Two years ago today I had my double mastectomy surgery. I remember that morning very clearly. After about six weeks of sitting with the diagnosis – stage 0 breast cancer – I was more than ready to go! I wanted that cancer out of me as soon as possible. I had spent the last six weeks going to doctor appointments, preparing my colleagues at work for my upcoming absence, and praying for strength and calm. Now it was time to get down to the business of surgery. The only questions that would remain after the surgery were these:

  1. Would radiation and/or chemo be necessary or would the surgery get all the cancer out of me?
  2. Would the plastic surgeon be able to begin reconstruction that day? (after having had skin removed after my weight loss eight years ago, the plastic surgeon wasn’t sure there would be enough left-over to work with)

Truly, the answer to number one was the only thing that mattered to me at that point. I trusted the plastic surgeon to make the right decision after the cancer-removing surgeon had completed the double mastectomy. And, I felt the love from my husband that I so desperately needed as we left for the hospital and waited throughout the prep process. His support and encouragement that morning were phenomenal. He sat with me and made me laugh as the doctor drew ugly black markings all over my naked body, preparing it for the surgery. He held my hand and told me he loved me and that me having boobs wasn’t important to him, but that having me alive and well was of utmost importance. And he stood beside the gurney as they wheeled me to the operating room. God gave me two awesome surgeons, a supportive and loving husband, and a room full of nurses and hospital staff that assured me I was being well taken care of.

In the hours and days after the surgery, I was grateful to receive the answers to my questions, and with the amazing grace of God filling my soul. The plastic surgeon was the first face I saw as I came out of the anesthesia. He told me that my skin was too thin to begin the process of reconstruction. He said there may be a time in the future that it would be strengthened enough, but that he had to make the decision to close me up and let me heal without starting the reconstruction. As he spoke the words, a wave of relief flowed through me. I knew it was God letting me know that I didn’t want reconstruction at all. During the last two months, thinking about whether or not I really wanted that process was next to impossible. Since my only focus was really on the cancer and getting it out of me, I never really took much time to reflect on what I wanted. I just listened to the doctors and told them I trusted their judgment. But as I laid there, listening to his words, God helped me to feel the real truth within – what my husband said that morning was exactly how I felt too. Boobs don’t matter. My life is what matters. It was a glorious moment. And, even more glorious than that was the call I received from my cancer doctor two days later – no cancer in the lymph node he took from under my arm – no need for further treatment. Now, it was just time to let my body heal from the surgery and move on with my life. WHEW!

The words – you have cancer – certainly did turn my world upside-down. But in looking back, I see God in all the struggle, all the darkness, all the silence and fear. Through it all, He was holding me up, guiding me to those who would be of the most compassionate help, and transforming my worries into faith and hope. I am so grateful today for the experience – which is not something I ever thought I would say! Of course I don’t ever want to go through it again, but I certainly feel blessed to have been carried through the storm to a place of peace never known before the diagnosis.

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