Friday, February 6, 2009

Losing a Part of Me

How long until she is able to put her arm down? Since I'm having both breasts removed, my fear is that I'll look like I'm being held up at gun point for days on end. Truth is, I know that it will be painful for me to lift my arms for quite a long period of time after surgery.

We can all pretend that poster doesn't look THAT bad. But it does. Who can tell me what is missing from this picture? Class? Class? Anyone? Anyone? (Julie H., please close your eyes, because talk is going to be about nipples.)

I am going to lose my nipples. That is messing with me worse than you can even imagine. I know that there are people out there who are missing arms and legs and would trade places with me in a heartbeat. They're just nipples! Yeah, but they're mine.

Due to the fact that my surgery needs to happen without anymore delay - plus the added fact that they want to start chemotherapy as quickly as possible after surgery - I will not be able to have reconstructive surgery at the same time that I have my breasts removed. Things will be delayed greatly if we try to schedule my breast removal to be followed immediately with plastic surgery. You see, I need to be healed before I can start chemo. Reconstructive surgery slows healing time. If you do not start the reconstruction process right after the original surgery, your nipples will be lost. I know, I know, I know! My life is worth so much more than something so trivial as nipples. I'm scared what it will be like to wake up without breasts AND any hint of what should be there.

(My cousin's boyfriend offered to donate his nipples to me - he said boys don't need theirs. I had to kindly decline that touching offer. Thank you, Rick! I will bake you cookies.)

The fun part is knowing that after all is said and done...once all the cancer is blasted out of my body...I get to start painful surgery all over again with the reconstruction process. I have to remind myself to not think about any of this mess right now. This was supposed to be my nine days of no cancer talk. Easier said than done. I'm only supposed to be thinking about the next step that lies ahead on this journey. Again, easier said than done. Tonight I fell off the wagon.

Here's where I am right now: my house is clean; my laundry is caught up; I'm having a wonderful time with my family; I'm laughing with neighbors and I'm feeling less stress than I've felt since the day I found out I have cancer. But, I still have that little voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I have cancer.

Cheesecake might shut that voice up.
Only one way to find out!


  1. You are a great writer and a darn funny one too!

    Not that you asked :-), but I wanted to validate all of your feelings in this post. You are "normal" and they are normal.

    One thing that helped me through this journey (that no one wants to be on), was to break down each part of the treatment into segments. For me, it was three (surgery, chemo, radiation) so I called it my "triathlon". I did my best not to think of, or research about, the next part of the triathlon. This helped to keep me somewhat sane, or normal.

    I will be praying for a successful surgery on Thursday.

    Sending hugs your way . . .


  2. Rick is going to hold you to that (you know how he loves cookies) and DONT think surgery is going to get you out of that too!!!

  3. i have tried 3 times to leave a comment & keep getting kicked off, hope it takes this time.
    wanted to let you know how strong, funny, & beautiful you are. with 2 or 1 or 0 breasts you're the same woman...just cont to fight.
    many prayers going up for you, from a recent cancer survivor. ;)
    God bless.

  4. was sent over via Christina's blog.. I am sending you my thoughts and more so my prayers.. I see your strength in your too are a remarkable Christine... just remember you have to rebuild your insides first.. make them strong before you can rebuild your outer body... Good luck to you and I wish you all the best...

  5. I am here by way of a Call for Support from Sugar. I wish I could actually BE support, but I'm afraid all I can offer is my prayers and best wishes and a few words. My mother, in her sixties, had a mastectomy (single)and is 85 now. I can remember the exercises she did, walking her fingers up and down the wall, after her surgery. It actually helped. She was very sore under her arm on the side that the breast was removed, but this exercise helped. You sound very brave, upbeat (as possible under the circumstances), and honest. I cannot imagine being in your place. Even though you know you should take one day and one step at a time, it is so normal to have a day like today where you "fall off the wagon" and wonder ahead. It sounds like you have a good network of support among family and friends. That and a good attitude are going to be your best defense I think. My best to you, and I very much admire you for writing about this very painful and difficult time. Take care.

  6. My first time here, also came by way of Call for Support from Sugar!! I've not had the struggle you are going through, but wanted you to KNOW that breasts don't define a woman, it's still who you are!! I hope that everything goes well with your recovery!! I'll be back to check on you.

  7. I am visiting by way of "Call for Support". Glad I stopped in, you have a refreshing way to approach your challenge, lol. I think your good attitude and a seemingly great support system in your family and friends is going to help you endure this life challenge. You're a beautiful, smart and intelligent woman with or without nipples! Blessings to you!

  8. Hi I am coming by way of Call for Support and wanted to tell you that I admire you and you will be in my thoughts and prayers. My MIL was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year and a half ago and she ended up just in December having the double mastectomy. There is no preparation for it is what she told me. The best thing she has been able to do is just go with the flow and deal with it as it comes to her. She was just as bothered as you about the loss of nipples, far more than the breast itself. Keep your head up and you are in my thoughts and prayers!! Your a beautiful woman! Hugs to you....

  9. Thank y'all for the prays.
    I'm grateful beyond words.

    I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
    — Ephesians 1:16

  10. I am here by way of support. Sheri you are a funny person who seems strong but I also recognize that you would be fearful. Please know my prayers are with you. Lucy

  11. Sheri, I would feel the exact same way about my faucets. I'm sorry that it is what it is, but I'm also glad that at least there is some reconstruction available after all this initial mess is over. I had a friend who had the same thing done, double mastectomy, chemo, radiation and then, months later, boobs put in. I know everyone's different, but she was so thankful that she did it exactly the way she did it and she was pleased with the cosmetic outcome. I mean, they weren't like her own boobs when she was a perky 18-year-old, but she (and her husband) were happy and she's healthy and doing well. We'll be praying about all of this stuff. Those details are important.