Fighting for Two Lives

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Feaster. The biopsy confirmed that it is breast cancer.”

One sentence from a phone call on November 17, 2021 changed my life forever. I couldn’t have cancer. I’m only 25 years old, and I’m six months pregnant. How could this be true?

November was not my first appointment at Lexington Women’s Imaging Center. I had also gone in June to have an ultrasound on the same lump in my breast. After my first appointment, doctors told me “It’s normal breast tissue; there’s nothing to worry about.” That was Tuesday. Saturday, I found out I was pregnant with our first child.

Then, in November, a phone call rocked my world. I dropped my phone, left my office without a word to anyone, got in my car, and did what any child would do—called my mom. Then, after a few tough moments, I somehow gathered the courage to call my husband.

Driving home, I remember praying and crying out to God. I begged Him to spare my baby’s life and allow me to be her mother. I pleaded for this not to be the end of the road. I wasn’t ready to leave my family. My baby girl needed her mommy and my husband needed his wife. When I arrived home, I was greeted by my entire family. We hugged. We cried. And we knew we needed a plan.

We spent the next three weeks designing a treatment plan for the safe arrival of my baby girl. While pregnant, I would undergo three rounds of a chemotherapy called the “Red Devil;” then continue treatment after she was born. To say I was terrified is an understatement. I was scared for my baby’s life and my own. I had been dealt a deck of cards full of what ifs and unknowns. The doctors couldn’t even tell what stage my cancer was in because I couldn’t be fully scanned while pregnant. One particular scan deemed “safe” for the baby also showed a small spot of “something concerning” on my left lung. I spent the next three months not knowing if I was dealing with stage two triple negative breast cancer or stage four.

I spent a whole month crying. I cried all day long. Then, I met with my maternal fetal medicine doctor. He informed me that the risk of chemotherapy in the second trimester is limited. Since the risk is much greater in the first trimester, had I been diagnosed after the first check in June, the chances of my baby girl surviving would have been slim to none. The misdiagnosis saved her life. God used a “mistake” to remind me he is in control and to reignite my hope.

The misdiagnosis also reassured me that my God is bigger than cancer. With this reassurance that my God is bigger than cancer, I surrendered the fight to Him. After releasing the idea that I had any control over my circumstances in the first place, God opened my eyes to the ways His hand had been in all of this from the beginning.

The truth is, God wasn’t surprised by my diagnosis or that it seemed to crumble my world. He was ready for it. He had been preparing me for this battle in ways I never knew.

The Lord orchestrated our choosing of every doctor that cared for me. I knew at least one person in each doctors’ office, providing me with the support I needed while dealing with the mayhem in our healthcare system. He unexpectedly opened a way for us to move down the street from my parents. He blessed me with an employer who supported us for months without my being able to work. The list goes on and on. God showed out for us.

When I began chemotherapy, I was told it would likely slow down our baby’s growth; however, at our weekly checkups, she hit every growth milestone with ease. Then, at 33 weeks, I began experiencing symptoms of preeclampsia. God used my doctor to help me get through two hard weeks of migraines and extreme swelling. This spurred the decision to deliver at 35 weeks instead of 37. We had been praying that our girl would keep “cooking” until she was healthy and whole, but I was warned she could be so early that she would end up in special care.

With my body showing signs of an impending eviction notice, we scheduled a C-section for February 1, 2022.

That first day of a new month brought Isla Dawn Feaster into this world healthy and whole. She spent her required six hours in special care and then was brought to our room. The next morning her pediatrician stopped in to visit our miracle girl. While doing his exam, the first thing he said was,“This isn’t a 35-week-old baby. She’s as developed as a 37 week-er.” That’s exactly what we prayed for—37 weeks! God proved to us that He is not confined by time or space.

As if being a new mom wasn’t enough, I also completed four more rounds of chemo, had a lung biopsy which confirmed we were dealing with stage two cancer, and underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. I was also prescribed an extra layer of protection of oral chemotherapy.

Finally, on June 22, 2022, I shouted, “I am cancer free!”

I wish there were enough  time and pages available to detail every miracle and whisper from God I’ve experienced along this journey. Instead, I will leave you with this profound truth:

Without a doubt, we serve the God of the glorious impossible.

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