Monday, September 28, 2009

Update on Me

It is official.

I no longer have cancer.

I'm not done with reconstruction...but the cancer has been removed completely with something as "simple" as a mastectomy.

I had it a little easier than some. I won't need radiation or chemo. All the test results came back that they got all of the cancer and it had not spread or moved into lymph nodes.

Everything moved so quickly from getting the mammogram to having the surgery--July 23rd was the mammogram, Aug. 26th was mastectomy surgery--that it has taken awhile to really sink in that I just kicked cancer's butt.

I have learned a few things through all this.

One: I have pretty fantastic friends and family and neighbors. Everyone has been supremely supportive and helpful. I have been given the luxury of not having to worry about my youngest kids after school or dinners for my family for the three weeks following surgery because of volunteers who wanted to help.

It is actually pretty humbling to see everyone around so willing to serve and go out of their way so that I can get back to normal as soon as I can. There really isn't anything more surprising to me than people actually saying yes when asked if they can watch three 5 year-olds for 3 hours after they get home from kindergarten. And to top it off, they have actually said nice things about my kids after the fact. So either my kids were on best behavior or my neighbors are fabulous liars. :) Either way, I will forever be grateful to everyone and am going to be permanently put on the list on helping anyone else in need in the future. I am looking forward to being on the other end of the service thing.

Two: I have a pretty fantastic community too. School teachers making sure my kids are dealing okay with everything. School administrators letting me get a parking pass for my daughter at the high school even though she is a junior and passes are for seniors, just so she can be mobile during my recovery and better able to help me out. The list is longer, but you get the idea...there are genuinely nice people in this world.

Three: I still really need to work on showing gratitude. My whole life I have had a hard time showing excitement about anything. At birthdays, Christmas, baby showers, etc. I have had to psych myself up to force a cheerful expression. On the inside I can be happy and grateful, but I've always had trouble showing it on the outside. So I tend to come across as not very grateful or excited, which is usually far from the truth. Which probably makes all of the above mentioned genuinely nice people maybe not quite as thrilled about giving me service. It is hard to serve people who give the impression of maybe thinking that service is somehow 'owed' to them. Which is how I am afraid I come across sometimes...although that is far from how I actually feel.

Well, that was depressing enough.

I just want to thank everyone who has asked about me, prayed for me, thought about me, helped me. Even if I haven't demonstrated sufficiently enough, I am grateful. You have all cheered me up, eased my mind, and helped me in more ways that I can count.

For a physical update on me, I am almost done with the tissue expanding part of my reconstruction. My surgery to complete all this is scheduled for December 17th--mainly because I really want to get it done before the end of the year so I don't have to cough up the insurance deductible again--but also because it will make it easier for family to shop for me for Christmas :) I'm getting new boobs for Christmas so I've got bras and shirts on my list. :)

The feeling is coming back in my chest--the nerves are healing and putting themselves back together--which means that I actually have more pain at the moment after each tissue expanding appointment than I did after the mastectomy surgery. Which is unpleasant. But I should only have one or two more of those appointments left since I am close to the size I am shooting for.

Everything seems to be going well. No more cancer and a bra size I never in a million years would have thought I would wear without dr. assistance--and since that wasn't ever happening as an elective surgery (I'm not a fan of pain, even for vanity), I'm perfectly fine with this being my 'silver lining'. If I had to get cancer, at least I get a bigger chest out of it. :) I do wish my nerves decided to take longer to heal so that I couldn't feel this expansion thing quite so well, but I can't have everything.

So thanks to you all for your thoughts and prayers. They were felt and needed. And even if I don't look it on the outside, on the inside I am filled to the brim with gratitude and appreciation for you.