21 Aug Rising To The Surface
March 14, 2015 was the day I found a pea sized lump under my nipple and after having a mammogram and a biopsy, I got the call. I was alone when the Dr called, other than my little kids being home. I took the call in the bathroom to have some privacy. I heard the word, cancer, I felt faint, in shock, I honestly didn’t even know what she said after those words. I tried to listen really carefully but I don’t think I really heard.
There is was, cancer, breast cancer. Me, the Mom of 7 kids, we were in the process of adopting our last child, she was only 14 months at the time, what were they to think? So much swirled in my head, I literally could have laid on the floor of the bathroom for hours, but the kids yelling from the kitchen made me get up and dust myself off. How I did that, I am not even really sure. I know we had ice cream for dinner that night, as I could not even bring myself to do anything other that go through the motions. My husband and parents and 2 of my kids were at a hockey tournament and honestly I didn’t think that I would be getting any results so quickly. I called my Mom and Dad and barely could mumble the words, cancer….they came right home for support.
I think that was the hardest part of cancer. How it affects all those around you. I always say its like a pebble in a pond. The ripples go on and on. If it was just about you, it would be easy. I can handle my emotions, but my kids? How do I comfort them when I didn’t even know I would be ok? The next 2 weeks were a whirlwind, and my mastectomy was done. I was lucky, no lymphnode involvement. But I did have some complications, an infection, my incisicion came open. But mostly my body image was shattered, I was angry, how could this happen to me? I am the Mom of 7 children, many with special needs. I have struggled and been the best person I could be, how could this happen to me? But I have since realized, cancer has no favorites, there is no rhyme or reason to why breast cancer affects some and not others. It cares not about who you are, what good of person you have been, how rich or poor you are. Are you famous? Breast cancer does not care. It had affected me, and I was left to deal with the fall out.
Right before my expander surgery, my Dad unexectantly died. Again, the shock of all of it, being here one day and gone the next, made it really hard to process what was happening. My mind went into survival mode. Take care of my family, my husband, my Mom, me….well I was the last one. During the year of survival, I had 7 surgeries, which included a total hysterectomy due to the affects of Tamoxifen. Again, survival seemed to be the first priority. I didn’t know there was something else I needed to start processing the grief and the grief from losing my breast.
Some days would trigger tears. Some days I would just talk to my Dad. But I began to process the grief, I began to be in touch with what was happening in my body. What my body overcame but most importantly I learned to take care of myself first. This was not selfish, this was self care. My surgeries have ended. My breasts are not perfect. They are scarred and you know what? I don’t mind. It took me so long to be able to accept what my body is. Its not perfect. Its 49 years old. Its cancer free. Its a strong body that can overcome a lot. I love my mornings to myself. I work out every single morning. Its my therapy. My body is strong and I feel good. I am still on tamoxifen for 6 more months, and every single mammogram there will be stress and anxiety. There is always a fear, I don’t think that will ever go away. But I have healed in so many ways. I am proud of how far I have come. The grief? Well the grief will always be there. My Dad was one of my biggest suporters during my cancer journey, he was so positive and always looked on the bright side of everything. When I was at my lowest, he pulled me through, when I was the saddest, he made me feel better. So yes, the grief is always there, it is something you learn to live with, as its a part of your being now. It settles in your bones and becomes a part of you. Some days I wonder why I feel sad, or things just aren’t right, this is grief, I can recoginize this now.
These pictures I dedicate to all the people that pulled me through when I didn’t think I could move on another minute. My husband, my kids, my Mom and Dad, my friends and family that all rallied around when times were tough. Always the people that mean the most will rise to the surface and in my case that certainly happened.