Gratitude for Breast Cancer

So ask the great gals in my Book Group.  I am always preaching about gratitude and how we have to be thankful for everything, blah blah blah blah blah!!  I must admit, until this point in the journey, I haven’t been able to be grateful for much of anything having to do with Breast Cancer.  So I made a decision that I was going to try to be grateful.

I am grateful for the Little Lump that appeared out of nowhere on my breast.  Both the radiologist and surgeon told me that Little Lump saved my life as it then allowed them to discover the Big Lump that was hidden, undiscovered and difficult to feel.  No medical expert paid any attention to Little Lump.  They dismissed that as nothing.  They aren’t even sure why Little Lump appeared.  It may just be fluid and not tumor.  Little Lump, I will always be grateful for you!  You are going to lose your life along with Big Lump, but it is a sacrifice that I will never forget.

Okay, so how am I doing in the gratitude department?  Just a bit lame talking about Big and Little Lump like they are cartoon characters.  But it helps to reduce their power. 

An old friend who happens to be a Roman Catholic Priest told me he would give me five years before he expected me to have any gratitude for Breast Cancer.  I am a little competitive.  I am going to try and beat that five-year goal he gave me. 

I know I will have alot to be grateful for and thank God for the grace to recognize what those things are.  But, I think my friend who gave me five years is very wise.  Sometimes it takes awhile to find gratitude in difficult situations and that’s okay.   Just don’t tell the gals in my Book Group!

Celebrating Victories with Breast Cancer

I have “flipped” several houses in my life and always loved that challenge.  But I remember one particular house that was in such disrepair and needed so much work, it was absolutely overwhelming.  In order to have the tenacity to complete the job, I had to break the restoration of this house into very small projects and celebrate each and every victory.   When I looked at the whole picture, I knew I would never finish it.   But when I celebrated finishing a room or a project at a time,  it energized me.  Finally, after many celebrations of small accomplishments, the house was complete and turned out to be a profitable endeavor with a victorious ending.  And so I remember that house tonight, and the lessons I learned from it. 

I have now completed the Diagnostic Phase of my Breast Cancer journey.  That includes the horror of the discovery of the lump and facing my own mortality for the very first time.  Then the first visit to my family doctor, and the subsequent mammogram.  Denise, the Radiologist wants to speak with you and your breath catches in your lungs.   So you meet the  Radiologist still in your mammogram robe with the strings you don’t know where to tie, and he tells you that definitely there is “something there” and more underneath that definitely need to be biopsied.  It concludes the actual biopsy and waiting for the dreaded call that you knew in your soul was coming.  The morning your family doctor calls and tells you, “Denise, it is not good.”  She didn’t need to say anymore as she has been my doctor since I was in my 20s.  I knew what that meant.

It concludes making the call to the University of Michigan Breast Cancer Center, gathering the records from my local hospital and going into the Cancer Center for the first time.   I had to breathe very deeply because if I didn’t, I knew I would faint for the first time in my life when I realized I was now a patient in a Cancer Center.    Now finished is the all-day visit with a team of doctors who elaborated very clearly on what “Denise, it is not good” really involved.

Drawing to a close is when the news was delivered that I needed a mastectomy, lymph node removal, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstructive surgery.  But the biggest conclusion is from all of those dreaded tests – the bloodwork, the CT Scan and the bone scan and waiting for the telephone calls.  Oh, we see something on the bone scan.  There is alot of uptake on two spots.  MRI time for 90 minutes in the tube.  And more waiting.  And then the good news starts – organs clear including your brain, spine is okay, but still a little question on a leg bone.  Time for a plain, old-fashioned x-ray!

It concludes the final call, oh you do have a little spot on your femur but surgeon and oncologist agree, it looks benign.  No biopsy. 

And so I ask you to celebrate with me!  We’ve come a long way.  I couldn’t have done it on my own.   God pointed the way and friends and family held me up.  Thank you!!  There are many more celebrations to come!

Emotional Meltdown days with Breast Cancer

Yesterday was an emotional meltdown day.  It was the worst of them for me.  I felt like everything came crashing down on me, and my coping skills were totally evaporated.  So an old friend called me who has known me since the 5th grade.  She knows how independent, stubborn and self-sufficient I am.  In no uncertain terms she told me, “Denise, you cannot do your own surgery!”   And then, “You have to ask your friends to help.  They want to help, and you need help.  I know that is hard for you to hear, but it is what you need to do.”

I didn’t take her words lightly.  This is an old, proven and very trusted friend who loves me and has my best interests at heart.  It was God speaking to me through her. 

So today I started asking for help.  I looked at what things I were making me feel overwhelmed.  Learning the post-mastectomy exercises were too demanding for me, so I called a friend who has exercised faithfully for years.  She was thrilled I asked her help.   Then I called friends and asked them if they would give me rides when I need them and come pick me up and take me out of the house after surgery!   Again, they really wanted to help!   Suddenly, my burdens were lifted.  The world became a brighter place.  And many mini-miracles happened to me throughout the day.

The downword spiral had turned around.  Lesson learned.  I needed help and help arrived.

Remember to ask for help.  God will meet your needs!


Good News during Breast Cancer

So after weeks of bad news upon bad news, I received great news yesterday.  My cancer  is not in any other organs including brain and bones!  I was ecstatic when my Nurse Practitioner delivered the news.  But I had been preparing for bad news in order to cope.

A few minutes after I received the good news, I went into what I will call Frozen Shock Syndrome.   I was immobile and had difficulty functioning.   Even a taking a shower seemed like an impossible feat. Slowly, as the day went on I was able to truly absorb the news.  I talked to a counselor friend.  She stated that I was in bad news high emotion mode for so many weeks, it was difficult to comprehend good news.   

I would never have believed you could have had a reaction to positive news like I did.  It just took some time to filter down into my being so I could really absorb what it meant.  But by the time I went to bed, it must have totally absorbed because I slept for 7 hours straight which I haven’t done in two months!

Juicing for Life

Well, I must say since I started organic vegetable juicing 3 weeks ago, I have acquired a taste for it!  The experts say carrots, beets, broccoli and pomegranates are the absolute best juicing for Breast Cancer patients.  I am up to 3 – 8 ounce glasses per day of this fresh juice concoction.  My physician says not only will it help your body to kill cancer cells, it will prevent recurrence.  Carrots are the best vegetable to prevent cancer because of all of the beta carotene according to the experts.

One thing, I cannot believe the energy I have since juicing.  First your body goes through quite a detox and you can’t be more than 30 seconds away from a bathroom.  That does get better after the first week, and then you start to feel more alive.   Now that I am at the three-week mark, I notice little aches and pains of arthritis are going away.  I haven’t had any headaches.  My blood sugar seems more even.  And my blood pressure is lower.

This juicing really does work.  It isn’t just a myth.  So if you want to get serious about it, I suggest a very inexpensive juicer to start.  Black and Decker has a great model that is sold on Amazon for less than $30.00 with free shipping!

You don’t need a $400.00 juicer.  This does the trick.  Do juice with ORGANIC vegetables.  Most grocery stores do sell them.  My local Kroger often has them on sale as does my local Meijer.  You can buy bulk carrots at Costco for 69 cents per pound.  The average price is about $1.00 per pound.

While juicing you feel you are taking control, the Breast Cancer isn’t taking control of you!  And that is a wonderful, powerful feeling!!  Help your body prevent cancer and start juicing!  You will be glad you did!

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Living 24 hours at a time with Breast Cancer

Before my diagnosis  of Breast Cancer, I don’t think I was very good at living “one day at a time”.  However, that is the biggest lesson I have learned so far is to concentrate on just today.  Truly, it is all any of us have.  We can plan for just about anything.  Or we can pretend we know how we might feel 6 months from now.   But we have no idea how we will feel or what our life circumstances might be.

I am take charge person who wants to solve everyone else’s problems.  That is the old me.  The new me realizes I can’t solve much of anything.  Before diagnosis, I took on about every problem I could possibly take on in a day.  Now I am learning to let go.  Concerning myself about something I have no control over isn’t worth the energy it takes me to care!   There is tremendous relief in realizing that fact.   How quickly you can change when you have to change.

Living for today brings me peace.  Living for today doesn’t mean I am irresponsible or living it up while I can.  It means relying on God for what I need today.  Today I am not having surgery, nor having chemo, nor radiation.  I have hair today.  There are no tests being done to me today.   God will provide me the courage and strength I need when I need it.  Not before.  Today I am at peace.