"Let's kick cancer's booty and take some names."
LORD, after this suffering, let it be said that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, make my Savior clear to all those around me. Because of my suffering and willing perseverance, cause others to be encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
(Phillippians 1:12-14)

About Me

God is walking with me. This I know.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tumor #2 Biopsy Results Inconclusive

I remarked when this whole thing started that it would be muddy; stitched together and lumpy like an old quilt. I really hate that I was right about that.

I saw Dr. Cooper today and he explained that when a radiologist looks at a mammogram or ultrasound that is suspicious, they grade it. When they looked at mine, they gave it a grade 4, which is bad. However, when the biopsy results came back, it was negative for cancer.

This did not jive with Dr. Cooper. He spoke to the radiologist who performed the biopsy and she admitted that the tumor is very small and it was hard to locate on ultrasound. Once it was located, it was a little bit difficult to get a sample. (And seriously, it took about 3 hours. I was wishing they'd knocked me out for it!) He said he was not happy with the results and wanted to be absolutely certain about whether or not it's cancer. In his words, "if we don't know for sure and take the results we got today and move forward, the consequences could be bad." He said if he does a surgical biopsy, they will know without a doubt if it is cancer.

I am scheduled for an outpatient surgical biopsy on Friday, May 14th and have a follow up appointment to get the results on Wednesday, May 19th. Once the results are in, he will know which surgery to perform for tumor #1 and the surrounding tissue (lumpectomy or mastectomy). If tumor #2 is cancer, it is a condition called multi-focal which results in several cancers growing at the same time. It also means mastectomy.

So....for the next 2 weeks I have no doctor's appointments, no biopsies, no mammograms, no ultrasounds, and most importantly to me, no getting stuck with a needle! Yippee!!

Thank you for your continued prayers. And please keep 'em comin'! This was never the path I pictured myself walking. It definitely isn't my preference. But it is the path I have been given to walk and I feel God's presence with me. I am determined to choose to walk it with a joy that is continuous and defiant; a joy that defies it's circumstances. Your prayers and cards and kind words keep me going in that direction.

Have a great day everybody!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dr. Mark Cooper

Still no news on tumor #2, but I'm waiting patiently and hoping to hear something today.

A lot of people have asked me about my doctor. I really like him. And I've heard other people say they've heard good things about him.

Here are some comments I found in an article about him:
"Dr. Mark Cooper is the genuine article. Cooper specializes in fixing humans."

"Cooper enjoys working with breast cancer patients."

Cooper says, "They are so completely 'deer in the headlights' when they hear the word cancer. I get to alleviate some of their anxiety and take care of them."

"Cooper spends most of his day-to-day time with breast cancer patients and 'that can be very time consuming, which most people don't like, but I really do.' "

From Dr. Donna Scudder, General Internist: "Dr. Cooper is particularly good at meeting the emotional concerns of women who find a lump or have an irregular mammogram. He is a fine general surgeon, but his gift is helping breast cancer patients navigate the emotional concerns of their diagnosis."

Medical Oncologist Dr. Nancy Peacock says, "Mark Cooper is incredibly gentle with each of his patients and is technically exceptional."

Sounds like I'm in pretty good hands. Thank You, God, for Dr. Cooper.

Friday, April 23, 2010

YOU!!





When I learned the fact that cancer is in my body (a wise friend told me not to claim it; to never say "I have cancer") I decided that if nothing else, I would try to bring humor into this as often as I could. Here are a few people who make me laugh. If you've ever been to a Ward family function, you know how much we love to laugh. Between the Ward and Grissom families, I will never fail to have something to laugh at.

This picture of Scott has a story behind it. If you'd heard it, you would've cackled. He has a great and very dry sense of humor and it makes me laugh. A lot.

My friend Tammy. Oh my. We have laughed enough for 3 lifetimes. In fact, we were trying to quit laughing for this picture, but didn't have much luck. We were at church camp last summer and yes, we stayed up laughing way into the night.

And Alex. AKA, Flavor Flav, in this picture. We share an office at work. He keeps me in stitches.

There are so many others I could name. There are so many things people have said to me that make me smile. Countless people tell me they are praying for and thinking of me.

One story that absolutely makes me cry and grin from ear to ear at the same time is the story my Momma told me about Buddy Watson. For those of you who don't know Buddy, he goes to church at Old Hickory. Buddy is mentally challenged. He is one of the friendliest people I've ever seen and met. He is wearing a breast cancer pin. His mother told my mother that it was for me. I love it! Thank you BUDDY!!

And thanks to YOU ALL!! Have a great weekend!!!!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Waiting....


I had another mammogram and ultrasound today for tumor #2. It is extremely small, which is good. But on the other hand, it was so small they weren't sure they were looking at the correct spot on the ultrasound.

I am having a biopsy tomorrow. When they perform a biopsy, they put a 'marker' in the spot, so that when you have another mammogram and they see something suspicious, they can see the marker and know that it has already had a biopsy. Once the marker is in place, I will have another mammogram, then those pictures will be compared to the breast MRI. The breast MRI is where tumor #2 showed up. The comparison will make certain they are in the right spot.

Confusing? Tell me about it!

Anywho........biopsy tomorrow and then Dr. Cooper should have the results on Friday. I'm hoping to hear from him then. Treatment marching orders will hopefully follow.

Speaking of Dr. Mark Cooper, I have had several people I know tell me they've been his patients and they've all said good things about him. But today, I had another doctor tell me I was in good hands with him and that he was one of the best in town. I've always liked him, but it's comforting to hear it from another doctor.

So....more waiting.
But in the meantime, I'm headed to the Predators playoff game tonight with my favorite sister who happens to be my best friend, Angie!

Hope everyone has a great day! I am so thankful for you all and may God bless you richly!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ransomed Heart Daily Devotional

I receive a daily devotional from Ransomed Heart Ministries (link is listed on the left side of this page). Here is the one I received yesterday. I pray God will use this "wound" to teach me and others whatever He wants us to know and that we will listen to Him.


April 17, 2010

Most of Us Have Been Misinterpreting Life

Most of us have been misinterpreting life and what God is doing for a long time. “I think I’m just trying to get God to make my life work easier,” a client of mine confessed, but he could have been speaking for most of us. We’re asking the wrong questions. Most of us are asking, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Or, “God, why won’t you just ________” (fill in the blank—help me succeed, get my kids to straighten out, fix my marriage—you know what you’ve been whining about). But to enter into a journey of initiation with God requires a new set of questions: What are you trying to teach me here? What issues in my heart are you trying to raise through this? What is it you want me to see? What are you asking me to let go of ? In truth, God has been trying to initiate you for a long time. What is in the way is how you’ve mishandled your wound and the life you’ve constructed as a result.

“Men are taught over and over when they are boys that a wound that hurts is shameful,” notes Robert Bly in Iron John. Like a man who’s broken his leg in a marathon, he finishes the race even if he has to crawl and he doesn’t say a word about it. A man’s not supposed to get hurt; he’s certainly not supposed to let it really matter. We’ve seen too many movies where the good guy takes an arrow, just breaks it off, and keeps on fighting; or maybe he gets shot but is still able to leap across a canyon and get the bad guys. And so most men minimize their wound. King David (a guy who’s hardly a pushover) didn’t act like that at all. “I am poor and needy,” he confessed openly, “and my heart is wounded within me” (Ps. 109:22).

Or perhaps they’ll admit it happened, but deny it was a wound because they deserved it. Suck it up, as the saying goes. The only thing more tragic than the tragedy that happens to us is the way we handle it.

(Wild at Heart , 104–6)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Diagnosis and Where We Go From Here

If you're reading this you probably already know that I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Here's how things have gone the last 2 weeks:
I had my yearly appointment with my gynecologist on what I thought was a regular Tuesday. I was scheduled for my yearly mammogram the next day. I asked my doctor if I could go ahead and get an ultra sound as well. You see, every year when I get a mammogram, they send me a letter stating that they saw something that could be suspicious and that I need to schedule an ultra sound. And it scares me to death. So this year, I asked if we could go ahead and do them both at the same time. Turns out it could've been divine providence.
I got my mammogram and the pictures were shown to the radiologist. He said they looked good and I could go down the hall for my ultra sound. After the ultra sound the technician went to show those pictures to the same radiologist. He came back in the room with her. Uh-oh. This is not normal. He wanted to look at something. So I crawled back up on the table. He starts the ultra sound again and says, "What is THAT?" And he has this funny look on his face. That is REALLY not something you want to hear your radiologist say, especially when you're are one he's saying it about.
He recommends a biopsy.

The next day my doctor's office calls and says they have me scheduled to see a surgeon the next Wednesday.

The next day my doctor calls me. On his personal cell phone. And he says he's praying for me and we will walk through this together and he knows it's stressful. My first thought was, "Why is he praying for me? What did he see on that ultrasound?"

You might be wondering why I said asking for the ultrasound was divine providence. Turns out, my mammogram had not changed, but my ultrasound had. If, by some wild chance, they hadn't asked me to come back for it, or if I hadn't asked for it, this cancer may have gone undetected.......divine providence.

I go to the surgeon and he walks in the room, says hello, then exclaims, "Did they tell you this was CYST?" I said no and he went on to explain that cysts do NOT turn into cancer. They never have. They never will. He scheduled me for a biopsy the next day.

If you've ever had a biopsy, maybe you'll understand when I say I never want to do it again. It didn't hurt. But I was so scared and nervous. Especially when the radiologist said, "It usually takes a week to get the results back, but your doctor put a rush on these results." Okaaaay. That was on a Thursday.

On Monday, April 12th, I got the news. And I cried. He told me that I needed to get a breast MRI.

As with the biospy, if you've ever had a breast MRI, maybe you'll understand when I say I never want to have another one these every again either. It also did not hurt. But it's extremely uncomfortable. And loud. But hey, they didn't have these things 10 years ago, so I feel very fortunate that I had it done.....because without it they would've never seen a 2nd tumor.

I went to see my doctor the next day and he told me about the 2nd tumor and told me where it was located and how big it was. The 1st tumor is located on the right side at the 12:00 location. The 2nd tumor is also on the right side, but it's at the 6:00 location. If it turns out to be cancer, it means I have 2 cancers growing at the same time, but they are completely separate. It only happens in 20% of breast cancer patients.

Welcome to my world.

And guess what that means? Remember that biopsy I said I never wanted to have again? I MIGHT have to have it again. I go back to the hospital this coming Tuesday, April 20th to have yet another mammogram and ultrasound. If the radiologist looks at tumor #2 and decides it needs to have a biopsy, I will do that, then see my doctor again. If it is NOT cancer, I will be scheduled for a lumpectomy to remove tumor #1. If it IS cancer, I will be scheduled for a mastectomy. It's more invasive, but they tell me it hurts less.

Today I am praying for no cancer in the lymph nodes (which they will test during surgery) and to have only a lumpectomy. I'm also praying for wisdom, not only for myself but for my doctors as well. And to go through this with some amount of grace and dignity and most importantly, to show that you don't have to lose your faith when facing uncertainty and ground you've never walked before. I am scared. No doubt about that, but God has given me peace. And I know He is walking this path with me.

The Day My Life Turned Pink

It's not that I hate the color pink. It's just that it's not a good color for red-heads. It clashes with our freckles. So when I found out I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I sighed. That is, after I cried. A lot. Monday, April 12th was the day my doctor told me I had cancer. And everything changed.

I decided to start this blog to let everyone know what is going on in my world. Those who want to know, anyway. I think there's a lot of over-sharing on Facebook, so this is a place where I can get all my thoughts on "paper" and those who want to know my progress can come here. But since I really don't like the color pink, I decided my blog would be one of my favorite colors: brown.

Cancer used to be about death. And it was all pink. But today is new. Steven Curtis Chapman's song All Things New says, "You make all things new. You redeem and You transform, You renew and restore. You make all things new." A breast cancer diagnosis no longer means death. And it doesn't all have to be pink.

But whatever color it is, it can be about healing and life and the love of family and friends.

I am so grateful for all the prayers and good thoughts and hugs and cards and Facebook messages I have received. It has truly lifted my spirits in a time when they could be on the floor, curled up in the corner somewhere.

God is good. All the time. And He is walking through this with me.

My doctor said, "You're going to be the 2nd person to worry about you, and I'm going to be the 1st. And I'm not worried." And as my friend, Tammy, observed, it sounded like something God would say.

And now....as another friend, Angie Bowman, put it, "Let's kick cancer's booty and take some names."