What a day, weekend, month, and year it’s been. Tomorrow is a major milestone, when I have the biggest surgery of my life, and I leave my care to two female surgeons, Linda Smith and Gladys Tsao-Wu. I will remember July 30 for the rest of my life.
Sometimes (OK, a lot of time) I stumble through life, being a mom, going to work, sitting through soccer or football games, making dinner, reading, watching movies, making appointments, traveling here and there, and generally doing the things that fill up my weeks and years without putting much thought into it. This surgery has required me to put a lot of thought into it and make a lot of choices. I am pretty calm considering what a big deal it is. I think that’s because many of these decisions have been made and I’ve come to understand what’s within my control and what’s not within my control.
First of all, the cancer and the way it behaves are not within my control. I had no idea I had cancer a year ago, and now it’s taken up residence in body. I have put my body through the paces (chemo, surgery, and radiation to come) trying to get rid of it, shrink it, and control it. It’s still not under control. The surgeon will remove it, and it will not be completely gone. Cells will remain and will be poised for a big comeback. So all I can do is work hard to eradicate it now, hope, and wait.
Secondly, the advancements in cancer treatment are not within my control. I get what I get There are no miracle cures out there, but there may be some on the horizon. I can’t get wistful and think, “If only I had cancer ten years from now.” There will NEVER be a good time to get cancer. As I’ve said before, I feel fortunate to have it now, when I am young (ha!) and strong enough to fight it and my attitude is in the right place. Ten years from now I might not be this strong. Today we are seeing major improvements in what docs know about surgical techniques, managing side effects of chemo, targeting radiation to the correct spot without a lot of collateral damage, and many others. I am glad I didn’t get cancer ten years ago . . . again, out of my control.
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO CONTINUE TO DONATE TO CANCER RESEARCH. YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
There are other things that are out of my control, but frankly if I think about them it makes me pretty sad. I can’t control the fact that my children’s father and grandmother died of cancer. If anything happens to me, my children will be orphans. I just hope that it’s later rather than sooner. I can’t control the fact that my children may get cancer at some point in their lives. We are mortal and imperfect. That is life.
What’s within my control? My choice of doctors – and I think I have good ones. My choice of treatments, to some extent. I chose to have my chemo before surgery, and that was a good choice. My surgeon says it shrinks the blood vessels as well as the tumors, and so the surgery isn’t such a bloody mess. (aaaaaackkk). I may have some choices about radiation treatment, depending on what the tumors look like after surgery and biopsy. I also have a few choices about reconstruction, none of them really good, but it sure beats having cancer boobs!
I can’t express enough gratitude for all the friendship and support I’ve received, and I’d like to think my choice of friends was also within my control. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe you all are just gifts from God and I had no choice in the matter. Thanks for sticking around. I’m going to lean on you more and more after tomorrow.
I have choices about how I live my life from now on. I have put a lot of thought into that. Of course I will always be cautious when it comes to my health, and I know I’ll take better care of myself now. I already do, and it’s been rewarding. I’ve tried to keep a positive outlook, and I’ve begun to plan activities and trips for the fall and winter. That definitely helps my attitude. I have some other things cookin’. You’ll have to read about them in future blogs.
My friend Sandra called today. She listened to me whine and moan for a while. In her strongest voice, she said, “You have no choice. You HAVE to do this.” We cried, and she got me through the darkest moment of my day. And then we laughed so hard until I almost cried again.
Here’s something funny – another thing I have no control over. My eyebrows fell out during chemo, and now they’re growing back. I have eyebrow stubble! I look so goofy! But eyebrows are not important.
It’s late, and I should be getting to bed. I had to do some really important things tonight. You know what I mean, right? I had to give myself a pedicure! My toes look gorgeous. (toes aren't important, either)
Thanks to everyone who called and stopped by. I didn’t get nearly enough done today but it was worth it. My brother-in-law, Ted, came over with his family, and the high point of my day was watching my nephew
Attitude and gratitude are important things. Here's a little bit of mine. This prayer was given to me by a preacher's son and it just makes me feel good to hear it (especially in his voice, which I am imagining right now):
"Dear Heavenly Father, Maker of all things and Mother of all Nature, praise be to Thee!!
LOVE YOU ALL . . . . . .Grace