Countdown to Mastectomy Monday has begun; I've got a date with pre-op at 6am on Monday morning. Nuclear medicine at 8am and the cutting begins around 12noon. I tried to negotiate an early-release-for-good-behavior but was told if I'm good, they'll let me go home Tuesday.
Yesterday was a long day of surgeon conversations, post-op care primers and pre-surgery lab work. The evening was topped off with my first cancer support group meeting. Which was a total trip!
Not knowing what to expect, I took the give-it-five-minutes-and-see-how-it-goes approach. This is the same approach (as advised by my husband) that I take on those days I don't feel like going to the gym but I know I need the endorphin rush.
And I've never left the gym after just five minutes.
I'd love to say the give-it-five approach works with every semi-dreaded activity but I've never had a broom/mop/sink-full-of-dirty-dishes compel my focus like that.
Twenty-minutes early, I sat in the room alone, reading my materials. The first woman I met was a soon-to-be 88 year-old fireplug. She was diagnosed with cancer nine years ago, had a stroke last year and doesn't seem let a damn thing get her down.
"Are you new?" she asked pointedly.
"Yes, this is my first time," I replied.
"Well we are GLAD you are here but sorry you had to come."
She so succinctly articulated what I was thinking minutes prior. While I was eager to meet and learn from other women who have walked this path already, I was having a surreal "this is sucky" kind of moment.
As the group slowly funneled in over the next twenty minutes, I was greeted in a similar fashion by most and quietly listened in as they talked about vacations, grandchildren, jobs and partners.
Prior to a round robin, our evening's leader made a few announcements about local survivor and support events.
"So when do I become a survivor?" I asked.
"Do you have cancer? Are you alive? *dramatic pause* Then you're a survivor," she announced with enough conviction that I was and will remain totally sold.
A decade younger than anyone in the room and only two weeks from diagnosis, I initially felt I might be in the wrong room. But hearing the other women's diagnosis and treatment stories was inspiring; hearing them talk about all the non-cancer things in their lives was a welcome change from the focus of my last couple of weeks. When my turn came, I started from the beginning.
I've got my first post-surgery goal. Part of me wishes it were a half marathon but my goal is much more modest and a whole lot more meaningful. Based on my new friend's definition of the word, I'm planning to attend the Santa Clara 2013 Cancer Survivors Day event at Kaiser Santa Clara on June 23rd, almost one week post op.
This morning I went down to The Next Step in Los Gatos to be fitted for my post-op cami. It'll be six to eight weeks before I can be fitted for a prosthesis (aka: chicken cutlet) so I've got a cami and bra I can wear to make due until then. While I get more options after the six-week (full incision healing required) mark, I was a bit saddened to see my options were white and white and mentioned to the proprietor that the color and the fabric and the front opening was oh-so-reminiscent of my training bra days.
I just may have to tie dye them!
With less than 72 hours until surgery, the family and I are about to pack up for a No Cancer Camping Weekend in celebration of Father's Day and in celebration of health. A couple days of uninhibited creek play, campfire stories, more than my fair share of potato chips and restful snoozing under the stars is EXACTLY how I want to spend my time.
Mastectomy Monday isn't going to tarnish a Father's Day tradition and it's absolutely NOT going to tarnish me.