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Journal of a Journey

My name is Lynne. I am 37. Recently I discovered a lump in my right breast. I am now waiting for surgery to have it removed and tested.

I have had a love/hate relationship with my breasts over the years. They have have been smaller and bigger, given nourishment to my (now 11 year old) daughter and received pleasure from my wonderful partner and lover. My breasts are a part of me but it is now that I appreciate what a significant role they have played.

I have gone to college and university and worked in social services and legal services. Currently, I am employed in the corporate business world where I make a steady income. To satisfy my heart's passion of working with and for womyn I spend time, after hours on a rape crisis line.

December 5, 2004

This is the first time I have sat a the computer since my surgery last sunday. What a week! I have been getting by on tylenol 3, gravol, the wonderful support of my home family. Of course there have been tears - of relief, of hope, and lately of frustration. I guess based on what she took out of my breast during surgery, the surgeon is hopeful. I am relieved to have it out and now trying to deal with the pain and all associated with it (pain pills that get you spaced out, poor sleep with intense dreams, tiredness, needing for and asking for help in doing simple tasks like bathing and getting dressed) this past week.

I am now very frustrated and emotionally worn. for a 'lumpectomy' the incision is big (3-4 inches across my breast!!), my body totally fatigued, the burning and bruised pain in my breast and underarm - all not told to me (or any of us) in advance, nor of the emotional vulnerability that comes with it. To be honest, it pisses me off!

And the health 'care' received was, to say the least, brief and incomplete in providing help and information. I don't even remember getting home on Sunday after the surgery! I was shipped home, still puking and drugged with anesthetic, morphine and gravol. Nothing prepared me, my partner and our best friend/housemate for any of this! So much is not told to us. I really wonder how many other womyn have had or are having this similar experience??!!

I do have to say though, the recovery nurse was amazing in her compassion and advocacy that day. I helped my partner immensely to know that there are still a few in health'care' who really do care.

I thought that a week off work would be more than enough but it isn't. My boss while talking like he was supportive, my gut says something different. But I was honest and told him that I would be totally useless at work while on codiene and in pain.

On Tuesday we meet with the surgeon for the results. I will have many questions for her then about how I am feeling physically. Quite honestly I haven't cared about the waiting game (again) this week - I have been too occupied with other things!

November 26, 2004

Time has flown by! Wednesday was very rough - today I am feeling ok but emotionally fragile. For those at my work who know, they have been very supportive and thoughtful. I guess I've kinda shut down otherwise I think I'd be a wreck! Dani (my partner) is very fragile too but also trying to be strongly supportive too. Actually, all of us in the household are actually feeling a bit tense and very much thinking of Sunday!

We are doing pictures tonight and tomorrow with the (borrowed) digital camera and I am very much looking forward to this.

I will try to email you before the surgery - this Sunday I have to be at the hospital for 6 a.m.

November 17, 2004

Today the emotions were under the surface and I have been fighting to keep them there. Not a good day to be 'emotional' at work - in fact there never is a good day for that, at work. Corporate culture is cold!

While eating lunch, I started to fill out the forms needed for the hospital. I think that I have been coping well but today that belief is shaken a bit - I rarely forget about appointments and dates but I did. My prep-op with my doctor was today! I madly rush through my work afternoon so I can get to the appointment, only to get to my doctor's to find out the date is tomorrow. I read the appointment card wrong. I feel foolish. I am also surprised at myself. I realize that while for the most part I am 'composed' - maybe I am just fooling myself too! In some way I don't want to acknowledge that I am very nervous about the surgery but the reality is I am!

I am emotionally shakey, feeling fragile and vulnerable and trying my best to contain it. Like having a clear plastic bag full of air that you squeeze tight at the top of it, so it doesn't deflate, escape. It's a clear bag because then you can see it but not actually touch it. The barrier keeps it distant. I know I must open that bag, let it out. I need to have a good cry, being held by my partner while lying in the dark. Feel cradled and safe.

I also want to have more laughter. I need a good release. Just to laugh over something silly, fun, impulsive. Laugh so hard that my stomach hurts. Hear the wonderful, contagious laughter of my partner as we are silly and loving all at the same time.

And I want serenity.

November 11, 2004

My appointment with the surgeon was today and all day that was all I could think of. It is also Remembrance Day and for me it sure is, except my potential battle is not necessarily external! But I don't want to view my body, my breasts as the enemy, as something I must conquer. Too, too violent! Enough violence has been inflicted on womyn's bodies, some subtle, some blatant, all instant in their effects on our collective and individual unconscious!

I find myself touching my chest more lately, gently, lovingly. I look, really look at my breasts when I get out of the shower now. Remembering how they have been at different times in my life. And how they exist now. And I see how my daughter's body is changing. And how my partner's breasts are so different and so beautiful too. Womyn's bodies are incredible!

Back to the appointment - she shows me the pictures, feels the lump, talks about what she thinks it is. Thinks, probable, possible, not 100 percent. The unknown shows itself again, in the form of the 'lump', 'mass'. I listen, think, wonder and decide - lumpectomy. My partner is with me. She is asking, stressing, and emphasizing. I love her. She is trying her best to listen and hear and I know she only wants what she believes is best for me. She also knows that I¹m a bit of a wild card. We had talked and agreed that a lumpectomy is the best. But she also knows that I am likely to change my mind without notice (I have done this before).

Now, believe it or not I feel relief! I know what is going to happen. I know the date -November 28th. And I am relieved! I feel like something is being done. I have been heard.

Strangely, I feel that I am also beginning to grieve with losing a part of myself. This is a piece of my body, something that I made from my core physical being - good or bad - and I am removing it. Another step in the journey.

Contact Sue Richards at [email protected]

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