Facing down the beast

One of the most frustrating things about life as a cancer patient is the feeling of being totally powerless, having no control over what is happening to my body and my life. I can choose my doctors but then I have to listen to them and trust what they tell me. They give me options whenever possible, but Iím not a doctor so how can I make an intelligent choice? My Moffitt doctors are wonderful about taking time to explain procedures, tests, side effects, etc. They also give me brochures to read and I try to do research online. But virtually all the info out there is written by companies that manufacture and profit from the drugs, machines, and tests used to treat cancer. That makes me suspicious, rather than reassured. Often all the choices seem equally repulsive and incomprehensible. Ultimately, I must trust my doctors to guide me through the dark and tangled woods that are home to this elusive and diabolical predator called cancer. Friday, March 8
Had three more biopsies today, including an MRI-guided one, scary to a claustrophobic like me. Fortunately, they did it facedown, which helped with the fear but not the pain of the deep probes inserted in my breasts nor the discomfort of lying motionless for more than 20 minutes on what could only be described as a metal wrack. I will never understand why they canít administer an anesthetic or pain killer before these tests. They gave me what was supposed to be an anxiety pill but it didnít do a thing. When the procedure was finally over, I was told to get dressed, get some lunch, and be back for the next torture, oops, I mean test, in 30 minutes. I struggled to down half a muffin and a cup of coffee; then I was off to the ultrasound department for a biopsy of my lymph nodes. Turned out it was even more painful than the MRI. The tech kept apologizing for bearing down so hard, but said it was unavoidable because lymph nodes are small and deep. I appreciated her explanation, but it didnít ease the pain. Itís reassuring that my doctors are backed by a team of oncologists and surgeons who consult on every step of my treatment; however, the more cooks in the kitchen the more delays and extra steps added to the recipe. March 11 will mark a whole month since I was diagnosed with invasive carcinoma. I was told I wouldnít need chemo if they removed the tumor right away. Now we are blithely waiting two more weeks to repeat biopsies. At what point does the danger of delay overshadow the benefit of added testing? I feel like Goldilocks lost in the deep woods. Wolves drool and fight over the next bite of me. Yet all the while, the real beast devours me from within. Thatís gruesome and unfair, I know, but itís how I feel after a whole day of painful, expensive tests. And now I face another long wait for results. When are they going to actually remove this beast from my body? Soon, I hope, but I am powerless to speed the process. Will I ever regain control of my life? No, because I never really had it. I didnít decide to get cancer, and I canít will it away. Only when I surrender the illusion of control, do I find peace. God is in control, not doctors or schedules. I can trust His love to face down the beast and lead me through the scary woods. Now and always, he is all I need.

Editorís note: This is weekly installment of Joyce Minorís experience as a breast cancer patient and going through testing and treatment.