Results, plastic surgeon, big decisions

It has been 24 days since the diagnosis. In those 24 days, I’ve had to make some big (hard) decisions.

I’ve heard so many personal stories of women I know who had to make those same big decisions, and they are all different.

It was quite shocking to hear from these women who have had lumpectomies and mastectomies with breast cancer and I never knew — very brave women who have touched my life in ways they will never know.

Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your stories. It gives me peace and assurance that I can do this. It’s just a bump in the road, and you all are still living a good life. So thank you, Beth, Kathy, Laura, Ann, Pam, Jill, Cindy, Denise, Mandy, Lori, Laverne, Carolyn, Ila and Rita. Your words have been a healing salve to my soul.

I got the MRI results, which were showing the very same thing my biopsy showed. Still noninvasive (still just in the milk ducts) and not in the lymph nodes, so I was very happy with that. They will do more testing with surgery. I’m believing it’s going to be the same then.

Then I was off to see the plastic surgeon. A lot of information and decisions in just a couple of hours. With the help of my girls, who have been to all of my appointments with their dad, I’ve decided that I will have a double mastectomy so I don’t have to worry about it coming in the other breast.

The good news with that is I won’t ever have to have another mammogram. Also, because of me being small and a little sagging, he is going to cut me under my breast, take out my tissue and put the implants in at the same time of surgery. That means I could go to sleep with boobies and wake up with boobies.

That will depend on a few things, though. 1.) I have to have good blood flow. 2.) If he is able to spare my nipples, (#savethenips) and 3.) If I have thick skin, to which my sister, Weez, said today, "We all know Theresa doesn’t have thick skin." If you all don’t know by now, I’m very sensitive, but that’s not the thick skin he was talking about.

He showed me drains they will be putting in that will stay in for a while. He showed me the implants that he will be putting in me. He said he would have to make me a little larger because of my sagging, to which I replied, “Oh darn.” Not much bigger, though. I’ve never been very big, and I’m really OK with that. If it all goes as planned, I would be very happy to get it all done at once.

I’ve learned a lot in this process. One thing that bothered me is that I won’t have any feeling in my breasts. They will feel numb. He said I may over time start to feel some sensation but never in the nipples. I read where one lady said she turned her head and if you ran a feather over her breast skin she wouldn’t feel that. That makes me sad. I can’t imagine how that will feel, but I won’t have cancer in my body, so I can handle that. I really don’t have a choice.

The next step is getting blood work done, an EKG and a chest X-ray. I don’t know why. It’s just protocol, I guess. Then I’m going to Dallas to see my son, his wife and three grandchildren. I need to see them before my surgery. If all goes as planned, I will be there Easter Sunday, which is also Paislee’s seventh birthday. Then when I get home, that week will be my surgery.

I feel like the peace of the Lord has touched me tremendously. I also feel unspeakable joy, which doesn’t make sense to me seeing where I’m at in this process so far. I haven’t cried since Switzerland, but recently, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried and cried. I can’t even tell you why unless it was just my spirit mourning all I’ve been through so far. I don’t know why, and I don’t have to figure that out.

I just know this was the first bad day I’ve had since coming home from Switzerland. I had to get off my hormone pills I was taking through menopause, and those helped me with hot flashes and night sweats. I was up off and on all night one night because of night sweats. That could have been part of my meltdown. Hormone pills do not cause cancer, but because I was positive for the receptor hormone, it will feed the cancer.

I’m not going to lie, I try really hard to keep it together for Rob and my girls. I don’t want them to see pain or sadness coming from me. If I’m strong, they are strong. But I know I will have more bad days coming after the surgery. Probably a lot of emotions, but I will never ask God, "Why me?" Cancer is not a respecter of people. Any one of us can get it.

In the beginning, I tried to figure out why I got this. Was it bad eating? Was it not enough exercise? What did I do to myself that others haven’t? And you know what? Nothing. I did nothing wrong. It’s not my fault. We all have cancer cells in our body, and if our immune systems get even a little out of funk, it can happen.

Let me say this again: Cancer is not a respecter of people. But there are precautions that you can take, and I wish I had listened to a friend a couple of years ago when she was telling us on Facebook to get your mammograms. I waited three years since my last one. I may have still had cancer two years ago, but it might not have gotten to the point of a mastectomy.

So, ladies, get your mammograms. My cancer in my breast is not a lump, and I would not be able to feel it. It took a mammogram to find it.

I love you all, I covet your prayers and cancer doesn’t have me. I have cancer.

Prayer requests: That the implants could go in at the same time of surgery, that I would continue to have peace and that no cancer would be in my lymph nodes.

Theresa Schwartz of Seymour writes a blog about her journey with breast cancer. Send comments to [email protected].

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