The day started at 5 am. My selfless gem of a mother was my personal Uber driver before the crack of dawn (even had my seat warmer on when I got in the car!) Upon arrival, I was greeted by a woman with a warm smile, named LaMay, at the front door of KU hospital. I was amazed at how friendly she was for that time of morning. Really started my day off on a positive note. I need to remember her and the lasting difference I can make in someone’s day even with just a short moment in passing. It only takes a second to shine your light onto another.
Fast forward, when I was leaving, LaMay was still doing her thing, rocking her big smile and rushing to help anyone coming or going. I couldn’t believe her energy. She was still treating every person coming or going as if they were the one and only person there. That will always stick with me. So many people I’ve come in contact with throughout my cancer journey have been so kind and compassionate. My path has been blessed to meet some truly rare gifts.
Ladies in waiting
This has been a long awaited surgery (over a year!) and instead of being nervous, I found myself very excited. My Mom was great to sit with and keep me company in the crack of dawn waiting room when I knew she hadn’t even had her breakfast yet. Once again, a mother’s love. Isn’t she the sweetest?
Once back in pre-op, I want to mention my nurse, Becca, if anything just for myself to remember her. Nurses make all the difference sometimes. And she truly did. She was comforting and the essence of calm.
My surgeon has a great sense of humor. With measuring tape and a marker, while drawing on my chest the outline of his predicted cuts, he lightened the mood and removed the awkwardness by making wise cracks and telling me to simply pretend I was at Disneyland, having the time of my life. He let me know what to expect for the end result. Because let’s face it, after this exhaustingly long breast cancer ordeal is in the rearview, his work today would be what I would be living with long-term. He said he would do his best to make “the girls” look as symmetrical as possible. The expectation of them being “identical twins” isn’t realistic. Sisters, well… that’s a maybe. Certainly he could do as well as at least make them look like cousins.
Fast forward…got the anesthesia, woke up without a hitch, and it was done. Easy breezy. I no longer had hard, boxy looking place holders. Instead, I now have soft boobs. Of course the first thing I did was peek my ta-ta’s. I’m not too shy to say it, I feel like a woman! It’s been so long since I felt feminine. This truly was like a reawakening.
Rehashing the morning over lattes and pie. Through my mother’s tired eyes I can see her gratefulness for the smooth morning.
They say that even the longest day has a sunset,
and the winter snow may stay quiet some time,
but it too will finally melt.
So tired and yet so happy.
The next day. I’m mostly just hurting on my left side, only on the incision. This was the side that had radiation, which causes it to be harder to heal. But overall, as long as I move slowly and carefully I feel surprisingly ok. Just using Tylenol for now. Last night I used the stronger meds to help me sleep. But this is a cinch compared to the mastectomy.
In the meantime I have to wait 4 weeks before I can exercise again. And 6 weeks before getting in a pool again. As a triathlete- who trains year round- this does not come naturally. I am already missing a good run in my life. I think I’m going to need to hire a babysitter to come sit on me to hold me back for that long. As you all know, we’re going into the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year- with the most wonderful food of the year. That’s going to be a challenge since I won’t be burning off calories. I know, first world problems. But how do you just change yourself and your habits? I love being an endurance athlete so that I have the freedom to eat. I love food. And I love second helpings. I’ll have refrain and instead only do carrot and hummus dip arm curls. Is that a thing? It will have to be.
Icing on the cake
So I sit. And I’ll be getting pretty good at that over the next few weeks. Basically at the turn of the calendar year I’ll be allowed to get back to triathlon training. 2020 will be my rebuilding year. And I’ll jump right back in by doing Oceanside 70.3 which is a half Ironman. At the end of that weekend’s race I get to have the last piece to my puzzle placed. The Fxck Cancer team’s tattoo artist will do my nipple tatts. Can you believe that’s a thing? It may sound strange. But I’ve gotten used to all sorts of strangeness by now. However, this is very common for mastectomy patients. Since my tumor was so close to my nipple area they had to remove it. The skilled tattoo artists use shading and contouring to recreate a very realistic looking nipple. I’m blessed to have the Fxck Cancer team’s connection with a very professional skilled artist. I cannot wait to look more real. More finished. Essentially, this is the icing on the cake. The cherry on top. Will that finally be my finish line with cancer? Hope so.
May God give me the strength to endure anything that comes my way and to trust Him all the days of my life.