This Changes Everything


Today I  will be having surgery to remove the tumor that has changed my life.  Not in a “Biggest Loser”  winner way.  Not in a “you survived the great outdoors” Wilderness Challenge sort of reality show. This is real life, change how you think, change your priorities in a second, change the way you process life.

I’ve never made myself a priority, I’ve always been on the back burner ever since I became a mom. I’m not the only one, it’s epidemic. Women often don’t take care of themselves. Maybe it’s better with younger generations, I hope it is.

I have had to shift my priorities radically. The twenty irons that I had in the fire are nearly all set aside and cooling until I can afford to address each one. Some may be tossed but that’s ok. If they are, they weren’t important.

So what has changed? Everything.

Dieting is no longer a choice –  I have to change my diet to follow what the oncology doctors say. Whether that is low carb or calorie restricted only, I know it will have to include mostly lean proteins and lots of fruit and vegetables. Sugar is out. I’ve been trying to cut down but allowed myself a dessert once a week. Nope – dessert isn’t worth cancer.

Exercise – no longer an option because a better circulation system and better cardio health mean that I am stronger and better able for my body to fight during radiation and chemotherapy.

Fewer tasks on my daily todo list – this is a biggie for me. I’ve always been one of those too many irons in the fire juggling them to meet deadlines and last minute all out like my pants are on fire types. NO more! I will have to manage my time and reduce the stress which means I will have to assess tasks and learn a simple word – NO!

I can’t afford negative energy. I can’t afford negative people stealing my energy. I can’t afford to give the power over to anyone else. I have supportive famil members and friends and I will call on them as needed.

Here’s a biggie –  I need to learn to ask for help. OUCH! So far this is the hardest one on my list. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to HAVE to ask for help? Alas, I need to focus on the important things and let the rest go. That also means learning to trust and depend on others and ask for help. Right now I feel strong, invincible, I can beat this! Hear me roar! I know though, this is before surgery, this is before the results of pathology, beforeI have gone through one day of radiation and after a day of meditation to help get in the right positive headspace.

A really good friend of mine gave me a picture last year of a woman warrior and told me this reminds me of you. I was touched but didn’t see it. 

At first I didn’t feel like I could even do this. I didn’t feel like I had a chance it was so unexpected. Let’s be real, nobody chooses cancer. Nobody chooses this battle. Every one of us has our own battles to deal with and nobody I know would jump up and volunteer for this road. Having said that, it isn’t really about what I feel.

I KNOW that I am made of sturdy stock! German and Russian blood are comingling in there with some ScotsIrish and other assorted mutt mixed races. I won’t go down without putting up a big fight.

I KNOW that the doctor stated they caught it early, and the tumor isn’t large. This is good news which means the odds of survival are great! As scary as it is to hear “You’ve got breast cancer”  it could have been far worse than it is and my odds are pretty good.

I KNOW that there are people who love and care for me. You couldn’t have convinced me of that a few weeks ago, but when I shared this horrible news the outpouring of friends and relatives have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. I must say it was more than a bit humbling.

I KNOW that wherever this path takes me from this day forward, I am going to LIVE each and every day that I have, pursuing my dreams and goals and making sure to show love to at least one person every day.

Whether you are a believer or not, my faith will see me through. My faith is strong and I know without a doubt that my God is well able to see me through this. I know that His will is for life and not death. I know that the power of prayer is a very real thing and I have many friends praying. This is what it is all about, the people in your life. People that you impact around you. I’ve tried not to be preachy to anyone, I have never condemned anyone for their faith or lifestyle because that’s not my place to do so.

I’m instructed to love people, and that’s what I try to do. Y’all know it’s hard to love some people – God knows I try but some of you  . . . I mean there are people who like liver! There are some of you who don’t like dogs! There are some people that choose to listen to country music for Pete’s sakes! Anyway, putting those things aside we are all people and we need to love one another not judge or fight against or criticize others. Just think how boring it would be if everyone was exactly like you. Or me –  can you imagine the chaos that our world would be if everyone was like me????? Good grief –  we need organized people who can get things done!

What I’m trying to say is I love the diversity of our world. I’ve been meditating most of today ( writing this on Tuesday preparing for my big day today, er tomorrow when you’ll read this.) and I am starting to feel more like the warrior in that picture. I can do this,  this will not defeat me. It’s going to take more than this to take me out. Besides, legend has it that the Amazon warrior maidens cut off their left breast as a sign of strength. Alright, so mine is going to be removed via anesthetic and scalpel, but  I’ll wear the scar as my Amazon tribe initiation.

I found out that when I start the radiation treatment they will tattoo a series of dots on my left breast where the radiation will be focused. I’m considering getting it altered to a fancy schmancy tattoo over it.

So after today, everything changes.

Write on my freinds, write on! And say a prayer for me if you think about it – I would appreciate it!

Ellie

 

Suddenly


Hey, everyone!

How to write the post I need to write . . .  there is no real clever way so with all the tact I can muster, I’m going to plunge in.

With the A to Z Challenge, I left off with the letter O. I have a new word, that inadvertently has everything to do with my own writing right now –

ONCOLOGY

On March 28, I had my annual OBGYN visit. I shared some concerns with her about the girl parts, namely issues that indicate menopause.  She sent me to the Imaging center for a pelvic sonogram, and the annual mammogram. I expected some news on the lower region but not the tatas.

A scheduled date for a routine procedure for the girl parts was made. Later that day, I got a call saying I needed to return for an additional mammogram and breast ultrasound because I had some areas of concern. OK, that’s a bit disconcerting but no biggie, right? I figured fibrocystic breast syndrome because the girls aren’t exactly smooth like a muscle,  they are kind of like a well-used pillow. NO, I’m not going into detail on that but after nursing two babies, being a ‘mature’ woman I’m grateful they don’t drag the floor.

April 6th I go back for these additional tests and the Dr. that oversees the imaging center came in and told me that it’s cancerous. BUT, don’t worry, most of the time it’s benign.  He had one of those plastic forced smiles that is used to break bad news. I instantly don’t trust him.

April 12th, I have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy. Don’t let anyone fool you – it hurts. “Oh, you’ll just feel some pressure and hear a click” LIARS!!! 

IT HURT!  IT HURT FOR DAYS AFTER!  IT still hurts as the bruised area changes from purple to greenish yellow.

I wait for the verdict phone call which was supposed to happen either last Tuesday or Wednesday that never came. On one hand, no news is good news.  If they don’t call it can’t be too urgent right?

WRONG!

I called on Thursday because I suck at waiting patiently.

STAGE 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Yeah, that’s something you want to hear when you are in the office alone. I mean, literally alone. There wasn’t another breathing soul in the office complex.

The only time I’ve ever known doctors to act fast is when it’s serious so it didn’t alleve my fears when they called back to confirm an appointment with an oncology surgeon for the next day. Friday the 21st was a marathon. I would gladly attempt a running marathon as opposed to my day. The doctor explained completely with drawing little illustrations to emphasize the points. My options were presented to me, initial treatment assessment was discussed, and then it was off to the labs for more tests.

Bloodwork – one of my big fears about this whole thing is the needles. I have small veins, they are deep (being fat isn’t the only reason for this) and they roll. When I get blood drawn they use a child’s butterfly needle. What is going to happen if I have to go through chemotherapy and they blow my veins? I don’t have enough time to build my cardio level to have super veins like my husband. He makes a fist and the veins just pop out. Of course, that would look bad on me as a female.

Chest x-ray, EKG, new mammogram, additional close up mammogram slides, 3D Ultrasound – I was there from 8 in the morning until almost 5 at night.

I’ve had the weekend to digest all of this.  I’ve shared with close family what the diagnosis is and the plan for treatment, and have even shared on my Facebook account.  I was almost at a place of peace about accepting this. Nobody wants to go through this. Nobody chooses cancer.

Then, I get another call. Just a few minutes ago actually. I have to go back for an MRI and a second biopsy of additional spots that they found. This may determine whether or not I can have a lumpectomy or have to have the full mastectomy.

I’m not sharing to gain your sympathy. I’m not sharing because I overshare – if anything I hear from people that I don’t let others in, don’t share what’s really going on.

This isn’t about writing yet it is.  I write with passion. My passion. Passion for life, passion about love relationships, passion about the emotions we go through. My plan for today was to share some more from Roxy, a segment that I’ve recently tackled – one that was very difficult to tackle and I had to be in the right headspace to do. Ironically I had to draw on the raw emotions of my own mother’s funeral to write this. I’d put it off for weeks, but finally tackled it and was quite proud of myself for not only tackling it,  I think I did a pretty good job on it as well.

Then I get this news.  Well hell!  Oh trust me, I could write the emotional scene now. I could pour my heart out on the pages and nobody is the wiser that it was me going through this emotional tidal wave with the diagnosis of ‘You have breast cancer’.

Ironically, Roxy’s mother died after a long battle with breast cancer. Should I wait and experience first hand and rewrite? Should I proceed with it as scheduled? I know that women dying from breast cancer is rare, it’s usually when it’s metastasized beyond the breast and invaded other organs. Ultimately it started with breast cancer, and Roxy’s mother was a woman that put off her own medical treatment until it became critical.

For me, they caught it early with the mammogram. Of that I am grateful. Ladies, don’t put it off.  I still can’t feel any lumps even knowing that it’s there. I don’t have a family history of it. I don’t have the usual symptoms that indicate cancer.  In all of my regular doctor’s comments about concerns for being overweight he never said cancer was one of them. Now as I am reading the material provided to me by the breast cancer center, obesity can lead to cancer. Heart disease and diabetes were on my mind, not cancer. Never cancer.We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey.

We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey. April 20th is a day of demarcation for me. My life as I knew it ended that day, so tears were to be expected. Tears of grieving for what was,  what dreams may die, all of the changes that have to be made and tears to face the great unknown.  A little encouragement for saving the woman would be appreciated.

I’ll try to stay away from the pity parties but from time to time I will be sharing my struggles in this battle. I’m not looking forward to the needles. Not looking forward to losing part of my breast or the full breast or breasts depending on what they find. Not looking forward to possibly losing my hair. Not looking forward to much of any of this,  but it’s the path I’ve been put on and I’ll make the best of a bad situation.  I come from good stock and I am my mother’s daughter. My mother was ” a tough old bird”. I hope I have half as much chutzpah as she did.

I plan to continue writing, still pushing for my delayed deadline and praying that I don’t have to push it back further. The A to Z challenge . . . I don’t have the energy to continue that now. I thought about making a video, but I didn’t think I could get through it without an ugly cry and who needs to see that?

Hope you stick around to see me come out the other end of this!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie