The Maple Hill Church of Christ has a breast cancer support group. It was started by a couple of ladies that went through breast cancer and it is open to all women who have or had breast cancer. It meets every third Monday night of the month. I have only been able to attend about five meetings in the last year and I am looking forward to trying be more involved. This month's meeting was the best so far. It was called, "The child within us." The 4 year old classes from our Mother's Day Out program sang a few songs for us ladies and presented us with a small gift of a bookmark they made.
This handsome little boy in the middle is John Derrick and he is MY handsome boy. He was so cute up there singing to us. He was quite excited that night. He got to go to his very first T-ball practice and then he got to sing to "the ladies who have cancer" They sang, Jesus Loves Me, The Pizza Hut song (that is what he is singing right now) and The Green Grass Grew All Around. I had my video camera with me and I managed to record the first song but managed not to record the rest of the night. (But that doesn't matter because I haven't figured out how to get stuff off the video camera to my computer yet.)
Exactly one year ago today, my life changed completely. I know that is such a cliche but those are the only words that can describe my life today. One year ago, I was happy just living a quiet life but that was not enough. One year ago, I woke up after spending a long weekend at the Opryland Hotel for the Lads to Leaders/Leaderette Convention. I was tired but Kevin closed the door to our bedroom and quietly said to me, "Mary Anne, I felt something last night." I touched my left breast and there it was, a hard lump. My heart stopped and I felt sick and I was scared. I took a deep breath and continued getting ready. I had kids to get to school and I was going to teach at Mother's Day Out. I just couldn't dwell on it right then. But I did, I thought about it all morning. I was distracted and everything I did was mechanical. I wasn't a good teacher that day. It was finally naptime and the kids were sleeping. I slipped out into the hallway and was talking to my good friend Tammy. I decided to tell her what I found. I knew I had a doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks but she told me to go and get it looked at. I did and after my first and only mammogram and biopsy, I found out that I had cancer.
I prayed hard for three weeks that that lump was just fatty tissue or a cyst. I prayed that it was nothing and I could go back living my quiet life. I have two kids and a husband who need me. I didn't have time to do this and I didn't want to have cancer. But God quietly told me no that I had to do this so my prayer changed. I prayed that God would be with me through this and to watch after my kids and husband and I will make it through and one day I can hold my grandchildren.
Before last year, I did not know anyone personally who had cancer or at least I didn't know that I knew people who had had cancer. To me, cancer was a terrible disease and it can kill. Chemo was something that was used to treat cancer and it made people's hair fall out and that is all I knew. I honestly thought that I could get this all over with in a few months but that wasn't the case. I am almost done. I had the surgeries, I had the chemo, I lost my hair and felt the tiredness and going through menopause. Now my hair is coming in quite nice and thick, I am getting energy back and I have new breasts : ). I am on oral medication that is meant to keep my cancer from coming back. Yes, I am almost done.
God has been so good to me. I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve but it is because of God that I am here today feeling good. He has blessed me with the most husbands, children, parents, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles and most of all my church family. They sent me cards, gifts, and fed me and my family, cleaned my house but most of all, they PRAYED for me. Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I felt that peace that transcends all understanding because of all the prayers that were lifted up for me, a person who wanted to live a quiet life.
Over this past year, I have experience joy and contentment and sorrow. I have made new friends and grown closer to the friends that I have already had. I now have three new doctors one being a plastic surgeon (just wishing insurance would pay to have some belly fat removed, ha ha, just kidding) I have been to a doctor office more times in the past year then in my whole 34 years prior to this. I still have not been to a plain old doctor just specialists. I have had four separate surgeries over the last year and I am still amazed of how quickly you fall asleep when they give you that medicine in the IV and how completely unconscious you are during that time. I cut my hair all off last year and colored it pink. I had Kevin shave my hair after it started falling out. Now it is growing back in and I kind of like it short like this but Kevin and the kids want it long again. My children have been amazing this year. They have not been scared and have treated me as well as they could. Kevin was patiently taking care of me when the chemo was bad. I also learned that chemo is not easy but it is tolerable and I could keep going after the side effects wore off.
I would have never chosen this life for me. I hope that I don't have to do this again. I have a wonderful oncologist whom I trust and who seems to be doing all he can. I have faith in God that he will take care of me and lead me the paths that I need to take. I have wonderful family and friends that love me and I love them dearly. Thank you all.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)