The past few weeks after my last chemo treatment have been days solely devoted to getting physically stronger. However, I decided to treat myself to a fun photoshoot with my dear friend, Dahli Durley.
I asked her if she would capture this season in my life, not out of vanity, (heck, who can be vain when they look like a bald, fuzzy, baby bird), but out of reverence for the lessons God is teaching me through this trial. And I simply don’t want to ever forget these dark days.
Dahli beautifully captured both the pain and the joy of these past few months, and they will be images I will treasure for years. I was also incredibly thankful for my friend, Brooke Weber, and her makeup expertise. She helped me feel “normal” again. She gave my thinning eyebrows and chemo-hacked eyelashes a little love. And I have to say getting my head powdered was definitely a first!
But, the next big hurdle in this “cancer beating” game plan that I needed to clear after I completed chemotherapy, was surgery. To be honest, after how difficult chemo has been, I thought that surgery would be a walk in the park. And strangely, I found myself looking forward to it. I think it was because I knew there was a possibility that it could signal the end of this very long and hard road.
So one week ago, I packed my little overnight bag and made my way to the hospital bright and early. I was scheduled to be my surgeons’ first case of the day. After approximately five hours, which thankfully felt like two minutes thanks to my amazing anesthesiologist, I was greeted by my wide-eyed husband and concerned parents in the recovery room.
I slurred through some drug induced hellos that I don’t really remember, and my family began to inform me that the doctors had given them glowing reports. They said that the surgery couldn’t have gone better, and they were both very pleased! Yahoo! Hurdle, officially cleared!
So my job this week, now that I am post-surgery, is to keep my pain under control and my upper arm movement to an absolutely minimum. So if your child is having a dinosaur themed birthday party and you need a T-Rex impersonator, I’m your girl.
I have completely mastered the, “glue your arms to your sides, bend at the elbows, and only slightly move your hands” motion. Let’s just say, I am quite a sight. But, what has been even more fun is watching my children put toothpaste on my toothbrush and button my pajama top each night. Oh, how the roles have changed!
But here is where it really gets good. Yesterday, I received the phone call that the pathology report was in from my surgery. This typically comes one week after the procedure, and is used to determine if there are still viable cancer cells present in the breast tissue that was removed.
And if so, how close those cells are to the margins of the skin. This determines if further treatment, such as radiation, is necessary. I could bore you with all of the medical fancy talk but, instead I will give you the results in my own words:
THE CANCER IS DEAD!!!
Yep, like dead, dead. Dead as a doornail dead. The tumor was toast. And just like that, this journey that started with a phone call just ended with a phone call. It is a surreal feeling to be told that you no longer have cancer after living so deep in the trenches fighting for what seems like an eternity.
You don’t know if you should laugh or cry, so you do both. And then you sit in amazement at God’s faithfulness and his unwavering fulfillment of his sweet promises.
I continue to struggle through the continued rollercoaster of physical recovery, which will still take quite awhile, but I find peace by praying Isaiah 40:31 over myself frequently.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”.
For awhile, I found myself focusing more on the last part of that verse which promises renewed strength and physical vitality. Only recently, did I feel completely hit with the first part that states how this renewal comes to those who WAIT. Hmmm….yeeahhh….not one of my strengths. Patience. But, I see now how important it is to wait on God, still do your part, then wait on his perfect timing for all things in your life. Even if it’s a strong body and a clean bill of health.
Sometimes, things take time, and his timing is always better than our our own.
So there you have it. I can confidently and gratefully say with tears streaming down my face….
I am cancer free.
Thank you, Jesus.