SO Monday July 29th was the big day, surgery.
We had to be at the hospital at 6am and we were there about 12 hours total. Those that know me well are aware of my ability jump in the deep end and take on a lot at once. This was no different. I had a lumpectomy, lymph node removal for testing, my port removed and a full hysterectomy. Two surgeries, back to back. It took lots of coordination from the doctors and my ability to tell each medical professional what they were going to be doing at each point of surgical process. (It is procedure.)
It was a lot.
I didn't take my phone. No pictures, just memories of the moment remain. Wait...there are pictures but that is another part of the story.
Steffen was with me all day and was really the only one I wanted there at that moment
Thanks to everyone for their love and support. All is well and I am on the mend. Trying to resist lifting heavy objects and over doing it. The worst is over.
R.I.P to the Baby Maker (aka: Hormonal Heathen)
Before the cancer was found I wasn't feeling well. I would power through and have things checked out. It started after I my daughter was born. Something felt off even back then. But life and being a Mom and a wife and all the things, I kept moving through it. I was told it was normal. I was told it was in my head. I was dismissed.
Eighteen years of this. I would get frustrated with feeling crappy try to get answers. Then would be frustrated by not getting anywhere or busy with life and power on. Round and round it went. Towards the 17th year it was bad. It is TMI kind of detail so will spare you all here. Then CANCER.
So the Baby Maker! I am grateful for it because I got two beautiful babies. They are still my babies even though they are adulting with training wheels now. It did it's part. Then it created my roller coaster hormonal craziness. Random and weird, totally annoying. At least that is my professional opinion as the 48 year owner/operator of this body. I may never find out what was really happening to me or get doctors to say "You know Jen, you were right. Sorry we couldn't help you sooner". That isn't going to happen so I need to let it go now and refocus on what my body will do without the Baby Maker on board. Hopefully, gleeful dances of joy or simple relief of the grumpy neighbor finally moving away forever.
I have a life to live without that kind of craziness and there were too many boxes checked off the list of future issues potentially with the cancer treatment. It was time to say goodbye, With robotic assistance my Surgeon #2 was able to remove the Hormonal Heathen (formally the Baby Maker), taking a few pictures for me in the process.
The pictures had hand written notes saying everything looked normal. Ugh!
Riddance of the Cancer
The cancer was orginally 2cm. After 20 weeks of chemotherapy later, residual cells. Yay!
MRI Playlists- confirmed it is an 8 song procedure.
The white part is the clip they put in to tag the cancer during the biopsy..
The chemo was very effective. The morning of surgery was running through the check list and all the people that needed to see me before the actual surgery, Radiology for a mammagram and a guide wire and next a little radioactive dye to track during the procedure. Surgeon #1 went first. Everything took less time then anticipated. I had a lumpectomy but understand there were very few cancer cells to remove. A couple lymph nodes were removed and were found cancer free. Confirmation from the main lab. Definitely cancer free!
The port was removed. I hated that thing.
May 2019 would have been a roller coaster without cancer but with cancer it has been fantastically exhausting.
The rush of events started the end of April with my personal yearly trifecta of my birthday, wedding anniversary and Mother's Day. Throw in two trips to Peoria, IL; one to see all the awesome things Fisher (our son) is doing at their Interactive Media Conference and the other to bring Fisher home from college. There were track meets one or two times a week, occasionally three, planning for a graduation party and graduation, still doing work for clients, a couple networking events and chemo once a week. Add in a car breakdown and replacing that vehicle in the mix, plus regular life things and you have the busiest May ever while running on fumes. There are surely lots of other things I wedged in the schedule that I am forgetting.
The busyness gave me so many reasons to be present and focus on things in the moment and off chemo and cancer. I had a purposeful place to put what energy I had to good use. Gratitude for that but now I am very tired. I pushed myself when I could and rested when I needed to do so. Preparation and organization was not done as I wish it could have been but have gotten really good at letting that shit go. I pack that baggage very lightly these days. Recouping the past few days meant staying fairly quiet and moving slow.
Thanks to everyone that have reached out, showed up and helped out. We love you all so much. I don't know specifically what I need most of the time (still). It is moment to moment and I am eternally grateful that when I need to throw out a life line that I have so many people willing and able to step up. THANK YOU! Again and again.
Here are a few nuggets of insight I have manage to retain:
NO HAIR REFLECTED
It is separate. I am still working out what I am going to do with it but I don't take it out and toss it around if there is no purpose in doing so. It is not my nature to be the center of attention because I am there and seen. It is in the moments when my presence can be felt in the best ways whether anyone knows it was me or not that bring me the greatest joy. That idea I will carry forward.
Side Note: Comforting to know the hair gene is strong in our family so I am expecting a full hair recovery. All else fails my children have a healthy supply.
STILL GOT IT BUT I HAVE TO WORK AT IT
Side note: Still filling the stringer. (May 26, 2019)
This is a long haul but I am standing my ground, making plans, meeting with friends, getting out with my family and taking care of myself. Two more chemo treatments than we move into the next phase of planning and surgery.
Thanks for hanging in there with us.
THE PHOTO I have participated in a couple photo shoots with Ivory House Photography called Unapologetically Extra. It is a mini session; sometimes it is themed, sometimes it is a special location but it is always a step out of my comfort zone. I like to push my boundaries, get a new perspective or a reminder but it is always for me.
The photo below was taken near Gray's Lake in Des Moines. I remember the day clearly, It was chilly, windy and I wasn't feeling myself. I hadn't felt right in quite a while. I booked a session because I had a thought maybe it would shake me out of this funk. I hadn't felt good in over a year. I was exhausted. Been to doctors, Taken tests. Everything was "normal",
After the photo shoot, Whitney schedules an online viewing so you can choose which photos you want. I chose two but I there was something off. It bother me and I contacted Whitney the next day and asked her not to post any of the photos. There was something very wrong. I didn't know what is was but I saw something in the photos.
45 days later, I had a confirmed by biopsy diagnosis, Stage 2 breast cancer.
CANCER Jumping ahead to April 17th... I am now in the fully entrenched in my cancer treatment. I have had a million feelings, moments and personal epiphanies. It is a marathon not a sprint.
I lost any taste for alcohol or meat after my first chemo treatment January 31st. I have lost 16 lbs but no nausea. Very tired and it comes in waves which makes it all the more exhausting. I have to let go a lot and listen to my body with a new dedication. There have been fevers, chills, bloody noses, pain in my hands and feet, and even an emergency room visit, weekend at the hospital and a transfusion. It is my job now.
But I know this. This I can fight. This brings out the spirit of who I know I am.
It is better than the mysterious, unknown not feeling right.
MY 48TH YEAR April 27th will be my 48th birthday. It feels like a blank canvas. So much potential, but it is different then prior years, a different motivation. It is the year do more of what I love and let go.
There are things that are for sure are going to happen this year. Chemo will continue. Our daughter will graduate high school and head out on her own adventures. I will have surgery and recovery. I will paint again. I will fish and get near water as often as possible. My husband and I will be back to our own devices as a couple with dogs. I will be surround by friends, family, music and art. I will decide how I want my business to move forward and grow. And I will be just fine.
Rest, Create. Refocus.
Life is short and sweet. It is time to celebrate.