Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reconstruction?

Reconstruction.
People ask me about it, and those who don't ask are probably wondering.

Everyone does it. Insurance pays for it.

Yet, I walk around deformed, completely flat-chested. My only attempts to hide it are with loose, ruffled clothing.

I often wonder what people think, if they even notice.

Most of the time I'm okay with it. Other times, deep emotions come to the surface. Feelings of being "damaged goods" - my femininity stripped from me, being oddly different from everyone else of my gender.

Reconstruction.
It would be purely cosmetic. The nerves on the surface are gone. The muscles underneath are still tight and sore.
The process is not fun. It is not the same as the augmentation so many women get. Reconstruction after a mastectomy entails months and months of procedures and doctor's appointments, discomfort and pain.

Even just one more day of pain, one more day of having my responsibilities put upon others, one more day of not being able to hold and cuddle my kids, is not okay. There is nothing that would make me willingly choose that path.
Prosthetics are horribly uncomfortable, maybe because I am so active. They move around into awkward positions.
There is no good solution.
There is no decision that stands out as the right one.
None of the options satisfy.

My deformity is a harsh, severe reminder of the seriousness of cancer. Life goes back to normal, but the scars remain, permanently. At times, they keep me from moving on, drawing my focus off the future, off my hope, and into the realm of the "what ifs."
I can't go there. I won't go there. I won't allow fear to steal a single moment from me.

Instead, I let my scars remind me...
of a God who is faithful to draw near in our darkest moments
of the lessons I learned that I don't want to forget
that beauty really does come from within.

So I wear my scars with confidence, remembering the scars of my Savior. Remembering the One who suffered so much more than I.

"For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." ~1 Samuel 16:7b

Monday, June 13, 2011

Anniversary

It has been a year since I was diagnosed with cancer. Friday was my anniversary. On June 10, 2010, I received the call with the results from my biopsy. All of the paperwork lists my diagnoses day as June 8th. I suppose the doctors didn't need the biopsy results to know it was cancer. They seemed to know immediately.

The funny thing about a cancer anniversary is that you are very excited to be alive to celebrate an anniversary, and at the same time you hate having a cancer anniversary. Who wants their life measured by that kind of milestone?

I wanted to have something profound to write about, but as my life slowly returns to normal and my days become busy with activity, my contemplation time is minimized and I once again get caught up in the mundane details of normal life.

I still get Herceptin treatments every three weeks. They wipe me out. My body is getting healthier, and the effects of Herceptin feel stronger in contrast.

My hair is growing in, thick and curly. It is common for post-chemo hair to be curly. It generally returns to normal after a year or so. My very supportive family teases me, telling me I look like:

The mom on Sid the Science Kid (PBS)

Mama Llama

My mom, on the other hand, thinks I'm beautiful and can't stop taking my picture. Moms are the best!




I've spent some time reflecting on this past year, what I have learned and how I have changed. In so many ways, I'm not the same person I was a year ago. Here are the results of my reflections:

1. I've developed an eternal perspective. This life is fleeting. The cares of this world, that seem so very important, are temporary.

2. I'm free from fear; fear of death, fear of man, fear of failure. I fear God, and Him alone.

3. I can face life's trials with joy and full confidence that God is in control, that He is good, and that He will work everything out for my best and for His glory.

4. I've let go. I've surrendered control. I walk by faith. I trust the Lord in a way I never did before.

5. I find joy in the little things, even things I used to despise, like house work. I love cooking. I love my little girl's constant, demanding cries for "Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY!" I love listening to my boys play, talk, and create. I love every moment of life, even the difficult ones.

6. I'm purposeful. I've learned to focus on what's important, and to spend my time accordingly.

7. I'm more compassionate. As I listen to others' trials, my heart breaks and I can't hold back tears as I feel every pain and frustration alongside them.

My friend Jonie once said to me, "I don't love cancer, but I love what it does in us." It changes our hearts, our character and our faith. I am thankful for the things I've learned, and for the opportunities I now have to impact others.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."  ~Hebrews 12:1-2