Friday, November 18, 2011

Medical Update

The last two weeks have been a blur of doctors’ appointments.

Routine mammogram. Call back mammogram. Ultrasound. Cyst biopsy. Ultrasound biopsy. Cancer diagnosis. Stereostatic biopsy. Breast surgeon. Choices - lumpectomy with lymph removal and constant monitoring or bilateral mastectomy. Run around get all the reports. Second opinion. Breast MRI. I think I am FINALLY done with all the tests.

I have decided on the full mastectomy. I am really tired of being in pre-cancer mode. And I’m really good about this decision. At least mentally. Physically I am in panic mode as I really don’t do medical things very well. Great attitude, poor execution. I pass out. A lot. I have a horrible, terrifying time with anaesthesia. Pain meds make me nauseous. So I am trying to get myself psyched to get through it.

Unfortunately my closest support systems are falling apart. My sister calls me every day to boost my spirits but ends up in tears and hangs up abruptly. My mom is wringing her hands and offering to come up to take care of me, which I keep politely declining because, in reality, she will just become another person Martha has to take care of. And Martha, who is always my rock, seems to have retreated into a mystery place.

When I first told her about the cancer diagnosis, she gave me a quick hug and then went back to ordering some car part on the computer. She asked me to make whatever appointments I could later in the day so she could go with me (she works in a school). But then something has come up every time and she doesn’t go. She had a call into our family physician (she is asking for anxiety drugs which she has never taken.) And I asked her when he called if she could ask if my last pathology report had come in. He called her. She forgot to ask. I have actually stopped talking to her about my concerns as she looks like she is at the end of her rope.

I’m not sure how to help her. Tonight Peachie comes home for a week. On Sunday we are going to go see Beanie in her dance recital. (Really she’s in college, shouldn’t I be done with dance recitals?) We have decided not to tell the girls until they are both home for Thanksgiving which will be on Tuesday. And where Martha says we have to present a strong front and not worry them, especially as they go into their final exams, I am more of a let’s all cuddle in bed, have a good cry, and then map out a plan. I had thought I would ask each of them to do a little thing that could help. Beanie could go buy me some zip up sweatshirts that have been recommended to me. Peachie, who is studying physical therapy could research some exercises I should be doing to make the surgery easier.

I don’t know. After going through PTSD therapy hell because I buried all emotion for far too long, I hope I’ve learned something about dealing with stuff straight on. But I live with the stoic, German, ex cop who is great in an emergency because she just does what has to be done. Not so great when it comes to emotional stuff. Never talks about emotional stuff. Never. Ever.

So that’s where I’m at. My head is in a fairly good place, my body not so much. Martha has put up a protective wall, and I don’t know how my daughters will react. But friends are already lining up to help with food, transportation, chocolate. (Still need to find someone who has the stomach to deal with those drains I will come home with)

If I have learned anything from my past, it’s that I am strong enough to face a challenge. With a little help from my friends. Well, with A LOT of help from my friends.


  1. I know you already know to put me first on the list for appointments, chocolate, food, errands, shoulder to cry on, etc. )Sorry I can't do the drain thing.)

    I'm sure Martha is just scared. Give her some time to let this news settle in. She is not a runner. She will be there when you need her. As we all will.

  2. Ditto. When you know the date let me know. I can do drains. Will call you later. Love you.


  3. I'm glad you are feeling at peace with your decision. I had another friend who made that choice and I think she, too, was really relieved at being freed from the fear of recurrence. I continue to pray for you, your family, and your medical team.

    I'm sure Martha is just dealing with the shock of the diagnosis--but, FWIW, I think it is important for you to handle things with your daughters in the way that works for YOU. If you need to cuddle, cry, and plan, I think that's what you should do.

    I would totally change drains if I were close enough. But since I can't, you let me know the minute you can have chocolate again, and I'll be your happy supplier. :-)


  4. I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I have never known a woman who regretted going the mastectomy route. Daily peace of mind is priceless.

    Please also put me on the list and tell Martha to call if SHE needs anything too.

    more {{{hugs}}}

  5. Oh, my. Big internet hugs and hopes that your vision with your family works out--be sure to ask for what you want b/c sounds like Martha doesn't have a game plan and hey, she's a coach and will understand better when there is a game plan.

    I so admire that you are writing about the big c and I'd do the dbl mast. too--probably would opt for it now if someone would offer. You are so amazing.

  6. I will be praying for you, and your family, that your healing be swift and complete.

  7. Wish I could offer tangible, in person, help - sadly, I think the distance means I can't.

    Doesn't mean you're not in our thoughts and prayers, love and light. I am certain Martha is scared out of her mind - these kinds of things bring up BIG issues for lots of people and I'm sure she's not any different. Her past behaviour indicates that she will be there for you during this time.

    Much love and light - keep talking about it and if there's anything I can do, please let me know. xoxox.

  8. I wish we were closer, rather than on opposite coasts. I have no problems with drains.

    Please know I'm thinking every good thing I can for you! And am there in spirit, if nothing else.

  9. you'll get through this. find your strength.

  10. The bilateral mastectomy is a good decision, 8. I doubt you'll miss the appendages (Martha might, however).

    Go with your heart and your gut on all those other decisions, but don't rule out your daughters. I believe that telling them and giving them the opportunity to HELP you will relieve their anxiety, give them something concrete to do for you, and let them know that you value their contributions. They are young adults and can handle more than you know. I realize that they have school pressures that are important too, but I am absolutely certain that they will want to be part of your team. Let them.

    I, unfortunately, will have to make do with being part of the internet cheerleading team. It is frustrating, but I'm afraid the continent is too wide and my finances to narrow to be there for you in person. But, you know I'll be holding the good thought (as I am already) and we will be having virtual tea dates every day.

    Big, strong, healing love being sent your way right now and always...

  11. If drains could be handled electronically, I´d love to help you! You have grown-up daughters now, raised by wise mothers: they´ll cry with you and then help you in any way you need them to. Why not let them mother you this time - I´m sure it´ll make you all feel better!

  12. It just doesn't seem fair that you have had so much to deal with this year. Your strength amazes me.

    If there is anything I can do from a distance, please let me know. I will be sending you light and love.