Stage 1. Stage 2. Stage 3. Stage 4.
Medical jargon meaning how invasive the cancer is, in my body.
I found out I was a stage 3A. Not good.
This was determined by the size of the tumor in my breast and how many lymph nodes the cancer had traveled to.
After my first mastectomy, I was told 4 out of 10 lymph nodes the surgeon took out, had cancer in them. It had started to move! In me!
Not great odds at all. My God does not operate by man's odds though. Still very terrifying to hear.
I found out that the type of cancer cell itself was the most aggressive "type" to have.
I needed chemotherapy most definitely.
If I did not do anything my survival stats for 5 years out were 50/50.
If I did it all, it crept up to 73.9%
Now that I've stopped the adjuvant therapy, it is back down to about 64% of being around in 5 years.
Those are the facts about my breast cancer. Well it's not mine, but you know what I mean.
I had an epiphany today and it did not feel very good.
I have an apology to make to my "sisters" who have had breast cancer.
Through my whole journey through diagnosis, surgery, chemo and radiation, I've slowly and secretly adopted the thinking that if you were "less than a stage 3A" in your cancer journey, than you really did not know what suffering was. I mean, you did, but not like mine.
I have said this out-loud to my husband. He has gently told me "Bonnie, they have still had cancer." My compassionate retort? "Yea, but they just had a lumpectomy--they still have their breasts!!"
If you didn't know it by now, (if you don't, you live under a rock) it is breast cancer awareness month and the newspaper does stories on local ladies who have had cancer. Today, my eyes speed read through it and I stop when they mention their stage of cancer. If it is less than mine, I act all puffed up inside and think, "Yea but mine was worse than yours honey! If you only knew what it was like to have a flat, empty chest ! At least you still have yours!"
The very sad part is that I continued reading...she was only Stage 1 but she ended up finding more lumps and then chose to have a bilateral--and she still had to suffer through chemo..
Oh God forgive me....forgive me for judging my sisters who have suffered too. Their circumstances and diagnoses may be different but they still produced pain and suffering in their lives. Their chest may not be flat like mine, but they have still heard those searing, gut wrenching, sick to your stomach words, "you have cancer."
I have elevated myself above them as a judge -instead of humbling myself .
I believe God allowed me to have this moment today. By thinking I had it worse than "they did" I was feebly trying to quantify their suffering. Does it matter whether their pain radiates from a stage 1 or a stage 4 diagnosis? No. Does it matter if they are young with kids or old? No. How about if they've had surgery or not? No. Or if they had less chemo than me? Again, no.
I am so sorry sisters.
Whether you are a stage one with no chemo needed or a stage 2B with a lumpectomy, you and I have had something in common.
We have experienced pain and suffering.
We have wondered if "it" will come back. We have fearfully wandered down the road called "What If I Don't Make It"many times. We have endured many yucky things..we also have adopted a fight mentality that would make the WWF look shy. Some of us won. Others have had "it" recur. Some have died and now live in Heaven.
Forgive me Lord.
Grow me in compassion and mercy..help me to be more like You..
Now that I've got that off my flat chest, I'm going to bed.
You are faithful and merciful Lord,