Last Wednesday was my surgery. Double mastectomy — nipple/skin sparing — direct implant. Meaning: A cancer breast surgeon made two giant incisions under my breast and then carved out my breast tissue like an avocado. Then a plastic surgeon placed implants into the holes, placed some tubing and drains around the implants, and glued me back together. The drains (which look like plastic grenades) hang outside of my body and are connected to long tubes (beyond gross).
When I woke up from surgery my dad and Joel were there holding my hands. Apparently my first words were “why did a lion eat my boobs off?” My dad said, “so does it really hurt?” And I said, “Dad, imagine putting your balls in a vice and clamping down.” And then I added, “and the shaft”. (Sorry Dad) I guess when I super drugged I’m kind of a jokester.
My time in the hospital was a blur. The pain was beyond intense and the meds (when I finally got them . . .) only partially relieved it.
I was home Thursday afternoon and Joel was thrown into a nursing role. He carefully emptied my drains every 8 hours, kept a detailed log of their output, gave me my meds right on schedule, and made me feel as comfortable as possible.
I was pretty much a drugged out zombie until Sunday when I decided I was done with my pain meds and switched to Tylenol. I rarely spoke and did a lot of sleeping.
There was a lot of despair during my recovery. I was tired, broken, and made the mistake of looking at my “new” boobs in the mirror. Oops. Poor Joel. I freaked out. It looked like a lion did in fact eat my boobs off. I cried, and cried, and told Joel I wanted them out, off, away.
Today when I met with the plastic surgeon’s nurse she reassured me that they are still in the healing process. And that I needed to give it time.
She then pulled out two of my drains. Which, surprisingly, didn’t hurt at all. Just felt like a small snake-like rodent crawling out of my body. Hopefully, I will get the last two out on Friday.
Recovering from surgery is the pits. It is humbling. I did a lot of crying. We have been so blessed with friends and family who have swooped in to help with caring for our kids, but I missed them. And my hair. And my energy.
But today . . . today I got the best news.
My pathology report came back clean.
No cancer in the breast tissue.
No cancer in the lymph nodes.
No more cancer.
Although I was expecting it all to come back clean, it was so good to hear the words.
Melissa 1. Cancer 0.
I hope we never battle again.
This is still a triathalon. I finished the bike race, and I’m still in the midst of the swim. This surgery will take me quite a bit of time to recover. At least a month off of work is their recommendation. I’m still healing, still trying to catch my breath. But I see the shore. When it’s time to run — I’ll be ready.
And I know that I am blessed. I live in a city with amazing medical care. My doctors know the latest and most effective treatments. Modern medicine cured me.
But it was you. Your prayers, your thoughts, your voicemails and text messages, your errands and meals, your cards and gifts, your time and energy, your travels and sacrifices — it was your love that healed me.
God is love. You are love. I am loved, and lucky.