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.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

His ways are above ours

I got the first full night of sleep last night since being diagnosed last Friday. I can't tell you how good that felt. (God gives his beloved sleep-Psalm 127:2) Thank you Jesus!

I woke up being so thankful to God, realizing in how many ways He has prepared my family and I for this trial. I just want to share the few that I have realized thus far:

1. My fitness fixation. For the first time in my adult life, last summer I just got the urge to finally get into shape. I've kind of been obsessed by it. I jokingly referred to it as my "mid life crisis." Until this week with all my medical tests and appointments, I don't think I missed a workout. I've been doing Jillian's level 3 circuit workouts 4 times a week, which take about 1 1/2 hours each. Then on Saturday, 30 minutes of cardio at the gym and a Zumba class. I've been eating organic produce and whole grains with very limited processed foods. Even those had to have minimal ingredients in them. I haven't had a Diet Coke since last fall. The result was losing 50 pounds. I feel strong and capable of kicking cancer's butt. But I really believe that had I not lost the weight (going down 2 cup sizes) that I would not have felt that lump a few weeks ago. Remember, the doctors were of the opinion that the mammogram and ultrasound in April put me in the clear. It would have been at least another year before it was discovered. Praise God!

2. Getting a mammogram in the first place. Again, I just got the "urge" to go get a mammogram. Kaiser did not send me a reminder. Heck, even the government is trying to change their recommendations for women to put the age to 50 to start getting routine mammograms. (Side note to young women--DO NOT WAIT! Younger women have higher death rates because it is not diagnosed early) I truly believe that God planted that desire in my heart to start focusing on breast health. I'll confess that I've never even really been good at breast self examination. I'd lie to the docs when asked. I didn't think I had a family history, and I just never bothered. Praise God!

3. Eric's self-education. My husband, Eric, works for a company that is involved in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. He felt he needed to do some learning on his own about biology and stuff. For the past 6-9 months, he has been listening to lectures through iTunes U from MIT about....cancer. So when I was diagnosed, he knew all of these questions to ask about the pathology. He also has contacts through his work with some very impressive cancer researchers that he has been able to consult about our decisions. Praise God!

4. Changing insurance options. The kids and I have been with Kaiser for a few years. I like Kaiser. But I've wanted to open up a Health Savings Account for awhile now and just procrastinated about it. To do that would mean I would have to apply for a slightly different "HSA compatible" policy. I just didn't want to take the time. But for some reason, in May I just decided to do it. We were approved, and effective June 1, we are on a different Kaiser plan. I haven't had to make a single co-pay thus far. The old plan had a $30 co-pay for each visit, and the mammograms/ultrasounds were nearly $200. I'm not 100% sure on what our maximum out of pocket will be by the end, but if I read it correctly, it will only be a few thousand dollars. Chemo is covered. Plus, now that I have an HSA, any out of pocket expenses we do have up to $6,000 will be paid out of pre-tax dollars! Praise God!

5. My marriage. No doubt, the last week has been stressful. But it has brought Eric and I closer together as we figure out how we are going to fight this disease and raise our family at the same time. I'm discovering how much I appreciate him. I think that the concept of life without me has shaken him up too. Praise God!

6. Relationships with God. I pray that this will draw everyone closer to the Lord as we learn that we really depend on Him for every day, every breath, every heart beat. I pray that this will help Eric in his spiritual life as well. This is an area that you can also pray for. God is faithful to complete this work!

I am sure there are other ways God is working in this, these are only the ones I have realized so far. Thank you Lord for opening my eyes and allowing me to see YOU on the throne rather than the trials that face me on this day.


  1. GOD is so good! Even when we stop to concider HIM in this midst of battle, we can "SEE" HIM and HIS goodness! So glad your wrighting this all down...when you dont "see" HIM on days you can look back at HIS faithfulness!!

  2. Oh Tonya... you have been continually on my heart and in my prayers... and I know that God is good and will work this all out for good... Trust in Him with all your heart, as I know you will and know that if God is for you, who can be against you? Not even cancer. Lord, in faith I ask you to heal Tonya and to strengthen she and her entire family... draw them day by day, closer to you Lord and to one another and use them Jesus for your glory, in Your great and awesome name, amen.
    "Thou O LORD, art a shield about me, You are my glory and the lifter of my head."