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, July 21, 2011

The other side

A year ago tonight, I was preparing myself in all sorts of ways for my bilateral mastectomy surgery.  I remember shortly after my diagnosis a friend from church telling me something. Her sister had been diagnosed almost exactly a year earlier than me.  She said that, "things look a lot better a year later." She was so right.

I just went and re-read the posts to remind myself of all of the details. Strange how some things fade from memory.  Or maybe it's just chemo-brain in action?

July 22, 2010

July 17, 2011-Nearly a year later

What struck me from reading my pre-operative posts is how uncertain I was about things. Understandably so.  Everything I did with the feeling that it was a "last" time for doing it. My "last" workout at the gym.  My "last" trip to the beach.  My "last" time cuddiling with Jean-Marc in the morning.  It was a scary time.  I'm a big believer in preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best. I was mentally prepared for weeks of being bedridden and in pain.  I had not even considered chemo and radiation at that point. It was all about the harsh and brutal reality of having body parts removed. Ugh.

I don't do "sick" very well.  And by God's grace, I didn't have to.  In fact, I probably pushed it a bit too much to get back on my feet.  In the early days, I needed help with the drains and such.  It was also difficult to face myself in the mirror for the first time.  I'll confess that sometimes, I still start at my scarred reflection.

For the most part, I can say that those things that I was afraid that I would not be able to do again, I have done. This is not a brag list-it is a praise report and testimony to the faithfulness, mercy and grace of God:

  • Cuddling/holding Jean-Marc?  Check! He's quite the love bug, and it's wonderful. 
  • Running?  Check!  Ran a 10k in under an hour earlier this month. Less than a year out of surgery, less than 5 months after the end of radiation treatment.  
  • Jillian circuits workouts?  Check!  I'm back to my level 3 Jillian circuit workouts.  I've definitely lost some of my upper body strength, particularly on the left shoulder and pectoral area. There is nerve damage there where things were cut. I'm permanently numb on my left tricep and across my chest where the scars are.  BUT-I can do push ups, just not as many.  I keep at it, and am able to do a little more each time.  My body will never be the same, but it is strong nonetheless. 
  • The beach? Check!  I just went yesterday with the kids, my sister in law, niece, nephews and mom. I wore a bikini with my foobies in it.  
There have been some unexpected things as well. First on the list would be my lymphedema. Not all breast cancer patients get it. I'm one of the lucky ones.  But I am so thankful that Kaiser was very proactive in educating me on the signs of the disease, and even had me go see a physical therapist before the fact.  That way, when I did get it, I knew right away what to do and was able to learn to control it early. 

My friend was right. Things do look and feel a lot better a year later. Things will never be the same, to be sure. My family and I have been on a journey that has opened our eyes and changed us all, in many ways for the better. It has made us stronger.  Looking back and seeing how God has sustained me has increased my faith tremendously.  I thank you all for your support and prayer over the past year. It has been a blessing.


  1. Like you, God has wrapped me in His protective light and love, given me grace and made me stronger. Mark your calendar for this day next year because you will be even stronger.

    In Him,
    Brenda Coffee

  2. I was diagnosed in August of last year and already my mind is ging back to those early days. Last summer everythng stopped as I was in the midst of testing, my bilateral wasn't until October, those days were full of fear and uncertainty. It has only been just recently that I am beginning to feel like myself.(a different version to be sure) and like you the Lord sustained us through it all and changed us as well. Glad to hear you are doing well.

  3. Time does make a difference, and it will continue to. Brenda is right: next year will be that much different again. And the next, and the next....