You Did Survive
Dear My Younger Self,
Hello, self! I decided to write you now on this day July 23, 2022, for the younger you to read July 23, 2005. Why did I decide to write you a letter for you to read at the age of 43? As you know, almost two weeks ago you went to your doctor for your annual female examination. A breast exam would be done but you would need to have your mammogram at the local imaging center. The doctor found a lump in your breast. After the initial shock, you immediately told the doctor you could not have the mammogram until Thursday or later since your 17-year-old daughter was scheduled to go to an orientation on Tuesday at the college she would be attending in August. This had been planned for weeks. This was your focus. A girl’s trip that included your 9-year-old daughter. The mammogram was scheduled for Thursday. You only told your husband about the lump.
Thursday you have the mammogram, and the next day you have an appointment with a surgeon. When you see the surgeon, he immediately asks if you believe in God, and you say yes. He continues to tell you “The center verse of the bible says: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.” Trust in the Lord, not in me.”
You asked the surgeon to do a frozen section and if the results were malignant, please do the mastectomy, you did not want to wait for the results of a biopsy. He agreed and scheduled the procedure for Monday. When you woke up in recovery, you immediately asked if it was malignant, it was. You later find out it is Stage 4 breast cancer.
So, at this point (July 23, 2005), you have had your mastectomy, you know that you will be starting chemo next month for several weeks, followed by radiation weeks later.
A few days after your first chemo treatment, you will have to take your oldest daughter to college. She will only be two and a half hours away from home, but this will be a difficult feat. Do not think I’m crazy when I say, it will be more difficult than the diagnosis of breast cancer, but it was. You attended the same college 25 years prior, she was your firstborn, and you were facing something you’d never faced and didn’t personally know anyone who had. Even though she offered to stay and go to a local college for a year, you won’t have it. You made it through this life transition, you will make it through this challenge of cancer treatment.
One night that is the most important I’d like to share with you happened sometime in August, maybe after your second treatment. You had a rough day and by that night, it hadn’t gotten much worse. It was the first time you’d run a fever during treatment, but the Oncologist told you to expect that. You had medicine to take and unless it got to a certain number, there was no need for you to call the doctor. Your fever never got above that number, but you had never felt so bad in your entire life. You felt so bad, you believed if you went to sleep, you would not wake up. You accepted that might happened and at that moment you were ok with it. I want you to know that you did wake up! You have awakened over 6,500 days since that night! Lord willing, you will awaken many more days. Please know that you have never felt that way again.
Some of the events that have happened in those 6,500 days are milestones that not many stage 4 breast cancer diagnosed patients have the opportunity to see. A substantial percentage of stage 4 breast cancer patients have cancer return after somewhere between 1.095 to 1,825 days. But not you! You are over 6,500 days since your cancer was removed. The Lord has a purpose for you and I’m sure you will fulfill it.
Here is a brief list of some of the milestones you will get to enjoy:
• Getting closer to God than was ever imaginable
• Receive your master’s degree in Elementary Education while taking chemo treatments
• Attend your graduation ceremony
• Go back to your teaching job and continue working part-time in your clinical lab scientist job
• Start a business
• Continue traveling including going on mission trips
• Win one silver and two bronze medals in the 2013 Kentucky Senior Games
• Win three gold medals in the 2021 Tennessee Senior Olympics
• See your oldest daughter graduate college and get a job, fall in love, get married, start her own successful business and work with her in it, be there when her first child was born, see her second son the minute he came home from the hospital (due to COVID-19), read her feature in a New York Times article
• See your youngest daughter graduate elementary school, high school, and college, get a job as an accountant while in college, get a much better job after college, fall in love, get married, and be there for her when she and her husband decided to move to an area of the country she visited so much as a child, be there when her first child was born, watch as she and her family start a business.
Some things are not so joyful that occurred in these 6,500 days, but you made it through those. You went to counseling when needed to deal with these hardships of life.
You survived the sickness of chemo and radiation. You survived having to stop taking one type of chemo that was intended to last 52 weeks but only lasted 11 weeks because it put you into congestive heart failure. You are a survivor, and you will become an inspiration to your daughters, your mom, your sisters, nieces, cousins, friends, and others who know and love you! Do not give up!
I was so happy to read the happy ending of your breast cancer journey. You navigated some extremely difficult days of your life but you came out strong and determined to succeed. You are an amazingly strong woman and you are not only a role model for your family but for all women as well. I wish you continued good health!
All the best,
Jennifer, I cried reading you story. Breast cancer has touched my family more than once. It’s a tough battle and you faced it with strength and love. It was very selfless of you to tell your daughter to go to the school she planned, no matter how hard it was for you. And the faith you had while facing the unknown is truly inspirational.
I am so glad you are still here and you’ve gotten to reach so many more milestones and see your children reach many of their own milestones. I appreciate you sharing your story. I hope you continue writing and sharing your wisdom on The Unsealed. I look forward to meeting you on one of our zooms. Thank you for being a part of our Unsealed family. <3 Lauren
Wow, this story brought me to tears because I currently have a grandpa who is fighting for his life with cancer. Your message gave me high hopes to think of his future as a bright one. Last week he went on a vacation to Jamaica but we had to airlift him back to America after he developed a stroke this Sunday. Your message is so inspiring and I will give him a push that he should not give up.