Merciful Mornings
July 20, 2015

It’s been a few years since my bone tumor discovery & removal, and I’ve had some new friends asking about it recently. Summer usually brings out more questions since I carry a lovely scar on my right shoulder. It’s stinking HOT here in Arkansas, and I’m not about to be so vain that I can’t wear tank tops when it’s 100*+ outside! Besides, I’m kind of proud of my battle scar. The tumor came, it was removed, and I survived. So for those who haven’t heard the exciting story (or for those who might’ve forgotten), here’s the thrilling tale of how I broke my arm while attempting to kill a bug.

Monkey #1 was only 2 1/2 years old at the time. She was in her bed refusing to nap on a Friday afternoon, and she started yelling that there was something in her room. This was infuriating since she also shared her room with Monkey #2, who was almost 8 months old, and I would’ve paid a good amount of money if they would just go to sleep. I went in to tell her that she was fine and needed to go to sleep, but a HUGE bug crawled across the floor. Pretty sure that sucker had a knife. And guns. It took a minute to get my girl calmed down and into the hall, and then I went to grab the biggest shoe I could find so I wouldn’t miss. I’m not really sure what possessed me to use the arm that had been hurting and getting weaker over the past few weeks, but I did. (Side note: I had neck surgery a few years prior to this incident, so doctors were attributing all health issues to my neck at this time.) Holding the shoe in my right hand, I brought it up over my head and down towards the floor in an effort to annihilate the bug. As soon as the shoe hit the floor, I screamed in pain. My poor girl thought the bug had gotten me, bless her heart. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I knew I was in a LOT of pain, and it was bad. I managed to get someone to come stay with the kids and get a ride to the ER. At this point I’m thinking I must’ve done something awful to a muscle or dislocated my shoulder. Fantastic.

After several hours of waiting in the ER, I finally got an x-ray of my shoulder and neck. I was in shock when the doctor brought us back to see the x-ray and told us that I had a pretty big cyst in my humerus (upper arm bone). He said it had weakened the bone so much that I fractured my humerus when I tried to kill the bug… sooo…. I broke my arm by killing a bug. As one does. He said he’d already shown my x-ray to the orthopedic surgeon in town, and he said the cyst didn’t “look” like was cancerous, but he did think we needed to go in, remove the cyst, and possibly do a bone graft so my bone would grow back. So in a few hours, I went from a possible muscle strain to a hopefully non-cancerous bone cyst that needed surgery, a bone graft, and a broken arm that couldn’t be casted. After a consult with the orthopedic surgeon the following Monday, I was shipped off to the Orthopedic Oncology clinic at UAMS in Little Rock. The amazing oncologist there discovered that my “cyst” was actually a giant cell bone tumor, and we had it removed by the end of the month. The bone somehow managed to re-break a couple of weeks after the surgery since it was too thin to stabilize with a metal plate and screws (thanks, giant tumor), so recovery and physical therapy didn’t go quite as smoothly or quickly as originally anticipated. Recovery took FOREVER. This is what a goober looks like when she finally gets her hair in a ponytail after more than 3 months of not being able to move her arm that direction:

Ponytail

Don’t judge – it was a big deal. So here we are – 3 1/2 years later – and I am tumor free! I could be super positive and upbeat about it all by telling you how great it is to be on the other side of it all, but I think we’ve established that I’m a bit more open and honest than that. It was a horrible, scary, exhausting, debilitating period of life. Now that I am several years removed from it all, I am breathing a bit easier. The looming cloud of fear and doom isn’t hanging around quite as often, but it pops up every now and then when my arm starts getting sore or if I have a day where the pain level creeps up again. And you might think you are humble, but nothing shatters your pride like relying on strangers to change your baby’s diapers and clean your bathrooms.

Tumors are stupid. Cancer is dumb. No one should have to go through the physical, mental, and emotional roller coasters that come with that type of disease. I do not know how people manage difficult times without church family to carry them through. You people know who you are. Those who took shifts at my house to care for my children, do my laundry, clean all the things… those who cooked our meals and drove me to physical therapy appointments. All I wanted to do was crawl in a hole, but God used His people to wrap me up in His arms and show His love through the garbage of it all. I will never forget that, and I pray that I will constantly be given opportunities to show that love to others. If you are going through the trenches now, you do NOT have to do it all by yourself. It is hard – it is humbling – but you have to let people in. We weren’t meant to do this whole life thing by ourselves, even when it feels like no one could possibly understand or make it better.

So there’s my story. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I’m taking it all one day at a time. If you have a story to share, send it my way via the Contact button at the top of this page or leave a comment here. Love and blessings on your day, friends.