I needed to write before I went into my appointment at MD Anderson. Before I understand more. Before I know the treatment course.
I wanted to make sure I capture the miracles.
Two weeks ago today, my doctor called and said a biopsy found a ductal carcinoma on my right breast.
In my life, there are before and after moments.
The first one I remember is at 12. Before and after my parents divorce. When the world as I knew it tipped on its axis.
Before and after marriage, almost 15 years ago. And world shifting moments since then – before and after infertility, before and after children, before and after Bray’s job loss.
So here’s another one of those. In the year of our Lord, 2020.
In the midst of the news, and the logistics, and the processing, there have been miracles. God working in every single moment.
On Day 1, I spoke with two women who gave me insight into their own personal stories of recent breast cancer and treatment at MD Anderson. As a result, I went on line that night and filled out a form to get in to see a team there.
On Day 2, at 8 am, I received a phone call from MD Anderson. I’d been told it could take months to get in and I should consider seeing other doctors in order to get an evaluation more quickly. Yet here was this woman on the other end of the line saying she could make appointments for me on what would be Day 11 and Day 12.
That same evening, a dear friend and mentor of mine introduced me to his friend leading a team at MD Anderson. He recommended a specific surgeon in the department. I looked into the team I’d been assigned to see on Day 12 and realized the oncologist is not one that would be who I would ultimately settle on. He didn’t have the background or experience I was looking for in the oncologist that would be with me through the entire process.
Meanwhile, my closest friends and family members were praying like crazy. We had told the children and they had shared with some close friends at school, and teachers, and a few more people began to cover our family in their prayers.
On Day 3, MD Anderson called again. I explained that I did not want to lose my appointment but I knew the oncologist I was assigned wouldn’t be a fit. She said she’d check for the next available team appointment. The next opening was only ONE BUSINESS DAY LATER, today, and the surgeon on the team was the very one the MD Anderson team lead had recommended. The same one.
I said YES PLEASE! Another miracle.
On Day 4, I wrote about the diagnosis here and the gates of Heaven were barraged by the prayers of so many on my behalf. The biggest miracle of all.
On Friday, Day 12, when I went into my first MD Anderson appointment for testing, another miracle. They repeated the mammograms and ultrasound and noted possible bilateral biopsy. That was to investigate other areas of concern. They spent time US-ing my lymphnodes. When the technician came back, she reported no further areas of concern and I was free to go.
Let me be clear here. Everyone has different results. The fact that my results went one way while another’s come out differently does not reflect anything about their faith or their prayers or their community of support.
But what is important for my individual story, as I process, is for me to acknowledge the hand of God in every thing that happens. The big and the small. The significant and the minute. Because God is not just a God of the mighty miracles where seas part and the blind see. He’s a God of the small miracles. The daily walking around goodness – in open parking spots and appointment availability and test results and friendship.
People came as God with skin on these past two weeks.
They prayed. We had two Tiff’s Treats deliveries and a delicious loaf of homemade bread.
Five women from law school sent a “treatment tote” with incredibly thoughtful gifts, crowdsourced from their friends who had gone through this before. Gifts for the children and button front pajamas for me and even a cute tote I could take to every hospital visit and then throw away when I beat this thing.
Two of my best friends arrived days later with a bag laden with the softest blankets and sweaters and a diffuser with essential oils. My best friend had the exact same sweater and wore it on Friday as I wore mine. Solidarity with me on my first visit when she couldn’t be there.
There’s more. Every day, there’s more. Family and friends and God right smack dab in the middle.
The miracles started even before “Day 1.” I was supposed to get a mammogram this month. But in October, one time in the shower, I thought I felt something. I never felt it again. But it made me call my doctor and get a mammogram a month and a half earlier than usual.
I was supposed to get the biopsy results on a Friday. I’d have gone nuts that weekend. I couldn’t have DONE anything and it would have done us all in. The boys on their hunting trip and me having to sit still. Instead, my dear friend had an appointment (scheduled months ago) with my primary care doctor on Monday morning. She asked her to go find the results and then I got the call. On Monday. When I could spring into action.
Every day was another miracle. The God of the small and the big.
And no matter what they tell me today, no matter what the course of treatment, I serve that very same God. The one who shows up. The one who cares. The one who acts in all things for His good purpose.