I entered August optimistically. I was scared and nervous for my upcoming preventive mastectomy and breast reconstruction, but ultimately optimistic for the outcome that was being laid out in front of me. On the way to the hospital I felt nothing but gratefulness and luck. Surgery was seemingly uneventful, but my recovery at home was anything but. I was having a hard time. Read on and share my story if you think it could help someone else. ~Love to you all!!
I started to actually think about being "prepared" I realized that I don't know as much about this next step as I thought I did. My husband and I have a great understanding of the "what" and the "how" of what's to come, but we don't really have a good handle on the aftermath of it all. Everybody's experiences are different and reading different women's journeys is both helpful and frightening at the same time. So, this morning I started to think of everything I didn't know. My head was spinning.
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.
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. 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, pronto. 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.
My kids have not even been out of school a full week yet and they are already bored, fighting, and expecting big plans daily. There was a time when I wanted to schedule "fun" things for them everyday or at least a few times a week. Then last year we made an End of Summer Bucket…
During an extremely challenging week our household was a hot mess. Everyone was busy, emotional, and needed extra attention. Plus we had our regular "life" duties and all of the above activities. Everybody needed a break, but we kept trucking on. During a hectic afternoon, I was getting an after school snack ready for my three kiddos and answering an email on my phone. Since busy for me looks a lot like me being on my computer or phone, my kids associate my phone with me being too busy for them. Which of course is not the case, but having access immediately to emails and job related activities in a very virtual world, means that I can be efficient and multi-task. But my oldest set me straight on this crazy day.
My 9 year old daughter took on some new extra-curricular activities this school year, and that meant putting some other activities on "hold." She determined that she was just too busy to do it all and needed some time to adjust to life as a 4th grader. She had been playing travel soccer, but right as the season was revving up, she panicked. When she came to us and said she needed downtime, we were surprised, but ultimately we understood and allowed her to step back from the team and gave her the space she needed to grow and figure things out.
Last week, at the spur of the moment, I bought a mini-mailbox for $1 from Target When I got home, I scoured Pinterest for pre-made and free printable's that I could use with my mailbox. After finding the printable notes, I felt like my ideas were coming together.... mailbox and notes. I got it! I would leave a little love note each night in the mailbox for my kids, husband, and other house guests or special visitors. Easy. That I could do!
We are constantly in awe of our children, but sometimes we need reminders to see them.. I mean really see them. It is in the long days that I stop noticing all of their quirks, special qualities, and gifts. And it is in moments like today when I am reminded to slow down and pay attention. Today was a good wake-up call.
I hate that the color pink reminds me of my mom's battles with breast cancer and the struggle that other women I know have endured due to the disease. It is also a time for me to reflect on my own breast health. As I have mentioned before I am a BRCA gene mutation carrier. My boobs or ovaries could theoretically kill me someday. I have to deal with this fact EVERYDAY, not just in October. Plus, this Pinktober brought on some new challenges for me.