Today is surgery day. I am feeling pretty anxious, but empowered all at the same time. I had one good meltdown the other day and an ugly cry followed that… you know the kind I am talking about! Most days have been pretty good leading up to this day, but some have been a little rocky. I did read that it’s completely normal to feel a little moody and have mixed emotions leading up to the surgery. So phew, I am normal!
The outpouring of support from friends and family has been very encouraging and has helped me get through the ugliness of my emotional roller coaster. Everyone is so sweet and they all offer to help. Most days, I don’t know how to tell them to help. I don’t think we’ll need meals prepared, but who knows…maybe we will! I don’t think that I’ll need rides or tips to the grocery store since my hubby can handle most of that. However, what I do think I’ll need is check-ins, invitations for my kids to join your kids for the next few days, and maybe a Starbucks skinny mocha…just kidding! Not really, but sort of! Oh and some laughs along with some good boob jokes!!
If you haven’t been following of if you are new to @No Happy Accidents then let me give you a quick update. In 2008 I was told that I am a BRCA-2 carrier, which means that I have a gene mutation which significantly increases my risk of breast, ovarian, and a few other cancers. Most doctors recommend the removal of ovaries and a preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction of the breasts. However, we were told to finish having children and then wait a few more years before scheduling any of the major surgeries.
Since that time, we completed our family with the addition of our third child. I regularly had mammograms and breast MRI’s along with ovarian ultrasounds. I was on target to start preventive surgical care in the next few years when a tiny tumor appeared in my last breast MRI. Lucky for me, it was benign and not an issue. However, it caused me to speed up my decision making and start looking at a calendar.
I ended up scheduling a delayed ovarian removal salpingectomy this past April. Everything with that surgery went smoothly, except for my kids. They had a hard time adjusting to my limitations during my recovery. My oldest was nearly beside herself with worry and fairly major anxiety. My other two kids were understanding and helpful after a few days. Needless to say, scheduling this new round of surgeries brought on mixed emotions in my house.
However, we’re doing it…because these breasts are ticking-time-boobs and they need to go! As nervous as I feel right now, it’s nothing compared to what I could feel if I ended up with a breast cancer diagnosis because I procrastinated when I could have done something.
TMI ALERT: So, today is Surgery #1- The medical term is Mammoplasty, but what they are really doing is saving my nipples and “optimizing” my current breast tissue for the second surgery. Surgery #2- Nipple Sparring Double Mastectomy with Reconstruction is set for a month from now. They will remove the tissue from the same incision site and then I will start the process of expanders unless my first surgery yields “best case scenario” results and I can go directly to breast implants. If that doesn’t happen, then Surgery #3 will come in a few months when the surgeon exchanges my expanders for implants.
Implants. Try telling your kids what is happening without really telling them because a) they won’t really understand and b) how do you explain the removal of tissue and the addition of implants!?!?
I went with discreet, limited information for my youngest two kids and full-on honesty for my oldest. I don’t know if my strategy will benefit everyone the way I hope, but I will keep you posted! I know that I’ll need a lot of help from them especially after the second surgery, but this one will be pretty painful, too and I need them to know they can be independent while I recover a bit. I am blessed that my husband was able to take time off of work to be home with us. I am very thankful for that.
My team of Plastic Surgeons and Surgical Oncologists are top notch. They are award winning in their field and I feel very confident that my procedures will go as planned, so that doesn’t have me worried.
What has me concerned is the aftermath of the surgeries. What will I feel like? How long will it take until I feel like myself? How long will it be until I can __________________ (fill in the blank)? How will my kids react to me? Will they want to be with me or stay away? How will I feel when I look in the mirror? When will this new body and all of its scars feel normal?
I know that these are questions that are not unique to my circumstances, but they are still valid and relevant to me, right now… in this moment. My husband and I know that these tough decisions were the right decisions, but I am sure that we’ll deal with the aftermath of them for a long while. Hopefully not for too long, but either way time will heal my physical and emotional wounds. I will not let my BRCA-2 gene mutation define me. I am more than my boobs. And I will not wait for cancer to come knocking on my door.
So if you are the praying type, can you say a few words to your God for me? Can you be a little extra nice to me and my family for a few weeks? Can you please ignore any whining I might incur and then slap me out of it? Can you please give me some grace if I miss a deadline, an email, or a text? Will you look out for my family and be my village?
I am choosing to go into this laughing and from the mindset of DETERMINATION and EMPOWERMENT. I am choosing HOPE, not fear; and I am pushing my anxieties aside.
Until next time!
There are no happy accidents~
**I am not a doctor and my decision to proceed with major surgery took years to decide. Please don’t take my story as recommendations for yourself. If you are a BRCA Carrier please reach out to your physician today to make a plan.
If you think you could be a BRCA Carrier, talk with your doctor. For more information, check out the non-profit organization- Bright Pink.**
You can also check out my other writings on Full Time Mom.