Before I get to explaining the title of this post I will provide you with an update. I am five days post-chemo and for the most part holding up well. I have had fatigue and in the last few days some nausea has set in. I have lost some taste, which is for sure a bummer when it comes time to eat. Things I love no longer taste good such as my beloved Dr. Pepper or Whataburger. I don’t need those things anyway, so maybe it is a blessing. I pray this is how each infusion will go, but I am fully prepared for the symptoms to increase as I continue to receive treatments. This is my off week of chemo. I will go on Tuesday to have blood work done to make sure everything looks good and then next Tuesday will receive cycle two of four of the AC chemo.
Now to the title of the post. This will require some back story, but it is something that has brought a laugh to me over the last few weeks.
Eli, who will be two in December, was a complete and total unexpected blessing to our family. When I became pregnant I was a young 34 years old. At my first appointment with the OB she informed me that since I would turn 35 while pregnant that I became a bit higher risk. In the state of Texas, a “geriatric pregnancy” is defined as anyone pregnant over the age of 35. I remember thinking, man, I thought I was in prime child bearing years at 35. Who knew that made me high risk. Throughout my pregnancy my age was talked about on numerous occasions. They continued to use the term geriatric, which absolutely cracked me up. The pregnancy was fairly routine. I did end up having gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. All this combined with my “old” age meant I would be induced and have our beautiful baby boy at 37 weeks. No complaints from me as that meant three less weeks pregnant and it put him coming in just under the wire to be able to claim him on our 2018 taxes.
Fast forward to today. I was diagnosed with invasive ducal carcinoma breast cancer roughly a week after I turned 37. From the very first visit with the surgeon to the visits with all the other physicians who would treat me, my age was again a factor. This time for the opposite reason. You are so young. It is not common for someone under 40 with no real family history to get breast cancer. Actually, the median age of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer in America is around 62 with most diagnosis being those age 55-64. So I am a good 20 years too young for breast cancer. This just proves that cancer does not discriminate or follow any rules. We know that my genetics are not the cause of my cancer, but we may never know what did cause it.
You often hear that God works in mysterious ways and His plan is perfect. I truly believe this. At the time we laughed at the thought of “starting over” with a new baby. We had a junior in high school, a third grader, and a newborn. Who does that? Now, two years later, I know exactly why Eli came along. I feel God put him in our lives for three specific reasons.
First, simply, our family was not complete. God knew we needed the little firecracker to keep things exciting! Both of his brothers adore him so much and the feeling is mutual. His best friends are his big brothers. his dad and I are pretty fond of the little dude as well. He brings so much joy to our home.
Second, I do not believe I would have found the cancer had he not been born. I breastfed Eli for roughly 9 months. I would like to say i am fairly in tune with my body. When I stopped breastfeeding I noticed that things on my right breast felt different. I don’t know how to describe it, it was just not normal. I brushed it aside thinking it was my body trying to dry my milk up and that the harder spot was a clogged milk duct or something. When that lump began to become larger and more uncomfortable I questioned if it was related to breastfeeding or something else. I still put off talking to my doctor for longer than I should. Hindsight is always 20/20. I have learned that tumors like mine take years to be able to be felt by hand. This mass could have been there while pregnant and while breastfeeding. I have no idea if feeding Eli caused it to grow faster or if it just made me more aware of what was going on in my body, but thanks to breastfeeding this beautiful baby boy, I found the lump. It was still nearly a year later before I brought it to the attention of my physician, because, again, I was making excuses for what it was. I mean, I was too young to have breast cancer, right? When a few other things had been ruled out, I knew it was time to speak up. So glad I did!
And third, God put Eli in our lives to get us through this fight. Not that my other two boys aren’t worth fighting for, they absolutely are, but having another kid, especially one so young, makes you want to fight harder. I want to see all my kids graduate high school, start college, get married, and have their own kids. To do that I need a good 20 more years in my own life. God gave us Eli, so full of energy, to help fight the fatigue that chemo would bring. It is hard to sit idle when you have a 22-month old terrorizing the house. It is hard to be sad and down on yourself when you have an innocent little guy giving you “cheesy grins”.
While one speciality might think I’m too old for babies and another that I’m too young for cancer, I know that God has a perfect plan for my life and I trust Him. The path may not always be clear and straight. There will be detours and obstacles, but we must trust in our Lord to get us to the end of the race.