Wishing For Less In 2014

2013 was a busy year for me. Finishing treatment for breast cancer, monitoring every other month for ovarian cancer, surgery for possible ovarian cancer and dealing with the emotions of all of this.

For 2014, I’m hoping for less.

Less doctors’ appointments.

Less surgeries – actually hoping for a surgery-free year, or several years.

Less scans (and less scanxiety).

Less phone calls, emails and texts to family members and friends that start with, “Well, the doctors see something else that they’re concerned about. I have to have another test to find out more.”

Less worrying.

Less pill taking – 1 year of Tamoxifen done, 9 more years to go. But who’s counting?

Less hot flashes.

Less aches and pains.

Less sleepless nights.

Less naps to make up for the fatigue associated with cancer treatment.

Less tears – although some, not many, felt good to get out.

Here’s to less in 2014.


Finally Caught A Break

Three weeks ago today, I went in for surgery to see if I had ovarian cancer. As I blogged before the surgery, we weren’t sure what we were going to find. Just a little nerve racking.

It was a long two and a half weeks between my first meeting with my gyno oncologist and my day of surgery. I was convinced I was going to have ovarian cancer. I was preparing for the worst — a complete hysterectomy, months of chemo, chemo brain, losing my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes again, and who knows what else. I couldn’t even really process the choice that I was making about having my ovaries removed. I was clear about my decision to do this, but would have to later deal with the feelings surrounding this decision. I don’t have children yet, but definitely want them. But at this point, I just wanted to be alive to be able to figure out how to do that. Would I even survive having ovarian cancer? The statistics on ovarian cancer are not good. I haven’t caught a break up until this point, so why would this time be any different?

I arrived at the hospital at 5.30am for a 7.30am surgery. I think I got about an hour of sleep the night before. Obviously I couldn’t stop my mind from racing.

The nurse walked me back into the pre-op room, took my vitals, asked me my name and birthdate a million times, and hooked up my IV. Then I was left by myself in the room for a while. This is when I lost it. Couldn’t stop crying. I was so scared. My life was about to take a dramatic turn…again.

My family came into the room and we all had a good cry together. Very few words were said — I mean, what’s there really to say? I think we were all hoping for the best but expecting the worst. You can be knocked down only so many times before you stop believing that you won’t get hit.

They started the anesthesia and luckily that’s the last thing I remember before waking up after surgery.

Surgery was supposed to take 3 hours, but only took 45 minutes. They removed by ovaries and tubes, and tested the lesion. It quickly came back benign. They closed me up and we were done.

No ovarian cancer!

YIPPEE!!! Hooray!!! Woo-hoo!!!

I came to after surgery and the nurse told me the good news while I was in recovery. I couldn’t believe it. Am I dreaming? Am I still in surgery? Is this really happening?

They rolled me from the recovery room to a regular room to rest before leaving the hospital. My family came into the room cheering and smiling, giving hugs and kisses to me. I’d never been so happy and relieved in my life.

It’s been a long year and a half of tests and bad news. For once, it was so great to get good news from a doctor, telling me I don’t have cancer.

I finally caught a break.


A Glimpse of My Old Life

This past weekend I went to New York to spend time with my mom and sister, and watch the U.S. Open. It’s our annual Labor Day weekend tradition. We’ve been doing it for about 7 years. Last year at this time I was in the middle of chemo, so clearly I wasn’t gonna make it to New York.

Train Ride to NYCOn the train ride up to New York I got a bit teary thinking about how happy I was to be able to resume this tradition. This weekend with my mom and sister was the first time the three of us have been together since my mastectomy surgery last year. On the train ride I started to think about all the times my mom and sister came to visit me last year, to help me through surgeries and chemo treatments. The tears came again when I thought about how grateful I was to be getting together for something fun and happy.

I also started thinking about how great it was to be doing the activities I used to do before my breast cancer diagnosis. As I made my way up to New York, it almost felt like I was living my old life. It felt like a normal weekend. There’s so much talk in cancer circles about ‘the new normal’ – how to navigate your life after diagnosis and completing treatment. Well, as my friend Katherine says, ‘I like the old normal just fine, thank you.’

There’s something special about New York that makes me feel alive. There are so many people – so many different kinds of people. The hustle bustle of the city is so vibrant. There’s really no other place quite like New York. I love it. My trip to New York couldn’t have come at a better time. It reminded me that life can feel normal at times.

It was hot and humid in New York. My chemo curls were really getting a work out. But I was just so happy to have hair, I didn’t really care how crazy it looked.

U.S. Open at Night

My mom, sister and I went to watch two nights of the U.S. Open. The nights were warm, with a gentle breeze that helped keep things comfortable to sit outside for hours. It kept my hot flashes to a minimum. That was greatly appreciated.

Roger Federer

We got to see Roger Federer, one of my favorites. He played an 
almost flawless match, barely giving his opponent any chance of coming close to winning a set. I didn’t really care whether it was a great match, I was just happy to be there, literally happy to be alive to be watching tennis again with my mom and sister.

I also got to spend time with a couple of my oldest and dearest friends. Over the last year and a half I’ve been reminded that I’m lucky to have many good friends and family members that support me through life’s challenges. Any chance I get, I want to spent time with these people. It feeds my heart. For me, life is now about nurturing the deep connections with the important people.

After three nights in New York, I got home exhausted. But it felt so great to be exhausted from having too much fun – staying out later than I have in over a year and a half, walking around all day long and warm summer nights. The activities that used to make me exhausted were surgeries and treatments. What a nice change that is.