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.
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.
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.
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!