I know the headline is shocking, but I figured I’d cut to the chase so we can talk about this.
On Wednesday, October 23, I got the results from my breast biopsy and I could tell from the doctor’s voice that this was the voice she used when she was about to deliver a cancer diagnosis to one of her patients. Her tone was calm, steady and comforting. She told me the type of cancer it was (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) and scheduled two appointments with me before we hung up. I sat in my office staring at the wall.
I told some of my close friends and they were all in shock with similar sentiments: “Not you, Anne-Marie. Not your family. It’s too much. You’ve been through too much.”
We’ve been through a lot. Infertility. Adoption. Special Needs. Brain Surgery. An almost heart surgery. Breast Cancer. And in each and every circumstance God was there. He is here now. His fingerprints are all over our life and anyone who has been reading this blog or following our family’s story for the last six years can see God’s fingerprints too because they are unmistakeable.
I’m actually in pretty good spirits. I’ve had a lot of practice (years of practice) in the arena of receiving a hard diagnosis. I used to think how can people actually be content in really hard situations? Now I know, it’s learned through practice.
“…For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Phillipians 4:11-13
Being content in your circumstance is learned and it is acquired through practice. The secret is realizing that putting my faith in God no matter the circumstance is the best decision I can make. And it’s a continual decision because I have feelings. So when I feel like, this isn’t fair I need to remember what I know in my mind, God has me, I can trust him and so I will chose to be content because I have learned how to do this.
Thursday morning when I woke up, I picked up my Streams in the Desert devotional. The opening verse was so obscure that I rolled my eyes, what could a verse talking about a sharp piece of metal have anything to do with my current situation. Well, let me tell you…as I read, the writer talked about how a bar of steel might be worth five dollars, but if it’s a horseshoe it’s worth $10 and then on and on, and how the value is increased the more the metal is work with, so much so that if it’s a spring for a watch, it could be worth $250,000. The more steel is manipulated, the more it is hammered, passed through the fire, and beaten and pounded and polished, the greater the value. Those who suffer most are capable of yielding most and it is through pain that God is getting the most out of us for his glory and the blessing of others.
After reading that, I felt like my stock value started skyrocketing. I’ve been hammered, put in the fire and beaten, given at what life has thrown at my family and me. But, I’m not a lemon; I still feel like a really valuable and shiny piece of jewelry. I know I am.
Obviously I’m not thrilled to have a breast cancer diagnosis at 38. However, I am very glad that it was caught early, so early that the Dr. said it was stage zero, meaning it has not gotten into the lymph nodes and is in the place it originally started. Breast cancer runs in my family on both sides, so I’ve gotten mammograms since my late 20s. Nothing made me suspicious to get a mammogram, I just went in because it’s #breastcancerawareness month and I hadn’t been in a couple years. Thank God I went because I can’t imagine if I went next year at this time. If cancer is in my card deck, I’m so incredibly thankful to be dealing with it right when it appeared.
I don’t know what the next step is, but I’ll learn about all my options in the coming weeks. I’m glad that God prompted me to get in and get tested; and if you’re under 40 and your doctor says you’re too young, find another doctor. There is no good reason to wait!
When I got my latest tattoo in NYC, I wondered what would be the next thing I’d have to trust God with. I just didn’t think that my next test would come within three weeks of my newest tattoo. It’s all good though because in all of it—Jesus, I will trust.