it’s about dang time

Hey dear ones,

I had a great surgery. I kinda thought that having this surgery would make me super sad and ashamed of my body. I’m quite surprised that I don’t feel that way at all. And stop thinking this is the Percocet speaking. I’ve been off that stuff for days. It could be shock speaking. I’ll give you that. But, the morning of my surgery, Brent asked me, “How’s your heart about all this?” And I so appreciated the question! (cough, cough, Men…ask your wives how their heart feels about stuff. Like everyday. We have lots of feels.) I told him that in my mind, it had already happened. In fact, when I wrote you the details about the surgery, I really meant it when I told you I’d made peace with it. It took six months to grieve and process on the front end. Anticipation was the worst part. It’s consistently been the worst part of any of this crazy cancer life. It makes me think of all the times God sent his angels to announce something and the first thing he had them address was fear. Do not be afraid! He’s knows that’s what we do. We freak out about a lot of stuff that hasn’t happened. But, let me go back and say, I did have to grieve and cry tears about what happened to my body. I just haven’t had to do it on this side of surgery. Maybe I’ll cry later. Maybe I have a thing for battle scars. 

Moving along to the actually more important and definitely more complicated stuff: the actual Cancer. The reason I didn’t give an update right away was because I was waiting to discuss my pathology report with my oncologist. Oh, AND MY SON WAS IN THE HOSPITAL THIS PAST WEEKEND. Not even kidding you. In fact, we were back in the ER with him Tuesday night and so we’ve got that stuff to deal with. I don’t plan to give anymore details about him going forward because it’s his life. We aren’t a reality tv show. They don’t want me talking about them too much and I totally get it. The last word I’ll say on this whole ER business is that I thought my cancer immunized the rest of my family from junk like this. Silly, irrational, Cancypants…

See how I said “moving along” and then didn’t? Welcome to me. Let’s keep dancing, shall we?

Good news:

  • Having a mastectomy was the absolute right decision. While the chemo worked beautifully to shrink the aggressive cancer tumor, I had a lawt of non-invasive cancer in my breast. Non-invasive ductal breast cancer is also called DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). 
  • I didn’t have any cancer in my left side. Good to know. No regrets getting rid of it. I’m all for matchy, matchy. But I totally understand why some women would rather keep the good one. I’m SO not judgy about these things. I REALLY want to write a post about this some time. I did have a choice, lots of choices actually.
  • My breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon were happy with how well things went. There are details that are above my head, but there are also some like, “your skin was easy to work with” that I can appreciate. So two thumbs up–make that four thumbs up–from my surgical team.
  • My lymph node situation is not the greatest, but here’s the good: Ten lymph nodes came out. Nine had cancer in them. It’s good to get cancer out.

The not great news

  • Having nine lymph nodes with cancer in them would indicate that the other lymph nodes that they did not take out (which we knew had cancer, but are too risky to pluck out) also did not respond to chemotherapy like we’d hoped. 
  • While radiation has always been on the table for treatment, it is without question, something I’ll be doing for the first part of 2016. woo hoo. Radiation will be every week day for 33 days. That’s six and half weeks starting somewhere around late January to early February. 
  • Radiation also is going to be super special to my chest wall as one of my clear margins was a mere .1 centimeter. That’s not our favorite size for a clear margin. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, don’t sweat it. Per usual, I add some deets for us cancer nerds.
  • But wait, there’s more! We gotta shut down my estrogen. This is hard for me. In order to hopefully be around for many more years, I gotta make my body act like an older lady. The meds involved will have side effects of joint aches and so on and so forth and I’m not ready to talk about all of it here. But, this part is sad. I feel like I’m trading in the last of my youth for (hopefully) more years of life. But, I’ve been learning that youth is slightly overrated. So, I’m sure I’ll be learning about all the silver linings and shit like that, but now you know how I feel about it today. (And I’m sorry to my non-cussing friends, but I had to. Because you need to know that sometimes I’m Debby Downer and sometimes I’m Pollyanna. It’s just how it goes.)

The “is there a category for that?” news:

  • As it turns out I’m a fantastic candidate for a clinical trial that is opening very soon. My cancer/treatment/response profile fits and that makes me feel rill spacial. (You have to say it that way.) The only catch is that it is randomized and I could be receiving placebo. Sentences like that (and so many others these past six months) have led me to the same impossible question: How did I get here

I ask that a lot. When I see my reflection, or when I take note that cancer literature has overtaken the house, or when I remember how many hours I used to spend on the phone tending to someone else’s problems because I wasn’t the one with the worst case scenario*, I pause and wonder How did I get here?

Also, I look at the prayer quilt my church ladies made me, and the cards you all have sent, and the flowers on every horizontal surface, and the wreaths on my front and back doors (hung by the same two friends who cleaned up my back yard so that it wouldn’t look so…unsavory), I reflect on the week my aunt gave up to come here and take care of us, I look at my (usually) healthy kids, my helpful husband, my loving friends and family, my Christmas tree, my newly refinished furniture (finished just in time before surgery!), the bounty in my fridge, my kind and helpful medical staff and I think…Wow. Life is good. I am so glad to live in 2015, in the USA…even in Minnesota. Being here isn’t so bad.


*By the way, I don’t actually think I’m the one with the worst case scenario. I think we all take our turn.

    7 thoughts on “it’s about dang time

    1. Reading your post makes me think of the very Christmassy verse – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Your faith and insights are just chock full of the grace of humor and compassion, but your humility and openness always keep a hold on truth. The Spirit of Jesus Christ – the Word – dwells among us in you richly (as he does in us all). A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you and your family, from the Boswells.


    2. The silence is broken. I love you.

      Remember how I told you about our future Christmases in Naples? When we stand there at our Christmas trees, with our life-altered bodies, we won’t give a shiiiit about who went through menopause first*. We’ll just be so thankful we still have bodies left to reflect and remember. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize…more years together…more memories….

      *this is not a minimalizing of how you feel *now*. Only a projection of joy to come.

      Promise me we’ll walk the beach in bikinis with the German ladies (I’ll match them roll for roll). You’re still gonna look better than me. 😉


    3. Hey, so good to hear from you! Your writing is always so real. It’s truth and life and pain and joy. It’s amazing. I’m sorry about Avery being ill. I think it’s more stressful when our kids are sick. I understand the grieving part. No, not the cancer but the idea of being less female. My complete hysterectomy and 26 year old induced menopause was difficult. But it wasn’t the end if the world. I have to say though that I have rarely been cold after I had no estrogen. So that could be a real plus living in “tinysota”! I’m grateful for the people you have in your life and that you are my sister. For the excellent surgeons, for your Christian faith, for the kind Mom you are, and for your adoring husband and 4 beautiful children God blessed you with. So 2016 comes with radiation but you’ll never be alone. Praying for Avery and the rest of y’all…that your Christmas will be full of joy and peace.


    4. It’s so good to hear you’re happy with your surgery. Peace is best and you have some, woohoo! You won’t be alone in the radiation journey, during the same time I’ll be doing it too do know you have a partner in crime from PA. Thinking of you often, so glad to see your update! Be well!


    5. I so appreciate your candor, your heart! Thank you! And know you are often in our thoughts and prayers. May your Christmas be truly special and blessed.


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