“Mrs. Madge, you need to come in for a biopsy. Your mammogram has shown an area of concern.”
There isn’t any breast cancer in our family. It’s probably nothing.
As I was prepped that day, the nurses warned me that the steel table was very cold. They numbed my skin around my breast so that I would not feel the biopsy needle. I crawled upon the metal, which felt much like a sheet of ice.
The nurse said, “You will need to place your breast in the hole of the table so that the ultrasound machine can be positioned correctly. The doctor will then be able to see the best spot to retrieve the biopsy. She is on her way. It will only take about five minutes after she arrives. You cannot move; you will need to lay very still.”
After the doctor walked in, she patted me on the back, trying to comfort me. I glanced at a clock on the wall; it was half pass the hour. She started the procedure; I did my best not to move.
Five minutes went by…
A tear fell from my eye, as my left arm that was extended above my head had fallen asleep. Then the doctor said,
”It’s very strange. It’s as though the cells are running from the needle.”
It was in that moment that I knew indeed I had breast cancer. You see, I had sold chemo for breast cancer the previous three years. There were a number of times that I heard an oncologist say, “Cancer cells are very smart.”
Cells running from a needle sounded pretty intelligent to me.
Shortly after, I was scheduled for a double mastectomy to remove the five centimeters of growth that had not been there the year prior. Thankfully, because I had been faithful with my mammograms, the cells were still in an early stage of development. I had much to be thankful for and I knew that, yet the fears still came.
How will I tell the children?
Will my man still find me attractive?
The morning of the surgery, a dear friend went with mother and I to the hospital while Troy stayed with the children. She prayed over me with comforting words, meant not only for me, but for my sweet mama, who feared losing her only child.
“Don’t worry, mama. I’m going to be ok.”
She held my hand until I was wheeled away.
I awoke with many standing around my bed. Although woozy, mother’s words could be heard loud and clear. “They got it all! It’s not in your lymph nodes!”
A few hours later, I raised the cover and looked down at the bandages wrapped tightly around my chest. I knew prayers had been answered. I was not going to need chemo because I chose a mastectomy, so why did I feel so sad? The doctor came in and asked,
”Would you like to remove the wrap and take a peek?”
That’s the very last thing I wanted to do. I left the hospital two days later and I still had not looked. With drains attached, I was required to sleep upright for a week. It seemed the best spot was a large chair with an ottoman in the living room.
Friends and family came and went with casseroles in hand. I smiled as best I could; although it didn’t come easy. I recognized the sadness was growing worse. Sleeping in a chair made matters worse. Troy helped me clean the drains. He said, “Honey, don’t you think it’s time to take a shower?”
I knew I needed to, but that meant I would have to see my chest. The following morning, I awoke around five. The quiet of our home was deafening.
“God, will you help me? I know I have so much to praise you for; so why am I depressed?”
As a tear fell from my eye, I noticed a pamphlet by my chair that had been sent home with me from the hospital. I opened it and the first words I read were, “The longer it takes to remove the bandages, the longer the healing process will take.”
I knew it was time. I woke up my man and asked if he would help me. We stood in front of our bathroom mirror and began to remove the layers. I closed my eyes as the final bandage was removed. I heard a sob escape my man’s throat. Opening my eyes, I looked at a woman that seemed so different. Jagged scars replaced a part of me. Solomon expressed the beauty of his bride this way…
Song of Solomon 4:5 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle which feed among the Lillie’s.”
He thinks I’m ugly…
How will my man ever be attracted to me again?
Then Troy said, “Rhonda, You will always be beautiful to me. I’m so sorry that you have to suffer like this. I wish I could take it away.”
His embrace released the tears that had been bottled up within my heart. We cried for some time together before I stepped into the hot shower. The water not only cleansed the wounds upon my chest, but brought healing to my soul.
As I have reflected upon that time, I began to understand how the enemy desires us to stay hidden in a dark place. The physical wounds were, by then, far-reaching in my mind. It was there that the enemy tried to keep me in a “woe is me” state-of-mind. The morning I called upon the Guardian of my soul, the Light shone in.
“Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
What are you hiding today, sweet one? Are you afraid to expose something that remains hidden? It is time…
“The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness and the darkness couldn’t put it out.” Message Bible John 1:5