In less than twelve hours, the Titmonster will be history. I went this afternoon to have the radioactive isotope injected into my boob, hung out in the waiting room for about 45 minutes while it traveled the same path everything--including cancer cells--takes out of the breast. Then I went back and had a couple special pictures made with a camera that measures gamma rays. That showed the technician the area where my sentinel nodes are, and she marked it with a black sharpie. Tomorrow, the surgeon will use that to guide her as she biopsies the sentinel nodes to make sure the cancer hasn't reached my lymph nodes. We don't expect that it has, and that's what I'm praying and crossing my fingers for. It'll take some time (several days) for the pathology report.
I'm nervous, not so much about the surgery--I'm looking forward to being cancer free, but about how the next couple of weeks are going to go. I will have an incision over the lump, on my right breast. I will have a second incision under my arm for the SNB. I'll have a third incision over my heart for my port removal. The placement of these is going to make it pretty difficult to hold and care for Finn like I will want to. My mom is in town; she came in yesterday, and she, Kevin, and my in-laws will be able to do all the things I can't. But it's going to be hard for me not to not be able to do it all. It's hard for me to be dependent, and I feel like I've only just gotten to the point where I can do all the things I want to do and used to be able to do.
The timing is also less than ideal since Finn's surgery is Tuesday. I'm hoping that I'll be feeling well enough by then to hold and comfort him in the ways he likes best--on my shoulder and held snugly.
Other big events in the next week: Kevin's cousin Brittany is getting married Friday night, and Finn will be baptized on Sunday. In true Janet-and-Kevin style, we didn't get the baptism scheduled until last week, so most of my family won't be able to come. It is important to us that he be baptized before his surgery, and by the time we realized this and started talking about it, this Sunday was our best bet.
I'm also feeling some general cancer anxiety. I know of too many people who have died from cancer recently. I know the stats for my cancer. I know my prognosis. I know I'm going to continue to kick the Titmonster's ass until there is nothing left to kick. I still get scared.
I try really hard not to dwell on it. I think I've done a particularly good job staying positive and not letting myself get trapped in fear or anger or helplessness. Sometimes though, it creeps up. I let it visit for a while, and then I take a few deep breaths and try to refocus. I've just had to do it a lot in the past couple of weeks. My oncologist said that's typical as people move from one phase to another, so that's a little helpful to know. I keep remembering the line that my friend has tattooed on her forearm:
"still I'll rise"
She got it shortly before beginning her chemo journey this spring, not long after I did. I love it, and I keep thinking maybe I'll ask her if I can be a copycat. Anyway, it's a reminder that whatever comes my way, whatever obstacles I'll face, I've got this. I'll make it through. I'll be stronger in the end.
PS: I'll write soon (hopefully) about the amazing community of women I have found who have supported us through this journey with breastmilk donations. We bought a deep freezer in May to store the donated milk we knew we'd be getting. We hoped to have enough to get Finn through six weeks before transitioning him to formula. With donations from eleven women from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, our freezer is completely full, with more in storage elsewhere, and it looks like he may be starting solid food before he ever has to have formula. So much gratitude. So many tears of joy and thankfulness. So much love. So much boob juice.
PPS: I have a couple more entries in draft form that I'll post as soon as I fix the darn formatting and get Kevin to edit them. It'll happen when it happens, but I'll try to make it soon.