Can You Say “Stage One” Five Times?

There it was…a lump in my right breast. I wasn’t looking for it, my hand just slid across a hard little lump during my shower that evening in January. I knew God had guided my hand over that exact spot because it remained elusive to being found again for several minutes.

Let me back up several decades… to my formative years. At the young age of eight, I climbed into bed with my mom one early Saturday morning after dad had left for work, and asked her how to invite Jesus into my heart. From that day forward I had a strong faith that only deepened when I married my high-school sweetheart at eighteen and became a mom to two sons in my early twenties. Our sons took us on a roller-coaster journey through possible leukemia, ADHD, fractured skulls, (yes both of them from different accidents) a dog attack to the face, and multiple other injuries that sent me scurrying to the closest first-aid course. I too, found myself dealing with multiple health issues that no one seem to be able to diagnose or help relieve the symptoms of. In 1986 I found myself in a women’s Bible Study at our church called “Diet, Discipline and Discipleship.” It intrigued me because much of my pain came from eating. I would later see that this study was homework for the biggest lesson of my life.

Here it was now 1991, and once again the doctors had no answers. A mammogram and ultra-sound revealed nothing, but I saw my doctor each month for a year. Each time she palpated the lump concluding that it was not changing. At the year anniversary we decided it would be prudent to just have me keep a watchful eye and report any change.

Fast forward and it is now spring of 1994: Our lives were full of activity with one son still in high school. I was happy to be a mom, wife and now model and actress. But, then – it happened again as my hand slipped over my soapy breast…a second lump just a short distance from the first.

Another mammogram and ultrasound to help diagnose – this time adding an MRI, and still the lumps remained invisible. I recall the doctor’s words being something like “well, we really should probably just take them out” and biopsies were scheduled. I had none of the risk factors for breast cancer – at least none that had been determined by 1994, so each medical professional I saw before and during the procedure assured me all was going to be fine. But everything was NOT fine. The words “cancer” and “multi-centric” were uttered before my husband and I walked out of the surgical room that day.
Life felt like a whirlwind over the next few weeks as I began to learn more about my specific diagnosis: multi-centric infiltrative ductal carcinoma. To spare you all the medical verbiage let’s move fast forward to about three weeks later when the final diagnosis came in following a subsequent surgery. They had found a total of five separate tumors – all in one-quarter of my right breast. The good news was I had five separate tumors; meaning none had metastasized, so the doctor did not have to add together the sizes of the tumors to stage me. The bad news was I had five separate tumors, which is all but unheard of!
Thus my cancer journey began. My faith was tested as my health eluded me…but, my faith became stronger, and more personal than before. “Thank you God for Breast Cancer” will be the continuation of my story. Please check back in a couple of days to read it.