Seeking to provide for my husband’s needs during my caregiving days could get emotionally heavy at times, but I feel my past experiences helped to prepare me somewhat for the caregiving challenges. One of these experiences actually coincided with the beginning stages of my caregiving days. That experience was my fight against breast cancer.
April 3 marks the fourth anniversary of my freedom from breast cancer treatment! In July of this year the Lord willing I will be a five year survivor of breast cancer, as survivorship is counted from the day one is diagnosed.
About a year before I was diagnosed with breast cancer my husband was diagnosed with his serious neurological disease in 2006. I sometimes wonder if the grief I felt over his diagnosis may have contributed to my getting cancer. That we will never know for sure, I suspect.
In July of 2007 I noticed a swelling in my right breast and under my arm. I was able to book an appointment with my physician’s assistant. She sent me for a mammogram and MRI the next day. A couple days later I received the devastating news that I did indeed have breast cancer and that the cancer had invaded my lymph nodes. The tumor in my breast was very large, and my dr. told me later that my lymph nodes were all gummed together.
A few days later I found myself at my oncologist’s office, and after a full body scan at the hospital I began chemo. I began chemo by the end of July of 2007. All together I had 8 chemo treatments in 3 week cycles, mastectomy surgery with all my lymph nodes under my arm removed, and 6 1/2 weeks of radiation daily. Side effects of chemo were fatigue, mild nausea sometimes, food tasting like cardboard, loss of all of my hair etc. Radiation caused some burning, but it was manageable. All treatment was completed in April of 2008!
During the time of my cancer treatments I had a host of people praying for me-even people across the ocean! We also had people from our church bringing in meals twice a week for a long time. I further had church people bringing me to all my chemo treatments and most of my radiation treatments. The medical people at my cancer care center were wonderful.
Cancer treatments would not be a time that I would want to go through again, but at the same time it was a time of blessing as well as hardship. It is hard to explain, but I became more free in my spirit and less concerned about other’s opinions as a result to this cancer experience. I experienced the love of other people, and most of all I experienced the love of my Lord and Savior in a new and fresh way. I learned dependence on the Lord God during those many months, and I grew in my faith. The Lord’s strength and His love to me demonstrated through others helped me through those months.
At the time I still continued to grieve over my husband’s neurological disease which had no cure and continued to only get worse. I continue to grieve today my husband’s death 15 months ago. I still am miles away from having it altogether. Just perhaps, however, I will be able to face today and the days ahead with more of God’s strength, because of my cancer experience and my experiences with the heartaches of caregiving. The memory of those days will never go away. It has changed whom I am forever mostly for the good.
I know that there will always be problems in this life, but I am further certain that my Lord and Savior will be with me all through my life. I know He will give me the strength to handle anything I need to face in the future. Even in hard times God has promised to be with me and bless me and someday take me to live with Him eternally. Dear Christian caregiver rest in Him.