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Month Three—Almost There

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No wonder my surgeon waits two months from the last saline fill before performing the next surgery. It’s day five, and I’m still tender from the muscle spasms, and the rock on my chest has grown to a boulder. My surgeon assures me this will subside as my muscles and tissues expand.

I take hope and strength knowing I am almost done. Only the surgery to remove the expander and place the prosthetic is left, besides the last six weeks of recovery.

This experience has broadened my view on many things. The number of other women I have encountered who have, or had, breast cancer and undergone mastectomies and reconstruction is much larger than I comprehended. According to my oncologist, one out of eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. No wonder I know so many, including myself.

Even without dealing with cancer in one of its many forms, few of us escape this life unscarred or unscathed in some way. How well we adapt depends on many factors. For me, faith is at the top…

Pain Is Gain

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Stretching. Aerobics. Resistance training. Yard work. I did not realize how much those activities would hurt or how much I’d gain afterward.

The first day of a new, or increased activity, the pain is almost intolerable. Sleeping is difficult. No position is comfortable despite the Tylenol I load up on before going to bed.

However…

The next morning, the pain is gone. I notice more flexibility, range of motion, and strength. The difference is astounding from one day to the next.

I am also lucky, no sign of lymphedema. As my surgeon said, if I haven’t gotten it by now, I probably won’t.

Everything worth having in this life will cost us something, and the harder or more painful the task, the more valuable the reward.

My devotions repeatedly mentioned how suffering and sorrow lead to a stronger faith and deeper compassion for others. I understand that better now since my diagnosis and surgery. I no longer see pain as the enemy.

This perception has changed everything. I worry less about su…

The Simple Things

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Unless something, like a surgery, upsets our daily routine, we don’t realize how many things we take for granted, like reaching for a shelf above our heads, bending down to pick something up from the floor, or pushing a grocery cart.
Exercise has improved my mobility, but the expander complicates some movements. It’s rigid and I can feel it move against my chest muscle despite the sutures stabilizing it. This is not painful per se, but not comfortable either.
The good news, the prosthetic will replace it in about two months. (Two more saline fills and a six month wait period before that surgery.) The implant will allow a more natural movement, but it will never be the same as biological tissue. I still prefer it to a flat space and a large scar.

Even if movement isn’t always comfortable, there are many who would trade places, restricted movement better than none. Something I need to remember whenever I’m frustrated. It could be so much worse.

I often think of St. Paul and the suff…

Eight Weeks — New Challenges and Blessings

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In my last post I talked about priorities and how mine changed after surgery. Comfort has been at the top of that list, and now that I have healed from the surgery, my surgeon has given me the green light to begin normal activities. Not as easy as it sounds.

Most of the discomfort at this stage of recuperation is from tightened and shortened muscles. Unused muscles are painful. Trust me on that one.

The American Cancer Website for mastectomy patients has a list of exercises to regain flexibility, specialized exercises designed to help regain a full range of motion and prevent permanent muscle damage. I can't say I was looking forward to moving that much. I have to, and I will, but at this stage showering and dressing are still painful activities.

However, an article I read recently gave me additional motivation. A study found a link between the lack of muscle mass and high body fat with a higher risk of death in breast cancer survivors. That announcement gives me increased motiv…

After Thirty Days — What Matters Most?

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One month since my surgery. What is at the top of my priority list? Comfort.

Oh, to feel comfortable again.

My swim in the waters of continuous pain these last thirty days have given me a whole new appreciation for the pain free days of the past and empathy for those dealing with chronic pain. However, I am fortunate. My discomfort is easing every day and should end once my mastectomy reconstruction is completed (in five or six months).

With restricted activities, I evaluate everything according to my doctors’ guidelines and what my body deems comfortable.

Patience is my current mantra. It’s not as hard as it used to be. My body lets me know how much I can do with loud, insistent messages I can’t ignore.

Expert say it takes thirty days to change habits. Will my priorities remain the same after my full recovery, or will I revert to old ways?

I may slip now and then, but my scars and other body changes will be constant reminders of what matters most — life and my relationship with God and ot…

A Pause

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Jesus often admonished His disciples for their lack of faith after witnessing so many miracles.  “How do you not yet understand about the lilies of the field, or feeding the five thousand with a few fish and loaves of bread?”
How do we not understand? Because we are weak and frail. The devil uses our weaknesses, stirring up doubts, telling us we are unworthy of God’s good gifts.  We are unworthy, but God still grants them because of His infinite love.  
Streams in the Desert: “Difficulties are sent to reveal what God can do in answer to faith that prays and works.”
Sometimes God sends difficulties not only to strengthen our faith, but also to encourage us to spend more time with Him in prayer for ourselves and for others. Prayer, with God’s intervention, can accomplish more than years of physical struggle. He asks us to pause in our headlong rush to accomplish to sit at His feet and learn.
“Your faith can level forests.” Streams in the Desert.
My upcoming surgery and recuperation …

My Gethsemane

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I knew with the same certainty of other premonitions that my mammogram would not be normal. I prayed, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking that this cup pass from me. In response, I received a vision and a promise. I saw myself lying on the couch, smothered in blankets, recovering from treatments, assured I would be healed.  
Even with numerous scriptural and other assurances, I still begged for this trial pass from me.
God answered.
Sometimes small things interfered with my church attendance, devotions, and prayer time. God knew I could do better. This was my Jonah, calling me back to a deeper relationship, asking me to realign my priorities. Nothing like a crisis to drop you to your knees. This time, I vowed to stay there and not allow the cares of this world to distract me from what I knew I should do.
Also, our faith through severe trials can lead others to God. For example, my husband, who is standoffish with prayer and faith, confessed he has been praying. Who knows…