It’s been 3 weeks since my 2nd surgery and I apologize if I haven’t had much to say. I tend to be quieter when I have a lot to process. In the last 3 weeks I learned that surgery #2 also failed to produce negative margins (that means the cancer is still there). I learned that there appears to be disease in the breast that cannot be detected on a mammogram or MRI. This has left me in a tough spot of decision making.
I can go back for a 3rd re-excision of the area to try and achieve negative margins; however, there is no guarantee that it would all be removed even if with a negative pathology report. What I’m being told is that the only sure way to remove all of the cancer is to have a mastectomy. This was shocking news to me because I have been told repeatedly that this is not life-threatening and that it is very small and non-invasive.
It is hard to wrap my brain around such a big surgery for something that is supposed to be so small. In doing my own research I have found that it is not unheard of for women to have mastectomies for this “little” cancer when negative margins can’t be achieved or when a woman would prefer not to have radiation. It still feels extreme. I was also told there are cases where women have opted for mastectomy only to find there was no cancer left in the final pathology report. They had gone through that big surgery for nothing!
For me, in the end, it comes down to risk of recurrence. I really don’t want to do this cancer thing again, so I need to figure out how to keep this disease from coming back with minimal damage to my body and quality of life.
Taking a break…
After appointments with 2 oncologists, my surgeon and a plastic surgeon, we decided to take a short break from cancer. After all, this is the year of fun and cancer is so not. The kids got out of school at the end of May and we needed to celebrate. We took off for a 4-day weekend at the Outer Banks.
It felt like going home. It had been 5 years since our last trip to the outer reaches of the Carolina coast and it was good for my soul. It was neat to share our favorite NC beach with the kids. They were very little the last time we visited the OBX so it was all new to them. We had fun family time, ate way too much good food, and soaked in the beauty of the beach… sunsets, dolphins, stormy waters, salty air and very little “cancer talk”. I never tire of the beach. Never.
The trip home from the OBX was a somber one. I’m always depressed when we leave the beach. This time was worse because I knew coming back home to my reality meant having to make important decisions. “Stupid cancer”, has become a regular utterance in our home these days. It’s such a buzz-kill, y’all! But it is my reality and I have to face it, deal with it and move on with life.
I have said all along that we deal with today today and we do tomorrow tomorrow. Well, today is yesterday’s tomorrow and I know, by God’s grace, I will get through it. I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I keep waiting for a magical fairy to wave her wand and make it all go away. I do continue to have a peace in spite of my circumstances. When I am thinking rationally and put it all into perspective, I realize fully that this is a very short season in my life. I just don’t want to do it right now.
This morning I was reading the latest archive post from the Kara Tippetts Collection over at the Mundane Faithfulness blog. (If you haven’t heard Kara’s story, I highly recommend her books. Talk about finding perspective!) This is the verse at the end of her post:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ~Matthew 6:33-34
I don’t know about you, but I needed this reminder today. Seek first…
*Originally posted on “The Hogbloggers” site in June 2015
© Elizabeth Smith 2015