Despite that the genetics people are 95% sure that I do not carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene that would increase my risk of breast cancer in the other breast (the results of that other 5% to come today or tomorrow), I have decided on a "prophylactic mastectomy" for the healthy one. My health insurance covers it (not out of the goodness of their own heart, I'm sure, but rather because it will be a lot cheaper than treating any future cancer) and several people with whom I have spoken tell me it's the way to go. I am very at peace with the decision to remove both. I know my own mind and I know that I would lie awake at night and wake up every morning worrying that I'd have to go through this experience all over again. That, and I'd probably find myself feeling for lumps every two minutes. Not sure it'd be good for my image to be that woman who is constantly feeling her own boob. So, double down doc, we're going for it.
Yesterday, I also decided to go forward with reconstruction. My firm decision came after I spoke with the mother of one of my fabulous colleagues. Rebecca went through this journey about 30 years ago when she was just a bit older than I am, also married with a little boy and a little girl. I gather that she was somewhat of a pioneer when it came to reconstruction, and it's always such an honor to speak with women who paved a path now open to me and other women. Rebecca was awesome. She not only gave me hope, but she spoke with the conviction that I will do this. Rebecca acknowledged my fears with sincere respect and understanding, but she didn't let our conversation dwell there. Instead, she cheerfully powered on to tell me about a few books on positive psychology that she used to get through her tough times. Rebecca explained one theme -- the power of one's mind to affect his or her physical well-being. Given what I have seen my own mind do in the last few weeks (both for good and for bad), I'm already a believer. I immediately ordered the books on Amazon and I look forward to sharing more of what I learn from them.
Rebecca also told me something that for some reason, made me cry for the first time on the phone call. She told me that she would listen to her own music over earphones when she rolled into her surgeries. So now I'm crying again, and I've got to figure out why. I think it's mostly because the next big event that brings me the most fear is rolling into surgery two weeks from today. I'd imagine I will have to leave Brian and my family behind at some point, and that's not a goodbye I look forward to. Because then it's just me -- alone -- with my own brain that can take me to some crazy places.
I have had only three other surgeries in my life (not counting wisdom teeth since I stayed awake for that one). I had an emergency C-section with Teddy (scary as hell), a planned C-section with Annabel (scary, but otherwise smooth and largely wonderful), and a small surgery on my hand (not fun, but I was only under for about 30 minutes). Obviously each surgery was a very different experience, but I gathered from all of them that I'm terrified of the operating room. My reasons are seemingly countless, but mainly it's because that place is so unfamiliar to me, I have to cede all control (one of my biggest weaknesses), and the stakes seem just so darn high.
I think that's why I cry when I think of rolling into the OR. Nonetheless, this idea of playing music got me thinking. I'm not sure I'll do it (I don't even know if it's allowed), but I'm looking into it, and if nothing else, it's a fun distraction for now.
Last night, Sean and Lauren were over and I told them about this idea of playing music as I enter the OR. We started brainstorming songs and had a lot of laughs over what would be just the right one. And, as I always do when I hang out with my brother, I learned that I am so behind in the world of technology. Did you know that you can basically YouTube any song? I had no idea. So we sat around YouTube-ing great songs and laughing at the image of me rolling into the OR to "Live Like a Warrior." After that, my Aunt Helen and cousin Kirsten arrived from New Jersey -- a long road trip to give me and my family lots of hugs -- and we enjoyed each other's company until we couldn't stay awake any longer.
This morning when I woke up, I had no idea what I was going to write about (which is usually the case). But somehow I've arrived at this -- your first homework assignment if you should so accept. (It's Brian's first day of school today so I had to build school in somehow!)
Enough about me ... I would love to hear more from you. I barely even know who's reading these posts anymore, and while I don't need to know your name, I'd love to hear what song you think would be a great "rolling into the OR" tune. I believe Sean has adjusted the settings so that anyone can easily post a comment on this blog (it'd be so neat to have them all in one place rather than some on Facebook where not everyone can see) and anonymous postings are just as valuable as any. Feel free to just post the title and the artist, and, for extra credit, why you chose the song. Like any great homework assignment on the first day of school, this one will give me fascinating insight into you, and since this has become way too much about me, I think we need the change up. Plus, it could end up as the perfect resource to others who face the daunting rolling into surgery experience!
No pressure, but I'm really looking forward to what the blogosphere yields on this one. And in the meantime, even though Sean and Lauren declare that this is not their "final answer," I'll leave you with "Live Like a Warrior," because if nothing else, it's a really great song.