Thursday, May 7, 2009

Path Report

Well, I had myself a good cry yesterday due to the pathology report coming back with finding cancer in 4 out of 7 lymph nodes. The good news is that the oncologist wasn't surprised and told me I didn't need to have more chemo. The other good news is that there was no cancer on the right side and they removed the original tumor on the left side when they removed the breast. It had shrunk from 6 cm (measured by MRI) to 2 cm.

Next week I get to see the oncologist and the radiation oncologist. Radiation will begin as soon as I'm healed from the surgery - which she originally told me would take about a month. Then that's 6 weeks of radiation but I hear it's a breeze. After that, G-d Willing, it's Hawaii. Then it's a CT scan that will determine if it spread beyond the lymph nodes (the CT scan before all the treatment showed that it hadn't spread). And then I have 10 years on Tamoxifen which blocks the estrogen that this type of canser tends to like.

Luckily I had just received a DVD from Netflix yesterday that kept me smiling the entire time I watched it. I knew that I had ordered it for this week for a good reason but didn't know it'd be there that very day! It was a documentary on the Monkees.

How many of you liked the Monkees when you were little? I must have been around 8 - 10 or so when all the girls on my block had all the Monkees albums and cut out the photos of our favs from the magazines to tape all over our bedroom walls. We always had to be wearing yellow when we played that one song that said, "...a girl in yellow dress..."

Anyways, my good friend Bob Hall made me some CDs of old live Monkees concerts and so I just had to get the DVD. I remember also liking Bobby Sherman. Then I remember feeling embarrassed to like the Monkees and Bobby Sherman - so I never told anyone!!! I kept it a secret. After watching the DVD I realized how sad it was that the Monkees had to end feeling ashamed of themselves after only 2 years of what I thought was really good music and a funny show. But the world was moving in more serious directions and the teeny boppers were seen as...well, just stupid.

One thing I found fascinating & hilarious, (and then I'll stop it already), was that for some time, when the Monkees performed, Jimi Hendrix was their opening act! Whenever he sang the word, "Foxy", everyone would scream, "Davey!" One time after he was done with his performance, he threw his guitar at the audience. (According to Mike Nesmith and Davey Jones.)

So, some tears and some laughs...the Monkees were fun and funny and Jimmy Hendrix was very cool and groovy and deadly serious and died an early death that was very sad...happy times, sad times, I guess that's just life.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reality Settles In

I suppose it took me 5 days to really feel what had been done to my body. I started to feel my body again and notice what had really occurred after going to the surgeon yesterday. Later that afternoon, I noticed that I could feel more without the bandages and the drains. I felt very vulnerable and the image of what I saw when he took off the bandages kept going through my mind. Then last night I had a very strange dream that seemed to go on forever.

Then this morning I was going to go to acupuncture but had it in my mind to get cleaned up first. The surgeon told me I could now take a shower but that felt intense to me. I love showers but I wasn't ready to have water falling freely where I'd been cut. There was this spray stuff they gave me to take home from the hospital that I could use to hand wash myself but the thought of a shower appealed to me more.

So I took off all my clothes and looked in the mirror to see if there was something under my arms that I shouldn't get wet or should be careful of. That's when I had the melt down. I told Geoff I couldn't see an extra scar where the nodes should have been taken. I freaked and called the surgeon but he wasn't available until tomorrow morning. Then I felt nauseous.

Geoff told me he didn't want me going out today. It was raining anyway and he wanted me to stop doing things and get back in bed and rest all day. By then I was crying and got into bed naked and tried to relax. Geoff told me he remembered that the surgeon said he got nodes on both sides yesterday. And that may be what tripped me up because I thought he was only getting them from one side.

After calming down I thought that I really wanted to get cleaned up. So I washed the compression bra that I need to wear and gave it to Geoff to put in the dryer while I used the hand wash to clean my body. It's great stuff and smells like baby shampoo and you don't have to rinse it off, so it's easy.

I felt so much better all cleaned up with fresh clothes and so I just sat and watched TV all day and napped. I read through my poem again and looked at the photos and collage I made to go with it and that helped. And I read through my goodbye letter to my breasts which I decided to copy for you below.

Then about an hour ago I got messages off my office voice mail...something I'd been putting off. There was a message from a reporter from the Sentinel asking to interview me for a piece for Mother's Day. That's when I remembered she had called me the very day I went in for surgery and I forgot she'd called. It was too late for Mother's Day but she still wanted to interview me and told me to gather names of people (not clients) who know about my work with mothers. (That's when I realized this article was going to be about me and my work and not just soundbites for a Mother's Day article.) So I told her to give me a week to gather my thoughts and apologized about having an emergency situation that prevented me from calling her sooner.

So far, everyone I've told this story to (aside from myself and one friend) is telling me that I should tell her about being a breast canser survivor. I never would have even begun to think of talking with a reporter already about that. It's too soon. Maybe one day I'll be open to working with this issue, but now? So that will be occupying my mind over the next week. Am I ready to go public with this? Or am I going to simply talk about mothers. Wow, I hope I feel up to this interview by next week.

My mother-in-law asked me today if I knew what "synchronicity" meant. The Sentinel calling me on the day I get surgery is an example of synchronicity to me. Breasts are such a double edged sword. They enable us to give to others with pleasure and yet at that very same time we feed our babies, they drain our every vital nutrient. They are both nurturing and deadly at the very same time. Goodbye breasts, hello mothers' needs.

Here's the goodbye letter:

Dear Breasts,

Thank you for being there for me for so many years.
You’ve helped me be attractive.
You’ve helped me nurture my babies.
You’ve helped me enjoy sex.
You’ve helped me quiet my babies, go back to sleep after being woken up, given me pleasure.
You’re now giving me a symbol to hang my dysfunctional behavior on.
I’m sorry you are having to take the fall for that.
But I’m angry at you for giving me cancer.
And thanking you for giving me canser.

You made it hard for me to say no to Geoff and caused me lots of insomnia due to my saying no to Jason and Aimee.
You stuck out too much and I never felt like I could hide you or protect myself from your attractiveness. You grew too big and I could never lose any weight. You’ve been too weighty and heavy and took part in making me depressed & unattractive.

But still, I will miss you. You are beautiful. You are soft. You are a part of me. You represent the soft, gentle, yielding, nurturing side of me. I don’t want my kids not to feel you when I give them a hug. I don’t want them to miss your softness. I don’t want to miss the way you feel and the feelings you give me. I don’t want to let go of my gentle softness or my nurturing. I only want to have some discipline around that so I can also be hard-nosed when I need to be.

I don’t want to believe that I have had to go through this over you… I never believed I would have to lose you. I don’t want to lose you forever. It’s unimaginable how forever means the rest of my life. Will I even live long? Will I live a long time without breasts? Has this canser spread? How long do I have?

I want to get rid of you to get rid of the canser. I hope you understand. Thank you for surrendering yourselves for my sake. Thank you for sacrificing your existence for the sake of my being able to live.

I don’t ever want to endure anything negative that comes along with having you in my life. Including the heat rashes. Including the weight. Including the grabs. Including the inability to say no. And I never want to have to face this disease ever again.

So I hope you can understand. I just have to get rid of you.

Thanks for being there for me all these years,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Home Again

Hi Everyone,

I came home yesterday. Since I was doing so well, they couldn't keep me in the hospital! I suspect it was all your thoughts and prayers that saw me through this. When I woke up from the surgery, all I could feel was happiness - well, that and a bit of pain.

My doctor told me that I would look better than sentenced2live - at least the scars will be more symmetrical. He didn't think she had a very good surgery compared to what he's used to doing! Right now I'm just all taped up and have drains that I have to empty and measure.

I have very little pain. There's one spot under my left arm and towards the back that hurts and that's all. The pain meds just make me want to sleep all day. But it's better than feeling I take them.

Sleeping, watching TV, resting and eating. That's all my life is about right now. I feel none of the horror I thought I would, but I haven't gotten to see the scars yet either. Instead, I just feel happiness that those time bombs are gone.

Monday morning (tomorrow) I go see the surgeon and he might take out the drains.

Did you want to know what the room number was? It was 13. Death/Rebirth. Perfect.