I have cancer.
I’m still struggling to make it real in my own mind.
I am 39 years old and I have breast cancer. No family history of it. No logical or rational reason at all to explain “why.”
I found out this morning. I’ve told my closest family & friends. I keep thinking of others I should call, though. One of the things that really troubled me when my sister was diagnosed (lung cancer, 2001) was that she kept it a secret for so long. She never told our aunts at all, meaning I had to do it AFTER she died. That was no fun. I don’t want to do that to anyone. I don’t want someone I love – and who loves me – to find out weeks or months later that I’m sick but didn’t tell them.
So, I have cancer… Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC for short). It’s a grade III tumor. 2.3 centemeters in size. I won’t know what stage I’m in until they get it out & find out if it has started spreading. Best case scenario, I have a lumpectomy followed by radiation. If it’s already spread, then we’re talking mastectomy, radiation, and chemo.
I gotta say I’m finding it a little ironic. You know, there’s a lot of “breast cancer” stuff out there. Pink ribbons, hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, the list goes on and on. Having lost my Sister to lung cancer and my mother-in-law to brain cancer, I used to always kinda wish there was more out there – product wise, I mean – for cancer in general. I never felt like it would be right to wear the pink stuff since I had never personally been effected by breast cancer specifically. Guess I can wear it now.
My sister is angry. “It’s not fair,” she says. She’s right, of course, but no one ever said anything in life would be fair. I’ve been fighting that internal anger since my mother died. By now, I’ve pretty much run out of steam. I’ve done my share of screaming at the heavens. Maybe more than my share. I’ve asked God, “why,” more times than I can remember. I wish I could say I have the kind of faith that gave me the strength to smile even in the midst of my deepest grief and pain, but I have fought Him as much as I’ve relied on Him.
I’m a Christian. I know God is in complete control of everything. I don’t believe in luck (good or bad). I do believe everything that happens does so because it is part of God’s plan. I trust Him to take me through this, even if He has to carry me part of the way. I wish I never felt even the merest hint of doubt. I should be clear here about what I mean. I in no way doubt God’s existence or His supreme wisdom, grace, and power. I just don’t always have the faith to reject the fear and/or grief inside me.
The depression doesn’t help matters any. It just eggs me on, fanning the flames until my spark of unease becomes an inferno of irrational thoughts. I often wish the rational understanding of how it works would somehow render it impotent, like confronting a bully. It just isn’t that simple. Even knowing what it is and what it does, I still have to fight it tooth and nail.
So, I have breast cancer.