Monday, November 28, 2016

Choosing & Preparing for Breast Surgery

Breast Cancer is More Than Pink Ribbons and Races.

November has been a challenge as I learn how to open this pink gift called cancer.


As I opened the gift I discovered it was up to me to choose!  

Choice #1 - lumpectomy 
Choice #2 - mastectomy  
Choice #3 -double mastectomy

My cancer was between stage 2 and stage 3 - grade 2  - 2.3 cm in size.
As I tossed and turned each night as to what to do, it was driving me insane.   The surgeon told me there was no wrong choice and that I could change my mind 5 minutes before surgery.

My daughter had given me a book about healing breast cancer naturally.  I had only read the intro and first chapter and lost the book a couple of days later.  But a red flag went up in my mind when the author mentioned the connection between teeth with root canals and breast cancer.  I went to see an oral surgeon and had that tooth pulled 10 days before my breast surgery.  The tumor was directly below that tooth.  The Dr. said it had nothing to do with it but said "If I don't pull it you'll go elsewhere, right?" "Right", I responded.  "Then I'll pull it for you because I'll do a good job, he said.".  "I know you will", that's why I came to you.  You did a good job 12 years ago on another tooth, I said!"  Two days later he pulled the tooth.  I gave him a high five as I walked out of his office.


Option #1 was my first choice and option #3 was my second choice.  I couldn't imagine one without the other.  In a panic I wanted to talk to the Dr. before he went on holiday to see about doing a special design on my chest if I had option #3 as I didn't want a straight line across my chest.  This is crazy . . . . I wanted a sundial design and thought it would have to be be created by incisions that had healed!  I got quite a look from him.  He assured me that only one incision would be the best for recovery.  I could have tattoos done and then he gave me the tattoo artists name.

While he was away I studied my options and found out about bra-day across Canada and tattoos.  I also came across an organization that hands out blue ribbons - blueribbonstory.org -   These ribbons say:  Who I am makes a difference.  I ordered a package of them and now acknowledge people I know and don't know as I hand out blue ribbons to make a difference in my life and theirs.  We just don't know what people are going through until we initiate an open and honest conversation.

The most inspiring story so far is from a young man who I saw was having difficulty walking. After I acknowledged him I said "May all your dreams come true."  His response:  "They are coming true I used to weigh 600 lbs.  I've lost 200 so far."  Then he asked if he could bless me with "Shalom".  I accepted.

I had an appointment with a medical Dr. at the Breast Cancer Support Foundation a week before my surgery.   I really didn't know why I was going to this appointment other than I had asked for emotional support.  I was yawning every minute and not able to quite catch my breath.  I had never experienced this before.  The Dr. went into great detail about breast cancer and went over my options.  It was at this appointment that I found out the missing puzzle.  I had been waiting for this puzzle piece since the result of my biopsy 6 weeks prior.

My Her2 was negative.  That was good news!  Because my cancer was estrogen and progesterone positive. My daughter was with me at this appointment.  We went for coffee after, I asked her what exactly this means for me (as I'm in a daze most of the time).  Mom that means you don't need chemo.  Oh yes that is good news - the best of the worst!

The next night I chose to walk to my grandsons hockey game.  I needed some fresh air.  I was still in a daze.  My yawning was getting worse and I could feel the anxiety rise.  By now I could feel the stress in my stomach.  I still had not made my decision about what type of surgery to have.  My friend called while I was walking, I shared about my yawning and shortness of breath.  She asked me if I was scared.  I began to sob.  Yes I was fearful.  She encouraged me with promises from scripture and prayed for me.  I continued crying as I walked to the game.  I was ok by the time I got there.  It took me 45 minutes, then I got a ride home.

When I had asked for help they also gave my name to the Breast Cancer Psychologist. She guided me to jot down the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.  We did this over the phone then she encouraged me to think about it over the weekend. Someone said to me that I didn't need to talk to a Psychologist!  I disagreed and made sure that we talked again.

As I thought about it over the weekend a red flag called 'regret' came to life for me as a disadvantage of having option #3 done.  So that did it.  My decision was made.  I called the surgeons secretary and told her I would stick with option #1.  I had that surgery done on November 1st.  It was not as bad as I feared.  I still felt discouraged and sad that I was only part way into opening this gift.  I went for several walks with girlfriends as I recovered which helped with my attitude.  The weather was unusually nice for November.  I felt encouraged and hopeful as I waited until the 14th for the followup appointment.  

My husband and daughter would come with me to see the surgeon to get the staples out as well as visit the Dr. at the breast cancer support foundation the same day for emotional support.  We were not prepared for what we heard.  The tumor was 4 cm and not all the margins were clean. This meant chemo radiation and pills for 5 years.  The three of us began to cry.  From there we quickly made our way to the surgeon.  He said one of the six margins was considered dirty so they would have to go in for more.

Emotionally that set me back to square one.  He looked at his phone and said Nov 30th.  Before the nurse came in and took out the staples, I honored my surgeon with a blue ribbon and off we went to the coffee shop to discuss the news!!  Then we got a call a couple of days later that the surgery would be moved to November 24th.

So here I am recovering from the second surgery, hoping that the cancer is gone then going to the Tom Baker Cancer Center in December to see what they have in mind for me.  

In the meantime I have discovered a lifestyle to reverse cancer, diabetes, heart disease & arthritis.   I watched a documentary (soon to be in theaters) called 'Eating You Alive'.  It's a lifestyle promoting an oil free whole food plant based diet.  My blood sugar the morning of my first surgery was 7.4 - eating this way for only 4 days before my second surgery my blood sugar was 5.4.  I have been type 2 diabetic for 20 years.  I am looking forward to a renewed life.  I feel better already.

I am full of hope that this healthier lifestyle program will also help starve any cancer cells in my body.  I have found a support group in Calgary that supports an oil free vegan lifestyle.   I already feel like my insides are not swollen. Diseases, I learned, are caused from inflammation (wheat causes inflammation, I've been mostly wheat free for two years due to it being high on the glycemic index) . Even if I can manage to follow this vegan lifestyle only 80% of the time I believe it will help on my healing journey.

My prayer life is very shallow these days.  I just pray "Show me the way" over and over again.  Every day God is good, God is good everyday.  I had turned left when going out for a walk and changed my mind and turned right.  Within a minute I bumped into a neighbor who told me about this documentary.  Am I blessed or what.  Now I'm reading a book by Dodie Osteen - If my heart could talk.  It is very encouraging and helping with my emotional stability.

As far as it goes on this healing journey, most of my time is spent relaxing, walking, reading and listening to my head set (BrainTap Technologies/Porter Vision) to train my brain.  I will be encouraging my friends on how they can best help me and how our friendships will be nourished by each other.  There is no space in my place (my mind) for negativity or a pessimistic attitude.  (both of which the 'past me' was good at)  I used to sweat the small stuff and complain a lot, now I can see clearly that my health is my most important asset.  Being willing to change and learning how to handle my emotions in a better way is to my benefit, like making a deposit into my health bank account, not a withdrawal.

I am extremely grateful for this gift called cancer which is an opportunity to grow in my faith and to slow down and finally focus on my health and take that leap of faith as I let go of fear and trust God, my tour guide, my baggage handler - my Lord and Savior Jesus.


I am running this race with cancer.  I am more than a conquer of cancer.  I am on my way to the top of the mountain.  I am free to choose how to deal with my emotions.  I am full of hope.  I am blessed beyond understanding.  I am encouraged.  I am moving forward.  I am not leaning on my own understanding.  I am grateful for my family and friends.  I am enjoying my grandchildren.  I am looking at Christmas through new eyes.  I am overflowing with peace, love and light.

Attitude of Gratitude:  Thanks be to God for uplifting our spirits as we acknowledge how we feel at any given moment, deal with the emotion then let it go and move on with our day.  May you feel the love of our heavenly Father as you face and embrace the challenge that has made its way into your life.

With Love and Encouragement,

D o r o t h y   S e s s a   - M a m m a    D   B u t t e r f l y
"Butterflies do not fear transformation"

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