Yesterday I celebrated two years. It’s a celebration that brings overwhelming joy and just a touch of sadness. Sadness because it’s not a celebration I ever wanted to participate in. Joy because I’m here to celebrate.
Two years ago yesterday, I went into a nine and a half hour surgery not knowing what waited for me on the other side. Much like the uncertainty we are all experiencing today, it was uncharted territory.
I knew things would be different if I made it through, but I didn’t know exactly how they would be different. I wasn’t panicked, but there was some “healthy” fear on my end. Concern, but I was leaving it all in God’s hands. No matter what the news, no matter what the outcome, my fear and worry wouldn’t change it.
I had to trust Him.
In January 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It wasn’t the type most women get. Only about ten percent have it located where I did. But, because it’s not typical and formed in a different fashion, miracle number one was that it was caught early by mammogram.
Miracle number two was how my surgical team came about. Because of insurance choices, I was led to the hospital’s director of women’s breast health to perform the bilateral mastectomy and the chief of plastic surgery to do the reconstruction. Top in their fields, these two doctors were caring, informative, and down to earth.
Miracle number three was discovering I had an atypical vascular system on one side. “Untangling” me added an hour and a half to the predicted eight hour surgery. But God gave wisdom to the surgeon and all went well.
Miracle number four was learning there had been no invasion to the lymph nodes and all the margins were clear. While the surgery was huge and recovery was longer than expected, the cancer was only stage 1 and chemo and radiation weren’t necessary.
Because of the type of reconstructive surgery I had, getting around wasn’t so easy. I was holed up at home for the better part of three months, getting out only to go to the hospital, doctors and physical therapist.
Maybe that’s why this current banishment to the apartment isn’t so overwhelming for me. I’ve been here before, but at least this time, I’m not shackled by drains, being careful of stitches, dealing with the pain of a partially removed rib. I am able to move about freely within the confines of my cocoon.
When I emerged from the trauma of a life-altering diagnosis two years ago, many people looked at me and said “you look wonderful.” “You’d never know what you’ve been through.”
Take a look at the butterfly in the picture. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Bright colors, wings spread, ready to fly after enjoying the nectar of the flower it’s perched on.
Now look again. Look at the bottom of it’s tail on the right side. A piece of it is missing.
That missing piece doesn’t affect the overall beauty of the butterfly.
You didn’t even notice something was different until you looked for it. The missing piece doesn’t affect it’s ability to live its life or to fly. It’s a living miracle.
Like you and me, the butterfly has overcome something traumatic. It may have taken some adjustment to its new normal, but it survived. And perhaps, even thrived.
In our humanness, we seek to avoid pain. I never wanted cancer, never wanted to go through surgery. I’ll carry the scars for the rest of my life.
But those scars don’t change the beauty of my life. In some ways, they make me appreciate it all the more. I look at the miracles that occurred two years ago and I am thankful. Thankful for God’s faithfulness. Thankful for my life. Thankful that although my appearance is altered, it hasn’t changed my ability to live or to fly.
I am a miracle.