Monday, October 29, 2012

Three Long Years Ago...


What a difference three years makes. This time three years ago I was bald, pregnant, and living with breast cancer treatments. For Halloween, I painted my 8-month belly as a turkey in honor of the due date of my baby girl. That year's Thanksgiving was especially well observed by my family and friends as we welcomed my baby girl, celebrated her daddy's birthday, were amazed at our survival of a breast cancer diagnosis at 20 weeks pregnant, as well as enjoyed usual Thanksgiving traditions.

Two years ago, I was recovering from an emergency hysterectomy precipitated by an abscess formed during my oophorectomy a month prior. The oophorectomy was a preemptive move to avoid ovarian cancer that so often goes along with BRCA1 breast cancer genes. I also had the honor of being blessed with the gift of the Right to Life of Owensboro's Life Award for my pro-life and pro-woman journey through breast cancer while pregnant. My children were well on their way to charming anyone within distance of the two year old boy and almost one year old girl.

One year ago, I was in a hospital in Houston, TX recovering from my third reconstructive surgery. This third surgery was one of my last steps to completely overcome the obstacle of my journey with breast cancer. I had my modified radical mastectomy when my daughter was about three months old. However, the second surgery, replacement of the expander implants with regular implants, had the unforeseen consequence of causing further pain. In an effort to recover from the pain, I chose to have the implants completely removed and use my own abdominal fat tissue to reconstruct my breasts. The surgery was long, difficult, and painful, but resolved some of the pain issues. Shortly before this surgery, I was again honored. This time the honor came from the Kentucky Cancer Program. Rachel and I were selected to be representatives of the Faces of Cancer photography series.

Five months ago, I had my last surgery (I hope and pray) connected to my breast cancer diagnosis. This last surgery gave (Dr) Adams (back) my first rib. Again, this surgery was a last-ditch effort to resolve the pain that hadn't loosened its grip on me since my mastectomy.  I had finally been diagnosed with something "treatable" instead of chronic idiopathic pain. Although Thoracic Outlet Syndrome isn't truly "curable" it is treatable with surgery, physical therapy, and time.

Just this past week, I had my four month check-up with my oncologist. He gave me an all-clear for another four months. Although no one really thinks I'll be diagnosed with cancer again, these appointments make me very nervous. That same day I also took the opportunity to peek through an open window as the door closes on another aspect of my life. 

In less than a month, my miracle baby will turn three. Time really does fly when you're having fun. Both of my children give me such joy and are so much fun that time with them seems truly fleeting. As my children blur in photographs, so too do the misfortunes that have faced me, my family, and my friends these past three years.

Since my diagnosis that fateful July day, I have tried to live my life as if each day is my last. I praise God for all the wonderful people He surrounded me with through this difficult time. He also gets many thanks for the blessings of my two very healthy (some might even say robust) children. My husband and I know that we are triply blessed to have three sets of very active grandparents to help us care for our babies. We also offer thanks for our joining our lives as one. Above all, each and every day is an opportunity to praise God for the most important gift of all: LIFE!

2 comments:

  1. Hi…I am Katya…I am here to let you know that now there is a way to get breast cancer help. You can connect directly to medical doctors researching to find a cure at curelauncher.com. Also, you can look at different clinical trials recruiting people providing free medical care to those who may not be able to afford it. Please take a look at: http://www.fox8live.com/story/19972069/curelaunchercom-gives-anyone-suffering-with-breast-cancer-instant-access-to-400-clinical-trials-for-treatment-that-can-save-their-life Thank you! Take GOOD care!

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  2. Being male I have obviously never faced quite the same cocktail of problems you did; but as a survivor of cancer whose then eight-year-old is now the man of nearly thirty whom I did not expect to see into adulthood I can only offer you my humble greetings and good wishes and every happiness.

    ReplyDelete

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!