Tuesday, July 29, 2014

something funny

Anyone who knows me really well will tell you that I have a cheeky, naughty sense of humour. I can be funny by accident and just embarrassing (to those around me) when I try to be funny. I thought in light of my recent hard, emotional posts that I would share some things that I have found funny on my breast cancer journey.

On the morning of my diagnosis I was very nervous and worried. I put on my Gorman vegetable dress - my "happy" dress. Whenever I wear this dress it transforms how I feel. It's fun, colourful and the print is full of vegetable surprises!

The Gorman Vegetable Dress
These are not my arms.

I put on the dress and I already felt better. If it was going to be bad news I could take it in my happy dress. I started to put on my make up and because I was so nervous I didn't really pay attention to how much I was putting on. Apparently there is such a thing as too much make up for a cancer-related medical appointment! Beth came to pick me up and when I got into her car she said "Muuuum, don't you think you've gone overboard with the make up?" I had evening eyes and evening lips for a medical appointment at 9 am in the morning. So the car journey was spent wiping off the excess eye shadow and replacing the bold lip colour with a nude shade of lip gloss. At least I wasn't worrying about the diagnosis!

The day before my first surgery, I had an awful procedure that involved several very painful injections of radioactive dye into my breast. The radiologist delivering the injections was a cheery man wearing a Cookie Monster tie. That did make me smile a little through the pain. Does a sunny disposition and a Cookie Monster tie make it easier to carry out tortuous procedures?

When having surgery you get to wear one of those attractive surgical gowns that open at the back and a front-buttoning cotton dressing gown over the top. It's generally one size fits all. Being short they cover me to well below my knees. I feel so attractive swathed in voluminous folds of well laundered cotton, stamped with hospital property (to deter you from wearing them home I guess). A pair of white knee-high pressure socks complete the outfit! Perfection!

 Yup this pretty much sums up the hospital gown. 
This is not me but I know how he feels!

Once again I was feeling very nervous with all the prep before surgery. They have these great lazyboy-type chairs for you to "relax" in. So I was trying to still the nerves and relax with my feet up when the nurse called me in for a consultation. I clicked the side handle forward and nervously jumped up to meet with her. Unbeknownst to me, I had caught the folds at the back of my gowns in the footrest. That pulled me up short real quick with a loud involuntary exclamation (luckily not an involuntary swear word!). I made Beth and the rest of the waiting room laugh whilst hopefully relieving the pre-surgery tension for others.

My other surgical gown-related incident was the obligatory back flash to the lady in the bed opposite me as I shakily got up to use the bathroom for the first time after surgery. I'm so thankful that I was wearing underwear so it was better than it might have been!

When John was sick we coined the phrase "Kiss My Butt Boy" which was a lighthearted way of saying you're really, really sick and we will do anything for you, anytime. Well my stint as "Kiss My Butt Girl" only lasted a few days. It was abruptly drawn to a close when I showed Beth I could wave my arm and was told I could get up and make my own breakfast since I was feeling so good. Darn! Too soon! Too soon!

Today was the first day in a very long time that I woke up with that "I feel good" feeling. Yay! It's amazing to remember that I can feel like this. I still find the ups and downs and forwards and backwards of this cancer journey difficult to deal with but smiling at the ironies of life and having a laugh in the midst of it all helps me to keep going. 

Gorman image from www.gormanshop.com.au
Walter White resplendent in his hospital gown, Breaking Bad, AMC

Friday, July 4, 2014

expect the unexpected

I've been on this breast cancer journey for a few months now and I would still rather be going to Paris! I had my surgery two weeks ago and it went really well. I survived the several painful, invasive procedures in preparation for the surgery, then the surgery itself. Apart from my normally low blood pressure finding new depths to fall to, I felt much better than I thought I would. Preliminary tests showed that my lymph nodes were clear of cancer and that the tissue they removed with the tumour was all clear too. As everything had gone well I was allowed to go home the next day. It felt so good to be home, to sleep in my own bed, to sleep deeply without being woken up to see how I was sleeping!

I was so happy. I felt like a big weight had been lifted off me. I had completed the first hurdle and the relief was incredible. I've been resting, sleeping, healing, reading, quietly crafting while watching endless episodes of the Gilmore Girls! I have been cocooned by the love, care and prayers of my gorgeous family and friends. I've been feeling grateful, feeling peaceful, feeling relieved, feeling I can get through this...

Then I had my post surgery appointment with one of the specialists from my medical team. They gave me the definitive lab results of the lymph nodes, the tumour and surrounding tissue that they removed. My lymph nodes were still clear but because my cancer is the spreading kind, they felt that the margin they had taken on one side of the tumour was not enough. I knew that there was a possibility of things showing up that they hadn't picked up in the surgery. Maybe I would need chemotherapy. I had expected a time for radiotherapy to start. I did not expect that I would need more surgery, that news completely floored me. They are looking at the long term, that I have the best chance of the cancer not coming back. I want that chance!

So while I'm grateful for the expertise and diligence of my medical team, I once again find myself feeling the weight of my grief... needing to find the courage to keep engaging in the nature of this cancer journey - walking two steps forward, four steps back... learning to expect the unexpected!


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