A Longer But Later-Than-It-Should-Be Update (Sorry!)

We are blessed with wild turkeys this year.

We are blessed with wild turkeys this year.

Well, here I am at last, over three weeks post-mastectomy.  I’m sorry to be so long in posting, but sitting at the computer was (and still is) a bit tiring.  In addition, despite being neurotically careful in my clicking and anti-virus software, I got a really nasty computer virus called a rootkit that rendered my computer unusable.  I’d never even heard of a rootkit, but trust me, they are very, very bad indeed.   I couldn’t help but notice how much rootkits are like cancer cells—they spread in a particularly insidious and stealthy way.

The truth is, I’m not even sure what to tell you about how I’m doing.  I really don’t know how one is supposed to feel three weeks post bi-lateral mastectomy, so I’m uncertain whether discomfort and pain (which I am still experiencing) is to be expected at this point.  I will say that my breast surgeon (whom I like very much, by the way) certainly appears to have sewn my incision very tight indeed.  I hope what she tells me about how much our skin can stretch is true.   I actually was feeling better after my surgical drains were removed, but unfortunately developed something called a seroma, which occurs when fluid collects in the surgical cavity.  My surgeon drained it, but it began to fill again only two days later, and the discomfort is discouraging.  I should mention, too, that during surgery, my heart went pretty wonky and, unfortunately, it continues to be so, which means I’m having to take heart medication that works well, but keeps me from sleeping.  A heartbeat regularly in the 150 BPM range along with poor sleep are not optimal for healing, I suppose.

I’ve always bounced back quickly after injuries, surgeries, childbirth and such, but this has been different.  I thought I’d be doing more by now than lying about like a big, useless slug.   It’s been humbling.

The funny thing is, I often feel like people are disappointed when I don’t say, “Great!” when they ask me how I’m doing.   I feel like apologizing for the fact that I’m still hurting, that I’m feeling tired.  But then I feel annoyed.  Why should I have to put on some kind of happy-face front when I’m not feeling that way? I’ve got breast cancer, for Pete’s sake.  It’s not that I’m being negative—those who’ve been around me since the mastectomy would tell you that I’m been quietly cheerful and positive.  I still feel enormous joy when I walk up the driveway and see the goldfinches, with their funny, squeaky-toy twittering burst forth like bright sparks from the sunflowers, outraged that I’ve interrupted their sunflower seed snacking.  Yep, for sure a positive attitude helps…but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel weary.

Despite the seromas and such, I’ve had good news, too.  While my pathology report wasn’t perfect, I was thrilled to read that the lymph nodes that were removed during surgery were clean.  That was very good news indeed, and I’m grateful for it.  I know I have further treatment in store, but I’m not certain exactly what it will be.  I was a bit unhinged when I saw the medical oncologist last week, and he mentioned that dreaded word “chemotherapy.”  With the clean lymph nodes, I thought I might avoid that.  We should know more in three weeks after yet another analysis (called on Oncotype DX) is performed on my tumor.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to take pleasure in the good things—in having unfettered time to read, in the hint of fall in the evening air, and in still being able to laugh.  And I’ll be forever thankful for kind and loyal family and friends who listen and allow me time to grieve and feel sad, while encouraging a positive healing spirit.  As always, I’m grateful for goldfinches, for sunflowers, and for the cool, cleansing breezes blowing through our open windows—somehow making me feel that everything will be okay.

41 Responses to “A Longer But Later-Than-It-Should-Be Update (Sorry!)”

  1. Betsyfromtennessee Says:

    Hi Beth, I’ve been praying for you… It’s good to hear from you. I will continue to keep you in my prayers as you go through this dreaded disease in your life… As I told you, I have 2 friends who have gone through what you are going through.. They say that a positive attitude is the best medicine of all… Even though it’s hard, keep trying to see the positive things in your life –like your sweet hubby, your kids, the birds, etc…..

    God Bless You…

    Prayers and Hugs,
    Betsy

  2. Sharon Says:

    Beth, So good to hear from you. Like Betsy, I’ve thought about you and prayed for you so often. I so appreciate the updates when you can do them. Hang in there and do whatever you need to do or feel whatever you need to feel at the time you need for yourself. You are the only person who knows what you are feeling and what will or will not help.

  3. Ariel Says:

    Mommy, you have taught us so much about strength and weakness, and how to love God and preserve joy (however quiet) in either one. And you’ve taught us how to grant great patience and care to those who are feeling frail and weak in spirit and body. Extend that same patience to yourself when you’re feeling helpless, and know that we will too (extend it to you, that is). We love you.

  4. June Says:

    Thanks for the update…you remain in my thoughts an prayers…

  5. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    I’m so happy to hear from you, Beth! It’s a difficult time for you and taking a moment to post this is very generous. You certainly don’t ‘owe’ anyone this, and yet, here you are. You are a good soul; always thoughtful. I can only imagine how hard it is to stay positive, but I have gotten the feeling over the years that you are a generally happy person and always find something good in each day. Either way, don’t apologize for not feeling well, or for days when you feel exceedingly weary. That is how you feel. It is nothing to be sorry about. I think about you often, and you are in my prayers.

  6. Nancy Says:

    Oh, Beth! I haven’t popped by in awhile and today I stop by and learn of your surgery. Please know I’m holding you in the light and thinking of you. All the best, Nancy

  7. Linda W. Says:

    I hope your recovery is speedy!

  8. eemilla Says:

    I hate to hear about the seroma, but I’m glad you’re recovering. You have every right to be honest about how you feel; your statement reminded me Audre Lourde’s The Cancer Journals. Hope the views keep your spirits lifted and aid your recovery.

  9. Darla Says:

    No need to say you’re sorry or even think it; practice good self-care and if that means no post, sobeit. Much love and (((healing))) to you.

  10. CountryDew Says:

    Take care of yourself, dearheart.

  11. Jayne Says:

    Your courage and spirit continue to amaze me and I am blessed to be able to be here for you on this journey. xoxo

  12. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Beth, you don’t have to apologize for not feeling great. You’ve been through a lot! You’ve had a body part cut off for goodness sake! Plus the worries about your life. It’s a big physical and emotional trauma and you deserve to say you feel lousy. Positive thoughts are great, but sometimes we just need to vent out all the bad stuff because we need someone to say, “That’s terrible!” or give us a hug, especially when we’re usually the one who does all the hugging. Here, I am going to say it: “You poor thing! That is terrible!” You can get back to strong, cheerful Beth in a little while. I have faith you’ll come back.

  13. Chris Says:

    Blessings be to you and yours in this struggle. I’m sorry you’ve had so much pain and trials. I hope you’ll continue to also feel gratitude. Every day is a blessing. Good luck!

  14. Vicki Lane Says:

    You are allowed to feel crummy; you are allowed to grumble.As long as you can enjoy the small things, you’re on the right road. I have you in my heart, Beth.

  15. Clair Z. Says:

    I am so glad that you have this place to talk about your real feelings, and you know that we out here are glad to listen. You’ve been on my mind so much and yet, I managed to miss this update until now. Sending gentle hugs and healing love from New Mexico.

  16. Kay G. Says:

    Hi Beth,
    Just dropping by to see how you are, and I see I missed this post from you in September. My husband had surgery the first week of September and even though the surgeon promised everything would be rosy,it certainly has NOT been. Like you, I am not being negative, just honest. I keep reminding him that things take TIME and that it was for the best (having the surgery, that is.)
    Now that we are marching through the days of October, I hope you are feeling much better.
    Love,
    Kay

  17. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    Hi Beth,

    I’m not sure whether you’ll get this message or not, but I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, and wanted to stop by and say hello. I hope you are doing well, dear Beth, and I want you to know that there are people praying for you, including me. Please be well. Happy holidays to you and your family. May 2014 be a blessed year for all of you.

  18. Clair Z. Says:

    It’s been a long time now, Beth. I’m hoping you’ve had a good Christmas. I miss “hearing” your voice here.

  19. Vicki Lane Says:

    Checking in you and hoping all is well.

  20. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    I wanted to thank everyone who has popped back in to check on me. You’d probably be surprised to know just how much it means to me to be remembered. To know that even though I’m absent from the blogosphere, that I still somehow linger in a few hearts and minds.

    There is a peculiar loneliness in facing something like breast cancer. Even when you have loving support (and I do), no one can really understand unless they’ve been through it, too. I hope I can write about that someday (if I ever get my voice back), but until then, I am so, so grateful to those who haven’t forgotten me—those who send love when they check back on my blog, those who write emails, and those who make me feel extra special with your lovely cards and gifts. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

    Beth

  21. Clair Z. Says:

    Just checking back in, Beth. You are on my mind a lot. Sending warmth and hugs.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Clair…thank you so much for thinking of me. And for the warmth and hugs—I can use all of that I can get! I think of you often, too. I haven’t been on the internet much for the past year and a half, but hope someday to return to Blogland.

      Do you still have the Beth chair? I was so honored to have a chair named for me!

      Take care and thanks again for writing.
      Love, Beth

      • Clair Z. Says:

        Beth, how good it is to hear from you. Indeed I do have the Beth chair. It has now been painted a southwest-y turquoise, and is just about to be moved to my quiet room where I read and knit and think.

        I hope that you realize that all the wonderful thoughts you have ever shared with us are beamed right back to you with love.

  22. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    Just dropping by to say hello, Beth. You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, and I hope you and your lovely family are all doing well.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Martha…I was so glad to hear from you! Sorry not to respond sooner—I haven’t spent too much time on the internet for the past year, but hope to return soon.

      I hope you’re still taking pictures—you have such a good and discerning eye. I haven’t taken many photos lately, but hope to get back to that soon, as well.

      Thank you so much for thinking of me—it means a lot.
      Love, Beth

  23. Clara Melvin Says:

    Dear Beth, I would love to hear an update from you! I thought of you today and said a prayer. I miss you!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Clara! It was wonderful to hear from you—I hope you are well. I am very sorry not to have written anything for so long—I seem to have lost my ability to write. Sometimes it feels like I’ve lost my voice altogether. But I do hope to someday return if I can ever remember how to put words together in a coherent way.

      Thank you so much for writing and for your prayers, Clara. They mean a lot to me.
      Love, Beth

  24. ed Says:

    Just stopped in to say hello & I was thinking of you when I made persimmon pudding this week. You’ve been in my thoughts & prayers and I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Ed! How did your persimmon pudding turn out? Do you have your own tree? I didn’t make it this year because our persimmons in the NC mountains here are so very, very tiny that it takes about a million to make a batch of pudding! I remember that my Grandma’s trees in Greensboro had much bigger ‘simmons. I hope yours are bigger, too!

      I am very grateful to hear that you’re praying for me—that means a great deal. I will take all the prayer I can get. Thank you again for saying Hello.
      All the best,
      Beth

      • ed Says:

        Dear Beth,
        How lovely to see a flurry of messages from you yesterday, just as welcome as a spring rain! The persimmon pudding turned out fine, made from my mother’s recipe. I made some more a few days ago. There is a big old tree at my mom’s old house in the foothills, and the crop this past fall was bountiful, so I froze as much pulp as I could since there have been years when the critters beat me to it. Yes, mine are the tiny ones, too – oh, all those seeds! I tell people that each pudding is a true gift of love! I’d love to propagate them but have not been successful with that.

        I know what you mean about losing your voice. For a time I was so sad I could not sing, not at all, but it comes back once in a while. Sometimes when I go to pray I cannot form the words I want, but I just tell God that I know He knows what is in my heart, and I trust the meaning is clear. Never doubt that your voice has value! There is no one else, no other voice, like you in the whole wide world. You are missed. I hope and pray that your body and spirit will continue to heal, and in time you will feel able to share this journey you’ve had in the quiet time. I’ll continue to keep you in my prayers and hold you in the light.

        All good wishes for you,
        Ellen

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Dear Ellen,

        Thank you so much for your kind and lovely words—they have meant a great deal to me. I am so grateful for your prayers. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, too. Like you, I believe that even when we are unable to say the words, God hears the crying out of our hearts. I am very glad of that!

        And, oh yes! persimmon puddings are indeed a gift of love. I smiled when I read that because I said the same thing to my friends and family! You may already know this, but I have found that a handy kitchen tool called a potato ricer was very helpful in mashing out the maximum persimmon pulp portions and separating it from all those pesky seeds. You have to squeeze very, very hard but it works well. By the way, my daughter Ariel found a tree with HUGE persimmons just off the greenway in Cary, NC a couple of years ago. She was able to make her great-grandma’s persimmon pudding for Thanksgiving, so we all enjoyed it. Alas, since she moved to D.C., she has been unable to find another tree.

        Thanks again for your kindness. And forgive me for calling you “Ed” in my previous note. I’m glad to know your name. “Ellen” was the name of my favorite aunt, so I’ve always loved that name.

        All the best to you,
        Beth

  25. Arundhati Kanbur Says:

    Dear Beth, I hope you are better and healing. I enjoyed reading your posts and hope to see you in blogland soon. My mother had Ovarian cancer at age 70 ( 4 yrs ago). She survived the surgery and all 6 chemos and by god’s grace is well now.
    Take care and heal well.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Arundhati….thank you so much for writing and for your good wishes for healing. And thank you for telling me about your Mom’s healing—that is so encouraging! I will pray for her continued good health and well-being.

      Thanks again for writing—you are very kind.

      All the best,
      Beth

  26. Darla Says:

    Thinking of you…

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi Darla…it was wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for checking in. I think of you often, too, and hope you are well and thriving.

      Take care…thanks again for writing.
      Love, Beth

      • Darla Says:

        I was tickled pink to read your responses to mine and others’ comments. Sending you much love, bountiful blessings, healing and … (((BIGHUG)))

  27. Lisa Says:

    Dear Beth, Just wanted to leave a quick note to tell you how much your writing and sharing on your blog has touched me. After stumbling in by accident I have spent the last two days immersed in your writings. The courage and faith just shine through. Seeing God’s beauty through your words, in spite of the difficulty and the pain the LOVE just shined through. Our family has had one of the most incredibly difficult and painful years and I have recently been struggling with an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion and depletion. Somehow, through your pictures, your honesty and the beautiful love for your family…..I can see light at the end of my dark tunnel….I just have to open my eyes and SEE the beauty. Thank you dear Beth, from the bottom of my heart……I pray that you are doing well.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Lisa…I am so very grateful that you took the time to write me this beautiful note. You cannot imagine just how much it meant to me—how much I needed this affirmation. I am quite certain that God led you to stumble upon my blog and, likewise, led you to write these words that have touched me profoundly. I seem to have lost my ability to write in the past year and a half, and have struggled in trying to figure out just what I still have to offer of value to God and the world. So hearing that something I wrote (even if I can’t seem to now) helped you in some way both humbles me and makes me very, very glad indeed.

      I am so very sorry that you and your family have had such a difficult year. I can certainly relate to your feelings of exhaustion and depletion. No one, unless they’ve been through it, can truly understand what a terrible toll relentless, sustained hardship can take on your body and spirit. It can snuff out even the most determined optimism and hope. But, yes, there is always that sliver of light there somewhere. As they say, the cracks are how the light gets in! Keep your eyes on that light and know that God is there, even when you cannot feel His presence.

      I prayed for you and your family, Lisa, when I first read your words this morning, and I want you to know that I will continue to do so. I don’t know you, of course, but God does so I know He hears my prayers. I would be grateful if you could pray for me, as well.

      Thank you again for writing—-it has meant the world to me.

      God bless you and your family.
      Beth

  28. Bonnie @ Bonnie's Books Says:

    I miss reading your blog about your life and your family. I moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in June and have met lots of new people. If you ever come in this direction, I hope you’ll let me know so we can meet for a meal or something. If you still read my blog, you may already know I moved. Could we keep in touch by email? (I will “send” this both ways, by comment and by email.)

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Bonnie,

      So glad to hear from you and to know that you’re doing well! I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been keeping up with blogs very well. I’ve had quite a few things going on and don’t spend a great deal of time on the Internet anymore.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying St. Louis and hope you continue to find happiness there. I hope one day to get back in the Blogosphere—if I can ever get my ability to write back. Even an email or a simple comment like this is difficult for me. The medication I took and still take for the cancer has taken quite a toll on my brain, it seems.

      Take care, Bonnie…and thanks for commenting.

      God bless…Beth

  29. Clair Z. Says:

    Beth, no reply necessary, but I wanted you to know that I am sending love and hugs from the Beth Chair (now painted turquoise!) in New Mexico.

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