Hi blog, remember me?
First off, my mom is okay!
That said, I’ve learned that cancer isn’t something that can just go away one day with a surgery. There’s so much more to deal with, prepare for, and undergo.
To back up, mom’s surgery went well. It was almost three weeks ago (!). Watching the doctor’s roll my mother away to the operating room, not knowing what to expect, was one of the most frightening and depressing things I’ve ever experienced. I’m sure there’s a more poetic way to write that, but certain situations don’t call for flowery language.
We were warned of all the side effects and possible outcomes. On the plus side, the worst case scenario was blood, swelling and pain – in cases of a surgery, things could be much worse, so we were hopeful. The ten hours we spent in the hospital (before, during and after the surgery) were draining. Every time the door opened, we jumped, hoping for news. People came in and out, some with smiles, some with frowns.
She spent the night in the hospital and came home the following day. Despite pain, she was able to walk around and have visitors. I stayed with my parents that weekend to handle the cleaning. Since then, I’ve visited most days during my lunch break and Sundays. (During all of this were midterms for grad school, of course. I didn’t sleep much.)
She had a full mastectomy and reconstruction. While the surgery did remove everything, in further testing of her removed lymph node, they found 2 mm of cancer. Fearing it may be in other lymph nodes, we’re deciding what to do next.
It’s interesting (and frustrating). Six years ago, after the surgery, it would have been done, over. They didn’t see any other cancer, they only found the 2 mm after biopsying the removed node after the fact…in a test that was only created six years ago. Since the test is so new, and research still going on, there’s no specific route to take next. It was believed that since it was found, surgeons should go back in and take away more nodes. Yet, recently, it’s been deduced that that doesn’t actually solve everything (thanks, by the way, to J who sent me the NPR article about this – EXTREMELY helpful). So, we’re meeting with oncologists and radiologists and whatnot to see what to do next. I say we because I feel like I’m in this almost as much. (Although I know I’m not.)
To my mom’s credit, she’s so optimistic. She’s gotten to the point of accepting the disease, and moving on. She can’t cry over it every day, so she admits it’s awful, admits her fear, and keeps going. She’s gone on walks, gone to Target. She still has drains in her (weird), but they should be removed by the end of the week. She’s a rock star.
I went to the OBGYN to get tested. Since it doesn’t run in my family, the doctor said there’s a strong chance I’ll be fine. Still, I’m to take precautious. Stay healthy. Exercise. Yearly checkups (which I already do). Mammograms starting at 30 or 35. (I’m 27 now, so I still have some time.)
My job has been amazing. Two people, including my boss, have gone through this, so they’ve let me take afternoons off, extended lunches, and days off to help out with driving my mom to appointments and such. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer present.
The day of the surgery, I received some of the nicest emails, text messages, and Tweets in regards to the situation. I wasn’t very public about it – this is really the only forum I’ve posted about the situation (I’m not very personal on Facebook-go figure), so it was lovely to see everyone’s concern without a status message to remind them. When waiting in the hospital to get the results, I thought about all the people from all over the country – world even (we had messages from UK) – wishing my mother well. It was incredible, simply amazing, to see so many names all coming together to hope for the same thing. It makes the world seem very friendly.
And so, we’re still going. There’s more to undergo, but we’re positive. We’re just one more step toward putting this all behind us. There’s just so much more to look forward to.
But, I have to admit – it’s put a new spin on everything. Deleted document, forgotten lunch, cut off by a bad driver…none of those ordinary things are as bad as cancer. None of them. Days seem so much more pleasant knowing that.