Truth. I sometimes find it hard to write this blog in the aftermath, knowing what I know now, and remembering how I felt then. Recently, the question that is often floating around in my mind is, “What does it mean to be brave?” It’s mind-boggling to admit that I once thought I knew the answer, when in actuality, I’m only starting to understand. What I can tell you is that I believe there’s a difference between being brave and being strong, strong-minded or strong-willed. At this point in my blog, that’s exactly what I was, not brave, but more like the common Bob Marley quote, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
When I first decided to launch this blog, I reached out to a friend from college that happens to be a very successful blogger for some tricks of the trade. After reading my first two posts, she said my blog reminded her of a book she had recently read, which she recommended it to me. “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg. What a beautiful book. Fair warning: the book starts off right in the most difficult of moments, so grab a box of tissues, you’ll need it. Sheryl takes you on this journey of grief and growth all while sharing how she overcame the death of her husband as well as sharing stories of many others whom have overcome difficult situations. The author makes it clear that despite all she’s been through, she was still blessed to have the financial stability to care and provide for her family.
Truth. I am blessed to have a mother who has survived cancer twice and has done it with so much grace. So from the moment I was diagnosed, I knew I couldn’t wish away the cancer, but that I would survive. I was confident in my Option B. It wasn’t always easy. There were times where I felt like my life was becoming a series of doctor’s appointments. But I had to push through, so I decided to make a countdown to surgery on my phone!
So it was official. My surgery was scheduled for Aug. 14 and I was beyond ecstatic! Everything was ready to go! Routine chest X-ray? CHECK. Blood work? CHECK! The night before surgery, I was told I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight, and (of course) my concern at that point was that I would get hungry! My mom laughed, but came up with the perfect solution: Girls’ night out! We went out to a late dinner that night and, of course, enjoyed lots of delicious food!
The next morning, we made our way to Memorial West where I would be having a full thyroidectomy. While in pre-op, my family took turns coming back to talk to me before surgery. I gave them one rule: they needed to tell a joke or say something funny! They did great! Dr. Bimston then came to see me in pre-op. He asked if I was ready.
“Oh yes, I’ve had a countdown to this day,” I told him.
He replied: “A countdown?”
“Yes, people have countdowns for weddings and birthdays all the time, I decided to have one to be cancer-free,” I told him.
Dr. Bimston smiled and said, “I wish all my patients were as optimistic as you.” He then placed the mark on my neck where the incision would be; on one of my natural necklines, so that it would not be noticeable.
I was all prepped and it was time to go in. I remember going into a really bright and cold room … and well, the rest was history. My procedure was suppose to take three hours and went on for approximately five. The nodes were very close to my vocal chords, so Dr. Bimston took the time to be extremely careful to get it all out.
I remember the fuzziness of waking up, and just being extremely thirsty; I barely had a voice, so I grabbed Dr. Bimston’s hand to tell him. I’m pretty sure I zoned in and out because the next thing I remember I was in the post-op room. My mom, sister and stepmom were there to greet me. I must have been pretty thirsty, because I was grumpy when they said I couldn’t have water yet. My stepmom then explained that my dad had gone home to check on my grandmother and that he would be by to see me tomorrow. She passed me the phone to talk to him, and he repeated the same thing she had just said to me. I replied, “I know, I know. They already told me.” At that point my mom, sister and stepmom — all realizing I was back to “normal” — laughed and said, “Oh, she’s fine!” I guess bitchy is in my nature. Eventually, the nurse brought me ice chips to suck on. This was probably one of the things I couldn’t have imagined before surgery. I was going to have to teach myself to swallow liquids again.
I was then moved into the room where I would spend the night before being discharged from the hospital. My mom spent the night with me at the hospital, where her primary role was to apologize to the nurses for my grumpiness. I tell you, I was not happy every time they woke me up to give me meds. Swallowing something so simple (and clear) as drinking water brought me pain. I needed more consistency, so I took all my medications with cranberry juice and through a straw. In the morning, they brought me breakfast, and boy, was I excited for some hospital food. Then it dawned on me, it was already incredibly difficult to swallow liquids. What would solids feel like? To my disbelief solids were not an issue! There I was barely 12 hours out of surgery eating eggs and toast. I had thought I would be on some form of liquid and jello diet. My mom was there laughing at my excitement, and overjoyed to see me eating. And that bacon, it had my heart.
- Strength- Option B
- Confidence- Option B
- Perseverance- Option B