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

The PET Scan

Today was a day of tests. First thing in the morning, I had a urine test to rule out pregnancy officially and a blood draw for a variety of screening and blood count tests. No big deal. There was a bright spot to the day was when the lab tech was checking out my veins in my arm she said "You must work out." When I said, "Yeah" she replied "Alright! You go girl!" Hee hee. That felt nice.

But the interesting part was the PET scan. I had to fast for this one, and my last meal (which was dinner the night before) had to be low carb with no sweets. Another bummer was that I wasn't allowed to work out the day before. (It technically was a day off from my program anyway, but I was hoping to make up for missing Tuesday!)

PET stands for "Positron Emission Tomography." Last year when Jean-Marc had his hernia surgery I passed by the "nuclear medicine" office at Kaiser Zion Hospital. Each time I would wonder just what in the world that was. Now I know. They basically shoot some mildly radioactive material into your body and then stick you into this machine. A PET scan measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to help doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning. Cancer cells apparently will gobble more of it up and show up on the scan. Lovely.

Mom drove me down to keep me company. Eric had to take a few hours off of work to play with Jean-Marc and feed him his lunch before his nap. I'm thankful to both for arranging this so I didn't have to go down there alone. I wasn't afraid of the procedure, really. But I am scared to find out the results. What if I am riddled with cancer inside and the scan lights up like a rainbow?

But back to the experience. A nice Filipino man called us from the waiting room and took us down a maze of hospital corridors. As we are walking, he asks if I had any kids. I thought he was making small talk, so I told him. When I told him their ages, he said, "Well, they are too young." What does that mean? He told me that I was going to be radioactive until the next morning and that young kids whose systems aren't fully developed are at risk of exposure to the radiation. So I couldn't be within 6 feet of them. No goodnight hugs or kisses. Hmm. That wasn't going to be easy with Jean-Marc. But I would think about that later. We all joked about how I was going to glow, something that I had jokingly put on my facebook status a few hours earlier.

He told mom she had to wait in a waiting area and led me outside into a trailer in the parking lot. Inside, I was led into a small room and ushered into a fairly comfortable chair. The tech guy was nice enough. Making small talk, he asked me if I had any plans for the summer. Yeah. I said, "uh...chemo." He seemed sorry to have asked. I wasn't upset about the question or anything. I'm trying to find the humor in situations and honestly, this struck me as funny. He tested my glucose level with a finger prick, then put a needle in my arm. It was a very strange experience to sit there watching him inject me with something that I knew was radioactive. Just bizzare.

I had to sit there for about 30 minutes for the stuff to get into my systems. He gave me some old tabloid magazines and I did thumb through one for a few minutes. I put it down when I came across a story about a reality show contestant from Survivor who had recently died at the age of 37 after a 5 year battle with....breast cancer.

Then I remembered my pocket New Testament. I carry it with me in my purse just because I like to have God's word near me all the time. The print is a bit small, but that's okay. When I was waiting for the biopsy a week or two ago (was it just that short of a time?) I had pulled it out and just started reading from the beginning at Matthew. I just continued on from there.

God does have a sense of humor. The first verse I read was this: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16) Considering the "glowing" jokes, I thought that yes, indeed...I would be shining before men-literally!

But all joking aside, I do want to handle this experience in such a way that it causes others to praise our Father in heaven. I pray that God will grant me the grace to do that.

It was such a comfort to be reading Scripture while waiting for the test. Some other verses that ministered to me:
  • "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:8) What a comfort that is to me right now. There are times when I just am speechless before God. There are so many desires and requests I have that I just don't know where to begin. God knows what I need and the Spirit is there to help me pray. Thank you Jesus!
  • "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-27, 34)
These two verses taken together told me that God did not want me to worry. He knows what I need, even when I don't. He is going to take care of me under any and all circumstances. Radioactive or not. Stage 2 cancer or 3 cancer. I am of utmost value to Him. He is going to see me through because He is Faithful.

The door opened and the lab tech told me to go use the restroom before I was put into the machine. I texted Eric to give him a head's up about the fact I wasn't going to be able to be mommy for the rest of the day and headed back into the trailer.

They had me take off any metal objects and lay on the table. I was velcroed in so I couldn't move. They put a wedgie thing under my knees and covered me with a blanket. It actually was kind of cozy. The machine fed me in and out. It was pretty quiet. It would stay in one spot for awhile, then move a bit. I took the opportunity to again feel the presence of God with me. Jeremiah 29:11 kept going through my 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." A future and a hope. God knows how this is all going to play out. He knows the number of my days. I am safe in His arms. I just have to calm down and trust Him.

Before I knew it, it was over. As I was getting my shoes back on, I snapped the photo of the machine with my iPhone.

So now we wait for the results. As I mentioned before, I do have some fear of them. Given all that I know about the Lord, I shouldn't be afraid. God does not want me to worry (didn't I just read that?!) He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) I have to constantly remind myself of this because it is so easy to have panic well up inside. Even as I type this, I can feel my heart race from time to time and adrenaline kick in.

Here are some specific prayer requests:

1. The results of this scan. That they would come quickly and show that there is no cancer anywhere other than the 2 places they already know of. Heck, wouldn't it be amazing if the scan came back and I was cancer free? We can pray for that too. God is a God of miracles!

2. That I would not be afraid or fearful. Waiting for results is really hard. I know once we know exactly what I'm dealing with we can attack it intelligently. Just waiting for potentially bad news is extremely taxing.

3. That Eric would not be fearful. He has a tendency to see things from a pessimistic angle. He is worried about how he is going to balance his job and having to step up more to take on some of my home and family responsibilities.

4. That we can decide on a course of treatment within the next week. I see an oncologist next week. We are leaning toward doing chemo before surgery. The results of these tests I'm doing should validate that. If there are cancer cells that have spread, I want to attack them ASAP. Surgery won't do that, it will only remove the tumors that we know of. Chemo will also possibly shrink the tumors that I do have and makes saving the breast a possibility.

5. That the oncologist that I see be a good fit for us. Praise God that the surgeon we met we really liked. I pray that it is the same for the oncologist. This is the person who will be in charge of the cancer treatment: the chemo and possibly radiation if I need it.

6. Our kids. Pray that they are not fearful. That they be able to step up where needed around the house, live in harmony with each other. That they be able to enjoy some of their hard earned summer vacation.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I am blessed by you.


  1. Watching with you. My hand is here if you need one. While, like birth, this is a lonely walk, you are spiritually not alone. I know that will continue to bring great comfort. May perfection reign!

  2. Thank you for the updates. I totally agree about it's so hard not to worry even though the scripture says it over and over again to not be afraid because God is with you. Continued prayers for your recovery and miracles. I've heard multiple testimonies on how some people had cancer one day and the following day (literally), it was gone.

  3. It's nice that you are getting these tests done so fast. I pray the results come back soon and that they are good news for you. Hang in there, you are a strong woman.