two days and counting

I wonder how many women are walking around with this disease and don’t even know.  I’ve been reading and hearing stories of women who go in for mammograms in their forties, when they’re told to, and find full-blown cancer.  How many of us, though, don’t go in for mammograms?  How many of us find out we have it before we’re even old enough for mammograms?  How many of us simply can’t afford to get help when we’re diagnosed?

It took my husband’s urging to get me into the doctor’s office in the first place.  What if I hadn’t? I’m endlessly surprised how this could be happening to me when I feel so good, and I know that I’m not alone.  And it scares me.  It makes me sad.

We spent a good part of yesterday at the hospital.  We had five different offices to visit; we brought home reams of paper and signed our names many times.  Everything went smoothly, though.  Kaiser is the model of efficiency.  I now know what to expect, I think.  I will probably be allowed to go home on Friday, which, right now, seems highly unlikely.  I think I’m scared to ask for more time, should I need it, because Kaiser is so efficient and businesslike that I’m afraid of being kicked out before I’m ready.  Dr. Yee described the procedure and the pain level thereafter and everything that happens when I get home, but I still feel unprepared, somehow.  I feel like I’m getting a final exam on the first day of class.  Am I missing something?

I think I’m most especially daunted by the whole concept of the drains coming out of my wounds.  Frankly, when they showed us the video on how to care for these things, I wanted to faint.  I started to cry, and I could tell that the nurse who came in later could sense my fear. She said she’s had them and said they really aren’t that bad, but the notion of bodily fluids in a bulb scares me.

When I’m not scared lately, though, I feel the need to laugh at totally inappropriate times.  Ryan and I were having a serious conversation about bras and reconstruction, when I saw in my head a tweet:  “RIP Jen’s boob, 1972-2012.”.  Suddenly, I was laughing, and I wonder what Ryan was thinking.  I’m caught at such odd times with the urge to laugh.  I want to crack jokes sometimes, too, but when I’m in polite company, I’m afraid of them thinking I’m being weird.  Or worse.

We did get to have a little fun recently, though.  Ryan got the idea to commemorate my body as we now know it with a photo shoot.  He heard stories of women sitting for boudoir photos before their mastectomies, and he asked me about it, and I thought it was a great idea.  He asked friends of ours in the photography world and our friend Lisa pointed us to Rita Coury.

On Friday afternoon, we went to Lisa’s home, which she graciously lent to us for a few hours, and Sarah Pacheco, of Sarah la GLAM, spent her birthday working on my makeup. We had a great time.  Rita is a true professional and a great person. After a sometimes scary week, I’m really glad we did it.

I hope Rita and Sarah know how much it meant to me.  A little dirty, guilty part of my brain has always wondered what it would be like to be a Playmate, and for a couple of hours, I got to be one. Sort of.

For a bit, I wasn’t facing surgery or bandages, and it was just fun and exciting.  In a weird way, by being a pretend sexy 50’s movie star, I felt courageous.

23 thoughts on “two days and counting

  1. Jen, I’m going for my 12th mammogram tomorrow. I’m 43 with a mom and both grandmothers who died from bc. I have pain and I am scared. Your first note about how you felt something funny made me call and make an appointment. The manual exam was clear says the doctor, but it always always hangs over my head. Follows me around like a shadow, really. I will be with you in spirit this week. We women have to be so brave sometimes, but we do what we have to so we can be there for our families. Bless you this week Jen. – Julie Hiskes

  2. I read in a previous post where you said you’ve never felt sexy and I was sad. But that photo, holy cow! Never forget you’re beautiful Jen. Now, and always.

  3. What a beautiful photo, Jen.

    I’m completely shocked at how fast a mastectomy patient is sent home. An efficient hospital is fine but the patient ALWAYS comes first. An FB friend’s son cut his hand pretty bad. He was in the hospital for 5 days, I think. Certainly a breast warrants more than one night. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. In the meantime, my daily prayers continue.

    More healing hugs…Tutu Sue

  4. You are courageous – and will certainly have the strength to overcome what comes next.

    It is wonderful to hear about the laughter – while it is a stretch to say it is the best medicine it certainly is the best coping mechanism.

    As I have said, there is a worldwide community holding you and Ryan in our thoughts.

  5. Jen,

    I don’t know the right words. I wish you well. I hope it turns out ok for you. I can only imagine what it must be like for you. Some years ago, my doctor found a lump. I was scared to death until the biopsy came back benign. You have more friends than you know.

  6. First let me start off by saying you look gorgeous in that picture! Like a glam Hollywood movie star!! Wow.

    Thanks Jen for sharing what you are going through, you are a very strong person, I really admire you. With the love and support from your family and friends (and all of us here are your friends) you will get through this just fine 🙂

  7. Re. posted photo, simply beautiful!! A great and beautiful idea. I think it’s natural to feel scared and confused — You’re only human, right? Always keep those funny thoughts in your head and always laugh out loud…it’s great medicine for the soul. Who cares what Others think!! There’s too many “sane/same” people all around us…haha!! Mahalo nui once again for sharing your thoughts. Please take good care of yourself. We all support and stand in your corner. Cyber hugs always.

  8. Just looking at the numbers, many people have thyroid cancer (which I was just treated for… I no longer have a thyroid!) and do not know it. It emphasizes the importance of regular check-ups with a GP and proactive tests and treatment of anything unusual.

    I’m glad that this was caught and it is being quickly treated. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  9. Jen, you look hot in that photo!!

    I don’t have breast cancer, but I’m high risk.y doctor says I need my first mammogram at 35–two years away, and I’m already a little frightened. Your talk of random laughter reminds me of my aunt, who died of BC in 2003. She always found the humor at random times. When she had her masendectomy, she had a tattoo that said “gone but not forgotten.” Keep finding the laughter because it will make the fear easier to bear. You are awesome!

  10. That photo is fantastic. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow, Jen, and remember, no matter what happens, you will still have those stunning eyes from that picture. 😉 You take care. Sending many good thoughts your way.

  11. Ryan is such a good guy. What a thoughtful idea. The photo you shared is so beautiful. Your experience and this blog expresses many women’s fears. Cancer can right now be growning in my body, and I wouldn’t even be aware of it. Just so glad you found this lump in time for the doctors to remove it. I know I’m not the only one who will be praying for you the day of your surgery and for a speedy recovery. Stay strong.

  12. Jen,

    You are in my thoughts and prayers!! I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above….you look absolutely gorgeous in your photo. You and Ryan are so blessed to ahve each other. Ever since I first heard you together on “The Transmission” your love for each other has been evident, and I’ve admired the relationship you share!

    I look forward to reading your post following your surgery. Until then, positive thoughts/vibes are being directed your way!!

  13. Gorgeous photo, Jen! Thinking about you as you’re going into surgery. Praying it goes smoothly, and that your recovery is swift and the drains aren’t as bad as they sound. ((hug))

  14. Absolutely beautiful photo — what a great idea!!! I just saw Ryan’s tweet that you’re headed into surgery. I hope everything goes perfectly, and that you’re feeling better very soon. Keeping all of you in my thoughts, and sending healing wishes your way.

  15. Beautiful photo, Jen, you shine!! But I know very well that your shine comes from the inside, and it will still be there. Love you!!

  16. Jen, what a gorgeous photo! You look dreamy. The next time I see you passing out the girl scout cookies, or watching the kids run in circles at the Geek Meet, I”ll think of the va-va-vroom girl inside you!

  17. Don’t worry about humour being inappropriate at any stage. Laughter is an important coping mechanism, it releases endorphins, reduces stress hormones, improves your immune system and promotes blood flow. That’s without considering the purely mental advantages of laughing 🙂

    A lady I knew ended up having a double mastectomy following discover of cancerous cells. She had such a family history of cancer that she’d long made her mind up to have both removed at the first sign of danger. One of her family members mentioned that not long afterwards she could be seen prancing around the living room with one of her fake breasts resting on her head laughing about being a “tit head” and other such comments. Inappropriate? Possibly.. did anyone care? Hell no!

  18. Jen, I helped my mom with her drain when she had a mastectomy. It’s been nearly 10 years and we still continue to laugh and see the funny side of “boob” jokes. (privately of course) Hope you are recovering well!

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