Tomorrow I will be three fourths of the way through my cancer treatment. I will be finished with 6 of 8 ABVD chemotherapy infusions, or three of the four cycles. When instead I should be three fourths of the way through my pregnancy. I should be finishing the 30th of 40 weeks. A lot of you may not know that just before my cancer diagnosis, I had a miscarriage. We were happily expecting our fourth little baby on Cinco De Mayo – a fitting due date for this Mexican and margarita loving family.
It was September when we lost our little chilli pepper at 8 weeks gestation. The day after the miscarriage I came down with a horrible cold and spent the next two weeks in bed with terrible fatigue, a sinus infection, out-of-control hormones and overwhelming grief. After two weeks I finally caved and got an antibiotic. The swollen lymph nodes I had been feeling in my neck and chin resolved but the ones above my collar bone and in my armpit did not. When looking in the mirror it was apparent that something was wrong. My left shoulder and armpit were swollen to the point my collarbone was not visible on the left side. I started to search google and was quite alarmed by what I found. Swollen supraclavicular lymph nodes have a nearly 70% malignancy rate. They can be associated with Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or metastasized gastric or abdominal cancers. I made an appointment with my primary care physician. He referred me to an oncologist. An oncologist. Breathe. While I wasn’t surprised, I definitely wasn’t ready for it. Getting cancer was one of my greatest fears. (Just ask my kids. They’ve been reminded over and over that they don’t want to get cancer as I deny them sweets and processed junk food. Ha!) I can’t explain the anxiety I felt opening the door to the oncologist’s office and waiting in the waiting room to be seen. The oncologist confirmed that “Dr. Google” was right and the swollen nodes were cause for concern. He scheduled a biopsy. The biopsy was performed the following week resulting in a preliminary diagnosis of lymphoma. ” It’s cancer.”- two words I wasn’t hoping to hear. It took several weeks for the final pathology, Hodgkin’s lymphoma nodular sclerosing type.
From the time I scheduled my first doctors appointment, I did not sleep for two weeks. For those two weeks, I read and prayed constantly and was filled with a heart racing, panicked anxiety 24 hours a day. It was a very dark time. But God held my hand through that very dark valley, and now He’s walking me up the other side of the facing mountain. The view from here is spectacular. I am changed. I am grateful. I am more patient and more loving. I have a renewed appreciation for all the tiny and miraculous details of God’s amazing creation. I stand in awe of my gracious, compassionate God.
There is a lot more to the story between the discovery and diagnosis I talked about here and where we are now, three fourths of the way through treatment. I’ll probably fill in the blanks later about second and third opinions, supplements and natural treatment regimes, holistic doctors, raw foods diets, etc. and how God directed my steps through it all. Of course, if it were my choice, I would prefer to be ten weeks from meeting my precious baby instead of three doses away from the end of cancer treatment. But I’m not in control. God is. And He only gives us good things. As hard as it is to explain or to understand, this cancer trial has been a good thing. I have learned so much through this experience. Our destiny, both now and in eternity, is shaped by how we respond to God’s plans for us. I have been overwhelmed by love and support from family and friends, and I am often overwhelmed by God’s providential care.
My husband just reminded me of a cheesy quote that seems fitting for my photo blog: “Life is like photography. We develop from the negatives.” Is this still relevant is the age of digital photography? Ha! Well, either way it is certainly true that personal growth is accelerated by adversity.