Faith Walkers

Walking through cancer with Christ

Pam Vande Walle

So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

B2: Before Christ and Before Cancer

I fondly refer to my journey as B squared… Before Christ and Before Cancer.  I had neither before 2011. 

I was, a 40 year old perceivably “young” woman.  I was facing many challenges.  During that year, I quit my steady job at the hospital to pursue riches in the private sector, separated from my husband, and bought my own townhome. I thought I could be independent, yet I had no real direction.   I didn’t have a true spiritual relationship.  I had long since abandoned my Buddhist up-bringing and honestly only prayed to God when I was gambling. 

DCIS

Due to my new job, I was eligible for health benefits open enrollment options in November 2010.   My physical exam was scheduled in December 2010.  At that time, I mentioned to my doctor that I had sharp pains in both of my breasts.  My doctor recommended a mammogram, which was scheduled in late December, but “questionable photographs” had me returning for a second mammogram on January 3, 2011. I had “multi-focal calcifications”.  The recommendation was to have a needle biopsy to test some of the questionable calcifications.  On January 6th, I had the biopsy done. I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS).   The recommendation was to have a mastectomy.

B&B Club

All the new terms and treatment options were a blur to me.  My husband, George, thankfully held my hand through it all.  But I knew I needed more support.  I called my friend at the hospital’s cancer support group.  I told her that I wanted to specifically talk to someone that had gone through a mastectomy; she contacted a friend that connected me to Helain Steele. 

I vividly recall the day I called Helain. On that afternoon, Helain was headed to Panera to meet with her support group, the B&B Club.  Helain invited me to lunch.  Remarkably it was a holiday for my company, so I hesitantly accepted the lunch invitation.   Unknowingly to me, God had planned and planted my membership to B&B on Monday, January 17.

I was welcomed so lovingly and warmly by these wonderful Christian ladies!  They listened to me as I cried about my diagnosis.  More importantly, they prayed for my healing.  I left the lunch “meeting” with a sense of overwhelming peace.  I developed quick friendships with these ladies.  They all radiated warmth that drew me to them.

Rebirth and Reconstruction

I had scheduled a bilateral mastectomy and staged reconstruction on February 8, 2011.  On the day before the surgeries, I was very nervous.  Vonnie, another dear member and friend from B&B Club, had been visiting with me .  At the end of our prayers, I asked her if I could invite Christ in my life.  I wanted to have the peace and joy that all my other Sisters felt.  I feel like my journey really began on that day, February 7, 2011. 

The mastectomies went very well.  Unfortunately, I did have many issues with recurring infections.  My infections caused me to become very weak and shiver uncontrollably.  In total, I have had: seven drains, an intravenous line dropped in to pump antibiotics near my heart, a second surgery to remove and sterilize my expander, and colitis from being on antibiotics for an extended period (which caused an eight hour visit to the Emergency Room).

A New Journey

No matter the challenges I face, I know that my God is with me.  I can lean onto Him.  He has been faithful to me.  I call Him my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Prince of Peace.

I was Baptized on December 11, 2011. There are just some dates that you treasure for life!

 

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