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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Call Me, "Madonna"

I know. Strange title for an update on my little bit of breast cancer. If you keep reading, I promise to include a pictures.

First, I’d like to express deep thanks and gratitude for prayers, phone calls, words of encouragement in texts and Facebook messages, and F2F (face-to-face) visits. What a blessing this little experience has been, kind of like Christmas. J  There were even flowers! I haven’t seen that many fresh flowers since Ray was courting me.

And a special thanks to my friend, Karen (aka Martha Stewart). She asked if she could bring me a meal the night I came home from surgery. I didn’t really need a meal, we don’t often do home-cooking as much as grab something from Panera or Subway, but I know what a great cook she is… and even though I felt a little guilty for my reply, I texted back “YES!” I made the right decision. She arrived, precisely at 5:00pm (and by precisely, I mean that it awes me how people like Karen are always on time, as opposed to people like me who are generally 10 to 15 minutes late, sometimes later). In each arm she carried a basket, like in a fairy tale, filled to the brim with warm aromas of gourmet lasagna, cheddar biscuits, salad with candied walnuts, raspberry vinaigrette, and a freshly baked apple crisp pie. Since I hadn’t eaten all day long…. it was like I’d woken up in heaven! Seriously, it was almost worth the illness just to have a home-cooked meal, especially prepared by my friend, Karen.

And deep gratitude for the anointings. My sweet husband is friends with some very faithful and prayerful folks. His friend, Mike, is a Methodist minister. Soon after my biopsy, he drove all the way from Lake Eufaula to pray over me and anoint me with healing oil. Ray’s best friend Dave, who was one of the best men at our wedding, and his beautiful wife, Jimmie, who works with Ray – are both charismatic prayer warriors. They drove up from Sterling and brought their own healing oil and prayed over me. And my own church family… at Wednesday night mass, laid hands on me too. That afternoon, it took Father Jack and I about 5 minutes to talk through what would happen at 6:15 mass; then another 65 minutes to debate our opposite positions on politics.  The only thing we agreed on was to take a break from debating. J  But that evening, after communion, Father Jack called me and Ray and Jacob up to the altar. Then he called on all the cancer survivors at mass to join us and lay hands upon me as Father Jack anointed me with the healing oil of our church. I felt such love and such peace – and feel it again each time someone reaches out w/ words or a touch or a gesture of concern.  Thank you.  J  I hope I can return the great compassion and love – or at least pay it forward for someone else in need.

One more shout-out of thanks - for my daughter, Shelby. She gave up her Saturday to care for me. What a great cook I raised. Jimmie and Dave had brought us fresh squash from their garden, along with a huge zucchini. Shelby made me zucchini bread and stir-fry and tidied up my kitchen. We spent the afternoon in meaningful conversation.

So… about the name, “Madonna.”

Bright and early Friday morning, before the surgery, I arrived at Breast Imaging in Edmond. They were to insert a wire that would lead directly to the cancerous tissue. That involved a sonogram and a needle with a wire inside of the needle. Then, Pam, the imaging technician, explained to me, that about 3 ½ inches of the needle would remain sticking out of my breast – maybe that’s the plastic syringe part – I’m not sure – I chose not to look too closely. It wasn’t all that painful. Just a sting.

The disturbing part of the whole ordeal was the way I left the clinic. To protect the needle, and, I suppose, me, Pam taped a Styrofoam cup over the needle and to my right breast. Which is fine… but the loose button up shirt I bought the day before was no way going to fit over that. Seriously. She said not to worry, I could wear the blue poncho. For those of you who have never had a mammogram, the blue poncho is a 3 x 3 foot sheet with a hole in the middle for your head to fit through. When they need to take pictures of your breasts, they toss back the corners over your shoulders like a super hero cape. For me, that morning, it was decided to leave all the corners in place and to wear my shirt as if it were a vest. Omigosh.


I didn’t mind walking out into the waiting area of Breast Imaging, where only a handful of women were waiting their turns for mammograms and such. I was actually laughing at the silliness of the situation. And it wasn’t much of a bother in the car, or at Mercy Hospital parking lot, where Ray took the picture of me. What was just a little uncomfortable, was walking into Day Surgery – which is, evidently, always a packed house on a Friday. I don’t think there was a single empty chair in the waiting room when we walked in – but I’m not sure, because I was busy trying not to notice all the people trying not to stare at my right side.

When I sat down at registration, the nice lady said, “Name, please.” I replied, “Madonna.” She looked up at me, then at my right side, and said, “Mm… I don’t think so. Madonna’s were pointy and she had two of them.” And we all laughed. In fact, I kept laughing until they put me under anesthesia. I might have laughed afterwards, but the nausea got in the way. Other than that, it was a simple procedure.

Dr. Talbert spoke with Ray and my parents – telling them that the lymph nodes looked good – but we’ll know for sure when she gets the pathology report. She will call me by Wednesday, June 27th, to let me know if the cancer is spread to the lymph nodes or contained. She will also set me up with an appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Toma.

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