I found a lump in my breast, a hard little mass about the size of a pecan. Examining it in the shower I had one of those stutter-step moments. The kind where your heart stands still while your mind races ahead. Is it cancer? What am I going to do? I do not feel like being bothered with this right now!
Really, I didn’t. Life was good. I was writing and doing work I love. Happy and at peace, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was experiencing this life-interrupted moment. This little issue was probably nothing more than a distraction to throw me off track.
But of course I knew better than to ignore it. After years of working in breast cancer and listening to the incredible stories of survivors, I understood the power of early detection. So off I went in search of a primary care doctor. Yes, I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t bothered to find one after moving to New York. I know y’all are judging me, but for those of us who don’t have corporately provided health insurance, selecting a carrier and finding a doctor who actually accepts the insurance we’ve chosen is a feat unto itself. (It actually deserves its own blog, but that’s for another day.)
Anyhow, I was able to locate this lovely Russian doctor who was extremely friendly and thorough. I told her about my breast concerns, and she asked me to lie down so she could examine me. Now, I want you to let your imagination take over and visualize the scene as it plays out.
I’m looking up at her face while she examines my breast. Her hand stills when she finds the lump, and I can tell from the look on her face she doesn’t like what she finds. With her hand still on the lump, this is our exchange…
Doctor: Okay…we’re not going to panic. (Please, roll the “r” for maximum effect.)
Me: No…we’re not going to panic
Doctor: Because it could be nothing. (Say “nothing” for as long as humanly possible.)
Me: You’re right. It could be nothing.
Really?!? Ladies, I don’t even need to tell you how I felt. At that moment, all I could say was Jesus take the wheel. All my hope is in you. Please, just guide us through this process so we know what this is, and what we need to do.
To gain some clarity, the doctor sent me for screening, but that turned out to be yet another bizarre experience. The tech taking the ultrasound kept asking where the lump was located. Eventually she stopped to feel it for herself, snapped a few photos, and then took it to the doctor for review. Then the radiologist walks into the screening room, and I think, I’m in real trouble.
For the most part, radiologists are invisible doctors. They interpret our scans but almost never see our faces. But in my case he walks up, introduces himself and says, the tech tells me she can feel the lump but can’t see it on the ultrasound. Do you mind if I examine you? Why not? Everything else has been strange. You may as well come on out of your comfort zone too.
I watched his face as he examined me, but I couldn’t tell a thing. (He clearly got the memo about not freaking out the patient.) When he finishes evaluating me, he says I feel it too. The only thing I can suggest is going to a breast specialist, because even though we can’t see it, there is definitely something there.
Right then, the Spirit deposited an encouraging word. Isn’t that just like the power and presence of God? You can’t see Him, but you can feel Him and know beyond a shadow of a doubt He’s there. Don’t worry about this. He’s got you!
With that assurance, I was able to still my racing mind and pray. God I trust you. Whatever this is – you got it! It was such a precious gift of peace to put my trust in God. But even still it took me nearly two months before I made an appointment to see the breast specialist. Which is really sad given everything I know about breast cancer.
But it’s also why we can’t stop talking about it and encouraging each other. Because when it comes to our own health, we can be painfully slow in prioritizing our needs. It’s easier to assume it’s nothing, or put off exploring it until it’s convenient, which by the way – is never.
It’s also quite easy to use our “trust in God” as an excuse for inactivity. See I was convinced, that He was going to handle it, come what may. But that was no reason for me not to get in gear and take care of business. Because when we really trust God, we get three things:
- Peace that surpasses all understanding.
- Courage to move forward in spite of our fears
- Assurance that however it turns out, He is with us
Trusting God means we don’t just talk about it. We take action. We move forward in spite of our fears, knowing He knows the outcome.
I know a lot of us think if we trust God we shouldn’t be afraid. But let’s be honest, there are some things in life that are going to scare the crap out of us, and that’s okay. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the will to do in the midst of our doubt. Sometimes we have to feel the fear, and move forward anyway, knowing the spirit of fear is not from Him.
A couple of weeks ago I did just that, when I stepped into the outpatient surgery center to have my lump removed. I told God whatever the outcome, I know you’ve got me. And praise be to God, he was gracious and kind and my lump was benign!!! I am so grateful for God’s great mercy. He didn’t have to do it, but He did.
I’m also thankful for the Spirit’s timely reminder of what it really means to put our trust in God. To be real clear here – my lump being benign had nothing to do with me trusting God any more than the next person. Trusting God isn’t like playing the slots. We don’t put in a quarter, throw up a prayer and then pull the lever hoping we’ll be lucky or “favored” with a good payout. No…God has a unique plan for all of our lives, and he alone knows our seasons and storms. Trusting God doesn’t make our lives pain free. What it gives us is peace through the process, and courage to see it through.
You can have that too. I don’t know what’s happening in your life, what crazy thing may have come out of left field and thrown you off track or scared you half to death. But whatever it is, I encourage you to let your faith be bigger than your fear. Trust God, knowing He already knows the outcome, and allow Him to give you peace along the journey. Tell him, God I trust you. Whatever it is, you got it. Then do what you can, in spite of your fears, and let Him handle the rest.
I’m praying for you. Y’all please pray for me too. And please, please, please – check yourself, get a clinical exam, and if you’re over 40 schedule that mammogram. Do what you can, while you can, to take care of you!
Sending you big hugs and love…❤
Susan Yost says
Katrina, thank you for your encouraging, beautifully written post. I’m so glad you are healthy! I hated hearing that you had gone through this health scare.Your words are good reminders for us all. In fact, your words are an inspiration for me right now as a dear friend of mine is in the ICU fighting for her life. Now, her family, friend and people from around the world are praying for her healing – all of us are putting our trust in God. It’s hard because it’s scary …. the thought of losing her. But, each moment, we are praying and putting our trust in Him. My friend is a rock, always there for others, oftentimes putting herself last, especially her health. Thank you for words, wisdom and courage…and for your constant “loving on us!”
Katrina McGhee says
Susan, thank you for your sweet note. I’m doing better every day, and so grateful for beautiful souls like you, who have been a source of encouragement and love. I will be praying for your friend, and for you. Hugs and Love, Katrina
My word Katrina… I was so moved by your story of Faith in our father. For He alone is worthy of all the thanks and praise. Thank you so much for your sharing your fears and showing us your faith. Continue to allow the Lord to lead and guide every step you take.
Peace and Love
Thank you so much Athena! I pray it encourages others going through a stormy season. He is always by our side. Hugs and Blessings to You! 🙂
Pamela Atkins says
Katrina, thank you for sharing your story. I too had one of those situations where the doctor’s office sent me for the ultrasound & mammogram. Then I was instructed to follow the tech to the radiologist’s office. Throughout the biopsy, surgery center adventure, cancer diagnosis and journey, God was faithful in 1999 and has remained so throughout other events (health and life).
I’m always encouraged when I read other people’s testimonies. I believe your story will do that for many.
Katrina McGhee says
Thank you for sharing Pamela. Sending my love and good wishes for continued health. Hugs, Katrina
T SB says
Beautiful post and so on time!
Katrina McGhee says
Thank you! I’m so glad it spoke to your spirit. 🙂