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A Letter to Family & Friends About My Journey – Part II

Pink EelephantThe following is the second of four letters that I wrote to my friends and family immediately following my breast cancer diagnosis and surgery:

Letter # 2
October 25, 2010
A letter to my friends and family

Please forgive the long lapse since my last update. Life seems to be happening so profoundly fast these days that I lost track of time. Blame it on the pink elephant!

A special thank you to all of you who have emailed, called, texted and written to check in during the past month. It is your continual support and love that makes every day that much easier. Each day I feel as if I am taking each step with you all cheering “YOU CAN DO IT … KEEP GOING!” Some days the steps are tall and steep and all of you together raise me up so I can reach each step and keep going. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

During the past two months I have been faced with challenges, fears and emotions that I didn’t expect. But with each step, something profound always appears that takes my breath away – right in the midst of the chaos. Some blessings or occurrences I might have otherwise missed. Here are a few:

•    I’ll never forget my mother sitting next to me in bed talking to me for hours and hours over the last six weeks … it’s become one of my favorite parts of this journey.
•    The generosity of total strangers that has shocked me day after day – bringing me to tears of happiness and restoring my faith in humanity (too many acts of kindness to list them all).
•    The strong and magnificent breast cancer survivors I’ve met who give me hope and fill me with strength – these women are my true angels.

On the morning of October 7, (2010), I went in for my second (and unexpected) surgery to remove seven more lymph nodes from under my right arm. After only 48 hours of being surgical drain free, I was home with another surgical drain (ugh!), more stitches, and back in bed – with a 400-pound pink elephant sleeping comfortably on my chest.

A week later we happily learned that all seven lymph nodes came up negative for cancer!!! Yahooooo! We also learned I was negative for the BRCA gene mutation, which meant my mother and I being diagnosed seven months apart doesn’t appear to be caused by a genetic mutation (well, at least one that’s currently been identified). Go figure!

So what is next for my pink elephant and I??? Are we done??? Unfortunately it does not appear so.

Since two of the lymph nodes from my first surgery tested positive for cancer, I have to begin a “treatment regimen” to ensure that (1) the cancer has not spread to other parts of my body and (2) that it never comes back! Yes, it means the other “C word” … CHEMO!!!!

I think chemotherapy is almost as feared and misunderstood as the word cancer. So, over the last two weeks I have been educating myself and gained a basic understanding of what is ahead of me. I met with one oncologist (doctor who determines and manages your “treatment” from start to finish) and am meeting with another one next week, for a second opinion. My guess is that sometime around the end of November I will begin chemo … but this won’t be settled for another week or so.

Overall I am doing fine. Healing nicely and getting stronger every day. Jeff and my parents continue to be rocks of encouragement, love and support, which I’d be lost without. I’m not going to lie – some days are really rough – but who in life doesn’t have tough days?

So, that’s the update. No final plan as of yet, but it’s coming together. My pink elephant and I continue to dance together every day – sometimes she leads, sometimes I do – but we have bonded and will continue to move forward.

I’m not sure where this road will lead me, and in all honesty I am still trying to figure out how I even ended up on this road in the first place … but your road is your road, and life is about turning lemons into lemonade … all while carrying a 400-pound pink elephant.