On July 8, I received the phone call everyone fears. It’s still a blur.
A month earlier I found a lump in my breast. I scheduled a mammogram and informed the radiologist of my discovery.
Two weeks later, the mammogram came back clean. (Note to all the ladies out there: If you find anything in your breast, inform the radiologist. Do not assume the mammogram will catch everything.) During a follow-up ultrasound, they located the hard mass. I returned for a biopsy. On July 8, I learned it was cancerous.
I have breast cancer.
Every cancer is unique. In the land of breast cancer, it’s significant that I’ve been diagnosed while still in my 30’s. About 87% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 45. Only 13% are under the age of 45 or pre-menopausal.
This is a game changer.
Forgive the broad comparison, but for those fighting breast cancer over the age of 45, it’s like baseball. It’s more mainstream, more equipment, more funding. For those under the age of 45, it’s more like cricket. Much smaller, less known, not as much funding. The rules are different.
We are grateful to have a trusted team of incredible doctors who are crafting the best medical plan. Denver turns out to be a cutting edge city when it comes to breast cancer research. My oncologist specializes in women with breast cancer under age 45.
I’ve been given strict instructions to avoid Googling and taking medical advice from kind friends and strangers. The greatest chance of success comes from being informed and making decisions with the medical team that knows me (and my cancer) the very best. I admit—it’s been a stretching discipline not to scour the internet and adopt other peep’s treatment plans because, after all, it worked for them. But I’m confident that God has pulled together the perfect team at the perfect time for me.
On July 26, I began my first round of chemotherapy which will be followed by surgery and radiation.
We will be keeping most of our fall engagements as well as accepting new speaking invitations for 2014. We are grateful for all the event planners who are walking alongside us in this and their gracious responses. You all are amazing! It’s a source of joy and strength to know we can continue connecting with amazing churches, events, and people this fall. And we know those times of connection will only help kick cancer in the teeth.
Today, we are headed for a long-planned trip to Maine with some amazing friends where we’ll hike and laugh and celebrate the goodness of God. And eat a little lobster, too. I’m looking forward to having a chance to unplug from the Internet for a few days and play.
We covet your prayers—for everyone you know who is battling this disease and their families, for Leif and I, for our brilliant team of medical doctors, and for the effectiveness of the treatment.
And most importantly, that God would dole out an extra helping of grace and strength and ridiculous joy in the meantime.
Margaret, Leif, and Hershey
Update: Here's how you can help: http://mar.cta.gs/084