I haven't posted in nearly 4 1/2 years. Wow! Life is mostly great! I have gained two daughters-in-law, 2 ready made grandsons and now 3 Wooldridge grandkids. Maxx is 4. He belongs to Morgan and Desi. Cayden is almost 3 and Capri just turned 1. They belong to Clayton and Courtney. Harris lives nearby and Curtis is seeing the world living on cruise ships and selling jewelry. Hollis and I are as happy as we ever have been. We will celebrate the 39th anniversary of the day we met next month. He is still the best human I have ever known.
On Monday, September 25th I had two biopsies on my right breast. I'm tempted to write about that in detail. Maybe I should. I had a biopsy on that same breast 5 years ago and it was negative for cancer. It was a very unpleasant experience and I was quite aggravated that there was nothing wrong and I had such a bad time recovering that the whole event went into my book as awful. Now we are on this event. My OB-GYN who has taken care of my girl parts for the last 8 or 9 years called me Tuesday afternoon and said "Well we weren't so lucky this time. They found cancer in both samples." Wait, WHAT?!?! I have zero risk! I have no family history! I nursed all my babies for a year after they were born! I don't smoke! This can't be right!! But it is. It is a fact. I have breast cancer.
On Thursday, September 28th, Hollis and I met with a wonderful human being of a surgeon named Richard Fischer. He said great things like "this is a curable cancer. This is not what will kill you." and "This is a significant moment in your life story. This is as big a deal as your son getting hurt in Iraq. It's okay to be scared and to take care of yourself." I hoped he would also give me answers. Sadly, he gave me a list of options. Option 1 seemed plausible. 2 wasn't even an option for me. 3 kind of sucked and 4 seemed impossible. Now I needed to see a plastic surgeon to get more infomation. On Tuesday October 2, my wonderful friend Eboni accompanied me to meet Dr. Steven Pisano, plastic surgeon. He is one very confident guy but caring and gentle - things I seem to really appreciate right now. He explained option 4 to me in detail and I pretty much drank the kool-aid right then.
In the meantime, Hollis had a conversation with a woman who underwent a version of option 4 about 12 years ago. She encouraged him to encourage me to take my time choosing an option. Because his support means the world to me, I honored his request and spoke with friends who have had to make these choices.
Now I am sure I want to choose option 4. Dr. Pisano's office has coordinated with Dr. Fischer's office and later this month, I am going to have a bi-lateral (double) mastectomy with abdominal tissue transplant reconstruction. So many multisyllable words to say that the existing breasts are coming off and I will get new ones from my very own body (belly, middle, tummy. . . ). I am really excited that I will never need another mammogram or biopsy (I really hate those things). I will have a flat tummy again - I gave up my original about 34 years ago when I had the first of my four 9 pound babies. I'm trying hard to manage my expectations about the tummy part but this plastic surgeon has lots of before and after photos on his website and he takes great pride in what he does so my level of hope is sky high.
I cannot escape a couple of things. I am super sad to lose my own breasts. I have really liked being a woman with a nice chest. I LOVED nursing my babies. Even in the night time and even with mastitis, I was a great nursing mom and I treasure that time of mothering in my life. I really hoped to die with them intact. Secondly, this is not going to be an easy surgery. Despite the confidence of my plastic surgeon and his caring, competent nurse, this is gonna hurt!! I have two weeks of prepping for surgery. I start protein drinks this week. I have to get t shirts and slit them down the front to wear under my surgery garments. I had 5 prescriptions to fill to have on hand when I come home. I will require 2 solid weeks of 24/7 care when I get home and full recovery will take 4-6 weeks. Then in three months there will be a follow-up scar revision surgery. I didn't even have that after having babies!
People at age 57 are a little more aware of their mortality than people at, say, 37. It's going to take a while to heal. And then there is this lovely anxiety that has moved into my heart, brain and stomach. I'm scared and I have a little over two weeks to be scared - yay. I have very little appetite but this is not really the time to shrink my belly. It will soon be pressed into a new service! And in addition to all these emotions, I feel guilty. I am going to be cured on surgery day of breast cancer. No follow up treatment will be necessary. That part is truly amazing and I promise that just as soon as I get through all this, I will try really hard to refrain from bitching because I would not like to be seen as ungrateful here or ever. I know I am lucky/blessed. I have friends who have undergone torture to get rid of this disease and I have lost more than one friend to this horribleness. Mine will be gone. I promise all of you I will not forget that.
In the meantime, it's real, it's looming and it's rough. My support team is first class. I have friends putting together a care calendar so that Hollis can work during the day while I recover. He will take wonderful care of me. My sister will help care for me and then reclothe my new body. Other than the pain and the fear, this would be really fun! Not really! All prayers appreciated. I promise to update when I can type. Thanks for listening.