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 23, 2010


I went in for my MRI today to UCSD in Hillcrest.

I've never had an MRI before. I had heard that it was noisy and I had to lay still. That was pretty much all I knew going in.

When I walked into the building, it was freezing. I was wearing shorts. Silly me. I thought to myself, okay. I can deal with lying still. I can deal with being in the enclosed space. Freezing my bootie off would make it unpleasant! There was a lot of paperwork on my medical history to fill out. I'm thankful for having everything stored in my iPhone-the date of my biopsy, diagnosis and last menstrual period were all easily accessible.

The worker led me to a secondary waiting area with some magazines and a TV that was tuned to a sports channel. I did get to see playbacks of the USA victory in the World Cup. That was neat. There was a man there waiting. I wasn't sure if he was the patient at that point. But later a woman came out and they left together. After a few minutes, I was led to a changing room and given 2 hospital gowns to change into. One open in the front, and one in the back. That helped with my sensitivity to the temperature. She also gave me some non-slip booties to wear. I changed, locked up my purse and waited.

I flipped through a "Woman's Health" magazine. I saw an interesting ad from Ford motor company advertising "Warriors in Pink." The name caught my eye because of this blog's title. I thought.....hey! That's me! I'm a warrior in pink! (And plaid). I'm not sure what all it was, but they have some some merchandise that they sell and donate the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen foundation. I made a mental note to check the website out later. I also read an article about the actress Christina Applegate who had a double mastectomy for breast cancer. But she is alive and kicking, telling her story. Good for her!

The double doors opened and another lady in scrubs came out. She gave me an IV. I didn't realize I would be getting poked. Not a big deal, the anticipation of the poke is the worst. I asked her what it was for and she said it was for the "contrast." Hmm. Maybe I should have read a bit about MRIs before coming. After the poke, she said I might taste salt. Right after she said that I did. Wierd. She led me into the MRI room which was already buzzing. She gave me some earplugs and asked if I had any breast surgery or biopsies. Surgeries....not yet. Biopsies, yes. She had me put little stickers on the 2 spots that had been biopsied and had me lay down on my stomach on the bed of the machine.

There was a trick to it though. I had to lie down on my stomach, but there were 2 holes for my breasts to fall into, and my arms had to be up over my head. It felt kind of funny positioning myself in such a way. Thank God there was a warm sheet over it all so I didn't feel that exposed. She put some pillows under my head and said I would have to be very still. No surprise there. But as I tried to get my head comfortable twisted to the right, the pillow would cover my nose and make it hard to breathe. I started to panic a bit--I had to breathe! She saw me fidgeting and asked if I wanted one of the pillows taken away. Yes! Having only 1 pillow under my head made it possible to breathe and not panic.

Then it began. The bed was advanced into the machine, putting me right in there. She put an emergency button in my hand just in case I freaked out. I heard her on a loudspeaker telling me we were getting started. The buzzing that had been kind of a pleasant "white noise" in the background became a whirring, clanking. From time to time, the noise would change to rattles.

I knew it was key to stay calm and relax. On the way down to the appointment, I thought that I would use the time praying. I tried that, but the loud noises made it difficult for me to concentrate on my end of the dialog. What helped me the most was to simply sing worship songs in my head. Some of the words I sang to the Lord:

"No more sin, and no more shame.
We are going where the streets are made of gold.
No more tears, for they are wiped away.
We are going where the streets are made of gold.
And if we just could see
One glimpse of what will be
We'd run to win this race
Living our lives by faith....
Because heaven is our home
Where we'll reign forever
Shining like the sun
with our King forever
Every sorrow gone,
we'll rejoice forever
Heaven is our home. Heaven is our home!"

"Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
when the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name.
And blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name
Every blessing you pour out, I'll turn into praise
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Pretty soon, the lady came in and said it was time for the "contrast." She fiddled with the IV in my arm and I again could taste a metallic salty sensation. The line that was under my hand also got cold. She said they would take 2 more images, which would be about 5 more minutes each.
At this point when the machine started its clanking and whirring, I mentally sang:

"You are faithful!
You are faithful!
You are faithful, Your joy is my strength."

Pretty soon it was over. I got up, she took out the IV and I was led back into the waiting room to change back into my clothes in the adjacent changing room. After I took off the hospital gowns, my cell phone rang. I've learned to always pick up--it could be a doctor's office or something trying to call. Not this time. It was Honda of Escondido. A few weeks ago, I had made a service appointment to get XM radio put into my Odyssey. I had to cancel the appointment last week because of doctor visits. Honda wanted to know if we still wanted the parts they had for it.

I'm standing there in my underwear, just having had an MRI to see how big my cancerous tumors were and this lady wants to know about car parts? I just laid it out there. I told her that we had to cancel the appointment for service because, "frankly, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and our summer plans kind of changed." She was apologetic. I'm sure she wasn't expecting to hear that. (It's kind of like when people ask me politely, "How are you today?" Do they really want to know? For people who know the situation, right now I'll say, "Other than the cancer, I feel great!")

Anyway, I got changed and was done. I had to drop off the mammogram films that I had carried from Kasier to the UCSD radiology department for them to digitize and give back to me. That took about a half an hour. Sadly, there was no wifi in that part of the hospital. So I got to watch and re-watch the USA winning goal.

It all took a bit longer than I had expected. But I am glad to have done something tangible in the battle today.

Next on the warrior's agenda....the oncologist on Friday. Pray that this person be the right oncologist for me. I also ask for prayers for clarity in decision making. Thank you all for your support.

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