I was standing in the check-out line at a clothing store this morning buying a new shirt and it hit me that this could possibly be the last time I get to shop for this body as I know it, in this size and shape. My surgery of radical mastectomy/bi-lateral mastectomy/hysterectomy has been scheduled for October 2nd, 2009 which is less than a month away and I think I am just beginning to realize what this means. Since my diagnosis in April ’09 I have been consumed with staying positive in the midst of all the IBC negativity, having chemotherapy and a mirage of new drugs along with it, trying to be a normal mom to my 2 year old and now 4 year old and a decently normal wife to my husband. I thought I was doing a good job of it all, including truly facing what I’m dealing with, except I don’t think I really knew what the surgery meant. I think most women on this site have had a mastectomy, so I know it is fairly common and that’s what I focused on. But the new reality of not having my breasts anymore is surreal and terrifying. My body is going to change. I don’t know that I am mentally or emotionally prepared for that change yet. I admit it. I know that I need to focus on the purpose of the surgery- to make me cancer free- and I will do that but I can’t help but be saddened at the forced changes. I do take comfort in knowing I will have reconstruction at some point, for IBCers it isn’t right away usually and I am expecting it to be about a year out from what my doctors tell me. I have read most of the stories on here about ‘foobs’ and the different choices everyone has made with fascination, but I realize also with distance. I didn’t relate to it so it was easy to read. I am blessed to have ‘met’ amazingly strong women on this site and in person who have done it before me, and it’s your stories that give me strength to at least try not to focus on my fears and instead think about the future. I want other newbies to know that it’s OK to acknowledge our fears-and this surgery is just as scary as IBC istelf to me- but we have to try not to let them take over. I keep picturing this time next year when reconstruction is done, when I will hopefully be finished with Herceptin every 3 weeks, and my son will be starting kindergarten. My daughter will be 3 and a half and it will be just us at home for the first time- now that’s exciting stuff I want to be around for, and thinking of these things makes the surgery worth it. I have 3 more chemos to go, I was supposed to have it this week but the kids got me sick and I was unable to. Then I consider myself halfway done with treatment, which sounds pretty awesome when taking it one day at a time.
(ps I don’t know if this post makes any sense, my brain is so weird from the new drug doc put me on last week to help with the hysterectomy hormone issues but I tried:)
This post made perfect sense. That’s the beauty of this sight. Most of us get it without you even have to explain it.
I don’t think you can truly process any of this until it’s over. I went through a lot of anger as I was going through my recon and other medical issues which were a year-and-a-half after my mastectomy. I didn’t want new boobs. I wanted my old ones back. I didn’t want the other crap I was dealing with. BUT it does get better. Please know that. It really, really does get better.
Your post made sense to me too. Yes – you have to remember that the surgery is life saving. At the same time, I think you have to mourn the loss of your breasts or you can’t move forward and accept the changes in your body. It’s okay to let yourself have a moment to feel sad. And yes – it does get better with time.
The way I dealt with my bilateral mastectomy was to think, “Thank God, I have great surgeons who are going to take care of this!” If you trust and have faith in your doc’s, it relieves a lot of anxiety. Right now, 4 months after mastectomy, I am only half reconstructed, and probably won’t get back to that until next summer. I have to finish the cancer killin’ first. And you have important cancer killin’ work to do too….I’ll keep you and your surgeons in my thoughts…
It made perfect sense to me too!
I’m Jenny from New Zealand I have been following your blog from Tag Surfer in wordpress. All the things you are saying are what most of us go through at different times. I think the only way we can deal with our battle with IBC is to deal with those things that are actually affecting us at the time – the rest we deal with with some detachment only to have some ” Oh shit – this is really happening to me moments!!!”
I just wanted to say Hi. Your story sounds very much like mine. My kids were 17 months and 5 when I was diagnosed.
You’re not going to really be able to process some of the reality of this until it happens but for many of us as much as we mourned the loss of our breasts there was also a freeing feeling that “it” was gone.
I have not yet had reconstruction and am 3 1/2 years since diagnosis. We couldn’t didn’t do immediate reconstruction because we wanted to keep hitting with radiation and more chemo and honestly, I’m not sure when I will do it. I’ve had this sense of wanting to hit the 5 year mark but who knows.
Good luck and I’ll keep you and your doctors in my thoughts. Kate
P.S. Effexor helps with hot flashes and there was just research out about gabapentin (sp?) working well for it as well.