I’m a week out from surgery, and I’ve been surprised at how much it knocked me out.
The “outpatient” in “outpatient surgery” to remove the tumor may have deceived me into thinking it would be a minor occurrence.
At the beginning of the week, I was telling friends and family not to worry, I didn’t need anything. I am strong. I’m independent. I’ll be OK.
When my sister offered to cook me meals and drive them two hours down Interstate 79 from Fairmont to me, I said yes. People want to help, I thought. It makes them feel better when bad things like cancer happen. I should let them.
My mom stayed the first 24 hours with me after the operation (plus she bought me groceries and cleaned the whole apartment, because moms are awesome). After she went home, my boyfriend checked on me morning, noon and night, warmed up meals, kept me company, and even helped change the gauze around my JP drain. (How’s that to test a relationship of less than a year?)
I am glad she came. I’m glad he was there and my sister thought to bring me food. Turns out, I definitely did and do need help. I’m not sure how I would have made it through without it.
For the unfamiliar, a JP drain is a tube that’s going into my side just below the incision site. It’s attached to a sort of ball that’s collecting the fluid that’s gathering in near the incision. (I’m sorry if you’re squeamish and that grosses you out, but, well, I’m squeamish too. Imagine how I must feel when I have to drain it and measure the fluid 2 to 3 times a day.)
I’m still waiting for the surgeon’s clearance to remove the drain, but I’m not in pain. I’ve been out on some walks after work over the last couple of days. I’m feeling much better, except that my incision site itches and the sharp plastic on this drain keeps poking me.
I think when the doctor calls and finally sets the appointment to remove the drain, I may put on a nice dress and break out one of the five remaining bottles of wine some friends/ former colleagues gave me (thanks Greg and Dawn), just to celebrate. I hate it that much.
But despite the drain, there is some good news: my surgeon says he’s confident he removed all of the tumor, and its “margins are clear,” which I take to mean there’s no cancer left. There was cancer in one of my lymph nodes, but not in the surrounding ones, which I’m told means its unlikely that it’s gotten anywhere else in my body.
Also, my genetics test has apparently come back negative for the genes that cause breast cancer. Not having the genes means there’s less of a chance that cancer will reoccur. Some women who test positive choose mastectomies just so they won’t have to worry about getting breast cancer again down the road.
I’m not out of the woods yet, though. My surgeon is referring me to an oncologist. He said that at some point chemotherapy would be recommended.
I’m trying to mentally prepare myself.