Friday, February 29, 2008


I am home sweet home, happily set up in the library (pillow positioning is easier in there) and thankful for so many things.

Getting ready for surgery was not as bad as I'd expected. Both my general surgeon & anesthesiologist were very sweet with me as we were getting set up. I didn't have any funny drifting-off moments, those came later with the pain medicine. But waking up was good. My post-op nurse was also a vegetarian who cooks meat for loved ones and sang me a beautiful song about pain meds to the tune of Volare. My first nurse, who was on the p.m. shift, was like an angel. I was still heavily medicated, but I'd wake to see her walking towards me through the shaft of light from the hallway throughout the night. She brought medicine, gently re-arranged my pillows, and put me back to sleep as if I were the only patient in the hospital.

The rest of the days in the hospital were much more work. Everything was on a schedule and I was tired and trying hard not to be uncomfortable, but every nurse that saw me was lovely. And a few extra things helped my days go easier. Caryn gave me this amazing lotion which several people were kind enough to massage my feet & hands with. I don't think there was a hint of hospital in the air of that room. Mark read to me, stories and your comments. Carla brought lemons, so it would smell like a home for sure. My mother washed my face. Well, she basically did all my bathing. I can't really think of very many more loving acts than a mother washing her child's face. I was in pain, in the hospital, and completely blessed.

Back at home, which is covered in flowers and delicious treats, I'm still not crazy energized. I do have very happy, comfortable spurts and then I nap. Today we went to my plastic surgeon's office for a dressing change. We didn't think we'd get to see him, but he surprised us, and I also have my drains removed. Many of the women I'd spoken to talked about the drains being the most bothersome thing post-op. I'd say the weakness is almost as bad, but it is very nice to have them out and well worth the 5 seconds of bizarre discomfort it takes.

And there you have my evening spurt of energy. I'm off to eat my grilled cheese and soup. Love to you all.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Jess is home and resting comfortably!

Getting Ready to Go Home

So we're post-op day 3 now and getting ready to leave the hospital. Jess had a good sleep last night and is feeling better on all fronts. We took an extra day in the hospital to get everything settled down, which was a good call. We're planning to get sorted out and make for the door later this morning. Will keep you posted (HA)!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Today Is A Great Day!

So it's the first post-operative day and Jess doing really well! She had a good night, got some sleep, and her pain was well controlled. She's been getting out of bed a little bit this morning and taking some liquids. Best of all, she's as confident, strong, and beautiful as ever. We've had some great talks, plenty of smooches, and we've got our new bracelets on. We also had a nice visit from Larry, a close family friend of the Beckers, who is also a national rep for LiveStrong. Now we've got yellow LiveStrong bracelets to go along with the purple and orange. Her family and my family are all doing fine; feels like a great big load has started to lift off. I've just come home for a quick shower then heading back to be with her, can't wait, so gonna keep this short. Will be in touch!

Happy Update

Getting right to it, Jess' surgery was very successful. Both our surgeons had smiles on their faces as they discussed the case with us. Best of all, the frozen section on the sentinal node biopsy was NEGATIVE!!! After a long day, Jess is now resting comfortably at Mary Birch Hospital for Women. So quiet and peaceful in her private room, she looks absolutely beautiful!
I'll write more in the morning, thank you all so much for your calls, emails, texts, thoughts, and prayers! We've been soaking up all of that energy!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Word of the Day

It's the day before surgery, and there's so little to do. That can be a good thing. I have plenty of time to relax, providing I can find the means. And as my plastic surgeon, the kind Dr. L tells me, all I have to do is not eat after 11 and show up on time.

But lots of times not having anything to do can feel terrible. You know that, right? I'm sure you've felt it before, and I know a lot of you are very frustrated right now that you can't complete some task that can make all of this easier for me. But you are, you know. You're thinking of me, sending me beautiful cards and tiny gifts and flowers that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how well I'm loved, in case I get to wondering. Even your secret thoughts and prayers, I promise you, I feel them.

Still there is the urge to do.
Margaret and Des have made two delicious soups to freeze and are whipping up dinner as I type. Mark's been on laundry patrol and has set aside some comforting items for me to bring along. I've had one important task today, and it's completed. You've probably noticed that Mark and I are the only people over age 12 that wear friendship bracelets. Even more noticeable, they're in our ubiquitous favorite colors: orange and purple. It started as a constant reminder of our connection when Mark was in residency and on call for some long & lonely nights. Now they're as dear to us as our wedding bands, and to assuage the fact that I have to take mine off for surgery, I've made fresh ones.

The Free Dictionary says the word of the day is amulet (noun) An object worn, especially around the neck, as a charm against evil or injury.

I agree.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This Story

Today is a gorgeous, priceless day in San Diego, and I feel good if a bit sleepy. So this will be just a short post. I do still have a few pre-op errands to run despite spending a king's ransom in pj's yesterday. Also, Des & Margaret are flying in today to help us get through this next step, for which we're so thankful.

For now I'll leave you with this piece I noticed today by one of my favorite artists, Rob Ryan.

Friday, February 22, 2008


A very difficult part of this is not knowing what to expect. That's a whole different issue than being completely terrified of what's secretly going on in my body, which I'm sure I'll write more about later. I really don't know what to expect from my surgery and recovery. Although I've been tremendously well informed and trust my doctors, I've never been in the hospital before - never had any kind of surgery. I really don't even know, to a certain extent, what kind of help to ask for. The standard answers are that I'll really not have terrible pain post-op, and that I'll be feeling mountains better within days. Most people say that discomfort is the prevailing feeling. I can take that, I know. But because I'm having a double mastectomy and I know how little I realize that I'm constantly using my pecs (which will be very re-arranged during my surgery), I just don't know what all of that will mean as far as daily activities go. Then there's the mental and emotional adjustments that I'll have to make. Because I can only wake up from my first surgery with the first of several steps towards reconstruction (more technical details later for those who like that stuff - Hannah), I have no idea how that will feel. The best I can do on that front, I think, is to be kind to myself and focus on the reason for all of this and the end result - that I will look quite normal soon enough and that I will NOT HAVE cancer.

So, I'm doing the more tangible preparations today. Icky weather or no, I'm out to buy myself some fun, comfy, pj's, submit the all-important post-op prescriptions, buy light bulbs, and a challah from the best bread store in all the land, Charlie's. Yesterday I came home with seven new books to plow through once I'm done with the latest fantastic lend from Margaret. That one, weighing in at 933 pages, is being read like the devil in hopes that I'll finish by Monday. Any wagers?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

All Kinds of Not So Fine

I'm not going to pussyfoot around. Chances are if you're here, you already know I have breast cancer. If you didn't know about this blog before, it's no indication of our intimacy - I'm just so shy that the only people that do visit me here found this all by themselves. So I got a little more comfortable with the whole blog-being-read-by-humans idea about a second ago and now I'm going to tell the whole world about what's going on with my breasts. How bizarre.

Over the past couple of weeks (I was diagnosed on February 8th) Mark and I have become slowly aware of how many people love and care for us, and we are daily wowed by one or seven of you at a time. But unfortunately we just can't talk to all of you as often as we'd like. And since things are happening pretty fast at this point, we figured it was time to blog. Feel free to visit, comment, and share with abandon.

One quick thought before I launch in to the latest in my medical adventure. This blog's theme is not changing. It's still about our slow little home, and I'm looking forward to boring you with tales of my orchids, recipes, and wildly executed projects. Cancer is not going to become my story, I've decided. But right now, it's what's happening.

So I have been diagnosed with DCIS, or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. This means it has started and is now in a duct of my right breast. So far on the testing front I've had a mammogram (which is where this story all began), an MRI, a stereotactic biopsy, and a PET/CT. All of which shows that there are a few lymph nodes that are "questionable" for invasion, but no other malignancies to be found elsewhere in my body. Those questionable readings may be the result of the inflammation caused by my various and fast-paced procedures, or a spreading of cancer to that area. Unfortunately the size of the tumor in my breast makes it a bad candidate for a lump-ectomy. What's warranted is a simple (meaning no muscle involved) mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy and reconstruction. So all of my breast tissue will be removed. Before the tumor comes out, a special dye is injected into that duct, and that dye will then migrate and show the exact lymph that duct drains to, the sentinel node. That will be visually examined and a quick pathology read will be done. If those show no cancer, no other lymph nodes will be removed. If it does show cancer, the rest of the nodes in that group will come out, too. Either way fuller pathology tests will be done on everything, the results of which we'll get a few days out of surgery. So Monday, February 25th at 2 p.m. is my scheduled kickoff. This is a lot to handle and I'm a little nervy. Any positive thoughts and prayers you can send my way will be fully appreciated.

Today we ran around for various pre-op appointments, so we're a bit bushed. But we're off to meet my parents for dinner at Las Olas, so looking forward to the absolute perfect cheese enchilada. It's always the little things.