decision time {my BRCA story}

This post is part of my story. To read the first part, go here

 

We left of last time with a positive BRCA1 diagnosis and a recommendation to have preventative surgery. 

The Dude and I left the office feeling a bit shell-shocked. Neither one of us expected this to be a big deal. I don't quite know what we expected, but it wasn't this. We didn't even really know where to begin. So we stopped and thanked God. 

For gently bringing us to being okay with not having any more naturally born children.

For bringing us Doctor, someone who had knowledge and compassion and a clear direction.

For blessing us with our family and a wide network of support.

For giving wisdom when we ask.

 

The Dude first addressed the ovarian cancer issue. Here were the pros to having a full hysterectomy:

It would decrease the risk of breast cancer.

It would almost eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer - something that was very appealing to me after watching my aunt suffer.

No more monthly cycles.

The major cons:

It is major surgery and I have four small children.

It will put my body into surgical menopause and I will need to take replacement hormone therapy for a while.

There are other health implications later down the road relating to bone health and heart health.

 

For us, the pros significantly outweighed the cons and we decided that we would move forward with the hysterectomy. And soon, because there really wasn't a reason to wait.

Ovarian cancer is very serious for women because it is hard, almost impossible to catch. There are no sure-fire screening methods and so when it is detected it is likely in late stages. 

The mastectomy was the hard one for us. And we didn't really even discuss it right away. We thought that if we took the offer of hysterectomy back to Doctor and presented it to her on a silver platter and said, "no thank you" to the mastectomy, that she would be quite pleased with us. 

She saw us coming a mile away. 

The Dude and I met up with her again and before we could get out our silver platter she went into why she highly recommended a mastectomy. She said that my mom had breast cancer. And at a very young age. She said that she would not mess around with this, and she would like us to at least go have a consult with a breast surgeon in Wichita. Further, she wouldn't be ready to discuss hormone therapy until we had our plane for breast cancer, whether that be intense screening or surgery.

The Dude and I left this meeting feeling downright beat up. My mom was furious and felt as though Doctor was bullying us into a decision. I was urged by friends and family to seek out a second opinion. I was told that a mastectomy sounded extremely drastic. 

But, I heard the urgency in Doctor's voice, as did my husband. I looked into her eyes and saw honesty and compassion. So we scheduled a meeting with the breast surgeon. "It's just a meeting," I said. "It doesn't mean we will do anything."

Let me wrap up this post by saying that this entire process has been blanketed with peace. I am not one to keep quiet about things, as my friends who are reading this will attest, I have been discussing with them the ins and outs of each decision. Their common comments sound like this:

This just doesn't seem like a big deal to you.

You are handling this all so well.

You seem just fine with it all.

I'm not going to pretend that I am cool as a cucumber and have no attachment at all to my reproductive organs, but then again, my hope does not rely on my reproductive organs. As silly as that might sound. There may be lots of emotions rolled up with them, things like,

My child bearing years are over. No more exciting "I'm pregnant!!" announcements, no more little kicks, no more labor pains, no more moments of birth, no more nursing...

Will I be a hot menopausal mess? A 30 year old with hot flashes... sexy.

Will I feel like myself? Will mommy be mean and irritable? Will the Dude's young wife transform before his eyes to an old hag?

But, there are emotions, and then there is truth. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
— Philippians 4:8

 

The truth is that this didn't just happen to me. This was planned for me. Purposed for my good. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
— Romans 8:28-30

The truth is that I love God and have heard him call my name. I am found in his Son and, therefore, everything in my life is part of his working for my good to conform me to the likeness of Christ. And that is the greatest good. 

I could lament that this is my fate and wish for something different. But something different wouldn't be God's best for me. These are the shaping moments, this is the time when we find out if our house is built on the rock or on sand. {Matthew 7: 24-27}

I don't want to be a wimpy believer. If I say I believe God is good and if I attest to believing the Bible, then it is in this moment that I lean into the truths and welcome the gift of BRCA1. The gift for facing something hard so that I can experience the best God has for me. 

 

And so, dear sister, it is my prayer that by sharing my story you may be encouraged. You may be facing a storm too, maybe one so much harder. Maybe you are facing cancer, perhaps you cannot have children, or maybe your life at the moment isn't at all what you wanted or expected. Please be encouraged that if you have heard the call of God to believe in his Son, if you are an adopted daughter in his kingdom family, the this is the BEST God has for you right now. He is not surprised. He planned this for you.

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
— Charles Spurgeon

 

Lean into it. Thank him for it. Rejoice that your Father loves you enough to hit you with a wave that throws you into him.

I just finished up a Bible Study on the Sermon on the Mount written by Jen Wilken. {I highly recommend it btw.} The sermon wraps up with a picture from Jesus.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
— Matthew 7:24-27

 

Let's think about these two houses. What is the same about them? They both were built on something, they both look the same on the outside, and they were both met by a storm. What is different? The storm completely destroyed the house built on sand, but the house built on the rock withstood the storm. Maybe you are in the middle of a storm, but if not, one is coming. And you have built your security and your hope on something. If your house is still standing, then you don't need me to tell you that it was built on the rock of truth founded on the word of God. If your house is falling, then it was built on sand and you will be wise now to pick up, move to the rock and rebuild. 

 

 

Doctor scheduled my hysterectomy for April 20, 2015. I'll let you know how that goes and update you all along the way. Stay tuned next time for why we said 'yes please' to the mastectomy and why this decision was so much harder for me.