In spite of the ever-improving (although still finicky) weather and the signs of spring everywhere, I've had lots of reasons to withdraw into myself these past months. First, I spent the beginning of February being terrified about my surgery--was I going to wake up in severe pain? Were they going to discover that the cancer was still spreading? How would a mastectomy affect my emotions? I had a lot of questions that no one could really answer, so I just stewed and worried about it until it was all over. Then, once I was well on my way toward recovery, I had another thing to keep me locked up inside myself--we had to make the hard decision to send Roby back to Italy for a little while in order to resolve some visa issues. He left on March 26 and won't be back until May 13. I can't even express how much I dreaded him leaving and how hard it's been now that he's actually gone.
General Conference, and one in particular shook me out of my gloom. President Ucthdorf, with his irrepressible optimism and fabulous German accent encouraged us to choose to be grateful no matter what our circumstances may be. Gratitude, he said, doesn't have to be tied to tangible things--it's a way of life. I cried during the entire 20 minutes of his talk. Then, as if to reinforce the idea of being thankful in all things, I've been reading Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place--a remarkable holocaust memoir that I always intended to read and just now managed to borrow from the library. And you know what? If Corrie and Betsie ten Boom can thank God for the fleas jumping around the straw in their extermination camp beds, then I can definitely be grateful for chemo even without my husband by my side. After all, as nasty as the side effects can be, it's ultimately saving my life.
So, enough of the explanations and emotions--how about a little update? Because you know what? There are more awesome things that have happened since I last wrote than most people might expect. :)
A mastectomy can be a pretty scary thought--especially where I'm still just trying to get used to needles and IVs. But you know what? All things considered, it was honestly a breeze. I mean, I hurt a medium amount for several days, I was incredibly tired for weeks, and I've just barely gotten back my full range of motion in my arm, but the pain level was not that bad. Of course, that's actually because I've lost all sensation on the left side of my chest and even under my arm, but if nerve damage means I don't have to feel deep incisional pain, I think I'll take it for now! And as for the emotional impact, because I opted for immediate reconstruction, I don't feel that abnormal. I'm currently equipped with a rather uncomfortable tissue expander (it's something like a hard-edged balloon that they periodically fill with saline) until I can get my implant post-radiation, but it actually doesn't look too weird.
|A few days post-surgery--not looking too bad!|
At this point, I have one treatment behind me and two more to go--and the thing that's getting me through the 12 sick days out of every 21 is the thought that when Roby gets back, chemo will be OVER! Now that is something to be very excited about--the return of all good things at one time! Besides, the positive pathology report means that my chances of complete remission are very good. And you know what? I've had a deep reassurance through all of this that this cancer isn't going to haunt me forever. I've always known that, in spite of the scary initial prognosis, I was going to get through it okay--I still have a lot to accomplish in this life. And if that isn't a silver lining, then I don't know the meaning of the phrase.
|Happy in spite of everything!|