Silver lining

Everything comes down to attitude. It’s the only thing anyone has any control over in their life. The rest is unpredictable. Health, relationships, circumstances. A positive outlook or attitude benefits everyone. So this is my positive take on today in point form.

Brushing your hair, pulling up your undies or taking a t-shirt off are incredibly difficult after armpit and breast surgery. I am learning to graciously accept the help of others in situations like this. So if you see me walking naked in the street (except for my t-shirt) please stop and offer assistance. Just gently and very slowly lift it over my head. Don’t be concerned about the drain coming from my chest and the bag of blood. Many thanks in advance.

The landscape driving through the granite country south of our awesome city and the apple growing region always puts on a spectacular display, with sunlight and clouds stretching over rolling hills which are either yellow or green depending on the season. I love this landscape.

All the time in cars we have spent in recent weeks without our children has been good for our relationship and for strengthening our communication. It is great to connect with my partner after many weeks of us just treading water. Little people do their darnedest to make it all about them (and rightfully so).

Melbourne has some beautiful parks and streetscapes and it is nice to be visiting her frequently after living regionally for fifteen years.

It is nice to see members of my medical team again. I like them, so much so, that I would arrange a dinner party if I wasn’t just another one of their 3000 patients they see every day. I could potentially get depressed, more from the finish of treatment than from having had cancer, as they won’t be a regular feature in my life anymore. So I’ve decided to throw dinner parties for random strangers just to fill this void.

Once you go through an experience of multiple surgical treatments for something like breast cancer, (and in a similar way the exposure and dignity loss accumulated from the experience of childbirth), pulling the curtain shut for countless adults at breast inspection times seems really unnecessary. It’s not like they haven’t seen my breasts before. Don’t worry, you won’t see me topless on St Kilda beach anytime soon (unless the implants look amazing).

My husband is really hot. The surgeon took a double take at his gorgeous, cyclist shaved, brown legs today and made comment on them. I pretended I didn’t notice. Unfortunately he did. As if I haven’t seen him admiring his legs enough!

I am really good at talking to the surgeon and taking pictures of her shoes at the same time. See…

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It’s always about the surgeon and her shoes.

After the initial cancer diagnosis and the crazy shock of it, results are just more of the same. Good and bad. They really are just results. A bit more news. I’m a bit numb to it. Even when there is good in it. This indifference is great as it stops me obsessing and stressing unnecessarily.

Why is the hospital cafe food full of the same stuff that is sold at airports? Every time we walk into this hospital I’m looking for a check in gate and wondering where I’ve put my boarding pass.

I might be a candidate to participate in an international trial called “The Supremo Trial” to see if there are any benefits of post mastectomy radiotherapy on breast cancer patients with aggressive cancer. I love it when they name these things after pizza.

I’m keeping the nipple so far. There was no cancer behind it. So that is one less body part to remove. Yay! Although I shouldn’t be too premature with my celebrations, as with the trauma from surgery my nipple may be at risk of tissue necrosis where the tissue dies from lack of oxygen. I have always wanted to visit Antarctica. So I’m viewing this as a kind of ode to frostbite and Shackleton. But so far so good. Breathe nipple, breathe!

If it does turn black, surgeons will remove it and it could be replaced with a nipple tattoo. (Cue music for Embarrassing Bodies, Episode 54) I’ve never liked the idea of tattoos. But if I have to have one, a nipple sounds way cooler than a tribal tattoo, a dolphin or misspelling my husbands name. Imagine getting a nipple tattoo on your bicep? Now that would be super!

A second mastectomy of breast number two, and another sentinel node biopsy of the other armpit is now a given. This will happen post chemo later in the year. Oh joy! The things a mother has to do to get her kids a tour around a fire-station! Hopefully the results of that won’t mean more chemo in 2014. Imagine the jokes I’ll have to create if I have to go through all of this a second time!

The removed breast revealed more patches of pre cancer changes (DCIS), not including the original invasive ductal carcinoma tumour (IDC) and the ductal carinoma in situ (DCIS) that was removed in the first lumpectomy operation. All of these acronyms make it sound like an episode of NCIS. It is hard for me to fathom all of this cancer activity in the space of my tiny 148 grams of breast tissue. On the bright side, at least with a double mastectomy, I will at some point have a set of matching breasts. It will be nice to have some 18 year old looking, perky body parts after all these years.

I think I’m falling in love with a girl called Endone.

‘Chemo’ and ‘dreamo’ rhyme. My chemotherapy might go for 6 months and this is so much better than 10 months! Ain’t no chemo gonna ruin my Christmas lunch. It will be of the ‘Third-generation’ variety which is a bit more cutting edge they tell me. I need some time to recover from these two February surgeries. It will start in roughly three weeks time. This means it won’t start till after the kids and my birthdays. Winner winner chicken dinner! So baldness might not be a feature till April or May now. ‘Bout time I had a new hairstyle anyway. We worked out in 37 years I have only been to a hairdresser 7 times.

The familial/genetics clinic is booked to help search for any potential mutant DNA and troubled genes. This excites me as I love family tree research!

In two operations there have now been a total of 21 nodes removed. Only 1 of these was cancerous. Which is great news but there are no guarantees. Breast cancer is a sneaky bastard and plucks off unsuspecting women at random, even with small tumours and no nodal involvement. Indiscriminate and unpredictable in nature. But in spite of that, 1 node out of 21 is really the BEST news we could have received today!

The Exudrain lady is unfortunately returning home to the country with me today. So a few more days of carting her around. Never mind, it is quite a nice floral bag she sits in. The glances at the shops have been interesting.

There were no tears today. Could have worn mascara after all!

People have offered so much practical and emotional support it’s awesome! We love ‘youse’ all (said in Australian bogan voice)!

There was definitely a silver lining on that cloud I photographed this morning. I just had to look closely enough to see it.


10 Comments on “Silver lining”

  1. Betsy says:

    Love your surgeon’s shoes. Does she operate in those? Love my surgeon. She is cool, but a dowdy dresser. So no pix on my blog. Shhhh don’t tell her.
    I keep praying for you. xxoo

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  2. Kristy says:

    If there’s one thing breast cancer has taught me it is to always look for the silver lining…so glad I’m not the only one xxx

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  3. Anne says:

    Lisa, I can’t believe I am reading this but you are truly inspirational. Would love to be able to help you in some small way. All I can say is “you deserve the very best and I’m sure when you’re through this only the best will come your way!” Love and best wishes. XX

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  4. Jess says:

    Wow Lise, what a roller coaster you are riding at the moment. I am supremely impressed by the ‘silver lining’ attitude you are carrying with you. Have you seen the movie yet? I’m gutted for you that you have to have more surgery to kill those bastard cancer cells/tumours. Gosh life can be an absolute bitch to those who deserve it the least. I think your blog is amazing and it makes me feel connected to you even when I can’t see you. Your honesty, humour and candidness is a credit to you and i hang on your every word. I hope this week brings good things to you, I’ll be thinking of you and awaiting your next update. All my love jess

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    • LiseyBendy says:

      Thank you Jess. I forgot about your movie recommendation in all the craziness of the last 3 weeks and was surprised when I saw ‘Silver Lining’ being talked about in the Oscar coverage . Will definitely take a look. x

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  5. pinkandapple says:

    My oncologist wears precariously high crazy heels, she is a tiny little thing and Lee Lin Chin’s doppelganger. I find her shoes so amazingly distracting! I find it delightful that you have the distraction of shoes as well, it really lightens up my sessions when I tease her about her shoes…

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  6. […] radiotherapy after mastectomy for women with between 1-3 nodes positive?  And I laughed at it in this blog because it sounded like  it was named after a pizza?   Well I chose not to be involved with that […]

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