I've debated writing this blog post. It's pretty personal, so I'll leave out the nitty gritties. But the more I hesitate to publish it, the more God nudges at my heart, saying, "proclaim the work of my hands!" I know that when God gives us trials and experiences, He wants us to share them in order to help someone else. I'm not sure who could benefit from my story, but I need to follow His nudging and share anyway. I know I don't see most of my blog followers on a regular basis, so this is probably the best way to share His goodness to our family this year. When I was a little girl, probably close to the age my daughter is now, my Aunt Carol had leukemia. I am told it was VERY serious and that my cousins were living with us for a time because her prognosis was so slim. By His mercy, God healed her. Her two children are grown now and tending to families of their own. BUT it was our extended family's first brush with cancer (in my lifetime). Some ten to 12 years later, my Aunt Becky, another of the sisters, was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age. She battled it and won! We all rejoiced with her ... a short time later, during my freshman year of high school, my mom battled breast cancer. Although I was selfish and absorbed in my own life, I was NOT unaware of the serious nature the disease took on my always strong mother. My mom battled breast cancer ... and she WON! The details of additional surgeries for my mom and my aunt are unclear to me, but I'm certain that there were relapses and further battles to fight, claiming more and more of their bodies but leaving them still with LIFE!
As I matured into an adult, sought a career, and prepared for a marriage, the realities of the cancer in my family began to set in. Every doctor's form I filled out was one more place I had to write down a long laundry list of genetically related people who had battled a horrible disease. I listened to my mom, my doctors, researchers even, talk about how likely breast cancer and ovarian cancer (since those are linked) was to arrive early in my body ... how important it was to be vigilant about my health ... to NEVER miss a check up. These things I did ... always preparing, mentally, to battle breast cancer one day. How could I not? It's such a clear pattern ...
Fast forward again to about 6 months ago .... my mom (at MY OB's request) was tested to see if she was a carrier for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. She turned up positive for a genetic mutation. To her, that wasn't a surprise, or even a really big deal, except that it places my brother and I squarely in line for the same mutation and potential health issues. There was a 50% chance for each of us to have the mutation. My brother was tested, NEGATIVE!! I rejoiced with Alaina when I heard ... and thought, rather logically, (though probably to my hs math teacher's dismay) that if he was lucky to be on the negative side, I'd probably NOT be ... (Faulty math, I know ... I aced statistics in college but sometimes emotions get in the way!).
Steve and I talked and decided that knowing how to prepare ourselves was better than assuming anything. I had the test. I waited ... My appointment to meet with the counselor came and that day I received a call ... No results, please don't come in. I waited ... I waited, over a month I waited (knowing full well the implications this would have on me, but dreading the chance it had on my babies)!
Finally, a chaotic evening, with the crockpot overflowing, Benjamin crying his "starving baby scream," Kayleigh asking for "more CANDY," and me soaked from our recent trip to the grocery store in the pouring rain ... a phone call came. As I saw the West Michigan Cancer Center appear on my caller id, I surveyed the room ... turned off the crockpot and knew the kids would be safe from danger. I closed the bedroom door and answered the phone.
"Kristi, there's no need for you to come in to the center this week. I finally received your results. We don't need to talk ... you're negative! I hope you're dancing for joy."
In fact, I wasn't dancing for joy. I was speechless, yes, me, speechless. I was relieved, thankful, ecstatic ... and speechless. I thanked Karen, hung up and slumped on the bed, thanking Jesus for this amazing piece of good news. My risk for cancer, despite my long family history, was no greater than that of the average population. I still need regular screenings, regular check ups, but no pre-emptive surgeries, no early pre-screenings, no "counting" on the fact that chemo is a part of my life some day.
I say all of this knowing that had God brought a positive mutation into my life, I would have found a way to cope. I would have found joy and purpose in it, because that's how God directs my life. But, this Christmas season, as I watch my 7 month old roll everywhere and try to start crawling, or I listen to my little girl learn Christmas carols and sing Away in the NANGE', I don't have to think about preventive mastectomies or early hysterectomies or the potential for osteoporosis at 35. I feel like I have a new lease on life, a greater chance to give glory to God in the way I live. And that, my friends, is why I've decided to share the story, personal as it is, with you ... Because in giving me this gift of less worry, a "clear" bill of health, and freedom from my children having the same mutation (unless by some God designed twist of fate they inherited it from their Daddy), He wants me to be thankful, publicly thankful.
When I say I'm thankful for health this Christmas season, I truly mean it, my whole house does (even though K and B aren't exactly sure why right now)!