When I decided to share my journey regarding my BRCA decisions, I didn’t really think about the impact it would have on others or on my personal life. I just wanted to put it out there as my own type of therapy.
The night before surgery I was about 60% sure that we had made the right decision about reducing my breast cancer risks…but by the time I was in the room and meeting with my doctors I was 100% certain that it was the right call. All of my fears and anxieties just slipped away and that’s when I knew that I was mentally tough and mentally ready for what was to come.
A lot of people messaged me that day and the days following surgery that I was brave and an inspiration. I appreciated and admired their thoughts. I also felt blessed and empowered to live in a vast and bustling metropolis which gave me the power to choose my path with the most talented doctors guided by science and God’s hand. The prayer chains and positive thoughts that went out to support the doctors at Northwestern, my family, and myself have been felt over and over again.
I felt so lifted up in positive thoughts that the day after surgery I got up and headed to my kids swimming lessons-partially to show them that I was ok and also to prove to myself that life was going to be ok and back to normal soon. A few friends were surprised to see me there and to be honest, I was too. After all, it was only 15 hours post-surgery! But I told them that I could either A) be at home sitting by myself or B) sit at swimming lessons, soaking up the sun, and watching my kids. I chose the latter, even though it wasn’t easy.
In the days that followed, I realized that with the support of your family, friends, and community you really can get through anything. I had always believed those words to be true, but I had never personally needed them during my adult-life. Until now!
I never expected anyone to pay attention to my little blog (again, it’s therapy- but thank you for reading and following it) and I really didn’t expect the amount of community support that came with it. People checked in on me, made our little family dinner, dropped off milk, offered my kids fun days, and sent me messages via Facebook, texts, and phone calls. I even got a handful of beautiful cards from friends and family; near and far. Friends and neighbors dropped off surprise flowers, homemade cookies and breads, mochas, and even prosecco. I loved the sweet intentions that went with each one, but more importantly I appreciated the time that people took to even think of us during their busy days, let alone to drop something off.
From the bottom of my heart (and the four others in my home), thank you. Even though it doesn’t seem like enough.
I wasn’t sure how the recovery would go from that surgery. I thought it was going to be a lot tougher and more painful than it was. Now, pain is relative to each person and I know my threshold is high, and I’m not saying it was easy since there were definitely rough moments and painful times. However, my reality was far more manageable than what my imagination created.
Thankfully, I was able to keep myself relatively pain free with Tylenol and a nifty little integrated pain-pack that gave a steady dose of a nerve blocking pain reliever directly to my surgery sites. (I hope I get something like that again in August!) I was bruised, sore, and moving slowly (driving in the car was the worst part, especially over bumps) but I had to keep moving. Staying positive and moving each day was my goal.
Even though I was mentally prepared before surgery took place, my body has not cooperated and has taken a lot longer to recover than I expected. That’s hard to digest knowing that in just ten more days I will get my mostly healed incisions reopened for the next surgery. As of right now, I still have some incision sites healing and have some slight bruising, numbness, and pain…but I’ll take it.
Knowing that I have made this decision for my family and our future makes the pain bearable. The love and kindness shared from my community made things easier, too. I know I needed help and didn’t want to burden anyone with that. But everybody needs help, everybody needs their community, everybody needs everybody. We lift each other up, we make each other stronger, we multiply the love when we are together. I couldn’t have made it through the last month without the love from my village and tribe.
When faced with challenge, be strong and prove to yourself that you can overcome. Ask for help (that was the hardest part for me). Don’t think for one second that you are a burden to others. If you are a parent, then show your kids you can get through tough times so that they know they’ll be able to get through them as well. Even on the darkest days, there is still light. Grab it, even if it’s just a glimmer. That light is your hope.
HOPE will never let you down, but sitting idle and letting the darkness consume you will. Don’t let dark days and thoughts alter your spirit. You are STRONG. You are BRAVE. You are a part of me and I am a part of you. Together, as a community, we stick together and raise each other up. We help, without the need for an IOU. We say THANK YOU with a gracious heart, even when it just isn’t enough.
My family and I are eternally grateful for your love, support, and kindness. We will pay it forward.
There are no happy accidents~