About a month ago I met my new oncologist, Dr. Wahl. She is taking over Dr, Kraemer's patients. I'm not good at new things, so this was kind of awkward. First, I couldn't see her in August like I wanted to because she didn't have an opening for a "new patient". I didn't think I was new. I'd been going to their office since 2009, I just never saw her. But then again their office was closed (that's another story). So I had my appointment in September. I'm not sure why this bugged me, but my yearly appointments have always been in August and I kind of wanted to keep it that way. I had a schedule and I didn't want it to break it. I even sobbed over this. It is always amazing to me how emotional I privately get over cancer stuff. I'm not talking about a tear escaping, I'm talking about hiding-in-the-shower-with-tears-streaming-down-our-cheeks-and-running-out-of hot-water-before-you-stop-crying emotional. (I'm sure my high school English teacher just grimaced with that sentence.)
I met with Dr. Wahl and she and I discussed my medical history and unlike Dr. Kraemer who didn't insist I get my port out and left it up to me, she highly suggested that I get it out.
Her: "Think of all the free time you will have when you don't have to visit us each six weeks to get a flush."
Me: "But when I do I ask for a blood draw and we are keeping tabs on the cancer."
Her: "You don't need it, treatment is over."
Me: "But I'm afraid it will return and kill me."
Her: "There is a 2% chance it will return."
ME: "But there is a chance."
Her: "I sent the paperwork in for surgery. I see you like Evergreen."
Me: "But there is still a chance."
Her: "I declare you cured."
Me: "I give up!"
So yesterday, Oct 18, 2016, I did it. I had it removed. If I had gotten it out in August 2010, it would have been a very simple five minute process in a sterile room. But because I have had it in for six and a half years, I had to be sedated and it had to be done in a OR room. Of course it took only a few minutes and I wasn't totally out (or so they say). I went in as 12:30, surgery was at 2, and I was home before 4. Easy!
I'm just recovering now. No lifting for two days, No showers for two days (they didn't stitch the wound close--used some bondo for skin stuff). and then I should be right as rain. Except...Is this really the end?
I truly am so nervous. This has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. Physically it was torture. I've reread my journal during active treatment and I can't believe I lived through it. The memories of the physical pain make me cringe and cry.
"Like giving birth to an elephant,"
"I can't seem to catch my breath, "
"I can walk up and down the stairs twice a day, so I plan my day carefully."
Emotionally, I still live it. I look at the marks cancer has left on my body every day in the shower and when I'm getting dressed and I thank my lucky stars it's not worse, but they remind me every day of the emotional pain I lived through.
"I can't believe I'm bald. My crown of womanhood is gone."
"Nothing prepares you to write your farewell letter to your children."
"Everyday I wake up and think, 'Is this my last?'"
"I want to see my grandchildren."
"Please, just let me live one more day!"
And I continue to say those things weekly, if not daily.
On Monday night, I almost called to cancel the surgery. I cried myself to sleep.
While in the recovery room before surgery (funny but it was the same room I was in when I went back to have it placed in April of 2010), I cried because...I don't know why I cried. Thankfully the nurse understood; she's a breast cancer survivor.
After being wheeled back into the room post surgery, I cried again.
And I'm crying writing this.
So I'm not sure I'm happy to have my port gone. It's only been a few hours and I'm still bandaged up so I'm not even sure what the new scar looks like. But I'm sure every morning it will remind me I have cancer. Maybe someday I will say, "I had cancer," but right now that is a dream, I can't say that right now. I can't believe it. I'm afraid to say it. Maybe it will jinx it, maybe it won't be true and right now, my faith sees that 2% chance and it scares me to death.
In the meantime, I'm going to fantasize about going to sleep and rolling over on my right shoulder and not have my port pinch me. I'm going to realize that I can hug someone tight (or them me) and my port won't pinch me. I wonder if that will happen....
I wish I could go back and have my 10 year old daughter whose head would nestle right there and hug her without grimacing. She never saw that face, but I made it each time I hugged her. That one I wish I could go back and redo.
In the meantime, I might just go take a long hot shower because this has been a really hard road to travel.