It is 2:59am. Tomorrow I go to the hospital for surgery. I will be getting a skin sparing (hopefully) nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy. This next sentence has been re-written about ten times at this point. It is hard to put in to words exactly what I am feeling. Angry that I am forced to make a decision that no one would ever want to make. Afraid of what could happen in the six to eight hour surgery or of the complications that I could encounter afterwards. Sad that I will be different physically when the surgery is over. Relieved that I will finally be getting what remains of this cancer out of my body. This is what I must do in order to increase my odds for survival. And with two little ones who count on me, I am all about increasing my odds.
There is a t-shirt I saw that says "Yes they are fake, the real ones tried to kill me." Although it is a funny shirt, I don't feel the sentiment rings true for me. I feel this cancer happened to me and my breasts. They are as much innocent victim as I am. But unfortunately, they will be sacrificed so that I might live. So, I wanted a way to honor them before tomorrow. I have been working on this art piece over the last several days. It has been hard. I have been easily distracted away from the pain that making this piece touches in me. It is easier to wash the dishes or do the laundry than to mourn. But I know I need to in order to go into surgery without the emotional knots my psyche is tied up in currently. I feel deeply that releasing these emotions will help me in my recovery.
The project began with picture taking. I set a timer and took multiple pictures so that I might remember what I looked like prior to February 26th. I found an old cigar box that I had been saving for a special art project. I spray painted the box gold. I needed it to be precious. I then searched through years of photographs trying to find images of me breastfeeding my two children. Luckily I found one for each child. I printed up a selection of photographs and assembled my mini shrine. I used small vellum envelopes to hold the pictures. But it felt very incomplete. So, I sat down and wrote a goodbye letter to my breasts. I talked about how my relationship with my breasts developed. I thanked them for nursing my children. I apologized for not finding the lump earlier. When I finished the letter, I did feel more at peace. I placed a small red envelope in the back of my shrine with the letter inside. And then I decorated the box with strange little nipple flowers because I can't be too serious!
This shrine has been important to me. It has helped me move out of that worrier state back into my warrior mode. I realize that I can still be afraid and feel strong.
So the pictures are a little blurry. Not much natural light at three o'clock in the morning. Thanks for being on this journey with me. Thank you for all of your support and well wishes. It has meant so much to me. Virtual hugs, prayers, and wishes of good luck are all much appreciated. I will write soon to let you know how I am doing.