Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How to Help a Friend Facing Breast Cancer

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

Throughout this journey, from the time I was diagnosed until today, I have received many kinds of support from many people. I have not only received support from friends and family but also acquaintances, support group leaders and members and even strangers.  

I have never been a "needy" person. I learned to cope mostly by myself from a young age (relying mainly on myself and God). This is partly in response to life circumstances, being disappointed by others inability to help, and party due to my lack of courage to ask for help.

My experience with breast cancer has forced me to ask for help with certain things. Additionally, my willingness to share my story has resulted in many people reaching out to help me without my asking. It was these unprompted offers that have meant the most.

When people are faced with a person in need - any need - many do not know what to say or do, so they do nothing. I am here to tell you that saying or doing nothing is the worst thing a person can do. There have been times throughout this journey that I felt like no one cared. These were times when no one was saying or doing anything. It is a lonely journey at times. These were the times I relied most on God. So even in these lonely times, there was a gift - a gift of hope, a gift of joy, and a gift of remembering who loves me unconditionally, throughout all circumstances. However, without fail, whenever I started to feel (once again) that it was just me and God, someone came through for me.

Here are some things that you can do for someone facing breast cancer (or any surgery, illness or hardship, for that matter):
  • Send a text or card to say "I'm thinking of you" or "How are you doing?" or "when is your next surgery/treatment/test/appointment?" A lot of words are not necessary. Just knowing someone is thinking of you, praying for you or willing to help means more than you know. - I received several cards and continue to receive meaningful texts.
  • Offer to bring a meal or send a gift card for a restaurant. - Many meals were provided after my first surgery so I could focus on healing.
  • Offer child care, especially after surgery - countless friends have taken my kids for appointments, support groups, or just to give me a break. Additionally, two of my sisters came for a week each just to be there to drive my kids to activities, do morning routines, play, do bedtimes, baths or anything I did not feel up to doing.
  • Buy a practical gift related to the treatment such as comfy pajamas for recovery or self-care items - One of my most thoughtful gifts was a spa basket I received after my diagnosis. My friend met me at preschool pick up and brought me a coffee and a basket filled with bath salts, a candle, lavender infused socks, a spa mask, and lavender soap.
  • Offer to help with personal care after surgery. - After my mastectomy I had three women come to help me with my drains. I also had 4 people signed up to help me wash my hair (help I did not end up needing).
  • Offer to help with practical things: cleaning, laundry, driving kids to activities, school drop off or pick up - On bad days I did have people pick my kids up from school. I also had offers for cleaning and laundry I did not need to utilize. 
  • Visit - I had a plethora of visitors the first few days after my surgery. A few brought me a special lunch. One brought me a book. One brought fruit for my kids. A few brought me a coffee. 
  • Send a "downtime" gift for recovery - One friend sent me a movie gift card to download movies to watch during recovery.
  • Send a treat - three of my old roommates got together and baked cookies for me and my kids and sent them to me from many states away. In addition to the cookies, they included little gifts for my kids, downtime activities for me (adult coloring books), spa items, etc. 
  • Listen. Don't underestimate the power of an ear. Openness to hear the challenges (and victories) means a lot - there are a few friends and sisters I could text or call to cry or vent when something unexpected happened, I was frustrated with the process or celebrating a victory.
  • Laugh with them. A person facing breast cancer treatment doesn't want to focus on it 24/7. Time to cut loose, have fun and laugh is a must. I have a few friends, and my sisters when they visited, who I could go out for a gooey dessert, go to a movie, or laugh with. Having fun is a must. My kids helped with that every day, too. Kids are HILARIOUS. I can't believe how many jokes I sent to people about my boobs! I also have one very hilarious fellow support group member who can always make me laugh. She is also one person who consistently checks on me!
  • Anything else that you can think of. Think about the particular person you want to help. Think about how they are wired. Do something that fits them! - My MOPS group took it upon themselves to create a list of MANY things they were willing to do and had the steering team pass it around. It was so very generous - too generous. I did not need help with many of the things they volunteered for, but I was so touched by their generosity.
None of this is easy. All of it is a risk. But it is a risk worth taking, It might seem scary or vulnerable, and it can be. In the end, though, the result is much more significant than you could ever imagine! 

In two weeks I am having my reconstructive surgery with fat grafting (July 12). Looking back on how much has already been done for me, I don't feel worthy to receive another thing from anyone. It is SO difficult to ask. Yet, I have asked for what I need, and I would like to thank everyone for all of the help and kindness. I could not and can not get through this without all of the support. I am more than grateful! 

One of my favorite things is to help others. I look for opportunities to serve and when I recognize a need I can fill (I know I miss a lot of them), I see it as a blessing and a way to show love to others. Both serving and being served is a blessing. The latter has been very difficult for me in many ways. This season of life has allowed me to let go of my self-sufficiency enough to accept the blessing of being served and making myself vulnerable enough to accept love. I am so grateful for this experience in many areas. This is only one. I pray that I can bless others even a fraction of the extent that I have been blessed. 

Read other posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Meet-Up with ModernWell Founder and 30 Seconds Founder

Last week I had the opportunity to meet two amazing self-driven professional ladies at a very Zen work/relax/renew location, ModernWell!! The Founder of Elisa All Schmitz sent me a message saying she wanted to meet me IRL because she was going to be in Minneapolis for business, and she knew I was from Minnesota. I have been posting tips on the website since December and I really love it. It works like this: You create a profile, submit tips between 400-1200 words, wait for it to go through editing (which happens pretty fast, between 1 and 5 days), and then you are notified via e-mail when it is up on the website. There are many categories or "channels" such as Mom, Dad, Food, Health, Beauty, and Travel. Every time a tip is published you earn time to redeem for rewards in the "store". You can also earn "time" by sharing posts and commenting! It adds up fairly quickly. I love that currency, because as we all know "Time is Money!" I have already earned almost 45 minutes to spend, plus I won a $50 Amazon gift card by having the best tip on the Beauty Channel in April!!! They have contests every month to earn $50 Amazon gift cards and other fun giveaways. In May they are giving away Julie Burton's book: The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother's Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being. Elisa is very involved with her contributors, so I felt like I already knew her. She comments and shares contributors tips, and I already have 18 tips, so I know her fairly well!! Therefore, I was thrilled to get the chance to meet her and I jumped at the chance to make the 70-mile trip!

Elisa and I made this fun video about me and my involvement in 30 Seconds:

Little did I know, I would also be meeting Julie Burton, Author, wellness expert, and founder of ModernWell, a cooperative workspace for women with a relaxing wellness and nutrition element to it! This space is amazing! Going to work usually is not fun, but I am betting that anyone who chooses to buy a membership to work in this space is thrilled to go to work!!!

The ModernWell Website describes ModernWell as:

An Inspired Co-Opportunity for Women

Whether you want to meet a friend, colleague, or client for a cup of coffee or tea; schedule a board meeting; listen to an inspiring speaker; or simply want to get out of your house or office to work on the novel you’ve always wanted to write or sit by the fire and read the book that has been on your nightstand for months, ModernWell is your go-to oasis. Featuring open seating and private workspaces, wi-fi, coffee, tea, healthy food, private conference and consult rooms, yoga and ongoing enrichment classes, ModernWell is a space where women will be celebrated and supported both professionally and personally. Fostering a kind and inclusive community, we are unaffiliated with any religion or political party, welcoming all who believe in the power of women supporting women.

As if that isn't amazing enough, they also have amazing furniture, decor, amazing people and just a very Zen feeling to the place! Elisa bought me lunch there also. They get the food from a local juice shop called TRUCE. They have delicious salads, healthy bars, and juices. The salads were superb!! Julie is very nice, friendly, and helpful. She is there, with the clients, not behind the scenes. She takes time to get to know them and make them feel very at home! I had such a good time with these two beautiful ladies!! I feel very blessed!

Julie also did a video with Elisa, including a tour!!!  Check it out!!!

If you are looking for a workspace in the Minneapolis MN area please visit the ModernWell Website to check it out!

If you want to start publishing tips on 30 Seconds Website please visit their page and create a profile!!

Image result for logo
   Making Life Better in #30Seconds

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

Recently, I was feeling quite isolated and alone on this journey and I realized why. In the beginning, when I started to tell people about my diagnosis and again after surgery, I received so much support. I received a lot of cards, texts, meals and practical help. Now that it has been almost two and a half months since my mastectomy, I am getting less and less support. When something is new, people rally. When a need is practical and immediate, people show up in big ways. Later, even when a need is still there, especially if it is less obvious, people wane in their support. This is no one's fault. I have been guilty of the same, I am sure. It is still hard, nonetheless. This is making me concerned about being able to get help after my next surgery. Reconstruction will probably be less involved for recovery but given I will be having fat grafting on several areas I know I will need some help. 

Another thing that has been hard, though I didn't allow myself to feel it or admit it in the beginning, is doing this without so many people that have been there for me in the past but are no longer a part of my life. Over the past several years I had a lot of big things happen and had some major emotional support from specific people I thought would always be around. Whether through death, miles or a decision by them (not me) not to be a part of my life, they are no longer there for me. I miss them dearly. I have had to find new people to support me (which has happened, only by the grace of God and this has been one of the biggest blessings on this journey). This too has been hard for me. 

The hardest part of this whole journey, though, has been and continues to be the waiting. I feel like waiting for things started the day of my mammogram that led to the biopsy (October 26, 2017) and has only continued to be a theme.

Here is the waiting I have already endured in between each step (chronologically):
  • Waiting for the biopsy (1 week)
  • Waiting for biopsy results (1 week)
  • Waiting for an appointment with the surgical oncologist (6 days)
  • Waiting for an additional mammogram (15 days)
  • Waiting for the core biopsy (15 days)
  • Waiting for biopsy results - again (5 days)
  • Waiting for the pre-surgery appointment (3 weeks)
  • Waiting for second opinion appointment (6 days)
  • Waiting for surgery (6 weeks)
  • Waiting at every appointment (very frequent visits) sometimes up to 2 hours!
Now for more waiting. Reconstruction with fat grafting is scheduled for July 12, tentatively. That means over two more months of waiting for this next surgery - 11 1/2 weeks of waiting since my last appointment (April 23) and almost 5 months total from my mastectomy surgery. This is pretty amazing, considering I thought I would have reconstruction at the beginning of April, about a month after mastectomy. After that, I will have more waiting for a possible third reconstructive surgery for minor adjustments.

An interesting thing happened to me regarding the waiting. At first, I just wanted to be done. I still do, but my perspective has changed. Initially, directly after surgery, I was hoping that I could get reconstruction early, about a month after my mastectomy (usually it is 8-12 weeks). The plastic surgeon looked into it and it was possible. I was a good candidate because I was healing so well. However, by the time I got my second tissue expander fill, it was almost May. I am traveling on June 9. The plastic surgeon thought it would be best to wait since surgery would only be 4-6 weeks before travel if I opted for earlier. He would not want me to still be healing on vacation. I decided to trust his judgment and have the implant and fat grafting surgery after vacation instead of before. I decided that what matters most is the long-term result, not my short-term discomfort and impatience. I am sure that in the long term I will be happy I waited. This perspective has not made the waiting easy, but it has made it easier! Waiting has also helped me grow in many areas:
  • Patience has never been a virtue of mine. When something needs to be done, it needs to be done NOW. This has helped me see that my timeline is not the only timeline and patience is, indeed, a virtue. I have learned to be more patient in general, more patient with others, and more patient with myself. It is much more peaceful to be patient than on edge!
  • I have been reminded that much is out of my control. It's not all about me and what I want. If it helps me grow, if it serves a higher purpose, that is more important. I am reminded again and again of  Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. I know that God knows more than I do and I trust that he knows what he is doing. He will use this and anything else I face for good.
  • Finally, I have been able to learn to trust others. My doctor (that he knows what he is doing), friends and supporters (to be vulnerable and talk to them - I'm not good at vulnerability), and God (to trust that he is watching over me, protecting me, leading me in my decisions and working all of it for good)! Only God can give me the strength to carry on in the waiting!

Read other posts in this series:

Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More Decisions

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

I am five weeks post surgery. My muscles are getting less tight and I have 100% mobility. I am getting back to my daily routine, slowly but surely, and it has been easier in many ways than I expected. I am still not "caught up" on everything I got behind on, and did absolutely nothing I had on my list to do while I was resting and healing, but I can accept that.

I had another doctor appointment with my plastic surgeon Monday. I went in for my first fill in my tissue expanders. The fill was fine. Everything is totally numb so didn't feel anything. I have a high pain tolerance, but I felt fine all day. I was a little worried because I have heard it can cause pain to get the fills. I have one more fill on April 23, then I should be ready for the next surgery. One thing I did not expect is that there is a sloshing sound when I go down stairs or move quickly! It is the saline they use to expand moving around!

I did get some answers regarding the ADM reaction. It turns out I can do fills and surgery as soon as I can even if the RBS doesn't resolve. I was a little pink at the appointment and he said it looked fine. Today it still looks mostly the same, so I am praying that the redness does not return. If the redness comes back I need to call to get refills on prednisone and antibiotics. He wanted to just do antibiotics but since I didn't have side effects to prednisone I would take that too. He said he is almost certain my RBS is an ADM reaction but the reason for antibiotics is because whenever there is redness they can't rule out infection so it's precautionary. There isn't necessarily a hot to the touch feeling or fever with a breast infection. So whenever there is redness they assume it could be an infection so they treat for both infection and RBS. Also, it will resolve. No one has it after expanders are removed and implants are placed. He says there isn't enough research and a lot of unknowns about RBS so there isn't a known cause or standard of care set. He thinks it's a combination of ADM reaction and body's response to expanders.   

Where my decisions come in are around reconstruction timing. I won't be able to complete construction before our trip in June. I'm a little annoyed about having to make more decisions. I thought I was done making decisions!

I have two options: 
  1. Do the second surgery without fat grafting soon and do a third surgery for fat grafting (I need to be bound for 3 weeks on places he does liposuction following surgery. He uses liposuction for fat harvesting). 
  2. Wait for any reconstruction until after my trip (implants and fat grafting).  The doctor said many people want a third surgery for fat grafting anyway, even if it was done on the second surgery. I am not sure what to do but he said we will play it by ear. Hopefully, we can come up with a plan at my next appointment on April 23.  
The fact that RBS always resolves after expanders are removed is a case for getting the implant surgery soon and the fat grafting later. If the redness returns, this seems like the best option.  

As I was thinking about this and getting frustrated, once again, I reminded myself that no matter the timeline, this is temporary. At some point, this will be over. That gives me a peace about it. It reminded me, also, that everything in this life is temporary. None of it is a permanent problem. I praise the Lord in these times that is the case, for I know what my future brings. In the end, there will be no suffering or hardship. I can get through anything knowing the promises I have been given!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, 
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! 
For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
James 4:14

Read more posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Healing Process - Good News/Bad News

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

This week was filled with good news and bad news. It is bittersweet and so difficult to focus on the good news when bad comes along with it, but I am learning. I realized today, from a comment from a friend to me, that this is NOT the most difficult thing I have been through in my life, nor will it be the worst, likely. This in itself is both good and bad news! It is pretty laughable that a thing that would be the worst for many people is not the worst to me. I was also called strong. I am not strong or brave. I have just accepted that this is life. And if I am honest I have probably stopped caring and become hardened to some extent. A difficult life can do that.

Good News 

This week on Wednesday I went to my doctor appointment (3 weeks post surgery). I was given the go-ahead to quit my antibiotics because the redness I was experiencing had subsided. The other good news is I have 100% mobility, which is amazing! This is not without pain/stretching. I need to continue exercises 2-3 times a day for 4-6 mos, but I am told that the stretching feeling will subside over time if I stick to the exercises.

Bad News

My sister left on Monday, which has been a challenge, trying to suddenly go back to doing everything I always did. It was a pretty easy week, thankfully, but overwhelming to get back to a routine I did not have to do for over two weeks. 
I had one whole day of no medications and then the reaction I was having earlier (at 2 weeks) returned! Thursday my left side was all pink again, worse than the first time. I called the doctor and he said to restart refills of prednisone and both antibiotics. This was very discouraging. 
I have what is called Red Breast Syndrome (RBS), a recently identified clinical entity characterized by non-infectious erythema associated with the use of acellular dermal matrix (ADM) after post-mastectomy reconstruction. ADM (AlloDerm®) is created from donated human skin. A process removes all of the immune cells from the donated skin while retaining all of the important biochemical and structural components. This is supposed to prevent rejection of the material, which is more common with other materials used for reconstruction.

I immediately became discouraged and began to regret my decision to do the left side (the unaffected side). If I knew that this reaction would resolve, this would be another story. I do not know that so am concerned about what happens if it doesn't. I have been encouraged by my nurse sister, my doctor and a nurse practitioner friend that it usually does resolve, so I hope that this the case. Otherwise, we are back to square one with reconstruction plans. This is also probably delaying the completion of reconstruction because of waiting for this to clear up.

In the short term, this is upsetting because I was planning to feel good this week for my kids' spring break. I was hoping to do fun things and now I am going to feel sick from medications the entire time instead. Additionally, my husband will be gone Tuesday-Thursday, which means I will literally be handling things alone for those days. 

Overall, I am thankful that I am doing better than I ever expected at three weeks. I just didn't see this coming. I sent an update to my friend yesterday and she suggested Psalm 46. I have just begun to pray the Psalms so this was appropriate.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah
4 [There is] a river- its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High.
5 God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns.
6 Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice.
7 The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
8Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots.
10 "Stop [your fighting]-and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth."
11 The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
I am sure we all have heard "Be Still and Know that I am God". In this translation, it says "Stop your fighting and know that I am God". I read this as stop fighting against my life circumstances, or even God's will itself, and feeling discouraged. God knows what he is doing.

This blog provides more insight into Ps 46, including more on the translation of Ps 46:10.
How Do We Rest in God?

This song is a great reminder that my help comes from the Lord and expresses many of the themes of Ps 46: Helper, Rest, Rescue 

Read Other Posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Healing Process - The First Two Weeks

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. 
Please join us on her journey!

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since my surgery and I am happy to say, healing has been going extremely well. It has not been without its challenges and bumps, but I have been blessed to have a lot of support from family and friends.

Feb 28-March 4 were my hardest days. I had a lot of pain and was extremely tired. The bandages and drains bothered me immensely.  These days I was grateful for my husband who brought me meals and let me rest, as well as 6 friends who came to visit or took my kids for some respite.

March 5-11 I went off the prescription pain meds, thankfully, and continued to make progress with pain and mobility. One of my sisters was here to help. She is also a nurse so she knew to tell me to rest and gave advice as I needed it regarding everything under the sun regarding healing! She did all of the laundry, dishes and child care and meals were provided by friends through a meal train. I was out of bed most of the day most days and rested in the afternoon and at night. I was able to spend time with my family without overdoing it and for that, I am eternally grateful!

March 6 I had two of my four drains removed and my bandages/tape removed. That was such a relief!  I was also told that I will most likely get to complete reconstruction in about a month instead of 3-4! After my appointment, I was able to take a shower, just 6 days after surgery.  Keeping the drains dry was a challenge, and quite comical (wrapped in saran wrap)! I even washed my own hair, something I did not think I would be able to do for a few more weeks.

March 10 I went to the zoo with my kids, husband, and sister. I think the fresh air and walking around did me a lot of good.

March 11 Another sister arrived and the three of us went to lunch and a movie while my husband watched the kids! Sister time was good for me too. My first sister left in the evening and my other sister stayed. She, too, is doing almost all of the "work" for my kids and my home!

I am honestly probably mobile enough (though very tired and still shouldn't be doing heavy lifting) that I could have done this week without my sister if I had to. However, her being here is helping me heal all the faster and I am still getting meals which is making it easier on all of us.

Today (March 13) I went to see my surgical oncologist, plastic/reconstructive surgeon, and the physical therapist. 

My first doctor reported that the pathology report is clear, which means a minuscule risk of recurrence of around 2-3%. Recurrence after mastectomy is not common, though it can happen given around 5-10% of breast tissue remains, especially with skin and nipple sparing mastectomy.  

For my visit with the plastic surgeon, I had the steri strips and the remaining two drains removed which was so awesome, considering they can be in for up to 4 weeks, which I was expecting. The doctors are all very impressed with my healing. 

I was given exercises to do three times a day starting in a couple of days (once drain sites are healed), and am expected to have full mobility in about 2 weeks.

Here is the challenge now: I have a possible complication which requires (as a precaution mostly) 5 days of a steroid (3x a day) and another antibiotic (2x a day) for 10 days (on top of the 3x daily one I am taking already and have been since my surgery). I was also given instruction for the scar healing under my arms. This requires 2x daily massage with Mederma and silicone bandages. 

So, I need to figure out how, on top of taking care of 3 kids, to take 3 different medications on a schedule which won't upset my stomach (with food), do 3x daily exercise and 2x daily scar care. It seems daunting, especially since I am not a schedule person! I find it difficult to even find time to eat in my "regular" life let alone all of this. And in 6 days I will no longer have help with my kids. Additionally, my son asked to nurse again tonight, since the drains are gone. He thinks I am all better and will have milk again. Heartbreaking!

I haven't been very positive today. I have been more annoyed than anything. This doesn't undo the gratefulness I feel or the many blessing I know that I have in the midst of this. It is not an either/or situation but a both/and one (BOTH annoyed AND grateful simultaneously). I'm so glad I am not doing this alone. I might be a mess. 

And even when my sisters leave, I am still not alone! I am never alone!

Read previous posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Post-Surgery: Let the Healing Begin!

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

Let's get real here for a moment. Having a mastectomy with reconstruction is nothing like getting cosmetic breast augmentation! I promise you no one would go through this voluntarily except maybe for preventive care because they have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. It is a long and difficult process. This first surgery has done a number on me! 

Yesterday was a pretty horrible day! It was very difficult physically and emotionally. I went through so many emotions - anxiety, fear, anger, calm, peace, joy, fatigue, etc. What an experience! After the surgery I was mumbling, incoherent, and my throat hurt very bad from the endotracheal tube that was in during the surgery. I had such extreme fatigue that I was falling asleep while playing tic-tac-toe with my kids!

Today I feel even worse! I feel dizzy, itchy and am seeing double on and off. My whole trunk feels like it's on fire. I have pain all the way from armpit to armpit and down each of my sides armpit to waist, even though I am on pain meds. My throat still hurts from the endotracheal tube. Additionally, I am also coughing up phlegm from it. If I hear one more person say "it's normal" I don't know what I will do! Additionally, the drains are so gross!

Surgery day:
5:30 Made tea, folded laundry. I felt sick, anxious and sad
6:00 Woke up kids, nursed my son, made breakfast, packed lunches
6:45 Left for the hospital (kids came). It took us an hour to get a there and my daughter was almost late for school 
7:45 Talked to my sister on the phone, cried in the bathroom then checked in
8:15 Went to the surgery waiting area, labs, nurses 
9:00 Sentinal Node injection 
10:00 Back to the room, finished getting ready for surgery, met the nurse, saw doctors
11:00 surgery 
3:00 Woke up in recovery. 

The waiting was the hardest part. Too much time to think! At around 10, my doctors came in to talk to me. My plastic surgeon was way too happy! And he was wearing what looked like a 70's style tracksuit! He told me "you are going to look awesome". Then I got undressed, had an IV started and did some more waiting. The first anesthesia was turned on and I remember being wheeled down the halls and into the OR.  I do not remember them having me count backward and the next thing I knew I was in recovery.  

Although much of my hospital stay was terrible, it was also filled with many blessings! 

  • Many people called or texted before the surgery to see how I was.  Many people were praying.
  • The anesthesia worked so well that I did not have enough time to worry and my time under felt like two minutes. I thought I was still waiting for surgery when I woke up.
  • No cancer cells were found in lymph nodes or on back of nipple.
  • I have had no complications thus far.
  • My kids visited me in the evening and were so sweet and gentle.  We played hangman and tic tac toe and ate chocolate. My 8-year-old girl was so sad to leave and sobbed on my lap.  
  • My boy did not ask to nurse. In fact, my 5 year old asked him and he said "No. No milk, there's only medicine in there".
  • I was not nauseous after the surgery.
  • I was protected and watched over all the while.
The healing has begun!  God is the ultimate Healer!

Read other posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?