Breast Cancer Entry Nine

I had to have a little surgery. I wasn’t frightened at all, which was surprising. I showed up at the hospital and was lead to a surgical room equipped with a monitor and a scanning machine of some sort. All I know is the doctor could see what was going on inside while he was working. Speaking of the doctor; he was sweet and the 2 technicians were also very kind. The doctor explained they would be installing a “power port” (used to deliver chemotherapy, medications, and to take blood.) The little device nestles under the skin by the clavicle. They gave me some medication in an IV and I felt foggy, but calm. The doctor cut, pushed, and pressed (ouch!), while inserting a long tube into my neck, back around my clavicle, and down into the main artery near my stomach. —The tube was connected to the port and I was stitched up. I came away with 2 sets of stitches; on my neck and near my clavicle on my right shoulder. The port looked like a black and blue alien under my skin.

Mont (my husband) and I didn’t say much on the way home. What can you say anyway? Gee, that was a terrible little ordeal, but it’s only the beginning?! The doctors had already told us how arduous and difficult my treatment would be, so I thought it was important to be mentally prepared—and part of being mentally prepared was to put this first assault on my body and nerves into perspective.

Normally, I would have considered an experience like this worth telling at the next family dinner. I am certain I would have received plenty of empathy and perhaps even a little respect for my bravery (especially if I showed them the stitches). However, I realized this was just one step of a thousand step journey, so I decided to take it with dignity and grace. I found a quiet sort of bravery that gave me strength and the resolve to move forward.

That evening I cried for lots of reasons; not just because my body and nerves had been traumatized from the surgery, but because I was overwhelmed by the reality of my circumstances. I felt so many emotions, the strongest of which was overwhelming gratitude for all the love and concern I had been shown already. Even though I was uncertain about the path ahead, I felt a pervasive calm and certainty about myself. Who knew at a time like this I wouldn’t turn to mush….amazing.

I have had this little joke with my kids (but I really mean it) that when I die they are to throw me a big funeral and that one of them must say to the crowd (hopefully a big crowd) “our mother wants you all to know that she had a fine time!” This is how I feel about my life—even though I have done some hard things, I love my life—passionately.

Before I fell asleep I asked God if I could stay a little longer (way longer than 3-6 years) because I had experienced such a wonderful time on this planet and I wanted more. I hope I didn’t sound too selfish, but it seemed like a reasonable selfishness. I decided not to try and cut any deals—you know, where you say you’ll try really hard to be a better person if the powers that be will just give you your way and spare you from some inevitably difficult experience. Instead, I said I would do everything I could to live longer and all I asked for was a little guidance—OK, and maybe a few miracles.

© 2007 Julia Andrus

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