(This blog is about breast cancer. Ye faint of heart, turn back now!)
I had some friends over for dinner the other night. One of them happens to be my doctor. After a lovely evening of good food and fellowship, we walked our guests to the door.
"Oh, I wanted to talk to you about the procedure you'll be having this week," Bruce said as he put on his jacket.
"What procedure?" I asked, wondering if I had a wart or a mole on my back that he wanted to remove. Bruce has a thing about removing unsightly skin growths.
"You know, the little procedure you'll be having . . ."
I supposed the blank look on my face cued him into the fact that I hadn't a clue. Motioning me into another room, he lowered his voice and said,
"Your annual mammogram results came across my desk today. The doctors at Epic are asking permission to do a breast biopsy because of a mass that showed up in the ultrasound. I assumed they'd already called you and set up an appointment. I thought you knew!"
Well, I'd kind of wondered what was up when I had to have a second set of x-rays taken, and then an ultrasound. But I was sent home without comment so just assumed everything was fine.
Until my dinner party!
I have to say I didn't sleep very well that night. I woke up at 3 a.m. and began planning my funeral. I got bored with that and then debated whether I should go the alternative medicine route or just do the chemo/radiation/surgery thing. I wondered if I would wear a wig when my hair fell out or if I would just wear a hat. I mentally listed the pros and cons of reconstructive surgery and decided I would go for it.
Yep, it was a long, restless night . . .
Bruce called the next day to check on me.
"From the report, it looks like you have nothing to worry about. You've had cysts before, and I'm sure that's all this is. But we just need to make sure," he explained.
Despite my wee-hour worries, I felt peace. I called and set up my biopsy appointment and the kind woman I spoke with said very comforting things.
"We do this procedure all the time," she assured me. "And most of the time everything is fine."
Rather than putting this on the prayer chain, I opted to just tell a few trusted friends instead. I felt surrounded by an "everything's going to be all right" bubble until I shared my news with my good friend, Jill. She's a breast cancer survivor.
"That's what they told me," she replied when I told her my doctor's optimistic prediction.
"Well, breast cancer doesn't run in my family," I informed her.
"Mine either," she said. "Did you know that 75% of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of it?"
No, actually, I didn't. But I do now.
I wasn't shaken by Jill's less-than-comforting response. How could she answer any differently, given her experience? And I ran into another good friend today who shared a similar experience. When she went in for her biopsy, she was told it was probably just a cyst. It was cancer, and she ended up having a double mastectomy.
Sobering testimonies, true. But I still have peace. Maybe because I worked through the worst-case scenarios in my mind that first night and came to the conclusion that whatever the outcome of my biopsy--God is still good.
And I trust that He will use this situation for His glory.
But pray for me, please.
And I will keep you posted . . .
Oh, and one more thing--
My daughter, Danielle, says that sometimes I treat important matters too lightly. That I don't reveal the darkness that I struggle with at times. This is true; but in my saner moments I always look for the humor in any situation. I know that breast cancer is not a laughing matter--but the joy of the Lord is my strength!
Besides, I've learned from the best how to meet the worst life can throw at you with a grin. My friend Pam ordered a "boob-day cake" for a friend at a party she threw right before going in for her double mastectomy. Pam's sense of humor carried her through the tough days ahead and was a witness of God's grace to everyone around her.
My mother-in-law, Mary Ellen, is my hero, though. She went through her own journey with breast cancer several years back.
The first time I saw her after her surgery, I was really nervous. I'd never been around anyone who'd ever had a breast removed.
But Mary Ellen put us all at ease as she busted out with the worst Monty Python imitation I've ever heard:
"It's only a flesh wound!"
So, what can you do but laugh?
And pray . . .