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On Wednesday, November 7, 2018 Danielle went to her doctor with a painful lump in her breast that we thought would be a cyst. Her doctor, expressing concern, sent her for an urgent mammogram and ultrasound the same day, where she was told that she had breast cancer. The next week was packed with a biopsy, MRI, and CT scan. At the end of the week we received more bad news: the biopsy confirmed that the cancer was invasive, and imaging tests revealed that it had spread to her bones. We were suddenly dealing with stage 4 breast cancer at age 33.
Though we were shocked and frightened, we had a sense that God had a purpose for us in this situation, we are trusting that God will heal Danielle and preserve her life, allowing her to raise her little boy into adulthood.
Danielle is a warm and spirited woman who cherishes her family and friends, and she has even continued to make them laugh in the midst of this difficult diagnosis. She and her husband, Brad, the love of her life and her best friend, just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in July, and she is a wonderful stay-at-home mother to their enegetic and adorable three-year-old boy. Danielle is also active in ministry in her church and is just starting a business as a part-time interior decorator.
We are grateful to all of you who are offering your support during this difficult time. The most important thing you can do to help is to pray boldly and earnestly for Danielle's full healing and for peace of mind. The second is to send Danielle your notes of encouragement. It has done us a world of good to hear from family, friends, and strangers who are all praying for us and lovingly expressing their support. We know that we are not alone, and we look forward in hope with all of you.
It's another anniversary. One year ago today I received my full diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer: Invasive ductal carcinoma, metastatic to the bone. In other words, stage IV. Boo.
Last year on November 16th we received this terribly bleak news. It was an incredibly frightening and grueling day, full of appointments with specialists and genetic testing with the guy I call "Genetics John" at Hartford Hospital. There was not even time to eat, so the breast surgeon who delivered the bad news gave me a chocolate cupcake they had on hand for an office party. I remember thinking, Well, I don't know how much longer I will be alive, but I'm alive right now and I'm going to eat the heck out of that cupcake. But receiving all of the disappointing results was super intense. I could barely sit up by the end of the day.
Before this date last year we had hope that the cancer had not metastasized and that I would go through treatment and the whole nightmare would be over within a year. That day shattered this hope, and even my primary care doctor confided to me later on that she felt deeply depressed when she saw my scan and biopsy results. Things looked bad.
But I met Dr. Awesome that day. She stayed after hours to meet with me and lay out our plan to suppress the cancer. She said, "We can treat this." And in the following weeks we started seeing remarkable results from the treatment, and from there the miracle of healing continued.
I am overcome with relief and thankfulness today! I'm having a relaxing day, enjoying my family, and though this cancer journey is not behind me, one full year has brought a return to my normal activities. I am amazed by how normal my life is while still living with this disease. The shattered hope of being cancer-free has not been nearly as crushing as I feared it would be. Here are some highlights I am celebrating today:
The pain in my hips and in my rib, from the cancer that had carved itself a home in those bones, is completely gone. My bones are healing wonderfully.
The fatigue and difficult side effects have become manageable, and my tolerance of the treatment is continuing to wow my whole medical team.
My hot flashes are FINALLY easing up a bit! During the past month or so I started noticing that they don't seem to be as frequent or intense.
I can focus on living my life, not on the fear of death that was hovering so close to me last year.
Due to the intense nature of my circumstances last Fall, I felt like I had missed out on the whole lovely season, but now I am savoring and enjoying it, fully present.
I'm going out to enjoy a wonderful dinner tonight, in glorious contrast to the pain and fear I experienced a year ago. That feels so wonderful and so life affirming. I am thankful to God and thankful to you for helping me heal and embrace life. It has taken a lot of resilience to get to this point, and I know I have that due to God's protection over me and because of your love and support. Hugs and love to you.