At this time last year I was preparing for my first surgery. I wasn’t really scared anymore. I was ready – or at least that is what I remember of it all. I remember being scared early on, but not being scared on the day of. I remember giving myself permission to go into surgery kicking and screaming, and really only crying a little as they placed the third wire in – a rather painful process where the mammogram machine is used to squeeze your breast while they place wires into your breast to show the surgeons were the tumor are. You leave radiology with wires sticking out of you (like foot long wires protruding from your breast(s).
A year ago tomorrow, I had my first breast cancer surgery. I don’t mark that date as my cancer free date because they didn’t actually remove the last of my cancer that day. They only got the first two tumors – the third was a small one that was not properly marked, so the wire wasn’t in the right place. It didn’t matter much, as the plan had always been for a double mastectomy, which would be done December 17th. This surgery was to test my sentinel nodes, do a devascularization of the nipple and areola, and biopsy the cells under the nipple.
I remember waking up and my first question to my husband was “are my nodes clear?” – referring to whether or not they found cancer in my sentinel lymph nodes. Apparently I asked that question about 8 times as I was waking up from the surgery. Fortunately the nodes were clear, as were the cells under my nipples. This meant I was good to go for the nipple sparing double mastectomy with immediate DIEP flap reconstruction on December 17th (yup, that surgery is a mouth full to say, and was a long one to both do and to recover from).
And so today, I look back on that time. I think about what I would tell myself – with the benefit of hind sight. I’d tell myself (1) drink more water, (2) finish your coffee a littler earlier cause they will take it away from you, (3) don’t bother with the pre-procedure nerve block as it was likely more painful than the pain it was blocking, (4) let Scott have one last grope of the girls, and (5) you’ll be OK, when it is all said and done you can order room service from your hospital room!