Today is like a birthday of sorts. I’ve been cancer free for one year. Last June first I was lying in a hospital bed wondering if I’d made the right decision. First of all, I was in a lot of pain. Of course, I see myself as one of those people with a high tolerance for things as petty as pain. I remember smiling at the nurses and telling my surgeon, “I’m good. No, I don’t need anything for pain.” I was scared though. I’d opted to have bilateral mastectomies and start immediate reconstruction. I don’t think immediate quite describes the five months of what was to come with the expanders being filled weekly. Had I made the right decision?
Anyway, I had my bestie with me until she had to leave to come back to attend school in the evening. Dad was there as support for me and my mom, and he as always is the best chauffeur ever. He stayed the night at a hotel nearby. Mom, my other best friend was there, the whole time. I think she knew I was trying to be brave, but she didn’t push me to say much. I remember she slept on the most uncomfortable pullout furniture on the planet that night. She held my hand. She made sure I had my chapstick and my Pink! socks. She even got up at 3 am and walked the halls with me after the bed got too uncomfortable.
Looking back over the last year, I know I made the best decision. I read every article I could get my hands on about recurrence of ductal carcinoma, mastectomy vs. lumpectomy and radiation. I thought long and hard about women I knew who had walked the breast cancer path before me. I have a friend who was diagnosed with the same kind of cancer at the same age I was, but her’s came back in less than 10 years. The first time she had breast cancer, it was lumpectomy and radiation for treatment. That was the recommended course. Conservative. The second go around radiation isn’t an option. You can only use it once on any given area. The body can’t take it a second time. Chemo and mastectomy were her only options the second go around. My friend is an active, life loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She didn’t need this slowing her down, but she made it through it. When I was deciding how best to proceed with treatment options I thought about Cole and Emma. My kids are young, and they were the deciding factor for me being aggressive with my treatment choices. I don’t want to miss a moment of their lives. Graduations, college days, first jobs, marriage, being a grandma, and watching their lives unfold is what I opted for. Whatever direction my kids chose I want to be there and be a part of it.
Yeah, I have scars. It’s cool though. They tell my story. It’s the kind that has a happy ending. My 90-year-old self will look back at my decision and say, “Well done darling. You kicked cancer’s ass to the curb.”
Daisies, Coffee, and Chocolates,