Me vs. Breast Cancer

I always tell my students not to start their papers or their speeches with disclaimers (“I wrote this late last night”, “I’m a terrible speaker”, “I had bad broccoli for lunch”, etc), but here are my disclaimers for this very overdue blog post: this is not polished, this is raw and this is not what I wish my first blog post in 5 months was about.  But here goes anyway:-)

The main purpose of this blog post is to update everyone and tell you how we’re all doing over here in the Littrell/Wehr clan.  First, I’ll list a few big things that have rocked us these last few days:

  1. Yesterday, we found out that mom’s CA125 numbers jumped 1000 points, so they hurried her over to Medford to try a new treatment.
  2. A few hours later I got a call from my doctor in Medford to tell me that the results from my breast biopsy on Monday show that I have breast cancer.
  3. The surgeon suggested, and Ryan and I agreed, that I should have a double mastectomy.
  4. This morning I started the sad—and necessarily quick—process of weaning my six-month-old from nursing.
  5. I also went to Sky Lakes to get blood work done in preparation for my MRI this coming Monday, which made this all seem very real and started a full day of tears (still crying as I write this).

Phew!  That’s not fun to write.  The next steps for me are the MRI on Monday that will show if the cancer is anywhere else besides the two lumps they biopsied last Monday, a meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday and then planning a surgery.  The next steps for mom are hopefully to respond well to this new drug and start to push those scary numbers back down!

So how are we doing?  We’re very shaken up, and the thought “I can’t believe this is happening” has crossed my mind continuously today.  I am very sad, but so far not despairing.  My parents, brothers, gramma and sister-in-law are all reeling and yet being so sweet about everything we found out yesterday.  My friends are sad for us and very encouraging.  My amazing husband is shell-shocked and upset, but totally being my rock.  And my sweet boys are blissfully oblivious for now.  The many fabulous, loving people in my life have blessed my family and me enormously in the last 24 hours. 

Which leaves us to talk about cancer and this blog.  For now, I am going to use Everyday Glimpses and facebook as a way to update all of you, because it is efficient, of course, but also because I think it will still fit into the mission of the blog: to find and appreciate joy every day despite the circumstances.  Already, the outpouring of love I’ve received has given me more joy than I can express even as I experience a lot of sadness…and fear.

And fear is the last thing I want to talk about.  Throughout the cancer journey my family has been on, I have often felt palpable fear—the kind that makes me sick to my stomach and want to run away.  God has given me two verses that continually pull me out of fear’s arms.  Phil 4:8-9: “Finally brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…and the peace of God will be with you.”  The way I explain this to my boys when they have nightmares is the same way I use it in my own life: If I fill my mind with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, then there is only room for peace in my mind.  Not only does fear have no place there, but it cannot even take hold.  So I cling to these verses now.

Finally, some specific prayers:

  • That the cancer is just in my breasts.  If the MRI shows that it’s contained in my breasts, then a double mastectomy will cure me, and we won’t have to take any further steps.
  • That my family will feel a peace that passes understanding and a strength that can only come from God.
  • That Mama’s new treatment will be the one that she’s needed all along!
  • That the process to check my ovaries and the eventual surgery that will follow that as well will be smooth.
  • And above all, praise to the Lord for the paths our lives have taken to lead to this point and prepare us for this next step and for all of the blessings that we see all around us.  My sweet love, Ryan, is going to speak more on this point in the following section.

Love you all!  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!    


A note from Ryan:

God has not brought me into the battle I felt best suited for, one with a tangible physical enemy I could hunt down and kill, guns blazing, fists swinging. Instead he has placed me in a battle with a faceless enemy, where physical strength and skill count for nothing. In this battle my role is to be God's representation of himself to Caityn on earth: to let her weep on me, to be stalwart and remind her of God's grace and presence.
So far many who have checked in on me have expected me to be angry about the struggle laid before us. Rightly so as I can have a temper and I am fiercely protective of my wife. For whatever reason that isn't where my emotions are. I'm sad. I don't want my wife to go through this and it doesn't make sense. When presented with hardship we can either curse God, ignore him or look at his blessing. As Caitlyn said, to find peace, we must cling to what is noble, pure and righteous.
So I began to think about all God had done to bring us here: the miracle of Christina's birth, a surprise to her mother nine years after her last child; the miracle of Caitlyn's birth despite Christina's heart-shaped womb, something doctors said should have made it impossible to conceive at all;  how God altered my path when I was about to join the Marines bringing me instead to George Fox University weeks before 9/11, where I met and fell in love with Caitlyn;  the surprise of our first son, much sooner than we planned, causing us to have our next two sons sooner than planned, which meant Caitlyn was able to nurse our newest baby for the prescribed six month term ending just as we got the news of breast cancer;  not only that, since God brought Liam to us ahead of our timeline, therefore speeding up the whole family expanding process, we were able to have three beautiful boys right before we have to face the reality that Caitlyn cannot have any more children; and finally the breast lump that was only discovered early because of Christina's fight with cancer.  Without knowing everything we know from Christina's experience, the lumps Caitlyn found in her body could have been ignored for years as the cancer quietly grew inside.
God has been with us, he has had his hand on us and will never let us go. He will be faithful to complete the work he began.
I look at my sweet wife and am amazed. Great trials and tribulation have forged this beautiful and joyous woman - truly fearfully and wonderfully made.