Stage 1

Posted on: April 26, 2018 Posted by: Deborah Swanson Comments: 0

Stage 1

We arrived at my sister’s house last night. My mom and sister live about 30 miles from UCLA, which is a godsend. Both my mom and my sister offered to go to our appointments with us and Dennis and I really felt we could do it on our own. We went to bed and slept. At four am, I woke up, almost like being jolted out of sleep and was wide awake. I heard the whisper again, “Take Peggy with you.” That’s my sister. I am like, “Okay. I’ll ask her in the morning if she would go with us.” Then God whispered, “You have Triple Negative Breast Cancer.” Okay. . . That was it. It took me forever to fall back asleep. Now I need to tell you a couple of things about myself. First, I could be a paid professional sleeper. Seriously, you could stand me up in a corner of a noisy room and I could sleep. If I could do sleeping as a career and make money at it, I could become a professional! Second, I love to sleep. I love to nap but rarely do because I can’t take short naps. Three hours is the shortest nap I can take, and then the entire day is gone. So, I have to avoid napping whenever possible. No 20-minute power naps for me. I can take a three or four-hour nap in the middle of the day, wake up at 6:00 pm eat dinner, and go back to bed for another eight or nine hours. All that to say, I don’t wake easily and I sleep long and hard. So if God is going to wake me up with something important to say, He will wake me up fully alert. I had only heard the phrase Triple Negative Breast Cancer once before. A dear friend of mine is going through a comeback cancer, and that is what she told me hers was. I haven’t read anything about it. I had no idea it correlated with my pathology. Until we sat down with the surgical oncologist at 10:30 am the next morning with my sister in the room and, “You have Triple Negative Breast Cancer” spilled out of her mouth. I believe God wants me to know that He’s in this. He cares so much about me that He is allowing almost instantaneous confirmation.

We had one appointment scheduled for this surgeon at the UCLA Breast Cancer Center. Mother Teresa worked her tail off to get a second appointment with an oncologist for the same day with UCLA but only five minutes from my sister’s house. Perfect timing.

The crazy thing about the day was that I would also be required to undergo genetic counseling and genetic testing because of my Jewish Heritage. Apparently, if you are an Ashkenazi Jew, you have a very high likelihood of having some mutated genes that cause breast cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2). Everybody has these genes and if the genes are normal in your DNA, they help fight cancer. If they are mutated, then they can cause cancer. I am half Jewish so I automatically fall into the category of being tested. They will run this huge blood test looking for about 27 genes and mutations that cause cancer. The biggies are BRCA1 and BRCA2. The test takes about ten days for results. With a couple of phone calls my sister was able to get us in to see the Genetics Counselor, which just “happened” to be the same woman who did the genetic testing for my mom two years ago. She pulled up all my family history that my mom had already given, and then I was able to add my dad’s side, which is where the Jewish Heritage comes from. Now, I already know that I am a Jewish princess. That is, I am a child of the King (God) which makes me a princess and I am Jewish, so there is no denying it. Just my crown is missing for some reason.

In addition to all of that, we were able to squeeze in a critical breast MRI before the day was over which was nothing but miraculous.

I am doing well. An early detection puts me in a stage 1 category with a very high chance of full recovery. I am being stretched for sure. I had blood drawn, boobs manipulated and gazed at, dye injected into my veins, and I was pushed into the white tunnel of loud noises while holding perfectly still. It all feels incredibly surreal. I feel fine, yet I have a very aggressive, fast-growing cancer that is already in my blood. Seems like someone should be rushing to cut it out, but time marches on. I guess we all have a little of that in our lives. Something that we’ve let invade our lives that is slowly changing things. It probably started as a thought and then transitioned into a sin. We just allow it to keep growing. It is like a cancer. It eventually takes over and permeates everything we do, if not cut out. What stage are you at?

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