Thursday, September 25, 2008

Great News! Hysterectomy is Hystory!

Hello Everyone,

Special guest blogger Mike here. I'm looking forward to actually sleeping tonight, so I'll keep this short.

First and foremost, I am VERY happy to report that Marla's hysterectomy went excellently. She is recovering and, although in some pain, she says it is not terrible. She is obviously spending the night at the hospital tonight -- we're not sure if she'll also be staying Friday night.

The day went pretty smoothly. We checked in at 8:15am, moved through the paperwork process and got to the pre-op room rather quickly. Surgery actually started on time (12:30pm) and I was very happy to have Ron, Sherry, Becky, Aaron, and Julie there to keep me company during my usual surgical angst. What can I say -- I'm just not a huge fan of hospitals. They smell funny and the food sucks. But at least we were at St. Jo's again -- and they always take good care of Marla.

About two hours later, (2:30p) Dr. K (not sure I'm allowed to mention actual names) came into the waiting room to give us her report. She said that when it came to the removal of Marla's ovaries, uterus and cervix, everything was routine -- in fact she was delighted to describe Marla's pelvis as "boring." Although I was totally delighted to hear this WONDERFUL news, I must argue the point -- I personally have never found any of Marla's parts "down south" to be the least bit "boring."

The second part of Marla's surgery today was to remove her porta-cath which came out "easily" and "uneventfully." So, everyone, get ready to join me a collective "thank god" as this marks the official conclusion of Marla's chemo treatment. we go... "THANK GOD!"

So a very positive day -- and one more step towards our circumnavigation of this bump in the road. I am so proud of my Marla. I am proud of her strength. I am proud of her optimism. I'm also proud that I just used the word "circumnavigation."

As always, we are so grateful to all of you for your prayers, light and love. Life is a blessing sweetened by the presence of all of you.

Ancora Imparo.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thank You Letter...

A friend suggested as I prepare for tomorrow that I should thank my organs for being so good to me. With that in mind I would like to share the following:

24 September 2008

Dear Port-A-Cath, Uterus, Ovaries, Tubes and Cervix,

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for serving me so well.

Port-A-Cath, we have only known each other since mid April but you have made the last five months very easy. You never failed to do your job and thus spared my veins from potential shut down and/or collapse from the Chemo Therapy and weekly blood draws. I was so very fortunate that you and I had an easy time with one another. It is with great elation that I say goodbye to you as it means that my Chemo is truly a thing of the past and I am able to move forward with my recovery and healing.

Uterus, Ovaries, Tubes and Cervix, we have been a part of each others lives for forty-four years. You welcomed me into womanhood thirty-one years ago and made your presence known every month. In the last decade you allowed me the opportunity to have a beautiful son. You provided a safe home for him to grow and develop in until it was time for him to make his entrance into the world. You served your purpose magnificently. My decision to have you removed is a difficult one but is incredibly necessary for my continued health and well being.

I am eternally grateful for all that you have given to me and provided to me over the months and years and from the bottom of my heart I thank you.

With deep respect, love and gratitude,


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Healthy Diversions...

I awoke yesterday getting a little anxious about my surgery on Thursday. I had an inkling this was was going to happen. As I prepare I am reminding myself that my journey still has a long, long way to go. And that this surgery (and those to follow) will continue to put me on the path to full recovery and healing.

As a way to help calm my anxiousness I gave myself a new mantra which is -- my journey is different from my Mom (Linda) and Step Mom (Jacki) and will have a much better outcome. In addition to the mantra I continue to hold onto the image of Mike and I sitting in our rockers in our retirement.

The day progressed and I found myself busy with pre-op appointments which included an EKG and Chest X-ray.

I asked Bonnie F., the magnificent facilitator of my support group, for any tools she might have to assuage my nerves. And she suggested that I visualize my desired outcome and remind myself that right now I am alright; safe and whole. I took the time to think about this and allowed myself some quiet time to stop and take deep cleansing breaths and chant my new mantra. This definitely helped (and continues to.)

I picked up Sully from school ready to take him to a few more places to sell his popcorn for cub scouts but was greeted with an unhappy face and droopy eyes. Once I got him in the car his nose started to run and he started to cough. Poor little guy. Thankfully our pediatrician was available and confirmed it is a viral bug that will work through his system. He stayed home today with Mike while I went to dentist to have my permanent crown put on -- only there was a little SNAFU. My tooth or more aptly the dental pulp had irreversible pulpitis. (Which explains why it has been hurting.) So three hours later after a deep cleaning and some packing into the root I was sent on my way with an upcoming appointment to see an Endodontist for root canal once I recover from surgery.

That is really the reader's digest version.

Honestly, I think these diversions have been good for me on many levels. Not that I want Sully to have a cold or that I want to have a root canal but I do think that they are my little reality checks to not get bogged down with what is coming up. Simply put these things force me to stay in the moment.

Ancora Imparo

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kids Say The Darndest...

Over the weekend Sully asked me what a hysterectomy was. He said he has heard me talk about it so much and he didn't know what it was so he wanted to know.

In order to tell him this I had to give him a brief anatomy lesson.

I love how we have these amazing talks during our day to day activities. This all took place while we were walking through the neighborhood selling popcorn for Cub Scouts. I explained the purpose of the uterus and what ovaries and tubes are. I told him that we knew that the cancer I had grew because of my ovaries (I chose to not get into the whole hormone discussion about estrogen.) So by having this surgery I would be protecting myself. I asked if he had any other questions and then a short while later before he was completely wiped out from the door-to-door popcorn sales he asked me "when I grow up will I get cancer because you breast fed me?" I took a deep breath and said "I hope that you never get cancer. And I can say with certainty that my breast feeding you wouldn't give you cancer." I mentioned this conversation to a friend she said she always says none of us know these things.

While I think there is honesty and validity to this I also think this is not the answer Sully was looking for. I pray that he and Mike never get cancer. And while it is true that none of us know what will happen -- at the age of nine these are some of the conversations that we have. It is such a blessing that we can have them. That Sully is able to articulate his thoughts and fears and feels close enough and comfortable enough that we can talk openly.

Ancora Imparo

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Time for Mourning...

In my group today one of the amazing women brought up that she is beginning to mourn for her breasts as she prepares for her surgery. I've expressed before that I never felt like my breasts made me the woman that I am. But I think it is always difficult to lose a part of you whether it is physical or emotional. It's not like I was so cavalier about my initial surgery that I had no emotional attachment to them.

In addition to the mourning we also discussed the concept of attachment to something versus connection. So while I was attached to my breasts the connection to them and my femininity is not something I ever felt. As I prepare for my upcoming hysterectomy I am thinking about my uterus and how that is a different story for me. The connection between my uterus is the link to a fundamental purpose that we (and it depends on what you believe) were initially designed for. That purpose, the ability to bring a child into this world, is being removed. And it happens to women all the time -- my circumstances are no more unique or special than any other woman who has had to make this decision... But I find it interesting as I begin to really process what it means.

I continue to keep my eye on the big picture. Being here when I am old in my rocker with my dear husband next me and celebrating all of the many life events to come. I also continue to feel so truly blessed to have the support that I have.

Ancora Imparo

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mole No More...

Happy Tuesday,

Yesterday afternoon was my mole removal adventure. The entire process was really quite quick. I didn't feel much except for a little tugging and pressure when the DOC was putting the stitches in. It looks like I have 4 of them and I have been told they will dissolve. Surprisingly, I didn't have to have my head shaved and the 3/4" scar will be hidden nicely in my hair line. I left the office feeling as if I looked like one of the "Yankee Doodle" soldiers with my head bandaged up -- all I needed was a piccolo. Thankfully I was able to take off the bandage this morning.

Ancora Imparo

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair...

A quick visit at the revolution health website today answered a couple questions that I had about my new hair.

Yep, alert the press, I have some new hair coming in. Not enough to go sans schmatta (scarf/head carving/rag) but enough where Mike and the ladies in my support group noticed it was growing back in. It is too early to tell what color it will be and what the texture will be. Some say red, some say brown, some say blond. I can assure you it is not blond. The blond I see are a few grays that are trying to make their presence known. But it is growing in nonetheless.

Apparently hair grows at the rate of 1 cm per month.
So in six months to a year I will have a new head of hair.
I am mighty excited about this.

I just noticed that the angle of the photo gives you all a nice visual of the mole that is scheduled to be removed on Monday. Since it is a little deep and requires a few stitches I will be getting my dose of DDAVP (clotting factor I don't produce [for details read blog post: Slow and Steady... from 5/1/08]) prior to its removal.

The fatigue seems to be making a little come back. I am sure the new "back to school" routine has something to do with it. I am taking it easy and resting when I need to.

Ancora Imparo

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Does Cancer Make you Selfish?

There have been so many things that I have learned and continue to learn about myself while I am on this journey. Mike and I were having a conversation the other day about being selfish. In my pre-cancer life that is not a word that I would attribute to myself. However now I can see that I do possess some selfish qualities. I am not so sure it is a bad thing. A lot of people might relabel selfishness as self preservation or some other catch phrase that takes the negativity and finger pointing out of it. But what does it really mean? To me, it means that I am making a greater effort to put myself first. It doesn't mean that I am ignoring the needs of my family and friends but I am striking a balance between my needs and others. As opposed to putting others needs before my own and then whatever is left giving to myself. I suppose it is all part of growing up. Or better yet evolving into my best self.

Ancora Imparo