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, February 16, 2011

More than a conqueror

Pinch me, okay?  A little harder, please.  Because I can't believe that I only have one more day of radiation.

I got to see the doctor today (must be Wednesday).  He asked me if I was considering breast reconstruction. If I was, I should wait a year to let my skin heal.  Frankly, at this point, I'm not interested. Maybe I'll change my mind later. He talked about the different types of reconstructive surgery that were out there, and those that Kaiser did. It was music to my ears to hear him say I was a bit limited in my options since I didn't have enough belly fat to do certain types of reconstruction. In my case, he thought they would recommend a LAT Flap, where they take a piece of your latissimus dorsi muscle on your back to form the breast. Yuck. Doesn't sound very appealing to me. But like I said, I may change my mind later.

The Mepilex came from Amazon today, just as promised. I was a little disappointed because its not exactly the same version I have been using. This one is a 4x4 square, but has an adhesive border all around it. It's not quite as thick as the other one, either. But I stuck one on anyway. Hopefully the adhesive won't rip my skin off too bad. The burns are actually looking a little better.  The doctor said that in 6 weeks, my skin will look normal again. We'll see.

I kind of feel like I should do something to mark the day tomorrow. I saw one guy who was a regular at the radiation office bring in bagels for the staff a few weeks ago. I figured that was his way of celebrating the last day. I was right, because I didn't see him again. I overheard the staff talking today in the other room while I was waiting to see the doctor. The doc said, "Who brought that in?" Someone responded with a man's name. He said, "The prostate?"  I gathered from that exchange that a patient with prostate cancer had brought some goodies in for them. I don't feel like bringing the staff gifts, but I do feel like marking the day somehow. Mom and I are planning to go to the gym afterwards. In a way, that makes sense. The day I was diagnosed, I hung up the phone with Judy, the breast cancer nurse coordinator, went upstairs and did a killer Jillian Michael's circuit training workout. I have made a big effort to continue exercising throughout this journey, to keep myself as strong as possible. So ending it with a good workout isn't a bad idea.

We are going to celebrate this weekend. I bought a heritage turkey a month ago from this ranch that I order grass fed meat from, Hearst Ranch. We'll cook it this weekend and have family over to celebrate the end of the major treatment.

The journey isn't over, though. But as my physical therapist said last week, "the healing can begin." It will be nice to know that I won't be getting pumped full of poison, or blasted with radiation. My body can begin to heal from the wounds inflicted upon it and I can get stronger. I was listening to a sermon by pastor Skip Heitzig this morning on my way to radiation. He was making a distinction between being a "survivor" and being one that has more than conquered. In Romans 8:37, Paul said, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."  Paul was in prison, had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and suffered from chronic physical issues. (His "thorn in the flesh.") Yet he referred to himself not as a survivor, which Skip likened to someone who barely makes it out alive. He referred to himself as one who was more than a conqueror.  The enemy had been utterly defeated through Christ.  I like that!

In the cancer community, I am a "survivor."  I will be happy to call myself that so everyone knows my status. But I prefer to think of myself as MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!  I have been cut, poisoned, and burned. I've suffered, and will carry the scars for a lifetime. But I've come out on the other side.  The enemy has been defeated, and it is through the grace and strength of Christ that it has been accomplished.

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints...."  Ephesians 6:10-18


  1. Tonya, Praise God that He has brought you this far. His grace will lead you home.

    Thank you also for the sermon link and for the scripture. Interesting that it's repeated twice, that in order to withstand evil we must DAILY put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God.

    Sending prayers and love!

    Anne B.

  2. Tonya, I like your description of being "more than a conquerer". That is a wonderful verse. Incidently, one of my daughters has a blog by that name! It's an important verse to her too.
    Hope your skin heals quickly!

  3. Amen, sister! I know exactly what you mean - I'm a survivor, sure, but I'm also a warrior, a victor, an ass kicker ;) xoxo Praise God that your big treatments are DONE! woohoo!!

  4. Loved this post, what a wonderful reminder of who we are in Christ.