Thursday, April 13, 2017
Consider the blessings
Yesterday was the day of my cancer diagnosis. It should have come as a shock or surprise, but it didn't. Dr. Errico who gave my mom and I the news said that it was so rare that she tell someone she has cancer- and then have that person laughing with her mom a minute later. She said she was dreading our appointment. The whole way to the appointment my mom and I talked about the blessings that have come to our family from all the cancer. For me alone, there have been tons in just three days. The way I found it was a miracle in itself. I don't even remember how it happened. It was Sunday afternoon, I was in sweats- I think in Cash's room. I wasn't in pain, or engorged (I was nursing then). It was like somehow my hand was just placed in the exact spot where it was and I felt it immediately. Something that was hard for a doctor (with 16 years experience!) to even find (miracle). Again, I'm nursing, so the likelihood of it being a clogged duct or something like that was really probable. Logically, I didn't think there was much to worry about- it's pretty crazy how your mind and your heart can disagree to strongly. But in my gut (or heart...but really my spirit) knew I had to get in and have it checked.
The next morning I started calling SCCA, but since it had been like 9 years since I saw an actual doctor, I couldn't get imagine just ordered. So I went through my OB who I somehow managed to get into within the next two hours (miracle!). The nurse practitioner there felt it and said it felt more like a duct or something, but with my family history, wanted me to get it checked. Gut feeling was still there. The ultrasound got ordered at SCCA within like an hour (miracle, because the last time this needed to be done, it was done all wrong and I wasn't contacted for like a month. That turned out to be an actual clogged duct haha). I got in to SCCA the very next day (miracle!). McKay came with me to the ultrasound per my grandpa's request. Which I thought was dumb because LOGICALLY I felt like this would be nothing and I hated a big deal being made out of this. I almost just wanted to go alone. We drove to Seattle and McKay said he was "99.9% sure" this was a nursing thing. Part of me believed him (my brain) and part of me was thinking just wait. So we get there and long story short, the ultrasound showed a mass. And just for clarification, an ultrasound shows fluid vs. solid- so I knew anything fluid was nursing-related. So when the technician pointed out the spot and I asked if it was solid and she responded "yes." I think we were both a little shocked. McKay stopped talking so much at that moment. haha.
She told me that there were two other things it could be (also nursing related) but those two other things just kind of dropped out of my mind. I knew what it was. And she said that the "concerning" part about the mass was that it had cloudy edges and not defined edges which would be typical of the other two things. She said someone would call me within a few days with results. And the funny thing is that normally, I would be completely freaking out and obsessing over getting that call, but in this circumstance, I wasn't at all because I already totally knew! I kind of forgot someone would be calling me. She told us to come back that afternoon for a biopsy and I'll spare the depressing details but that was probably the low point for me. We had a couple hours to kill so we went to U Village (which is my absolute favorite place to shop). It's this big pretty outdoor shopping center with all my favorite stores and it's kind of far from my house, so I have lots of memories escaping for the day with my babies and pushing them around in the sun while McKay would be working. It's like my happy place. But on that day all I noticed were the moms pushing their babies- totally blissful and happy and I felt like my days of that were over. We went into Restoration Hardware because there is this coffee table i've liked. I think McKay felt so bad for me he would have bought it that day haha. But every time we sat down on a couch I just started crying. Finally I told him I wanted to just go sit in the car. That was a time of just feeling really really scared.
We got back and had the biopsy. And just really quickly- I love the nurses there. They have the perfect bedside manner for people going through hard things. Except that they kept asking me about my kids! Which was the one aspect of this whole thing that I wasn't ready face quite yet. I remember my mom saying that when she got her cancer diagnosis, she immediately felt herself distance herself from her kids. Which I totally get. You're preparing for the worst. Laci was only 11 months (Cash is 11 months) and Lexi was three (Jonah is three). So anyways- I didn't want to go there yet.
McKay and I drove home in mostly silence. I think I started to fall asleep a little bit. We got to Micro and I dropped him off at his car and drove back to my grandma's to get my kids who all ended up being at the park. The first thing I saw was Cash in a swing smiling SO BIG. And I couldn't help thinking just how perfect he is. He is our sunshine. Really. And from that second, I never felt like I needed to distance myself from my kids at all. That was another miracle. I was blessed with the ability to feel calm and totally confident in the aspect of this whole ordeal that was (logically) the most concerning to me. The spirit always wins.
The hours in between the biopsy and my appointment were the hardest. My greatest blessing was that I knew in my heart I wouldn't die. I just felt it- in the same way that I knew the lump I found was cancer. It wasn't questionable. It was sure. And my other greatest blessing was that I was able to completely connect and love on my kiddos with an even greater capacity than I had before. It's funny how during things like this, priorities get sorted out REALLY fast. And any second I wasn't doing dishes or changing a diaper, I was on the floor with my kids playing. We even went to gymagine (and jumping on a trampoline with a baby probably isn't the smartest after a biopsy FYI). But I spend a good amount of time on my knees as well.
So the next day was when I drove back for my appointment with Dr. Errico where she gave me the diagnosis. *Side note: I had already been planning for a double-mastectomy just as a preventative measure and trying to get an appointment at SCCA to get the ball rolling. Basically, since I hadn't been there for anything besides a scan in so long, everyone was confused and no one knew quite who to refer me to. I kept getting referred to call different facets of SCCA and it was just a confusing mess. Finally, I had gotten an appointment but it wasn't until June (and all the doctors were scheduled out like that...they're really busy). But as I was scrambling to get in for an ultrasound, this scheduler told me she was going to streamline everything for me, and that she wanted to offer me an appointment with a pysician that Wednesday- in two days (which at that point I didn't know I had cancer but that appointment would be the very next day after the ultrasound when I would find out. If that isn't Heavenly Father's hand in this, I don't know what is) MIRACLE!
Dr. Errico talked to us for a little bit, gave me an exam, and gave me the diagnosis. My mom was with me the whole time. At the end of the appointment I felt informed and relieved and grateful. And Dr. Errico told me how lucky I was to have a support group of such strong women who had been through the same thing. And my mom responded that we are also "very religious." My mom's good at baring testimony to strangers. When she said that I felt kind of awkward just because we were in a doctor's office in one of the biggest and most prominent cancer-research centers in America. I mean, most of what they do is based solely on science and research. But instead of just politely nodding, Dr. Errico paused and looked right at me and with a shaky voice said, "I believe in the power of prayer." And my mom and I just nodded and each said "I do too."
President Eyring advised that when we go through hard things, we should count the miracles. For me, in just three days, there have been so many. Some that I've noticed, and some I'll probably realize later. But I know without a doubt that I have been carried. I'm starting to scratch the surface of having an understanding of the Atonement. That having our "burdens lifted" is not just a sentiment. Not just words encouraging our faith and trust in the plan of salvation. That those words are a promise given to us in mortality FOR mortality. And things that are heavy will be made light and burdens with weight will be lifted. Hard things that we SHOULD (logically...can you tell that logic isn't worth much to me these days?) feel, we just don't. All because of Him.
I'm just scratching the surface.