End of May

Well ending the month of May gives me much pause for reflection.

I began the month on May 1st with being Anointed by Fr. Dave before surgery on May 4th.  My daughter flew home to be with me for surgery.  I remember being in the pre-op area, putting on the gown and looking at my chest for the last time, waiting for the IV insertion that took two different people to get placed, and then the walk to the operating room.  As they directed me to sit on the table, I looked around and realized how large the room was and so sterile and white. It seemed cold too. This room would begin my journey as a different person, a breast cancer survivor, a woman with a mastectomy, a woman who will soon lose her hair with chemo. I had yet to meet my oncologist, so I forced myself to look only at this procedure and go day at a time.  As I followed their instructions to lay on the table, reach out my right arm on an extension of the table that had yellow bumpy foam covering it! They connected the IV to someone at the head of the table. Then they asked me to reach out my left arm onto a similar extension, as I looked passed my arm, I knew numbness,fatigue and pain would live in that arm for weeks and months to come. I said, to no one in particular and to anyone who could hear, that I was praying for them. And I began to silently pray to Jesus and all those loved ones that I felt were watching over me as I floated off to anesthesia land.

Then my sister and niece brought Gianna, pictured here, who brightened my first week of recovery! They stayed with me, helped in so many ways and made me laugh every day! It was just what I needed.

Family brought meals, friends stopped by, cards poured in. As I relax and recover, I look forward to the mail and the cards that arrive! My sister in law who is a great cook and loves to try new recipes is working her way through Betty Crockers Cancer Cookbook through chemo with me. A fantastic culinary weekly experience!

The month was filled with Doctors visit, echocardiogram, blood work, and calls from the U of C billing office to talk about payment plans already.  It’s gonna be a long year.

But then the wait began. Loneliness begins to creep in as the minutes turn to days which turn to weeks.  The waiting is filled with reading, personal scripture study, email, surfing the web, praying, waiting…the pain mess bring on a fuzzy mind, so I am trying hard to limit those.

The final drain is my biggest challenge right now.  I know there was a lot of work on my lymph nodes and they take a lot of time to heal (the numbness may be apart of my life forever), but my spirits are good, I feel strong and am wanting to return to work.  But again the doctor tells me to stay put, in bed, no activity until the drain comes out.

Now the kicker is…the drain comes out next Tuesday whether or not it’s still draining, we have to move on to chemo. We already postponed the May 31st chemo because of the drain, June 7 is chemo without the drain. If it is still draining and my body begins to collect the fluid, it can cause a seroma, meaning they will have to drain the fluid with a needle to avoid infection.  These are things I am strongly praying I do not have to deal with.

My focus is on chemo and fighting any cancer cells that haven taken up residency in my body. I am listening to the doctor and slinging my arm, so that the draining slows naturally and the good Lord blesses me with no seroma or infection.

As I typed the opening sentence of that last paragraph, I think about all my years as a property manager. The worse part of my job was evicting someone for non-payment of rent. I have had to go through that process with residential units and businesses. It’s horrible, I always tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and work with them, but it weighed heavy on me, even when I knew I did everything I could to help.  But this is different these cancer cells were never welcomed in, they are trying to claim squatters rights and I’m fighting with all my might! I’m evicting them from my body!

So to close out May, my oncologist, Phil Hoffman, MD, set the course for my next year. We three rounds of different chemo combinations and radiation, June begins the battle of my life.

Maybe that’s why they want you to rest so much, they know what’s ahead!

Grace embraced: all the calls, cards, texts, emails, gifts, meals and kindness that embraces me every day. 

Faith is not for overcoming obstacles; it is for experiencing them all the way through! Daily Contemplation May 19, 2012