Saturday, September 15, 2012

God's Sovereignty as Comfort during Tough Times

WARNING--this is a very long post and has some pretty detailed information regarding lactation. 

Yesterday (9/14/12) was such a tough day.  It was a day that will change my life forever regardless of the outcome (results that we find out Monday).  Yesterday morning, I had an ultrasound of a large mass in my left breast.  I am currently breastfeeding our precious Abbey, so initially I thought perhaps I had a lot of galactoceles forming around the side by my arm.  Galactoceles are milk-filled cysts that lactating women sometimes get.  I had found out in February that I had one on the opposite side of the same breast.  Over the past few months, I have had various ailments and noticed one of my lymph nodes under my left armpit was enlarged.  I had a large mole under that arm that I had all my life, so I thought perhaps it could be related.  I had that removed in June and it was, thankfully, benign.  Over Labor Day weekend, I really worked on trying to get rid of a mass that formed in my left breast.  As I read online about how to get rid of it, I also started reading some scary discussions about breast cancers in lactating women.  They pop up quickly and are very aggressive, with poor prognosis.  I tried heat, massage, pumping, etc.  But, I also noticed my nipple was also pulling towards the mass.  Finally, I called my OB/GYN who scheduled an appointment to take a look. She thought it was probably related to engorgement, but sent me for an Ultrasound.  The Ultrasound unfortunately couldn't be scheduled for a week and a half later.  I found another place that could get me in the following day, but my OB/GYN insisted I got to a particular women's imaging facility and she said she was comfortable with the time frame.

Yesterday was that appointment.  As I lay on the examination table, I watched the screen as the sonographer scanned my breast.  What I saw did not look good.  But, I still hoped I could be mistaken.  The radiologist then took a look and told me what she saw looked "very suspicious" of cancer.  She said that these types of cancers pop up quickly and are very aggressive in young, lactating women due to the significant increase in certain hormones (estrogen).  She saw at least a few lymph nodes under arm (apparently these were all of the lumps that I thought were more galactoceles) and one in my chest that were enlarged.  In addition, the mass spanned across two (upper) quadrants of my left breast.  I saw a rather large blood supply that was feeding to the mass.  The office squeezed me in for a biopsy at 11:45am and I should receive the results by Monday afternoon.

I was pretty insistent on continuing to breastfeed Abbey through this, so I tried to pump my left side so that it would continue to produce milk.  After the pump container filled with blood-tinged milk and clots, I made a call to the doctor.  She told me something that was SO hard to hear.  She said, "Now we won't have the pathology results until Monday, but you really need to think about weaning your daughter because there is a VERY REAL possibility you will need to start chemotherapy soon".  She told me only to pump to relieve engorgement and to try not to pump at all on that side so it can heal.  After that call, I broke down in tears.  So many thoughts went through my head:

  • I am not ready to wean Abbey.  I hope she will not refuse formula or the sippy cup (we've tried bottles and failed for months).
  • It will be so difficult to take care of my kiddos and myself during this tough time.  My primary job is to take care of them!
  • I want to survive this!  I want to help them grow up.  I am too young!
  • I miss my family! (we don't have immediate family here)
  • I don't want to be a burden for Drew.  He is such a good, loving husband.   He has a great job that he loves and I don't want him to have to take any time off because of this. 
I got no sleep last night.  But, I did pray over and over and over.  In addition to all of the thoughts running through my head, I am also sick with a cold.  So, I can hardly breath.  And, I can only lay on one side due to the biopsy on the other side.  So, I was very uncomfortable anyway. After one prayer that Drew prayed with me, I felt comforted.  It was almost as if the heavenly Father was patting me, telling me he was going to take care of me.  Although my biological father or mother is not nearby, He is always with me.  He is sovereign and knows the journey I will be going through.  In fact, it has all been orchestrated to bring Him Glory.  This is the only thought I rest upon that gives me comfort. So, I will continue to rest on this and make my requests be known to Him.  I pray for strength, courage and comfort so my children don't see my pain.  I pray for miraculous healing of whatever is causing this in my body.  I pray that if it is a cancer as they suspect, that it is limited to my left breast and has not spread via the lymph system to other parts of my body.  I pray that I will survive this so that I can continue His mission on earth.  I pray that if it is a cancer and I need Chemotherapy, that I am well enough to take care of my precious children.  I pray that I am not a burden for anyone.  This all sounds so negative and I know I am supposed to think positively, but it is so hard not to think of possibilities in the future given the doctor's talk to us yesterday.  She told us to prepare mentally for this.  Still yet, I am praying for a miracle right now. 

Today we are working hard at weaning Abbey to the sippy cup.  It is so hard to hear your precious baby scream for hours, knowing that she just wants to nurse.  We had her try some formula, which she has never ingested, and so far she has refused all but 1.5 ounces of it.  Meanwhile, I am still trying to pump milk for her out of my right side, but I am just not producing enough.  I have increased my pumping schedule but am just shocked at how much my supply has gone down.  This is so tough, but we will get through it all.  I am documenting my journey here so that we can go back someday and see how far we have come, giving God all the Glory! 


  1. Heather, Sarah just called and shared with me so I can be praying. My heart aches for you and Drew. Please, please know we are here if you guys need anything. God is on His throne. I know you know. Hugs and more hugs.

  2. Dearest beautiful sister in God, As hard as it is to choke back my tears because I (and everyone reading this) feel your suffering, fear, confusion and quite possible a myriad of other emotions... please know this...You are not this cancer and this cancer is not you. God has big plans for you here. He will be speaking to you through this trial. Pay close attention to what he speaks and what you are to learn and just as importantly...tell yourself and BELIEVE that you are a healthy woman! Free of illness and sickness! Believe this as much as you believe in God. Believe it so much that it becomes your mind-set and you heal yourself through faith. That faith will bring you to the end. Throw out all doubt! And, it is OK if your children see you cry once in awhile. My love and prayers go out to you and your family. You are not a burden because everyone will receive a gift in this. oxox

  3. The picture above of your beautiful blessings is gorgeous! They (and your husband) are your "hope and future" in Jer 29:11. I will be praying for you! I too am a nursing mommy (9 mo old). He has refused everything accept nursing until a few days ago. I only share this b/c of what finally worked for him. He finally tried a bottle (cant figure out sippy cup) if the formula was cold. It's like he didn't want a substitute for warm nursing but he would take it cold like a sip I may give him at a restaurant in a straw. Once he took an oz. here and there cold, I tried a room temp yesterday and it worked. I'm sure you've tried everything but its worth a shot to mention. Love and prayers from mommy to mommy!!

    1. Thanks for your prayers. It is funny, because this is the same method that has been working for our Abbey girl. We started with a cold sippy cup and are now able to give each of her meals in the cup. We are slowly adding formula and she is doing so much better. :-)

  4. Oh yeah! Glad she is doing better. That will help you emotionally. You are being prayed for!!!!!!