Monday, September 15, 2014

Big C Bloghop ~The Boob Job

So I signed up for another anthology type blog hop. This one is about cancer and proceeds will help pay for another writer's cancer treatments. Yes, it's a worthy cause. Having battled the beast four times already and won, AND as a caregiver for a terminally ill, cancer ridden husband, now with hospice service, I know how expensive this is. After all, we've spent over a million dollars, out of pocket expense, on my husband's ten-year battle.

After facing this reality, how can I come up with something inspiring and uplifting to say about the Big C? You know I can. I usually do with this blog. The reason for the delay in posting is that there were/are too many stories to tell and weeding it down to one.

The Boob Job

Nothing strikes at a female's femininity more than breast cancer. Even a passing thought of this particular cancer strikes questions like future sex appeal, future partner relationship impacts, and even clothing options.

Now I have always had large breasts on a petite frame. My twins always greeted you before I did. I was an EE after five children on a size 2 frame. You can see it right? I opted for a breast reduction because of back problems and was very happy with my size C breasts until 1998. Think 10 pounds each side removed. Granted at over 50, gravity was doing it's natural thing. Hey, even at over 50, I ain't dead yet.

I found a lump during a shower. Now I've always had fibroids so it would have been so easy to pass it off as another one, But this one felt different. Having battled cancer twice already I checked in with my family physician. He ordered a mammogram. Sure enough, it came back questionable. Always, always listen to that tiny voice in your head.

I was scheduled for surgery the next week. A long few days of agonizing discussions ensured. I decided if it was cancer to let the doctor remove all that he could find while I was in surgery.I would deal with the aftermath later. The idea of waking up after anesthesia, being told it was cancer, and having another surgery scheduled was too much. I wanted it out and done. A brave move? Not hardly. To me, it was a chicken poop way of not facing my fears until it was over or at least this part. Radiation and chemo would follow but I'd deal with that later. One crisis at a time.

I awoke with both breast gone, as well as some lymph nodes under my right arm. How did I know this? The pain upon movement. The amount of packing and bandages gives you the impression that you still have squashed boobs after surgery if you look at just the bandages.

The realization that lymph nodes had been removed rang alarm klaxons in my head. This wasn't over. There was spread. So I began repeating my mantra in my head.
I'm too mean to die.
 I'm too stubborn to give up.
 I'm a fighter.
 I'm in God's hands.
I repeated it several hundred times before the surgeon came to give me the bad news. He couldn't believe my peacefulness upon receiving the news. He must of thought I was in shock because he repeated himself and shot a concerned look to my husband. But I told me that I understood everything he had said. The battle was just beginning.

My old oncologist came in. I'd given him a heads up prior to my surgery. We discussed options. I opted to go straight to chemo since the lymph nodes were involved. Let's fool the cancer that I'm dying so it will stop and die too. That's what chemo basically is. It kills the cancer cells, as well as healthy ones. This sounds like bravado, and in retrospect it was in part.

I knew I would lose my hair once again. I pulled out my silk scarves from a ziplock bag stuffed in my underwear drawer. There is nothing more girlie than donning pure silk on bare flesh. Just the thought gave me tingles of pleasure. Yes, I'd forgo the wigs once again.  I placed my large, gold hoop earrings on the dresser. Black eyeliner pencil to emphasize my eyes instead of a sick body. Gypsy fortune teller mode. I'd asked for the prescriptions for Phenagren and Immodium from my oncologist beforehand and they now sat at my bedside. I knew how the chemo would affect my body. Been there. Done that. Didn't want to be here again. But I was.

I'd grabbed a paperback and stuffed it in my purse. I was girded in my armor with my mantra on the tip of my tongue. Let the infusions of poisons begin. I was Don Quixote off to battle the beast, or King Richard the Lion Heart taking on Saladin in Jerusalem. My purse transformed into flail with sharp spikes and sturdy chain. I was ready for battling the beast. I would be victorious once again. Of this, I had no doubt because...
I'm too mean to die.
Too stubborn to give up.
I'm a fighter.
I'm in God's hands.


  1. You are a brave warrior, Jo. {{{hugs}}}

  2. Thank you for sharing your story with us, J.L.! You're a truly brave and beautiful person. And I love your mantra!

  3. You handled it well and fought it hard.

  4. I love your "I'm too mean to die." attitude, Jo! And I believe it reading what you've endured. :)

    I've got so much respect for anyone who faces down the kind of adversity cancer brings.

  5. Mantra away!

    I have such respect for you, Jo... Truly amazing and inspirational story!

    It always amazes me how much the human spirit can take.

    Reading your story as well as the others, shows me the strength in a fighting attitude and how tough the human spirit really is...

    I think of some famous people, who in their own minds, can't handle life, or their success and they delve in to alcohol or drugs.

    BUT people like you, who really have tragedies in their lives step up to the plate and hit a grand slam!

    I pray you continue to be strong and fight. I hope and prayer you will be forever in remission... You battled, you won. It's time for a happy, healthy future...

    Thanks for participating in the hop! Your entry is so appreciated!

  6. Love, love this story!! I believe I'm too mean to die as well. High gives, my fellow warrior and badass. Thank you so much for participating. :)

  7. Hi Jo - a post that needs to be read by many .. and shows what we can cope with ... and you were prepared, quite rightly so ...

    My thoughts for all the fights you're taking on - may you continue to win ... Hilary

  8. Jo, you're battled cancer four times and now you're watching your husband suffer? You and your husband are both strong amazing people. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Jo, I'm almost speechless....
    You are so brave - a TRUE CHAMPION!
    This is a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
    May you continue to give cancer a BIG KICK IN THE PANTS!
    Thank you for sharing this.
    God bless you and your family!

  10. Huzzah! Love the mantra and your courage & enduring faith. You can't lose.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Jo. Your courage and determination are always inspiring.


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