I think what I fear most is not the surgery.  I do fear it, as I think anyone fears it, but mostly, I fear what comes after.

I fear waking up after the procedure, knowing a part of my body is gone.  I fear looking in the mirror for the first time.  I fear some kind of crazy hormonal imbalance and early menopause and losing my womanhood.  I’ve never felt sexy; I’ve never loved being in my own skin, and I fear feeling even less comfortable in it afterward.

I fear that when I wake up, I’ll think part of me is dead.

I’ve heard so many positive stories about reconstruction and being free of cancer and women going on to accomplish so much after surgery.  What if something happens?  What if there are complications?

Sometimes I’m not afraid of anything.  Sometimes I feel like Xena the warrior princess.  Like I could go give lectures and organize charity runs.  Other times, I want to cry.  I feel paralyzed.  Like somehow, I’m facing the end of something.

I go for my pre-surgery meeting on Monday morning.  They will do a complete set of genetic lab work to determine if I have the BRCA gene.  I meet with my oncologist after the surgery.  In the meantime, between all of these things that are sometimes very intimidating, life is the same as it’s always been, but with the boys asking questions, and sometimes not sure how to behave.  They have a cursory knowledge of my condition; that it could be life-threatening if not treated; that things might get weird at home, but I think at their age they still lack the…what is the word?  Empathy?  They lack the empathy, I guess, to see very far beyond the things that immediately concern them.  So I don’t know how to explain the whole thing to them.  All I hear myself saying is “things are gonna be weird for a while.  I’ll hang out on the sofa a lot”.  I know I’m missing something, but I don’t know how to approach it.

8 thoughts on “thursday

  1. I can barely imagine what the last few weeks have been like for you, but I have faith in you and your family. I hear the love that you and Ryan have for each other when I listen to “Popspotting”. I see what a great job you two are doing raising your kids when you post pictures on Facebook. I look at the comments on your FB timeline and see the tremendous amount of love, support, and concern poured out from family, friends, and listeners.

  2. Jen, have you mentioned your concern about what to tell the kids to any of your doctors? Possibly one can refer you to a child therapist at Kaiser. Or, the local chapter of the American Cancer Society might be able to suggest someone you can talk to for suggestions. Just thinking out loud!
    Healing hugs…Tutu Sue!

  3. All my thoughts and wishes and good vibes are going to you now, Jen.
    Thanks for sharing your inner most thoughts. My mom succumbed to this only 8 years older than I am now (51) so I have been vigilant about it happening for 16 yrs. She also had the reconstruction btw. I know you will overcome it! Thank you for taking us on your journey. It touches my heart!
    Dana in Vermont

  4. Jen, Your transparent honesty is so rare and moving. Your close friends and family will be there to support you in whatever comes next. Sometimes we don’t know any of the answers in advance. Just trust that God will give you the courage to face each new challenge each new day.

  5. Dear Jen,
    Nothing can touch your wonderful,warm and generous spirit. I don’t know you but over the years have been an avid listener of your Lost podcast and have always hoped that one day life permits our paths to cross in person. The warmth and openness you escude is what listening you guys a pleasure and definitely extra special for me.The way you openly welcome people in your lives, your kindness and your love for each other is clearly evident even across the sound waves.
    They say good things happen to good people and nothing bad will happen and you will emerge stronger and more beautiful than you have ever been. Don’t be scared about the genetic testing either. Knowledge is power.
    My prayers along with countless others are with you. Rooting for you girl, all the way from Canada!
    Hang in there and will be sending you strong, positive vibes dear sweet Jen.

  6. You’ve undoubtedly got some hard days ahead. Like you said, you’re facing losing a part of your body, and it’s OK to grieve that loss, both before and after. Whatever’s going on with you, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, let your family and your doctors know when you need help. They all want to help you get through this, and if they can’t help directly, they will help you find someone who can.

    One day someone is going to ask you how you’re doing and you’re going to smile and say you’re fine. And you’ll realize that the smile isn’t fake and you really are fine. You’ll still have bad days, but the good ones will start to outweigh the bad. You’ll be a Cancer Survivor.

  7. Hi Jen, can you do something for me. Sit for a moment, straighten your posture and take a deep breath. Have your mind focus on your breath, in and out. There is nothing else in that moment but your breath, in and out. If thoughts and fears come into your mind, witness them but do not attach to them. Do not let them grab hold of you and take you away. Just go back the your breath, in and out. Do this every morning or whenever you feel the anxiety levels rising. Try to stay in the moment. Your strength lies in the moment, there is no past or future, just the moment.

  8. The boys will be just fine. They’ll be better than fine. They’ll be great. After your surgery, they will help and fetch things for you and they’ll learn about…empathy. All of these life experiences are not only for our own personal learning, but also to make our children brighter and more loving in a confusing and sometimes lonely world. They are learning every single day from watching you tackle this situation head on, with grace, honesty and a little bit of sheer courage.

    Try to love your body, even through it’s sickness. It’s carrying your soul around for all of us to share and we love you.

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