Saturday, September 3, 2011

What a Difference Two Weeks Makes...

Two weeks ago, my life changed forever.  I didn't fall in love, give birth to a beautiful child, discover the cure for a disease, or save a life...I was officially diagnosed with cancer.  What a difference 2 weeks, 14 days, 336 hours or 20,160 minutes makes in your life.  You may have compassion and understanding for the diagnosis, but until you have heard the words spoken to yourself, "You have cancer", you just can't fully comprehend the magnitude of those three words.

In those two weeks, I have said, written and done things I never thought I would do in my life, and run the entire spectrum of emotions.  Telling my children that "Mommy has cancer", as well as answering all of their questions (especially the ones a nine-year old can come up with), are some of the most difficult conversations I have ever had. My husband has held me while I've cried, and I've held him when he cried.  I have had to accept the fact that I have breast cancer, and face the challenge head on. I never thought I would be snuggling up with my son, looking at a wig catalog, either...but it happened this week.  People have commented on my great attitude...but I want to ask, "What would you have me do instead?"  It may try, but cancer will not define me.

I have been overwhelmed with  love and support during the past two weeks.   Not only my family, but folks from my hometown , childhood friends, college friends, new friends, co-workers, church family, teachers, and students have reached out with their words of encouragement, offering their prayers and love.  It has been overwhelming, and often the messages have caused more tears of love, rather than tears of fear.  Without that support and love, I'm certain that my attitude and outlook would be very different!

As I'm sure with every major diagnosis, there has been a fleeting moment, where even my religion has been questioned.  I say fleeting, because how anyone can not rely on their faith when dealing with a diagnosis, such as cancer, is beyond me.  I believe and have faith in my God, and know that He has a plan for me and my diagnosis.  If the journey is not favorable, I know that I will have eternal life. So many wonderful and inspiring verses and passages have been shared with me over the past two weeks, too.  My favorite Bible verses (since childhood) are Proverbs 3: 5-6, and is what I rely on daily during my journey with cancer.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
      And lean not on your own understanding;
       6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      And He shall direct your paths. 
During the past two weeks, we've had a crash course in breast cancer.  (You know me, I've researched, read, highlighted and made lists about breast cancer!)  IDC, ER, PR, HER2, BRCA, Surgical Margins, and Sentinel Lymph Node are just a few of the new words in my vocabulary.  In two weeks, I've also had an MRI, another appointment with the surgeon, appointment with the Oncology Nurse Navigator, scheduled surgery, and had my pre-op appointment.

I have also noticed that face to face, people act differently around you.  First of all, they quickly glance at your chest. (Maybe I should put a big bow on the right one?)  They also tend to be one extreme or the other in their words, (though this statement doesn't apply to don't get offended,☺) quickly offering their sympathy, or not knowing what to say.  Most men fall into the second category.  They acknowledge your situation with a nod or smile (which often can speak much emotion), but when it comes to words, they are at a loss.  Friends and my child's friends no longer know what to say.  Others, are often ready to share their breast cancer stories.  Although they are heartfelt and meant to be reassuring, no breast cancer cases are exactly alike.  The encouragement about so many breast cancer survivors is incredible, but it might not be the best idea to share a story about some 90 year old grandmother who has breast cancer, with a newly diagnosed 38-year old, mother of three.

Two weeks have shown me that I am a strong woman, and that with God's grace, and the love of my family and friends, I will survive.  I may question the path that I am on, but I'm here now, and must travel the road called "Breast Cancer".

Last night, the Jones County High School Marching Greyhounds wore pink ribbons on their uniforms in memory of a fellow band mom, Kelly Pittman Swafford.  Kelly courageously lost her battle with breast cancer Thursday.  It was quite emotional to see all of those students with their pink ribbons.  Please keep the Pittman-Swafford family in your prayers.

1 comment:

tracy said...

shelby, i still think your brave, yes u did choose a good attitude but u could have chosen to give in to the fear and u didn't. I will will be praying for your co workers family :)