Today I’m talking about a more personal topic, my journey to be cancer free with courage.
Recently the idea of showing courage resonated with me, given the difficult journey I faced this past year. Courage played a huge role in overcoming the unexpected and scary obstacles that were placed our path. Exactly one year ago, in October, our family got the scariest news of our lives. After going to the dermatologist for a routine skin check, I was told that I had an invasive form of Melanoma (skin cancer), and that they weren’t sure what the outcome could be. The skin cancer was on my left shoulder, and would need to be removed. Either I’d go in for surgery and they’d get it all, or they’d find that it had already spread into my lymph nodes and bloodstream, and then we’d be talking about much more invasive surgery and treatment. I had about two weeks of life with uncertainty, from the day we got the diagnoses, to surgery day. The unknowns such as whether or not I’d be facing a lengthy treatment. The unknowns about how much skin and flesh they’d have to remove. The unknowns about whether I was facing the beginning of the end, or whether this was just a blip in our story. Those two weeks involved living with courage and faith. The Bible verse Isaiah 41:10 became my anthem, and I repeated it to myself anytime that fear would begin to creep in. Isaiah 41:10- So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my right hand. Two weeks of living with courage came to an end, and I went into surgery unsure of my fate. I awoke in instant pain, and full of questions and no one who could give me any answers. After what seemed like an eternity I was brought to my recovery room, where my husband Matt was waiting with the WONDERFUL news. That although they had taken a large portion of my shoulder, the cancer had not spread! I was cancer free! Although the surgery was a success, and our immediate fears were relieved, the last year has still held many uncertainties. The doctors warned us that often this type of invasive Melanoma will often show itself again. They cautioned my to stay out of the sun, as the sun acts as an incubator to my cancer-prone skin. I was back at the Mayo clinic for a 6 week, 3 month, and six 6 month checkup where they scanned every inch of my body, watching for changes and signs of the Melanoma to show up again. November 4th, I go back for my one year checkup. Hopefully a checkup where we will celebrate my skin being cancer free for an entire year. An entire year of life with my loves. A year that I treasured as a gift, rather than as an expectation. Shortly after the surgery, I got the gift of getting to go to Haiti and meet our daughter. A gift that I was afraid would be ripped away upon the diagnoses. I am so thankful that through this experience I’ve learned that God’s got me here for a purpose and he’s not done with me yet. He’s called me to live with courage and live every day to it’s fullest. Through him I have the courage to live every day. Facing the constant threat of cancer reappearing, but also the joy of the life I get to live!
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