The title of my blog and this first page warrant a bit of explanation. Clearly, I was Bald. And clearly I was Fat. However, when you come to realize that my baldness was caused by chemotherapy and my 'fatness' was caused by being pregnant at the same time, then the mere fact that I was smiling in this photo is evidence that I was also Crazy. Add to this scenario the pending adoption of a baby girl and the Crazy goes to a whole new level.
But what about 'The Musical'?" What is that all about?
Well, in order to survive my situation as best as I could, I needed to develop some serious coping skills. Exercise has always been my usual mechanism for dealing with stress. However, that wasn't an option much of the time for reasons which I will explain later, so music became a major source of therapy.
Dear Readers, it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything and I apologize. I’ve been working on some other projects and get so easily distracted Samantha turns five next month and everyone is doing great – thriving, in fact! I have just been informed that I am a finalist in an essay contest. Woohoo! If you [...]
Could this possibly be me? Was I really this woman about to have her breasts removed? One voice inside me was saying, “Yes, you are! And good riddance to those untrustworthy bitches!” But the other voice, and this one was louder, was protesting, “No, turn around and go home, Steph! What are you thinking? How could you volunteer to be butchered like this…and without a nanny? Are you insane?”
The first surgery would be the hardest one with the longest recovery. I will need to stay in the hospital for three days, and I’ll have a morphine drip. This is very scary to me because I have never been in a situation where the pain would be so great as to warrant the constant availability of morphine.
And off I went to my ‘pre-op’ appointment a few days before surgery, which included some blood work, an EKG, an x-ray of my lungs, and last, but not least, a meeting with Dr. Andersen to discuss the procedure and the recovery. I was still unable to utter the words ‘double mastectomy’ and had therefore been referring to it as a ‘breast reduction followed by an immediate boob job’.
Surgery was set for September 26, 2008. Almost a year to the day after being diagnosed.
It was during this insanely stressful and difficult time that my high school reunion rolled around. It was by now so far down my list of priorities that I still can’t believe we actually attended. I stuck my wig to my super-bald head, put on my recently purchased Spanx, squeezed myself into a borrowed dress, and headed out with Grant to reunite with people I hadn’t seen since June of 1988.
When I got home, there was no need to look in the mirror – only into the faces of my children and husband in order to confirm my decision. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t take a poll and ask every one of my friends whose opinion I cared about what they would do in my situation, because I did that. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t speak to several other women who had been through it, because I did that, too.
Sure enough, within a few days, I was contacted by Dr. Andersen’s office and we set up an appointment for the following week. Everything seemed to be moving so quickly with this! But a decision had to be made in a certain amount of time. At some point soon, I had to choose between radiation and, as I called it, “The Big Surgery”. I could barely even say the word ‘mastectomy’, no less imagine actually going through surgery like that.
“Oh my God, I don’t know what to do,” I squeaked. I couldn’t believe this was being thrown at me. This was supposed to be a simple little appointment, and now I had more decisions to make. I thought I was almost done with everything. Wait, maybe I was. I didn’t have to do any crazy surgery! My plan didn’t have to change. I could live with those odds and the close monitoring and the mammograms, right? I mean, cancer would probably never come back anyway, right? Right??
About two weeks after being done with chemotherapy, I had an appointment to see Dr. Paz, the oncologic surgeon. Remember him? He is the one who sparked my hopes and dared me to believe in the miracle of life about one year before this.
Our meeting was to discuss my next step, which was a minor surgery to get those clear margins requested so long ago. Supposedly, this was not a big deal – just a bit more tissue from the left breast was to be removed, looked at, and if no cancer was detected, then I could move on to radiation a few weeks after that. I was so close to being D-O-N-E with everything that I could practically taste it. Just one question, though: “So what are my chances that breast cancer will come back?”
After my third round of taxol, I was convinced I absolutely could not do a fourth. “I’m done,” I protested, “I can’t do this.” I felt like hell all the time. In fact, it was during this phase when I came upon a new favorite quote by Winston Churchill, purchased a magnet with this quote and slammed it front and center on the refrigerator door – “When you’re going through hell, keep going”.