When the doctor said she had cancer, her first thought was “Well, this is it!” What happened from there may just surprise you! Join me as we learn all about thriving from a long term cancer survivor.
Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 64 years old. Here is her story:
Mom was in to see her doctor for a routine visit. She and the nurse were going through her health history when the nurse told her she should get a routine mammogram. A mammogram was not in her plans, but the nurse persuaded her so she scheduled it.
The mammogram showed a mass in one breast, so a biopsy was scheduled.
She is the ROCK of the family and held it together for the rest of us as she always does in situations like this. As the doctor sat in his office and delivered us the news. Mom was all business – asking logical questions like, ‘what’s next?’ and ‘when do we do that?’ My dad sat quietly and fought tears. I was angry.
I asked my Mom how she felt when the doc gave her the news. She told me that it was like an electric shock ran through her body. Then she thought, “Well, this is it,” certain that her life was soon coming to an end.
My brother and sister both lived out of town at that time back in the Fall of 1999. Since I lived only a couple of miles from Mom and Dad, I quickly became very involved.
That day in the surgeon’s office, we were given options. The plan was to do a needle biopsy and if cancer was confirmed, my mom wanted her breast removed. That was her decision and those were the instructions she gave. She was given the option of just having a lumpectomy but she said, “No, if there’s cancer, just get rid of the thing!”
The biopsy confirmed our fears so the mastectomy was scheduled. But get this…when the pathology report came back after the surgery, there was no cancer! Some people may get angry if they get news like this and say there had been a mistake and begin to plan a lawsuit. Not Mom. Nope, she just said, “God decided to heal me”. And that was that!
Her faith in God is what kept her calm. She knew that no matter what, God was (and always is) in control. Her salvation was secure and she knew that. She figured that she probably had a couple more years left and today, I am interviewing her for this post about 18 years later!
When Mom woke up from the surgery, she wondered ‘what’s next?’ As she awoke from the anesthesia, she began to think. She thought about those drain tubes now hanging from her chest. She worried that because she’d had a breast removed, she would probably not look ‘normal’. Mom told me that she felt very self-conscious.
Time To Head Home
Before taking her home from the hospital, someone paid her a visit from the American Cancer Society to talk about her new appearance. The woman gave Mom a ‘falsie’ (mom’s word, not mine), a big ball of cotton and a sports bra to go home with. She felt relief that this would at least help her look ‘normal’ and not lopsided!
We took her home when the doctor allowed and she didn’t want anything to do with her drain tubes! So, guess who was her nurse? Yup – Me! I’m not a nurse, but someone needed to care for her so I did just that. I have to admit, I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of nursing, but school was never really my thing.
Mom wouldn’t even LOOK at those tubes, so it was a challenge to take care of them. I don’t want to give the impression she was uncooperative – she was very cooperative actually, but very creeped out and kept her gaze in the complete opposite direction each time I drained them.
After about a week, we went in for the follow up appointment with the surgeon where he said that the drains could come out. His nurse was sick that day, so he let me assist. That was cool.
That first week was a long one for me. I slept on Mom & Dad’s couch so I could be there when Mom needed any help. Dad was a busy man and gone quite a lot with his work and besides, he really wasn’t the nurse type! Mom and I got to spend some real quality time just chatting.
God Was Ever Present
I’ve always known that God is real and salvation is free, but my Mom really lives it out. She talks freely about her salvation and shares it whenever she has the opportunity. You will always hear her say something like this: Read your Bible and find God’s direction for you. When you realize that you’re a sinner, you need to ask God’s forgiveness and confess your sins to Him. She will also remind you that even though you have accepted God’s free gift of salvation, you will still have times where you will sin. Not to worry though, because God is a loving and forgiving God. He is always there and at the ready! You only need to talk to Him, and He will listen.
Mom wants me to tell you that you can know this peace too. Just take a look at these few verses from the Bible. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 10:9,10 says “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
She has always liked Billy Graham so I’m including a link here to a great message from the Billy Graham Foundation. It’s simple and easy.
Long Term Cancer Survivor
Mom is 82 years old now and going strong. We lost my Dad about 5 1/2 years ago but Mom continues to thrive. She drives 40 miles one way to church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. Mom teaches a ladies’ Bible study and has a very active social life. I have often heard her say that she regrets not having a double mastectomy, but is so happy to be alive and LIVING life. She really exemplifies what it means to THRIVE! I love you mom!
So, tell me your story. Are you a Thriver? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment and be sure to subscribe so you’ll stay up to date when new posts arrive.
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Here’s to Thriving, Not Just Surviving!