“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
I was all alone in my kitchen, sobbing, praying, calling out and begging Him to take this from me. Every ounce of my being wanted this to go away, for it all be a bad dream. I wanted to flee, hide, have it all just disappear. And through my tears, He responded.
Jesus: "Megan, will you do this if it will bring one more person to Me?"
Me: "Jesus. I don't want to."
Jesus: "But Megan, will you?"
And in that moment, I had peace.
Oh! We were so close to being done. So close to putting our cancer journey behind us and moving on. Charlie and I had scheduled my LAST reconstruction surgery for July 26, 2017, almost three years after I was first diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer in October 2014. We were so happy, and we began the process for an exciting new chapter in our life.
On June 1, I stopped taking my Tamoxifen so Charlie and I could begin the process of having our own baby. The plan was to have the embryo transfer while I was on FMLA from my surgery to prevent the loss of any more time away from work. We had made our trip to Northwestern to begin the process, our embryos were sent down from storage, my oncologist had given me the green light, and we had a plan in place. We were prepped and so excited! If everything went as planned, we were going to be pregnant by August 9th! The verse above was ringing true in our ears and we couldn't wait!
During this time, Charlie and I had also started regularly exercising again. While working out though, I began to experience some intense pain in my sternum. It was pretty consistent, and got worse when working out. I was almost positive it was connected to my surgery I had in December, but my surgeon was convinced it had nothing to do with my surgery. So, I scheduled an appointment with my local doctor for an X-Ray. Everything came back normal. But, no one called me to follow-up or suggest anything further. Because we were in the process of having a baby, I was meeting fairly regularly with my oncologist, and I mentioned the pain to her in passing. She wasn't worried, but scheduled a bone scan just to be safe. The bone scan was complete, and at the end of the scan, the nurse looked at me and said, "Good luck, sweetie." Deep down, I knew at that exact moment what was happening.
A few days later, Charlie and I left to go to Missouri to celebrate my 30th birthday. July 7, in my Carle health account, the test results showed what we all feared. Bone metastasis. Happy Birthday. We got back from our trip, and I immediately called the hospital because no one had talked to us at that point. We needed a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis, but my oncologist was on vacation and it was going to be another week or so before we could get in. With the help of an amazing and generous friend, Monday, July 10 we got our CT scan, and confirmed that the cancer had metastasized to my bones. A series of other tests would show that it was also in my liver.
Wait. What? Ummmm......Jesus. Did you forget? Charlie and I have already done this. We have already gone through some major trials. We weren't supposed to have this come back. We were supposed to beat this. We praised YOUR name throughout all of the struggles from the first diagnosis. We loved you, we gave you all the glory to your name, we sought and trusted in your healing hands. And we didn't do it half-heartidly. We truly loved Him and praised His name and trusted him throughout the entire process. We grew, we learned. What the heck was happening? I'm only 30 years old. Charlie and I have only been married 5 years, and 3 of them have been in and out of the hospital because of cancer. I am super healthy. I eat right, I exercise, and cancer doesn't run in my family. I can't be dying from this disease. No. We were supposed to be done, and having a baby. This wasn't happening. But it was.
Charlie and I were heartbroken. We were numb, paralyzed almost. I lost 8 lbs. in less than 3 days from stress. I cried non-stop. I truly and deeply asked myself if I fully believed in Heaven and the God I have served all of my life. Are you real? And if You are, where are you? I mourned the loss of the life I thought we were going to have, of growing old with my husband, of our children we would never have the opportunity to raise. I mourned for my family, for the loss they will suffer and endure. The pain I was going to inflict on them was almost too much for me to handle. I struggled with enduring this long and painful death that lays before me. I became envious and jealous of anyone older than 50, why can't that be my life?
However, during this time, God's goodness continued to shine through. (I doubt it a lot, and I still question His plan daily.) Charlie and I, along with my family and friends, asked everyone and anyone we knew to pray. Pray for a miracle, pray that God would save me from this disease. Pray for wisdom, and guidance as we began this process yet again.
He is in this. Even in the suffering and the pain, He is here. Through some crazy connections, and some of the most amazing friends a girl could ask for, Charlie and I were able to see the leading oncologist in the country for my specific type of breast cancer. This shouldn't have happened. Normally, you have to submit your case to Mayo, they review it, and then see if they will accept you or allow you to come for an appointment. Even if they approve your case, the leading oncologist I get to see is booked for weeks on end and I probably would have never gotten to see him. As soon as he heard about my case, he was ready to see me the next day. So, that's what we did. Charlie and I didn't feel comfortable with the recommended plan of care from Carle, so we drove 7 hours to Mayo in Rochester, MN on Tuesday, July 25. My appointment was the next day.
We met with the oncologist, he laid out a plan of action we felt fairly positive would work, and then suggested we remove my ovaries immediately. (My cancer feeds off of estrogen, so we needed to remove as much estrogen as possible.) Charlie and I had planned on going home after our initial appointment, but the surgeon was free that next day to perform the needed surgery if we wanted. So, of course, that next morning I had a full ovariectomy (my ovaries and tubes were fully removed from my body). After I woke up from surgery, Charlie drove us 7 hours home. (I have THE BEST husband in the world.)
Now that we are home, we are going to continue to kill as much estrogen in my body as possible to hopefully starve the cancer cells. If this plan of action works, it can work on average for around 30-35 months. If it doesn't work, we will need to look at alternative treatments.
Once you're diagnosed with metastatic cancer, there is no cure. What happens when you're diagnosed with metastatic cancer, doctors look for various treatments that will prolong your life for as long as possible, while maintaining the highest quality of life. You have "lines" of treatment. So I will start line one of treatment (removing the estrogen from my body), and then when that stops working, I will start a new line of treatment (line two), and so forth and so forth. I will be in some type of cancer treatment (endocrine therapy, chemo, radiation, etc.) until the day I die. For now, I am beyond grateful I can avoid chemo for potentially a few more years, Lord willing.
While there is no cure, there is however hope. Hope that I will go into long-term remission (this is a possibility, less than 5% chance, but a possibility), hope that a cure will be found before my life is over on this earth, hope that God will provide a miracle and heal my body, and hope in knowing that if and when I die, I will go to Heaven and my suffering will end. However, hope is scary. You can hope and pray for one thing, and God can have a totally different plan. Ultimately, His plan will always be better than our own, but it's scary and hard not knowing what that is. Especially for people like me who like to plan out their lives. I like to have goals. I enjoy knowing potential and practical outcomes. This is scary.
I don't know what our future holds, and I pray for a miracle. We will continue to pray for a miracle. I do know however that prayer is powerful and it's working. Most, when they are faced with this situation go into a deep depression. The Lord has spared me of this currently. The pain in my sternum has decreased drastically, to a point where I almost don't feel it anymore. Charlie and I are continually surrounded by an army of people who lift us up when we don't have the strength to do it ourselves. We are able to continue only through the strength of our amazing friends and family.
Amongst the tears, the screams, the fear, the suffering, and outcries, He continues to whisper to me. "I will restore you." He says, over and over again. This is His promise to me. Whether that is here on this earth, or in Heaven with him, I do not know. But I pray that we will continue to praise and serve Him on this earth until the end of our days.
If you are praying, or if you want to join us in prayer, please pray for the following:
- That I would go into complete remission. Pray for a full-miraculous healing.
- That our story would bring glory to His name.
- Strength for my husband and family. This is probably a more difficult battle for them than it is for me.
- Thank the Lord for all of the blessings He has already given us.