Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Mother's Journey with Breast Cancer



I don't even know how to begin writing this post or even if I should.  I have been very silent about my mother's breast cancer because I still find it hard to believe.  It just all happened so unexpectedly. Some days, it was just too overwhelming.  I tried to keep myself busy with work and my blog so that I wouldn't have too much time to think about it.  I can still recall the day when my mom said those dreaded words to me, " I Have Breast Cancer".  And truth is, nothing or no one will ever prepare you to hear those words.  I remember going completely numb. Unable to move or react.  And to make matters worst, my mom received the news all alone.  Could you imagine having to deal with all those emotions all alone???  I can't.  And the fact that my parents live in Florida meant that I could not drive to her home to hold her and comfort her at that very moment.  I asked God to to give me the right words to say to her but just like all amazing mothers, she was the one providing all the comforting and encouragement to me. And although I can hear a bit of fear in her voice, she did not shed a tear.  Her beautiful spirit was unbroken,  She asked her family to be strong and united for the journey ahead will be long and very difficult.  "But I am going to be fine, she said.  "We will get through this" she said.

Her journey began with a Lumpectomy to remove the cancer in her left breast, along with a small margin of the surrounding breast tissue.  Unfortunately, that first Lumpectomy was unsuccessful and she had to have a second Lumpectomy.  Again, the margins were not clear and so her Oncologist advised her to have total mastectomy in order to prevent any possibility of breast cancer re-occurring. After a couple of consultations with her Oncologists and her plastic surgeon, my mother decided to have breast re-construction following with her mastectomy.  She decided to have what they call "FLAP" re-construction which uses tissue transplanted from another part of the body such as belly, thighs, or back.  The surgeon also disconnects the breast tissue completely from its blood supply and reattaches the tissue to new blood vessels near your chest.  Because their is reattaching of the blodds vessels, the surgery and the recovery takes longer.  The entire surgery, including the mastectomy was going to last from seven to eight hours.   

On March 12, 2015, my mother finally had her surgery.  Her mastectomy went well but her breast re-construction had some minor complications which extended her surgery to 12 hours.  Could you imagine a surgery this long?  This was the longest and most terrifying day of my life.  The waiting seemed endless and uncertain.  Panic and fear started to set in after eight hours of waiting.  I must have driven the poor ladies in the waiting area crazy.  But realizing that my father was just as nervous and terrified as I was, I talked myself into keeping it calm and together for the both of us.  He is has health issues of his own and this was certainly too much for him to handle.

After mom's long and complicated surgery, she was sent to  ICU.  The minute she awoke from her surgery, she was in severe pain and discomfort.  The color on her Flap appeared extremely dark.  But her surgeon re-assured us that everything was ok.  "We need to give it time" he said.  But the color on her Flap did not get any better.  On the second day, things turned terribly wrong,  The new flap or skin as they call it, was even worst in color and my mother's horrible screams and terrible desperation from the pain that she was suffering were even more unnerving.  I desperately called out to the nurses who immediately called all for help.  Her heart was starting to show signs of trouble and started having difficulty breathing.  It appeared that there was some internal bleeding but they could not be certain until they re-opened to see what was happening.  The surgeon said to me she needs to have another surgery.  To which I responded, "You have to be kidding".  She just had surgery that lasted 12 hours, you have been at the hospital just as long and are you capable of performing another surgery after such a long day.  More importantly, is my mother even able to withstand another long surgery??  Well, there was really not much choice in the matter.  It needed to be done at that point and so she had to undergo emergency surgery.  I have never been more scared or frighten in my life. Worried about her undergoing another long and delicate surgery was just too much to bare.  At times, I wanted to run off and scream my lungs out but I thank God for giving the faith, strength and ability to control my emotions and for giving me resolve to keep my father calm.  Although at times I would see his eyes fill up with tears and face with filled with worry, he managed to keep it together too.  But I tell you, there were angels watching over her.  My biggest blessing was seeing her sweet brown eyes open up after that second surgery.  She is strong and resilient.  I don't know if I be as strong.

We learned that she had developed a large Hematoma because there were problems with the new connected blood vessels.  The blood was pumping into her chest but unable to pump out and caused it to be swollen and to press against her chest.  Her surgeon had to take a vein from her leg to give it a larger opening for the blood to have better flow.  Her recovery will be slow but she is making great progress.  Some days are better than others.  Her mastectomy was successful and we pray that she continues to be cancer free.

Lastly, I cannot emphasize the importance of doing your research.  To learn all your options and to get as many professional opinions as you can.  To ensure that you are a good candidate for whatever type of surgery you choose to have and to learn all the risks before hand.  I am not a a professional on this matter but based on our experience, I don't think my mother was a good candidate for this "Flap" surgery.  And I would also have preferred for her to have the re-construction a few months after her mastectomy.

To say that this was a life changing experience is an understatement.  I learned lessons that will last a life time.  I also learned that faith, love and family will always help us endure the challenges and difficulties that life brings.  I will never forget how brave and courageous my mom was through it all. I will always remember dignity and resilience.  How she still put on a smile and had such a positive attitude through it all.  I am so proud to be her daughter.  She has taught me the best lesson of all. To cope with lives difficulties straight on and to not be afraid.   And for that reason, I felt the need to share my mom's journey.  And to give hope and information to other families that may be going through this difficult process.




Thank you for visiting my blog today for taking the time to read my mother's story.

Blessings,

Janet


29 comments:

  1. Oh Janet, what an experience to have to go through. I am so happy to hear that your mother is doing so well. She will be in my nightly prayers to be cancer free forever.
    I don't think we are ever ready for bad news, but you were a trooper, being strong for your mother and dad. Your mother did well raising you and you have a lot to be proud of my dear.
    Your mother looks wonderful and is a very pretty woman along with her daughter.
    Hugs are being sent to you and your mom.
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Mary. I am touched by your beautiful and encouraging words. They truly touched my heart.

      Have a wonderful weekend.

      Janet

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Janet, you are brave to share your story, and needless to say your mom and family are brave to battle this disease together. It makes me smile to see you and your mom there together and to read that she is recovering and is cancer free. All the best to both of you for continued good health. Hugs ~ Sarah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sarah. I am grateful for your heartfelt comment. We are so touched by the love and support received from you all.

      I hope the future holds happy times for us.

      Fondly,

      Janet

      Delete
  4. I think this story will help many. I think you and your Mom are both an inspiration. She looks wonderful and I hope you both have a wonderful spring and summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bernideen,

      Thank you for your beautiful words. I do appreciate your kindness and encouraging words.

      Wishing you a great spring and summer too.

      Janet

      Delete
  5. Oh Janet,
    You and your mother are so beautiful! You are also a wonderful daughter and your dear mother is lucky to have you support her at this difficult time. I pray that God will give you both strength. My thoughts are with both of you dear Janet. Blessings! Karen

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank-you for sharing this. Your Mom is blessed to have a daughter like you and you're blessed to have a mother like her. I'll be praying for her, and you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Janet, this has been a heavy time for you all, good for you to share this, it will help you. So glad it is going better now. I wish you both a lovely spring, enjoy the time together.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My heart goes out to you, Janet, my mother had breast cancer in 1980, she lived less then a year. You have a beautiful mother cherish every moment you have with her.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for sharing this -your mom is such a courageous woman- prayers are with you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh Janet, you and your mother are beautiful, courageous ladies. Love that picture of the two of you. I am thankful you were able to get through this ordeal, and will be praying for your mom's complete recovery. Blessings to your dear father, too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I pray that your beautiful and courageous mother will recover fully. Bless you all as you support her through this.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My dear Janet, I cannot imagine what you must have gone through...and your precious mother as well. Yes, you are both very courageous! Both of you will be in my prayers. Love and hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your mother looks so sweet! Isn't that always the way, the mother reassures everyone although she is the one who is in trouble. I do hope she remains cancer free, and that all will be well. You are a good daughter to see to your father through this difficult experience.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Janet, thank you and your Mom for sharing this experience and journey. I know it will help many people. I hope I never have to utter those words to my children but if so hope to do it with the grace and dignity of your dear Mother. Thank God she is OK now and recovering.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Janet, sweet photo of you both. So sorry that your mom has been so ill, and I pray she continues to improve day by day. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm sure she will improve, science is so sophisticated nowadays and she has character.That helps so much. All my best wishes and sweetest thoughts...
    Olympia

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sometimes living through a terrible experience makes you a stronger person. The photo of you and your mom show two courageous women!! I'm praying for her continued recovery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delayed response but I am just catching up with things. Thank you so much the support and encouraging words. I am deeply grateful and touched.

      Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter.

      Janet

      Delete
  18. You and your family are so brave. God bless you for sharing your Mom's story. It is one that will help many people as they struggle through life no matter what they are facing. Family is so precious and such a strength to us. Blessings to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello and sorry for my delayed response but I am just catching up with my emails. I truly appreciate you encouraging and supportive words. I am deeply touched and grateful.

      Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter.

      Janet

      Delete
  19. Beautiful post Janet, I hold this so close to my heart....cancer is a terrible thing, and it is wonderful to hear your mom has such courage. It must run in the family! This is so near to me, that a bit back someone very close to me and a few colleagues created 'kill the cancer," a site dedicated to cancer research. They even offer t-shirts with diagrams indicating how to do a self-exam. Taking preventative measures is key! Thank you for sharing this beautiful and inspirational story, God bless you and your family!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Blessings
    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Eileen. I do appreciate your visit.

      Janet

      Delete
  21. Hello Janet, bless your dear heart! You and your mother are two very beautiful ladies.
    She has raised a lovely women in you and her heart must be ever so blessed.
    You have all been through quite a battle and may the Lord continue to pour His grace upon you as you look after your parents and for the healing of your dear mother.
    Rest in the arms of our precious Lord, my friend.
    Thank you for sharing this heart felt story with us.
    My prayers are with you.
    Much love, Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  22. My dearest Janet,
    I cannot find the words to apologize for this delay of mine, a fortnight of 'holidays' from work saw us working full immersion in restoration works in a new room which we're going to rent and where everything had to be done, from walls, floors, forniture and so on to arrive to those little details that make a room a cozy room ... so, my husband has come back to his work, I'm still going on waxing old family piece of furniture and taking care of the last refinements .... I hope to have your understanding !
    I do admire your courage, writing all this story of yours, so private and so delicate, in public, I think it wasn't easy at all, you know, since I know your pain I'm by your side with my prayers, and still I do and will.
    Sending blessings to you both, and pray, forgive me again !
    With much love
    Dany

    ReplyDelete