Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dear Sugar: My Two Big Secrets

Ali Cummins Photography
Dear Sugar,

So I’ve been keeping two big secrets.  And as promised, today I’m finally able to “spill the beans” and reveal what’s been going on.  

***Takes big, deep breath***

Be patient with me, dear one.  This takes courage and faith and vulnerability, three things I’m not always very good at. 

Secret #1: 

In April of this year, I found a breast lump.  I wasn’t alarmed, as I’ve had them in the past.  Genetics gave me the “gift” of lumpy, dense boobs.  In fact, I’ve had two lumps removed already, both benign:  mere hiccups in my life plans.  

This time was different. 

I went to my gynecologist who agreed we should do some further testing.  She sent me to get a mammogram and ultrasound.  Both of these took longer than usual, and I was concerned.   However, I got a call the very next day that said that everything looked pretty darn normal.  I should go back in six months and have the tests repeated, just to be safe.   I momentarily breathed a sigh of relief.

But I couldn’t let the feeling go that something was wrong.   Call it a woman’s intuition, a gut feeling, or Jesus telling me to listen to my body: but the nudging was strong

I called my gynecologist’s office and told them the lump felt bigger and heavier.   My infant, who is held almost all the time (no shame in "spoiling" my baby girl!), kept head-butting my chest, right where the lump was.  Not to mention, my seat belt and cross-body purse were constantly rubbing over the sensitive area.  It wasn’t just uncomfortable, but it was painful.  It was as if my daughter was telling me:  mom, something's not right. And the straps and seat belts would remind me also.     

The nurse gave me a list of local surgeons and said I could pursue getting additional support.  I immediately called the closest surgeon’s office and set up an appointment.   After meeting the surgeon and having yet another ultrasound, she agreed we should to a biopsy so we could find out what we were dealing with.   I had the biopsy a few days before our family's June vacation.  Two weeks later, I returned to the surgeon’s office.  And that’s when the poop hit the fan. 

No one is ever prepared to be told she has breast cancer.   I sat there on a paper-covered table, covered in a thin, mauve gown, while the surgeon went on to discuss “treatment options” and getting an MRI.  She used big, scary words and shared nail-biting statistics. I don't remember much of what she said to me, but I left that office armed with ten (yes, ten) glossy brochures, all featuring middle-aged and older women on the front and the words BREAST CANCER scrolled across the top in pink, scripted font (as if this was an exclusive party invitation and not a devastating diagnosis).    

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind.  How the hell is this fair?  I already have one disease, and now I get another one?   I have FOUR kids who rely on me for everything.   I’m going to die.   What if I need a mastectomy?   Chemotherapy?  Radiation?  

My summer was spent consumed with appointments, phone calls, tests, and lots and lots of waiting.  Waiting for results, waiting to meet with another medical professional, waiting for my surgery date.

I’m not ready to tell the whole story now.  I don’t have the energy.  I’m still only in my second week of recovery from the treatment option I chose.  I can’t lift my arms above my head, I can’t shower without supervision, I can’t lift or bend over.   I’m in this weird recovery prison where a nurse comes to my house to make sure I’m still kickin’, and people speak to me in soft, gentle voices, as if I'm a fragile toddler who might lose her cool at any minute.  I'm OK about 95% of the time, but the other 5% is hell.   
So I’m going to fast forward to the good news:  I learned after my surgery that I went from “a woman with breast cancer” to “a breast cancer survivor.” Meaning:  I am cancer-free.   Praise God!
Ali Cummins Photography
But Rach, you remind me, what’s the other secret? 

Yes, dear reader!   Let’s get to it! 

Secret #2:

As of a few days ago, the book I’ve labored over for months and months, The Hopeful Mom's Guide to Adoption, is now available!   The boob drama delayed the publication of my book, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.  I was able to take a step back from being immersed in the push to publish and make some revisions and add some finishing touches, including this stunning cover that invites you into the world of domestic, infant adoption.   

^^^Click on the image to get details.
Sugar, I wrote this book for the woman who wants to adopt but is standing on shaky ground.  Choosing to adopt isn’t for the faint at heart.  It’s for those willing to have their hearts broken and mended on repeat. There are SO many questions about ethics, open adoption, attachment, choosing an adoption professional, responding to nosy strangers, affording adoption, finding a support group, and more.  I answer them all:  with my whole heart, with my decade of experience, and with YOU in mind.  This is the book I wish I would have had ten years ago.

I invited several ladies from the adoption community to review the book. Here is some of what they said:  

Whew!  If you’ve made it this far into the post, cheers to you! I appreciate your readership:  your love, support, and encouragement.  This detour was certainly unexpected, but it also created space for more friends, more lessons, and more hope. 
Ali Cummins Photography
I promise to share more of the story in the future, but for now, I have a good book (wink, wink) to curl up with and so do you!   I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

Cheers to us, Sugar! 


  1. What a summer but what a testimony... I knew something had to be up!

  2. I am so happy for you that you are cancer free! What a journey you have had since you found out and thank goodness you trusted your gut!!!! Thank you for sharing this news and for all that you do for our community.


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