🌸Reclaiming Femininity With Reconstruction; Hope and Healing in Sight🌸

Yesterday was finally the day. I arrived at the hospital for DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction. For this procedure, fat is taken from the belly and used to make breast mounds. It took about 4 hours, thanks to my awesome doctor who works with a partner. Many of these procedures take 10-12 hours as the doctor chooses to work alone. When I had a mastectomy for breast cancer 5 years ago, my surgeon was able to keep my existing implants, which allowed me to take my time healing after treatment before deciding to have reconstruction. After surgery yesterday, I found out that one of those had bursted, therefore causing a very uneven set of “foobs” (term for fake boobs in the bc community). When I woke up, I could not wait to see the results. The first thing I noticed was that my chemo port was gone. I’d had to leave it in for this long “just in case the aggressive cancer returned”. For the past 4 years, I’ve had to return to the Cancer center once every six weeks to have it flushed. Talk about a constant reminder. I’m so very thankful that thing is gone! While I’ll never forget the experience of having breast cancer, I am now able to appreciate the changes that it has made in me, and move forward, using the strength and faith I’ve gained along this journey.

The next thing I noticed when I looked down was that I have CLEAVAGE! Then, further down, I saw a COMPLETELY FLAT BELLY! Wow!!! I am so very grateful to overcome this final hurdle. I can’t even begin to fathom what it will be like to go shopping for clothes after spending the past 4 years trying to cover up in oversized, flowy tops!

I was required to stay in bed for the remainder of the day & overnight. Today, I’ll be getting up and walking a few times & sitting in a chair. The only pain I feel so far is some pretty intense burning sensations at the hip-to-hip incision site, and a bit more of the same on my upper incision sites. Hoping that today, pain will be kept to a minimum.

One of the first thoughts I had was “why did I put this off so much longer than necessary?” Then, I was immediately able to reflect on the gratitude I feel for every step of the journey. Because I was able to accept my body, although it was quite disfigured for the past few years, I now have a deeper sense of self-love and compassion than I had ever thought possible. I now realize that the delay was necessary for me to learn to love myself, and confirm that although my body is not the same as it was when we began dating, my dear husband truly loves me for me. What better gift could I have received?

Wishing you all a beautiful day that’s filled with gratitude,acceptance, and the hope of a life that’s peaceful ahead.

A Poem of Gratitude

Today, I am grateful…

For a sun that shines,

The peaceful times,

And a heart that knows.

Today, I am thankful…

For a partner in life,

Strength in the strife,

And a soul that grows.

Today, I appreciate…

Friends and family who care,

And that I can be there,

When life deals it’s blows.

Today, I remember…

The challenges faced,

The heart that raced,

And the power that rose.

Today, I look forward…

To chapters anew,

A story that’s true,

With hope that glows.

Today, I am prayerful…

That you find your peace,

With comfort and ease,

Painful chapters to close.

Today, I praise God…

Each day a new day,

Our hurt goes away,

Because His Son arose.

🌸Not Unnoticed🌸

I hope you know just how much I see

What you sacrifice daily for our family.

The continuous acts of kindness you willingly share

Don’t go unnoticed; you’re always there.

To help and encourage every step of the way.

And remind us “today is a brand new day”.

The selfless ways you show your heart,

Have blessed me from the very start.

A thankless job, sometimes it may be.

But those who know you can always see.

Though life gets hard and takes a toll,

Your strength has been your constant role.

The hardships of care-taking, not for the weak.

Sometimes the near future can seem quite bleak.

The load I see you carry each day

Would cause so many to run away.

But you soldier on, asking God to guide

Your steps forward along the ride.

However difficult it proves to be,

You keep on loving and guiding our family.

Today, I say a prayer of thanks and hope you know,

I’m grateful for your love and your beautiful soul.

Happy Easter, Momma.

Love you dearly.

In the Pursuit of Peace, God’s Plan is Greater

I am a planner. I like to buy planners and pens, and use sticky notes. I have spent many hours of my life writing down my plans in a color-coordinated fashion, and marveling at the beauty of a month’s page filled with all of life’s daily details.

But, a breast cancer diagnosis and the related variety of surgeries and treatments (along with the never-ending list of unpredictable side effects) forced me to let go of my perceived control. Many days, I did not know what the next hour would hold, much less the next day, and certainly not the month ahead.

It has been five years since my world was turned upside down, and I’ve slowly returned to the beauty of planning. There are no words to describe the gratitude I feel for the ability to somewhat predict what lies ahead.

However, my mindset has changed in so many ways. Because I was forced to live with uncertainty, I grew more comfortable with the fact that some things are out of my control. Some days, my only plan involves maintaining my peace, in spite of my surroundings. For this reason, I started crocheting two years ago, following in the footsteps of my Grandmother’s talent.

She was the most peaceful person I’ve ever known, crocheting and praying every single day. She’s been gone for 15 years now. While I never learned to crochet from her, I quickly learned that I had an innate talent for using a hook and thread. I started with the basics, improving with each effort, with the ultimate goal of creating fine doilies like hers. I learned to read patterns, but found myself enjoying the experience more when I would “wing it”, allowing my soul to dictate the next stitch. I started the piece in this image with no pattern, and it became the one of which I’m most proud.

I couldn’t help but relate that to God’s plan for us, which we can not always see until we look back on how beautifully things worked together for our good.

As I embark on the final phase of my breast-cancer treatment (upcoming reconstruction), I am able to find peace, without needing to plan out every step of the journey. I know that whatever lies ahead will build strength, bring clarity, and form peace in my soul more so than any foreseeable circumstance that I could’ve planned…even with the prettiest planner and pen collection.

Here’s to fully trusting Him for a life that’s peaceful ahead.

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Email: peacefulahead@gmail.com

Patiently Waiting to Turn the Page

Update: Pre-surgery appointment with plastic surgeon this morning. We are a GO for April 9! Now, to get everything prepared to take off work for about 6 weeks. So very thankful…IT’S TIME!!!🙌🏻

Below post from my former blog

Well, it’s been 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and 4 years since I completed treatment (including a double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, followed by a hysterectomy 3 years ago to wrap things up). Because I had implants before my diagnosis and my awesome surgeon was able to save them, I’ve been able to delay reconstruction until I felt ready to conquer another challenge. I’ve spent the past few years focusing on healing and accepting my new normal, all with the help of an amazing counselor and precious friends and family who’ve stuck by me throughout the journey. I’ve adapted my wardrobe to disguise my misshapen breasts, one which displays a dimple since there was not much tissue removed on the side that didn’t contain cancer (it’s like it is winking at me in the mirror). The other is stretched thin due to the large amount of tissue removed where the cancer had been and the 35 doses of radiation to reduce the risk of recurrence. I refer to this one as a “microwaved donut” as it feels just like the bicep that rests nearby.

So, I’ve finally decided that it’s time to take on the reconstruction process. Having time to accept that my body is forever changed has been critical to my ability to move on. The surgery is called DIEP Flap reconstruction. Put simply, the surgeon will use my belly fat (thank you, my child, for being transverse breach, necessitating a c-section, which created the “pooch” that will serve me in a way I could’ve never anticipated) and creating breasts that will be constructed from my OWN tissue!

PSA: I’m NOT getting “new boobs”…those are gone, along with the sensations they possessed, and neither of those will never return. I am removing damaged parts of my body. I’ll be getting back the chance to dress in clothing that does not resemble a tent, and the possibility of feeling feminine when I go shopping and get ready to step out into the world every morning, without the constant reminders of the most challenging time of my life.

This surgery will not be easy on me or my family by any means. However, I know that the feeling of truly being able to close the door that breast cancer forced open in my life will be such a blessing. I’ve stopped “waiting for the other shoe to drop” (fearing a recurrence). I also realize that having cancer changed me in ways that I never could have imagine…not just physically, but spiritually. It has given me the beauty of friendships that I may have missed out on, and shown me that some people can not handle me at my worst. This has allowed me to focus my energy on those who love me in the good times, and the bad. I’ve been able to forgive those who weren’t there for me, realizing that we each have unique opportunities for enlightenment in this life, and it is not up to me to create those moments for others, but to value and appreciate my own experiences. I am grateful for the fact that I know now what truly matters in life, and I look forward to using the insight and perspective gained to love and live more fully for years to come.

Also, I get to have my port removed! What a blessing it has been for medical staff to access veins easily. However, it has been a constant reminder of life with cancer as I must visit the Cancer center once every 6-8 weeks to have it flushed. C’est la vie!

As you can see in the photo, I’ve cut my hair super short in preparation for surgery. I’ll also use this time to transition to my natural hair color (mostly gray), because…I really just want to be ME! (So thankful to be able to say that and mean it…freckles, wrinkles, scars, and all). Here’s to being comfortable in my skin at 44!

Saying a prayer for peace today as I wait for the surgery date to be set. I see a new beginning ahead, and I know it’s time to leave behind all of the things that no longer serve me. Thank God for second chances.