We started the week of March 28th off by loading all 7 of us into the car and heading to the airport - destination - Portugal. On the way, my surgeon called me to update me on the upcoming surgery plans. My phone only works on speaker, so the whole family gets to hear all the details. After I hung up, our youngest says, "I forgot you had cancer!" I guess we are doing a good job on trying to keep life normal!
We explored a beautiful country, rich in culture, ancient history, beautiful architecture and wonderful people. We all learned that as fun as it is to explore all the big cities have to offer, where we are the most happy is in the countryside. Our hearts were the happiest hiking the cliffs of the coast and taking in the power of the ocean. It was exactly what a vacation should be - an escape from reality...until Thursday.
The kids were on the beach playing while my husband and I were enjoying a bottle of wine when we got the call for the surgeon's office. Surgery was schedule for April 8th, four days after returning from vacation. Things start feeling like your last. It was my last Friday living in the body I've had my whole life. With surgery looming, I really starting appreciating the moment I was in even more - knowing there was a huge recovery period for me just around the corner. The dread of having to rely on others started to settle in. Each day brought me closer to coming to terms with everything surgery would bring. Not only would it bring irreversible physical changes, fitness challenges, a hard recovery, etc....but I had to remember it had one important role - to get rid of the cancer. By the time we returned to the U.S., I was ready to be on the other side of surgery.
On Tuesday, I had my genetics testing appointment to determine if I am positive for any genetic cancer genes. Sometimes this plays a role in deciding what initial surgery options you have. Based on my family history, it wasn't all that important to have it done immediately. I knew my risks. What I wasn't prepared for was walking into the cancer center for the first time. Sitting in the waiting room staring cancer in the face. The sound of the chaplain over the loudspeaker saying a prayer. I just wasn't ready. During the check in process, I received a call from the surgeon. They called to tell me the surgery date was changed to April 25th for the double mastectomy and May 9th for the reconstruction. The change was due to conflicting surgeon schedules (there are three surgeons involved with this procedure, one is coming from Madison). This was a blow I wasn't prepared for. I was already mentally ready to start this process on Friday. Now I have to wait another 2 weeks? Not to mention it's not ideal, logistically for my support system. My blood pressure registered higher than I had ever seen it. The icing on the cake was finding out from the genetic counselor that "the system failed me." Because of my mother's history, I should have been on an early prevention plan which should at a minimum require an annual MRI, starting at the age of 27 (10 years prior to my mother's age of diagnosis). So although I tried to do all the right things, turns out, I probably didn't do the most important one. SO LADIES WITH A HISTORY OF BREAST CANCER IN YOUR FAMILY - YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR EARLY PREVENTION SERVICES. DEMAND IT! My 27 year old sister was my first call out of that appointment.
So now we wait. Hurry up and wait. My next two weeks will be filled with pre-op appointments, a CT scan, trying to line up support and yet again cherishing every "normal" day I have left in this body.
Thank you all who have sent the sweet gifts and cards. You anonymous people too! I'm rocking one of the shirts I received anonymously today. Many have asked how they can help. Honestly, my biggest concern is meals for a few weeks. My April 25th surgery will have me in the hospital one night. The May 9th surgery is the challenge. I'll be in the hospital 3-5 nights and will need care 24/7 for a week or two after that. My mom and wonderful aunt (bonus that she's a nurse!) will be my caregivers. My husband, Jake, will have a lot on his plate with running our gym and taking care of the kids. Meals will be very much appreciated by him and the kiddos!