The Breast Cancer Diaries | Part 5Laura Ann Miller
12/20/21 | Monday
Even though I continually look to God for comfort throughout this trial my mind is a mess. By that I mean my thoughts wander- I wake up thinking about all the appointments and things to come, Christmas presents I need to wrap, the outpatient surgery for my port placement…
I wonder if we’re making the right decision after we’ve had peace about the process this whole time. It feels as though the nearer we get to the start of everything I just want to hit pause on all of it.
So with my brain in a fog I ended up at my dentist appointment a day early. It’s a pretty little office less than a mile from the ocean, so I left and took the time to go to the beach and read and swim. Time to be alone. Time to cry. My last time swimming in the ocean before I begin chemo on this perfect beach day.
When I got home I realized I completely forgot to cry while I was alone in the water.
And then I also forgot to log in to my incredible critique group’s zoom meeting, which I lead… Thank goodness for these beautiful ladies, their grace, and prayers for me tonight.
I read this passage from my Grandma’s devotional Bible this morning and I’m reflecting on how beautiful this Psalm is:
“The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living.”
I feel as though I am being brought low in this cancer…
Bring me rest from all my anxious thoughts.
Bring me away from death
and heal me,
So that I may walk before you
in the land of the living.
12/22/21 | Wednesday | Purpose In Suffering?
He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.
Trust in all the hard parts
Trust in all the scary parts to come
Trust in all the good
Trust in all the in between
Trust this too shall pass
Delight in the Lord
Why do we look for purpose to suffering?
For 34 years my brother lived his life in a broken body. He could not run or walk or talk with us. Finding the “good” that came through his accident (David suffered a brain injury at 8 years old when he was hit by a car on the way to his school bus) always bothered me. The idea of looking for the good… It did not seem to me there could ever be enough good that could justify my brother’s suffering. I asked God “why?” throughout my life growing up.
I realize I thought these “good things” were answers, justification… but there is a separation from suffering being good and the good things which can come from it.
I don’t desire to ask God “why?” about this cancer.
But then I think of my Uncle’s question and answer in a comment to my previous post–
“What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
-The Westminster Shorter Catechism
And this passage in John when Lazarus dies and Jesus heals him-
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.”
I would not be wise to walk this road without considering purpose or change or strengthened trust and faith in God to see me through.
I don’t wallow in it, but I cannot escape why?
…even if it’s a gentle whisper.
What does it mean to glorify God through suffering?
12/23/21 | Thursday | Port Placement
I woke up thinking about this verse, And by his wounds we are healed.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
–Isaiah 53:5 NIV
My sister shared this verse with me at the beginning of my diagnosis, I read it again this week in my Grandma’s Devotional Bible and it was written in a card we received last night. Now etched on my heart.
As I got ready for this surgery this morning I realized how calm I am. This has to be answered prayer. If you know me, my aversion to needles, to blood, IVs, hospital type things, you would understand this answered prayer for peace. No part of me wants to proceed with any of the things to come, but I am not in fear right now.
Embarrassing true story
I left my new husband’s side while he was in the ER!
Mike and I hadn’t even been married a year and we found ourselves at the ER because he had what the intake nurse marked as ‘severe head pain.’ I needed to sign paperwork giving permission for a spinal tap to rule out a stroke. He was moaning in pain and incoherent, waving his arm with the IV tube around and I felt nauseous and scared. I tried to sit on the floor and breathe, but the nurse came in and scolded me, “Honey! You can’t sit there! That floor is dirty! Get up.” I needed fresh air fast. “I’m so sorry sweetie!” I told Mike as I frantically made my way out of that awful place, past the people on gurneys being rushed in from a car accident and out into the parking lot. The happy ending: We both walked out together later that day, no stroke, just a severe migraine.
Mike is much better to me in his hospital care of me than I was to him.
Another verse came to mind as I felt in wonder of my calm this morning,
“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.”
–Psalm 3:3 NLT
We used to sing this Psalm in my parent’s church when I was young.
A shield about me. Thank you Jesus.
I held together pretty well waiting for the surgery. I kissed Mike goodbye and the nurse took me back. I got the awkward blue hospital gown, but the best part was I was able to keep my black yoga pants and cute blue Reeboks on. Some semblance of normalcy. But it ended there because I was lying on a gurney bed behind the nurses station the day before Christmas Eve. I heard the phone calls, I saw the other patients, the doctors and nurses busy working. I watched and listened as I waited my turn. I prayed for the other patients as they came by. Most of the nurses were wearing Christmas shirts or Santa hats and Christmas music was playing in the background. My favorite, O Holy Night came on and it made me smile to hear the nurses loved it too. I overheard one of them say, “you need to raise a hand in the air to sing this song properly.”
The two nurses who cared for me were men. I was a little worried about this at first since my care team so far has been all female. I can only explain this gives me some feeling of comfort in my care for breast cancer. A common ground of understanding.
I know in the medical field this probably makes no sense. Like the time my little boy was having surgery and I told him afterwards we’d get him ice cream or popsicles and the anesthesiologist looked at me and said, “You don’t need to do that, it won’t help his throat feel better.” But Dear Anesthesiologist, it will help me, my little boy’s mom, feel better. And so we got him a giant stuffed shark pillow and ice cream after his surgery. We all felt better.
Regardless of my emotions and sentimentality, my two male nurses were fantastic. They took care of me while I waited, noticed when I was looking anxious, turned down my lights so I could rest and wrapped me in warm blankets. I am grateful for them and their care.
12/24/21 | Friday | Christmas Eve
Tonight we’re home. I’m a little bruised and sore from the surgery. I don’t like the feeling of the port. I hope this feeling will go away as I heal.
This Christmas is a little different, but we’re all together and that’s good. We watched the service online and when they lit the candles in church my sweet son went and got the decorative candles down from the bookshelf and lit them. We sat together and sang along in the glow of the candlelight.
Oh Come Let Us Adore Him…
12/25/21 | Saturday | Christmas Day
Today feels good– The tree, the dog, funny gifts, stockings, Christmas pajamas, Mike, Ethan, and August, and time together with Grandma and Grandpa.
I got to take it easy while the family made our yummy Christmas tradition of Belgian Waffles with chocolate chips, strawberries, and whip cream. I’m so thankful for our time together this year.
12/27/21 | Monday
I have two more appointments today.
8:00AM – an echocardiogram to give my doctors a baseline of my heart before treatment begins
10:00AM – a mammogram with magnification- this is to get a closer look at the edge of where they believe the cancer cells end. My doctor will determine if another marker needs to be placed inside. I believe she described these as small titanium clips. This will help my surgeon determine where to remove tissue after the chemo is over. Because hopefully the cancer will have shrunk.
If they do this today then I will still be sore on my right side from the port surgery and I’ll be wrapped in ice packs on my left side. I’m hoping they won’t need this marker.
I made it through. No more jabs today.
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me…”
Mike and I celebrated with tacos and guacamole and a stop at Sugarboo & Co, where I picked a pretty little frame, quote, and pressed flower to take home.
“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places.”