Right when I feel like I’m settling into the current circumstances, plans change.
More than two weeks before my vacation, I took a genetic test called a BRCA test (most people seem to pronounce it Brack-uh), recommended by my breast surgeon. Come to find out, I fall within a population of only 11% of women under the age of 45 diagnosed with breast cancer. Because I’m a newly inducted member of this sorority, it’s important to know if I am a carrier of BRCA. It’s not only important for me and my future, but also for my offspring.
What does a + BRCA test mean? Well, basically that I have a high probability of getting breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer in my lifetime. For me specifically? Well, I’ve nailed the breast cancer, so therefore I may live with a risk of ovarian cancer. There is currently no effective early screening for ovarian cancer; when it is caught, it is typically in advanced stages and hard to cure. For the ovarian surveillance, I would have a yearly vaginal ultrasound to check my ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus for abnormalities and a CA125 blood test that looks for elevated CA125 protein levels which is an indicator for ovarian cancer. Again, neither of these ovarian cancer screenings ensures that we would catch the cancer early. Preventive measures may be taken proactively, rather, which correlates to a complete hysterectomy. We’re not there yet, but that’s a beast of itself.
Rewinding….upon my return from the south Pacific, I received a series of phone calls. Long story short, geneticists are requiring me to perform a series of genetic tests considering my age, my mother’s death (a story for another time), and the few but significant cancer occurrences on my father’s side. Apparently, I meet more than enough criteria to be tested for Li-Fraumini syndrome, Chek-2 and a few others. Testing positive for these gene mutations mean a great number of things. In summary, a higher probability for many other sarcomas and the need for full body MRI exams on a yearly basis. Wow! Yikes. Okay.
So, there may be any one, or all, of these mutant genes inside of me, silently, doing it’s nasty work of churning out corrupted cells that go out looking for somewhere to attach and spread it’s darkness BUT soon we’ll about it. And instead of being on the defensive, we can attack. With all the violence and finality I can muster, I’ll have to fight.
Our bodies are but a shell for our souls, our spark of life which cannot be changed no matter what is done to the shell. We are talking about double mastectomies, hysterectomy, chemotherapy, genetic counseling, implants, hormones, possibilities and probabilities. My body will change.
And God continues to be there through it all. God is always there with you. He doesn’t make you go through certain trials, He allows you to go through them. He allows us to experience pain, suffering, hurt, loss, and grief in order for us to learn something. After all, what would our lives be if they were easy all the time? Would we learn anything? Would we grow? We, as human beings, need to be challenged. And, as for me, I’m thankful for a God who challenges me. Even though the midst of these trials may royally suck at times, I look forward to the knowledge I will gain because of this. The story I will have.
You know, all of our journeys are unique ones. God gives each of us different stories to tell. Different chapters, different words, different characters, different plots. I believe He does this so we can personally learn and grow, and so that we can share them with others, so that they too, can grow. Be reminded that God also allows us personal victories, good days, and happiness. He is not only the author of the crap, but He also writes our greatest times as well. We gain knowledge through these victories, but as for me, I gain a helluva lot more knowledge through my trials. I am thankful for my journey. Don’t get me wrong, just because I’m thankful, doesn’t mean I always like it. However, my thankfulness is rooted in the fact that God will bless me for being faithful. He will bless me with things I can’t even imagine yet. These trials he puts us through will always result in reward. It’s the truth. God guarantees it.
As I have grown and gone through many trials in my life, I choose to view these shitty circumstances not as “Why?” moments, but rather as “What are You teaching me?” quests. God is working in me. He is teaching me something that will benefit my future. He is honing my character. I look forward to the person I will become due to this diagnosis and the immense blessings He will pour out to me.
Thank you all for your continued support, prayers, and encouragement. You all rock! Really, you are my rocks…my pillars…my sisters and brothers.
1 Peter 5:8-10 (Message Version)
“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ -eternal and glorious plans they are!- will have you put together and on your feet for good.”