My New Normal

9/23/16

In and out.  Beeping.  Nurses passing.  Talking.  Echoes.  Footsteps.  In and out.  Beeping.  Beeping. Intercom. Talking.  Talking.  Talking.  What?  Finally, I am coherent enough to realize I am in a hospital.  Ugh.  Anesthesia stinks.   Apparently, both my surgeons have come to talk to me in this twilight state to tell me everything went well.  I have absolutely no recollection of ever speaking to them or seeing them.   I don’t really even remember getting to my room.  Only that they slid me from one bed onto another just by sliding the sheets over with me on top of them.  The first few hours are a blur.  My thoughts are jumbled.   I sleep for a bit until I wake up feeling a pain jabbing at my chest.  It is in this moment,  I even remember what has just happened to me.  I call the nurse, who comes to put drugs in my IV.  The relief is immediate.  I’m blurry and groggy again in about five seconds.  Then almost as if on cue, I vomit.  Then vomit some more.  And then some more.  Great.  I have never done well with anesthesia, and every time I tell the anesthesiologist.  I’m always told that they are going to fix me up so I won’t get sick.  It never works.  Unfortunately for me, the nurse in the room sees it, and tells me she is only going to feed me a liquid diet while I am here.  Seriously?  Come on!!  I haven’t eaten for 24 hours.  I contortionized myself in a CAT scan machine, had a wire hanging from my armpit, and I just had my boob taken off.  Maybe just a sandwich?  I feel as though I have earned it.   Of course not.  I have to settle for jello, juice and broth.  Yum.   My favorite.

The rest of the evening is more of the same.  Liquids.  Vomit.  Pain. Drugs.  Sleep.  Liquids.  Vomit.  Pain. Drugs.  Sleep.  Liquids. Vomit. Pain. Drugs. Sleep.  It could be the beat of a song in its regularity.

My mom stays the night with me as Chris heads home to take care of the kids and let them know I am alright.  She pulls up a chair next to me with a pillow and a blanket and sleeps beside me even though there is a bed for her.  I watch her as she is sleeping as I know she used watch me sleep when I was little.  I smile thinking of how I am turning into my mom right before her sleeping eyes.   Oddly, it is peaceful to be the only one awake at this hour and yet, it is in the dark of night that my reality seeps into my thoughts.   My breast has been taken.   I will never see it again.  Ever.  I don’t want to see myself in the mirror.   The thought of it makes me cringe.  I don’t think I ever want to see it.  I try and tell myself the bright side.  I don’t know who has told me in my drugged state, but I got to keep my nipple.  My breast surgeon tested it while in surgery and didn’t see any cancer cells.  So, I got to keep it.  This is amazing actually,because the reconstruction will be a lot easier.   But in this moment, it is not sinking in.  I feel as though I have lost my womanhood.  I am a freak.

Sleep. Pain. Drugs.  Sleep. Pain. Drugs. Sleep. Pain, Drugs.

Finally, it’s morning.  My friends, DeAun and Kellie visit, and my pastor stops by to offer prayer.  We  laugh and have good conversations.  At least I think we do.   I am grateful they have come, though I can’t remember much of what we talked about.   I’ll admit it.   I am seriously drugged out of my mind.  I mean really drugged.   Maybe things are only funny to me.  Not them.  Do my giggles sound weird?  I really can’t tell.   What I do know is  their presence is enough to jostle my mind for a bit.  For a few moments, I forget that I am still bald and am one boobed.  What I don’t forget is that  I am still on this stupid liquid diet.  I need food.  I am seriously hungry, and I don’t even like jello.  Yuck.

In the evening, it is time for me to go home.  Yep.  Apparently,  I only get one night in the hospital per my insurance company for a mastectomy unless there are complications.  I still can’t believe it myself considering I can’t move.  At all.  I can’t even get myself out of bed, and the pain is immense.   As my mom helps me up, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror when my hospital gown slips down.  I didn’t want to see it, but I do.  I stare at myself.  I can’t look away.  I am frozen.   My right breast is still there.  Next to it, lots of clear tape all over holding my skin and nipple in place with an incision just below where my breast used to be.  A drain coming out of the side of me filled with blood.  Another incision on my side where my lymph nodes were taken out.  It is a numb moment for me because I am not ready.

But on our way home, the pain sears into me with every pothole we hit.  It stabs through my chest, into my body and pounds at my brain.  My new normal is here.

M Day

9/22/16

My alarm goes off at 6:45 am.  It is the sound I never wanted to hear, because it means today I will lose my breast.  I am beyond distraught from the second I sit up, and yet my demeanor is somehow calm.  Breath in.  Breath out.  Breath in.  Breath out.  I still cannot even grasp my thoughts around what is about to happen to me as my husband and I make our way to the hospital.  My surgery is not until noon but I have been asked to be there at 8 am to do a CAT scan to locate a marker in one of my lymph nodes.  They need to take one out as it had signs of cancer.  It was tagged with a marker last March when I did my biopsies.  However, since my chemo has kicked some serious ass, my lymph node has shrunk to the point where they cant see this marker under ultrasound.  And they want to make sure they take out the right one which of course I do too.

Firstly, I would just like to say that I am not a morning person.  Eight in the morning may not seem early to some but I don’t like it.  I don’t like it at all.  And especially since there is no eating before surgery, I really don’t like it.  I’m hungry.   Secondly, I walk in naively as I have no idea what they are going to do to me with this “marker lymph node thing.”  Then they tell me.  Great.  This sounds amazing.  I lie in the CAT scan machine half on my side, half on my back with my arms raised above my head, and my knees in some weird position while they try and locate this marker for over 40 minutes.  Oh, and no moving, or it will mess everything up.   Every muscle in my body aches even the ones that I didn’t know existed.  I think I deserve an award for best contortionist in a CAT scan machine.  I’ll take the bronze.  I’m not greedy.  It doesn’t have to be the gold.  The bronze is fine.  Or maybe just some chocolate!  Except that I can’t eat it.   Dang it.  I am really hungry.

After they finally find this marker, they literally take a wire and stick it through my armpit into my lymph node.  Yes, this really happens.  I have a wire hanging out of me.  They tape it up of course but by 9:30 am, I wasn’t planning on being a contortionist, hungry or having a wire dangling from under my arm.  The food better seriously be good after this day.

Once my wire is nicely taped to my side and my body unwound without breakage, I am wheeled to the holding room where Chris and my mom meet me.  We joke and laugh which takes my mind off my surgery for a bit.  The best part is my mom telling a nice breakfast story of a restaurant where she had waffles and chocolate of course not realizing I haven’t eaten in over 14 hours.  Chris and I just laugh, and it is even cuter once she realizes what she has done.

One by one the nurses, the anesthesiologist, and my doctors come by to talk to me and to explain the upcoming events.  It really starts to sink in.  This is real.  I cannot believe this is happening to me.  I really don’t understand what I did.  Honestly, what did I do to deserve this?  What did I do?  Soon after they come for me.  I say my goodbyes to my mom and Chris, and they wheel me out the door in the hospital bed.

As the nurses push me down the hall, all I can see are the bright lights on the ceiling.   As I pass them one by one,  I can’t catch my breath.  My fingers begin to tingle. My hands tremble.  Tears start to fall.  I begin to cry.  I can’t control it.  I am frightened.  I am scared.  I am alone.  I cry out loud.  Each cry echoing down the long corridor.

I am wheeled into the operating room and slid over onto the operating table.  It’s so bright and cold in this room.  Nothing is inviting.  Everyone is bustling  getting ready for me.  As I look around, I just can’t help it.  I cry uncontrollably and loudly.  The nurses stop their preparations.  They come running with tissues though my arms are strapped down.  I just keep saying,  “I know I don’t have much but I nursed all my babies with my breast, and it is mine.  And I don’t want them to take it.”  I repeat this over and over again.  I am panicked.  My sobbing is hysterical.  I can’t stop.  A sweet nurse grabs my left hand, leans down and whispers in my ear that she is going to say an extra special prayer for me.  This calms me.   I am still crying, but it soothes me.  As she is doing this, Dr. Attai, my breast surgeon, is now holding my right hand.  She tells me that everything is going to be okay, and she is going to take good care of me.  I look at her, tears streaming down my face, as I feel the dose of meds go through my arm.  I say, “Here we go.”  I am out.

The night before

9/21/16

Tomorrow is the big day.  The day I never wanted to come.  It is the mastectomy of my left breast.  It is the day that I will go from having two breasts to one.  It seems likes something so trivial, and yet I can’t get it out of my mind.   It’s just a boob, but it is mine.  By letting my doctor take it, I get to live, and I know this is the most important thing, but it is mine.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine.  IT IS MY BREAST.   It is a part of my womanhood.  It is a body part that I have had since the day I was born.  It is something that I have appreciated in all its smallness, perkiness and flat chestedness even when the boys teased me.   I never cared.  It is mine.  I have nursed all three of my children with these breasts, and now one is going to be taken.  Fear does not even begin to convey the numbness pumping through my veins

I do okay for the most part of the day.  I go through the motions as I head to my plastic surgeon’s office so he can “mark” me.  Apparently, he has to draw on me while I am standing up so he knows where things fall and how my body aligns.  When I am in surgery tomorrow, my breast surgeon will begin and when she finishes the mastectomy, my plastic surgeon will take over.  At this point, I will already be lying down on the table with my breast gone so he needs to know where to start the beginning process of reconstruction.  My friend DeAun has taken me to this “mark me up” appointment for which I am grateful.  On the way home, we laugh, giggle and chat though I remember none of it.  I do okay on the ride home.  I think I hide it well.  I think.

It doesn’t truly hit me until I get home.  I walk into the bathroom, and I take off my shirt to see what he has drawn on me.  There are two big circles in purple marker around my breasts, lines going from here to there and back again.  Like a treasure map, with a line that goes up the center of my chest bone.  There are a few arrows pointing to the left breast and then the word “YES” written on the top of this breast.  As I see this, I let out a nervous laugh.  I can’t keep it together anymore.   I lose it.  I sob and sob and sob.  I stare at myself in the mirror with purple marker all over me knowing that I will never again see myself as I once was.  Never again.

As it is finally time for bed though I know I will barely be sleeping, something reassuring crosses my mind.  My brother was born on November 22nd.  My basketball number in high school was number 22.  My brother’s Special Olympic’s basketball number was 22.  My best friend’s dad, Frank, was killed in an automobile accident on February 22nd.  It was a horrible day for years and years and years.  But then years later, though I tried to hold her in with all my might, my first daughter was born on February 22nd.  My second child was born on June 22nd.  My third was born on April 22nd.  My best friend, Stacie, who’s dad died on the 22nd, had her son 5 years ago on September 22nd.  AND TOMORROW IS SEPTEMBER 22ND!  I just can’t help but think that how is it that this is my surgery date?   I have to be in good hands.  All of this involved two surgeons and a hospital all having to coordinate a date and a time to match their schedules.  What are the chances?  I imagine Frank looking down on me.  My children smiling and giggling.  My basketball years and my brother smiling from ear to ear in his Special Olympic’s jersey.  Although my body is still numb with fear, a calmness begins to regulate me.  With visions and memories of the number 22 in my mind, I fall asleep on a night that I thought it impossible.

 

Thunder from Down Under

9/10/16

It’s Saturday morning.  I awake on my own only to realize it is already 11am!  Wow.  I must have overslept.  I mean really overslept.  I should be up with the kids already.  Chris needs to go to work.  Why am I still sleeping?   Just as these thoughts cross my mind, Chris walks in to the room still in his pajamas.  He simply very sweetly says, “Take your time getting up.  When you are ready, come to the kitchen for your breakfast and your surprise.”  Okay . . .

Slowly, I make my way to the kitchen table to find my breakfast and a folder in front of me.   My eyes are wide.  Oh no.  I don’t know if I am ready for a surprise yet.  Chris tells me to open the folder and informs me that he has taken the day off work.  He tells me that he knows I need to get my mind off my impending surgery that is petrifying me so he has come up with a plan.  A shocking one.   As I begin to see maps, hotel reservations and tickets in the folder, he tells me that I need to pack a bag.  In a few hours my friend Camille will be picking me up to take to me to Palm Springs for the night.  There, we will be meeting my other good friend DeAun, who lives 20 minutes away from the hotel.  Oh, and last but not least, he has bought the three of us tickets to the male revue show, Thunder From Down Under.  What?  Really?  Oh my gosh.  This is crazy!! Seriously?   With my mouth gaping open in shock,  he reminds me that I saw them in Las Vegas years ago for my last bachelorette weekend.  And according to him, I couldn’t stop talking about them for weeks.  I don’t remember these guys being that good, but then again, I do have chemo brain.

I must admit that I am still so tired and weak from chemo that I am not thrilled for a bit.  Oh my gosh.  I don’t think I have the energy.  I just want to sleep.  And my legs are still so weak.  I don’t want to move.  But, as the day goes on, I begin to get excited.  I find myself singing as I pack my bag, and relishing in this moment of spontaneity(something that went out the door when I had kids).  Cancer girl is heading to Palm Springs to watch boys in their undies.  This is so ridiculous that I think it might be good.  Not a bad surprise from my husband.  Not bad at all.

As Camille arrives, Chris gives me a bag full of food, champagne for the hotel, and two cds that he has made with my favorite songs for the drive.   I feel immensely special in this moment.

Our drive is fun.  It is full of songs, good conversation, laughter and catching up.  It really doesn’t even seem like a two and a half hour trip.  We arrive at our hotel, eat our dinner that Chris has packed, and drink our champagne as we get ready for our night out.  We then uber to the casino to meet DeAun before we head to see “the boys.”  I still cannot believe this.  I am enjoying every single moment and the show hasn’t even started.

As we make our way to our seats, the room is pounding with the energy of 600 women screaming in anticipation.   I will not say hollering or yelling, because it is not.  It is full on screaming.   I am not sure I have ever heard anything so loud.  I am giddy with excitement, and have the giggles of a teenage girl.   And . . . here they go!!!!!! The crowd goes wild.  Oh my goodness.  What can I say?  The guys from Thunder from Down Under are amazing, and they really are Australian.  I don’t think this trio of girls could ask for anything more.  Cocktails in our hands,  great music,  great energy and good looking men dancing in their undies with Australian accents.    At one point, Camille turns to me and says, “We are literally sitting on the edge of our seats.”  I look down.  She is right.  We are.  Thunder from Down Under is that good.  DeAun, Camille and I scream, laugh, dance and howl the night away.  I have completely forgotten that I have cancer and am bald.  Completely forgotten.  As in it is not even a thought in the front, back or side of my mind.

The show sadly ends too soon.  Boo.  And boo some more.  As we leave, the girls ask what I want to do.  I don’t even hesitate and tell them that we should do a little gambling and dancing.   Why not?  Apparently, I have turned wild, and I love it.  I might as well enjoy the rest of this carefree night.  So, we do just that.  Gamble and dance.  It is so fun.  I don’t want it to end.  We say good bye to DeAun after a few hours as she has just flown back in to town today and is exhausted.  I am just happy I got to see her for a bit, because I miss her.   Now, it’s down to just Camille and me.

As we head back to do a little more gambling,  we run straight into 3 of the Thunder from Down Under guys.  I KNOW!  Before I realize it, we are chatting with them.   Yes, it’s true.  Both of us are talking and laughing with these guys.  We tell them that we are celebrating me being done with chemo.  They seem genuinely happy for me, and give me hugs.  I’ll take it.

Camille and I laugh the whole time because they literally have groupies in incredibly tight dresses standing around waiting for them, and yet they are chatting with us.  Both of us married, and me bald.  Of course, Camille is quite hot so that does help.  Perhaps I can be the charismatic one.  Finally, calling it a night,  we walk out of the casino at the same time with the down under boys and say goodbye to them.  We laugh all the way to our hotel about how they had groupies and yet they were more interested in our story.  We both agree that it is because we couldn’t have cared less.  We were just having fun.  It is a nice ending to an amazing night.  Camille and I arrive back to our hotel and drift off at 4am.  That’s right.  Four in the morning.  I am a tiny little bit proud of myself.

The next morning, we head back to L.A..   On our way, we find a Taco Bell drive thru for breakfast.  I have my reservations, but it turns out that an egg and cheese burrito is actually really good after a wild night.  I wish I would have ordered two.  Next time, I will know.   As we make our way back home,  I realize how tired I am.  Really really tired.  My legs feel like jelly.  I know I will pay for this night for the next several days.   With a lazy smile on my face, I ask myself if it was worth it?  Heck ya, it was.  And as it turns out, my husband does have a good memory, because I will be talking about Thunder from Down Under for weeks.

 

Apparently, I’m scary

8/20/16

Like most days at the gym, I head to the sauna to relax for just a bit after my workout and before I pick my kids up from the kids’ club.  Today, seems like any other day.  I sit in the women’s sauna with my bandana on my head, my mask across my face to protect my very weakened immune system, and I listen to music on my iPod.   And as usual, at some point,  I take my bandana off and sit there in all my baldness, because, well, it’s hot.  I’m used to the stares by now, and I figure it is in the women’s locker room so I’m safe.

Then, the door opens.  A woman walks in, takes one look at me, shrieks in horror and runs out.  At first, I smile.  Did that just happen?  How silly is that?  Am I really that scary? It’s just a bald head, and a medical mask.  I want to walk out after her and explain, that I’m not a creep or an oddball.  I just have cancer, and these are the effects from chemo.  Oh, and I’m actually pretty nice too.  But I don’t.  I stay seated.   A few moments later, another woman walks in, acts like she is dusting something off the bench while staring at me.  She then walks out.  It is so awkward that I can only assume that this is the other woman’s friend who has come in to see if a masked bald person is really sitting in the sauna.  Yes, I really am.  I’m here.  I want to go after her too, because now I’m a little angry, but I know my words won’t turn out well.  I decide to let it be.

As I sit back and listen to my music, I replay in my mind what just happened.  Did someone really just shriek in terror and leave the sauna over the way I look?  They did.  They really just did.   My shield starts to crumble.  I try and keep it intact, but I can’t.  I can’t stop thinking about what just happened, and how I must look like a science experiment gone horribly wrong.  I play the moment over and over again in my mind.  I can’t help it.  Tears well up and start to fall.   I put my bandana back on, close my eyes, and silently cry.   I have never felt so ugly.

I sit for quite a while until I can gather up the courage to leave.  When I finally do, I run into two other gym goers in the locker room that I haven’t seen in quite a while.  They of course ask me why I have a mask on and seem genuinely concerned.  I explain that I have breast cancer, and I am just finishing chemo.  They see the tears in my eyes, and so I tell them what just happened to me in the sauna.  Immediately, their eyes widen, and they say almost in unison, “Screw them!!!! That’s their problem not yours.”  They tell me that I am beautiful, strong and that no one comes to the gym on chemo except a very strong warrior.   They continue to console me until I believe them.  They do not leave until my tears dry, and there is a smile on my face.

As I leave the locker room, I am in awe of how the actions of two women had me in tears and wanting to crawl into a hole.  Then moments later, the actions of two other women convinced me that I am Captain America.  I walk out the gym doors with my bald head held high, my shield back on and a huge realization of the weight of people’s actions.  Actions really do speak louder than words.

Camping & Chemo…Don’t do it.

8/12/16

I’m only a little over two weeks out of my last chemo, and yet my children already start school next week.  I can’t believe it.  So, in an effort to show them one fun night, because I’ve been so sick all summer, I have come up with the brilliant idea to go camping.  Yep.  Me.  This is my idea.  They have never been before, and I grew up camping a lot with my dad, so I think this will be fun for them.

As we arrive at our campsite, I’m thrilled because it looks amazing with our lot backing up to a wooded area in which the children can play.  The kids jump out of the car just as I see the sign, that says, “Be careful.  Poison Oak.”  What?  In a campground?  Seriously?  I begin to look around our site behind us.  Crud.   It is everywhere.  I mean everywhere.  And trying to tell a 9, 5 and 2 year old not to touch it is like asking them not to touch the candy in a candy store.  Impossible.   I’m already officially on hyper mom alert mode within 5 minutes of being here.  Standing guard over the wooded area.  Saying, “Don’t touch” every five seconds.  I think I already need vodka.

While, I’m standing guard, Chris sets up our two tents.  Though he hasn’t really camped before, he assures me that he has got it and has brought everything we need.  Well, except for the fact that he didn’t bring the tarp to put under the tents, and instead of bringing air mattresses for us, he bought only me a camping pad.  Which means I will be sleeping on a 1 inch thick hard foam pad, and everyone else with just a sleeping bag.  Still, he has tried.  Definitely, I need some vodka.

As the day progresses, the children play and have fun. We even go for a little walk and wade in a stream.  By late afternoon,  other people from the camp begin to return to their tents.  We have been surrounded by maybe 40 or so pup tents throughout the day and are curious as to whom they belong.  It turns out to be over 50 French young adults that look to be about college age.  They are very nice and at one point even try to give us their groceries.  They tell us that they have been here camping all week and are leaving in the morning so they need to get rid of their food.

All is going well,  until Chris lights up the fire.  Over the course of the next few hours as we try and keep our kids from the poison oak, we burn the turkey burgers, end up eating just buns with ketchup and mustard, the kids won’t leave the fire pit alone, and I’m convinced one is going to fall in.   Patrick even touches the grill just to see how hot it is.  And then cries.  Of course he does.  Now, I am in super stressed out mommy mode!  I need vodka.  We finally call it a night around 9pm, because Chris and I can’t take it anymore.  This is so not fun.  I don’t know what I was thinking.

The kids fall asleep as does Chris.  I, however, cannot on my one inch foam pad with a broken and depleted body from chemo.  I feel as though I am sleeping on rocks.  I am miserable.  I finally drift off at 2am.

About an hour later, I awake to flashes of light everywhere and noises that I can’t make out.  It scares me for a minute, and  I have to work up the courage to look out of the tent to see what is happening.

Is it an animal?  No.  Is it aliens?  No.  Is it a Vodka Van?  No. It is ALL 50 FRENCH STUDENTS awake with their flashlights, taking down their tents, dragging their suitcases and loading them up into big vans.  Really?  I realize they told us they were leaving in the morning, but 3am does not count.  It does not count.

After listening to them pack up for the next hour,  I can’t go back to sleep.  I’m freezing, and my body aches.  I’m getting weaker by the minute.  I finally wake Chris up.  He is in the the second tent with Patrick.  I tell him he has to move Patrick and himself into the big tent with William and Emma.  I am getting in the van.

And I do.  In the wee hours of the morning, I take my pillow and my blankets and lie down in the back of the minivan curled up like a baby.  Miserable beyond belief.  What was I thinking?  Camping?  Bad idea.  Really bad.

I finally get maybe 2 hours of not great sleep waking up to the sounds of laughter from my children.  Normally, I love this sound, but today, I can’t handle it.  I get out of the van, and although I try to suck it up for the sake of the family, I can’t.  I just can’t.  My body is screaming for rest.  It is not ready to be out in the world.  I tell Chris that I am so sorry, but we need to leave.  Now.  I know it is not the plan, but he can see the look in my eyes.  I am wretchedly dazed.  He packs everything up while I watch.  I am too weak to help.  We get in the van, pull away from the campsite, and are back home by 830 in the morning.  Yes, 8:30am.  I walk straight into our bedroom,  crawl into bed, and sleep for the next 5 hours.

Camping and chemo.  Don’t do it.  Just don’t.  Unless you bring vodka.

camping2 camping1 camping3

 

My Army of Facebookers

8/10/16

Now that chemo is finally over, and I’m feeling better, I want to share how my story all began on Facebook, and why I decided to share and be honest with my journey.  I was just too fragile in the beginning to process the events, but this is how you all came to know about me in one day:

The day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dear friend Kellie surprised me with a Go Fund Me campaign to help with the medical expenses that I was about to endure.  I went to bed that night knowing she had sent it to a few email addresses as she is not on Facebook.  To be honest, I thought this might be a good way to let some of my friends know as I didn’t have it in me to keep telling my story over and over.  But, somewhere in the night, someone shared this campaign on Facebook.  I woke up the next morning to countless voice and text messages.  I didn’t even know what had happened until I started reading the texts.  Then, I got on Facebook and realized what had happened and  how many times the campaign had been shared.  Everyone knew.  Holy crud.  I was so overwhelmed.  At first, I wanted to hide.  I hadn’t even had time to process the news myself. I was still hysterical, and the cat was really out of the bag.  Big time.

Then throughout the day, as the messages came in, I read and listened to each and everyone of them over and over again.  My tears stopped.  My hysteria dissipated.  My heart beat regulated.  My breath calmed.   I could not believe all of the love that was being bestowed upon me.  It was such a gift.  A gift that I did not know I needed.   With the click of a button,  Facebook told everyone my story.  And everyone swooped in to tell me how much they loved me.  So, in a very bizarre way, I have to give credit to Facebook for mounting my soldiers.   In one day,  I had an army standing behind me.  And this army got me through chemo.  My army, I thank you.

 

My Hunky Plastic Surgeon

8/4/16

First, I have to say, it’s only 9 days after my last chemo.  I’m so not ready to get out of the house, but I scheduled this consultation with a highly recommended plastic surgeon over 5 weeks ago.  What was I thinking?  I didn’t realize chemo #6 was going to hit me so hard.  I need to pick my plastic surgeon asap so I dress myself anyway, and my husband helps me into the car.  In all honesty, I’m mostly worried about the “D” word.  Please leave me alone today.  Please.  Pretty please.

We make the long drive to Beverly Hills which stinks by the way if you live in the valley, but I have told myself I cannot let geography dictate my breasts.  Obviously, I don’t want to be lopsided or come out with three of anything.  I want the best so we make the drive.

The office is beautiful.  It’s very Beverly Hills in every way even down to the fact that it is in the penthouse suite.  After filling out my information in the waiting room on an iPad, we are taken back to a room.  I put on a robe and am told the doctor will be in shortly.  Chris and I laugh at how ridiculous this is that I am here to discuss implants. Something that never interested me.  After a few moments, in walks the doctor.  Ummm.  Wow.  I was not prepared for this.  He’s hot.  Like really hot.  I can feel my cheeks turn red.  Wow.  I am really ill-prepared.  I feel like I should have had a little warning.  Right?  Perhaps just a whisper from the nurse.  Nope.  Nothing.  So, we talk for a bit about my options, and he discusses what he can do for me.  Then he says he just hired a new colleague and wants me to meet him too as they will both be doing their part of my surgery.  So, he walks in and wouldn’t you know it?  He’s hot too.  Really?  Now I’m sweating.  It’s dripping off my face.  I’m sure I look cute.  Then, they ask to “take a look.”  Great.  With my husband sitting in the corner snickering, I open my robe so these two hot doctors can look at my breasts.  I think I giggled.  I’m not sure.  It’s kind of a blur.  I don’t remember much except I tried to suck in my stomach and mentioned about five times that I have three kids.  They are both just talking about what they could do, and the main doctor is poking, prodding, pushing, smushing, squeezing and measuring.  He’s envisioning and already plotting what he is going to do during my surgery.  I like him.  Yep, I’m going to go with him.  I promise it’s not because he’s hot.  I mean a little handsome.  I promise.

On our way home, we pick up our kids from my friend Belen’s house.  I literally make it to her door when the “D” word gives me it’s 60 second warning.  Thank goodness she answers her door, and thank goodness the “D” word has held off until after my appointment.  I would have been mortified.   And bless my Belen, she does what any good friend would do.  She gives me a towel for the ride home, just in case.  After all that’s what friends are for right?  Don’t worry.  I made it home “D” free. Thank goodness.  And I got an amazing plastic surgeon out of it.  It has turned out to be a good day.

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Broken Down

7/31/16

I’m on my fifth day after my last chemo.  I feel so utterly depleted.  I wonder if this is why with many breast cancer patients, they only give you six treatments.  That’s all our bodies can handle.  I’m not as sick as I usually am, but I am the weakest I have ever been in my entire life, and I’m so tired.  So so tired.   I’m too tired to talk, too tired to be with my kids.  I could sleep for 48 hours, get up for a snack and then sleep for another 48, but I can’t.  The steroids keep me up.   My body is limp, but my brain won’t stop moving.  My eyes won’t close.  I look like a horrid Halloween character.  Perhaps someone will dress up as me next year.  I will take it as a compliment after all I have endured.  My legs don’t want to move either.  The muscles in them ache as if I’ve done way too many reps at the gym though I’ve done none.  They are so tight that I can’t even touch my toes.  I just can’t seem to get going.  I don’t want to move.   The only time I do is when I have to make my usual run to the bathroom a million times a day.   My body has had enough.  It’s done.

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My Last Chemo!!!!

7/27/16

The day is finally here.  I never thought it would be, but here I am at the chemo ward for my last chemo.  Number 6.  Chris and I have showed up with bags of goodies from Trader Joe’s for all of the nurses.  They devour them pretty quickly which makes us feel good.  They really deserve so much more as they are beyond caring in every way.  I wish I could just package them up and take them home with me, but then that would be weird so I don’t.

Emma has made me a special sign to signify the moment.  It is just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  She is beaming with pride to give it to me, and I am beaming with pride that she is my daughter.

Our 6 hour chemo date, as Chris and I have come to call them comes and goes.  There is nothing exciting to report about this one except that I did scare myself awake one time from snoring.  Yes, I snored.  I’m going to blame it on the drugs.  I’m not sure yet if I’m happy with Chris that he let me sleep even though I was snoring or if I’m upset with him that he didn’t wake me so that I didn’t embarrass myself.  Again, I will blame these thoughts on my drugs, because in all truth, he simply is amazing. And he did take me to see Jason Bourne last night, and I imagine Matt Damon snores too.  So perhaps, I am really just that cool.

The nurses clap on our way out even though they know I have 7 more months of that lovely life saving medicine Herceptin to be put in to my port.  They know they will be seeing me again in three weeks, but this medicine is not chemo and will not make me sick so they really are clapping because I’m done.  I’m done.  I really am done.  We walk out.  I almost feel like it’s a dream.  In the elevator, time seems to stand still.  I feel as though I’m in some alternate reality that can’t possibly be mine.  It was so so far away, and the time passed so slowly.  And yet, it did pass.  It is my reality.  I did it.  I am done with chemo.  As we head home, I know the sickness is coming, but I’m ready for it, because the light at the end of the tunnel is so close, it has hit my face, and I need sunglasses.

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