Aug 02

My surgery date is scheduled: August 30th.  Four weeks from today.

I am looking forward to the surgery; I scheduled it for the first day Dr. Awesome was willing to operate.  I desire no delay for cancer to get comfortable.  And three weeks between my last chemo (8/8) and surgery is enough time for my body to be strong enough for the operation.

I feel fine about the surgery itself: I’ve had surgery before: an emergency appendectomy at 19-years-old, removal of an osteochondroma at 25-years-old, and a tonsillectomy at 26-years-old.  Surprisingly, the pain from the tonsillectomy was the worst.  I’ve been taking notes and watching my mom as she recovers from her surgery.  I’ve talked to many in the Chemo Room who have been there, done that.  I can handle it.

Physically, here’s the impact: I’m having a bilateral mastectomy.  I’ll have surgical drains placed: tubes that come out of my chest to drain fluid.  (I know, cancer is so sexy.)  The tubes/drains will stay in place for several weeks.  I understand these drains are the worst part of the whole process for most.  Also, she (Dr. Awesome) will be removing the lining of my pectoral muscle.  I’ll have multiple incisions, each several inches long.  She’ll be removing lymph nodes from under my arm.  My port will stay in place: I need it to receive Herceptin over the course of the next year (or more).

Basically, my whole chest/ribcage area is in for a pretty massive assault.  It’s okay. I can handle it.  Each day will be better than the previous day.  And, hopefully, I’ll be frolicking (at least in my head) because at that point I could be cancer free.  (Depends on the results of my upcoming PET scan–another post coming about that.)  A PET scan is an oncology test that detects cancer in the entire body.

The tough part about the surgery is that I have to step out of my life.  The trauma-t0-the-chest-region means that I can’t handle my girls, especially Greta.  Thankfully, Brad’s mom, SuperGramma, is coming, literally, to the rescue.  She arrives the day before surgery and is graciously moving in with us for as long as we need.  I am so grateful.  Once the initial surgical pain has resolved, I will still have lifting restrictions.  It could be months before I can lift twenty pounds.  This is pretty significant because Greta weighs 20+ pounds.  For weeks (months?) I won’t be able to lift Greta in or out of her high chair, her car seat, or her crib.  Oy.  I shake my head just thinking about it.  But, it is but a blip in our long and happy life together, right?

Yes, SuperGramma to the rescue, indeed.

I have no control in this factor, the having-t0-step-out-of-my-life factor.  Brad and SuperGramma will meet the needs of my girls, and I know they will do it well.  Greta will miss me initially, but we’re going to go with the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach for the first week plus with her.  It’s just what we need to do.  Maren will miss me, but our relationship is fantastic and she and I will do lots of special bedside activities together.  Our extended support structure is stunningly solid; she’ll feel safe and loved.

Please be praying ahead with us for this season: for safety for me in the OR, for the protection of my family, for Dr. Awesome and her zest and skill to get every last bit of cancer and to spare the healthy stuff.  Cancer free.



  1. Jen, 2nd post today. When (or if) you are in a reading mood…”Why I Wore lipstick to My Mastectomy “by Geralyn Lucas. A dear friend loaned it to me when I was just beginning treatment. You’ll laugh-you’ll cry. I actually couldn’t read it early on. After I made it through surgery and radiation I picked it up. I feel better after having read it, perhaps you will find that as well. August 30 will be a GOOD day!

  2. Note to self – save a couple of Maren’s mismatched footies to put over the drains. Nobody told me how hot and sweaty those litttle buggers are – and for a person who does not sweat there is nothing like a collection of little plastic balls sticking to sweaty skin. Yuck! I found yet another use for tube socks.

  3. SandraA /

    Praying. Praying hard.

  4. SuperGramma will have a blessed opportunity to bond even more with your two little lovies. So glad you have such wonderful support. There’s lots and lots of love throughout your family! And Jen, I bet you’ll be frolicking with the girls very, very soon!

    Counting down and praying in South Florida!

  5. August 30th, 2012 — the day cancer is cut out of Jen’s body, an important step in cutting it out of her life. Prayers focusing on you & your family and God’s healing through prayer and people (esp. those doctors & nurses).
    I had major, unexpected surgery when my youngest (freshly weaned) was 15 months old. In one week, we went from nursing and cuddles in the rocking chair to me spending 5 days in the hospital. I think you are wise to spent that week in the hospital “out of sight, out of mind” for Greta. My baby refused to look at me or let me touch him… so hard for all of us.
    When I got home again, he seemed to understand that mommy had “a big owie” and he had to be very, very gentle when he touched me. With reminding, he accepted that I could not pick him up for 6 weeks. We cuddled gently on the bed and sofa; I did a lot of petting and soothing his head while he hugged my legs when standing.
    I’m SO glad that Brad’s mom can come and stay, to help you all and love on your family. Angels without wings are so very precious. May you be surrounded by many of them!

  6. Hi, I am your mom and dads next door neighbor and I have been following your blog. (your dad set me up). I have to say you are an amazing woman and we have been praying for you and your family! You can do this! You are Going to be cancer free! My friend just battled breast cancer and she wanted me to tell you if you ever needed a radiation oncologist please consider Ruth Lavigne. She said she was the best doctor she has ever gone to. She is currently at the Barrett Center but she is moving to Christ Hospital this month I believe. I can put you in touch with my friend Lisa if you would like to talk with her. On a side note, I think Maren is absolutely adorable and I was able to kick soccer with her one day. You are truly blessed with such a beautiful, outgoing, sweet girl. I am happy to do anything for you or your mom. I stay at home and am available to help.

  7. Continuing to pray for you! Very empathetic with your story. Had my double mastectomy last year when my youngest was only 18 months old. So difficult to not be able to pick him up for several weeks. My own mother-in-law just returned back home following her 3rd trip to here to help care for me and my kids. This time for a much more exciting reason . . . recovery from my reconstructive surgery and a bonus tummy-tuck! Also celebrated my 40th birthday this week! Life is good! Following mastectomies, chemo, radiation, and a hysterectomy, it is so fantastic to be celebrating my new “cancer free” body at this time! Praying that it won’t be too long before you are celebrating, too!

  8. Bonniebj /

    Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to read these posts without choking up….. August 30th is on the calendar…. It’s a BIG BIG day-the future of many celebrations. Praying faithfully everyday Jen and so happy that Brads Mom can come be with you all. Every day is such a gift..behold our bodies are renewed everyday.

  9. Shell & the crazies down under /

    Baby, that’s a tough gig – but we KNOW you’re TOUGHER! We are praying for you every day honey. Go girl – and goodbye cancer!

  10. Fredda /

    Praying for sure–and looking forward to what God is going to do!! So thankful that you have the support of such a wonderful family.

  11. suenitz /

    Hi Jen. You are strong, courageous and beautiful. You are faced with some pretty tough crosses and you are handling them with grace. Your outlook throughout this whole ordeal has been amazing to say the least. So many people have been touched by your spirit and faith and endurance to live. I am one of them. Know that I am here if you need anything and I will continue to storm heaven for you. You have become so much a part of my thoughts and prayers. I always end up feeling strength and peace when you cross my mind. Becoming a prayer warrior has been one of the gifts God has given me and that gift was made stronger because of my cancer. The peace I feel while I am praying lets me know He is listening. He is also strengthing the prayer lives of all the other wonderful people that at praying for you. He is holding you in the palm of His hand. Any suffering that you endure is a wonderful opportunity to know and love Christ more. Offering it up to Him, especially during your most difficult times, is a wonderful time to receive blessings for your family. I love Jesus so much more because I understand just a little more what He did for me and how much He loves me. That is what makes our faith strong. I pray you feel His peace and love most of all. And I pray that your cancer is removed from your body and that you will live to give God glory all the days of your life. Everything you are doing is leading you towards all this. How blessed we all are because of you. Thank you!

  12. Bob Rosenberger /

    Jen, I’m a long-time reader, first time poster. I play bridge with your Dad. He directed me to your blog, which I’ve been reading since.

    I am inspired and amazed by the amount of well-directed anger you have for your cancer and the willingness you exhibit to deal with it in such a positive way. Please know that your “Village” is larger than you may think. We are here to inspire you and encourage you to continue to fight the disease with such beautiful fury. Your family is lucky to have you in it.

    Go get ’em, Tiger.

  13. So glad you have the support you need!!! Best of luck with everything and my prayers go out to you!

  14. You are one of my heros.
    Everytime I come to this site I am blessed, stretched and changed. Jesus is touching me, through you.
    Go wrecking ball.
    Cancer free.

  15. I’ll be marking the date on my calendar and praying HARD and OUT LOUD for you and your team. Virtual hugs to you from a mama in NW Washington!

  16. Angela /

    I realize we’ve never met in person, but I’ve been praying for you here from Michigan – for your nails, your hair, your girls, your chemo pals, your mom, and mostly for OBLITERATION.

    I take comfort in the dates you’ve listed – your last chemo date is my birthday, and your surgery date is my sister’s c-section – which will be my nephew’s birthday! Obviously people are born every day – but the fact that both of those dates are special to me, and that praying for you is a special privilege, I feel a HUGE sense of peace about both for you. Praying for God’s touch to continue to be all over your life, that you sense small mercies and BOOMS every day, and that you rest in His peace every day and night. Praying from Michigan!!

  17. Julie /

    Aug 30th~ on my calendar in Alabama! I’m a momma, a runner (okay, I shuffle along!) and a believer in miracles! Praying for you!!

  18. Lynda M O /

    Holding you and your family up to the universal healing power and knowing that it all will be for the best.