Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

I've been reading about breast cancer. I had stage 2 cancer. No lymph node involvement. 17 were removed, a pretty substantial number, so I can feel pretty good about that, right? I assumed, anyway. Fast forward. Less than 10 months after the original diagnosis, 5 months after the end of chemo, 3 months after radiation, I have a lump in my armpit. It's a pretty large lump. I can hold my arm up and actually see it. I've clung to the idea that it shouldn't be cancer, because I have not had any cancer in my lymph nodes. I'm waiting for a PET scan at the end of the month. Meanwhile, the pain in my shoulder has sort of spread into my back and my arm. I am trying very hard to be practical and sensible, but I'm really having a hard time right now.

Today, I read that there's something called locally advanced breast cancer. Symptoms include a large lump (typically 5 cm or more) in the armpit, a fixed lump that is attached to the muscle or chest wall and does not move. It says that most women with locally advanced breast cancer do have lymph node involvement, however there is a subset in that group who do not have any lymph node involvement at all. It made me a little sick to read it, and in my heart, I just had this certainty that I am about to learn that I have locally advanced breast cancer.

I've been thinking about faith. Do I have it? I thought so. Is faith what keeps you going through the motions of your day to day life when life is falling apart? Is faith what makes you smile when you feel at a loss inside? I don't know. I really don't know. I try very hard to remember that God is in this. I try to remember that He has plans to 'prosper not harm'. I try very hard to keep the faith, but this is one loooooooooooong month.

Sorry for the bummer of a post, but it is what it is.


PaintedPromise said...

don't EVEN apologize... we are here for you!!!!

{{{virtual hugs}}} wish i could give you real ones!!

Pam said...

((((More virtual hugs laced with chocolate!))) We ARE here for you and you are in my prayers.

Don't lose your faith. That's a powerful healing force to have on your side.

quid said...

I am with you every step of the way, Debby (virtual hug). Some words better than mine:

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.

—Brian Tracy

Action is the antidote to despair.

—Joan Baez

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

—Anais Nin

My favorite definition of fearlessness is this: the ability to remain soft and open, even under very difficult circumstances. Most often, fear causes us to shut down to our own and others' humanity. We just want to get away, but the quickest way out is to stay. If you can slow down a bit, you can see that fear rises, abides, and dissolves on its own. Allowing this process is the mark of the spiritual warrior. The coward turns attention toward fighting fear; the warrior accommodates it.

Try this: The next time you notice fear rising, whether it appears as anxiety, melancholy, or anger, stop, grab a piece of paper, and write one short sentence that describes your fear. Start with the words "I'm afraid...," then scribble the first thoughts that come to mind, without regard for grammar or rationale.

~Susan Piver

Mrs. Spit said...

If I have learned anything in the long, dark nights that were Gabriel, it is that our prayers are not always answered the way we want. But the fact that they are answered at all means there is someone listening.

I'm sorry Debby. Praying for good news.

Roxanne said...

Dear Debby, For me faith is just knowing that God will give you the strength to get through whatever lies ahead. I have tears in my eyes as I read this and I am praying so hard for you tonight. I pray for NO cancer, peace to be able to wait and strength to handle whatever comes along. Blessings, Roxanne

WhiteStone said...

A little over two and a half weeks till your scan. Give yourself something to do each day. Awww, you don't need my advice about all've already been in this situation more than once. I'm thinking of you and praying. You're one tough cookie but I think that even in the midst of your toughness (strength), you already know how to bow down low to God. That humbleness is the only place we can be.

steviewren said...

I don't have any words of comfort beyond I'm sorry for this heck of a wait. Sending you a hug tonight.

Mikey said...

Hugs and prayers for you girl. I can't even imagine what you're going thru right now. Just know we're all here for you.

Mom said...

I don't write very often but I have kept you in my prayers ever since your diagnosis. And will continue to do so. I do know how hard the waiting is. Sending love...

MOM said...

Right now God is carrying you and Tim until you are physically and emotionally able to walk beside him again. I often think about your Dad and the last two days of his life. Fr Scoffield came and gave him his last rights. and after that over Fifty family and friends came to see him and he told them He loved them and asked some for their forgiveness before he slipped into a coma,
the next say he came out of his coma long enough to hug me the best he could and said I love you. I will always be thankful for those two days. So many people never have that chance. That is why I live for today (even if I screw up) God owns our tomorrows. When I heard you had cancer I had the picture and prayer made for you and Tim and gave it to you for Christmas, It was a sunrise (which to me means a new beginning) and the Prayer

I love you and I'm sorry MOM

Pencil Writer said...

Debby, I tried to send you a comment about a jillion (not exactly) times and it just didn't work. Don't know what's up. I'll try again later. I'm having to use my husband's laptop as my anti-virus is not working, so maybe I'm doing something wrong. Gee! That never happens! You're in my prayers.

Kelly said...

Prayers, (((HUGS))) and more prayers!!!!

Laura Jane said...

Thinking of you hon. A tough wait, but I feel that pit in your stomach with you.

sending all spare courage your way...

jeanie said...

Oh Deb - perhaps this is one of those times where you have to hand it over.

I know you have to wait until the end of August and things have settled down from where the lump was removed to check around there again - if you want the answer to the new conundrum, is there someone you could see or ask for something more concrete than reading around offers?

Lots of hugs.

Scotty said...

No need to apologise, Debby - here's a virtual hug for ya.


Lydia said...

Deb, my prayers are with you for the best possible outcome. I know that you trust God, and so do I. So if your faith seems weak right now, don't worry, we have faith for you. We can all piggy-back our faith together, and together it is strong.

Lots of love, prayers and hugs from the midwest.

BB said...

You know me Deb - I believe in the people as much as I believe in the Faith (with a big F). I believe in friendships and love and faith in others. Faith in self. I think you should get this lump checked out now with your doctor (perhaps you have already?). Be active in the diagnosis.

This whole situations is guarenteed to stress you... and much as all of us would like to alleviate that for you, we know we would all be the same in the same situation...

{{{hugs from your DOwn Under team}}}

Anonymous said...

Praying for you.