Monday, April 1, 2013

the bad news, and the good news

I've alluded to something pretty big going on in our family over the last couple of months. I've clarified that I am not pregnant, and once, I'm not and don't plan to be for quite some time. So there's that.

On January 15th my mom went in for a mammogram and the radiologist saw something. He told her he was almost certain that it was cancer. My mom is only 51 and quite healthy. There was a lot of testing, and a LOT of waiting. She had ultrasounds, MRI's, and a biopsy. We found out about 10 days after the mammogram that the lump was in fact cancer.

I never knew how much waiting is involved with breast cancer. I was surprised that we wouldn't even find out the stage of her cancer until after surgery, when they'd run tests on the tumor. My mom had about a million doctor's appointments for testing, results, and the like.

All of us were pretty quiet about it all, but still doing what we could to support her and hold it all together. I found myself proclaiming God's favor over our family and finding His peace to be most comforting when things should have felt chaotic.

This card is from a message that was preached at the exact right time for what our family is going through. I posted this in our home and claimed these truths. I prayed this prayer often over my mom, and over many other situations that have cropped up over the last few months because, when it rains- it pours.

February 15th my mom went in for a lumpectomy to remove the cancer. Ben's mom stayed with the boys and I went to wait with my siblings and my dad. My mom's sister, brother-in-law, and one of my cousins came for a time as well. Surgery was successful, but it's always so painful to see someone you love in such a state and know that what they are going through and about to move into is going to be painful.

I set up meals to be brought over while she recovered. Thanks again to those of you who may read this and made a dinner for my mom, dad and siblings. It was a huge blessing over them to be able to focus on her recovery and the road ahead.

After surgery we waited to find out more about her tumor. They also removed lymph nodes to test them for cancer. If they had been affected, then the stage of her cancer would be higher and the treatment more aggressive as it would indicate the cancer had moved through her lymph system to other parts of her body. She would most definitely need chemo. No matter the results, she would need radiation treatments to prevent the cancer from returning.

11 days after surgery my mom and I went to meet with her surgeon for results. Her cancer was staged low and the lymph nodes were negative. PRAISE GOD! Dr. F referred her to the oncologists that would take over her treatment from there.

Over all of this we had throngs of people praying over my mom. The prayer team from my church, all sorts of friends, and family, and our small group have been lifting her up. I have a handful of people that I can text whenever I have a prayer request and know that they will deliver. We have been so blessed by this.

Thanks specifically to my mother in law Debbie for making a care package for my mom and watching the boys extra, and to Liz for watching my boys during a couple of appointments.

About once or twice a week I'd accompany her to meet with one of her 2 oncologists. In early March we met her Medical Oncologist and found out there was still a possibility of chemo. Neither of us were expecting that. Of course there was another test to run and more waiting.

While we waited on that, we met with her Radiation Oncologist the next week about the course of treatment for radiation, which was a definite. The nurse told us all about the radiation treatments, but none of what she said would pertain to my mom as she is a candidate for balloon catheter radiation. She lives in a rural area outside town and the regular radiation treatments would be once a day, every day, for 6 weeks. The balloon radiation treatments involve an implant that she'd have for a week and she'd go in for treatments twice a day for 5 days. The side effects of the radiation are also lessened. She opted for the balloon radiation, which she would also do prior to chemo (if needed) instead of after.

March 21st we went back in to meet with her Medical Oncologist and her test came back low, meaning no chemo! The doctor told us he was surprised that the numbers were so low. Prayer works people. She will be on hormone therapy, in pill form, for the rest of her life. With that, the radiation, negative lymph nodes, and the successful surgery the likely hood of the cancer returning in the next 5-10 years is only 6%, which he assured us is very good. She would only need to see him again to make sure she was doing well on the hormone therapy after she finished radiation.

So, today she starts her radiation treatments. She went in this morning and will go back again this afternoon. Please pray for her through this and over the course of her treatment and recovery. We are confident that God has answered our prayers and will continue to do so. Pray for her energy and that she has no complications from the catheter or otherwise.

Please pray for me. I'm 31, annual mammograms start at age 40 but now I've been advised to go in this summer and get screened. My mom's surgeon made a comment that when breast cancer affects women in their 20's and 30's that it is much more aggressive and harder to treat. He was talking about her, trying to reassure her but he scared both of us about my sister and I. Once again, I'm proclaiming God's favor over us.

That has been what I've been doing in my free time. I've been wanting to blog more here as my sons grow and are doing remarkable and hilarious things, as great things are happening all around us as well (see my February recap), but my time is precious and I haven't had much of it to sit at a computer and really update. I'm hoping that changes soon. I'd love to do a March recap before April is over, and I am especially looking forward to posting some Easter photos of my little boys.


  1. Shandell! So glad they noticed it early. Will be praying for you all.

  2. Wow Shandell! This is a hard post to even comment on because I don't know where to start. First - you will all be in my prayers. I am so sorry that your mom(and all of you) have gone/are going through all of this. And what and amazing answer to prayer that her cancer has reacted to treatment so well!


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