Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My computer is full...the C drive is about to explode...the D drive is almost there...I keep getting all of these dire warnings that I am dangerously low on space. This last weekend Garry and I went through and deleted a bunch of things that we don't use to free up some much needed space. I ran across everything from my now defunct Prayer, Praise & Peace website. I'm not getting rid of any of it...all of those articles and pages and testimonies are far too precious to me.

For those of you "new" to my life I began a web ministry in 2000 called Prayer, Praise & Peace. The why is a story for another post, but while going through a dozen or so of the 90+ pages that made up my site it became crystal clear that some of those pieces of wisdom need to be OUT there again and not just buried on my D drive.

I thought the following series of what were originally three different testimonies would be more than appropriate to share this month. Please notice the dates on these...they are not recent. However, as the title of my blog says, Our Journey Continues. I finished my five year course of Tamoxifen in May! Whoo hoo! And guess what? Still here! There have been other incidents since these testimonies that are described in the blog...though never mentioned specifically. I am trying very hard to see each incident as simply a "blip". We handle each blip as it comes...I'm still here...I plan on keeping it that way...my surgeon is STILL my treasure...I do not now nor do I ever plan on having cancer. And should that happen? I will fight it with all the strength God has given me and I will win. Count on it! ; ) Now think good thoughts...start your own monthly BSE TODAY if you haven't yet...get a yearly mammogram...mine is Friday!

January 16, 2001

Well, I certainly didn't plan on having another testimony to share with you so early in the new year. But then, I suppose I'm still learning that God's plans for me are much more important than my own.

Last Wednesday was like any other day. I did some ironing, picked up around the house, ran the sweeper and the dishwasher, put away some Christmas decorations, worked on the site, put a pot roast in the oven for dinner...nothing spectacular. Nothing out of the ordinary until I went upstairs to take my shower.

While I was reaching for the shampoo, a voice fairly shouted, "CHECK YOUR BREASTS!" It was so loud in fact, that I actually responded aloud with, "O.K.!" Now, I don't check my breasts nearly as often as I'm supposed to, but I've learned, you don't ignore that still, small voice when it beckons.

My right breast was fine, just another ordinary part of my ordinary Wednesday. I wasn't so lucky when I moved to the other side. There was a lump; a rather pronounced lump, just sitting there in my left breast waiting to disrupt my ordinary Wednesday.

As it happens, my husband was late getting home from work that night and I had worked myself up into a minor state of emergency by the time he walked through the door. When he saw me crying he assumed that I was upset with him for being late. When I told him why I was crying, I felt even worse, seeing how much the situation frightened him as well.

That ordinary Wednesday night turned into one of the longest and most frightening nights we've ever lived through. A lot of prayers went up that night and I have no doubt that each and every one of them was heard, as small, yet very significant blessings started popping up everywhere.

The next day, Garry stayed home from work to take me to see the doctor. Thank God I was able to get in that day! And I also thank God every single day for sending my husband to me. He is my rock and I truly don't know what I would ever do without him. After being examined I was told that it "most probably" was a cyst, but seeing as I had just had a normal mammogram in May of 2000, and with my family's history of breast cancer, I would need to be referred to a breast surgeon and he or she would determine the next step. I now have an appointment for next Thursday, January 25th, with a surgeon.

January 18, 2001

My appointment with the surgeon is officially one week away. To say that I was apprehensive would be an understatement! But I am also nowhere near the state of terror that I was last week. God has revealed so many blessings to me in this last week that have brought me so much peace. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I needed to go through this, so that God's blessings in my life would become more apparent.

When I found the lump in my breast, I felt my world spinning out of control again. The whole eating disorder, stomach problem, and nausea central kicked into high gear. I stopped eating, I even stopped drinking water. I think we all have that one spot in our lives that we allow Satan access to. You know, that really weak area that we let him come into and poke around in? The one that no matter how many times we've chased the little demon out, he still comes back? Guess what my weak area is? ; ) But you know what? The battle was different this time. I laid it all at God's feet and I was eating and drinking the very next day. Even the nausea is gone.

When I go through one of these episodes, I often become frightened for several days afterwards, most often at night. It seems my symptoms are always worse when it's dark, and that's when I'm most likely to let The Evil One start messing with me. I voiced these fears to my husband who took them all away with one simple statement. He said, "Jesus was born at night and he wasn't afraid."

After I dried my eyes and blew my nose from that incredibly sage piece of wisdom, I sat down to look at a "page a day" calendar that Garry had purchased for me that day. He had spotted it in a local bookstore for 50% off seeing as the new year had already started! Each page of the calendar features an inspirational quote from Max Lucado and a Bible verse that goes along with the quote. On the very first page, January 1, 2001, the Bible verse read: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

I dried my eyes again and continued to read on. The entry for January 9, 2001 read: "Where is God when we hurt? Where is he when sleep won't come? Where is he when we awaken in a hospital bed with pain that won't subside? He's right here! He hung on the gallows to prove once and for all---with pierced hands and blood-stained face---that he's here, that he didn't create the hurt, but he came to take it away." My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ's sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. 1 Peter 4:12-13

I am continually amazed at the awesomeness of God's timing.

I also thank Him daily for the wonderful friends he has placed into my life. Without their support I don't think I would have made it through last week. I told three people, all by email, the day after I found the lump. One is my "little sister", Kim, whom I have been in love with since I was seven years old and she came into my life as a screaming, wiggling, tiny, take-charge dynamo. She went through a very similar situation about a year ago, and without knowing it, had pretty much prepared me for every single step of this process. She is a God-send, but then, she always has been. Another email went to my best e-buddy Jennifer. I met Jennifer online about four years ago and I have to say, she owns a big chunk of my heart too. She is one of the most unique individuals I've ever come across and I don't ever want to imagine my life without her. Her response was hilarious and it was exactly what I needed at the time. I needed a huge, giddy laugh, and that's just what she provided. The third message went to my newest e-buddy Linda. I still believe Linda has a "hotline" to God. This lady's prayers kept me going. She displayed such caring and support...to someone she's never even seen. I don't have the words to express my thanks to her and her family.

I have not told many people at this point, and I apologize for that. It's not that you are any less important to me, because you aren't. I hope you are not reading it here first! If you are, feel free to let me have it! I just want to wait until I know something definite before I worry them as well. A fourth message ended up going out to my friend Terri. Terri and I have been friends since we rode the school bus together and I should've known better than to try and keep it from her. She spotted the prayer request I put up for myself and in her own inimitable style let me know in no uncertain terms that if that "Mel" was me, she wanted to know what was going on right now! She too, had gone through a very similar situation and has provided her strong shoulder and support.

January 24, 2001

It is now two weeks since I discovered the lump, and tomorrow is my appointment with the surgeon. I think I've told just about everybody who needs to know now. And they have all provided an unending supply of prayers and strength.

I have also had another message from that still, small voice. It came in the shower again, telling me, once more, to check my breasts. Believe me, I didn't want to! I was afraid to touch myself for fear of what I'd find! But I did, I listened and you know what? The lump is smaller. Praise God and thank you ALL for your prayers. I promise as soon as I have any information from the surgeon I'll post it here. It is my hope that by reading this, someone else will be able to catch a lump that may not "most probably" be a cyst.

I have joked with quite a few people that as soon as I get the all clear from the surgeon, whether it be tomorrow or however long it takes, the first thing out of my mouth is going to be, "I'm going to Disney World!" = D So remember, if you happen to see that line appear on my homepage, you'll know what it means!

January 26, 2001

My appointment is now over. I'd like to be able to shout, "Hey, I'm going to Disney World!", meaning that I received a totally clean bill of health and I'm on my way to a major celebration. But as I sit here typing this final entry I am reminded of Monday's calendar page which read: "God loves us so much that sometimes he gives us what we need and not what we ask."

I know he gave me exactly what I needed yesterday. I was calm and clear-headed all day, definitely a first for me in these types of situations. Perhaps God is telling me I "need" to go through this to reach my next level of relationship with Him. I am not afraid anymore dear friends. Whatever happens, God will be there giving me exactly what I need in that moment.

No, I wasn't given a totally clean bill of health, but I wasn't given a death sentence either. I will need to have a biopsy done on the lump. However, God blessed me, even through that news. The surgeon is going to be out of town for two weeks and didn't feel it was necessary to do the procedure until after she returned. I take that as a very positive sign. Sooo...while she's gone for two weeks, I'm going to Disney World anyway! = )

Praise God, and may He bless each and every one of you.

Copyright 2001---Mel

June 22, 2001

Many kind people have inquired as to how my biopsy turned out so I thought I'd add a "Part 2" to the original testimony.

First of all, I want to say thank you to each and every person who prayed for my recovery, sent cards, email messages, visited, called or just thought good thoughts. I couldn't have made it without you. Secondly...we had a GREAT time in Disney World and we plan on going back next February! LOL

August 23, 2001

Well, my friends...this has proven to be a formidable task. I think I've done just about everything I could think of to do, just to put this off until another day. This whole ordeal has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through in my life, and I didn't want to sit here and start to share these feeling with you until I could have something positive to say. I think it has something to do with the fact that I feel I have to be in control of every situation I encounter and in this case, only God has control. There have been days when I have *not* handled things very well. I've told more than one person that on those days, I have acted like a petulant two year old! ; ) To those of you that deal with me regularly, thank you for remaining quiet on that last point! = D

In any case, I have learned that God is in charge. I made the choice to surrender to His will a long time ago and now I've just got to learn that that means surrendering *everything*, I can't pick and choose, and frankly why would I want to? I mean, I don't want to spend my days here on Earth filled with worries and fears about the future! I want to enjoy my time here as much as possible. Life is too short to begin with, why should I make myself miserable? Was that The Serenity Prayer I just heard some of you muttering?

So what made me start typing today, you ask? Well, several things. First of all, the advice of, yet again, my little sister, Kim. Folks, last week, I was literally at my wit's end over the treatment I have received from the surgeon and the oncologist that I have been going to. Please, let me assure you that I am sure that these two physicians are competent. They wouldn't have the thriving pratices that they both do if they weren't. I, however, need a physician who is willing to treat the entire patient. One who has good communication skills, who can convey that he/she genuinely cares about the patient, who treats the patient like a human being, and one who can display at least some rudimentary organizational skills. I know, I know...that last requirement was a bit snarky, but that's just me! After months of agonizing and literally feeling that being sick is better than going back to these people, my YOUNGER sister reminded me that there are plenty of other doctors out there who are much better suited to my personality and why should I continue to put myself through this torture!? Isn't she a treasure? And isn't it amazing how someone who loves you can make you just step back and see things from a calm, rational, and more neutral viewpoint?

Secondly, a visitor named Kate signed my guestbook today. It was one of the sweetest, most moving messages I have ever received. She said that through reading my testimonies, that I was an inspiration to her. Friends, that simple message given straight from the heart, opened the floodgates. As soon as I sent her a thank you message, I started working on this page and I've yet to get writer's block! ; )

Now that you know why I finally got started, let's go back in time and update you on what's been going on.

After a lot of confusion and miscommunication the biopsy was finally scheduled for Thursday, March 8, 2001. It was done as an outpatient procedure and truthfully, it wasn't any big deal at all. I was asleep for the whole thing! I had virtually no pain afterwards, and didn't even feel the need to fill the prescription for pain meds that the surgeon had given me. Of course, I was disgusted that I couldn't shower for two days...I am a girly girl after all! ; ) There was the normal pulling sensation on the wound and I had minor pain but nothing that Tylenol couldn't handle. The surgeon called the following Tuesday and told me that there was absolutely no sign of cancer and that I'd need to come in in four weeks or so to have the strips removed from the incision. Off I went, happy as a clam to "start" living my life again...until I had to go have my strips removed the first week in April.

So I'm sitting there on the table wearing that really groovy little paper top when in comes the surgeon. After checking the incision, and removing the steri-strips I was told that although I didn't have cancer, there was an area of "cellular change". There I sat smiling and shaking my head like one of those little bobbin' head dolls while inside I was screaming, "What does that mean and why wasn't I told before today?" The surgeon continued by saying that an appointment had now been scheduled for me with a "specialist". I was told that this "specialist" would put me on meds that would prevent me from getting breast cancer in the future, but not for awhile yet, because they don't give those meds to women who haven't gone through menopause. WHAT? My appointment was concluded with me being told that there was no need for me to return this surgeon.

I was so confused when I came stumbling out of there! I guess you can probably guess that my big problem with this doctor was the communication or lack thereof! I don't know why I wasn't told about the cellular change via the phone four weeks earlier, but then, I don't know why I wasn't told a lot of things about what to expect after the surgery. As my friend Lori told me, don't focus on the negative. This person found the area of cellular change and that's the important thing.

The specialist turned out to be an oncologist and let's just say that, going to an appointment there was not fun. There are many things I could say, and have already said about this whole situation, but I'm trying very, very hard to let God deal with it, and me. The one point I will make about this person is that there is no focus on the positive, only what might happen in the future. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, "I DON'T HAVE CANCER!!!!" This doctor doesn't seem to get that and tells me things like, "I just don't know what more I can do to offer you some peace" and then schedules another test for me.

SO dear readers, with all of that said, I am moving on! I have been doing some research and I have received referrels for breast surgeons and oncololgists from trusted friends who have gone through this themselves and also from my family doctor whom I have gone to since I was a teenager and love dearly. I am going to have the latest test at the end of September that the oncologist scheduled for me, but I will not be returning there for any further treatment. The results of the test will determine whether I schedule an appointment with a new surgeon, or a new oncologist.

Several times this year I have said, "I just want this to be over with so I can get on with my life!" Shortly after voicing this sentiment God spoke to me in that still, small voice that has now become so familiar to me and said, "Mel, this is your life! You can't put your whole life on hold while you wait for it to be what you want it to be!" He, of course, is right and my friends, that is what I'm going to do, to the best of my ability. I am going to live the life He has given me.

God bless you and as always, thanks for being there!

Copyright 2001---Mel

October 29, 2003

Well, well, well! Who would've thought it, huh? Who would've imagined that I'd have a "Part 3" to add to this testimony? Certainly not me!

I still have the tremendously bad habit of putting things off for way too long. This testimony was no different. Now, whether you know it or not, I'm pretty much a pack rat. I save just about everything...including old email messages. In this case, I thank God for that trait! Because, it is from these old email messages that "Part 3" emerges. These incidents took place in April, May, and June of 2003.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Welll...I'd like to tell you that I've been absolutely fine all day, but that would be a lie! LOL I have, in my humble opinion done well though!

Last night was just the normal week after the period check...I'm not even sure it *is* anything but I don't want to futz around. If something needs to be done I want it done *yesterday*. I've got too much to look forward to. This is *NOT* I repeat *NOT* going to get me! Ok...now I'm bawling. As the day wears on the tears and the fears are starting to creep in. I think what this may be is His way of telling me it's time to start taking the Tamoxifen. If this stuff can keep me from having to go through this again, I'm ready to start popping it. I have a wonderful husband, two precious furry boys, and a miracle baby depending on me. I'm not going to mess around any longer.

Friday, May 2, 2003

Well, what can I say, other than God is totally awesome?

The lump that I found was unlike any I've ever had before. It was small, and hard and that scared me. I made absolutely sure that my gynecologist felt it and do you know what she said? "That little thing!? We don't worry about anything that small! We just keep an eye on it and look for changes." I immediately starting sobbing and just sat there on the table with my arms wrapped around her. She is, however concerned with one of my bigger cysts and made an appointment for me with my surgeon before I left the office. My appointment with the surgeon is May 12th.

In any case my gynecologist told me from now on, should I find anything that bothers me to call the surgeon first. "I love you, but she's the one I'd send you to anyway!" I can't even describe how I felt leaving there yesterday. It was such a total and complete feeling of relief. I was so scared.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

First of all, I'm OK...really! I just wanted to make sure you got the news first. My surgeon said she really didn't feel anything that concerns her. She does think the area that my gynecologist was concerned about has gotten denser. She drained a MAJOR cyst in that area while I was at the office.

She took two slides of the stuff she drained out and was sending them to the path lab. The results should be back Friday, or Monday at the latest. No matter what the results, I have an appointment with her in two weeks for two reasons. One, I'm about 6 minutes away from starting my period so I'm extra lumpy and swollen. She wants a good feel when I'm not so "expanded". Secondly, she says my left breast is a "busy" breast. There's a lot of stuff going on in it and she brought up Tamoxifen again. We talked about it for awhile and she gave me a couple of pamphlets to take home and read. I asked her if I had to find an oncologist to prescribe it for me, she said no way, she can do that.

I can't read Garry's take on taking it right now. He's close to being in total denial. He just keeps saying, "I don't want you to go anywhere." I told him that God wouldn't tell us to adopt a baby girl and then have me die. "You're not going to die!" I told him that eventually I was going to die but he just kept repeating, "Not in my world."

I'm leaning towards going for it. The thing is, it is a five year commitment. However, she did say that some people can take it and others can't. If you can't, no big deal...we'll just keep doing what we're doing. It doesn't prevent breast cancer it just reduces the chance of getting it, the kind that is estrogen fed that is. There is an increased chance of cataracts, stroke, blood clots, and cervical cancer. I've read her pamphlet and I've also done some research online before I even saw her. The incidences of those things occurring are low. Also, she says she usually prescribes one baby aspirin a day along with the drug to reduce the risk of blood clots/stroke even further. Now, about the cervical cancer...I figure I see my gynecologist every year. If it happens, it will be caught early, and I get a hysterectomy. No cervix, no chance of cervical cancer. Even the information says that. If you've had a hysterectomy, there is no chance of cervical cancer. She also said depending on what the path report says, she may do a biopsy near the other one just to see what's going on.

So, that's where we stand right now. I'm not going to let this get me! I've got a whole new chapter of my life ready to unfold and I want this mess behind me before it starts! ") I told her I'd do whatever it takes because I want to be around for my daughter for a good long time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The surgeon's office called this afternoon. The path report came back. No cancer, but it sounds like the same thing as last time...there is way too much cellular activity. So, yep, you guessed it. I get to have surgery again. I was really ok until I started typing this! ") I'm waiting for the office to call me back with the date and time. It will most probably be Tuesday or Friday of next week. I just feel...empty I guess if that makes any sense. I know this is happening for a reason and I have to trust God...and I do. I'm just afraid that this is something I'm going to have to go through every two years and I don't think I have it in me to. I want to scream and cry and beat my chest and say why me?! Instead I'll just leak a little while longer. I guess all of the delays with the adoption paperwork make a lot more sense now, eh?

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The surgeon's office called this morning and my surgery is scheduled for next Friday, the 30th at 10:00. I have to be there at 8 of course. I'm better now than I was last night and that's all I care about at the moment. Every day gets a little better and I just keep reminding myself of that. All I have to do is look at my precious Garth to see just what miracles God takes care of each and every day.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Well, the surgery is over and all went well. I can't tell you just how much I appreciate my surgeon! She is SOOO much more a human being than the one I had last time. I had more aftercare instructions a week before I went in for the surgery than I did *after* my last one. She spent quite awhile after the surgery talking to Garry. He said she drew a picture on a white board and explained everything she did. She also discussed Tamoxifen with him and I am sooo glad.

I had the same kind of anesthesia as last time, more than a local, but less than a general. But, as with everything, it was much lighter and much better this time. I could actually hear them talking all through the surgery but I just didn't care or feel anything. I remember them sitting me up and telling me to hold my arm up. I heard a voice say, "We're giving you a really sexy tank top Melissa!" Then, me being me, hear my voice say, "COOL!" A male voice then says, "Yeah! She's old enough to remember tank tops! It's supposed to be nice today, you can go lay out!" Me again, "Right...in my sexy tank top and my 30 SPF sunscreen." Laughter in the OR! My eyes were open and my doctor was talking to me before I left the OR for recovery. She said everything looked good to the naked eye, it just looked fibro-cystic. As soon as I have the results I'll let you know.

I refused the Darvocet they offered me at the hospital and I didn't have Garry fill the prescription for it either. I took Extra Strength Tylenol three times Friday and once Saturday. Other than that, no pain, nausea or anything else. I took my walk this morning but I was moving pretty slow! ") I am tired but I'm trying to keep moving, but I'm not pushing myself either. I took *many* naps this weekend and one this afternoon too. I spent a GREAT deal of time the last two weeks cleaning my house and getting enough food in for the next week or so. Therefore, I can afford to take it easy for a couple of weeks. ") The kitties are in HEAVEN. They are both stuck to me like glue and Garth isn't into sharing with his brother. Lots of hissing the past couple of days.

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Got my call from the med tech today. In her words, "Your biopsy was fine."

October 29, 2003

So there you have it! In case you haven't guessed it by now, I have a new breast surgeon and she is wonderful. She is highly talented, communicates extremely well, is very organized, and treats me like a human being. She is a treasure and came highly recommended by my gynecologist. I am no longer seeing an oncologist, and I don't really feel the need to. I do not have cancer and the good Lord willing, I never will. But should the disease rear its ugly head, then, and only then will I start looking for an oncologist.

At my follow-up appointment two weeks after the surgery, she went over the biopsy report with me in detail. It was actually a better report than the first time...but then, EVERYTHING was better this time. ") She also gave me a prescription for Tamoxifen which I have been taking daily since mid-June. My side effects have been minimal and I will be having my "every six months" appointment with her at the end of this year.

Thank you God for bringing me through yet another trial and making me a stronger person. Thank you to my gynecologist and to my surgeon for your brilliant work. A special thank you to my friend Linda, who was the recipient of all of the email messages you just read and for all of her love, prayers, and support.

God is so good and He continues to get through this angry, stubborn exterior any way that He needs to.

God loves you...He is right there beside you every step of the way 24/7...don't you ever forget it.

Copyright 2003---Mel

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