Surviving Cancer: Riding Tandem

I was powerless to change the course of my precious child’s life. I am not powerless to change the course of mine.

My grief journey has taken a companion. The fire-breathing “dragon” has struck again. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It feels foreign to type a sentence that begins with “I” and ends with the dreaded “C” word. Perhaps the more I type it, the less foreign it will sound? I’m in good company as you will note in the current statistics for 2016 from the American Cancer Society:

  • About 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,450 women will die from breast cancer.  

Some of my readers may be waging their own battles with cancer or other diseases. Maybe if we continue to share our struggles ~ no matter what they are ~ inspiring and encouraging one another to keep moving in the right direction, we will diminish the power that disease seems to hold over us. After all, God says in 3 John 2 that He wants us to prosper and be in good health, so He’s is on our side, too!

For years now I have awakened remembering that my firstborn will never come home again. Sadly there is nothing I can do to change that fact. With the new diagnosis, I wake up not only remembering that my son will never come home again but also  knowing that I have cancer. Death is a fact I cannot change. I am fortunate that this type of cancer has given me a choice. I can choose to succumb to fear and do nothing, or I can take action and continue to live.                                                             

To share or not to share. (I would not want to embarrass any of my male readers.) Okay. Maybe in the sharing I am reminding all of us to search for humor in even the most humorless situations.  

Most of us have likely experienced the dreaded mammogram. The results of mine suggested that further testing should be done, and I was scheduled for a biopsy. At first glance the set-up for the biopsy appeared similar to the mammogram, except the ratio of clinician to patient was 4 to 1, not the usual 1 to 1. There was the doctor, three clinicians, and me. Instead of standing, like one does for a mammogram, I was allowed to sit. Piece of cake, I thought.

The ladies were nice, and the doctor was gentle, but they pulled and pushed and squeezed the stuffins’ out of my, ah, piece of meat” in order to guide the doctor to the spot in question, so she could insert a needle. The needle would munch little tissue samples from the lesion, which would be sent to the lab for examination.

Suddenly I felt a familiar touch of wooziness. Oh, no! Surely I won’t faint! Apparently I had been pushed, prodded, and told one too many times to keep my eyes closed so I would not see what the doctor was doing, and yep . . . I fainted. I’m sure it was only seconds later when I opened my eyes. My chair had been tilted back, and I was looking up into a “sea” of faces. A voice asked me to state my name and birthdate, the usual, “Do you know who you are?” drill. Apparently I passed. lol

There was chatter about calling it a day and rescheduling my appointment, but I had already been numbed up, which was no picnic, so I asked if there were other options. In response they suggested that I roll unto my side. They wanted to find out if they could do a biopsy with me lying in that position, which translates to “guinea pig.” There was more pushing, pulling, and taping the other “girl” out of the way. Thankfully there were no pictures taken to mark this event, and the doctor was able to complete the biopsy. The staff expressed their relief that the “trial and error” worked. Me, too.

Two days later my doctor gave me the results. It was cancer, but caught early. The next step would be surgery. I have always tried to be fully honest and transparent with my grieving readers. With your permission I will add my cancer story to ride tandem with my continued journey into grief. It will be a part of the path that meanders where it will as I embark on this new unknown.

Day after day there is the temptation to quit, to succumb to the pain: pain from sorrow, disease, or chronic illness. Each day I choose life, I may also choose to face the pain with courage.

Just like every day in my journey thus far, I choose life. I choose to do whatever it takes to continue living, and if that includes surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, so be it. Wow. Do I have a choice? Absolutely. I could take a chance with my life. I could face each day knowing an “enemy” has invaded my tissues ~ uninvited and unannounced, and do nothing about it. But I’d rather fight this enemy. Actually, I want God to fight this enemy with me.

I would love for you to add my name to your prayer list. We are in this mess together, you and I ~ this mess called life. We lift each other up, and, hand in hand, we take new steps forward each and every day.

My simple prayer to God is tucked in the pages of His Word:

When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. Psalm 56:3

Scripture from The Voice









6 thoughts on “Surviving Cancer: Riding Tandem

  1. Well, shoot! That’s a bummer! Statistically, women in our age group are not as likely as younger women to get breast cancer. So…I’ve been slacking off on that a bit myself. But next time I am in Omaha, I’m going for a mammogram!

    I’m a big believer in complementary medicine to go alongside mainstream medicine (but not instead of mainstream medicine). You should do yourself a favor and get Suzanne Somers’s book Knockout. Some very interesting information that you might find useful.

    Love and light beaming your way. Shirley


    • Glad to hear you are in the land of the living. If I encourage just one woman to get the dreaded mammo, then this blog has not been in vain. Thanks for your support…I think. I am very unlikely to get breast cancer again. I can live with that. May you prosper and be in good health. Blessings, Gracie

  2. Hi Gracie,
    I’m SO sorry to hear you have this battle to fight. I will, for sure, add you to my prayers.
    I have been going through something similar to you. In April 2016 I was dx with Leukemia; and if that wasn’t enough, last month (August) I had a tumor removed from my colon. Stage 2. I was lucky that it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes and I don’t need chemo for that. I was so concerned that taking chemo for my Leukemia (which is a wonder pill that has controlled my blood) combined with chemo for colon cancer might be pretty hard to handle.
    The reason I felt that I had to write to you, is to let you know that what we have endured after losing a child, we can take on whatever can be thrown at us. Nothing could be worse then losing a child (in my case, my only child) and just knowing that you went through the same thing tells me that you can handle anything else thrown at you. You are stronger for having survived the worst experience that could ever happen to a Mom, so for sure, this HORRIBLE thing called cancer WON’T get the best of you. You are SO much stronger & with God on your side, this will be just a small thorn in your side.
    May God bless you as you walk this new path, but I’m certain that you ‘got’ this.

    • Yes, indeed, I “got this”, Pat. How lovely for you to write and share your continuing story. I didn’t know if I should include cancer simply because it is not the worst thing and I write about the worst thing – that of losing a child, and even further, when the child chooses. I’m with you! Cancer – yours or mine – is not the worst. We are surviving the worst already. Who knows what God has in store beyond sharing a few words here. There may come a time when He wants me to share my story with a group of cancer survivors. If He asks, I’ll say “Yes”. I remember my first office visit to the oncology surgeon. I felt a bit nervous, but surprisingly calm as well. The hospital being a teaching one, you guessed it, this was the day the student was with her. Since the cancer was in the breast, we know what that means…an exam. But by two? At the same time? I couldn’t help it. As they were each feeling and smooshing a breast, I said, “There is something sooo wrong with this.” They cracked up, then switched places. At least there can be bits of humor along the way. I pray you have your bits, too. I did not need chemo or radiation, so my hat is off to you for your bravery. God will continue to walk along side us, no matter what we face. I told the doctor before I left, “This is nothing. I’m living the worst.” I believe that we are surviving the worst and God is right in there with us. I hope the worst of the cancer is behind you and no more to come!!! I’m so glad you wrote to me. Please write again. You know where to find me. God’s blessings, my friend. Gracie

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