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End of the Cancer Journey

It’s way too weird to say that it’s been a joy to have cancer, but it has been. Mentally I know that God doesn’t send cancer or any sickness as a punishment. However, cancer changes you. For me, it has brought me into a closer relationship with God and with my husband and friends.

Remember when you were a kid and you did something wrong? You tried to hide it, but your parents found out and punished you. Afterward, you realized that they still loved you and you felt better.

That’s sort of how it’s been with me. I’ve been a Christian for a very long time, but it didn’t stop me from either making some terrible decisions or sinning. I was in a rut.

When you get cancer, everything else falls to the sidelines while you rush around going to doctors and hospitals trying to conquer this monster called cancer. Even those pesky bad habits that you know about and a few more that you never realized you had can’t hold a candle to the time and effort it takes to get cancer out of your system.

Like it or not. You’ve got other things on your mind. Praise God. He is merciful. Cancer has been a blessing.

But I’m exceedingly glad to be at the end of the journey – I hope. I am super tired of going in an getting my tissue expander filled with saline solution only to have it leak out before my next appointment. That doesn’t happen to everyone, so don’t panic if you have cancer and decide to do reconstructive surgery.

I complained of pain about two months ago, and to relieve the pressure, the surgeon put a needle into what he thought was the second fill port, only it wasn’t. There may be a moral of the story but I’m not sure what it is. Sometimes complaining is a good thing.

My plastic surgeon has had mercy on me, throughout the process.

  • First of all my surgery date should have been December 26, but we had friends coming from Australia on the 27th and I didn’t want to miss them. We had a big trip planned through California and then to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve. So he kindly postponed the surgery to January 30th instead.
  • He offered to remove the damaged tissue expander and replace it. That would have meant an extra surgery and an additional two weeks minimum recovery. I went in for the preparatory step of removing and replacing all the fluid – a forty-five-minute appointment instead of the typical three minute one. I decided that I didn’t want to expand my breast to a normal size B or possibly a huge C cup, after all. (Pop, there went that dream) He gave me a reprieve and said I didn’t need to come in until my surgery unless I wanted a fill. Yay! Freedom!
  • By week two I had lost so much fluid that I developed two very long and deep wrinkles. Wrinkles in your breast are not like wrinkles on your face. They are not only unattractive (not that anyone is looking) but very uncomfortable. They are more like gullies or drainage ditches. Not only that, after about a month of deflation, your tissue unexpands. So you are back to flat.
  • The nurse took pity on me and slipped me into his busy schedule for an emergency fill. He filled me with 220 ml instead of the normal 60. When I sat up, I literally couldn’t breathe normally. Very weird to be stretched that tight!
  • Two weeks later, at the end of our vacation, I was on empty again and in tears, because surgery was still nearly a month away and I’d leaked out 220 instead of 60 ml of fluid. I could feel it drizzle under my arm and imagined the salty water finding all the unhealed scars when I felt burning – the proverbial pouring salt on a wound. I imagined that the $64,000 pieces of cadaver tissue that makes the implant reunite with my body so much better were dissolving by saline solution. The nurse told me was that saline solution is what hospitals give patients that are dehydrated. Nothing to worry about. I looked at my fingers – no wrinkles. I was hydrated. I felt better and he added an additional 240 ml of fluid.
  • Better than that, he told me he would move up my surgery even if he had to work late and perform the surgery at the hospital instead of next door to his office at the surgery center.
  • Fortunately for him and for me, someone canceled their surgery and he had an opening for January 13th, six days later. YAY!

So in two days, I will be on my way to Fresno for my final surgery. The cancer is gone. To the outsider, I look as normal as I ever did, and I can start living my life without weekly trips to Fresno.

Enjoying a hike on our vacation two weeks before my third surgery.

I’m so very grateful.

  • To God for healing me.
  • For my husband who stood by me, put up with my moods, drove me to appointments, and took on the extra duties that I couldn’t do after each of the three surgeries I’ve gone through.
  • To Dr. Alsalihi for referring me to the “Dream Team,” as they are called.
  • To the professionals who diagnosed and did the tests that found the tumor when it was between stage one and stage two.
  • To the Dream Team – Dr. Hadcock, cancer surgeon, Dr. Perkins, oncologist, and Dr. Askren, the ever-patient plastic surgeon who performed the only elective surgery in the process.
  • For my friends who had brought us food, prayed, visited, called and wrote to me. They showed me in so many ways how much they loved and cared about me.

I hope you never get cancer. But if you do, know that I’m praying for you. You can get through it and be better than you were when you got it.

Lots of love to you all.

9 replies »

  1. Lovely article.wishing you all the best with your recovery. I’ve dedicated my life to serving parents with cancer through writing and illustrating bespoke children’s books to preserve family memories in a unique literature legacy.

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  2. Well, dear friend. You are to be commended for never talking about all this when we get together to have a pleasant evening of food and cards. I am, however, astonished at how much I didn’t know. Truly astonished at how much you were enduring while never complaining or calling attention to yourself. I admire you greatly and call myself blessed to have you as a friend. As I write you are being prepped for your final surgery. I’m a few days and a dollar short on reading your blog (as usual). Sending love and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No worries, Monica. I’m doing great. I actually can start driving tomorrow, but I probably won’t. I go in for the follow up appointment on Wednesday. It helps to be numb, which is one of the side effects of a mastectomy. I hope you will go to Kiwanis tomorrow. Our Lt. Gov is speaking and he is a wonderful person. You’ll love him. See youThurs. ❤️❤️❤️

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  3. Congratulations on surviving your journey with cancer, Marsha. Best wishes for your final surgery and recovery in a matter of hours. Here’s to life, cancer-free!

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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