During the bouts of cancer diagnosis and treatments, Rachel writes e-mails to keep her friends and family updated on her thoughts and spiritual walk.


January 14, 2005

Surgery is only a few days away and, to be honest, I’ve gotten pretty emotional about it. More emotional than I would expect to be and definitely more emotional than I’d like to be.


I’m confident it’s the right decision, I’m not afraid of the surgery and I think (and hope) that I’ll be fairly happy with the end result. But for some reason I’m a basket case.


Maybe I was so excited to get through chemo and now I have to face the next step so soon when I’d just like to enjoy feeling good for a little while longer. Or maybe this is another “cancer moment” where it hits me what a big drag this whole deal is. Or maybe I’m struggling with feeling unfeminine because I’m about to look like a pathetic commando for the next three months – buzzed hair, bruised and bandaged and a bit of a mess while we go through this whole reconstruction thing. Of course, there are some serious hormone issues residual from the chemo that I have just started to factor into the equation. I don’t know what it is. But I don’t like to talk about it because I get sad – as in “weep at the drop of a hat sad.” So, if I’m not answering the phone or responding to e-mails…that’s why. Sorry.


Met my plastic surgeon last week. It’s always a bit disconcerting being the only one in a bathrobe when you meet someone for the first time but I’m starting to get used to it. Anyway, he’s nice and very professional.


Neil’s mom arrives on Saturday to help until I’m able to be on my own again. I honestly don’t know how we would have done this without the help of The Grandmas. They have been amazing – so selfless and giving, tireless in their ability to care for one grumpy invalid and two toddlers. I am so grateful for their willingness to come and help us through this.


Some nitty gritty stuff because people are asking: Surgery is at 12:30pm on Monday (January 17th). At UBC. I will be in the hospital for one night, maybe two. Dr. McGregor will do the mastectomies and then Dr. Lennox will remove my port-o-cath and insert the tissue expanders behind my pectoralis muscle. The implant cannot go right against the skin so they put a tissue expander in. I will go in every two weeks for the next couple of months and have more saline injected into the expander to gently stretch the muscle. Then, in May/June, they will take out the expander and put in the permanent implant. Of course, these things only last – if you’re lucky – 25 to 30 years so I will go through this whole deal again before I’m 65. I comfort myself with knowing that I will be the envy of all the ladies at the seniors centre.


This verse sits on my window sill above the kitchen sink these days: “My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26.) Appropriate, don’t you think? Particularly these days but I like it because it applies to each day…and forever.


Neil will e-mail and let you know how surgery went.



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