“Swift . . . like a Whirlwind” by Julia Anne Jackson

My husband, Mark, and I met in April of 2004 through Community Bible Church’s 400+ member Adult Praise Choir. Mark was a divorced dad of 2, a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son; I was a single mom of a 10-year-old son. Whenever and wherever the CBC Choir sang we were there, earning the nickname of “choir junkies” given by our Worship Pastor.

Music touches us in many different ways. A song can transport us back to a particular time, remind us of a specific place, even certain people. A song can become an anthem to a season in your life. For me, that anthem song is “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin. CBC’s Adult Praise Choir sang “Jesus” as part of our Christmas chorale presentation on the 10th & 11th of December 2016. I was dressed in all black in the choir loft and Mark was out front on-mic as a Praise Team singer.

Wednesday morning, December 14th, I had my annual well-woman exam. That afternoon brought a diagnostic 3-D mammogram and sonograms. These steps had somewhat become “my norm.” I experienced these heightened screenings in 2004, and then again in 2013, ‘14, and ‘15 due to fibrous cysts. Today, however, was different . . . for the first time ever these screenings were followed by an introduction to the Radiologist.

I had been home alone over Thanksgiving week. Mark traveled home to East Texas to spend the holiday with his Mom, the first holiday season since Mark’s dad passed away in May 2016. JC, our 9-year-old black and white Tuxedo cat, passed away that Saturday evening just after Mark had arrived home. The five biopsies of the hard spot I had discovered over Thanksgiving were taken on Friday, December 16th. Now, the waiting game began.

Mark and I spent our Sunday singing in four church services to the Basic Trainees at Lackland Air Force Base. My hands raised in praise to my heavenly Father with tears streaming down my cheeks I sang “Jesus” fiercely at each service. I claimed “Jesus standing in the fire beside me, holding my healing in His hands” as my strength as we awaited my biopsy results.

My first day of Christmas vacation, Wednesday, December 21st, 11:20 a.m. I received the telephone call revealing my Invasive Lobular Carcinoma “breast cancer” diagnosis. I whispered a prayer, “Oh Jesus! I have two boys who still need to get married and I want to know the joy of bouncing a grandbaby on my knee. Please heal me, Jesus!”

My cancer timeline … diagnosis to surgery … was swift … like a whirlwind, actually.

That same day:

Mark and I met my surgeon, Dr. Rittenhouse, at 1:30 p.m. He placed me on his surgery schedule for Friday, December 23rd. He said, “Julia, this is just going to be a lumpectomy. No one is talking mastectomy.”

3:30 p.m. brought a required pre-op MRI of my breasts with and without contrast. Inside the MRI tube, lying face down, my arms over my head, a hard piece of plastic between my breasts, I repeatedly hummed, “He stands in this fire beside me, He’s holding my healing in His hands!” This chorus got me through the 45-minute exam.

My son, Luke, came over after work. I asked him to keep his plans of going to Tomball for Christmas at his girlfriend’s folks. I didn’t figure Luke needed to be here watching me sleep!

Thursday, December 22nd, 10 a.m., Mark & I expected to just meet with Dr. Rittenhouse for my MRI results. Instead, he sent us to the Radiologist who read my MRI; the Radiologist wanted to see me for an additional focused sonogram. You see, contrast illuminates cancer cells on the MRI screen. 3 p.m. six more biopsies.

Friday, December 23rd, 7:30 a.m., arriving at Main Methodist’s parking garage, Mark’s cell phone rang. Dr. Rittenhouse’s voice greeted me. He said, “I’m so sorry Julia but all six biopsies are cancerous, it’s going to have to be a mastectomy.”

Like I said, my cancer timeline from diagnosis to surgery was swift … like a whirlwind. My modified radical mastectomy surgery began at 2 p.m. that afternoon. Jesus has walked this entire journey with me. My remission anniversary is September 7, 2017!!!

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