My Breast Cancer Surgery and My First Few Days of Recovery

1 01 2008

First of all, I want to thank all who have prayed for me.  I have felt your prayers and the prayers of all who added me to their church prayer list.  And our Lord has answered in a special way.  I got up and took my shower and tended to last minute details before we left for the hospital.  It was pouring down rain here in Western, Ky.  As soon as the nurse had me sign all of my paper work and I got into my gown–my friends were able to visit.  Fr. Peter from Ft. Campbell, Ky . came to pray with me and our family.  My little room was filled  with love.  He did what I would call a mini Orthodox service.  Then he annointed me with oil. 

I was then taken to nuclear medicine to have dye put into my breast –that would spread to my lymph nodes.  After that , they rolled me to the surgery waiting area.  I had the neatest little gown that was two layers of paper.  They inserted a blow dryer type device into a nozzle on the gown.  I was warm and cozy.  My friends, priest, and loved ones came in one at a time to talk with me.  I was in the holding area about 45 minutes.  Finally, my surgeon came and talked with me.  He told me that he was going to take his time and do a neat, clean job.  Then the nurse anesthesiologist came and told me what she was going to do.  Everyone said their goodbyes and I was wheeled off to surgery.

Mary and Hope, my special Orthodox sisters went to the chapel and prayed for me quite a long time.  I understand that there were plenty of interesting conversations among those in the waiting room.  The next thing I remember was struggling to get that oxygen mask off of my nose.  I was coming to and really fighting that thing.  I remember the surgeon coming and telling me that my lymph nodes were clean.  There was a child who like me, was waking up and crying terribly.  Finally, they took that awful mask off of my nose.  Obviously, I was still struggling with my breathing so they put that little device that fits in one’s nostrils on me.  I was then taken up to my room.

I remember clearly my friends and family talking with me.  I drank deeply of their love.  At that time, I didn’t know that I had been spared from draining tubes.  As I got a little more cognizant–I realized that I had only a simple bandage on my wound and that I could use my arm very well.  Later, the surgeon stopped in to tell me that I had no limitations with my arm.  All during the afternoon I rested and visited with friends.  Jim and Vera left to eat dinner at our son’s home.  Jim came back and stayed the night with me.

I was so hungry all afternoon but was only allowed Sprite.  I insisted on a regular supper and I devoured it.  All during the night, I woke up not with pain but with hunger.  A nurse came in to check my vitals.  She asked: “We have pain medication for you but you haven’t asked for any.”  I told her I was fine with the little pain I had, but I sure wanted something more to eat.  She bought me another Sprite and some Poptarts. 

They made me get up at 6:30 a.m. and start walking.  I had a mild temperature and the nurse told me that walking would help it.  Again, I was hungry.  Breakfast wasn’t until 8:00 a.m.  When it came–I ate it like I had never eaten before in my life.  I had several visitors that morning . I was released shortly after lunch.  The lunch was good, too. 

I have not had to take anything stronger than a Tylenol for pain.  My wound is so neat and clean.  The dressing didn’t get filthy with blood .  When I took it off on Sunday–it was dry and healthy looking.  The doctor told me not to put anything on it but just let the shower water run over it.  So far–so good.  My surgeon is one of the finest.  Many asked me why I didn’t go to Vanderbilt.  That was fine for all of the diognostic testing but I wanted to be right in my own hometown for surgery.  This surgeon had taken out a growth on Maria’s thryroid.  I saw how wonderful he was then.  Maria healed so nicely and today you can’t even see any evidence of her scar.  So I trusted this doctor.  He is marvelous.

Vera has worked hard taking care of us.  I can help her with small things but I know better than to overdo.  I get tired easily.  However, I’ve enjoy visiting with friends, working at the computer and reading.  Many kind folks have brought meals over for us.  We also had a little party for my husband Jim on Sunday afternoon.  He just turned 61. 

I wouldn’t dare presume that I don’t have tough days ahead.  I will have to make decisions about my treatment.  I so want to take  a completely holistic approach ,but I just don’t know.  I have much to weigh out in mind.  I do believe being on strong antioxidants these past six months has done much to keep the cancer from growing and also helped me in my recovery.  Cancer is insidious.  There can be little cells still in my body that have not shown up.  So I’m not playing the hero here.  I’ve been blessed with a good beginning.  Thanks be to God!  I also know that I have to be careful with my body.  Cancer is something that I’m going to be talking about a great deal.  I intend to study every holistic book I can find.  I also intend to become a fine vegan cook.  I’m not committing myself to a total vegan diet to begin with, but I want to work in that direction.  I have a wonderful cookbook that I’ll be studying.  Vera is going to learn along with me.  I’ve cooked vegan for all of our Orthodox seasons of fasting.  However, my cooking has been very plain and ordinary.  I’m looking forward to learning how to be a more creative vegan cook. 

Again, thanks to each of you –who have prayed for me and for my family.  Have a wonderful New Year’s day.

God bless each of you!

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5 responses

1 01 2008
operationmeaning

Mom, I am so proud of you. You still continue to be a source of strength for the family inspite of all of this. I love you! -Vera

1 01 2008
Lynnae @ beingfrugal.net

I’m so glad the surgery went well and that you’ve had a smooth recovery so far. I am praying that God will give you the wisdom to make the best decisions about your treatment. Hang in there!

1 01 2008
nichole3

Thank you Lynnae for your comment before surgery and this one today. I really appreciate your visiting my blog and your prayers.

2 01 2008
cynthia manley

I ran across this blog because I have the keywords “cancer” and “vanderbilt” in my Google blog alert. (I am the communications director at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center). I am so glad to read that your surgery went well. I greatly respect your decision to stay close to home and have your surgery done by someone you already knew and trusted. Please know that if we can ever assist you again in the future, we are here for you. Our 800 number (staffed by four wonderful oncology nurses) is on our website (vicc.org).

Take care, and best wishes for continued recovery and healing.

2 01 2008
nichole3

Thank you Cynthia. I owe my life to Vanderbilt for all of their good diagnostic tests. I had my biopsy there. Vanderbilt also saved my husband’s life two years ago when his aorta dissected. Again, thank you for writing.

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