It's the night before my first chemo. My mom emailed me asking how I was feeling. She gave me three easy anwers to choose from: good, bad or so-so. I replied that I didn't feel ready. She replied, "Don't think anyone can be 'ready' for chemo."
Part of doing this blog is purely therapeutic in a weird, twisted public way. So sitting on my therapist couch for a second, I think my need to feel 'ready' is about trying to find some sense of control when I'm scared that cancer is going to take it away. This week's surgery was the first time since the diagnosis that I really felt that loss of control and I didn't like it.
The surgery went fine. It was the post-surgery that slapped me with the reality stick. I'll get to that in a minute.
For the sentinel lymph node biopsy a 100-year-old-looking doctor injected 4 shots of radioactive dye into my left breast before surgery. The dye travelled to my lymph nodes in my left armpit and during surgery, Dr. C was able to identify the sentinel lymph node and remove it. I received the biopsy results today: there is a microscopic amount of cancer in my lymph nodes. It's so small that the radiation and chemo should be effective in addressing it.
Dr. C also inserted a port in my upper right chest during the same surgery. You can't see my port because it's under the skin but you can see a lovely incision for it.
The surgery was under general anesthetic with a breathing tube and resulted in two incisions on each side of my chest. Dr. C listed all the physical activities I should refrain from including mud wrestling. I remember the nurse lecturing me that I should not drive for 24 hours and take it easy. And I remember my mom giving me the look that I should listen to this nurse.
But do I listen? No.
Post-surgery: reality check
The day after surgery I had to get up early to go to my echocardiogram. The night before I didn't sleep well because the pain meds had worn off and I hate taking pain meds. So I'm tired and clearly delusional because I'm determined to drive to my appointment and then head to work.
The echocardiogram went fine. Lay down on a table, listen to the heart. It's beating. Great. Done. Then it's off to work to pretend that everything is fine and I can feel productive. As the day goes on I can tell I'm slowing down and my incisions are starting to feel sore. My wonderful friend Jaree offers to carry my backpack on the way to my car and I stubbornly refuse. Jaree, I was an idiot.
When I came home that night it hit me hard. I was hurting. I've been trying the last few weeks to hold on to the normal stuff, to keep the routine, to not let this change things. But my post-surgery experience was that reality stick that said loudly and clearly that I have to let go of the control. I have to let go of work. I have to stop being so damn stubborn and independent and ask for help. I have to take care of me. Cancer is going to change my world and it's time to embrace it.
How am I feeling now?
I'm feeling good. A little anxious about what's going to happen after the chemo but who wouldn't be. This is the first step towards curing me and I'm definitely ready for that.