Health Update: I’m 10 days post op and doing well. Mostly, I sit. I sit in the recliner, on the deck, occasionally on the couch. This is a new thing for me, sitting for long periods of time. I can see why people like it and I’m game for awhile, but as soon as these stupid drains are out of my body, I plan to move a little more. Surgery went well, recovery is going well, and all I had to do was wait on pathology. That came yesterday.
Yesterday was a good day. I keep telling myself that. It’s good to know things. It’s good to have a plan. It’s good to know I’m making progress, even when it feels like two steps forward, one step back. But yesterday, it didn’t feel like a good day.
Long story short, pathology was not what I had hoped for. Cancer was found in some lymph nodes which means I’ll have another surgery soon to see just how far this crap has spread. Radiation is now a part of the plan. When, I won’t know until we get these next test results back. I told Houston yesterday I have never once thought cancer would kill me; only that it would make life uncomfortable for awhile. Now, “awhile” looks a little bit longer.
I won’t lie, yesterday was hard. Grief. Anger. Sadness. Weariness. All the things a person should feel after getting that kind of news. But just before I went to bed, there was a flicker of hope, a very present peace, and I knew when I woke up this morning things would look and feel better.
God is a finisher. His Word tells us that. He starts things and He finishes them. He started something in me and He will finish it. I have no doubt about that. What bugs me sometimes is I want Him to tell me how and when He’s going to finish it. AND, I want Him to cheer me on all along the way. Pats on the back, happy feelings, satisfaction. I’d also prefer comfort and monetary gain, but I’m well aware those aren’t always a part of the plan.
What I really want is for God to say, “Well done!” at every turn. The problem with that is I’m not done. I’m still doing. I’m still putting one foot in front of the other. Still putting in the work. Still taking some punches. Still figuring stuff out. One day, I’ll hear Him say it. Until then, I’ll “do” until I’m “done.”
In the meantime, it isn’t as if He isn’t encouraging. He says things like, “Keep going.” “Be faithful.” “I am with you.” “I love you.” Those are very good things to hear and they make me want to look at days like yesterday and say it was a good day.
So this morning, I got up, put the coffee on, put on actual jeans and a shirt instead of pajamas, put on make-up and earrings, made myself a spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and feta omelette, and went to work. (Please don’t lecture me about still recovering from major surgery - I’m still just sitting here on my deck - and resting is one of the things I “do.”) There are songs to write, books to read (and write), and people to connect with. I may not have the stamina I wish I had right now, but with whatever energy I do have, I’ll sit here and do something. So even if parts of today get a little rough, tomorrow I’ll be able to say, “Yesterday was a good day.”
I may regret this. Blogging while on strong medication is never recommended but there are a few things I don’t want to forget so I’m taking my chances.
Twenty-four hours ago I was checking into this place and as soon as I get my discharge papers, we are out of here. I knew the time spent here would be short, but good grief, the condition they send you home in is crazy. Tubes, battery packs, breathing tools, and more. Obviously my movement is limited so Perry has his work cut out for him.
Drugs are my friend. They are doing their job and for that I am very grateful. I also don’t like how they make me feel (other than pain relief) so I’m hoping to get off of them sooner than later.
UNMC has good ice and relatively good food. If you ever find yourself here, order the spinach, tomato, and mozzarella omelette for breakfast, but avoid the turkey sausage. Gross. And drink the cranberry juice, because bladder infections suck.
Pathology will be back in 7-10 days, and then I’ll know if more treatment is necessary or if I can just recover from this part and move on to the next phase of reconstruction. Until then, we pray.
Fun fact, my entire medical team has been women. Surgeon, plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, aides, even my oncologist back home. I am by no means a feminist, but dang, the ladies were out in full force. Good job, girls!
I can’t explain it, but I still have moments when I think I am living someone else’s life.
As hard as this past 24 hours has been, I actually woke up and had the urge to write. I called Perry and told him to bring my iPad so I could blog while I was still here. I think that’s a good sign.
Health update: Since finishing up chemo on April 1st, my energy has steadily increased, and most days, I feel pretty good. My last day at school was Friday. I am so grateful I was able to work throughout treatment and finish up the year by attending Houston’s graduation, Saturday morning. Tomorrow (Monday) morning, I will arrive at the Buffet Cancer Center in Omaha and undergo a bilateral mastectomy. I will also begin the reconstruction process, although some things remain up in the air as far as that is concerned due to the uncertainty regarding pathology and the possible need for radiation. The thought of needing more treatment after surgery isn’t much fun, but I’ve come to terms with the possibility it might be necessary. Whatever the outcome, surgery means I am one step closer to putting this behind me. Whether it takes one, or two, or twenty steps to get there, I will still be one step closer.
I’ve been trying to write something meaningful or inspiring tonight, and to be honest, I’ve got nothing. Just a head full of thoughts about tomorrow and a few other random things. So, here ya go.
1. The Boe family is done with high school. It was a great run, but I’m also okay with it being over.
2. I’ve gotten most of my taste back. Things still taste a little bland, but it’s getting better. And coffee tastes like coffee. Hallelujah.
3. Les Miserables is one of the greatest works of art I’ve ever witnessed. A redemption story at it’s finest, with music that moves me nonstop from “look down” to “until tomorrow comes.”
4. I am not getting a boob job. I am having a bilateral mastectomy because I have cancer. Big difference. I laugh at the comments and I’ve made them myself, so I get it and it’s okay. But I’m also grieving who I was and what is happening to my body.
5. Here are the movies that suck me in, every single time they play on TV: Any Harry Potter film, A Few Good Men, Shooter, and Martian. If you haven’t seen them, you’re missing out.
6. I love seeing high school seniors take high school freshmen under their wings.
7. Leo, my sitting cat, has been naughty lately. I won’t go into all the details, but Perry ain’t happy.
8. I am really hoping the hospital I’ll be in has good ice. It matters.
9. While I am dreading surgery on so many levels, I am honestly looking forward to a summer with VERY little on my plate, other than getting well.
10. For too long, the intense fatigue I was experiencing severely limited my creativity and ability to dream and plan. More energy these days means I’m getting a little of my creative swagger back. That feels good. So stay tuned because I believe some cool things are coming soon.
Today, we are having a party. My youngest, Houston, will graduate high school on May 15th and today we will celebrate that milestone with family and friends. As I’ve written previously, one of my greatest fears on this cancer journey was missing out on special moments in his senior year. After the Covid high school experience he’s had, any activity or accomplishment is a gift. I just didn’t want to miss any of it. God has been unbelievable gracious to me in that aspect as I’ve been able to be present, even when it was a bit of a struggle to be there. So grateful.
When my surgeon said she wanted to schedule my surgery four weeks after my last chemo treatment, which would have been around May 1st, I made it clear that was not going to happen. “Sorry, doc, I’m not available until after graduation day.” She wasn’t too happy with that schedule, but agreed to it as long as she could operate on the Monday morning after graduation. So, that’s the plan. May 17th. I’ll be honest, I’m dreading every minute of this next phase. I just keep telling myself, whatever it takes to get this crap out of my body is fine. It’s not fine, but it’s fine.
Graduation day will be recognition for the 169 students in Houston’s class. But today is all about Houston. Let me tell you a little bit about him.
Houston came into this world when life was a little dark for me. I’d lost a baby just a few weeks earlier and I wasn’t ready to be pregnant again. God knew better. Houston brought light to my life and has been brightening the world ever since. His smile and laughter is pure joy. He is a dreamer. He is unafraid to try new things. He cares deeply for people and easily celebrates others’ successes.
Houston has a lot of words. When he was in 6th grade, I created a blog for him so he could go home from school every day and use up some of those words. I couldn’t handle all the words. I love all the words, but some days, it was a bit too much. The blog helped. In recent years, he’s been able to use his words to broadcast high school sports. He’s really good at it and is thoroughly entertaining. I’m quite certain there will be more words in the future.
Houston has accomplished a lot in his 18 years. He’s also made a lot of mistakes along the way. I’m proud of him for all of it. The stuff that has made me stand up and cheer, and the stuff that has kept me up at night, grieving and praying. It’s the latter stuff that has given him an understanding of grace which he pours out on others in ways that humbles me.
Houston and I clash a lot. I’m talking knock down, drag out fights. Yelling. Saying things we shouldn’t. Slamming doors. It’s ugly. We both hate it and it makes us sad. But I will say this, as quickly as our fights can go from zero to a hundred, we are equally quick about making our apologies and talking through our issues. So there’s a positive.
For some dumb reason, Houston has decided to go to college out of state. I can’t begin to express how much I will miss seeing his face every day. However, he has agreed to FaceTime every morning and every night so I’m sure I’ll be fine. And I told him I’d visit once a month. And I’m sure he’ll want to come home once a month. So really, it’ll be like a really busy senior year of high school, right? Yeah, right...
As you can imagine, Houston has had to endure hearing, “Houston, we have a problem,” countless times in his life. But today, it’s only, “Houston, we have a party.” As I type these words, I’m thinking of more people I forgot to send invitations to, more things I could have done around the house, and adding to the list of things Perry needs to get at the store, asap. Regarding the invites, if you’re reading this and if you know Houston, you’re invited whether you got an invitation or not. Seriously, come celebrate with us. When the nacho bar runs out, I’ll open up the pantry and we’ll sit around eating cereal or tuna or canned vegetables. It’s all good.
The past few months have changed the way I view days like today. I suppose it has changed how I view every day, but definitely these once in a lifetime moments. Then again, every day is a once in a lifetime moment. Kinda makes me want to throw a party every day.
So, here’s to Houston. Huey. Hojoboe4. The baby who completed our family and the young man who is gonna do big things. Watch out, world.