Breast Cancer Battle

Breast Cancer Battle

Walking Along Pink Ribbon Road

– by: Tomi Leslie

“Try to relax,” the technician said as she removed the gown from my shoulder.

I stared into space. White walls shrunk before my eyes until I focused on a calendar. It depicted a pink ribbon. I felt lonely, scared, and helpless. God, please don’t let me walk down this road.

My neck stiffened. As did every other muscle in my body. Stiff and shivering, that’s how I stood facing the mammography equipment. Following the tech’s instruction, I raised and arched my right arm. She placed my small, plump breast on a platform.

“Lean forward. That’s it,” she said.

I took a deep breath.

“When did you notice the lump?”

“On Friday.”

“Most lumps are cysts. Tell me if the pressure is unbearable.” The tech’s voice faded as she walked to the corner of the room. “Don’t move, hold your breath. Hold it.”

I gritted my teeth. The unrelenting paddle squeezed and smashed my breast. After changing film, the tech repositioned my body taking several more images.

“Again, hold your breath. We’re almost done.”

Biting my lower lip, I tasted blood.

If my mind is steadfast, You will keep me in perfect peace. I do trust You.
Words from Isaiah 26:3 echoed through my mind.

The tech touched my arm and released the paddle. “That’s it for now.”

“Should I dress?”

“Not yet.”

A fabric curtain served as a door to a cubicle where I sat on a wooden bench. I held a magazine and flipped the pages, but tear-filled eyes blurred the words. I set the magazine aside and fiddled with the strings on my gown. With legs crossed, I kicked my foot back and forth. Twenty minutes passed. Where is she?

In the background, I overheard a kind voice inform another patient, “Looked good, we’ll see you next year.” Footsteps hurried past where I waited.

I massaged the lump praying, God, I know You want me to thank you in all things, but what if?

I cleared my throat. A curt gray-haired nurse stuck her head around the curtain. Her mouth drooped within a sea of wrinkles. “The Radiologist wants an ultrasound.”

I felt my heart drop. Saliva flooded the back of my throat.

“I need to . . . to throw up.” The nurse quickly ushered me to a restroom.

Afterward, I splashed water on my face, then exited to the hallway.

She barked, “Grab your belongings,” just before she ushered me to a darkened room.

There an ultrasound specialist welcomed me with a smile. My nerves eased somewhat. She then instructed me to lie down on a thin bed.

With my body properly posed, I asked, “Why the ultrasound?”

“Just a precaution.”

I shut my eyes as a cold jelly-like substance spread over my breast. It tickled my armpit. I looked the other way as a metal object moved over my chest, then onto my right breast.

I swallowed, “It’s just a cyst, right?”

“Uh, the radiologist is the expert. If it looks suspicious, your primary doctor will call you.”

I nodded. My mind drifted to God again, I urge you . . . to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God . . .
(Romans 12:1 NIV).

You’re with me if I walk down this road? I sought God’s reassurance. A close friend who had breast cancer popped in my mind. She’s now in heaven. I tried to think positively, but couldn’t.

The ultrasound specialist turned on the light, “That’s it for today.” She said.

I dressed, then rode the elevator down to the first floor. As I walked to the parking lot, my mind drifted into a fog. I sat in my car and called my husband. He was in a meeting and unavailable for the remainder of the day. I felt alone. I placed my key in the ignition, but stared through the windshield without starting the car. Afraid, I focused on Jesus and submitted my heart to His will.

Peace surrounded me as I started the car and drove home. The sky seemed bluer and the trees looked greener. I envisioned my most valuable treasures—my family. I remembered my husband’s touch. I relished the smiles of my three children and the laughter of my grandchildren.

I made a decision. If I received good news, I would rejoice in Him. If I received bad news, I would rejoice in Him while fighting the cancer. I wanted to be brave.

Still – – fear camped near my heart.

That evening, while trimming a crepe myrtle bush, I heard the phone ring. I darted into the house, rounded the corner in the kitchen and answered, “Hello.”

“Mrs. Leslie?” My physician said using a serious tone. “Did the Radiologist consult with you this afternoon?”

“No.”

“Well, I have the results of your x-rays and we need to schedule a biopsy.”

“The findings reveal a suspicious mass in the far-right upper quadrant. It’s within lymph node proximity.”

I listened to the facts, scheduled the biopsy, and hung up the receiver.

Numb.

I sat in silence. The shadows from the tree outside my window danced across the walls of my room. They mocked my pain as I sat frozen in the dark of my home. Finally, I grabbed a pillow, covered my face and bawled.

The biopsy results confirmed the lump to be invasive ductal carcinoma. Trembling, I took my first step on this frightening pink road. My heart remained steadfast. I fixed my eyes on Jesus— my Light.

My husband sat at my side until minutes before my scheduled surgery. We joked about my charming surgical attire as he placed a daisy in my paper thin cap. We laughed outwardly, but cried inwardly — as we waited.

The lumpectomy on my right breast was successful and the lymph nodes were negative. The doctors recommended five weeks of radiation following my surgery.

In my fight against cancer, I met some remarkable companions along the road. Camaraderie existed within the thick walls of the treatment center where patients fought battles side by side. There, God used the experiences of others to comfort and encourage me. Some walked slowly in silence while others talked and jogged while they stayed the course. Several lost their hair, others didn’t. Still, we had one commonality—a healthy fear of cancer laced with hope.

Twelve years later: As a breast cancer survivor, I continue to fight two unseen enemies. Physically, I battle against cancer by following my doctor’s instructions, exercising, developing good nutritional habits, blocking stress when possible, and maintaining a positive outlook.

Spiritually, I recognize an enemy who uses fear in an attempt to destroy me. He lurks in the dark, attacks me where I am vulnerable, hurls lies toward me. He wants me to engage in all my battles alone. When he whispers, what good God would let you suffer? I fight back by staying focused on the Light of this world, the One True God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. His presence empowers me.

But should I walk down the road of cancer again, will I be frightened? Probably. Will I survive it physically? I don’t know. Will I survive it spiritually? Absolutely, with God as my guide.
“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long”– (Psalm 89:15-16 NIV).