“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
This blog will be a three-part series on my journey with the diagnosis; my pain, my tears, my fears, my faith! My first story begins with my journal and my talks with God during the month of my diagnosis.
September 2017 started as it always has. I work for a school system and the teachers are in a flutter, the kids are excited and it’s business as usual. Each year during opening instruction we select “one word” — you may be familiar with the book written by Jon Gordon, Jimmy Page and Dan Britton (“One Word That Will Change Your Life”). It talks about the “one word” meant for you and when you find it, live it, share it. Well how ironic that my one word September 5, 2017, was choices! I had no idea in the days ahead how many choices I would not have.
It is now September 15th, and the day has started like any other. Prepare for the boob squeeze, no deodorant and do not forget to wear a top and bottom so that you don’t completely freeze wearing that fashionable robe.
You do the routine; verify your name and personal information, and then you are guided to the “squeeze machine.” Nothing felt different; everything felt the same. Until… The tech asks “have you ever had an MRI.” I respond no. She’s like, “oh ok.” Still nothing felt different as I had been told before I have dense breasts. I finish up and was told, “you can dress now and if we need to re-screen someone will give you a call.” Nope, still not feeling anything different. I leave, go to work and proceed with a normal Friday — just waiting for the end of day.
Monday comes and so does the phone call. From this point on my life as I knew it prior to September 18, 2017, was about to change. “Ms. Spurlock, we’d like for you to come in tomorrow for an ultrasound.” September 19th was the ultrasound, two days later, September 21st, the biopsy, and from there comes that life-changing phone call on Monday, September 25, 2017, at 3:00 pm: “it’s confirmed, you have breast cancer.”
Not knowing what to say, I was like, ‘are you serious, so what now?’ I think I heard what he said but all I kept hearing was ‘you have breast cancer’. In the office with a couple of my co-workers, I called my mom, my dad, my sister Gayle and my wonderful fella, and those were the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to face in my life. I stayed strong, but everything inside of me in just seconds was broken into pieces. I called a few of my prayer warriors and talked with my nephew Justin later that day. Each one of them said you are not in this alone. I knew that they would all be there for me, but I also knew that if I ever had to lean on Jesus, now is the time.
As I was leaving work, I called my pastor. He prayed with me and said “Vanessa, you are going to want to remember each moment because God has a plan for you. Get a journal, write down everything and talk to God in your words.” I did just that. My Journal is titled, “I SURVIVED – My Talks With God!” I did not know what to say so that night I just prayed. The next day I think I was still numb, but I knew that I had a journey before me and although my family and friends would be there, I knew that I would need God every step of the way. So I began to write.
My very first post was September 27, 2017, at 12:45 pm. I used the lyrics of a song “be blessed don’t live life in distress, just let go and let God, He’ll work it out for you.” I continued to write, “God I get weak; build me up. Keep my mind stayed on you. Heal my body; I already know that you have, you can and you will. Thank you for blessing me and my family. I love you Lord and I am a SURVIVOR!”
From that day on it was so easy to write, to talk to God. I’d find myself throughout the day just writing my thoughts. Some days I would write and the words and tears would flow. Other days I’d write just thank you — for Your healing, Your restoration. A good friend (Karen) gave me a word to request of God. Lord I thank You for Your restoration. For removing from my body all things that should not be and for adding all that I need.
As I look back on those words, I referenced that to my health. As I think on it now, God did just as I prayed for. He removed the cancer, but He also removed some fears, removed some pain and added more faith, more courage and healing. For moments at a time I felt like my life was standing still; other times, I felt like my mind was in a whirlwind, but I continued to write.
Let me add that I did not share my diagnosis with many — very few to be exact. I didn’t want my story compared to others. I did not want people to think that I was dying and most of all, I did not want any negative energy directed toward my healing. I felt like I had to protect my mom and my dad, my family and their feelings of hurt and pain. I did not want anyone saying to them how bad how horrific cancer can be. Because guess what, it can! Most of all, I did not want my story to be their story. I wanted my story to be the story that God had just for me; JUST FOR ME! I had to believe that God knew my story even before it started so I had to trust in Him.
I knew that my faith in God was strong but some days I did not feel strong. Every day all I could think about was having cancer. The what-ifs. All the things you hear about: surgery, chemo, feeling sick, medications, work and yes, how will people see me. But, I still wrote. I found that my writing was beginning to heal me. It was allowing me to release the pain, the hurt, and the anger that I was feeling and I could release it all to God.
Although I had all of these questions for God I always spoke, wrote of my healing and my restoration. I figured that if I was requesting of God to do a great work I could not ask in doubt but I had to ask in a believing faith. My mom, my friends and my wonderful man would say, “Vanessa, you don’t have to be strong for everybody, we have shoulders for you too.” But in my mind, I was always the strong one. Always the one with the straight face. I can’t crumble because if I do then I don’t know how to be weak.
But I did crumble, I did break, but guess what I found out… that this was absolutely ok! That I was allowed to feel, to scream and to be human. In my journal, my SCREAMS were in CAPITAL letters. Some pages were dampened with tears but I’d still write.
As the month ended, September 30, 2017, at 7:00 am, I write: I’m awake and I thank you, Lord for a peaceful sleep. My mind is good right now, but I’m just scared of the not knowing. I know that you know it all so I really shouldn’t be worried. Tears fall as I again release my pain, fear, anger and hurt… BUT… I still thank You because You have this all in control and ALL power belongs to You!
My journal writing continues and some days I still feel as if I’m still in a whirlwind. But I’m thankful that my faith outweighed my fears. Yes, I was afraid of my diagnosis and each day I live with September 25, 2017. That was just the beginning of my story. BUT, GOD… that’s not the end!
My blog in October will be titled, “October: The Month That ‘Was’ All About Me; God’s Sense of Humor!”
Richmond, Virginia, Here For the Girls Boober!
Diagnosed: September 25, 2017
ER/PR+ Her2- / BRCA-
Lumpectomy: October 19, 2017
Radiation: November 29 – December 27, 2017
Tamoxifen: January 1, 2018 – present