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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Looking back over...

Tradition is a significant thing in our family...critical to our history as Jews, important to our children, commununal and safe to our existance as parents but like any memorable moment, we try to leave things a little better than we found it. Sort of like - we Smith-er a bit. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year is the start of the holiday season for us and is full of memories for me as well. We go back over our year, look at what we may change, some self reflection, some evaluations, a few nods in the direction of repetance and like we Jews love to say - we fought, we won, let's eat. Though we hardly ever won...why do we say that anyway? As tired as I am and as anxious as I am about surgery coming up, I am excited about the traditions before me...brisket, family, round challah, apple paintings...it's tradition disguised as normal and normal, we could use a big, healthy serving of so tomorrow, anxiety be damned because I need room for my meal prep. I also realize two years ago next week, I underwent a mastectomy staring Cancer down and completely unsure if I would live. So to Dawn of two years ago, it's okay. You will be fine, you will lean on your sisters (Robyn, Anna, Amy and Susanne...my kids are in your hand and my family will eat like royalty), you will lay in bed with Joseph and cry with a fervor that will blow your mind, you will go through baby books, you will grieve and become numb from fear, you will shave your head, you will lose your mind...you will even laugh and your family will eat better than they ever have. Your kids will like the meal deliveries just a bit too much and ask for Alaina's chicken pot pie. You will have Robin bringing you ice cream and love you enough to know your favorite flavors. Lynn will clean your house and shop for you - every day she will call. Susan will bring you flowers. You will have Robyn sending you cards about your cancer that will make you laugh - then cry - then laugh again and she knows your treatment schedule. You will even have an old friend from middle school send you the biggest fruit arrangement you have ever seen and your kids will squeal like inmates in a riot scene. Your great aunt will selflessly give up two weeks to wait on your entire family so Joseph can have some help and you can sleep. You will enter each chemo treatment with terror and strength and never without Joseph who will never leave your side and tell you he's never wanted to say before but he's into bald chicks. Kind of a Star Trek fetish...you will have people you hardly see and those you see often, take care of you, call you, take your children out and bring you meals. You will even have a few old teachers/friends make your kid star for a day. Dawn, you will be fine. You will make it and you will make it on the backs of people who love you. I promise. So for Rosh Hashana - may we all be sealed for another year and may it be THE year of healing, grace and health. That's leaving things better than we found it for sure. Well THAT and my brisket that gets better every year. Shana Tovah.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My first set of A's...

Well, I googled. Yep...googled. Googled pictures of what my new boobs would look like and as much as I love the idea of being factor new again, the lumpy, bumpy, asymmetrical mess that would be my rack is now history. I can still see the look on my plastic surgeon's face as he tried to help me realize Playboy has mislead us all...there are new boobs and there are new boobs. I like football as much as the next girl but it's a few pages over from melons which is the look I was going for so in the end, I am ordering nothing. It's not easy - how do your mourn your breasts? How do you say good bye? I used them alluringly in my 20s, fed my kids with them in my 30s and fought with and against them valiantly in my 40s. They have served me well but in the end, died in battle. The entire point of reconstruction is to make me feel more normal again. I can lose the prosthesis and stop staring in its tracks. I can wear sexy bras, I can wear cocktails dresses and I can grab whatever femininity is left after losing your hair and nearly your life. Really, I just wasn't ready to be out of the game. At almost 44, I was still hangin' in. My dad says, Man Plans and Gd Laughs. So there ya go...I planned. Glad I'm good on my feet. I am done. White flags flying...for now. I am going with the mastectomy but no reconstruction for now until the 100 plus billion dollars being pumped into breast cancer research comes up with a better model than what I was offered. Frankly, bumpy, lumpy and mismatched I can do on my own. So welcome A cups. Am I happy about this? No. Having two prosthesis will be my emergency set for when I break down or just need a moment of normal, but I will do my very best to embrace my new reality. I admit, clinging to a new set of boobs took me through some very dark moments. I hung in thinking on some level I MIGHT be a bit better off later - gave up two years and two breasts in exchange for a new set. It's like taking an old favorite pair of shoes in for a new pair - except you had to cut off your feet in the process. When I go back over it in my mind, I edit that part out. New boobs...it's all I hung on to. It wasn't denial - it was my feeble attempt to find the silver lining in a pile of dung but I kept digging. I'm willing to accept now that it just sucks. It's unfair and it doesn't always have to end well. I don't have to find the positive. I don't have to make everyone okay with it and I don't have to force myself into thinking A cups on a D cup body is perfectly fine. I don't have to tell myself saying goodbye to the body I once knew and the breasts I once had is easy and I won't publish myself saying this is nothing. It's everything. But it's my reality right now and I am done. There is some peace in that part. Being done feels a bit like a resting place. No more surgeries, no more idealizing, no more breast talk...yeah...It's been almost exactly two years since I said goodbye to one and now the other follows and I can move back home, back into my life and back into living and rocking forward. The stares be damned...beats the hell out of prosthetic travelling. No more fishing my breast up off the floor, the treadmill and the nightstand. It's. Just. Over. Grief stricken? You bet. Surrounded by amazing women, a superhero of a husband and four children who never looked at me as broken? Not once? Yes. And I now need them more than ever. I need them to remind me this will be okay. This will be over soon and I am still a victor. This is a clouded survival story - no happy ending but one I can live with and I am living. with. it. Living.