My Cancer Journey

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November 7, 2015

It is almost 7:30 am here in Southern California, and I’m feeling led to share a few things of a more personal nature with my readers around the world.

As many of you know, I’ve been diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, and I will undergo surgery to remove it on Tuesday, November 10th. My husband, Chuck, and I have met with the surgeon, and we found him to be a thorough and delightful individual. He performed surgery on our daughter back in September and comes highly recommended. I am in good hands.

After the surgery, I’ll have a 7-day at home recovery period before meeting with an oncologist to discuss my options for further treatment. I will likely agree to radiation therapy (4-6 weeks, 5 days per week), but I have decided not to submit to chemotherapy. Right now I am comfortable and not in any pain other than what I normally experience with fibromyalgia syndrome. Lyrica has helped me manage that “all over pain,” so I’m good on that front as well.

It’s always tempting to ask, “Why?” I’ve had LOTS of those moments over the years when faced with numerous disappointments in life. But this time I’m not giving in to that temptation, primarily because I already know the answer.

Three times yesterday I encountered individuals who poured out personal grief and fears to me — a stranger — after I mentioned that I have cancer. The first was a man who spoke very broken English, yet he told me in great detail and with tears rimming his eyes about a dear friend who died very suddenly a year ago. This man was obviously still reliving the trauma in his mind, but he seemed a bit calmer after recounting the event. And I felt as though God had placed me there in that moment as a sounding board for his pain.

The second individual was a woman behind the check-out counter at a local WalMart. I was reluctant to speak about my cancer at that moment. There were other customers waiting behind me. But it sort of “popped out” in conversation. The woman’s face changed and she began telling me about her own situation with a health problem. (She’s been to three doctors and they have all brushed off her symptoms.) I felt a little uncomfortable as she went into details that most people would have kept private. But as I started to leave, she said, “What’s your name?” I told her my name and asked for hers. Then she said, “I’m going to pray for you, and I want you to come back here and tell me all about what you’re going through!”

The third was a waitress who seems like a friend because Chuck and I have chatted  with her so often over the years. But, again, we know very little about each other. I explained that she might not be seeing me for awhile because of the surgery and whatever is to come afterward. That led to another outpouring of personal information about her need to see a doctor and her lack of health care insurance. By the time we were finished talking, though, she was laughing and I was laughing and we both felt better, even though nothing had changed.

The apostle Paul talked about “a thorn” in his flesh. This is how he came to terms with it:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

Obviously, Paul and I are both in good hands.

Thank you for partnering with me in prayer,

Paula


November 12, 2015

Thank you to everyone who prayed for successful breast cancer surgery on November 10th. I did quite well, but woke up heavily bandaged, which indicates that more tissue was removed that originally planned. My surgeon thinks that he got all of the tumor, but we don’t know yet about the sentinel lymph nodes. Waiting for the pathology results.

My follow-up appointment is scheduled for Thursday, November 19th. I may be in for some difficult news, but that’s okay. God is faithful and I know that prayer will continue for strength and courage as I continue on this journey. 

Praying for blessings in return to all who are remembering me in prayer. And to those who are experiencing difficulties as well. Stay strong, my friends!

With love in Him,

Paula


November 13, 2015

This morning I got an email from a dear woman in my Growth Group at North Coast Church. As so often happens when the Spirit is speaking through someone directly to me, she touched my heart with this verse of Scripture from The Message:

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, ‘What’s next, Papa?‘ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us — and unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (Romans 8:15-17, The Message)

Enjoy your day, my friends. I most definitely intend to enjoy mine!

Paula


November 16, 2015

Well, I’ve hit a “speed bump” in my journey: A Stage 2A cancerous tumor was found in the lymph node that was removed during my surgery on November 10th, so a follow-up surgery will be necessary to clean out my lower lymph nodes and dissect them to check for more cancer. No surgery date yet…. Sigh.


December 11, 2015

Surgery at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. Left home @ 4 a.m. Small amount of rain; beautiful, random clouds against a dark sky. After check-in, I sat next to a woman in the waiting room who asked me what kind of surgery I was having. I explained that lymph nodes were being removed, following surgery in November that removed a cancerous tumor. Then she said, “Let’s pray about that.” So we did.

Surgery lasted 2 1/2 hours with a 2-hour recovery time. Harder to wake up and get moving after this one. A drain pump was installed, but I didn’t need pain pills.


December 23, 2015

Final appointment with Dr. Exume. He removed the drain pump and PACKED my side with gauze and bandages. Trying to take anastrozole to decrease production of estrogen in my body…. Cancer feeds on estrogen. But the new medication is causing increased depression, so I won’t be taking it much longer. I’d rather die than go back to the place I was in 30+ years ago. Loving the essential oils diffuser that my “Kentucky kids” sent me. Learning about which oils are best in treating cancer. Looks like thyme and frankincense are at the top of the list. And I’m drinking ginger turmeric tea in the mornings.


January 4, 2016

Since I’ve refused chemotherapy, Dr. Godfrey has convinced me that since 7 of the 14 lymph nodes removed were cancerous, radiation treatments are wise. Met with the radiation oncologist at cCare in Rancho Bernardo. PET scan on January 9th to look for cancer remnants in other areas of my body before beginning radiation. There’s really no point if cancer cells are found in any of my vital organs.


January 9, 2016

Praising God for my prayer warriors! I was amazingly calm and sensed the Spirit’s presence during the PET scan, and my fibromyalgia pain was at the lowest level I’ve experienced in 22 years! (Received word on 1-12 that the scan showed NO CANCER!)


February 2, 2016

First appointment at cCare. Pretty stressed by the time I got there, since the facility was hard to find. Two technicians created a form for my upper body. The material used looks similar to a thick, lumpy egg carton. I will be lying in this form every day that I come for a radiation treatment. Will begin the 30 required treatments at 1:45 tomorrow (Wednesday). No longer taking anastrozole.


February 19, 2016

I awoke to the sound of “Amazing Grace.” My granddaughter was practicing piano. God’s mercies are new every morning! (I ‘ve had to raise my antidepressant dosage to counter deep depression. Doing well today.)


March 15, 2016

Final radiation treatment. I will miss the technicians who have guided me through this process. Continued prayers for each of them!


March 29, 2016

Dr. Godfrey oncology appointment. I wasn’t able to stick with the second estrogen medicine that I tried, but I’m being told that if I don’t take something, there is a more than 50% chance the cancer will return. So I’m giving it one more try and taking exemestane.


June 29, 2016

So far so good with the new medication! Had to raise my antidepressant again to counter the depression … BUT IT WORKED! Feeling great. Next mammogram and oncology appointment will happen some time in September. Once again, SO THANKFUL for all of my prayer warriors!

I have grown stronger. I feel more confident than ever before. I AM convinced, without doubt, that MY REDEEMER is calling me to use what He has taught me over the years to REACH OUT to others who need to hear (and are willing to listen to) my testimony, so that they may be encouraged.