It’s my new Facebook profile picture, it’s obviously not the most flattering picture, but I love it. Adam and I in the waiting room before my surgery, together, waiting to take the first step in fighting this cancer. I am so thankful for him!
I’m so over this already! Somehow my recovery seems to feel worse not better. I don’t actually feel worse than (or is it then…it is both comparative and about a past time, so I don’t fucking know!) I did a few days ago, I feel the same…but it feels like I feel worse because I wish I was feeling better already! I’m not in a lot of pain in the incisions, but I am still quite weak and woozy, and after a few minutes on my feet I need to rest.
I’m also having some unanticipated pain in my chest and ribs, evidently this is likely from the position I was in during surgery. It’s not unbearable or anything, but I wish it wasn’t there. It feels like I had a really great upper body workout, but unfortunately I haven’t and it’s a bit of a sad reminder that I’m not working out the way I like to right now. Exercise is a huge part of my life, and not being able to work out really bothers me. Of course I know I will be more active soon, but I don’t know when I will be able to resume all my usual activities. If it was just surgery it would probably be in a few weeks, but of course it’s not just surgery. Also, because of the underarm incision, I’m pretty sure that it will be quite some time before I’m back to my usual yoga practice.
I’m bit of an emotional mess too. I was on a bit of a high after the surgery, so happy to be finally past the surgery, not in horrible pain, and have the lump out of me. I have come crashing down from that high. I’m still relieved by those things, but I am more aware that I’m still a cancer patient, and probably will be for months to come. I still have radiation ahead of me, possibly chemo and/or hormonal medication as well. Surgery is, hopefully, behind me, but getting to the other side of cancer has just begun. Also, I have heard that it is normal to be a bit down a few days after surgery, supposedly it is a side effect of the anesthesia. Whoever said that wasn’t kidding, I had a full on breakdown today because I couldn’t find my favorite black top, which is long enough to cover my butt in leggings! (It was in the dryer!)
In good news, I did get out of the house a bit yesterday and today. I went for a 20 minute walk yesterday, and ran an errand today. It was definitely exhausting and I needed to recover afterwards, but I was still glad to get out. I’m not a homebody, staying inside all day every day is definitely not good for me! I got back up to 5000 steps yesterday, I’m hoping to do that again today.
My grand accomplishment for today was getting a $50 top up on Zoe’s cell phone, and getting it for free because Rogers was giving me trouble!
I finally had my surgery yesterday, lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy as planned.
It was not fun. I had to be at the hospital at 7am to have dye injected into the tumor (to see what lymph nodes needed to be removed) and then wait around for 4 hours until surgery. Adam, my brother in law and my parents kept me entertained…but it was still a long wait and I was tired and hungry and headachy.
Surgery was fine. Waiting outside the OR on the gurney was a bit anxiety provoking, especially because I heard the woman before me wake up and started vomiting and moaning. They assured me that even though you are woken up in the OR for and it’s pretty awful, you go right back to sleep and you actually don’t remember that part, and wake up again calm in the recovery room.
Going into the operating room was also stressful, they had a bit of trouble getting the IV in and had to try twice, and it hurt, and just being under all the lights and the machines and hearing them talk about it. Once the IV got in, and they started the sedative, I fell asleep pretty quickly, and did not wake up until I was in the recovery room. If I woke up in the OR vomiting and moaning, I don’t know anything about it! They said most people don’t throw up, and it certainly didn’t smell like I did.
The surgeon did not have much to say, but whatever she did say was good. She said there were no surprises, and the tumor was quite small as it had looked on at the ultrasound. Felt that she got clear margins. She didn’t know how many she had taken, but the nurse was able to check the computer and said 2 were removed. I go back to the surgeon on December 9, she will look over my incisions and make sure I’m healing well then, and I will also get the results from pathology.
I was able to come home a few hours later, and feeling surprisingly good. A bit woozy and dizzy, but my incisions aren’t bad. They do hurt, but pain relief and icing is helping them. I was actually up until around 11 PM last night, I’m not sure how I stayed up so long, maybe the caffeine in the Tylenol 3s was impacting me!
As for today, I can’t believe how good I am feeling this morning! The incisions still hurt, but nothing unbearable, I am already just taking extra strength Tylenol. The range of movement in my right arm is OK, in spite of the underarm incision. I’m a bit tired, but no worse than I would feel if I had a cold or something, didn’t eat much yesterday and I suspect with my blood sugar is back up, I will feel fine.
I know that I won’t always feel this good, there are still going to be some tough times ahead of me, I will probably need chemo and definitely need radiation. But right now, I’m just relieved to be on the other side of surgery, that that lump is out of me, and that I am not feeling awful!
Two questions I’ve been asked a lot:
1. How are you?
I am okay. I guess. Tomorrow is a big day. It’s a small surgery but a big day because it is the most important step in getting cancer free, and because it is my first ever surgery. So, even though it’s minor surgery, I’m scared of it. Mostly of how hard the recovery will be (I’ve heard the breast incision will likely be easy, but the underarm-lymph nodes-can be a bitch).
Mostly I’m sad because starting with my surgery, I will be a cancer patient. I know as soon as I’m recovered from surgery, I will start treatment, either radiation or chemo. Depending what treatment I need it will probably be months before my life feels normal again. If I need hormonal meds…maybe years (sometimes they are well-tolerated, sometimes not so much). I’ve spent the last couple months in a bit of denial, educated denial because I know what’s inside me, but I’ve been pretending it’s not for the most part and just enjoying my life. I know this ends. That’s not to say there won’t be any good times during treatment, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the same. I’m pretty sure I will be spending a lot of time feeling tired and achy, not looking or feeling the way I want to and not doing all the things I’m used to doing. I know that this can even last long after my treatment is done.
So I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself right now, I really don’t want to do all this, I just want my life back and I want it back now. But I will be OK, I always bounce back and no doubt I will again! At the end of the day, there is only one way to get to the other side of this, and it is straight through the middle. So that’s where I will go. Starting tomorrow.
In spite of being scared and sad about the changes that beginning treatment will start in my life, I am also very relieved to finally be here. I’m looking forward to having that cancer cut out of me, to no longer feeling a lump and knowing that it is cancer. I’m looking forward to starting to fight this cancer, and move towards cancer free.
2. What can I do?
To be honest, at this point, probably not much. My freezer is full of food, my kids are school aged, my husband is around for the weekend and by next week I should be able to get around a bit.
I won’t turn down any treats for myself or my family…but we don’t “need” them either, we’ve got piles of food and grocery gateway is always available to us. We also are fine financially, I’ve got sick time and great benefits.
The only thing I’d really like is for my kids to be kept busy and happy, for their friends to reach out and spend time with them, so they don’t have to be at home much when I am not feeling well.
Today I took a little step towards becoming cancer free. I had seed localization. That means that they inserted a little radioactive seed into my tumor, so that when I have surgery on Friday, the surgeon will be able to find the right spot easily with a Geiger.
I’m glad to say that the procedure was quick and easy, very similar to the biopsy I had a month ago. like the biopsy, I did cry a little right before they put the needle in. I’m not sure why, I knew it wouldn’t hurt, but there’s something about knowing that a needle is getting poked into my cancerous boob that always makes me cry. Oh well.
In very good news, they did an ultrasound to place the seed, and also measured the tumour. Tumour is the exact same size that it was on October 19, when I had the ultrasound guided biopsy. Later in October, when the surgeon and I chose the date of November 27 for my surgery, she absolutely promised that the tumour would not grow in that month. I tried to believe her, but as I’m sure is normal, this little part of my head was terrified that the tumour was growing and growing, taking over all the healthy tissue and spreading beyond. I am very pleased to hear that that has not happened, both because I don’t want the tumour to be any bigger than it is, and because hopefully it means it is not particularly aggressive. Of course I have no idea if it means that or not, but its certainly a nice thought. Like every other medical professional I have seen through this process, the radiologist said that it was very small and quite surprising but I found it myself at all. I shall throw in a little reminder, please do self exams!
In other news, a lot of people have told me I’m going to get through this because I am so strong and brave. I know those people are trying to be helpful, be positive and supportive, and I appreciate it. But it’s important to remember that people that I know and love, and a lot of people that my friends and family know and love, have died of cancer and other serious illnesses. These people were no less strong, no less brave, than me. If I beat this (and I do believe I will) it won’t be because of anything special about my personality. It will be because I did self exams and found it early, and it will be because breast cancer treatment has come so far, and it will be because the cancer is something that is treatable. It will, more than anything, be luck.
I am not brave. When someone faces a serious illness diagnosis, there really isn’t much choice but to fight. We are created to be resilient, we are created to be fighters, we are created to choose life. We can only spend so much time curled up in a ball feeling sorry for ourselves, before life goes on in spite of what we’re going through. I’m just doing what I have to, because as much as I would like to ignore it…it’s not so much an option.
I guess I could be a bit grumpier about it, but anybody that knows me knows that’s not in my nature. Not because I’m particularly strong or brave…just because I’m generally a cheerful outgoing person. Even when I’m going through crap, I take my time to sulk (and I do sulk hard and get super sensitive!), and then I become my happy silly self again.