Friday, June 25, 2010

A Year Ago Today and Once Again Down the Surgery Road

One year ago today I had a bilateral mastectomy and 11 lymph nodes removed. It was the beginning of a long road of recovery from the surgery and chemo. I've come a long way!

This time the surgery was for a good thing! I decided to go ahead & give breast reconstruction a try. Not so much because I missed my breasts (no bra is very nice!), but more because of difficulty of finding clothes other than tees that fit/looked right, and because I've been using double-stick tape to tape my shirts so you couldn't see my scars when I bent over. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life investing in double-stick tape & worrying about people seeing what 'wasn't' under my shirt.

So on Monday the 14th I had the first surgery to insert expanders. They are like a thick balloon with a port where fluid will be injected every couple of weeks until the skin is stretched enough to accommodate the size implant I want. In a few months (hopefully by the end of the year), I'll have another surgery to have the expanders taken out & permanent implants put in. No more DD - I'm aiming for a C+.

Since I would already be off work a couple of weeks, I decided to have another surgery the following Monday (the 21st), in order to avoid having to be off work again in a few weeks. This was to repair both trigger thumbs which would require being off about a week. So now I'm done with both & will be going back to work on Monday the 28th. The trigger thumbs were a direct result of the Femara I take to keep the breast cancer from returning. Annoying side-effects.

I feel like I've been perforated all over!

Here's to surgeries that make life better!

Friday Flashback - 1968

Mrs Robinson
Simon & Garfunkel

From 'The Graduate' .....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday Flashback a Day Late - 1962

Especially for my sissie ...

'Soldier Boy'
The Shirelles

Friday, June 11, 2010

For My Son

On a Sunday morning you started fighting your way into this world.
On a Wednesday afternoon you finally emerged with strong kicks and a lusty cry.
The birthing process wasn't easy for either of us.
As thrilled as I was to be able to cuddle you in my arms, I missed holding you in my tummy.

On a Tuesday morning you walked away from me into your first day of pre-school.
On a Friday evening you donned cap and gown and lifted high your diploma.
The birthing process wasn't easy for either of us.
As thrilled as I was to see you grow and learn, I missed cuddling you in my arms.

On a Saturday morning you packed up clothes and 18 years of treasures.
On a Sunday evening you spent your first night in your own apartment.
The birthing process wasn't easy for either of us.
As thrilled as I was to see you asserting your independence, I missed watching you grow and learn.

On a Monday morning you loaded a truck and moved 800 miles away.
On a Thursday afternoon you put me teary-eyed on a plane back to my empty nest.
The birthing process wasn't easy for either of us.
As thrilled as I was to see you bravely facing new challenges, I missed watching you discover your independence.

There is not a day you are not foremost in my thoughts.
There is not a day you do not consume my heart.
The birthing process hasn't been easy for either of us.
As thrilled as I am to see the man you've become, I will forever miss my little boy.

Friday Flashback - August 1969

Green River - CCR!
(John Fogerty)

Well, take me back down where cool water flows, yeah.
Let me remember things I love,
Stoppin' at the log where catfish bite,
Walkin' along the river road at night,
Barefoot girls dancin' in the moonlight.

I can hear the bullfrog callin' me.
Wonder if my rope's still hangin' to the tree.
Love to kick my feet 'way down the shallow water.
Shoefly, dragonfly, get back t'your mother.
Pick up a flat rock, skip it across Green River.

Up at Cody's camp I spent my days, oh,
With flat car riders and cross-tie walkers
. Old Cody, Junior took me over,
Said, "You're gonna find the world is smould'rin'.
And if you get lost come on home to Green River."

Come on home.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Finding My Place

For most of my life I simply accepted what I was told to believe; I rarely questioned because that was frowned upon. I was fine with that for many years .. I did what I was told, I strived to be what those around me expected me to be . After some challenging personal experiences I began to lose faith in God. I felt abandoned, like he had let me down when I needed him the most. Once I was on 'the other side', I learned those who called themselves 'Christians' had very little compassion for those of us who were struggling spiritually. Over a period of time I came to cringe when someone told me they were Christian. I associated that with narrow-minded hatred for anyone different, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. I distinctly remember commenting at work one day .. 'forget the lions, God save us from the Christians'. I wanted nothing to do with those who proclaimed themselves to be so good, yet treated others with disdain and criticism. What I saw in churches was very little of 'God's love'; more a society proclaiming 'look how good we are & how bad you are'. Those little 'what would Jesus do' bracelets adorned the wrists of those who spread vicious gossip, whose mouths were full of venom. At the same time, I longed for that relationship with God that I had once known. I missed it. I didn't know how to get back. I certainly didn't want to go back to where I had come from.

During my breast surgery and the subsequent chemo, I had an unexplainable peace. I wondered how I could be so calm, but I had no doubt I would be just fine. I had no inclination to ask God for help. He hadn't been there for me before, why would he be now? I didn't ask for prayers. I knew I was on my own. But somewhere during those long days I recognized a distinctly feminine presence. The Goddess? The Virgin Mary? My grandmother's kind, soothing spirit? I may never know the answer to that question, but I have chosen to believe the spirit of the Blessed Virgin Mary enfolded me in her loving arms. Could it be the Goddess who was obliterated was actually incarnate in the Virgin Mary? Perhaps I'll never have an understanding. And that's alright. I no longer feel like a heretic for asking the question.

After chemo treatment, I knew I needed to regain a sense of community, of interacting with others instead of withdrawing from society. I suppose I could have joined a bridge club, but I decided to try to find a church where I felt like I fit in.

This was my criteria:

A church that treated all people with dignity and respect.
A church where I didn't have to check my brain at the door.
A place that encouraged my questions. After all, can truth not withstand questions?
A group of people who didn't think of themselves as 'better', that didn't harshly judge others.
A place that allowed for a degree of individual interpretation rather than a rigid dictate of faith.

I really didn't think that place existed. I prayed that if there was indeed a place for me, that I would be able to find it. I took away denominational parameters and opened my mind to something different. In January I started visiting a different church each Sunday. In years past I had visited the Unitarian .. wonderful people with kind, open hearts, but not quite right for me. I had also attended Christmas Eve Mass at the Catholic Church for many years. I was drawn to the beautiful liturgical worship, but again, not exactly right. I visited a couple of Lutheran churches, a couple of Methodist, a Presbyterian. Two seemed like possibilities. One very openly expressed that same 'we're righteous and everyone else is going to hell' attitude. No thanks.

Then on a cold, snowy morning in February, I walked into an Episcopal Church just minutes from my house. I had only a few fuzzy sprigs of hair on my head and still had much of the ‘chemo look’. I was greeted by a kind lady who welcomed me and inquired if I had ever attended an Episcopal service before. No, never. She introduced me to a charter member who sat with me & guided me through the service. I experienced an overwhelming peaceful, loving atmosphere and a beautiful service that was very different for me. The sermon was extolling the magnificence of God, true worship rather than entertainment or a cheerleading section for the home team. The next Sunday I continued my quest and went to another area church. I remember thinking ‘Oh .. I wish I had gone to St. Timothy’s!’. The next Sunday I did just that. When I walked through the door, I felt my body and my spirit relax .. it felt like ‘coming home’.

St Timothy’s is a small parish, but one of the warmest, most loving congregations I have ever met. Every person attending service that morning greeted me. No one asked, 'who are you? Where do you work? Why are you here?' They simply said, 'we're really glad you're here'. Do you know how unusual that is? I have been embraced by people who truly display the love of Christ. The parish Priest has been very generous with his time for counseling, guiding me in restoring my relationship with God, and setting aside time every week to answer my questions and teach me of the Episcopal faith.

I have felt accepted and loved from the moment I walked through those red doors with my bald head. For the first time in my life I actually feel like I ‘fit in’. For the first time in my life I'm exploring my own faith instead of blindly accepting someone else's. I have found my place. That is an amazing blessing!

Holy Father, thank you for leading me on a different path.
Let me see beyond the
faƧade of those called by your name who
have none of your grace.

Divine Mother, thank you for opening my mind and restoring my faith.
Please help me begin to give back the love and acceptance I have so
generously been given.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Friday Flashback - 1961

Ok, so really I posted this right before I left for work on Friday morning .. so why is the date showing up for Thursday???

The Tokens - 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'