Friday, January 22, 2010

Perspective gained through the strength of others

So today is better. The two week mark. My recovery is difficult at moments but truly when I look at the world around me, the death in Haiti, friends losing parents to cancer, and even a local accident which has rendered a local dad to be paralyzed for the rest of his daily pain is one that I can deal with when you gain that type of perspective.

I am still feeling a little raw  from those friends I have not heard from but then I receive notes like the one I have attached that I received last night.  I have not even met this women but she brought tears to my eyes and again, the reminder that I took my health in my own hands and glad I'm did. (I removed names out of respect) I thank her for reminding me to stay strong. 
Hi Colleen, Do you remember me from this last weekend we msged each other. I am the one with the sister inlaw with the newly diagnosed Breast Cancer.

Hope you are feeling better and are not having much pain anymore.

Sorry if any spelling mistakes I am typing with fingers shaking.

When I first saw your page here in FB I noticed your blog. I briefly glimpsed over it but did not have a the heart to read it, till now. I only read your first two entries so far but I fell like I need to tell you that you are a very special person. A part of me wishes that I would have your strength and be in your position already. This I am saying with out even being tested YET!!!

I did mention to you before about my sister inlaw having Breast Cancer. Her name is XXXX, she is not a FB user yet! She is 40 yrs old, has two boyz and is now about to start the battle of her life. We were talking today and she say's that if she could turn back time she would have done the BRCA test's and have had a double masactomy with outa question in her mind because that would be half of what she must go through now. Horrible just horrible!!! I can't believe it. I know XXXX for about 18 yrs. She is as close to me as one of my own sister's.

Basiclly, I am probably not one of the first people to tell you this but for lack of a better sentance, the sacrifice that you gave up on your body (breasts, dahhhhh) and the pain and mental hardship that you might have will in the long run be to your ultimate benefit of a cancerfree, long loving life to share with your family. I sound like a preacher. I know that is the reason for doing your surgery I just wanted to let you know that I applaud you!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


So yes, some days are harder than was hard. Today was the day I was fed up, done and frustrated. I was, at least, after talking with other women, expecting days like this. I accept them for what it is, and know that tomorrow is another day.

Today I just want to feel ‘normal’. I have to stay inside because going for a walk is too uncomfortable. I want to sleep through a night. I want the pain to go away long enough so I can rest. With three kids at home the floors scream sweep me, the laundry room builds up...the hardest part of recovery is the staying put.

I was, as I said, expecting days like this. What I was not expecting was the lack of support I received from certain people. Difficult times bring out the best – and the worst- of people. I expected a couple of people to write or call and yet they remain quiet. On the other side there are others who have completely surprised me and come by with food, and make the effort to call with messages of love and support. In some instances it has been difficult but I thought I would share this with you because it can surprise you to experience the ‘abandonment’ from those you least expect. At the same time it can be seen as an opportunity to evolve as a person as envelop those who do care.

I want others to benefit from my experience and hence why I started this blog. I received wise words from a fellow BRCA sister that I think sums up the attitude I now have adopted.

"Unfortunately, it can be as painful as the recovery, to see who really and truly cares and "has your back." It really made me re -evaluate the level and trust of some friendships. Some people surprise you in wonderful ways, but others are disappointments. From this process, I actually became better about not obsessing over the ones that let me down (although that is a work in progress!), and really caring that much deeper about those people who are sincerely kind and react in similar ways to how I would have for them. Hang in there, and do not let yourself be distracted by the ones who aren't there, be glad you learned.”

I knew this experience would change me, I just had no idea the extent or depth that it would.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


He blanket lesson and statement that I can claim and own is that the FEAR of surgery was so much greater than surgery itself.

Here I am breastless and happy – and pain free. The worst complication I have had this past week was actually with my pain medications.... so where do I begin?

Friday, January 8th – the morning of the surgery. I was scared, and as I arrived at 6:30 for my 8 am surgery I sat there and knew my life would never be the same. There was never a doubt in my mind though and I knew I was doing the right thing. I found comfort in that simple fact. I was pleased that my conscious had reached this level of acceptance. I can not stress enough to anyone reading this , if you yourself are contemplating surgery or even genetic testing, you need to be ready for it - on your own time, your own agenda. One of my wonderful members of my support group said to me once “The worst thing you can do is have surgery when you are not ready. You may end up with regret. More importantly you will not be able to deal with possible complications” Words that I remember and pass on to you that I hope assists others on their journey.

The biggest hiccup was 7:55am -...5 minutes to surgery as I sat outside the O.R. One of my biggest of not the most important wishes I had throughout was a thoracic block. This procedure was something I advocated for for a number of months including discussions with my plastic surgeon, general surgeon, and an interview with an anaesthesiologist. They all told me that the bock would not be an issue. Well with the clock ticking down I had to fight and beg and stop surgery for the procedure. The reasoning I was told that the risk was too high for a bilateral mastectomy. My reasoning was simple – pain management. There is a clear line in my experience that can be drawn between those who have the block and those who do not. The level of pain experience by those who have had the block is much lower. My pain was minimal and already I am not on anything except for Advil at night.

The weight, the dread, wow – the minute I woke up was all gone. The nurses kept referring to me ‘Sleeping Beauty’ - it took me forever to wake...6 hours. Finally they poked me a few times and said they either admit me or shake me up a bit. A trip to the bathroom and ginger ale shook me enough, that in addition to the wish to get home back to bed. The trip home, like many will say, very long and uncomfortable...

But here I am – done. Thrilled!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The time has come

Here it is. A year of blogging knowing that this week would eventually come

I am glad I had the holidays to keep my mind busy. Lots of family, lots of parties. It was a great holiday. I also treated myself to a girl’s weekend away to Fort Lauderdale. What can I say except lots of shopping and some of the best restaurants ever!

Now I need to get ready for the hardest week ever. Surgery is less than a week away. It has been hard to not repeat the sentence “this is the last time I will be doing X with my breasts..” That may sound weird to those not in my shoes but apparently many of the women I have spoken to it is very common. Today for example this will be my last Saturday....

I do have to say I am just amazed at the continued support from those around me. Not only from close family and friends, but even people, ex-boyfriends, old high school people I have not spoken to, and even complete strangers have messaged me and offered some of the kindest words. Yes, not all are as supportive or understanding, but like a breast cancer survivor you figure out quite quickly who your friends are and often become closer with many. It is truly a humbling experience to have people reference you as brave, or even a hero. I simply see myself as making a choice that does not allow cancer into my home.

As confident as am in my decision my heart sunk a bit as the clock struck midnight, as I hugged my friends, kissed my children...knowing January was here.

I have things to buy, a bag to pack, and positive thoughts to keep... 

This will be trying.