I am so excited about some of the Africa work I’ve been printing! I was going to schlepp down to hear Barack Obama speak today, but decided to keep on working in the warm cocoon that is my digital darkroom. I will post some of the photographs soon. For now, I want to bring you up to date on my medical condition. Or as I have become rather obnoxiously fond of saying: keep you abreast of the situation. (I know, I know.)
It’s weird, yes, to be discussing this in such a public forum. It may make some of you uncomfortable, and by all means, turn off the set or change channels, if so! I decided to be not so private about this: you have come this far and so have I, so why quit now?
I remember back in my mother’s day, there were “radical mastectomies.” It was horrible to even think about when I was a young girl. If someone did have one, I found out about it by accident (overhearing a hushed conversation.) Then, if I saw that woman at a restaurant or at Temple or at a shopping center, I would nervously and ashamedly glance at her chest to see if I “could tell.” In my young eyes, it seemed that her life had certainly come to an abrupt end. Plus, it really seemed creepy (early incarnation of the “ick factor.”)
All these years later, well, here I am.
The emails I have received of late give me the courage and the confidence to go to this place in my blog. Here is an example, a missive from a gal pal in California:
“I have wanted to write you since learning about your diagnosis, but the cat has got my tongue... and has yet to let go. The image of my mom enduring chemo followed by two back to back surgeries is still fresh in my mind. I too have been poked, prodded, MRI'd, mammogrammed, ultrasounded, biopsied, lumpectomied, and listed as a high-risk patient. I'm developing an aversion to oncologists and the sharp tools with which they've honed their skills.
I love you to pieces and it rips me up that you have to go through this. The thing is, I have no doubt that you are going to conquer this pronto. God has appointed you with lots which only you can tend to — You've only just begun, and in no time, you're going to be galloping forward again.
Sharing the experience with my mom challenged me to grow in ways I never thought possible — I am so thankful for this. I'm thankful you're experiencing the same. I see you taking the bull by the horn and challenging this head on, which is encouraging as I read along. In a very short time, you've taught me that all of this stuff can be ‘routine’ with the right attitude. So, gosh, thank YOU! Thank you for sharing so openly how this experience is strengthening you. Go team!”
So, onward I go. Here is the skinny on my situation (again, leave your computer and go to another room, start the laundry, cover your eyes, slip in your pilates DVD if you don’t want to know this stuff, please!)
The DCIS is apparently very widespread in the one breast. (They call the other breast “unremarkable” which is fine with me. Even though that kind of hurt my feelings at first, I now wish they both were unremarkable.) Since we only have to worry about one, not both, because of the genetic marker deal, we are now only talking about surgery on one side.
Since my surgeon does not see any hope of coming up with clear margins on a second lumpectomy (and anyway, quite frankly, I am not beating down any doors to get into the radiation clinic) she has recommended a mastectomy with reconstruction, as well as a sentinel node biopsy. The latter is to make sure there is no invasive cancer in the lymph nodes.
I have scheduled the surgery and made arrangements for our dog, Sam, to go to the “Happiness Hotel” for a couple of days. I will be in the hospital for one or two nights and should be feeling pretty well a few days after that. Eddie, I'm sure, will not leave my side, unless they make him, and even then, he'll put up a good fight for sure.
Thanks for all your encouraging, supportive, funny and heart-warming emails, cards and letters.
Here’s an example of one of my favorite funny ones.
“Gloria: Since I first heard that they were doing breast reconstruction from tummy fat, I've aspired to be a breast donor. And If I could I'd gladly relinquish all my belly for some double D's for you! Wouldn't that be a perfect world? Since I can't, I'll find some special incantations for you and Eddie and the kids. This, too, will be over soon.”
... OK, you can look now.