Breast Cancer at 27
I’m starting this blog to keep everyone in the loop, this first one will be pretty long, I'm sorry :/ it's a lot to catch you up on but from here on out I’m hoping I can keep it up to date.
Life is full of unexpected turns and trials, some good, some bad and some that make very little sense. The Lord has guided me through many seasons throughout the years and I have been blessed to know him in immeasurable depths in the midst of unbearable hardships, and I have seen his provision and his tender care throughout each of those seasons. And so we enter another…
Roughly 9 months ago, in October of 2018, I found a lump in my breast, I scheduled an appointment and went to the breast center to have an ultrasound done. I left that appointment with the assurance from the doctors that it was likely just a cyst or a milk duct filled with fluid, but they wanted me to return in 6 months to see if it grew. About a month ago I returned for the follow up appointment, I had noticed it had grown just slightly since my last appointment. The doctors examined it, making note of the slight growth and we scheduled a biopsy that same day. Honestly I was surprised, going into the appointment I expected them to take a look at it and send me on my way but that wasn’t the case.
We got the biopsy results back the following day, the good news was they didn’t find any cancerous cells but the bad news was they found Atypia cells, they called it an Atypia Papillary Lesion. They said we would like to schedule you for a surgical consultation, it would be wise to have it taken out to make sure that there are no cancerous cells in the middle of it. The following week Caleb and I met with the surgeon. Up until this point everyone we had talked to, had assured us, it is probably nothing! Your only 27, there is really nothing to worry about… So, it had me thinking do I really need to get it removed or is this just a precautionary measure? We knew if I had to have surgery that our insurance wouldn’t cover it.
Caleb and I have been married for a grand total of 5 months, we got married in January. Leading up to our marriage was a whirl wind. For the past few years I have been planning to move to Peru to live and do ministry among the Yanesha People; an indigenous people group that live in the jungles of Peru. Ever since graduating college 5 years ago, I knew the Lord was leading me to live cross culturally and do ministry. When I graduated I didn’t know what or where I just knew I was willing to follow the Lord’s leading.
Over the next few years I went on several short term trips to Peru, Nicaragua, and a few countries in Southeast Asia and the Lord continued to burdened my heart for the Yanesha people. I began making preparations to join a small team of missionaries in Peru with a goal of moving by October of last year. But the Lord had other plans, Caleb and I had been friends for 3 years during that time and by God’s refining grace alone, we started dating August of last year. The Lord aligned our hearts for international ministry and through much prayer and counsel we put a pause on moving to Peru in October, got married in January 2019 and planned to move to the Yanesha the following year in January 2020. To do ministry among the Yanesha people together.
All of this to say, when we were making our plans for this year, buying insurance and figuring out life it has all been with a very temporary mindset. Caleb got a job with a temp agency and I have been working part time with the Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. We got the bare bones insurance plan that covers us if we get into an accident and minor doctor’s visits but we didn’t foresee that we would be going through multiple surgeries costing us thousands of dollars. We only needed coverage for the year. But here we are
We met with the surgeon and he was the first person we talked to that expressed any urgency of removing the lump. But even he seemed pretty sure it was likely nothing serious. He said that he had done 1000s of these procedures but because it had grown over the past 8 months and the fact that it had Atypia cells he wouldn’t recommend leaving it in beyond 3 months.
We scheduled the surgery for the following month… fast forward to the present. I had the surgery to remove the lump last Thursday. Everything went well with the procedure and the surgeon instructed us to call and get the Pathology results on Tuesday of this week. Monday afternoon I was back at work and I received a call from my surgeon…
His tone was slightly urgent as he shared the results of the pathology report all of his words rushed together but I caught a few. He said he wanted to call me and get the ball rolling on the process the findings were what they called DCIS he said he was going to refer me to some different doctors so that we could determine our next steps. An oncologist, a genetic testing There will be another surgery but we need to find out if we simply need to take more of the margins from the original area or if there is need for a mastectomy. A wave of emotion hit me as my brain went into overdrive to try and process everything he was saying within our 2 minute conversation.
I sat at my desk and cried into my hands overwhelmed at the mountain that was just thrust upon me. I went into the bathroom and called Caleb half sobbing while trying to reiterate everything that I had just been told. Caleb was calm and patient with me as he listened intently to understand the few words that were coming out of my mouth between the gasp of air. He reassured me that it was going to be okay that we will just take it one step at a time. I calmed down as I was coming to terms with the new reality. I thought with the surgery behind us, we were at the end of all of this, when in reality we are really just at the start of it. After gathering myself and cracking a few jokes with Caleb to lighten the mood, I left work to go talk with my mom.
I walked into the rental property she was working on with no warning and told her the news, I think at first she was upset more at the whiplash of news more than anything. To go from the extremes of all the doctors expressing its probably nothing to a possible mastectomy is a lot to take in to say the least. We went onto the back porch of the property and sat on the steps as she tried to wrap her head around my limited information. She called my Dad and he came by wrapped me in a bear hug and asked “You doin okay baby girl” by this time I had received the results and we could all discuss everything with a little more understanding.
The results said I have DCIS breast cancer which if I'm going to have breast cancer that is the best kind to have. It basically means I have cancerous cells in the duct of my breast but they are contained which is good! They say its precancerous for that reason, at stage 0 of the stages.
The surgeon was very adamant about starting the process as fast as possible, he said because of my age that I am at high risk of it advancing in stages or returning throughout my life.
So the appointment scheduling began, as the calls flooded in over the next couple days
Wednesday was genetic testing
Next Monday is post op with my surgeon and an MRI to see if there may be any other spots in my other breast
Wednesday of next week is radiology and then a separate appointment with an oncologist
All of these appointments will determine how aggressive we need to be and whether I need to get a mastectomy or not, at the very least he says I will have another surgery to take more of the original area.
Now that we have had a couple days to process everything its honestly easier to see how much all of this is a blessing even from our narrow view point. God’s plan and provision is so evident, if I had gone to Peru as planned last October there is no telling how advanced this would be by the time I got back. I have found so much comfort in the fact that this is not a surprise to God, He knew this would happen and in more ways than I can understand I know he will use this for our good and his Glory. I know he will use this trial in our lives and hopefully in the lives of many others, He has blessed us with the opportunity to go through this and know him more abundantly through it.
The Lord is faithful and this is just one more opportunity for us to glorify him throughout the trials of this life!
We are so incredibly thankful for all of your prayers throughout all of this. The Lord has lavished peace upon us through your prayers. We are comforted by the fact that we are not alone, so many of you have asked me to let you know how you can help. Honestly the most tangible way you can help us is first Prayer and second financially.
We are starting a GoFundMe because our insurance doesn’t cover any of the surgery. The first surgery is close to if not over $7,000 and we know I will need a second surgery, we aren’t sure how extensive it will be yet but all in all we are estimating that it will exceed $20,000 all together.