Tonight at a meeting I was attending, my friend Jan shared about her journey this past year being diagnosed with breast cancer and the treatment she went through.
She shared with us the steps it took to be diagnosed, and the month long process from a painful spot on her breast she discovered through self examination, to a biopsy to surgery. This whole process took about a month.
"Listen to your body," she said. "If something doesn't seem right, have it checked out right away, because, if something is wrong, it may take a month or more before they can fix it."
She found a painful spot on her breast, and went through many tests. During this process she said she was in a state of denial, "which is a very nice place to be".
She was convinced after the biopsy that everything would be okay, but the doctor couldn't give her the news she wanted to hear. But she said God's spirit kept singing to her this song:
"Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me."
Through weeks of chemotherapy, she took some hard blows, such as losing her hair. She knew she had to keep going each day, putting one foot in front of the other, or "I would get myself in a hole that I couldn't get out of."
Her heart went out to the other ladies at the Cancer Center who were having chemo the same time she was, but were alone.
"Before we started chemo we attended a class, and were told if someone couldn't take us to have the treatment, then a social worker would come and pick us up and take us home," she said. "I always had someone with me. I was never alone. But others weren't so fortunate."
Jan also shared about the outpouring of love she felt from family, friends and the Silver Valley community.
"I don't think I ever knew what it was really like to have people praying for you," she said. "But I could really feel the prayers. I'm not sure I would have made it through this time as well without those prayers."
Flower, cards, emails and phone calls were a constant in her life, from people sending their prayers and thoughts and giving her the strength to go on each day.
When she was finished with her chemo, there was a celebration at the elementary school where she teaches. A banner was put in the hallway, telling her "Congratulations". The students and staff all wore pink in her honor.
As she wrapped up the program, she again emphasized, "Listen to your body. If something doesen't seem right, go and get it checked out. Your body will tell you what you need to know."
She also said self examination is the best form of finding breast cancer. Mammograms are only about 80 percent effective.
Jan wore a wig for much of this last year, but now sports a cute, spunky haircut, reflective of her personality, and the way she fought and now shares about her breast cancer journey.