Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the groove

CONFESSION: LONG, WORDY POST. Sorry guys, this one is more for me than for you. Just something I needed to document. So, you won't hurt my feelings, at all, if you leave a comment saying, "Enough with the cancer already!"

Hi! Tonight I sat down to blog, and I started thinking about each one of you. I thought, "I wish we could just all sit down together and chat." Wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, that led me to snap a quick photo with Photo Booth, so that you can at least sit down with me tonight. Truthfully, I rarely read blogs without pictures. I LOVE pictures! I want to see people living their lives, not just read about it. Maybe my imagination isn't creative enough to visualize, but I think a picture truly is worth a thousand words. So, there ya go. Here's a picture for those of you who are like me. For my own benefit, I should've taken one at 6AM when my makeup and hair were fresh as daisies and my body was restored after a night of rest. But instead, you're getting reality - a day after 2nd grade and housework!

On my brief lunch break today, I ran to the cancer center, which is conveniently located about 30 seconds from my school, to pick up my second round of chemo pills. I've already downed a whole bottle! And, with no significant side effects!

Anyway, as I parked my car in the dark garage and entered the building, the familiar smell quickly hit me in the face. It's an odor that I'll never forget, and never favor. I walked with purpose down the long, barren hallway until I reached the cancer pharmacy. I guess they have to have their very own pharmacy to stock the drugs that no healthy person would be desperate enough to take. I waited. And waited. And waited for about five minutes or so as no one seemed to notice that they had a customer waiting at the window. I didn't mind the wait, other than the fact that I was crunched for time. The teaching profession isn't known for its leisurely lunches.

It wasn't so much the wait that struck me in this situation. It was the lady in her early 50s who was sitting in the all-too-familiar new patient area with her husband. They sat hand-in-hand and seemed to stare into space as others walked busily around them. The woman's face was as white as a ghost.

Oh man. I remember that day, I thought.

And, I do.

There have been two horrendous days in the last couple of years. One was that day. The first time ever at the cancer center. I didn't belong there. Not me. Surely, not me.

The other one was the day of the second diagnosis. Most of you remember my post that day. It was brief and to the point. No details. I wasn't ready, and it didn't matter, but now it does.

I went to my oncologists office by myself 2 days before I was scheduled to get my mediport out in a day surgery. She was going to give me a quick look over, say "You look great! Congratulations! You're done!" After all, that's pretty much how my appointments had been for a few months. Only good news. But this day, she came in and quickly began examining me. She stuck her hand in my left armpit just like she had done a hundred times. She moved her hand around and stopped. She removed her hand, and then put it back again. "What is this? Is this new? How could this be?" By this time, my heart was beating ninety to nothing and the look on the doctor's face was stone cold. "How could we have missed this?" She almost shouted the question.

I burst into tears. Though neither of us knew, we both knew.

She picked up her iphone and quickly scrolled through to find my plastic surgeon's number. I am so thankful that they are both professional colleagues and personal friends. It makes my life easier.

"What is this in Lindsey's armpit?" she inquired. "Did you notice it in her pre-op visit?"

Of course, he had no idea what she was talking about. After all, I could barely feel it myself. It was a God thing that she found it.

Within seconds, the two of them had collaborated as to whether or not a biopsy could be done right then. It was after 5, and it was unlikely that anyone would be available to do it. So, they arranged for a pathologist to meet me at the plastic surgeon's office first thing the next morning.

I was alone. And, I was devastated. The ONE time I decided to go by myself to my oncology appointment, and it had turned into a disaster.

My oncologist hugged me and said, "Do I need to take you home? I will call Brian." I reassured her that I would be fine, and that I would call Brian on my way to my car.

She replied, "Okay. Well, don't get your port out, and make sure that Brian comes with you in the morning. I'm very worried about this."

I dialed Brian just as soon as I could get service, and I could barely get the news out.

We were both in total shock. "How can this be?" we both continually pleaded, "I JUST finished treatment. I had a bilateral mastectomy. How in the world can this happen?"

I had to beg Brian to not come and get me. He finally agreed that I could just talk to him all the way home.

Finally, I got home. We alerted our families and prayed through a very scary night. I probably talked to 20 different friends and family members, and each reassured me that an armpit lump could be any number of things. It didn't have to be cancer. I took it all in, but I had a sense. I just knew.

The next morning we woke up early and dropped the dog off at the vet (medical appointments all around). I was fine until we left the vet. Then, my stomach lurched and my heart started pounding.

We drove in near silence and then we walked hand in hand to the doctor's office.

My plastic surgeon's office is full of the most caring people that I've ever met. They have loved me through some tough things, and they did that on that gloomy day. They gave me a surgical top to put on and led me quickly to the procedure room.

"We're waiting on the doctor. He'll be here any minute. And, he's such a wonderful man. You'll love him," they all kindly commented.

"Will we get results right away?" I asked.

"Yes. As soon as he reads the slides," they commented.

The next 3o minutes of my life are some of the most vivid that I can ever remember. The doctor came in, and he was wonderful. So sweet. So caring. He asked about us and our life, and told us about him and his life. But, I was just thinking, "Let's get to the point already. Get that biopsy done!"

Without further ado, he expertly harvested the cells he needed and dyed them carefully on his slides. He explained the whole chemical process to us. I didn't give a hoot. Brian and I both forced some laughter at his pleasantry, but our minds were a million miles away.

Brian put his clammy hand on my shoulder as I sat in the chair. The doctor's stool squeaked as he positioned it closer to the microscope. Time froze like a movie reel as he moved his eyes to the machine.

Oh. my. word. I thought that I'd faint on the spot, just waiting for the results.

At last, he turned with a start and said, "You are not going to like what I have to tell you. It's back."

We didn't cry. We didn't talk. We just nodded. And looked at each other with the most heart wrenching glances you can imagine.

That was a rough day. I wouldn't recommend it :)

But, let me tell you something - I never would've chosen this path, but I wouldn't change it. God's hand is so evidently upon us and in this, that I can't imagine it any other way now. I know that must sound strange to say, but it's true. This is the Lord's, and I'm just lucky enough to get to learn the lessons from it.


podso said...

you have the gift of His grace and His marvelous peace,

Susan said...

While reading this I could feel my own heart racing and my eyes welling up with tears. I cannot imagine being in your shoes. I love your statement about when the oncologist found the lump and you said it was a "God" true!

Also...I totally agree about the pictures with blog thing! I love to "see" into other people's lives. I have never blogged before, but this year I am doing the 365 picture blog. Every day I take a picture and post it in a blog with a short (sometimes wordy, as you would say) description. It is so much fun! Hop over and visit if you have a few minutes...I'd love you to "stop" by!

Dana said...

Wow, I cannot imagine what that must have been like. I think it is also remarkable that your oncologist offered to take you home! I love seeing the Lord at work in your life through what would have to be one of my top scariest things to go through and seeing His provision even through this. Thank you for your testimony and for being so honest.

k_stin said...

I agree with what the others have said. You paint such a vivid picture. I thank you for sharing your story with us. I really think you are going to make a difference for people going through what you have just described and for those of us that know them.

One of my co-workers was just diagnosed with breast cancer this week and I feel like I have a better understanding of what she is going through and true concern, because of what you've shared with us. Praying for you!

Amy said...

Your last post from the book you are reading by Francis.....has really touched me the last few days. I have shared your quotes from his book about worry/stress, trying to be in control as simply our own arrogance!! So, true!! I too often KNOW that God will work everything out for his good (in the end) but TOO often stress in the inbetween times. I'll have to get a hold of that book!!

Paula Chaffin said...

Brian and Lindsey,
Thank you for your story. It puts it all into perspective.
God has awaken me for the last 5 nights with you guys on my mind. That is always my sign that prayer is needed. As I was praying and thinking about how God is using the two of you, Brian came to mind. What servants heart!! He anticipates your needs, knowing just how you like things done. He offers, then lets you do it yourself or does it anyway when he knows you don't feel like it. I don't know if Brian was as attentive before the Cancer but what an incredible servant He has created in your sweet husband.
This does not go un-noticed to others. God is using Brian in a special way. Brian is planting seeds with his servanthood that he may never see.
What a mighty God we serve!
Stormin' His Throne on your behalf!
We love you guys!
The Chaffin's

Whitney said...

What a terrifying day, Lindsey. I don't like that story. But thank you for sharing it. You make your life so real - so tangible to us. Love you.

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord for the smooth chemo process this time around! I will continue praying for you, your Brian, and your puppies! Thanks for sharing what this day must have been like for you.
FYI- I am a therapist and a Christian and just thought I'd tel you that how you treat/prevent PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is by sharing and talking, and rehashing our stories. This let's us to unburden our souls. it's similar to "debriefing" done after major castropies. Just thought I'd give you all the more reason to blog :)

Julie-CA said...

It brings a smile to my face to read your words. I love that while you are not "welcoming cancer", you are looking past the status and into the broader picture - the picture of what the Lord is showing you about Himself. Having that appreciation for the lessons He is teaching you through this are what is going to carry you through this season with a supernatural thankful heart that will just boast of the goodness of the Lord. Oh how He shines through your life Lindsey.

Crystal said...

Hi Lindsey, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your life with us. I know I don't comment very often, but I do read all of your posts, and even though I don't "know" you, you are in my prayers every day. I know there aren't any words I can say that will help, but please know there are so many people in this world who love you. Because of your courage and willingness to share through this blog, I do feel like I know you, the words you write have made such an impact on my life. You are such a beautiful and special person, and your courage is such an inspiration.

Julie Adams Gray said...

Gosh, enough with the cancer. Hahahaha... THANK YOU for sharing every detail... You have no idea how you make me see God in a different light and make me see my time with Him in a different light. On another note... Sorry if my blog bores at times with no pictures... You know I am the queen of them, but I haven't taken many lately so you better keep reading it... or else. Ya... There. Good sitting down to chat today!!!

Anonymous said...

i'm praying for you

melissa ellen parker said...

you are beautiful - fresh as a daisy or not...

and that goes for inside and out. i'm continually praying for you specifically as you provide updates on your needs/details about your treatment. you are strong - so strong - and have faith

Love and hugs - big ones

Sweet Simplicity said...

You have such a talent for writing. I'm so glad you have such a caring medical team around you. Just another God thing I'm sure. (Although thing doesn't quite do Him justice.)

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a short while now & am praying for you..the Lord has & is going to use you to bring hope to many..I am not battling cancer but my family has been through some tough, tough times in the past 15 mo..God has used you to bring encouragement to my heart & the ability to put on my "big girl panties" Lol and soldier on! May God Bless You & Keep You..continue to be BOLD doing the Lord's work, what a great & mighty God we serve!.......Deb

Lelia said...

Lindsey - thank you for sharing your memories from that day. I just had my 6 year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor, and I too have shared with family my memories - it seems especially on anniversaries of diagnosis, end of treatment, and things that happened to me (being bald, chemo and radiation treatments (especially did not like the ink drawings to mark radiation fields - was so happy to scrub them off!). I appreciate your honesty about your feelings, and am always uplifted by your words of faith. Sometimes, a person just needs to tell their story - and you can be sure - someone needs to hear it. Praying for strength for your day, endurance to get through treatment, and complete healing for your body and mind. Cancer can do quite a number on both, but I know that God will be with you to "uphold you with His righteous right hand".

Anonymous said...

Lindsey- you are such an absolute inspiration. I have been reading your blog for the past couple months and have been praying for you. You have such an amazing attitude on life- may God bless you, heal you and use your story for inspiration for many people. You should know that you've touched so many lives through your blog- what an amazing person you are :)


Suzanne Moore said...

Lindsey, I love that you are going back and recapturing how you felt. I too have been doing that lately as I am one year into this journey. Blogging has been the best way to help me deal and to share with others the amazing power given to us by the Holy Spirit. I have been praying for you daily. Keep writing in the moment, keep smiling, keep believing and keep your eyes on Him! Many blessings of hope and encouragement to KEEP STANDING, HE IS ABLE!!! Blessings, Suzanne Moore, Birmingham, AL

Alabamamom said...

Thank you for sharing your story with such honesty and openness. It is such a testimony of God's grace being sufficient to help us walk through whatever we face in this life.

Emily said...

Don't you dare apologize for any of your posts. Yours is the first blog I read each morning-you inspire and uplift me through your journey. I would love nothing more than to be able to sit down and chat with you face to face and compare notes through your cancer journey and that of my little girls(still ongoing). I feel like I know you although we have never met and I just love that!