About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A dark evening

It had been a week since my diagnosis. What I do know: I have a tumor in my breast and in one lymph node. What I don't know: if this cancer has spread anywhere else. The results of the PET scan should tell us this.

As my ICAN friends will attest, I am a big fan of online support groups. When Olivier was born with a cleft lip, when I was dealing with processing my cesarean and wanting to birth vaginally, I sought out women in similar situations to commiserate, learn, and be empowered by and with. I've found a group, although I have not yet posted. It's called the Young Survivor Coalition. They've got some very inspirational stories of survival. A few days ago, it really got me in a positive frame of mind.

Early last evening, I made the mistake of going on a part of their bulletin board about metastatic cancer. Because I've got lymph node involvement, they are calling mine that. I wasn't on it long. I read the story of a young woman who discovered a lump while pregnant, her OB blew it off. After the baby was born, she was diagnosed. Her PET scan showed the cancer had spread to her bones. I couldn't read much more. It is so tragic. What an awful disease.

It just made the unknown results of MY PET scan all the more ominous. I know we are 2 different people. But it just made my mind go to the "what if" place for a few hours. I couldn't even really enjoy the fabulous dinner I made.

After the kids went to bed, Eric asked me what was going on. He could tell something was bothering me. I fell apart. Once the tears started, they just wouldn't stop. Between sobs, I told him about my fears. He was really good about trying to reassure me. We caught it early, he said. But did we? I mean, it is already in a lymph node. We just don't know. What if it is in my bones too? Or organs? We just don't know.

Then Eric asked if I wanted to pray together. Of course I did. So as I cried, he held me and prayed. It was an amazing step.

I did not want to be awake all night with these thoughts. That would be torture. Sitting in bed, I reached for my bible and opened to the Psalms. Thank you Lord for the Psalms! I want to share a couple of passages that ministered to me in my distress:

  • Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out your hand Against the wrath of my enemies [cancer], and your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands [me]. (Psalm 138:7-8) I especially loved the verse "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me." Oh yes, God. Please.
  • The 23rd Psalm is always a comfort. But last night this part spoke to me: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
  • "For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord." (Psalm 27:5-6).
I read and re-read these passages several times and just thanked the Lord for his Word. I prayed for calm and for sleep and was able to turn the light out. During the night, if I felt like I might wake up, "You grant sleep to those you love." (Psalm 127:2) and I kept snoozing. Praise God.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that what someone told me about this battle being spiritual is so true. The enemy wants to rob me of peace and joy. It is hard to keep that peace in such a turbulent time. I had a few pretty good days there, and he saw a weak spot and zeroed in on it.

I need to literally remind myself to put on my Godly armor every morning to fight this fight. I let it down last night and the results were not good. What is my Godly armor? The helmet of salvation. Knowing that no matter what, I am going to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. This is not my home, this body is just a temporary tent. This should protect my mind from going to those dark places. The belt of truth: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) He girds me, encircles me and supports me. The breastplate of righteousness: I have righteousness through Jesus' sacrifice for me on the cross. My righteousness (through Him) protects my body and soul. It permits me fellowship with the Father so I can come before him spotless and ask Him for what I need and want. Thank you Jesus! The shoes shod with the gospel of peace: I carry the good news of the gospel-that Jesus came down from heaven as a man. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for my sin. The perfect sacrifice. Then he rose again. Anyone who puts their faith in Him will be saved. Eternal life. The shield of faith: keeping my faith close to me will enable me to deflect the firey arrows that are shot at me. I temporarily forgot about that last night. The sword: A soldier's sword is protection and slays the enemy. My sword is the Word of God. It is living and powerful. It changes lives. It purifies me from the inside out. As I experienced last night, it comforts and calms. It also slays my enemy the devil. He cannot stand against it. I've read the whole thing and I know the ending. The devil loses. God wins. I'm on God's team. Yeah!

When I got up, I saw that many of you were lifting me up in prayer last night. I had posted something on my facebook status about fighting the "what ifs." Your prayers definitely worked. I slept all night and was comforted here by Eric and also by the Lord in my sleep. Thank you all.

My big prayer request is that the PET scan come out showing that the cancer is only in the 2 spots we know of, or has completely disappeared. (Wouldn't that be amazing?) It may sound strange, but if I just have cancer in my breast and a lymph node, I would be jumping up and down on the mountaintop with joy. But, above all, I want God's will to be done. So if that is not His will, then He will strengthen me to deal with it.

God bless you all!


  1. Hi Tonya, I am so sad that you had such a scary evening last night. My thoughts and prayers are with you. ::hugs:: Kim

  2. Tonya ~ thank you for trusting God and sharing your journey. I pray this blog gives you encouragement and strength. I pray that you are uplifted by others and that others are uplifted by you. God wants us to be dependent upon Him and your words reflect your dependence. God designed us to be relational and you are reaching out for relationships. Tonya, you are doing exactly what you stated on Facebook the other day ~ you are walking the walk. No one ever said that it would be easy to do that. There are times we want to praise our Lord and times we want to scream at Him. The awesome part is that His sholders are wide enough to take either. As you walk through the days ahead, my prayer is that no matter what ~~ you deeply feel God's presentce. That He brings people around you when you need them and He creates many many moments of connecting prayer with Eric and even those quiet times that it is just you and God. Tonya,thank you for reflecting your love for the Lord.
    And thank you Tonya for sharing your walk with others ~~~~

  3. Hi Tonya,
    I was diagnosed on May 20th 2010. Had a mastectomy on June 3rd. Starting chemo on July 7th. I'll be treated at Zion too. Judy Bamburg is awesome. I was called back from the mammo, 6 core biopsies, then surgery. They thought I had DCIS meaning in situ, where the cancer is just within the ducts themselves. The pathology of the whole breast revealed it was invasive. I opted for a mastectomy beforehand and thank goodness. My node was negative but I was told by an oncologist neighbor that that doesn't mean it isn't within the body. I didn't want that info. I am a single mom of a 9 year old boy and am scared to pieces. Hang in there girlfriend and just know we are on this journey together in spirit. Keep blogging, you're very good at it. Love and Light,