By Susan Updike
In 2009 I was turning 50.
I had never had a mammogram and decided I needed to make that my goal before my 50th birthday.
So I did what I promised myself and went for my first mammogram. A few days passed and I figured I was in the clear. However, I received a call that something needed to be rechecked so I was rescheduled for further testing.
THE BAD NEWS THE GOOD NEWS AND THE NOT-AS-BAD NEWS
On April 28TH, 2009 I heard what I thought was the most horrible news I could ever hear. I had stage 1 non-invasive ductual carcinoma cancer.
All that was going through my mind was,
“I have breast cancer?? How can this be happening to me?”
We found out that the mass was very large. The good news was the doctors felt that the cancer was contained in my milk ducts. After all considerations were discussed, I chose to go with a complete mastectomy.
We received the results of the dissected lymph nodes that no cancer is any longer present. However, the doctor found two spots less than 1 millimeter in size that were out of my milk ducts.
AND SO IT CONTINUES
We consulted with our oncologist and it was decided chemotherapy was not recommended. I was put on an anti-cancer drug called Tamoxifen to help prevent the cancer from coming back. Over time I healed and finally my life continued as it was for the most part.
In April of 2012 I began to experience some discomfort on the right side of my chest. I was pulling weeds and thought I had over used my muscles.
A month later we were away from home a
nd I suddenly felt extreme pain in my right shoulder blade. So severe I was unable to lay down or sleep. As soon as we returned, I went to my 6 month appointment and an MRI was scheduled.
MORE BAD NEWS MORE CANCER
On Monday June 25th, 2012 I received the call at work, my life was about to change once again. The cancer was growing on my chest wall, wrapped around my ribs and onto the outer lining of my lung.
I had stage 4 breast cancer.
The pressure from the mass cracked my ribs. Due to the size and location of the cancer I was told that it was inoperable and they were unable to do radiation. I could be treated with chemotherapy and they would try to prolong my life as long as possible.
The doctors said,
“We will get you through a few months, hopefully a year or two.”
No, we were not satisfied with that response. We requested help to get a second opinion.
A call was made to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. We were told by the doctor at UW that treatment was needed within 2 weeks, but we could not get an appointment for 6 weeks. My wonderful daughter-n-law even called the doctor and asked her if there was anything she could do. Sadly, the doctor said it was out of her hands and there was nothing she could do to help.
I went into a very dark place after that. I felt as if my life were coming to an end and there was nothing I could do to change the situation.
LIVE FOR TODAY
My 3rd oldest son’s family was living with us at the time. He could see me crumbling. He asked me if it was okay for his pastor to come and talk with me. Pastor Mayes came to our home we talked and prayed.
He said three very simple, yet powerful words to me,
“LIVE FOR TODAY…there is nothing we can do about tomorrow, so seize today.”
Those simple words helped change my life.
ANGELS APPEARED THAT EVENING
My husband needed to return to work the following day and a coworker asked him how we were handling all of this. He told my husband he had a classmate who works at Mayo Clinic and he would call him to see if there was anything he could do to help. Two days later we received a call from the coworkers friend who works at Mayo. He said he looked over my reports and spoke with a breast cancer specialist. The specialist could see me within a week. I was seen at Mayo that Thursday.
Wow, what an amazing God we have!
The night before my appointment, I had a very vivid dream. Billboards were flashing at me saying, “EXPECT A MIRACLE!” We left for my appointment the next morning and I felt a peace in my heart. A feeling I had not felt for so long.
CANCER BUT BLESSED
Doctor Goetz is another angel that was brought into my life. He went over all my records and ordered all the testing that he thought I needed. They determined, as in my past, that my tumor was inoperable and radiation was still out of the question. However, they were able to detect a protein in my body that was actually feeding the cancer. They treated me with chemotherapy along with another drug that has been shown to shut down this specific protein. I was told it has a very high success rate. Dr. Goetz informed us of other patients that were using this drug. Many of the patients have been using it for 10-15 years plus and still show no signs of cancer.
There is no cure at this time for my cancer, however this gave me great hope for the future.
So the chemo began. My body felt very ragged as if I had been hit by a semi. I felt very weak. I found myself breaking down quite frequently.
My three year old granddaughter Avery looked at me and said,
“It’s going to be okay Grandma, I have a Father and his name is Jesus and he is going to take care of you”.
God spoke to me through the mouth of my precious granddaughter. I truly believe that. As I was falling little Avery reminded me that I could expect a miracle.
NO CANCER PRESENT
I travel every three weeks now for my treatment to the Mayo Clinic. This treatment is to kill the protein feeding the cancer. My most recent PET scan was taken on September 23rd, 2015. The results came back stating, no cancer present.
I praise and thank God every day for all of the blessings he has given to me. I have this special scripture in my kitchen placed by my sink as a reminder:
Do not worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and thank Him for everything. ~ Philippians 4:6
Although I would not have chosen to have cancer, I now see it as a blessing. My journey has been enriched with beautiful people and experiences. It has taken on new meaning and a new direction. Cancer has shown me the importance of knowing all your options and having hope.
For anyone who is struggling with cancer please know that there is Hope along this journey. Never give up, and hold on to your faith in God.
Not sure if you should be exercising during treatment? Find this answer and more, Breast Cancer and Fitness
EAT HEALTHY, BE FIT AND KEEP FIGHTING!
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