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How it all started - Part 1

May 29 2014

Today is my sister’s birthday. Today marks almost a month since my Dad passed away. And today is the day of my double mastectomy. I wake up, shower with the pre-op orange soap and head to the hospital. Alone. Because I chose to live on another continent, far away from my family and I just ended a toxic relationship. But I feel confident, I trust my team and I feel like I’m in good hands. The clinic is small and familiar and I am more than ready for this. The surgery had to be postponed twice. The first time because my Dad died in his sleep 3 days before I was scheduled and I went back to Europe to bury him. The second time because when I came back from the funeral, I was a mess and developed an infection on my leg from all the stress. Instead of a double mastectomy, I had surgery on my leg that day.

I cut my long hair, knowing I wouldn’t be able to handle it after surgery.

The third time is a charm they say… While I am getting an IV and being prepped, I hear my oncologist’s thunderous voice as he yells at his team. The sentinel node mapping had not been done as expected before surgery. I don’t really care at this point, I am ready to bypass that part and go for the mastectomy, what are the chances anyway since I have non-invasive cancer? But the clinic director and my favorite nurse are not having any of it. They organize everything within 10 minutes and drive me, in my hospital gown, to a lab that can do the mapping. I look like I escaped the loony bin! We all laugh nervously at the absurdity of it all. But we get it done, radioactive dye is injected and we get back to the clinic and pre-op in no time.

The first time the surgery was planned, I was still in shock and had no time to realize what was happening. The second time, I was not ready and cried all the way to the hospital. When the mastectomy was canceled and turned into leg surgery, I was relieved. This time, I am ready. I feel at peace and I know it is the right decision. I smile when I go under and wake up feeling ok. This has a lot to do with the upper body epidural I will keep for 24 hours. I take a peek at my new breasts and feel very disappointed at first, they look smaller than expected. I insist on getting out of bed. When the epidural is turned off and I go home, I realize how bad it is. I can’t get from lying down to an upright position by myself. One drain is positioned in a way that makes the muscle next to it spasm every time I change position. My whole upper body is useless. But it will get better.

This was May 29th four years ago. It did get better, a whole lot better. This was just the beginning.

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