“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”
On Monday, August 11, 2014, I boarded the bus for New York for my early morning mammogram at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Since they no longer give you the results immediately, I still had this sense that it wasn’t really over. I decided to visit the Museum of Modern Art for the first time and finally saw some works of Mondrian. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art has always been my first choice!) From there I walked back to Port Authority.
During the next few days I continued with my projects until I finally received that phone call on Thursday while shopping in Michael’s. They told me to return for more tests and the only question I asked was “when”. I called my sister and then continued shopping. As I proceeded to Walmart the next song that played was a Twila Paris favorite I had downloaded on my flash drive. The song was one that had ministered to my heart during the first cancer diagnosis. The words include, “Can’t imagine what the future holds, but I’ve already made my choice. This is where I’ll stand until He moves me on and I will listen to His voice.”
In addition to my sister, I emailed my prayer sisters, an inner circle of friends. Part of what I wrote to them follows.
You’ve been my faithful prayer warriors in the past so I thought of you this morning when I got the call from Sloan-Kettering. I have a “call-back” next Tuesday for further testing. I must admit that I was really hoping for a clean result this time. I have been trying to get my life in order and have been sensing that something new was coming. I am still hoping that it is a new ministry opportunity and not illness, but I do want whatever will best glorify Him. I had been hoping to be part of my church’s new church plant in New Paltz. (New Paltz is where I taught for many years.)
Thank you for your prayers! Of course I would like you to pray that “this cup will pass from me” but only if it is His will. I do feel as if the Lord has been helping me to get my act together and I am not certain that I am ready for the show to be over! But I sincerely want Him to be glorified in the greatest possible way! I know that He is totally trustworthy and faithful! Thanks again for your faithfulness.
On Tuesday, August 19, I returned to MSK for more tests. During my morning devotions I read Exodus 13:21. I had never thought of the fact that God had led His people during times of darkness. I felt led to believe that regardless of the outcome of the tests He would still lead me – no matter how dark it might become. This was very comforting as they moved me from one test to the next to the next. When they came out and said they were doing a biopsy because they really thought it was cancer I called Joan and emailed my prayer sisters.
Testing lymph glands too! Big time!! Well let me just say that it has been a joy to know you and if they come out again and … just remember I love you all! I know… strange sense of humor! Just keep praying!
The next day I emailed them again.
Thanks so much for “being there for me”. After the biopsy yesterday the doctor told me that they are fairly certain that it is cancer. The lymph involvement may be reactive. They will not know until they get the pathology report. They said that they will call me in the next couple of days. My bus got into Newburgh after 6:00 PM. I got some Chinese takeout and watched TV and worked on a jigsaw puzzle. I went to bed and slept well. I had a headache when I got up and took a Tylenol. I think that is pretty good after everything my body was put through yesterday! Not to mention all the walking I did! I kept my 10:00 appointment with my hairdresser. I am okay. Praise God! May God bless you, dear friends!
On Friday, August 22, 2014, I got the results. Of course, I called Joan and emailed my dear prayer sisters.
I just got the call from MSK and the biopsies all gave positive readings. It is invasive ductal cancer. They do not know if it has traveled, but they think that it is unlikely. (Or is that just what they tell people?) I am looking at surgery and probably chemo. I do not know how God will work out all the details. Even the deductible on our insurance is a bit intimidating to me.
The Lord gave me Psalm 112:7 this morning. For all of you who were praying that it was not cancer I am so sorry for you. I had been telling people for months that I felt that something big was coming. I said that I did not know if it was a change of ministry, a change of employment, a change of location, or a change in my health. As I told you all in the past I do feel as if God is just getting my act together and I am not certain that I am ready for the show to be over. Well on the way home from MSK on Tuesday it occurred to me that it is not about the length of the act but the impact of the action. I know that God can make the last act the best for His glory. It is my prayer that it will be.
It was then that I made my principal aware of the situation and was able to begin my school year as usual. We agreed that it would be wise to postpone making any announcement to the rest of the faculty and student body until after my appointment with the surgeon on September 11.
My devotions on the morning of August 27 took me to I Kings 19:7 which reads in part “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” That was a great reminder to stay in His Word, feeding on His Truth, because without it the journey ahead would be impossible! That nourishment would strengthen me and give me the perspective to remain on the path ahead!
On September 11 I emailed my “sisters.”
Before I left this morning I sensed an incredible peace and marvelous perspective. I was reminded that I am bought with a price and my life is not my own. Why does it matter if God decides to end my life earlier than I would like? In His sovereignty He knows what will best glorify Him. Why would I want anything different?
AND what a SURPRISE! It looks like I may live!! Yet it is not I that lives, but Christ lives in me, right?
I got so much encouragement! She will be doing a radical mastectomy on November 3. She wanted to do it in October, but agreed to postpone it because November has Veterans Day, class trips, and Thanksgiving. This is, as suspected, a different cancer than last time. This has the potential of greatly changing the follow-up treatment. We will not know for certain until the surgery and my meeting with the oncologist, but everything may be much more manageable! She told me not to shave my head yet! I was not expecting that advice and already had been looking at wigs and sleep caps in order to be prepared! There is a chance that I may not lose my hair! The tumor is much smaller than the tumor they removed sixteen years ago. She will need to remove the lymphs. I guess that means that my arms may be the same size for the first time in sixteen years! Edema, you know! There was some other factor that came up negative which the doctor said was a really good thing! I can expect to be in the hospital only 1 night! (Last time it was two and I thought that was good!) On October 15 I will have my pre-op and meet with the plastic surgeon.