Posted by on Oct 5, 2012 in My Blog, My Breast Cancer Journey | 0 comments

October- Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Here it is again, October!  My birthday month, the beginning of fall which I love so, pumpkins, the cooler, crisp air and the beauty of falling colorful leaves.  Wow!!  But an even bigger WOW!! is the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month…a time when women and men are reminded that “early detection saves lives” and “there is hope for a world without the beast we know as breast cancer.”

For me, it’s been 13 1/2 years since I was diagnosed.  How time flies!  This October I am focusing on two things regarding breast cancer:

1)  I am celebrating the joys over the years that I have been blessed to live since my diagnosis, two mastectomies, chemotherapy and return to the world of women with hair!  Along the journey of breast cancer, I gained so much!  Not in pounds but in an awareness of perspective…even in the midst of the extreme sickness, unreal fatigue, loosing my hair and realizing I had “a 70% chance of surviving 5 years” that life is so good and full of gifts that we sometimes don’t see EXCEPT in the darker days.

2) I want to do my part in sharing the message of hope to those experiencing the journey of life-threatening illness while at the same time inspiring the not yet afflicted to be diligent about doing self-exams (I found my lump myself), seeing your doctor for regular check-ups and having a mammogram every year after age 40 or earlier if you have family history.

When I found the lump in my breast, I immediately knew it felt different and that I should get to my doctor immediately.  Quickly, tests indicated it was suspicious and just as quickly I had my surgery and began life-saving treatment.  The surgery, in my case, was fairly easy.  The chemo was dreadful.  Each person responds to treatment in different ways.  It depends on what drugs you are given and how your body responds.  Living alone as my two grown daughters live out of state, I had many friends and my brother who checked on me, helped me in a variety of ways and ministered to me throughout. My girls would come to visit on weeks when I felt better in the cycle of treatment every 3 weeks.  This worked well and we had opportunity to love and laugh and encourage and support one another that way.

EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES!!!!!  Tru dat!  Had I not found my lump, my story would be dramatically different.  We learned from surgery and pathology reports that my tumor was large and that the cancer had metastasized into one of 24 lymph nodes removed.  So, it had begun to spread but only to one.  Time was critical, so had I not discovered it, the cancer would have continued to spread and it does spread quickly, we know.

THE MESSAGE OF HOPE MATTERS!!!! Tru dat, too!  I was like an empty earthen vessel on my journey that God filled to over-flowing.  He filled me with lessons, awareness, and gifts.  One of the biggest lessons, awareness and gifts He laid on my reaching up heart was that I had so much while so many others had so little.  I had good doctors, good insurance, family and friends, my church to support and encourage me. I knew the Lord intimately and was filled with His Holy Spirit.  Though I had spent many years working in an outreach career certainly sympathetic to those in need, God poured into my vessel an even deeper realization that so many people are ALONE! So on days & nights when all I could do was lie in bed and breathe, I would talk with and listen to God about other people’s needs.  Sitting in waiting rooms at hospitals and doctor’s office, it was like God illuminated the people who needed help and love so that I could see. When I would reach out, it was just like God to tuck a little something in there for me too for we both received.

Maybe you know the Prayer of Jabez.  In the Bible we read about Jabez who was given this name which means pain, sorrowful or causing sorrow.  I cannot imagine having a name like. Perhaps living with such a name is part of what drove Jabez toward living an honorable life. In the Prayer of Jabez he prays to God: Oh that you would bless me indeed, and expand my territory, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! I like the interpretation of this “expand my territory” to signify “expand my opportunity” and if the opportunity is to serve, then this prayer is quite applicable to reaching out and spreading the message of hope to those in need to hear it.  

I see my breast cancer journey as somewhat of an “expansion of my territory” of a fertile field of encouraging and sharing hope. My journey has taught me so much and at the top of the list is that in our everyday lives, the people we encounter all have needs and we have the resources to help meet those needs.  Encourage – to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope – to hearten.  So everything we need to encourage others lies within our own hearts.

This October, be sure to get your ten fingers busy and do your own breast exams, ask those you love to do the same.  And as you enjoy God’s beautiful and colorful fall days, keep your eyes and ears open for those that could use some encouragement.

You’ve got just what it takes!

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