One year ago today, my cancer journey began ~ although I didn’t realize it at the time.
I had actually already had a scare back in 2006. I was 38 years old, and my doctor had been suggesting for a while that I go for my first mammogram. I finally scheduled an appointment, but then thought about canceling. It seemed troublesome to ask someone else to watch my kids in the middle of the day while I went for an unnecessary scan. But I went ahead and kept the appointment. It was just to get a baseline, right? I figured that couldn’t hurt.
Well, five days later I received a phone call to come back for a follow-up ultrasound, which led to an appointment with a surgeon, which led to a scheduled lumpectomy. “I’m 85% sure it’s not cancer,” the surgeon told me. But I still lived through days of uncertainty and fear until the surgery was over and the pathology report came back. She was right ~ it was a benign fatty nodule. I stepped into the chapel on the way out of her office after the final follow up, just to thank God for delivering me.
After that, I had a mammogram every year. Once in a while I’d be called back for another take, but the results always came back negative.
Then we moved to Canada, where I found the protocol to be a mammo every two years, unless you have a history of breast cancer. Well, I didn’t, so there seemed no need to push for a change of plans.
In the spring of 2012, I asked my family doctor when I was due for my next mammogram. “October,” she said. So I put a note on my calendar and called in October to schedule. Trouble was, they were booked clear into December. I scheduled my appointment for the first available spot, kicking myself that I’d waited so long to make it.
December 13, 2012, rolled around. I knew my appointment was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ~ but I got busy after lunch and forgot . . . until 1:45. In a panic, I called the hospital to apologize and try to reschedule. Knowing how long it had taken to get my first appointment, I could only imagine how long it would be before I could get in again.
Then I heard the receptionist say, “We have an opening tonight at 7:30. Could you make that?” Could I??!!! I felt that God had parted the waters and made a way just for me.
I remember how peaceful it was that night in the radiology department. The lights were low and the waiting room was nearly empty. I soaked in the stillness, wishing that all my appointments at the hospital could be at that time of day.
The mammogram went pretty much as usual ~ until the technician said, “I’m going to take another picture.”
My heart dropped. “Oh. Did you see something suspicious?” I asked, stepping back up to the machine.
“No, not suspicious. It looks like a cyst,” she assured me. “But I know they’re going to ask for extra views; so rather than call you back, I’m just going to do it now. And I’m sure they’ll want to follow up with an ultrasound, so expect a call next week.” She finished the procedure and sent me on my way.
I felt a bit unsettled as I dressed and headed for home. I mean, there probably wasn’t anything to worry about. This happens to a lot of people, right? I determined not to let fear get the best of me ~ to just take it a day at a time and face the tests as they came.
You know the rest of the story, since you’re reading my blog. (At least, you know the story as far as I know it!) You know that it would be over 2 months before I was finally diagnosed with breast cancer.
There have been many, many times I have wished I had been diagnosed sooner, that I had had a mammogram in 2011, that the tumor could have been removed when it was smaller.
But I trust in the sovereignty of God. He could have let my cancer be discovered sooner. But He could have let it go a lot longer, too. For whatever reason, He allowed it to hide as a cyst until He was ready to reveal it for what it really was. I have seen His hand every step of the way . . . allowing me to get doctor’s appointments when it seemed nearly impossible . . . leading me to just the right medical personnel . . . bringing the perfect friends alongside to walk this journey with me.