Yesterday I drove to Boston to get the bandages off from my chest from last weeks surgery, and have my plastic surgeon monitor the healing process, meet with my surgical oncologist for my yearly examination, and be fitted for my partial prosthesis and mastectomy bras. Because Boston is a couple hours plus away, we try to bunch the appointments into one day to keep travel at a minimum. It is very helpful, but it makes for a very long day.
Upon traveling there I was reflecting on the start of this journey. I was afraid to drive into Boston, then I was afraid to drive into Boston alone. There were weeks that I drove with pillows under each arm because otherwise was too painful. Yet yesterday I was driving down, confidently by myself, unafraid of traffic, the blasting of horns, wrong turns. My pain was at a minimum and what would soon be unveiled was the results of the final planned surgery of my reconstruction. Light… narrowing of a passageway of uncertainty, discomfort, and barrage of emotions including fear that creviced a wide open field of light, hope, new life…. FREEDOM.
I reflected on my medical team, and the importance of all, but in particular my plastic surgeon and my relationship with him. He is extremely cautious, moves through the processes slowly (or what felt to be slowly) and said “No” to me on numerous occasions which stirred in me discontent, but on this day I felt only gratitude for being under his care. Gratitude for the skill of his hands, and eye, and the manner in which he cares about each patient. Tears flowed. This man put me back together again.
Upon my arrival at Mass General Hospital, and the usual and expected delay with traffic I was able to look at the progress of the new building that was starting to erect almost two years ago when I first arrived at MGH for treatment. It is amazing how the progress of this construction has coincided with my reconstruction. My reconstruction will be complete in February or March, and this buildings completion will be shortly thereafter.
The unveiling went well, I shed tears of gratitude with my plastic surgeon as I thanked him for all that he has done for me. Alongside gratitude is acceptance of how I look, where i am. There will be no more surgeries, I do not care if I am lopsided, unbalanced, or like. I am tired, my body weary and worn of all the surgeries I have had in the past 19 months… there will be no more. But as I look at myself and what appears to be a million sutures and stitches, much smaller mounds of breasts than I had before cancer, and enlarged manmade nipples that will shrink but look pretty damned good… I think how beautiful I look. I do not see the scars, the sutures, the stitches, the swelling, the bruises. I see wholeness. I do not dwell on the memories of the concaved chest and frightening visions after surgery but obviously I remember. I no longer care about my size or what I once looked like, I couldn’t care less. I am alive! I am in awe and so grateful that I am once again “whole”. I have known and loved women who did not have this, some by choice, some not. It is such a personal decision, none less brave or right than another. The journey through breast cancer is not for the weak hearted or kneed. By midstream you become a warrior, or so it feels that way.
Yesterday was an emotional day for me, a good day. My journey through cancer is coming full circle, I am coming out the other side, but I am coming out a stronger, wiser smarter woman, for I know what is truly important in life. I know that this very moment as I type this and as you are reading this is very precious, and I thank you for making the choice to spend this very minute of your life reading my story. I know that I have been blessed with more, and I know that I am a very lucky woman to be writing this story today. I know that life isn’t about perfection, or how I look, or what I have or don’t have. It isn’t measured it cup sizes or even waist sizes. What is it about? Smiles…. I think everyone needs to define what their life is about, what brings them happiness, purpose, fulfillment, but I will tell you this. I am enough with or without breasts. I am a very wealthy woman and my savings account is only 5 digits including cents! I am SO very thankful for this journey that has awakened my heart and soul. I wish the pain on no one, but the growth? Priceless!
With so much gratitude and love in my heart today for all that have helped me through this in SO many ways. Thank you.