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.

Friday, July 23, 2010

He will give His angels charge over you

When I was three years old, I nearly died when I came down with epiglotitis. That is when the epiglottis in your throat swells up and you cannot breathe. My dad was a lieutenant in the Army so my parents took me to the base hospital. They didn't know what was happening, other than their child was gasping for breath and had thick phlegm. The doctor on call was a major, who chalked my condition up to "croup" and described my mom and I as being hysterical. My mom summoned a courage she hadn't known until then to stand up to the man who outranked her husband. To make a long story short, I nearly died. Mom said after that that God had angels watching over me.

I definitely kept them on my toes throughout my life, doing reckless and stupid things as a young "adult." But I never really thought about them too much. I know the bible talks about angels and celestial beings, but I never really considered them too much.

As I shared in my last pre-operative post, the Lord put Psalm 91 on my heart the morning of surgery. It wasn't as if I was paging through my bible looking for something to hold onto. I was brushing my hair and it just came to mind. So I know it was a special word for me.

Isabelle was pretty scared the morning of surgery. (I found out today that she thought I was going to die.) So I read her Psalm 91 and told her to refer to it throughout the day if she felt scared. The part that especially resonated with me were verses 11-12, as well as 14-16:

"For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone."

"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I
will deliver him; I will set him on hight, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him, And show
him My salvation."

As I read it to her, I couldn't help by tear up. That isn't uncommon for me when I feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Especially when facing something so huge. I explained to her how I knew that this was God speaking directly to me that morning as I went into surgery. That I would be okay. See? It says it right here in His Word.

Several hours later, after I said goodbye to Eric and my mom, I was being wheeled into the operating room. I kept repeating in my head, "He is giving His angels charge over me....He is giving His angels charge over me..." As the anesthesiologist put the mask over my face, I kept repeating this as I drifted off to sleep.

The next thing I recall was a blurry scene with noises and fuzzed images. (I did not have my glasses or contacts in). But overriding all of these senses was the thought, "He gave His angels charge over me. I am okay."

Needless to say, the whole thing blew my mind. It was experiential. It no longer is theological or intellectual. I experienced the care and safekeeping of the Lord, who gave His angels charge over me. I had before, of course. But I wasn't aware of it at the time. This time, God let me know ahead of time so I would not be afraid. And I wasn't! I didn't need any pre-op sedative. The lady in the pre-op bed next to me took it upon herself to take Valium before she came in, and asked for more when she got there. I had something better. I was scared, but I had a peace that passes understanding.

He gave His angels charge over me. I am okay.

I will describe the surgery day in more detail very soon. I even have some pictures to share.

My prayer requests:
  • That my body heal from surgery. I am sore around the drain sites. I am taking pretty powerful painkillers, but they have some side effects.
  • That scar tissue does not form around the drainage tubes, which would cause pain when they are taken out.
  • That I be able to look at myself in the mirror. I have the post-surgical camisole on right now. My surgeon says I can shower. But the thought of taking the camisole off and seeing what is underneath gives me the shivers and makes me want to puke. They gave me extra dressings to put on afterwards, but still. It freaks me out.
  • That my family be able to recover and rest.
  • That I be able to rest. I can only sleep on my back, and moving at all lying down hurts.


  1. I'm so glad to hear you're OK. Thank you for keeping us all updated. You're amazing! Also, glad to hear you're in the comfort of your home now. Great Job Tonya. Nicole

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your courage is inspiring.

  3. Just wonderful to hear the beauty of your faith that started before and continued after the surgery. *I* teared up!

    Re: the drains, I'm sure they gave you hints, but I found that cleaning around them with q-tips dipped in peroxide several times a day kept them "mobile" - if they stay in the exact same place (which can happen when the patient won't move anywhere), that's when they can hurt something nasty coming out. No worries on the tubes coming out... when the time comes for them to be pulled, it takes half a second to get each one out. I was stunned at how fast they are removed!

    You know you don't have to face the mirror alone and I encourage you to think deeply if you want to if that is what you choose to do. Having a doula... your mom, your honey... or another doula of your choice... someone that can be there for you to lean on, physically and emotionally. It is quite a bit different than facing the cesarean scar, isn't it. I'm sure we both know women who have *never* looked at it. This however, cannot be ignored. You can do it; take your time.

    I'm so glad your surgery was straightfoward and nothing more needed to be done. Now, all you have to do is heal.

  4. I'm so glad to hear you are okay and came through the surgery well. I will keep checking back to see how you are doing. Update as you are able, but obviously put your priority on healing yourself!

  5. Wow did that ever bring back the feelings of wanting to puke and being afraid to look at my post cesarean scar. I can only imagine that times a million. So glad you came out of the surgery safely and I trust that Jillian Michaels whipped you into awesome shape for a great recovery. :-)

  6. Tonya I'm sure this is not easy but keep up the amazing work. God is taking great care of you and you are an inspiration to us all. Thanks so much for keeping us updated. You are in our thoughts and prayers daily. We love you. Love -Trisha, Tara's Friend

  7. God's angels are holding you in their arms whispering words of comfort and peace. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad things went well. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs~