It’s been about three weeks since I decided to have a right simple mastectomy, which would have been done this coming Monday.
I say “would have been done” because I’ve decided to cancel the surgery. Input from several people varies from “I’d have it done” to “It’s up to you,” which, of course, isn’t anything other than I’d expected.
When I first decided to have the surgery, mastectomy seemed like the most likely, if not the best, option. I prepared for it in several ways, from considering the loss of a significant part of me to worrying about the scar to considering a tattoo to becoming an “Amazon.” (They were warrior women, you know, and according to legend had their right breast removed in order to facilitate use of the bow and arrow. No proof of that but legends get started for a reason.) I sort of liked the idea of being a warrior woman, of taking up archery!
As time went on, though, it became less of an exercise in potentials and more realistic in what it meant. I began to feel more weighed down by the idea and felt more and more that something – I couldn’t put a finger on what – felt off, not quite right. I still don’t know what that something is or was. I may never know.
I told myself it was just usual and normal second thoughts. Or maybe I was afraid and just didn’t feel it as fear. Maybe I wasn’t in touch with my real feelings, etc.
Here are some of the things I considered before changing my mind:
1. If it took five years or so, which is what the surgeon suggested, for this lump to get as big as it did, this cancer wasn’t very fast growing.
2. So, if it took five years to get this big, would it take five years to get that big again if it came back? And if it did, how much beyond that would it be before it killed me? I’d be 76 in five years, and while that’s not old by a long shot, even with cancer I could live a fairly long life until something else killed me.
3. Since there is no lymph node involvement, what are the odds that it’ll spread, whether fast or slowly?
4. There’s no guarantee that they haven’t already removed all the cancerous cells, just a bucket load of caution in case they didn’t.
5. I’m not afraid of being dead though I’m a bit squeamish about the mode of dying. Cancer is not nice.
So now I’m waiting for a call back from the surgeon to make sure she got my message. I’ve been having a bit of difficulty getting hold of someone to tell. Since I’m a big believer in “signs,” that might be one but I’m feeling that it’s not.
What I can say is that once I came to this decision, I immediately felt much lighter, as if a load I’d been carrying (for three weeks?) had been lifted. That’s a sign, too, and a welcome one. I think my Self/Soul agreed with me.
When I talk to the surgeon I’m gonna tell her my decision, see about regular followups, what they call “watchful waiting,” and take some actions that might or might not make a difference. I’m a believer in so-called alternative health methods and in a case like mine, where there isn’t any desperate life or death need for immediate surgery, I think that’s reasonable. She probably won’t agree but hey, it’s my breast and my life.
This is an instance where my blog title, Search for Soul, comes to mean something. And no matter what the ultimate outcome, this is a search for a soulful resolution.