To our dismay, the mammogram showed two suspicious areas in my left breast, and after surgical biopsy, Ductal Carcinoma in Situ was the diagnosis. My doctor explained, “The good news is, you don’t have an invasive form of breast cancer, so this is not life threatening, but the only treatment for your case is the removal of your left breast.”
Strangely, the enormous relief I felt when I heard that my life was not in danger quickly left when the doctor said I needed a mastectomy and stated I was not a candidate for breast reconstruction because of the damage Rheumatoid Arthritis had caused to my upper torso.
Crying bitterly, I lamented openly to my husband about my overwhelming disappointment. At night, I lost sleep as my mind wildly imagined the remainder of my life without a breast and contemplated wearing a prosthetic. Finally, I asked my heavenly father to help me accept what I could not change, and reached deep within my faith, resolving that no matter what I was facing I would survive with God’s help.
As the weeks passed, it seemed as if I was living in two worlds simultaneously. One world was the “harsh reality of cancer.” It became real as my stomach twisted tightly into a knot as I walked through doors marked “Cancer Center” and when I felt the cold wetness of a black marker against my skin as my surgeon made a diagram on my breast to reveal what he planned to do. Wanting to escape, I sought God and He would lift me far above the ugly elements of cancer. My Bible became my dwelling and passages like Psalm 91 became a reality: “... He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall rest under the shadow of the Almighty …” In God’s secret place, I always found consolation and renewed strength.
Surviving a battle greatly depends on one’s mental attitude, so I determined to find the prettiest prosthetic breast available and wear it proudly; however, God had something else in mind. Miraculously, one of my Internet searches led me to Dr. Robert Allen’s Web site (www.diepflap.com). Dr. Allen pioneered microsurgical Breast Reconstruction with perforator flaps, and because his method would form a breast from my body’s own tissues without implants or sacrificing my abdominal muscles, I was a perfect reconstruction candidate. His associate, Dr. Scott Sullivan, performed the surgery and the outcome was amazing.
At midnight, when the New Year 2003 was ringing in, my husband and I embraced and he sweetly whispered in my ear, “Honey, that year is now behind us!”
And tears, prompted by tremendous joy, trickled down my cheeks as I looked into his love-filled eyes