Pretending has taken on a whole new meaning around here. Ella and Madeline put on some band-aids and pretend to have cancer. Wow! Then they get out the doctor kits to help each other and have even prayed for healing a time or two. This thing is taking over our lives in so many ways. Wow! I love my girls!” (Facebook post)
July 21, 2011, just about a month shy of her 33rd birthday, my sweet, beautiful friend Ginger Powell was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Married to photographer Matt, mom of 3 adorable little girls – Madeline (4), Ella (2), and Claire (7 months). Healthy, active, no known high risk factors. And along comes that rock-your-world word: Cancer.
Actually, it’s a miracle that Ginger and Matt even found out about the cancer and were able to quickly wage an all-out war against it. Read this and take Ginger’s words to heart: “This could have turned out very differently… It’s so important for women with any questions or concerns to really advocate for themselves.”
So, this whole thing started with a little swollen lymph node in my left armpit. I am nursing so I carefully watched it for a week and during that week discovered a larger mass in my breast. Because I am nursing, I watched it for one more week and then went to see my physician. I was not feeling sick, I was not having trouble nursing, but these areas were also not going away. I had a good ultrasound that returned with what should have been good results. The words on the report were, “appears normal,” “probably benign,” “see physician in 6 months for a recheck.” The only problem was that I had a problem with “probably” Something was definitely in my arm and breast and it was not going away. After talking with a girlfriend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 five years ago, I knew I needed to see a surgeon and to have a needle biopsy. Even the surgeon at first thought it could be an inflamed milk duct or an infection. It didn’t look like a cancer or problem on the ultrasound, but because he too wanted to make sure, he ordered a mammogram (even though I’m just 32). I’m so glad he did because the mammogram showed us the devastating results: a malignancy.” (CaringBridge post)
Since July, The Powells’ schedules have included:
- Numerous medical tests, doctor visits, and a second opinion
- Beginning an extensive chemo treatment plan, starting with surgery to install a port
- New language – words like HER2, blood counts, Taxol…
- Appreciation of family and friends stepping in to help with the kids and household needs during the chemo treatment cycle.
They are brave. They are amazing. They are strong They love deeply. They have a rock solid faith in God and are openly sharing this journey with their community and welcoming the prayers and support of friends and family.
Ladies, please take Ginger’s words to heart.
- Do self exams.
- Pay attention to anything out of the ordinary.
- Read the radiology reports.
- Question words like “probably” when they don’t align with what your body is telling you.
- Advocate for your own health.
Thank you, Ginger and Matt, for sharing your personal journey. We’re with you all the way.