It was never a matter of IF, it was always a matter of WHEN.
When was cancer going to invade my life and how? My maternal grandmother died at age 52 of cancer, and my mom died at age 50 of cancer. I've lived my whole adult life preparing for this. In spite of my efforts, exercising and keeping my weight down, it still came.
My initial thought was, "What are we going to do about our foster children?! I can't take care of them and myself." Yep! the foster story is one in itself for another time. Thoughts that followed were: How is this going to affect the boys? Do I want to take chemo? How am I going to fight this? Do I want reconstruction? Is this going to be a financial burden? I felt very little shock or surprise. If anything, I was just surprised it came in my early 40's. I anticipated it arriving in my late 40's because of the age my mom and grandmother died.
I was diagnosed on a Wednesday and the Nelson's left town for two weeks on the following Monday (a trip we'd planned 6 months prior). We left kicking and screaming, but gosh darn it we left!! The foster baby had just had a liver transplant only days before, the a/c in our house was out and the dog was sick. Because we have AMAZING friends, we were able to leave. The beauty of community and God's sovereignty, His grace and timing....I was able to collect my thoughts, be intentional about who I spoke with regarding the journey that was ahead of us, put together questions for the surgical oncologist, and pray for a wonderful home for the foster children.
We get home and the following day we meet the surgical oncologist. The genetic testing came back positive. Duh....I'm really grateful for the way medicine has advanced over the years. Because of my genetic results, we decided to not only remove the cancer but include prophylactic surgery as well. The game plan was a double mastectomy/reconstruction, chemo + immuno therapy, and a hysterectomy over the course of a year. We learned what BRCA 2 meant, that I was Her 2 positive, and the cancer was estrogen fed. I put my boxing gloves on and prepared to get in the ring!
We were able to move the foster children to a wonderful home (crazy awesome), I've had three surgeries, a friend with me at every one of my chemo treatments, Meal Trains, I never had my hair fall out, experienced Race for the Cure with family and friends, holding the American flag with other survivors at one of the best Saints games ever, and a trip to Minneapolis to watch the Super Bowl - phew! - It has been an eventful year, to say the least!
"...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith..." Hebrews 10:19-22
I've walked this journey drawing near to my God and Savior. I've embraced what is and have been at peace with the game plan. And I am more hopeful of my future then I ever have been!
I'm so grateful to Ochsner and the medical team that has loved and cared for me so well (and continues too). I am also grateful for my community that has held me up in so many ways. And I'm grateful for my family who has been steady and faithful, right by my side.