[This was written on June 23rd, 2014- the night of my first ultrasound when I learned I most likely had IBC. The words were written originally just for me to process the news of my breast cancer, but now I thought it might make sense to share it. It is interesting looking back to six months ago and seeing what my initial thoughts were.]
Today was a wonderful and terrible day. So many things went right and one thing went horribly wrong. There were so many answers to prayer today and so many things to be grateful for.
I am thankful that I listened to my gut telling me that I didn’t have an infection and that my breasts were not doing "normal pregnancy things".
I am thankful for the staff taking me seriously and treating my case with the urgency that it needs.
I am thankful that I am finding out this prognosis as early as one can with IBC due to the delayed symptoms.
I am thankful that my mom could come be with me when I came out of the breast diagnostic center (ultrasound/biopsy).
I am thankful for being able to get a biopsy the same day as the sonogram and for the rush that all the doctors have put on the pathology report.
I am thankful for my husband working from home and being able to hold me while we cried together as the weight of the news settled in.
I am thankful for two healthy boys.
I am thankful for the time Brad and I had with Noah today- picking him up early from school and going out for ice cream; for the time that Noah and I spent dancing to Brad’s piano music, for chasing bunnies in the backyard with Noah, for feeling well enough to climb stairs, go for a walk around the neighborhood, give Noah a bath, read him books, and sing him to sleep. For being strong enough to pick Noah up and swing him around.
I am thankful for being 34 weeks along in my pregnancy- the point at which you don’t have to give the baby steroids to help the lungs grow.
I am thankful for the most loving, thoughtful, considerate, sensitive, caring, strong husband that exists. I can’t think of a more perfect partner to enter into this journey with.
I am thankful for having a mother and mother-in-law that do not work and will be able to help through this journey.
I am thankful that my mom is a nurse and will be able to help care for me as I recover from each surgery and treatment.
I am thankful for a boss that is incredibly supportive and allowed me the space and time to deal with the seemingly endless emotions that today brought.
I am thankful for friends that care and love me so much and that will be with me each step of the way.
I am thankful for having a friend that is a radiation-oncologist and gave us the situation straight and saying what the doctors don’t want to say or couldn’t say yet. I think that will really prepare us to hear it when it is real and definitive in the coming weeks.
I am thankful that the best cancer center in the US is only a 4-hour drive away and that they see more IBC patients than any other center in the US (which is still only 100 a year with how rare of a disease it is).
I am thankful for the lens that this news puts on every aspect of life. It makes you notice the beautiful details of life. It makes you savor each Noah giggle, each kiss from Brad, each kind word from a friend, a hug from your mom, everything turns to a much brighter color when you are trying to soak everything up. You become thankful for so much.
I am thankful for finding a church home yesterday and the education minister calling at just the right moment to pray with me.
Most of all I am thankful for the hope I have in Jesus Christ. I’m thankful to know that this world has never been my home. It is tough because technically it is the only thing I’ve experienced, touched with my hands, and seen with my eyes - but my faith allows me to believe that there is something far greater than this broken, sinful earth. There is a place that I will go, whether it is 6 months or 60 years from now, that will be better and more perfect than anything I can imagine in my feeble mind. I have a peace that is coming from some place outside of myself. I hope that through this trial, and potentially tragedy, that my faith will be strengthened and that it would strengthen those around me. I pray that my non-believing friends would come to know Christ through my battle with cancer and potentially young death. The ultimate goal is for God to be glorified through whatever the journey looks like and whatever the outcome is.
The one terrible part of the day was that the doctors didn’t tell me I was crazy and prove to me why this wasn't IBC. At the end of the day, everyone (including me) believes the results will come back tomorrow as IBC.
IBC is the most aggressive form of breast cancer with a 35-40% 5-year survival rate. That is really low compared to the average 90% survival rate of all other types of breast cancer. I’m praying #1 that the masses and lymph nodes come back benign, #2 that if they aren’t that it hasn’t spread to other organs or parts of the body, #3 that we will have wisdom and discernment as we make decisions around when to deliver the baby (and whether or not to start chemo while David is still in utero) and what treatment options to pursue. There will be a ton of information thrown at us and I want to make the best decision possible and start treatment as soon as possible.
While there is so much to be thankful for, at the end of the day I'm still up writing this entry after 2 hours of lying restless in bed. I’m still thinking about leaving Brad alone to raise two very young boys. I’m still thinking about Noah and David not having actual memories of me when they grow up, of not getting to be there for them to guide and teach them, to help them become godly young men, husbands, and fathers.
More than anything I’m ready to fight this cancer so that I can get back to being the best wife and mom that I can be to my family. I’m going to be the 35% that makes it and goes into remission. I’m going to fight and persevere, stay positive and be aggressive and kick cancer in the butt. My God is so much stronger and more powerful than cancer, and he is the great physician. He can heal my body and I will be a shining light for Him along this journey. He alone will give me strength to run this race and finish this journey he has set before us.
So until tomorrow when I get “the phone call” [from the pathologist confirming the preliminary diagnosis of IBC]…I’m going to try and get rest before going into the office and pretending today never happened…good night.