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Surgery was my lemon. Living life day by day is my lemonade.
I wrote this one year ago after the biggest roller coaster ride of my life. Ironically, I titled this the opposite of your website only because I didn’t feel strong enough to title it any differently at the time and it was just plain honest.
“I don’t really feel like making lemonade”
Please listen when your body is telling you something. I know for a fact this is easier said than done because I didn’t listen. Feeling sick through dinner, I didn’t listen. Just driving on any other Wednesday, I didn’t listen. I thought it was my cross-country move that had me tense and fearful because that certainly was a perfect scapegoat. But then my husband forced me listen and I was sitting in a doctor’s office.
At the first appointment it was just a fibroid in my uterus, and, I’ll save you the suspense, it turned out to be just that. Unfortunately, the path to determining this was rocky.
But then how did it grow to be the size of a grapefruit in such a short time? Let’s do an MRI. Why are there hyper intensities? Those are signs of lyomyosarcoma, which is a rare kind of cancer that does not respond well to chemotherapy. Let’s move on to MD Anderson and let’s do a PET scan to get more information and to see where it has spread. This led to ten days of hell for me as I faced having only 3-5 more years to live.
I imagined a scene from Beaches or a song from our favorite artist, Tim Mcgraw, about dying. But I knew that wasn’t how it would play out. I would instead spend my last few years as a burden to my family. In those eternal ten days I mourned not ever taking my daughters to Paris like I promised. To not being able to retire with my husband that I love so much. To not see my boys grow up just like their father. I am in so much awe if the people that go through this. I only had to bear it for such a short time and it was unbearable. At the time I had no intention of making lemonade with those lemons. Now I take the time to pray for my family and pray for those who need strength because feeling helpless and hopeless at the same time is near impossible to overcome.
The PET scan came back clear and my pathology was then cleared as well. It felt like a miracle, although, if it wasn’t really anything to begin with then I just thanked God that it was meant to be.
I took the cue of listening and mentioned I was short of breath in the hospital. It was from a pulmonary embolism and it was a very very good thing I didn’t leave the hospital without knowing that. My strong girls loved watching me give myself injections on blood thinner but my sensitive boys couldn’t bear to watch.
Ten days later I cried myself to sleep for really no good reasons and woke up four hours later to a terrifying amount of blood. Thank you to those who donate blood as I needed it in the ER that night. This wound up in three more nights in the hospital but somehow on the last day in while visiting with my good friend I knew it was over. Or at least the hardest part of the unknown was over.
It took a good 8 weeks for me to feel strong enough to leave the house and now it’s been 6 months and I’d say I’m at 90%. I just took a ski trip with good friends and it was such an amazing reminder that I’m healthy, totally out of shape, but healthy.
Thank you to my husband who kept a brave face the entire time. Thank you to God for making my children naive and seemingly immune to my fear. To my parents, who took care of my kids and house during it all. Thank you to my brother-in-law, Thad, who is a doctor and was a great voice of reason. Thank you to my primary care doctor who always called to check in on me. Thank you to MD Anderson (especially my surgeon) who always made me feel taken care of. Thank you to my good friend Sarah who was there for me whenever I needed it and my friend Francine who texted and called me every day which meant the world to me.
So will this allow me to go out and have a new lease on life and save the world? Sorry, world, but no. I still don’t have the strength yet. I do though have the strength to hug my kids and my husband more often. To bake more. To try and help friends and neighbors more. Hopefully golf more? So that’s where I’m starting, small, but it feels like a huge jump from where I was 6 months ago so I’m satisfied with that.
Update: I am now 18 months post surgery and am still taking it day by day. Because there have been some health scares since, I go back and forth between a lot of anxiety and feelings of vulnerability and then on to days of complete happiness and appreciate to be healthy. I have thrown myself into my family life and my work, which I thankfully love and truly feel like I am leading the life that is meant for me. Small steps.