Lately I've found myself walking some familiar paths that I didn't think I would return to. It's made me stop, take a breath, look around and to be very present in what is happening in my life right now. About a month ago I went for a routine mammogram. I always find them a bit worrying because my sister Karen's breast cancer was picked up on a routine mammogram... I am also the same age as her when she was diagnosed. So when I got a call back to say that there was an area of concern it was hard not to let that worry escalate. Back for a physical exam, mammograms, an ultrasound and a core needle biopsy. Things were starting to look not so good.
So at exactly the same age as my sister, on exactly the same day four years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Such a weird coincidence! I have a small Grade 1 ductal carcinoma in my left breast. Apparently if you're going to get breast cancer it's the best one to get! It's been caught early and my prognosis is great. Next week I am having a partial mastectomy and if there are no complications, radiotherapy treatment when that heals.
So those are the facts. The emotional and psychological backwash of this diagnosis is harder to describe. I have walked alongside the most precious people in my life as they have had to come to terms with the ravages of life (and sometimes death) with cancer. It has been a heartbreaking experience over and over again. It takes all you have and then some. I never thought I would have my own cancer journey. This has been a surprise!
Yet here I am, walking this path. As the specialists have said, you are just starting your breast cancer journey. I was thinking if I was planning a journey I would rather choose Paris as my destination! I have found it all a little overwhelming. I bring all of my other experiences of grief and loss to this, so the weight of it is very real. While I am SO grateful and thankful for an early diagnosis and a great prognosis I have some tough things to face in the next little while.
Some people have said "Why you? You've had enough!" and you know I just don't think that. I think why not me - life happens, it's not always what we choose. Sickness, cancer, death, accidents, whatever... they're all out there. I know that I have to face whatever I have to face and want to find the strength and grace to walk through it with courage and dignity. (Well as much dignity as you can have in these situations!) A lot of people are looking at, poking, prodding, cutting and stitching up the most sacred of things - my breasts!! I feel an incredible sense of God's presence. I talked here about my Beloved tattoo representing how I feel about God and how God feels about me. I know I am his beloved. We're walking into this together.
My family and friends are amazing, showing me time and time again that I am loved and not alone in this. My poor family walking through this again! My beloved girls Beth and Holly, my lovely, lovely son in law Mikey, my sisters Karen and Mere laughing and crying our way through this together. I am beloved. I am blessed.
And in case you're wondering why this post is called "oceans", I've played this so many times. I have found this song to be immensely moving and comforting as I find myself out in deep waters needing God's presence to lead and sustain me.