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There are some adventures for which we pack our bags, book our flights, grab our passports, and head out on a trip of our choosing. For other adventures, our passports are thrust into our hands and we embark on a journey with no warning, no itinerary, and no destination. With my medical identification card as a passport, I was unexpectedly propelled into a multi-faceted medical adventure. For someone who still had all their original parts and whose most recent surgery was over 40 years ago, my medical chart was fairly boring. I had no inkling that this year would hold so many doctor visits, scans, and biopsies; each one would bring more difficult news.
In February 2017, a routine office visit resulted in a referral to a specialist who performed a uterine biopsy. Following the surgery, in which uterine polyps were removed, the doctor remarked that rarely is cancer found in polyps. In the doctor's words, I was exceptional because the pathology revealed the presence of a very rare type of uterine cancer. I was referred to an OB/Gyn oncologist who recommended a hysterectomy. In preparation for the surgery, I had a routine CT scan. On the day of my Pre-Op appointment, I was informed that, again, I was exceptional. The CT scan showed a 4 cm. mass in my right lung. The hysterectomy was postponed, I was scheduled for a lung biopsy, and I was referred to a medical oncologist.
In early June, when the medical oncologist entered the room she said, "I have some bad news and I have some good news. Which would like to hear first?" Steeling myself for the bad news, she announced, "The pathology from the lung biopsy shows that you have Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer." Nothing could have prepared me for those seven life-altering words. So what was the good news? "You are exceptional because your cancer is caused by a rare genetic mutation which affects only 10% of those with lung cancer. And of that 10%, only 30% are Caucasian. We have a targeted oral medication that can switch off the mutation to slow or kill the cancer cells." It was the first time being exceptional had been in my favor! I am currently taking the oral medication and experiencing some minor, manageable side effects.
I am so grateful for the tiny symptoms that led to the discovery of these two cancers so that they can be treated. Graced by God and surrounded by the presence and prayers of others, I am uplifted and empowered to walk this way well. Just as the Old Testament Israealites gathered stones from the Jordan River to memorialize God's moves in their lives, I am collecting my medical passport stamps to remember the places God's faithfulness accompanied me. Although this medical adventure was not of my choosing, I know that God is enveloping, empowering, and encouraging me daily.