If somebody offered to take away my cancer and all of my pain and misery and suffering, take me back to the day I was diagnosed, and have that event in my life never happen, would I take them up on that offer?  I would have a guarantee that I would never have to go through having cancer or dealing with cancer.  Would I take that offer and return my life to the way it used to be?  I know that some of us long for the way things used to be, I find myself so very often longing for things to be back to normal.

Well, my husband and I had a discussion this afternoon about this exact same subject.  Someone had asked him if he could take away my cancer, would he?  The answer was no, and here is why:

It has been a year of suffering and pain.  Months spent trying to find out why I felt so lousy, why I had so much pain, then me discovering IBC on IBC research website.  Being certain that that was exactly what I had, and yet going to 3 different doctors to get brushed off and told that it was nothing, or engourgement, or mastitis.  As I continued to get sicker, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, sick to my stomach all the time, in pain all the time.  

By the time I was finally diagnosed, I was first RELIEVED to figure out what was wrong with me and I felt vindicated to know that it wasn't just all in my head, and that I wasn't overreacting, and that I wasn't a hypocondriac.

Final diagnosis, Inflammatory breast cancer stage 4, mets to the bones (Back, hip, pelivis, femur, ribs) and a spot of cancer on my lung.  Breast Tumor area is 9 inches around and 2 inches deep. (feels like a baseball in my breast)

I survived a 2 week whirlwind of tests and scans, biopsies and doctors visits.  Within a week of being diagnosed, I had my port placed and chemo started.

I have finished 17 treatments of Taxol & Herceptin.  I then had a modified radical mastectomy.  I had a hysterectomy with ovaries removed.  I am still on weekly Herceptin and monthly Zometa, and am currently doing radiation (5x a week for 6 weeks).  Not to mention surviving these treatments, then you have the joy of paying for those treatments.

I lost my hair, I lost my eyelashes, and eyebrows, I lost some weight (YEAH!), I lost a breast, I lost my sense of taste and smell (which isn't necessarily a bad thing when you have to change your 20 month's old son's diapers)  I tried not to loose my sense of humor, or my smile.  I had a lot more fun going shopping for cute jammies instead of cute clothes.  I seriously have more pj's than clothes in my closet now.

But lets take a minute here to talk about what I gained by having cancer

I gained an even closer, more loving, tender, relationship with my dear sweetheart, Dan.  To see him take a more active role in the teaching, and caretaking of the children,  To see him serve our family by doing dishes, washing laundry, all so  I can rest.  I know that even if my time here on earth is short, and if Dan has to take over my role in caring for our children, I KNOW he can do it, and he would be wonderful.

I feel a more profound and tender love for each of my children, and I have been able to see them step up and grow and help each other and me.  I have seen their faith grow as with their simple prayers praying that Heavenly Father will make their mother all better.   I take more delight in the simple things of reading a story with them, sitting and tickling their back, throwing a ball back and  forth, or playing cars.  There is more joy in the simple time we spend together.

There have been so many miracles wrought in our behalf. We have received countless hours of service from inspired friends and neighbors, who listened to promptings of the holy spirit, and filled a need for us without even being asked.  We have had so many friends and family help watching the kids with all of my doctors appointments, surguries, test days, and sick days.  Never once have we had an need that was not filled.  We are so humbled by all of those who are willing to serve us, even those who don't really know us, but know OF us that have served and helped us.  I had a small army of sisters come and clean my house from top to bottom.  AMAZING!!  The love that we feel from those that do that has brought such joy into our lives.  The donations that have been freely given to us to help with doctor bills, or for Christmas for our family, friends being willing to do all of our shopping and wrapping of presents.  Truly amazes me.  I can say thank you a million times, and it still couldn't adequately describe the gratitude that my family and I feel.  Saying Thank you just seems so trite, but I say it from the bottom of my heart, and hope those who have served and given feel that joy in their heart that comes from serving others.

So, even though this last year could be considered a year from hell, dealing with cancer and all of it's crap, this last year has been one of the best years of our lives.  The blessings we have received, the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father, our testimonies of Christ, has brought our family together stronger than ever before.  Old personality conflicts, once thought so deep and unsurrmountable, now have blossomed into precious, tender, friendships, where there once was jealousy and misunderstanding.  The new friends we have met and been able to share this journey with has been another precious outcome from dealing with cancer.  I wouldn't have met all of the wonderful gals who are also afflicted with this same disease.  I find such comfort from them, and hope I bring a little of that comfort to your lives.

I am truly blessed.  Not by having cancer, necessarily, but because of all of the wonderful things I have been able to see happen because I have cancer .  I believe things happen for a reason, and when bad things happen, we can choose to learn and grow from them, or we can retreat into ourselves and become bitter and unhappy.  I choose to grow and become what I am meant to become.  I hope one day that I will be able to share this knowledge with others and be able to make someone's load lighter, like what has happened to me and my family time and time again.

Thank you all for being a part of my life, and my journey.  I am so thankful for all of the love and prayers and support I receive.  I cherish the friendships that have been forged, and the knowledge that I have learned.

So, I think I just might say, that what could possibly be the worst year in ones life, I am going to say that this has been the best year in my life.  It is the best because I have never felt so loved, so looked out for, so richly blessed because of all those who step up and help and do so much more than we need, just because they want to help lighten our load.  I feel so blessed to live where we live, around good people who truly love their neighbors.

So, no, I won't trade my cancer.  Because I want to keep all of the precious experiences that have came into my life because of it.  

12/25/2007 12:00:18 pm

I have to say that you are one of the most amazing women I know. Thank you for your strength and testimony. I know you strengthen mine everytime I get on and read your blogs. I soo appreciate you sharing your experience. I'm still praying for you as are all my children. Love ya lots - LOL Ann

1/8/2008 02:58:13 pm

I hope you don't find me crazy, but I was blog hopping and just happened to hop here. My husband was diagnosed with Kidney cancer 2 years ago, and we found out about 2 weeks before Christmas that it is back. Reading a few of your posts made me remember how many people are going through this trial together. I too, always feel very blessed by the amount of people who take care of us and how good people really are. I hope the best for you and your family.

1/10/2008 04:31:44 am

thank you so much for sharing this post!!! I too was blog hopping and found you. You are amazing and inspiration to me!

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