A Year of Learning

Wow!  A year since my surgery to remove Cruella (my tumor).  As long as the year has been, I can’t believe it has been over a year since I heard the words, “You have breast cancer”.  The “C” word.  The word no one ever wants to hear.  God has taught me a lot this past year.  Just a year ago, I was so very anxious knowing I would be going for surgery in the morning. I re-read my blog posts from last year so I could be reminded of how far I have come in my journey with cancer.  And I pray that my blog has helped others.  This was a way for me to communicate with my family and friends.  A way to be real about my fears, and my victories.  So here is a brief recap.

 God is in control.  I still fully believe this.  Through every step of the way, believing that God’s got this is what got me through most of my days.  Now, I am not saying I didn’t struggle to get through this because believe me, I had my days!  But I could be frustrated and mad at God knowing that once I got done with my rants, he would still get me through this journey with cancer. 
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”  Romans 8:28

God is Good.  Always.  He didn’t cause my cancer.  He didn’t pick me and say, “Hey, Stacy, all those sins you have committed, you will now be punished with cancer.”  Now I did say “why me?” quite a few times over the past year.  No matter how much faith you have, when something like this happens, I think that is a normal reaction.  I reacted the same way through every job loss, every miscarriage, every struggle.  However, I know that God is good all the time and He will use me through this journey, whether I understand the WHY or not.  I learned that I have support from those who may not even know my struggles. 
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His faithful love endures forever.”  1 Chronicles 16:34

The power of prayer is real.  I have prayed more, and had more people praying for me during the past year than I could have ever imagined.  I had people praying for me that I am super close to, and some people praying I didn’t even know.  I received cards from those close to me supporting me in this journey, and cards from a church group and still have no idea whose church this was.  I just know they must have requested prayer for me, and pray they did.  The day I went in for surgery, I had the radiology tech praying for me.  I felt the prayers.  I know God heard them because every test, every trial, I had a good outcome. 
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”  Philippians 4:6

I have a community of amazing friends and family.  I read back on the comments of support and I am sitting here crying.  Though I felt self pity at times in my journey, I do know I was NOT alone.  My friends were bringing meals, praying, sending encouragement.  My family was doing EVERYTHING for me.  And I can’t even talk about how AH-MAZING Dennis has been through this all, especially since he graciously took the brunt of my moods, my negativity, my struggles, my frustrations.  I came to know the love he has for me and I am in awe.  He wrote in my surgery day blog, “God, let me take this one, not her…”  I am so thankful it was me who got cancer, not Dennis.  He is a better rock than I am and for that I am so very thankful he is my husband, my strongest supporter, my best friend. 
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”  Ephesians 5:25

Patience is a virtue.  Patience is a virtue I am NOT good at.  This journey over the past year was determined to teach me patience.  Changing my normal routine, restrictions, drug changes, tests, doctors appointments sometimes weekly.  All of this was challenging.  In my mind I thought I would have surgery, have radiation, and continue on with my normal life.  This was not the case.  I have had to adjust to my “new normal” and I don’t like it very much.  I want to have my normal activity level, feel good every day, and do what I used to do.  I am 48 years old and some days feel 90.  I ache.  I don’t feel good some days, for no reason.  But I am trying to be patient with it all, although I have not mastered this yet, and am not sure I will ever be good at patience.  I will continue to try.  I will be okay with myself on the days I don’t feel good.  And on the days I feel good, I will try to not take it for granted. 
“I know all the things you do.  I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance.  And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”  Revelation 2:19

God has a plan for my life.  I know this.  And I am still reminded of this daily.  I thought this cancer journey would all be easy because my plan was laid out for me from my team of excellent doctors.  I would have surgery, radiation, and be on a hormone blocker for 10 years and hopefully never have to go through this again.  I had surgery and flew through it.  I had radiation.  This was a little more difficult.  The radiation itself was not bad.  But for at least six months, I was exhausted.  I didn’t think I would still feel the effects for that long, but I did.  Then I would be on a hormone blocker.  Well, THAT part of the plan isn’t going to happen as the drug caused me to feel flu-like daily.  I refuse to feel bad daily just to live.  Quality of life over quantity…so MY plan wasn’t working.  Shocking.    
“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.”  Jeremiah 29:11-12

Gratitude in all things.  I am still very gracious for the journey I am on.  Even if I don’t like it.  I am grateful that others have shared my journey.  I am grateful for my superior medical team.  I am grateful for my clean 6-month scans.  I am grateful for my family and friends who support and pray for me.  I am grateful for my church.  I am very grateful that I am blessed to work at Sun Valley and be surrounded with people who have been so supportive.  I will count my blessings.  Even through cancer, I am blessed.  And I am gracious. 
“From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:16-17

Wow!  What a year it has been and what a journey I have been on. Now, onto my next steps.
There are various ways to celebrate your “cancer free” date.  I chose to use my last day of radiation as my “cancer free” as once those little cancer cells were radiated and gone, I felt I could say I was cancer free.  I am 1-year from lumpectomy.  I am 11 months cancer free. Hallelujah!
I have been having monthly shots to keep my ovaries shut down to help decrease my hormones and to keep me in menopause.  In the next month, I will have a hysterectomy to get rid of my chances of having other hormonal related cancers.  My third surgery in a year.  Apparently cancer is the gift that keeps on giving.  Your journey doesn’t end after a year.  You are not considered in remission until year 5.  But I am a fighter and I will get to year 5.  It won’t be an easy road, but I have faith (see above).
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10