You know that little rhyme from childhood that goes ” Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” ? Well, I think we all know that saying to be lies. Because words hurt. They cause pain. And one word that seems to cause an immeasurable amount of pain… is CANCER. You hear that word, and you can’t help but cringe. You can’t help but feel pain. Sorrow. Confusion.
“Daphne, you have cancer.” When I heard those words, my mind starting spinning a million miles an hour. I remember thinking ” Lord, HELP ME!” ,”Daphne get it together and listen to what he’s saying!”, “You can cry and freak out later“. I tried to stop my mind and just listen as my doctor was spewing information. I was frantically trying to write it all down. My cancer was rare , ( I would later find out just how rare… less than 30 people a year in the US are diagnosed with it) there was no set course of treatment but I would probably need chemo and radiation, ( rare cancers = no research ) and more tests were needed to see if it had spread. He went on to tell me that only a few hospitals in the US had ever dealt with my cancer and it was important I find one. He said I had some scans scheduled for the next day, wished me the best, and hung up. I stood frozen. I didn’t know what to do, I was home alone and a bomb had just been dropped.
That day is blur, an emotional, painful, peace filled blur. * I know your reading that last part ..”peace filled” and going WHAT!? Let me explain.* In the midst of all the pain, sorrow and confusion; I felt an incredible peace. I knew that although I was facing the biggest trial of my life, I wasn’t facing it alone. God was with me, He was holding me in His wonderful arms and He was comforting me.
I called my dad first, I told him “Dad, my results came back. I have cancer.” He laughed. He asked me what the real results were. I told him that I was serious I had cancer, and I will never forget what he said. Through tears he said to me, ” Daphne, the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh. BLESSED be the name of the Lord.” I asked him to call my sister Rachel and my mom because I didn’t think I could do it. I called my boyfriend Jeff who lived in Ohio and told him the news. * He’s now my husband 🙂 * My family and I spent that day hugging a lot. There were tears and questions, but also peace.
My parents and I . *Bet you can’t tell where I get my dorkiness from…. 😉
Jeff and I the summer we met.
My sister Rachel, our Nanna, and me.
I think one of the hardest parts in being diagnosed for me was telling people. Dropping that word “CANCER” on an unsuspecting friend or family member was horrible, and I didn’t want to be responsible for hurting them with it. But it had to be done. They had been through this journey with me for over 3 years now. They had cried with me when I was so over having the ulcer, they had prayed for me before all my appointments and tests, they had hugged me when I thought I couldn’t go on. And they ( you all know who your are… ) continued to do so after I told them.
I have tears streaming down my face as I write this blog post. Not because of bad memories or it being such a horrible time. But because I am reminded of where I was and how God got me through every step of the way. I cry because as I remember, I see God’s hand in so many things that happened. And I want to share EVERY SINGLE ONE with you. But for the sake of length… I will just skim the surface. * If you’d like to hear more, just ask, and I will gladly share them all! *
I had scans done the next day. In the few studies done for Epitheliloid Sarcoma it was shown that although the cancer is slow-moving, it is extremely aggressive and tends to metastasize in the lungs and liver. Since I had the open ulcer for about 3 years now, and the doctors figured it took a few years to eat the tissue to the surface… there was a large possibility that it had spread in my body. My ankle scans showed that the cancer was throughout my foot and continued up my leg a few inches. The scans of my liver and lungs came back clear. The cancer HAD NOT SPREAD beyond my leg!
I lived in a small town in northern Maine at the time, and was sent to a larger hospital to see an oncologist and an orthopedic surgeon about what we were going to do. I remember asking my mom to wait in the waiting room, I knew they were going to tell me my options and I wanted time by myself to think about them.
The doctor told me I had two options.
Option #1 – They would remove a softball size chunk out of my ankle and replace it with part of my calf. I would still have my foot and leg, but it would be mangled and unusable. With that, I would also have to undergo chemo and radiation. * Neither of which had shown any positive results in treating my type of cancer* I would have a 90% chance of the cancer returning and most likely … killing me.
Option # 2 – Amputation. They would cut until they found clean margins and amputate a few inches above that line. I would not have to undergo chemo or radiation, and my chances of it coming back went down to 50%.
” If I was your daughter, what would you tell me to do?” Yup, I asked my doctor that. He looked at me and said “Amputate it“. I had felt fear as he was telling me my options, I felt hopelessness and despair. But when he spoke those words “Amputate it” , I felt only peace.
I heard myself saying…” Lets do it then.”
To be Continued…