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January 23, 2007

Relief, Redux

Julieorfirer272x722_3 Julie - Thanks to you all for your good wishes.  The collective energies worked!  The surgery went very well, at least from my perspective.  One minute I was listening to Peggy Huddleston’s tape, joking with the attending anesthesiologist and my husband; the nurse anesthestist pushed the Versed and there were a few blurry memories of the OR; and the next moment (only about 45 minutes later) I was in the recovery room listening to one of my favorite songs from 1 Giant Leap.

With hardly more than a couple of bandaids in the way I could see the more natural shape of my new breast implant in comparison with the expander.  I could lift my arm over my head without pain or impingement and that was a huge relief.  After a couple of hours of drowsy unsteadiness, imbibing on the requisite hospital apple juice and graham crackers, my husband deemed me ready to go home and we said our farewells with no intention to return.

Three days later I’m completely without pain and my energy is returning.  It’s blustery cold so I’m not going for the three mile walk I did the past two days.  I say now that my left breast looks like a 20 year old instead of a 13 year old.  I’m hoping it’ll droop down to at least 25 so that the 50 year old on the other side finds some company.

It’s over.  This is the end of a year’s journey with breast cancer.  It should be a huge relief.  And in some ways it is.  No more procedures or treatments.  No more decisions.  I have hair, albeit shorter and grayer.  I have a breast, albeit smaller and perkier.  I’m in excellent health.  But…. The big “but.”  Everything has changed.  For months I’ll be dealing with the most obvious of the ripples that this experience has caused in my life.  Everything feels up for grabs when I try to picture my life a year from now.  There’s no going back to how it was before and that’s ok but it’s unsettling at best, terrifying at times.

And, of course, there’s cancer.  There’s the expectation that it is gone.  I live with that.  But there’s also the MRI next month, and there are the endless stories of recurrences, metastases, second cancers and deaths.  Unsettling at best, terrifying at times.  I live with that too.

For this moment I celebrate my triumph and feel huge gratitude for all the people who have done it with me.  I focus my learning on how I handled myself in this crisis – discerning what I can take into the rest of my life and what I can learn to do better.  I plan, as I did over the past year, to follow a path in the direction I want to go – one foot in front of the other.

January 23, 2007 in Julie | Permalink


Julie, is your blog ended? If so, I wish you the best; I really enjoyed sharing in your journey. If not, I look forward to reading more of your writing.

Posted by: Jean Heslin | Feb 28, 2007 8:45:27 PM

Julie, you had me laughing about having the 20-year-old match the 50-year-old! LOL! Both mine are almost 50 - I think they drop an each each decade.... Congratulations on the successful surgery and many prayers for the future to come!

Posted by: Kim | Jan 24, 2007 5:22:56 PM

Congratulations on this important milestone in your cancer treatment! I reached that point in my breast cancer treatment almost two years ago. Ever so gradually, I think you will find yourself reclaiming your life and putting cancer on the back burner. Never completely out of your mind, but certainly in a better balance. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

Posted by: Carolyn Burr | Jan 23, 2007 4:48:05 PM

Dear Julie
I hope you will continue with your blog. You are able to put into words many of my own feelings with my cancer recovery. Now that the treatment is complete the real healing and adjustment can start. Best wishes to you.

Posted by: katherine | Jan 23, 2007 4:44:57 PM

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