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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How I got here

I turned 40 last October. I've never been one to go to doctors much. Heck, I had 2 of my 3 kids at home with a midwife! But turning the big 4-0 made me feel like I should be responsible and go in for routine physicals and my first mammogram. Plus, a good friend of mine who was only a few years older than me was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. So in April 2010, I went in for the big squish (a mammogram).

It was no big deal, but I did get called back a week later for further ultrasounds on the left side because of some "areas of concern." Okay, that was a little bizarre. But in I went, and the radiologist said her opinion was there was nothing to be concerned about. I went on my way thinking I was healthy.

And I WAS healthy! I've lost over 50 pounds in the last 9 months doing Jillian Michaels level 3 fitness plan (yes, level 3, baby!) and reading "Mater Your Metabolism." (Love Jillian!) I seriously am in the best shape of my life-thinner than I was in high school. I was having a ball shopping and buying increasingly smaller size clothes--even a pair of size 4 shorts. No way! The summer was going to be so much fun-beach; running around with the kids; a road trip to my cousin's wedding in Idaho. Bring it on!

It all came crashing down on me over Memorial Day weekend when I felt a lump under my left armpit in the shower. On further palpation, there was another lump on the left breast itself. My mind started rationalizing all of the things it could be. First off, I had gone down 2 bra cup sizes with all the weight loss. I wasn't even sure what "normal" felt like for me at this point. I nursed Jean-Marc until he was 13 months old, and he isn't even 2 yet. So maybe it was milk in there? Or maybe some wierd hormonal swing? And oh, yeah...I had a cyst on my right breast in 1994 that just went away on its own. Lots and lots of reasons other than the "C" word could explain it.

I called Kasier the next business day (Tuesday, because of the 3 day weekend), and was seen the next day in their breast care clinic. The nice lady felt the lump and ordered an ultrasound. I actually wasn't too concerned at that point really. Ultra sounds were no biggie to me. So I went in the following Monday for what I thought would be a routine in and out kind of morning.

The same radiologist was there and after the ultrasound tech did her ultrasound, she came in and did another one of her own. She really didn't seem to know what to make of what she was seeing. The one under the arm looked like it was attached to a lymph node, but the other one she didn't know what to make of. If I had time, she said they could biopsy both that morning. Oh, and more mammograms.

Wait...a biopsy. That's the long needle. Yikes! Now, I'm not afraid of needles. But not one sticking into me for a long time like that. Give me a shot, I'l even give blood. But the thought of a biopsy was chilling. But I had to do what I had to do. So I got into the hospital gown and was ushered back out into the purple chairs to wait for a pre-biopsy mammogram.

I had my iPhone with me and decided to see what was going on in Facebook land while I waited. My Aunt Meg posted a bible verse on her site. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) It really hit the spot and reminded me that the Lord has ultimate victory and that He was with me in that moment.

After the mammograms, I went back in for the biopsy. It was a little intimidating, the doctor got into a gown, they had me sign a consent form and it was like I was on the fast track to something, but I wasn't sure what. They gave me some shots to numb the area before the BIG needle went in. I'm not that sensitive to little needles, so it didn't bother me all that much. But again, in that moment and during the whole procedure, I felt the presence of the Lord with me like I've only felt one other time--when I was in labor with Jean-Marc. Aside from the verse from John, these words kept coming to mind: "For I know the plans I have for you. Plans for good and not for evil. Plans to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11). What a comfort!

The biopsies themselves are not that comfortable. If I let my brain wander to what was going on in my body at that moment, I could have easily freaked out. There was a lot of pressure and movement. The needle mechanism would make a loud click sound each time she would draw out a sample. She took several from both spots. They bandaged me up and sent me out again to the purple chairs for more mammograms. Gosh, I'm an expert at mammos now. But I've got to say, to all you ladies out there who have had a mammogram....imagine them trying to get a film of your armpit. Not that easy! I was basically standing still in a backbend position looking up at the ceiling!

So that was my Monday morning. I was told if I didn't get a call from "Judy" by next Monday, that I should call her.

It was very strange that whole week thinking....I am waiting on biopsy results for cancer....I am waiting on biopsy results for cancer. Yet, I had all of those reasons to believe it was not cancer. But a small part of me thought....maybe it was.

I got the call from Judy on Friday right before lunch. Unfortunately, she said, there was the presence of cancer in both spots. My brain started spinning. Jean-Marc was clamoring for my attention and I was trying to absorb everything she was telling me. I would be getting a consult from a surgeon...surgery possible in a couple weeks...lymph node....chemotherapy...can we stop now??

I hung up the phone and just looked at Eric. He could tell by my end of the conversation what the news was.

I had cancer.

1 comment:

  1. There are lots of similarities in our stories... yeah, the biopsy was a trip, for sure. I am so sorry you are going thru this, too. You are in my thoughts and prayers, certainly. lots of love, lots! Laura