Monday, September 13, 2010

That Dreaded "C" Word

Cancer. The one word no one ever wants to hear. It is ugly. Vile. Frightening. Earth-shattering. Unwanted. Uninvited. Yet for some...inescapable. As of four weeks and four days ago, I became one of many for whom cancer is an undeniable reality.

It was a typical Thursday night and I was alone at the office attempting to make up for all the hours missed due to my recent run-in with bronchitis. An unknown number appeared on my phone yet I felt sure of its origin. Continuing to shuffle papers as I answered the call, I assumed it would be the results of my recent biopsies. I had no worry or concern about the results. The only troubles I felt my future held would be the scheduling nightmare I would most likely face in trying to have the annoying-but- what-I-knew-would-be-benign lump removed. A big believer in never worrying until there is something to worry about, I had convinced myself all was well. This time, the power of positive thinking failed me.

After only a few words of greeting from my doctor, the "C" word was spoken and from that point on, the conversation was a blur. Words like "invasive tumor", "highly suspected lymph node involvement", "chemo", "skin involvement", "full mastectomy", "radiation", "oncologist", "urgent".

Each word carried a sting...a bite...yet I was numb to it all.

I remember using my fist to stifle the sobs as I sucked up the tears that wanted to break free. For some unknown reason I needed to stay in control of my grasp every word being be in control of an uncontrollable situation. I remember thinking how often you hear of one's inability to process bad news as it is delivered and this was definitely bad news. In that moment it became critical to my existence to get the facts straight. I felt like a child yet wanted to act like an adult. My mind was spinning at an alarming pace but I was fighting with everything in me to bring it back to a steady place.

I was alone. No one was there to share the burden of recording the facts. It was up to me and only me to take care of business.

I asked the doctor to repeat her words over and over. I wrote them down and repeated them back to her, making note after note of what was said. Upon returning to my office the next day, it was painfully clear what I had done. One Post-It note after another was scattered across my desk, each one saying the same thing. In sorting through them, not one could spare me the ugliness of what was to come. Each held the same horrid verdict... I have breast cancer.

In hindsight I remember so little, yet I remember so much. So many odd thoughts passed through my mind and I find it utterly fascinating where the human mind will go when faced with such earth shattering news. As I hung up the phone, I began pacing the hallway, finally allowing the tears to flow. Words came tumbling from my lips, but I have no idea if I was successful in forming coherent sentences. I kept running my fingers through my hair, wondering how quickly it would begin to fall out.

And I began to wail.

I'm sure the mourning was over far more than the loss of my hair, but it was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge of the cliff into the abyss where only heartache, sorrow and irrational thinking dwell. I could think of nothing else. No thoughts of death. No fear of pain. No concern for the eventual loss of my breast. I just desperately wanted to keep my hair. Strange, superficial thoughts. The only thoughts my mind would allow in that moment.

That was four weeks and four days ago. A lifetime has been lived in those thirty-two days. So many doctors visits, too many tests and scans to count, poking and prodding, needles and biopsies, port-a-cath placement and two chemo treatments... all this and more has filled my calendar. My world has been turned upside down and shaken equivalent to that of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. But through it all, I have found peace. The fear from that first night has been replaced with an acceptance...a willingness to work with the hand I've been dealt. My faith has always been a huge part of my life and God has come to my rescue once again. An enormous amount of information regarding my treatment has afforded me the chance to know what to expect in the upcoming months. To summarize, 24 weeks of chemo, a full mastectomy then radiation. The side effects have been spelled out. I don't like them, but I can live with them.

I honestly don't know the state of my prognosis. I've been made aware the journey will be a rough one but the expected outcome should be positive. I know no one can know for certain what the end result will be. Anything can happen. But God gives me hope. He gives me peace. As one of my favorite songs says, though He may not calm the storms around me, He will give me Perfect Peace. As for now, I rest well in the fact that hope is alive and in knowing that God is with me each step of the way. This road has been traveled by many. Sadly for so many women, it is not a journey unique to me. My wish is to fight the fight with grace and thanksgiving for all the good in my life. You see, I've discovered a truth. When faced with the worst, one can discover the best. That dreaded "C" word, while as ugly a word as can be spoken, has allowed me to see how truly blessed I am.

With Love...



  1. Lisa,

    I'm sure I don't have the right words for you, but I'm going to try anyways. I've read bits & pieces of what has been going on with you (FB) and only been able to draw my own conclusions. I didn't want to ask, not knowing if you were ready to share with people in more extended circles and I definitely didn't want to burden you. I only write this to let you know that you have definitely been on my mind!!

    My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor and is now eighty-seven years old. I will, of course, keep you in my thoughts and prayers. And may I say bravo to you for having the courage to share your story here and the determination to get through the course that has been handed to you!


  2. Here is a Big Hug for you Lisa! You are in my toughts everyday!


    P.S.: Use to be Scrapbooking workshop, now change to L'atelier C' Créatif (means about the same thing in french).

  3. Miss Lisa YOU ARE AMAZING!! I have no words for you b/c I know the range of emotions that you could be going through on any given day...but I am here to tell you to hang onto that glimmer of HOPE. My Mom is celebrating 10 years of survival this month. She has walked your same path and come out on the other side....I KNOW you will too. (((HUGS))) to you. Praying for your strength and continued peace.

  4. Lisa, like Karen, I gathered bits and pieces, but I knew you'd let us know when you were ready. You are certainly in my thoughts and prayers -- for healing as well as strength for the journey ahead. A few years ago, a very good friend of mine rushed out of work after receiving similar news...this weekend she set off on a year long deployment to Kuwait. Scary as that sounds, she says it's proof that her world is back to normal. Stay positive. I'm very happy to know you're feeling at peace.

  5. Lisa, I am not sure I have the right words for you either, but know I will be praying for you. ?I pray you keep your faith strong throughout all of this and remember this too shall pass. Although I only know you from the bloggy world, I do know you are a wonderful person in and out. I am here for you in whatever way I possibly can be. Please know that! You are a strong person and you will get through this!! Love you:)

  6. Oh sweet heart breaks for you and the burden that you bear at the moment! Girl, from all that you have been through I know you are strong and this is just another step (a huge step) toward a lifelong journey that you are only beginning!
    I have thought of you often and keep you in my heart always. Keep staying positive and smiling that gorgeous smile and I know things will be brighter! Peace, Love and Big Hugs xOxO

  7. Lisa, I am so very sorry. I wish I could be there to wrap my arms around you and give you a hug. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.


  8. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Lisa.. I am sooooo sorry to hear this... you are in my thoughts and prayers my dear friend... hugs and love!

  9. Lisa I am so sorry that you have to go through this. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  10. Oh Lisa, I hate to hear this news. Why is it that cancer strikes people who least deserve it? Seriously! Why can't it happen to murderers and sex ofenders?!?
    If anyone has the inner strength and spirit to fight this, it is you dear friend.
    My grandmother had breast cancer and God healed her of it, 100%. I believe he can and will heal you, Lisa.
    I will be praying for you everyday, for strength, peace and healing.
    Take care of yourself

  11. Lisa, You are in my thoughts and prayers!!! You still have such a grace and faith in God, even in these hard times and it is truly inspiring to me. I will pray for you, sweet girl! Love, Jess

  12. love you!
    glad to see you back to blogging! You amaze me with your strength and positive attitude.

    think about you often...

  13. I will continue to pray for you, the peace of God is what brings us through that which looks darkest. His love is all around you... because He is carrying you... you are in His arms and He will give you strength when you need it most... stay positive... Blessings to you and your family... I am praying!!!
    {{big big hugs}} Michelle

  14. Lisa...
    You are a woman of undeniable Beauty! I know that your Strength and Faith will carry you through this Journey! I want you to know that you are not taking this Journey alone. Your family and friends will be with you every step of the way!!
    When this "C" battle is complete, I am so looking forward to that walk on the beach feeling the sand between our toes, and hearing the laughter from your voice and the smile on your face! ZO

  15. My heart aches for your journey but at the same time I am cheering you on with every ounce of me. GO LISA GO!!!!! at the top of my lungs. You will get through this, you just will. God is good and will provide. Who ever said God doesn't give you more then you can handle is full of crap though. Sometimes he does and that is OK because HE will carry you through. Much love and many hugs! Emily

  16. I am so sorry to hear this Lisa! Wishing you lots and lots of strenght to go through this!
    Thinking about you!
    Big hugs!!

  17. You have been in my thoughts a lot lately, Lisa. Please know that I'm praying for your strength, courage & determination to get through this. Big hugs...

  18. Well...where do I start sweet friend...First off....I love you...I cherish our friendship....I pray for you many times throughout the day!!!

    I still remember the phone call....trying to process what my dear friend was saying...crying out NO and then coming to an understanding through each test that you have been through!!! We walk this walk I have always said...I am here and you know that!!!

    I am so glad that you have found strength through your faith......Faith....has gotten me through so much, just as it has gotten you through so much!!! Keep strong....Keep Smiling, and most of all FIGHT!!!!

    I adore you sweet friend....I want to do all the things we had planned and we take care of YOU and I will be right behind you...yes that lovely "C" word...the one that changes our world and makes us stronger!!!!

  19. Dear Lisa- You have been on my mind so much. I think of you and pray for you every day. xoxo- Kim

  20. Lisa, I have missed you & have been wondering just what was written between the lines of your last post, & now I know! Reading this I have shed tears, cursed fate & it's unfairness & been amazed at your strength & determination.

    Stay strong & know that you will be in my thoughts & prayers daily. I am a firm believer that we are never given a task that we don't have the power to deal with. It is so good to read that you have taken control & your determination to beat this awful disease is so strong.

    Keep counting those blessings, & look for the positive in every day!

    I just wish I could be there to hold your hand when you need it...sending {{{HUGS}}} to you & your beautiful family.

  21. OH Lisa...where do I begin..I've been waiting for this post after seeing some updates on FB..but not wanting to believe that it was coming. I want you to know that you have so many people sending positive, healing thoughts and prayers your way. I can only hope that you gain strength from the virtual hand holding and hugs that I and many are sending your are a STRONG woman and you will beat this!!!

  22. Hi Lisa! Thanks for sharing your story...we are all behind you 100%, fighting for you, fighting with you! You are a tough lady, that's for sure - so though it may get rough, you will get thru it! Know that you are in my thought & prayers :o) Take care & best wishes!

  23. Thank you for sharing this story.
    It makes it all more real.
    I am so glad you are rocking this beast!!

  24. I am so happy to hear of another survivor. You inspire me. Well, here is my story... My Grandmother-in-law is 80 and has had a mastectomy years ago. I always thought it was from the processed foods people eat. Why do we get cancer? Is it our fault? My Auntie died of "c" in her ovaries, but this is what brought her to Christ. She said she did not want it any other way. My Grandmother had her stomach removed, so now she is surviving and struggling. She hates being skinny, but I think she looks good. People get their stomachs stapled all the time. We learn to laugh through the struggles. Being positive is still important. Ecclesiastes says that the living have hope. So, I have hope and you have hope. Our souls and quality of life and content of our daily lives are more important than counting the years we live.

  25. I didn't think you were blogging or I would have been here sooner. You know I'm here for you. Your story echos mine, and it sucks. You remind me so much of me and with that attitude you can do anything. I think Jocelyn gave you my number. Call if you wanna swap war stories, or just to chat.


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