December 13, 2014

Processing needs time…

Since the bilateral mastectomy, I have been processing life; relationships, health, human behavior, emotions, interpersonal schemas, and much more. I have not been trying to mentally organize rather I have been allowing each theme, event, and emotion to simply present, move through me, and then release; this has been difficult at times and remains a challenge.

The surgery process, what I can recall of it, could be framed two ways, positive and negative. It began on the day prior to surgery while engaging in the hospital intake process. The intake woman misspoke on several occasions as she referred to my procedure as “cosmetic’; I felt compelled to correct her, I was having a bilateral mastectomy due to an aggressive breast cancer, far from a super awesome cosmetic procedure. That was frustrating. The morning of the procedure the IV insertion process was fraught with pain, anxiety, and chaos. After three failed attempts, I stated I wanted my husband to come back with me to offer support and that I was about to have a panic attack - I needed a Xanax. Finally they produced my husband, who had my Xanax, next the staff brought out an ultrasound machine to find a vein – WTF, I know! Two additional pokes later and the IV was finally in. What occurred after the IV was placed, I really do not recall; it seems the staff power loaded me with, let’s leave this behind us, medication at that point.

Well, it was done; I awoke in a hospital room. The breasts were gone and it was time to get this body healing. My dutiful husband was beside me throughout my recovery; I recall he appeared stunned at times. Looking into his eyes I could see his mind as he watched me navigate the pain, frustration with doctors not following through on pain medications as discussed extensively, his deep sense of…I don’t want my wife to die, this has to be the thing that fixes this mess. It was and still remains heart wrenching to look into the eyes of those that love me, especially my husband – I see through the masked feelings, I physically experience the heart break, and I see the concern. I stayed in the hospital one night and that was enough for me. When I arrived to my brother’s house in Texas, where I would be recovering for a couple weeks, I was stunned to see the aftermath of the surgical process. This is where anger seeps in; although I was unaware of the depths of destruction that were really left at that time. One breast was removed by way of a vertical incision while the other was horizontal. It was a mess! I had two drain tubes emerging from each side of my body. The tubes where removed in waves, in the days to follow, and hurt like a bitch when they were removed. Lengthy tubes twirled up inside my body where my breasts once rested– like 15 inches of tubing. One tube remained for quite some time and was removed after returning to Oregon. The recovery was okay – I was left impacted from the anesthesia, from a memory perspective, this I consider a gift from the Devine. Three weeks post-surgery, I was back at school and internship – ready to move forward.

A little over a month post-surgery, I went to have my tumor marker counts tested; completely expecting them to be back within normal range. This was not the case. The tumor makers, which I have tracked going on four years now, were 800% higher than when I was originally diagnosed; my heart sank. My first thought was what the fuck? There clearly has been a mix-up, this is not right. But it was right. Since my diagnosis in 2011, I have chosen not to participate in PET/CT scans, until the lab work indicated a serious issue. The PET/CT appointment was set and two of my dear friends traveled with me, over to the Oregon Coast, to the appointment. My husband was out of the state on business – I told him to go as staying for a test would not change the outcome. The test procedure went well and my two friends and I celebrated the test being over as we channeled a positive outcome over food, beverage, and endless laughter.

My friend Kim gave me this beautiful print;the artist, Kelly Rae Roberts,
signed the print and wrote a touching message on the back. 
As we drove home, the conversation was light and laughter was what was on tap! Then my phone rang, my friend pulled over to the side of the road, it was the oncologist calling with the results. I braced myself. When I heard the doctor’s voice, I knew it was not good news – I could feel his energy. I learned that the cancer had come back and was large and in charge, including deciding to settle into my chest wall. While I am listening, all of a sudden a state trooper comes along side our car, rolls down the window, and asks if everything was okay. My friend explained I was taking a call from my doctor and he drove away. I wanted to scream in response to the officer, no everything is not okay, this fucking cancer has come back again; but I was speechless. Tears where coming down my cheeks. I felt defeated. Broken. Angry. Frustrated. Unsettled. I hung up the phone and told my friends I had to get out of here. I jumped out of the car. Well, I must have been quite a site! It is mist/raining and here I am on the side of the road in high healed black boots, crazy black and white leggings, a bright pink sweater, and on my phone walking around crying! I was talking to my husband. He was out of town and on his way to my brother’s house in Texas for dinner – thankfully. I erupted and told my husband the findings, I was crying uncontrollably and saying, I don’t know what to do! I abruptly hung up noting that I was getting wet from the rain and that we will just keep on roll’n with it. I got back in the car and started to process the latest cancer news. I text my brother to please help my husband, noting, I just received the results.

I wanted to scream…but I could not. I think I hit the interior of my friends car a few times, lots of fuck this fuck that, and my biggest verbal contemptuous expression – for ALL those people that think if you have breast cancer and you remove your breasts that the issue is gone…it is a systemic issue people, it is still here! After processing for about 15 minutes, I sent my husband a text to check on him. He responded by saying that he was coming home in the morning. I called him on the phone and exclaimed, I am fine, you coming home is not going to change anything plus, I have a full case of clients I am seeing tomorrow. You will be coming home to nothing! LOL!!! When I got off the phone, my friends were laughing, about the “you will be coming home to nothing”…perfect timing to add levity. He was able to undo his early trip home and life continued. The next day, I was sitting in session with clients and managed to hold my own pain, fear, and anxiety.

So, here I am today – December 13, 2014. What is next you ask? Well, my options are to continue doing what I am doing – utilizing alternative remedies to bring my body into balance. I have adjusted my regiment to include a host of supportive essential oil supplement from doTerra – a huge thanks to my mom and day for financially supporting two months of the supplements!! Being healthy is an expensive adventure. I went on a three week juicing adventure to cleanse my body and give it a chance to begin to heal. The highlight of my day during this process was when I could eat a hardboiled egg – I don’t even like eggs but I tell you what, they taste fucking fantastic when consuming primarily juiced vegetables. My new bedtime is typically 8:30-9:00pm, my body is tired and needs rest. I am experiencing increased fatigue as the week’s progress, I know this is not a good sign. Nevertheless, I move forward. As I write this, I am wearing the F*ck Cancer t-shirt my friend gave me – pretty much is representing my truth right now. Not going to let this cancer thing get in the way of living; nope, it is just not going to happen.

My two friends Karri and Rachael, during
a counseling training a the Oregon Coast.
Next steps, to continue living. The cancer, has allowed me to see the world through a different lens. It too has softened my heart and crumbled the walls that surrounded me for far too long. I live a bit differently now. I love a lot harder. I have fun more often. I laugh a lot. I don’t take myself so serious. I am still me, it is just that I have polished a few more of those jagged edges. When I consider the biggest changes in my life, it would be actively pursuing friendships. I have allowed my heart to be open to receiving and inviting others in. At times, this vulnerability is difficult and may end painfully, yet I am willing to continue to go there. “My GFU” [George Fox University Graduate School] peeps have been a strong support system and many close life-long friendships have been cultivate. I love this life. I love this season that I am in. I want it to continue. I am so ready to kick cancer’s ass!

Today, I am hopeful~