Surgery of any kind is a big thing. The easy part is going through the surgery, because you’re unconscious. The hard part is afterwards when you wake up from anesthesia and the pain kicks in. Then the recovery process can be painful, tiring, and at times boring. Many who have gone through or are going through breast cancer have faced the recovery process. Some are recovering from surgery and some are recovering from chemo, radiation, and other treatments. Breast cancer is a rough illness and some survivors face several surgeries and treatments.
I was in tears when I first was diagnosed with breast cancer and again when I was told I have the BRCA gene. I knew I had a long road ahead of me and I also knew I was a fighter. Having the BRACA gene meant two surgeries, a mastectomy and a hysterectomy. They were both by choice. I could have just had the cancer removed from my breast and risked the chance of getting another cancer. The hysterectomy was a prevention surgery. The doctor told me ovarian cancer is very hard to detect and by the time it’s detected it’s serious. I just wanted to take all steps necessary to prevent cancer from intruding my body again.
Right now I’m recovering from the hysterectomy. I’m not sure which recovery was harder, the bilateral mastectomy or the hysterectomy. With the first surgery I had these awful drains that hurt every time I moved and had to be emptied three times a day. I couldn’t shower for two weeks, I had to sleep propped up, I had to wear button down shirts and I slept a lot.
With the hysterectomy I have two incisions on each side of my belly. The one on the right felt like someone was kicking me in the stomach. Lying down felt the best and walking upstairs hurt. I could lie down while sleeping, but I had to pick a side and not move. My husband has had to help me get dressed. I can shower, but I need help getting in and out of my tub. Bending over is no fun at all. I think the worst part is the emotional roller coaster the sudden menopause put me on.
I feel like I have fallen into depression once again. For several days I cried non-stop over the smallest things. I cried because no one sent me get well cards, I cried because none of my friends visited me, I cried because I thought no one cared anymore, and I cried just to cry. The sadness is worst when I’m alone like when my hubby goes to bed or is at work. Thanksgiving is coming so people are over loaded with busy work schedules and preparing for their family feasts. My parents left for Tennessee to see my brother and family. I have no choice but to spend some alone time.
The pain is getting better. I’m still tender in places, and I’m restricted on what I can do. I hate sitting around doing nothing. It makes me even more emotional. When I had the mastectomy I did have some emotional spells. I had to accept the fact I no longer had breasts, but it was nothing compared to this. The other day I cried while on the phone with my mom. I told her I don’t want to go through depression again. I struggled with it for many years and overcame it. This can’t be happening.
I called my doctor at the cancer center and was reminded it is probably menopause, but to be sure they told me to stop taking my hormone blocker for a couple of weeks. I went to my psychiatrist and he increased the dosage of my antidepressant. I started my Christmas cards, I’m coloring in my adult coloring book, I edited a story and sent it to a magazine, and I journal. I try to journal the positive things and I remind myself this time it’s temporary. I turn to my husband, friends, and family for support.
Cancer took my life and spun it in circles. I never expected having two surgeries within three months, but all in all I think I have handled everything well. Yes, recovering from two surgeries in such short times apart has been hard and emotional, but in the end I think I’ll come out stronger. I’m still in the process of recovery from my hysterectomy. It’s been two weeks and I’m supposed to be off work for four to six week. With my coping skills I’ll get through it.
If you are facing recovery from surgeries and other treatments from breast cancer, try to stay positive. If you are able to, keep busy with crafts or other things you are able to do like adult coloring books, computer games, word searches, and reading. Cancer is a hard illness to go through and its treatments can be hard. You can’t do it alone. Turn to friends and family for support. You can reach recovery and this illness will only make you stronger.
In time I’m sure I will get through the depression and emotional roller coaster. I’m a fighter and I won’t let menopause keep me down. Soon I’ll see the light of recovery shining brightly again.