Today is December 13th. It was six months today that I had my mastectomy. Hard to believe. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would still be “recovering”. Not that I am bed ridden or anything, but I am far from being healed. It won’t be for another few months that I will finally have the tissue expanders removed and the implants put in. That day can’t come soon enough for me. I have come to hate them. I know hate is a strong word, but in this case, there is no denying how much I want these expanders out. Imagine two litres of saline inserted into your chest, with your skin so tight it feels like it might rip apart at any second. And then, if you put any pressure on your chest, like actually trying to lie down, then it feels like the expanders may burst. Every move I make I have to think about these foreign objects inside me. They cause me pain and discomfort all day, everyday; but it could be soooo much worse.
I have met so many people who are not as lucky as I am. People who have a very difficult battle ahead of them. When I am at the Juravinski Cancer Centre I see dozens of people whose bodies have been ravaged by this terrible disease. People undergoing several surgeries, chemo, radiation. I almost feel guilty when I see them. One day I was sitting in the waiting room and I saw one of the ladies I had met at B.R.A day. She was one of the group that I spoke to for 30 minutes and shared my blog with. She recognized me, said hello and asked me why I was there. I replied that I was waiting for my injections . She responded with “Are you getting Tomoxifen?” I knew what Tomoxifen was…a drug to treat breast cancer. “No”, I said. “I am just having injections into my tissue expanders.”
“Oh.” she said, “How nice for you.” I felt awful. Here I was on the “road to recovery” while most people around me had so much farther to go and many with no guarantees that the journey would end well.
Yesterday I had lunch with a colleague who’s sister battled breast cancer for nine years. NINE YEARS!!! Can you imagine? And the worst part was, she lost the battle. My own mother battled for over a year undergoing two surgeries and months and months of chemo and radiation. Fortunately she has been cancer free for almost four years now. In fact it was just before Christmas 2014, that she had her last round of radiation. Every year now, is a celebration and after seven years, she doesn’t have to keep seeing her oncologist and surgeon. At that point she is “signed off” and deemed truly cancer-free.
For me, after one surgery I am cancer free. Yes, there is no denying that it was major surgery and it has been no picnic recovering physically or emotionally from a bilateral mastectomy, but given what so many others are dealing with, I count my lucky stars that I will have an end to this journey and it will all be over hopefully in another six months.
I found this tshirt and it spoke to me. One, the word “LUCKY” really hit home with me. Two, it was on sale for $8! And three…it has sequins. I love bling. A few months ago, I never would have worn this shirt as I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself…especially my chest. But today, I am celebrating six months. And I am wearing it proudly! Some people might look upon the 13th as unlucky, but for me, the 13th signifies the day I had my surgery….which is the day that I became cancer free. Lucky 13… six months and counting.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.