Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the C-word

The C-word I'm referring to is cancer. It's a small word filled with so much. Uncertainty. Fear. Sickness. Hope. Freedom. This word isn't completely foreign to me. My first encounter with it was in 1987ish when my mom was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. It wasn't until years later that I learned how serious the disease was. Fortunately for her (well, from my kid perspective) it was a short fight that she won. Ten years later she would be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Once again the fight was short and she was victorious. Cancer 0, Nancy 2. In 2008 my dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. His treatment was aggressive and he is now cancer free as well. Cancer 0, Charles 1. Needless to say cancer has touched my life.
In the past week it's impacted my life even more. On Friday, June 4th I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I noticed a large mass in my right breast. Since I'm nursing I figured it had to do with that and most people thought the same. "It's a clogged duct, massage it." "Maybe it's a breast infection." So, I massaged. I applied hot compresses. I even got an antibiotic. There were also moments of tenderness under my arm. After a few months of this and no changes I figured it was time to get it checked out. The NP I saw was immediately concerned. She wanted me to get an ultrasound and see a breast specialist. I went in for the ultrasound on a Friday and I knew. It could have been the response of the ultrasound tech or the news from the radiologist that it could be one of two things: a lactating adenoma or cancer. Apparently they look just alike in an ultrasound, so they would need to do a biopsy to really know. I got this scheduled for the following Wednesday. In those few days Adam and I talked a lot about the possibilities. I asked some friends to pray for the appointment. I was feeling okay going into the biopsy, but during the procedure I was totally struck by the scariness of it. I was having a breast biopsy. I felt small and scared. I told God the Friday before as I waited for the ultrasound that I trusted Him. And I do. He has a tight grip on us and is carrying us through this trial. Right away Isaiah 43 came to mind:
But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
I have clung to these words since that day and I have felt His presence in each moment. I'm okay with the trials (the flood, rivers, or fire), they exist because we live in a fallen world. What comforts me is that He promises (promises) to be with me in and through them. Oh, I love that.

Okay, so I would say I did have a "gut feeling" that this was cancer, but I wasn't going to worry. We had to wait 2 days for the results. Holy Moly. The first day was okay, but the second, Friday was torture. I felt nervous and anxious. I just wanted to know. At 3pm I talked to nurse Ruth who told me that it was indeed cancer and all they knew was that it was the invasive type. Next step: see a surgeon. Fortunately, I already had this appointment b/c the NP referred me to see him (the breast specialist) 2 weeks prior. More waiting. I would say for the most part, the weekend was good. I got my nails done in RED, my new favorite thing. We went to church, and although it was scary and overwhelming, it was good to be there for sure. And the song we sang when we got there...Isaiah 43. Seriously. Once Tuesday got here I was feeling more nervous. This was the day we'd learn more about my cancer. Our meeting with the surgeon/breast specialist was great. I'm not sure if it's because we were both semi-expecting to hear bad news or what. But the Lord lifted our spirits and allowed for some humor in the midst of the meeting. My sister came with us to take notes and help translate. But he was great. Very thorough. So, I did learn that the biopsy of the lymph nodes came back inconclusive. Good news except by exam and ultrasound they are still enlarged so he wants to do another biopsy. My tumor is pretty significant, around 10-12 cm. He says I'll need all chemo, radiation, and surgery; starting with chemo first. (I am a little excited about losing my hair. weird, I know.) We'll talk more with the oncologist about chemo. His hope with chemo is to a) kill the cancer and b) shrink the tumor. But, we won't know how my body responds to it until we do it. He wants me to get genetic testing to see if I have the breast cancer gene (BRCA 1 or 2) b/c this will most likely determine some of the treatment (there is a 50% chance of recurrence in the other breast if I am positive for the gene, then there are implications for ovarian cancer...he started talking about freezing eggs. but that was too much for me). The really great thing is that we left with a plan:
1) Have MRI and Mammogram
2) meet with Oncologist
3) Genetic testing
4) Follow up with him to discuss results of #1 and do another biopsy on lymph nodes
As an administrator, I like lists. So, I like to see that I have a list of things "to do." I mean, there is still waiting that has to be done and more tests. But right now it doesn't feel so scary. I am just so thankful they can treat this. I have been gathering an army for the past few days. I do feel like I'm going into battle. Not only am I vulnerable physically, I'm vulnerable spiritually. I could not and cannot do this without the Lord. He sustains me. He surrounds me with His people who are lifting up my name to Him daily. He gives me peace and comforts me. He is with us in this. I am so thankful.
Ways to pray for us:
- pray for Adam and I to make time for each other that isn't all about me having cancer. pray he would have outlets like I do
- pray for me as I have to wean and I'm so sad about that. I'm sad this could possibly be the last time I ever nurse.
- pray for peace in the waiting. i'm not the most patient of people.
- pray that we would graciously receive from others; whether it's food, babysitting, resources, or whatever. that we would not be too proud
- pray for wisdom as we nail down treatments. for the doctors.
- pray for the tests happening this week that the results won't show anything new (ie more cancer)
- praise God for already preparing the way...I was about to go part-time with YL and lose my benefits. this all literally happened days before and I am able to keep my benefits. pray that God will provide the money to help YL sustain me through this.
- and of course, pray for healing.
Thank you for walking in and through this with us. We are humbled that God wants to use us to bring Him glory. I'd be lying if I didn't wish it was another way. But, this is the way for now and my hope is that He will strength our marriage, our relationships with him, our family, and our community. And now, "fight like a girl" with me!


sarahpay said...

Amy, Adam & Charis, we want to join your "team". You are already bringing glory to your father and we count it an honor to walk with you in prayer, offering whatever else we can. Even this morning God has used you to bring perspective and encouragement to my weary soul. Thank you.

Lauren said...

amy, i've been reading your blog for a while - i found you through Courtney...i'll be praying for your family as you go through this journey. as sarah said, you have certainly brought perspective this morning. may god bless you and keep you through this!

carrie luke said...

Please sign us up for team Patwa: Fight like a Girl.:)

praying for you amy.

Cammie Howard said...

Hey Amy! I will be praying for you and fighting with you thru this!! I do know how to fight like a girl! Love to you!

bestgalphotography said...

Hi! This is Sarah (used to be Brown, we did some YL together, I worked for the Charlotte Eagles, etc. and so on...) I am not sure how I came to blog stalk you but I have so enjoyed how you write about your precious growing family. :) Praying for your complete healing and joyous restoration! Much prayers and love from South Carolina.

Anna said...

I am on my knees for you and will continue to be as you fight through this! God has once again chosen an AMAZING person to be his example to others through such struggle. I hope you can take comfort in the fact that people all over the state are praying for you that you don't even know. Thank you for being an example and glorifying Him even when and especially when life is so hard. Prayers and Blessings-Anna (Jacks) Juby

ccreynolds said...

love you my friend!

Carri said...

Praying for you, Adam and Charis.

Jen Guzi said...

Praying for Team Patwa and planning to fight alongside you, Amy.

Kelly said...

Amy! You are such a great writer-real, clear, and it shows your heart. Please know Craig and I are lifting you and Adam and Charis up in prayer. I'm so thankful to know you.
We love you guys! Kelly Humberd

sharon clark said...

lots of love to my favorite amy p. team amy! i'm gonna need a t-shirt :) xoxo!

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the update Amy - love you and am praying for you and your sweet family!

steph said...

amy- although we don't know each other, through my sister (jen hunt) you feel like a distant friend. you have been and will continue to be in my prayers. sending love from va- stephanie

Farrell said...

Amy, thanks for posting..it is so encouraging to hear how you are trusting the Lord in the midst of this trial. i know you may not always feel like that but thankfully His faithfulness doesn't waiver the way our feeling do. PTL! Praying for you! Love you! and i love this pic of Charis!!

The Eichs said...

Amy - I have been praying for you since I got an email from Courtney last week and didn't even realize it was you she was talking about. I am part of your Army!! Thanks for writing being so open and transparent. Praying for you friend.


Cameron and Megan said...

We are praying.
(We have never met, but I ran across you blog via the McDaniel's blog.)
We are praying.

pjbmomx2 said...

Amy, we will be praying for you. My mom is a 16 year cancer survivor and when we were going through this with her I claimed this verse as my hope:
1 Peter 5:10

10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I hope this will comfort you and wish you a full recovery. God bless you and your sweet family.

Kathy B said...

I am a friend of your mom's. We go to Calvary Memorial Church together. Just wanted to let you know we are praying for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

This is Mrs. Karmin from the Central Church Weekday Preschool. I want you to know that when I learned of this news I felt it deep within my heart. I am a mommy and I want you to know that I will commit to praying for you and I will stand in the gap lifting you up as you walk through this season of life. If you need us please do not hesitate to call me. We are looking forward to having Charis in our Preschool Program in the fall and we will count it a great honor to care for her and love her each day. Many blessings and prayers, Karmin Cyr - CCWP

Richter, Alexandra said...

Way to glorify the Almighty God and persevere through trials! You don't know me, but I'll definitely be praying for you, Sister. We're all the body of Christ! :)