Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Celebration Day - Last Chemo

I had a very nice final chemo. I got to try out one of the private infusion rooms that I hadn't tried out before. My friend, Stefanie came to visit. The chemo nurses all gave me a congratulations card when I left and told me to come back to show them my hair when it grows out.

The surgery date has been set and, G-d willing, I will have my surgery on April 23rd.

My surgery visualization cd has me visualize all the support people in my life along with magical beings and guardian angels filling up the entire surgery room. Their role is to surround the surgeon, anesthesiologist and assistants in order to keep their vibe caring, gentle and respectful toward me. I hear my surgeon and all his assistants excitedly saying to each other what a great job he's done and my body cooperates fully by slowing down my bleeding.

So in order to help me visualize all of your faces there with me, I have posted more photos of those of you who are on this site regularly but haven't sent me a photo of you. If you don't like the photo I posted, I will delete it - just let me know by email. Or you can send me a photo you'd like me to put up instead of the one I picked. You can check to see if I put your photo up by clicking on Photo Gallery at the top of the page and then click on your photo to see it larger. I was only able to post photos of those of you I could find photos of.

For the rest of you, I would love to get photos to post, if you don't mind. I know I said this before that you don't have to participate and I just ran right over any wishes by posting my own without asking you if it's ok first. I hope you can forgive me and know you are contributing to my healing by letting me peruse the photos whenever I need to remember how many there are of you supporting me.

And thanks to my brother, Larry, who was talking to one of my high school buddy's brothers about me, I was contacted by 4 of my friends from high school who are now participating on these caringpages. Hey, Christy, Katie, Debbie, and Judy, didn't any of us take photos when we met last at the reunion? If so, send me some and I'll post them too. I so appreciate that you are with me now.

So, I have all my relatives' photos up, and now I just need more of my friends and I'll be all set.

I'm still running high on the Decadron and I have to take it tomorrow too. I expect to start to crash tomorrow night or Friday for a few days and then go into a depression next week. So I've scheduled one of those free massages on Monday (she's coming to my house!) and acupuncture on Tuesday, and another free massage on Wednesday. That should see me through my worst days if I have any this time. The kids will be off from school for the break and that should keep me up. And we plan to take them to Point Lobos on Thursday morning (before the crowds get there) and then to Phil's Fish Market for lunch on the way back home.

Geoff and Aimee should be getting some good photos from that trip, so those of you on Geoff's email list for his blog should look forward to photos from our trip.

Hope you have a good rest of the week and weekend. I'll be in bed watching lots of TV. And I've got a DVD too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Getting Ready for Last Chemo

I need to clear off my desk today and am finding lots of other distracting things to do like this update and putting up the photos of my Grabelle side of the family. Mom just went back home today which makes it appropriate to post her side of the family. We had a great time with her and it was really nice to spend it with her all by herself.

Jason enjoyed laughing with his grandma about the show, "The Office" which they both love. Both Aimee and Jason got to buy some new clothes. We all enjoyed Greek food, seafood, and Thai food. Jason and Aimee went out to the movies with Grandma while I saw my clients. And Geoff and I got to have good conversations with her. She left with a smaller bank account but her cup full of my family.

The topic of mastectomy without reconstruction is an ongoing theme in my life these days. I thoroughly explored that "sentenced2live" website with the photos. She's some woman. If you try to find photos of the result of this surgery online, you won't find anything with a face on it. She was determined to make that change and wrote that when she was taking those photos on the beach, the lifeguard drove around her several times trying to decide whether to tell her to put a shirt on or not!

Seeing her photos of before and immediately after the surgery along with her 4 years later on the beach were very empowering as well. I know I'm not going to be as beautiful, shapely or young as she is, but her photos gave me the thought that I might not be so hideous as I thought I'd be. And I've been posing in front of the mirror, lifting them up and covering them to see just what it will look like.

I don't want to go through any more surgeries so I thank you all for not trying to convince me to have reconstruction. My mom proposed the question: if Geoff died, G-d forbid, would I want to look good (have reconstruction) in order to attract another husband? I said, if he was gone, I'd rather live alone than remarry! And if I change my mind, I would hope that whoever I was attracted to would accept me as I am! And I do know someone who did find someone just like that...

Anyway, if I ever change my mind down the road, the reconstruction doesn't include silicone-filled bags inside your body. It includes a big surgery that would actually work much better since it includes using your own body to make fake breasts. And they use your belly fat! Wouldn't that be nice to get rid of?
But they also take skin from your sides and maybe your back and your belly - it can take 8-12 hours of surgery or more. It doesn't sound like the easiest thing to recover from and besides, you still have to get tatoos for nipples and still have completely lost any feeling and prevent yourself from being able to easily feel a recurrence if it ever happened. So no thanks.

I went to Horsnyders and got a camisole with cotton-pillow-fake-breasts. I also got arm sleeves to prevent Lympedema - to be worn after surgery. When I fully recover from the surgery, I'll go back there and get some real prostheses which my insurance will cover. Who knows if I'll wear them or what I'll eventually do. I never thought I'd wear a wig and look at me now. I've been wearing one all day for the past 3.

My hair's coming back in. I've got a 1/4 inch layer all over my head. My eyebrows are starting to come back in too. One day all this will be a memory. The end is coming soon. I just hope I don't mentally go back to my old self and instead bring what I've learned forward with me. It's a windy, but sunny day today (oh, maybe I just had allergies and not a cold!) and I look forward to completing my last chemo on Wednesday and starting the last difficult part of this whole experience.

My visualization cd is helping me prepare by visualizing those competent people who will help and assist in the surgery, seeing my body cooperate fully by hardly bleeding at all and recovering and healing quickly and easily. I'm reading a book called, "Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster" subtitled, "A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques" by Peggy Huddleston. It's giving me lots of new insights.

One of the new insights has to do with saying goodbye to this part of my body. I really understood what my breasts represented to me after reading this book while waiting in the car for Mom & the kids to shop. My breasts represent the part of me that gives and gives to others without thinking about what I need for myself. This also means they represent my difficulty in saying no and setting limits when I feel like I need to be there for someone else. They are very happy to be released from those obligations and I'm so ready to let those ways of being go. I'm exhausted and depleted from that stuff. I'm over it. I'm grateful that I can allow a body part to represent that for me because it's the ultimate in letting go rituals.

I appreciate having had the willingness to nurse Aimee until she was 3. I appreciate having a personality that is so able to be there so completely for others in a nurturing way. It's one of my strengths as a therapist. And I appreciate the recognition that part of my healing is to be there as completely for myself. And it's definitely a communication learning experience for me to be honest and say no and yet stay connected to people.

(My personality type on the Enneagram is #9 which you can read more about here. It's a fun system and you can learn more about your own type too. I use this system in my practice. If

you go there, let me know what you think your type is.)


Ok, on to cleaning off my desk and the last week that's the beginning of the end of this chapter of my life.