Late last summer, I began to have back pain. Initially, it felt like a muscle spasm. I would have these daily and often more than once during the day. I was working out and running almost every day. I was even doing the whole HIIT (high intensity interval training) phenomenon with my running routine. So, when back pain came along, I figured I was becoming a true athlete and had suffered a mild sport injury. Until my sport injury didn’t go away. I eventually ran into some sense (late in October), realized that something wasn’t right and went to the doctor.
Originally my doctor ordered x-rays for my back. From the x-rays she ordered a MRI of my spine and back. The MRI results showed small spots on the right side of my middle back. My oncologist was notified and my doctor ordered a PET-Scan for confirmation of these suspicious spots. My oncologist wanted to test a sample of these spots and scheduled me for a procedure to occur mid-November. Early November my health started declining. It felt like I had been hit with a sack of bricks. I was achy, feverish and extremely tired. I chalked it up to the common cold. But it wasn’t.
I walked around ill for the first two and a half weeks in November. Running an on again, off again fever, having excruciating pain on my right side, and coughing uncontrollably didn’t cause me to step on the brake. I was going to work, running errands and helping other folks out. I totally ignored my body screaming at me – “I’m ill! Go see the doctor now!” Not smart at all and I’m ashamed of how reckless I was.
After a long day of work on a Saturday, I came home to climb in the bed with my husband’s assistance. I was running a fever again and was even having difficulty breathing. Enough was enough! My husband drove me to UAMS’ Emergency Room. In the ER I had several tests ran and more scans. The ER doctor discovered lots of fluid around my lungs and diagnosed me with a pleural effusion. A pleural effusion is the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs. In former breast cancer patients, a pleural effusion can be a sign that the primary breast cancer has metastasized (moved to another body part or organ) near or on the lungs.
From the ER, I was admitted to the hospital where I would stay for a week and learn that I had pneumonia and that there was a lot of fluid around my lungs. During that week, I had surgery to remove the fluid, a fusion of tissue so that fluid can no longer enter the pleura layers of my lungs and a biopsy of the suspicious spots near my lungs. Unfortunately, the biopsy did confirm that the spots (tumors) were cancerous.
So a little less than two months before my 30th birthday, I was once again diagnosed with breast cancer – Stage 4 metastatic. But my story will not end here. I’m rolling up my sleeves, putting on the whole armor of God and fighting! You see, God promised me life and life more abundantly. And I’m going to stand on that promise. I have a lot more living to do. There’s no way I’m stopping or giving up now.
Be Strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil…Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. – Ephesians 6:10 – 13
Peace and Love