Two weeks ago I was wheeled into surgery with a smile on my face. Who does that? God had answered my prayers and I was at peace with everything. I wasn’t scared and that was so liberating. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by my family. I had a tribe of people in the waiting room, including my pastor and my brother Kenny who flew in from Boston. Pastor Larry prayed with me and made me feel even more certain that this was all supposed to happen. I needed to have surgery to close out one chapter of this journey. I will admit that I was able to keep it all together until I saw my father. I could tell in his face and voice that he was fighting back the tears. He walked out of the room and I started to cry. I looked at my mom, who was also crying. But I refused to go into that operating room sad or angry. So I pulled myself together and went into surgery with a clear heart and mind. I even joked with my nurses right before I went under.
I wasn’t sure what to expect after surgery. I didn’t know how I would feel about the change to my body. Immediately I could see the obvious change over my gown, but I refused to look at myself in the mirror. I was not ready. Richard spent the night sleeping in an uncomfortable chair, while my parents took care of the boys. I was confined to my hospital bed for a day and couldn’t wait to be up and about. I was begging the nurse to take out the catheter so that I could get out of bed and walk. I had so many things sticking out of my body. It was insane. Childbirth wasn’t even this invasive. What a relief when I was finally able to get out of bed and walk around the hallway. I was actually feeling pretty good the day after surgery. Everyone kept telling me that I didn’t even look like I had just had surgery. My oncologist and her team came to visit me. It was a nice surprise. I also had some old co-workers from Memorial stop by with flowers. It was very sweet. I wasn’t sure about having the boys come visit me at the hospital. But Richard and I thought it would be okay for Sebastian and Leo to see me, so that they would know I was okay. We had only told Sebastian the night before that mommy was having surgery. We didn’t want him to worry. They brought me a teddy bear and a balloon. It was therapeutic to see my boys.
I wasn’t able to look at myself in the mirror for a few days. It’s bad enough that I didn’t recognize myself anymore after chemo, now I had to adjust to something else. My mom helped to give me a shower. Thank god for moms. My mom has been amazing. She has been so brave. I can’t even imagine what she is thinking about all of this. When I finally saw my breasts in the mirror I wanted to cry, but I held it in. I waited until I was alone to cry and to grieve the loss of my breasts. I know it’s all normal. I am certain this is part of the process. It’s just one more chapter to close in this book of mine. Chapter One was Chemo, Chapter Two surgery and the next chapter is radiation.
Today I had to remind myself that it has ONLY been two weeks since I had a double mastectomy. 14 days!! Within these two weeks I have gone through so many emotions. Most of the time I have felt grateful that I haven’t been in any pain. I feel uncomfortable because of the pressure on my chest, but no pain. But today was different. It was weird because I felt impatient and frustrated. I was being hard on myself for not being able to do more. I had to remind myself that I have to give my body the time to heal. I am slowly getting more mobility in my arms. My left arm is more flexible, but my right arm is still numb since they removed all my lymph nodes. I can’t drive, but I tagged along with my mom as she took the boys to school this morning. I think it was important for me, as well as for them, to just be present. I finally had my 3rd drain removed today. Wow! What a difference it makes not to have tubes sticking out of my body.
My plastic surgeon started filling in my expanders. The expansion doesn’t hurt since they were able to spare my skin. However, my skin on my left breast has been a little questionable. He’s waiting for that skin to heal properly before any expansion. I pray that I won’t need additional surgery to remove that skin. Right now he is focusing on my right breast since that is where I will be having radiation. So it looks like I will be lopsided for a while. I have to laugh about it, because it is going to look crazy.. haha
Eventhough I feel good and I haven’t had to take any painkillers I am still very tired and light-headed. As a result of the Chemo and surgery I am anemic. I have been working very hard to eat healthy and to take daily walks to keep myself healthy. We have invested a lot of money in vitamins, herbs, anything that will help build up my immune system so that my body will be healthy enough for whatever is next to come. I am also trying to take it day by day. I wake up every morning grateful for another day. I try to remind myself of all my many blessings. I have such a great support system. I am truly blessed to have so many following my journey and supporting me from afar. Thank you to my family and friends for the meals, cards, flowers, etc. All of those gestures have made a huge difference. I have been humbled. I have had to put my pride aside and accept all the help. I am trying not to think about the long road ahead and I am trying to celebrate the little things, like having eyebrows and eyelashes again. LOL I have my appointment at the Moffitt Cancer Center next week to see if there are any other clinical trials that I qualify for. I am looking forward to them validating what I am already doing here at my Breast Cancer Center. I know in my heart that I am doing everything I can, but at this point I am willing to try anything to erase this cancer from my body. The point of the surgery was to focus on my spine. It is scary, but I have heard of other Stage 4 cancer survivors that are living long lives, even with the metastasis. I am hopeful!
I only have one request. Please keep my sweet Sebastian in your prayers. He has started to have a difficult time with all of this. I think it finally hit him. He is struggling to understand the difference between a cold and something serious. I have had to explain to him that he can’t catch what mommy has. I pray that we can find a way to ease his anxiety.