My Breast Cancer Story Part 2
Cutting It Out! How I Dealt with Breast Surgery
I wasn't sure how I would handle lossing my left breast. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to look at myself in the mirror. And how would others see me? How would it affect my marriage?
The night before my mastectomy, I looked online for ideas on how to cope. I found that some women had goodbye parties for their boobs. But one woman wrote a letter, a very angry letter about being forced to cut off a part of her body to save her life.
Writing a letter intrigued me. So, I decided to write one, too. But my letter was different. Instead of being angry, it was bittersweet. I was saying goodbye to something very special to me. I cried while I wrote it and when I was done, I knew that I had to do one more thing. I had to share it with the world.
I posted it to social media because I wanted to help other women who were going through the same thing. I wanted to share that it wasn't something shameful and it was my hope that my sorrow could bring healing to another person.
This is what I posted:
I would like to take a moment and get something off my chest (mastectomy humor). It might seem silly, but I feel that I must say goodbye to my boob. So here goes...
Tomorrow, is the day that we will part forever. We have been together since I was 12-years-old. You've been with me for almost all the best times of my life. I dressed you with care on my wedding day and I felt beautiful. And it was on you that I placed two beautiful baby boys to give them nourishment. Thank you for feeding my children; I am forever grateful for all those memories.
I'd rather not see you go, but it's for the best. I will grieve for you. I will not forget you, but I must move on and fight for my life.
After the surgery, I woke up and I was super groggy. I knew that people had been visiting me but it was like snippets of a dream. When I started coming back to myself, I noticed something that I hadn't prepaired for.
My left arm was huge! Like three times it's normal size. I had lymphedema. Because they had removed a lymnoid, my lymphocytic system went crazy. I hadn't prepared for this and it hit me hard. I knew that eventually I would have reconstruction for my breast and in the meantime I would hide it under scarfs. But how do you hide your arm? Was this permanent? I was devastated.
And then came my hero.
My husband snuck in CBD oil a few hours after my surgery and it was like magic. My arm was the normal size within 24 hours. I continued to take it during my recovery from surgery and I healed so quickly. My two drainage tubes were removed within a week and I was driving my 6-year-old to school. A few days later, I was carrying my 1-and-a-half-year-old. It was amazing! I was being called Wolverine (Marvel comic character with increadible healing ability).
Even with all the fast healing that I experienced, there were some difficult times. I was fine with losing my breast as long as I didn't have to look at it. For the first few showers, I wouldn't look down, only touching my chest as necessary to clean it.
One day, I finally looked and I was amazed. It wasn't what I expected. Yes, there was a large scar that that started under my armpit and continued near to the center of my chest. But, it was careful and thoughtfully done — a testament to the surgeon's care and understanding of how this kind of surgery affects a patient. I didn't look like my usual self, but I wasn't a Frankenstein either. I was a cancer patient doing what was necessary to save her life.
After two months of healing, I was to begin a new chapter… chemotherapy.
(To be continued)