March 6, 2007

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

I had my one year check up yesterday. My oncologist transferred to Maine in October, so I was relieved that my treatments ended in September. I really liked her and to have to switch doctors mid treatment would have been a little scary for me. She was always interested in not only myself, but how Jeff was doing also. I was able to send her a card when Jeff passed, and gave her this website to keep updated. She sent me a very nice card in response and I will always be thankful for the care she gave me.

I was nervous to go to the appointment I had on Monday. I still have pain where I had radiation and sometimes the pain can be unnerving. I never had pain when I found out I had cancer, so I don't really know why the pain makes me think the worst. As I said before, I know that God chose to heal me, but I know that I am not exempt from recurrence just because I know I am in God's hands. I never thought that I would lose my brother, and I did. God has never left, he has been walking with me.

My appointment was at 1:00. I knew that the office would be at lunch from 12-1 so I was hoping I would not have to wait long. I remember the first time Mike and I went. The office is on the same floor as the cancer treatment center, pretty much just down the hall. The first time we entered the waiting room, we found ourselves surrounded by people many years older than we were. It was all very surreal. Just having turned 25 a few days prior, it was safe to say I was less than half the age of the average person there. I can't even count how many times someone has told me I am too young to go through this. There is never an age when someone should have to go through this, it's just that when you are young, you don't think anything bad will happen to you. That is the part of myself that I will never get back. People ask me all the time how long Mike and I have been married. It will be four years this year... time really has flown. The next obvious question is when we will start a family. Mike and I never wanted to have kids right away. In fact, Mike was never totally sold on the idea of having kids at all for awhile. When I was first diagnosed, they told us there would be a fairly decent chance that I would not be able to have children afterwards. I was so thankful that God gave me a husband that would not think less of me if I could not have kids. We saw a fertility doctor before I started chemotherapy to see about freezing eggs, etc. Ultimately we decided that God would protect me if that was His plan. The cancer I had tested positive for the HER2 factor, meaning it was had a positive receptor for both estrogen and progesterone, which are the two main hormones females carry. This would explain why the tumor grew so fast, everything in my body was feeding it! The hormone therapy I was on for a year was called Herceptin, which is a cutting edge new treatment for this type of breast cancer. It can have harmful effects on the heart, so I had routine heart scans. Thankfully, God kept me in tact. The tamoxifen I will be on for four more years is supposed to reduce my chances of recurrence. I cannot have kids in the meantime, so our family will continue to consist of the two of us and our dogs!

Back to my appointment! We arrived a little before 1, and the waiting room was totally empty! I was given new forms to fill our since this was the first time I had been there this year. Before I could even sit down in the waiting room, my name was called to go back. Mike was with me so we headed back. It was a room I had never been in before, but as standard as they come. My new doctor came in and said "You are too young to be here!" She went over my chart and asked if we were planning on having a family. I told her we may after the 5 years is up, but we were waiting to see. She told me that I shouldn't be afraid to think about having kids after this, it would not increase my risk for recurrence. That was good news! She also asked about my family history for cancer. Up until recently, it had been a pretty clean slate. When I mentioned Jeff she seemed interested to learn what type of cancer he had and his age, etc. She asked if either of us had genetic testing done. Jeff did when he was first diagnosed and it came back negative. I used to get really bad headaches a lot, so Jeff made sure to tell me that what he had was not genetic so I would not worry. Little did we know then, that I would be diagnosed with my own a year later. Anyhow, my doctor asked to have a copy of that test sent to her and said she may want to look into it for me. I have still always wondered if there is a link between the two. In my heart, I really believe that our family has just been under attack for a long time.

A friend of mine that heard this said that she was sure that this is why God sent me a new doctor. I agree with her.

My entire appointment lasted less than 20 minutes, start to finish. She said I am healthy and to keep doing what I am doing.

So, I will continue to keep the faith. I will not be terrified, and I will not be discouraged, for the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go!

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