high school, when someone asked me where I wanted to go to school I said Colorado. I was confident, stubborn and dreamed of mountains, skiing on weekends and meeting a mountain man. I was what probably most high school girls are, always planning and dreaming. By high school graduation I graduated with honors, was chosen as the high school graduation speaker and in August my parents loaded my car and brought me to Colorado for college. My plans were falling in line. By the time I graduated from college I had lived in Amsterdam, traveled to European towns alone on the weekends, skied the Rockies and made Denver home. I quickly learned my wandering heart and the Lord was not done with me yet. (Turns out he never is). Summer of 2012 I decided to quit my good job and head to Central America. My heart longed to make a difference, for adventure and to go against the grain, so I did just that. The year abroad originally documented through this blog brought me great joy and again God continued to mold me.
Just months ago, I selfishly told myself that I did well. I got my adventure out of me. I lived abroad. I traveled alone. I quit a job. I got a new job and that now it was my time. Time to settle in. To dive head into a career. To grow up, so to speak. I spent the last year in counseling. Addressing a part of who I was that I had been ashamed to deal with. October 9, 2014 marked one year of hard work in counseling. Hard self work for one year…….. So yes, selfishly I felt like it was my turn. My turn for something good. That I made sacrifices and now things were to be looking up. I was going to be an aunt this year and perhaps maybe I would even meet someone…….. but then the dreaded C word came out of left field. CANCER. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Today I find myself in tears for what has passed, for what is to come and tears of my ignorance.
But perhaps what the real story in all of this, is the story of Grace. Of God’s unending grace in the midst of life’s hard. How all along God knew that this was going to be my story. That all along he has tried and tried to tell me that he has good plans, even great plans for me, but that if I stopped trying so da* hard that maybe I could see it all take place.
A friend of mine gave me the book called, The Hardest Peace. In this book it tells the real story of a mom of four, diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer, at the age of 36. I would tell any and all of you to read of her story. It is truly remarkable. In this she references, Nancy Guthrie in this quote;
“But I believe Gods plans for me are better than what I could plan for myself, rather than run away from the path he has set before me, I want to run toward it. I dont want to try to change Gods mind- his thoughts are perfect. I want to think his thoughts. I dont want to change God’s timing- his timing is perfect. I want the grace to accept his timing. I want to embrace his plan and see how he is glorified through it. I want to submit.”
I want to submit so that I can learn. That I can learn to not live in fear that this cancer will return. For hoping that one day I may look in the mirror and see me, the bold, confident me that is and has always been there. For the children I hope to one day I get to carry. For the children I will never get to breast feed. For that if someday I do find myself with this diagnosis again that I may find more joy in it. Although I find difficulty walking into a church and even praying, God has a special way of meeting me right where I am today.
Just moments ago my phone rang and my application to the LiveStrong organization has been approved. Through this application I have been given a large monetary discount for fertility preservation. All fertility medication is paid for to move forward with egg harvesting.
My cancer tumor has been sent off for an additional testing and on December 4 I follow up with my oncologist to find out my full treatment plan moving forward. The cancer has been removed but depending on the results of this test, I will know if chemotherapy would benefit me. (testing on my chances of recurrence and aggressiveness of the cancer). If I am recommended chemotherapy and were to move forward with treatments, I have an 80% chance of becoming sterile. (hence the meeting weeks ago with the fertility doctor). Chemotherapy most often sends women into early menopause, so if I want to one day carry my own children the recommendation is to harvest eggs prior to chemotherapy treatments.
I am still continuing to pray and process through this decision and I appreciate your consideration as this is a very sensitive topic. As well chemotherapy may not be recommended for me at all and therefore this discussion may never have to take place again. 🙂
I am sorry for my delayed writings. I had a great follow up with my plastic surgeon on Tuesday, including my first fill up of saline. (yes it is just as it sounds). Unfortunately this process has been more painful than my recovery from surgery.
My old roommate from Honduras flies in tonight Kylie and my sister tomorrow so you can imagine my excitement to lay around and watch movies with both of them.
I sincerely hope wherever you are in your day and regardless of your beliefs that you know I am beyond grateful that each of you are out there, cheering, lifting, jumping and celebrating life with me. It is indeed a gift and something that even in the midst of hard can be great joy.