It struck me this morning that I’ve reached the first of many upcoming first anniversary milestones regarding my breast cancer journey.
It was August 27, 2012. I naively set off for my noontime mammogram appointment at the Sandton Clinic believing it would be just another annual routine. I was so unconcerned about it that I scheduled it while John was in Zimbabwe on a ministry trip. I anticipated that I would be in and out of the appointment without much incident.
How wrong I was.
This particular mammogram appointment was not routine. I remember some of the doctor’s words with great clarity. While other words evaporated into memories of confusion and fear. I just don’t remember everything that was said. I remember crying though.
I cried because I did not know what was ahead.
I cried because John was in Zimbabwe and I was dealing with this news alone.
I cried because our furlough was scheduled and I was afraid if cancer was confirmed, then our plans would be altered.
I cried because I wondered what I had possibly done to cause this situation.
I cried because I had no idea that cancer was growing inside my body
I cried because I wasn’t ready to die yet.
This first anniversary marks the first initial information point that cancer was present in my body. More anniversary markers are ahead – a biopsy the following week that would confirm cancer’s presence; a surgery, seven and a half weeks of radiation treatments and now today, follow-up appointments and evaluations. I have already had three follow-up appointments this year. My next one is scheduled for October.
As I sit here, typing on my computer, I am reflecting upon all of these cancer events from the previous year. I am truly changed by it all.
Am I glad I had cancer?
I don’t know if that’s the correct question.
Am I glad for the things I have learned and continue to learn through my cancer journey?
In answer to this second question, I want to share these words of David…
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust…. Psalm 40: 3-4a NIV
When we go through something significant, like breast cancer for me; the experience offers an opportunity to trust our God in a new way. I have friends and family who have lived with cancer. However, cancer became part of my personal life story in 2012. My Lord guided me through new territory as I maneuvered through the mammograms, ultrasounds, scans, biopsy, surgery and radiation treatments.
As I walked this unique journey with cancer, I began to sing in a new way – just like David had. Waiting upon my God for his help and his healing, I found Him to be so faithful, so loving, and so patient. He instilled within me a strong sense of courage and faith that no matter what was ahead, my God would be there and He would take me through it.
In addition, the tremendous amount of support I received from family and friends both in South Africa and across the world was incredibly humbling and incredibly uplifting. I felt the thousands of prayers that were being spoken on my behalf. I resolved to walk forward upon the love and support of those prayers with gratitude.
Here I am, one year on from that first appointment that communicated that I had a 98% indication of breast cancer. Here I am, one year on, and I am cancer-free.
I am still singing new songs of praise and gratitude that would have been learned no other way than through my experience with cancer. If others were encouraged and blessed as I shared my journey and if they put greater faith and trust in their God as they heard my experiences, well then…to God be the glory.
For me, I am blessed.
I have a loving and faithful husband. I have three fun-loving, special and growing-in-Christ sons. I have an incredible family. I have awesome friends. I have a life in which I am living to the fullest; with courage, with joy, and with faith.
Thank you. Thank you to my family and friends for walking this journey with me. Perhaps we are all singing a new song as a result.
I love you.
Photo by Thivierr of Flickr