Beating the odds… BEATING breast cancer
By Debbie Abide
What are the odds? I’ve seen all the statistics…one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at some time during her life. But, wouldn’t you think that the “one” must have missed a few mammograms or forgot to do a self check one month? Not necessarily. I’m not saying I do everything right…I still love the sun and fried foods and sweets…but when it comes to my yearly check-ups, I’ve never skipped a single appointment. The year I turned 40 I had my first mammogram and I haven’t missed one since.
Now, I wasn’t at all surprised when I got “the letter” telling me I needed further evaluation. Yes, several years I had gotten that letter and returned for another mammogram and even ultrasound, but “dense breast tissue” was always the culprit. Not this time…my OB-GYN called and told me to make an appointment with my local surgeon to “see what he thought.” He thought I needed a biopsy…the next day. Well, it just so happened the next day was a very important day in our family’s life. Exactly two years before, our handsome, fun-loving 20-year-old son had died from injuries he sustained in a horrible truck accident. My husband and I had already planned to spend that day at our nearby cabin away from work and other distractions. Now we would have to deal with this other distraction first. We pulled up in front of the hospital, the same hospital we stood in front of to watch our son being airlifted to the nearest trauma center. What are the odds? The biopsy went smoothly and we left town quietly and hid away at the cabin.
Two days later we got the news. I had cancer. What? I didn’t feel sick…I didn’t look sick. We immediately started calling our family resources and the next day found ourselves meeting with one of the best breast cancer specialists in the nation. And the news was not good. The cancer was also in the lymph nodes…not just a couple, but “too many to count.” Although we were faced with heartbreaking news, it wasn’t our first heartbreak. With our faith and trust in God, we knew immediately that we could do this. If our lives could offer hope and encouragement to others, we were ready and willing to fight another battle. If this was our purpose, to share our story and through it, share the love and hope found only in Christ, we were up for the challenge.
The next few months have been a whirlwind of doctors, chemotherapy, surgery, and now radiation. You see, you need a team of doctors and lots of treatment when you have metastatic breast cancer. Hopefully, more surgery will come in the future to restore my body. One thing I must say, though, even with all the physical changes of hair loss and mastectomy, I still don’t feel sick…not physically or emotionally. I have continued my daily exercise classes through it all and my body and my spirit have remained strong.
Even with two devastating events in only two years, I know that with the strength and courage that God has given us, we can handle it…we can beat the odds. Two years ago we put our grief in God’s hands – it’s a good thing His hands are big enough for cancer, too.