I had no ties to my right breast or qualms about getting rid of it once I found out there was cancer growing in it. When you walk into your own mastectomy and are hugged by your surgeon you know you are doing the right thing in the right place. That doesn't make it as easy as 1,2,3 but that day 8+ months ago, I wasn't nervous and I expected to be. I wasn't sad and I considered I would be that too. I felt strong and ready.
My surgery was for first thing in the morning and as I have blogged about before that my surgery was set and booked before we knew which procedure I would need.
My surgeon really just made me feel so loved and when I begged him to schedule me for as soon as possible as I could not imagine going through the holidays or even one minute more with cancer inside of my body, he booked my operating room time without knowing if it could be mastectomy or lumpectomy.
That morning, on December 16 2016, I left my house at 5am with my dad and my husband while my children slept. My mom and mother in law were at my house to get the kids ready and off to school that morning. The night before, I told me kids how happy I was to be having surgery and how great it was that the cancer would be removed. As soon as I had told the children I had breast cancer, my daughter intuited the surgery - she said, "so are they going to cut off your boob or something."
I did not leave anything out - I explained when I got home the day after surgery that I would be in need of space physically as I would have drains and dressings and other things in the way. They nodded and kind of got it. My daughter had seen me go to hospital to have my son; my son had never seen me go to hospital for anything.
When I got to the hospital for my surgery, there was check in and set up. Everyone was nervous but I was not. I remember thinking, "I should be nervous." But I was not.
My dad and husband were soon joined by my youngest brother and my mom and mother in law were en route after dropping the kids off to school.
I was by now in a hospital gown and waiting. The anesthesiologist, a beautiful woman, came to check on me - her mom's birthday is the same day as mine - as every check includes rattling off your name and birthday. I was 3 days past my 40th birthday and this mastectomy was going to be the best gift I have ever had - next to the clean petscan done on my actual 40th birthday.
Looking back, I can't remember if my mom and mother in law made it in time to see me before my surgery - I'm positive they did not, but it's murky. In any event, I knew my kids were safely at school as I got ready to head into surgery. When it was time, I still waited for panic or anxiety. I knew this was a serious surgery and I understood that this was not like my c-section when I came home with a bouncing baby boy.
I expected to be wheeled in on a gurney to my operating room but instead, I was told we would walk and the nurse and I walked to the elevators and waited for the doors to open as I waved to my family who was there and going to wait for me in the waiting area where a computerized billboard listed my initials, birthday and which step of surgery I was in as updated.
The elevator dinged and still I searched myself for panic or sadness and still there was none. The door opened and the nurse moved to the side as I walked in alone. It was so bright inside I was blinded and then I saw my surgeon jump up, hug me and lead me to the operating table telling everyone I was his best patient and that they all had better treat me the best.
The anesthesiologist was there now masked and as I counted backwards, I fell asleep but I know I was smiling.
I woke up later in a recovery room that would be my room for the night. I was groggy and the nurses told me to sleep more and they kept my well meaning family away until almost 130pm. I got to rest up and then they only let in 2 people at a time- which was also great. I got to manage the crowd.
I was told immediately that all of the cancer was gone but because it had gotten into my lymph nodes (which I found out later made my cancer stage 3A), that I would need chemotherapy.
At that point, I did not care about what would happen next. I realized I had spent my life like it was a great book that I wanted to get to the ending of to know all and to be in charge and now I kind of was learning a new way to be where the ending is never known and control does not exist.
I think I am happier this way. I know I would be happier to have had all of this be a misdiagnosis and that I never had cancer but got the lesson anyway but life doesn't work that way so I share my story for those who are about to walk in to their own mastectomy or hear the words no one wants to hear - that they have breast cancer or any cancer for that matter.
That's what I do in the time between.
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