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.


52 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,

  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.

  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.


  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,

      • 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,

      • 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,

  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,

  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.

  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.

  30. Clara Melvin Says:

    Hi Beth, I thought of you today and wondered how you are feeling. I miss you. You have a friend in me that has been through the same thing. My mastectomy was is 2008. I’m still cancer free but my voice has changed also. You are the first person I have heard say that about their voice. I also read in your comments about other people having the same difficulty with their voice. I thought mine was just “old age”. I miss singing so much. I grew up singing and it is terrible when it won’t come out any more. I thought that God might have taken it from me for a reason. I pray all the time for it’s return! When you feel well enough please give us an update. You have so many friends in the blogging world (and elsewhere I’m sure) that miss you. May your days be filled with love and contentment. Clara….in TN.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Clara,

      Please forgive me for not responding to you sooner! I meant to, but we had guests when I read your very welcome comment and then it just slipped my very befuddled mind. I am sorry.

      I’m also sorry to hear that you have lost your singing voice—that is so, so difficult and so, so unfair. I do NOT think for a minute that God took it from you. Nope. The God I know would never purposely do something like that. I think bad stuff just happens…and unfortunately, for some of us, it happens a lot. But I don’t see God as bringing anything bad into our lives. I think He grieves with us in our pain and is always there for us, whether we can “feel” him or not. There have been many times I couldn’t feel God there, but I know He was there just the same.

      I’m not sure if you were given medication to keep your cancer at bay, but I was, and that medication (which helps to eliminate estrogen from your body) is what contributes to my feeling like I’ve aged about twenty years and could be what affected your voice. Estrogen is actually very useful to our bodies, so not having it affects you profoundly, from your brain to your heart and other important body parts. It seems to have affected my mind the most, so that I have trouble even thinking of common words sometimes. I really miss my mind.

      Anyway, I’m truly sorry you have lost your singing voice—I will pray every day that God, if He is able, will give it back to you. I would welcome your prayers for me, too.

      Thank you for writing—it means a lot to hear that I’m not forgotten.

      Love, Beth

  31. Clair Z. Says:

    Beth, please do not ever for a moment think that you are forgotten. Thinking of you with love from New Mexico.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Clair,

      Thank you so much for saying that—it brought tears to my eyes.

      I haven’t forgotten my blogging buddies either. I thought of you when I heard of what happened there in the churches. I’m very sorry that such ugliness came to your lovely city. I hope they find the one who did such a hateful thing.

      I think often of you sitting in the Beth chair, too. I really love knowing you named a chair named after me—makes me feel special. I like the idea of the Beth chair being painted such a bold, strong color! I like to imagine someday being as bold as my namesake chair. 🙂

      Thanks again for saying Hello.
      Love, Beth

  32. bonniejacobs Says:

    Dear Beth,

    I see it’s been a year and a half since I last commented here, but I think of you more often than you know. My 56-year-old daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer in May, had a mastectomy, and is now on radiation five times a week. She’s has a very positive attitude and is doing well enough to take part in the Race for the Cure last week. She’s in pink in photos #3 and #12 on my blog, and is the grandmother in #9. Here’s the link:

    I hope you’ve been able to stay positive and be well. If you feel up to it, post a photo of something from your yard … like you used to do … or anything you like. You don’t have to come up with words, though that would make us happy, too. I know you like animals, so you may like to know I got another cat last year. Her name is Clawdia, and right now she’s kind of featured on my blog. Maybe her antics will make you smile:

    Still praying for you, that God will bless you and keep you, always.
    Love, Bonnie

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Bonnie,

      I am so sorry to hear about your daughter, but glad to hear that her positive spirit remains strong. Sometimes that can be hard when you’re exhausted or feeling pain. I know it must be hard for you, too, to see someone you love so suffer. Please tell Sandra I am thinking of her. I will keep you both in my daily thoughts and prayers.

      Thank you so much for writing. It really means a lot to me. Yes, I do think I’ve stayed positive. Or at least, my version of positive—which is being able to still feel an overwhelming sense of joy at the way the light sweeps across the fields we can see from our house. Or at the clouds illuminated with pink and golden light I saw last evening while washing dishes. Other times, for me, staying positive means that I still put one foot in front of the other and trudge onward, even when I feel weary, making sure to keep my eyes and heart open for the wonders that await us at every turn. And making sure that I remember, as I trudge, to keep an outstretched hand towards any other fellow pilgrims on the way.

      Thank you also for keeping my blog up on your blogroll–that means a lot to me, too. I can’t help but notice that most folks have taken my blog off their rolls, almost as if I’d died! In a way I understand since I’m no longer writing, but I am surprised to find that it hurts my feelings. I am not dead, and even if I were, my truest spirit remains alive on my blog. In a way, my words there reflect who I am better than the flesh-and-blood, only-58-but-feel-98 Beth you might meet in person.

      I would like to get back to writing, but still find it so very difficult. My cancer drug (that suppresses estrogen) seems to have destroyed my ability to think of the right words. Even writing this comment, as simple as it is, has taken me way longer than it should. I really miss being able to write.

      Well, I’ve rambled enough here, but did want to let you know that you and Sandra will be in my prayers, Bonnie. Thank you again for remembering me and for your love and prayers—it means so much.

      Love, Beth

  33. bonniejacobs Says:

    Thank you, Beth, for prayers and support. Blogger recently made changes that eliminated my whole blog list, but you were most definitely one I remembered and was able to put back on my reconstructed list. I’m glad I know you.

    Love, Bonnie 🙂

  34. Clair Zarges Says:

    It is so wonderful to “hear” your voice again. Sending much love from New Mexico.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Clair,

      Well, this is a fine day indeed—to hear from another of my favorite bloggers! Thank you so much for checking in, Clair—it really makes me happy.

      By the way, I really loved both your hollyhocks and your truly groovy chicken house! Looking at them and all those bright, cheery colors made me smile from ear to ear. We moved this year, and I miss my crazy, out-of-control flower gardens at the Doublewide Ranch. I saved seeds that I hope to plant in the spring, but I’m not sure they’ll grow as well here as they did there.

      I thought of you just a few days ago when we met a neighbor down the road named Lynda from Las Cruces! They spend the summer and fall here. I almost asked her if she knew you, but realized that that would probably seem like a dumb question since Las Cruces is a pretty big place. 🙂

      Hope you and those you love are doing well and you’re finding lots and lots of good books to read. I keep reading and reading, hoping that reading good writing will help me write again, the way it used to. Hasn’t so far, but I do enjoy it anyway.

      Take care, Clair…thanks again for writing.

      Love, Beth

  35. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    I see that the last comments were from almost a year and a half ago. Time seems to fly faster in my old age (I’ll be 78 next month). You don’t have to respond to this, but I do want to remind you that many of us are still praying for you and your family. My daughter’s reconstruction “fell apart” in a sense, resulting in emergency surgery to undo all of is, more healing, and re-doing the reconstruction. She’s doing quite well at this point and enjoying her three grandchildren. Just wanting you to know I’m thinking about you today with love and smiles. 🙂
    ~~~ Bonnie

  36. Kay G. Says:

    Hello Beth! Just stopping by to send you my love.


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