living again

Dec 17, 2011 by

I am cleaning my room today. It is my Christmas present to myself. I am getting rid of piles and piles of clothing that no longer fit, are no longer in style, or are no longer in good enough shape to wear in public. It is not easy for me to get rid of clothing…for some reason I want to hang on to it forever. I don’t know where that comes from.

While I was cleaning, I saw, for the gazillionth time, the enormous front-clasping bra I was sent home from my lumpectomy in. Its purpose was to hold the surgical dressings and ice pack in place for the first 24 hours. This bra has sat on the side of my tub since July. Sometimes I look at it and think about the months I carried the lump inside of me. Sometimes I think about the fear. Sometimes I think about the blessings. Sometimes I think about the lessons I learned. Sometimes I let those emotions come back. Sometimes I think I should hang on to it so I can use it again if I ever need to have another surgery on my breasts.

Mostly I just look at it and am sad. Sad because I have not been myself since that long ago day in April when I knew something was growing inside of me. Sad because I let hopelessness beat me down. Sad because I let fear in. Sad because I haven’t known what to do post-surgery…there is no place for those of us whose results come back benign, but are at a huge risk of getting beast cancer. No one knows what to do with people like me. There is no support group, no treatment options given, no real understanding by friends who are so happy the lump was not malignant, but can’t comprehend that my fear is still in high gear. I have felt almost paralyzed for the last several months because choosing to love is scary for some reason. In some convoluted way I think I have convinced myself that holding back a part of my heart will somehow protect me from pain if I do get breast cancer and do have to say goodbye. I can’t even talk about it really…whenever someone asks me about it, I go into business voice mode and answer their questions in a detached clinical way. It is SO not me, but I haven’t known how to change it…to change me into one whole person instead of having one person that is on the inside of me dealing with all of this and another person I show to the world.

Today I decided I was ready to let the bra go to the burn pile. I decided I was ready to say goodbye to the pain and fear and suffering and tears and incapacitating despair that the lump represented in my life. I decided I was ready to live more fully present in each moment.

I don’t know what is in store. I don’t know if I will ever need an extra-large surgical bra again. All I know is I am going to live and love and savor and appreciate both the blessings and the lessons of my life. I am going to tear down the walls I have let build up in my heart the last few months…the fear of being too close to people, the fear of hurting too much, the fear of being too vulnerable. These fears are not me. They are not who I truly am. I am ready to be me again…perhaps a wiser me, but me nonetheless.

I hope bra burning is the first step.

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back handsprings

Sep 23, 2011 by

Today I did four back handsprings.

I cannot tell you how much joy it brought to my heart to do them…to prove to myself I could still do them.

I don’t always (or perhaps even often) show just how much this whole breast lump experience has rocked my world and made me question my body and its abilities. I was in a lot of pain for several months and at times was completely unable to lift my arm at all. I was in pain while sleeping. I was in pain while driving. I felt weak and tired and completely not myself.

I feel like I am coming back. Almost like being born again. As each day goes on I feel more and more myself. As I do things, the old things that were once easy and regular for me, I feel like I am returning to the me I know.

Perhaps it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. No one else was in my heart and head for the past many months. No one else knew how absolutely terrified I was of dying…or even of living WITH breast cancer.

I still may have to make that journey with cancer. I am full of questions about my breast and the general health of my body…I don’t know what is going on and I don’t know what I need to do. One thing I do know is today’s back handsprings will help me on that path.

For they reminded me of just how strong I am and that I can do hard things.

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a note full of love

Aug 27, 2011 by

So, I am cleaning my room…trying to at least…and keep finding things I want to remember forever and the only way to do that is to write them down in my commonplace book or type them on here. Since I type faster than I write, I’ll add them here!

On the day of my lumpectomy, two friends from my church brought over dinner and their love. I was completely out of it that night, but later in the week, I read their words and bawled my eyes out at the kindness they had shown my family. Their words strengthened me then and rereading them today they continue to sink deep into my heart.

Dear Tracy,

You are thought of, loved, and prayed for, especially at this time of trial in your life! We are all in this together, to strengthen each other and serve each other and love each other. We hope you feel of our love and concern and our absolute faith in our Heavenly Father’s timing and will! Everything will work out and will be for your good and your precious family’s good.

Isn’t that lovely? I cannot tell you how much the cards, emails, smiles and hugs have meant to me this summer. I have put on a pretty good face most of the time, but I often fall apart late at night and have been full of fear, full of despair, full of hopelessness. The love I have felt from my friends and family has made a huge difference in my being able to feel the peace and love of God. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with your heart…I have truly needed it.

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go away anesthesia

Jul 29, 2011 by

I keep thinking I am improving and then my head starts spinning again. The nausea today is awful. I feel like I am on the high seas with no land in sight.

I have spent far too much time typing the last two days, but I desperately needed to get information out about my homeschool gymnastics classes and I had to work on the website for our homeschool group. Life doesn’t stop just because I had surgery.

Richard asked me to marry him eighteen years ago this week and he is taking me to a Passover Seder tonight at BYU-I to celebrate. I am not at all sure I will be able to enjoy it, but he knows I have been wanting us to attend it together for years, so he got us tickets. I think I will take a long bath this afternoon and try to rest all day long to prepare for it.

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benign

Jul 27, 2011 by

I have my pathology report on the tissue removed from my breast.

Benign.

I know I should be feeling relieved…ecstatic even…but I am not.

I am feeling grateful for this wake-up call. Grateful for the cleanse I did because the pain in my breast greatly subsided throughout the cleanse. Grateful for the support of my mom and my circle of friends. Grateful for all I have learned about myself, my health, breast cancer, breast health, and liver issues. Grateful for the perspective this has given me. Grateful for the personal examination I have been able to do. Grateful for the prayers that have been called out to the heavens. Grateful for the profound blessing I was given. Grateful for the meals I have received this week. Grateful for the unfailing love of my husband. Grateful to Dr. Jones’ for listening to me. Grateful to the hospital staff for taking excellent care of me. Grateful for my children putting up with a ton of chaos and fear in their little worlds. Grateful for the green smoothies. Grateful for the raw foods. Grateful for the tender mercies of my Father in Heaven. Grateful for the long hours I have pondered my mission on this earth. Grateful for the hugs, smiles, and tears that have been shared with me.

I’m full to the brim with gratitude.

But I don’t really feel relieved. I feel like perhaps I have dodged a bullet. Perhaps I was given an early warning to turn things around.

I don’t know what this all means for sure, but to me it isn’t over. It is just the beginning of a life of vigilance against breast cancer. A life I never thought I would lead until one day it hit me square in the face that something was wrong with my breast. I am on a quest to get all this estrogen out of my body, to rid myself completely of the unsettled feelings, and to continue coming to Christ with my full heart instead of trying to solve my problems all by my lonesome.

This was a lesson I needed.

Thank you everyone…I have needed you more than you know…more than I have shown. There have been many times these last few months that I have felt like this was too big for me and the things that have kept me going are your hugs and cards and kind words and smiles and phone calls. I have the most wonderful people in my life and I will always be so grateful to have been surrounded by your love through this whole ordeal.

Thank you God…for helping me learn just how much you love me. As I have immersed myself in your words, I have felt a peace and a power that is indescribable. I need to learn the lesson of submission and through this experience I have started that process.

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bedsores on their way

Jul 26, 2011 by

I had a chunk of my breast removed yesterday and I am pretty sore…and dizzy…and shocked at the swollenness of my right side. I showed my mom last night on FaceTime and we laughed so hard about it, it hurt my incision and I learned my laughing lesson real quick.

The bad thing about being in bed for hours on end is that the parts of my body that weren’t sore yesterday are sore today. My bed is horribly uncomfortable, sags in the middle, contorts my vertebrae, and jostles me severely each time one of my children so much as breathes on it.

Results of the lump’s make-up should be in on Thursday. I’m not spending too much energy thinking about that…most of my brain cells are working on the problem of how to get comfortable, keep the ice pack on my breast in the right position, and how to sleep with the puppies barking outside my window.

Speaking of puppies, Keziah sold two of them yesterday at Broulim’s. Yippee! We have four more waiting to find their families!

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no, I have not died

Jul 23, 2011 by

In case you have been wondering if I died on day twenty of the cleanse…I didn’t. I am alive and well and gone on a trip to MAT Camp (Music, Art, & Technology). We have been up a dawn and and getting to bed around eleven every day this week and I have not had a moment to sit down and write. I am tuckered right out! Getting five children to and from their classes each day, volunteering at the camp myself to pay for their tuition, feeding everyone, driving eighty miles each day, and not sleeping in my own bed wrapped in Richard’s arms is just plain exhausting.

But worth it.

My four children and our friend, Alanna, have thoroughly enjoyed their classes. They have had flute and violin lessons, puppetry, choir, dance, flashmob, stage combat, science explosions, painting, composers at the zoo, silly songs, quilt making, musical theatre, mosaic art, and more. They have had the opportunity to be in many performances, receive expert mentoring, make tons of friends, and be surrounded by musicians and artists from all over the country. It is one of our favorite things to do each summer.

Today I am enjoying the Pioneer Day activities in my hometown and have seen so many of my dear friends. I love this place. Speaking of which, when does the grown-up place you live become home? We have lived in our current town for twelve years and even though we have lots of wonderful friends and a fabulous homeschool network, it still doesn’t feel like home to me. It feels like this-is-where-we-live-but-don’t-have-any-roots. Maybe this feeling stems from the depth of the roots I have in my hometown. My great-great grandfather and his sister, along with their spouses, settled this land 120 years ago. I was raised about a mile away from their original homestead and nearly everyone I grew up with was related to me one way or another. My family ran our town’s only grocery store and I practically lived at the store, talking to all the customers in between bagging groceries, facing shelves, and wrapping lettuce. My small town had this feeling of connectedness that I have never felt anywhere else. I don’t know if it’s because I have changed or if it’s because my new town doesn’t have that same feeling.

I could just sit at the town BBQ and watch these people all day. I love them and I am so grateful for the roots they gave me. Being here makes me want to marinade my children in that feeling of groundedness, interdependency, and however sappy it sounds, family. That feeling…and the actions that surrounded it, are what saved me as a child. I had an entire town that cared about me and taught me what it meant to be a good and decent person. They filled me with stories of my ancestors that inspired me to live up to my family name. They loved me…and they still do.

We have already been to the Pioneer Day Parade, the Quilt Show (where we saw sheep wool carding, beautiful quilts, a bear skin coat worn by a stage coach driver in the 1800’s that still has bullet holes in it, and irons from the first western settlers), and the BBQ. Tonight we are taking Alanna to her first rodeo!

Tomorrow we will return home and then I am having a lumpectomy on Monday morning, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again. I’m hoping to be back on my feet on Tuesday, but who knows? I’ve never done this before, so I don’t have a clue on recovery time.

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the cleanse: day nineteen

Jul 16, 2011 by

I am SO proud of myself. I have not cheated even one little iota. I have eaten pounds and pounds of vegetable matter, a little bit of fruit in my smoothies, no grains, no beans, no sugar, no meats, no dairy, no dressings, no ANYTHING except veggies and fruits and a little bit of olive oil and apple cider vinegar for the past nineteen days. This is a huge accomplishment for me and demonstrated to me I have far more will power than I thought. My whole purpose for doing this cleanse was to get my internal organs working at peak performance so that my liver can move the estrogen out of my body. I have no idea if that is happening or not. I really wish I had a liver performance monitor that could tell me how much its functioning has improved over the past three weeks!

A side benefit I was hoping for was to lose some pounds. I had read some stories online of people doing this cleanse losing twentyish pounds. Many lose around ten. So, yeah, I was hoping to lose some of the weight I have put on in the last year. Unfortunately, nothing is really showing up on the scale. How is it possible for me to be eating only veggies and fruit and not lose a single pound? I guess I don’t really know that for sure…my scale is not terribly accurate!

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the cleanse: braggs vinaigrette

Jul 13, 2011 by

Bragg_Vinnaigrette

This little product has been a lifesaver for me! Eating raw veggies by the plateful is nutritious and even delicious, but it has gotten a little old. I discovered this olive oil vinaigrette at Fred Meyer’s and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Last night I dipped jicama in it and it was so yummm. I couldn’t keep Annesley away from it…she just kept coming back for more and more and with those big blue eyes pleading with me for another, I finally let her have as much as she wanted. I also dipped cabbage in it and it made a world of difference for me. If any of you are thinking of doing the 21 Day Standard Process Purification Program, make sure you get this product. I would be going bonkers without it!

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