From the moment I was diagnosed with breast cancer I have had a deep knowing that I am supposed to walk this path. It is significant. How can it not be?
There is a lesson in this for me, a very profound lesson. I know I’m not at the end of the journey but I am already living part of that lesson.
I am feeling loved beyond measure.
Most of my life I have struggled with feelings of being unlovable. Feelings of self doubt, unworthiness and of being forgotten are the things that hold me back. Sure I can balance them out with feelings of gratitude and other insightful stuff, but to be honest I have to stay vigilant.
Yet in the midst of so much uncertainty I have never felt so solid.
I am learning to receive with grace.
As it turns out, grace comes in the form of phone calls, emails, text messages, social media response, supportive comments on the blog, donations and greeting cards. I am still blown away by the outpouring of support.
For me there has been something magickal in the greeting cards. They have been coming in since I was first diagnosed…almost 2 dozen now! They come in every size and shape, some are handmade and others store bought. Flowers, dragonflys, the moon and the stars are just some of the images that make me smile.
But just like people….it’s what’s on the inside that touches my heart.
Each one of them has a hand written message of love and support that makes my eyes well up with tears.
They replace my fear of being forgotten with smiles and an overflowing heart.
I use them to get through the hard stuff.
This week was my follow up with the surgeon. The visit where she would again tell me that the test results from my second surgery were not good and that I had more hard decisions to make.
I’m really getting tired of being a grown up.
I had already read the pathology report from both my surgeries so in my brain I understood what she was telling me at that visit, but the little girl inside of me wanted to stomp her foot and pout. I’ve done what’s been asked of me…why aren’t things turning out the way I want them to?
As we continue to talk I feel familiar shooting pains run through my left breast. This experience has reinforced my understanding of how thoughts affect our physical bodies. Whenever I have serious conversations about my breast I get shooting nerve pain in it, they are usually quick little pains that vary in intensity from barely noticeable to so sharp they make me gasp. It does the same thing when I get overly tired.
I was not alone at this visit and my surgeon patiently answered all our questions. I still really liked her but I sure didn’t like the things she was telling me. Between both surgeries she estimated she had taken out tissue that amounted to the size of a silver dollar and about ½” thick. I complimented her on her skill because I couldn’t tell any difference in my breast. She burst my bubble by telling me that the area was filled with fluid right now and that as it healed it would begin to cave in and be more noticeable.
After all the questions and answers it was up to me. Do I want a 3rd lumpectomy with the lymph node removal or a mastectomy of the breast?
I don’t want either.
Back in the office her surgical assistant hands me business cards for plastic surgeons and tells me to call them and see if they are covered by my insurance. Without looking at the cards I quickly put them in my binder and head for the door.
We are all silent as we walk to the car and get back on the road to home. It was only 10:00am but we had already suffered a major disappointment.
I took a deep breath and opened my binder to look at the cards. One moment I was in control looking at where they were located and comparing cards. Then suddenly I burst into tears, startling my husband from his driving.
“Are you okay?” he asked softly. “I can’t believe I am even thinking about having my breast cut off. How did I get here?” I sob uncontrollably. My girlfriend touches my shoulder lovingly and hands me a tissue as tears fall in my lap.
This can’t be happening.
When we get home I start calling the plastic surgeons, none of them takes my insurance. After getting frustrated with the insurance company website I decide to call them and ask for names of surgeons that will take my insurance.
A young man takes my call and my voice shakes as I tell him that I am looking for surgeons that do breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. He politely asks to put me on hold while he checks and after a brief silence returns to ask if I have a pen and paper.
My pen is poised as he gives me the first name, Affiliated Dermatology.
“No” I tell him “I’m looking for a plastic surgeon.”
“They list plastic surgery as one of their specialties” he replies. I try politely 3 times to make him see how dermatology is not what I need. Finally my frustration gets the better of me and I blurt out “There is a huge difference between taking off a mole and reconstructing a breast!”
I’m not sure if he gets it or he just doesn’t want me to lose it again but he gives me the names of 2 plastic surgery centers and one private practice doctor. I’m conscious to be on my best behavior as I take the information and thank him for his help.
I look at the paper and realize that my hand was shaking so bad that the information is hard to read. I rewrite some stuff to make it legible and then proceed to look them up on line. Two of the three mention reconstruction but one only lists augmentation.
I can feel the sadness getting heavier on my chest with each click of the mouse.
I read descriptions of the surgeries, freak out at the recovery times and look at the before and after pictures. Personally I didn’t like any of the after pictures.
My brain was reeling and I was very grateful that I had a client that afternoon. I set aside my thinking mind and let my higher Self take over. My client and I had a great session and I was able to deflect her questions when she tried to ask how I was doing.
I wasn’t sure I could hold it together if I had to talk about my own stuff.
Afterwards I felt more grounded and was able to tap into my training to sort things out. I have always believed that when it comes to our healing we should do the least invasive things first. Even though it was the 3rd time, a lumpectomy feels less invasive to me.
I love my breast and I don’t want to give it up.
I reach over to the corner of my desk and pick up the stack of greeting cards. I flip through the colorful pile, opening some to read the messages inside and gently touching others just to admire their beauty. I breathe deeply and know my decision has been made.
A few phone calls back and forth and the nurse has me scheduled for my lumpectomy.