Fight to the finish

pink ink…

Big B has given me a 15-minute reprieve to get this post in! So buckle your seat belts! It’s a bumpy ride!

Sunday was a great and uplifting day! My Cancer Mentors and I spent several hours taping PSAs about Life in the Cancer Lane. (Shout out to up and coming Director Ms. Crystal) We covered make up during chemo, how to tie scarves, and how to choose and style a wig, to name a few topics. The best part of the afternoon was when we discussed why one needs a Cancer Mentor in the Cancer Lane, and what it has meant to each of us. It was also interesting to just reflect on the fact that we were 3 black women all diagnosed in our early 40s. While our stories are similar, they are also vastly different. But the experiences provide a plethora of information. I went to bed on the eve of my surgery feeling good.

Fast forward. Surgery scheduled for early afternoon was delayed 2 hours. Mind you, I hadn’t eaten in about 15 hours. They gave me a mouth swab to “wet” my mouth. Didn’t work! Cancer Mentor Tracey and Big B tried to keep me calm! I was delirious by the time I was wheeled into the operating room. So here we go…

I was deflated even more while in surgery. Now my breast is 70% smaller than it was just 2 days ago. I already miss my DDs. Alas, it was not meant to be. I was deflated, b/c the surgeon needed to cut out a large swatch of skin. In addition, while “in there”, she found even more cancer. Again, you read correctly. MORE cancer. We have come to learn that in the 20 years of my doctor performing surgery, she has seen this kind of re-appearance of cancer cells after a mastectomy only 2 other times.

One person lived.

I am number 3….with a Frankenstein looking scar above my mastectomy scar.

We are numb. Plain and simple, just numb. Big B had to have the “timeline for survival” talk with my doctor. The “are we on a countdown to the end?” conversation. The “will she live?” conversation. When he told me that, I was devastated. It was the 1st time we spoke of mortality, in real terms. My husband needs a wife! My daughter needs a mom! I need a vacation with my husband and daughter and no pain! The fact is, we just don’t know where the finish line is anymore. But we will fight, as long as we can! That said, we need a few days to get our heads back in the game. I need time to physically heal from all of the cutting. I am only posting now b/c we have received so many emails and calls, that I felt an obligation to answer the questions all at once. No funny anecdote today. Not sure when radiation will start. Probably in a week, because they want to try and stop any other cells from developing.

Side note, I also had my other breast reduced by 70%, so at least I am symmetrical again! They did this so the left breast wouldn’t get in the way of the radiation of the right breast. I must be honest and say that I am sad about the smaller size. In my crazed emotional state, I gave my Radio-oncologist, who is also my girl, the business about requiring my boobs to stay smaller during radiation! That was before I knew how serious this new detour is. (Sorry Dr. Michele!) I must tell you, I miss my new breasts already, even more than I miss my God given breasts!! I got used to my new girls after only 6 weeks! LOL! Oh well. I know that we prefer health to humps! Lol. My Cancer Mentor Tracey has a shirt that says, “These are fake! The real ones tried to kill me”. Clearly, a shirt meant for me!

I keep asking myself what is my message in all this. That answer changes at every turn. For a long time, I have been saying it’s “know your body”.

But today, I think it’s…fight to the finish.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andrea Smith
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 02:29:28

    Queen B
    All I can say is “Wow” Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. I know I have said that before, but because of you it has allowed me to put a lot of things in perspective. My focus has been on so many things that really don’t matter and now I can finally appreciate who I am as a woman. I thank you so much for coming into my life. Even though I may not be as involved with all the details, I want to let you know again that I think of you often and pray for you all continually. The great thing about God is that most of the time we don’t know the “whens” or the “whys” but we can rest assured in the fact that “HE WILL”. You keep fighting, keep praying, keep being. Love you dearly…


  2. Beverly
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 21:57:15

    xxoxoxo. Fight to the finish is right!!! You have got us all in your corner, and my money is on you! Numbers are numbers, not people, and you are NOT a number. All our love from your Komen Family! 🙂


  3. Toddy
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 04:57:06

    I must admit that I do not know what to say. I just keep thinking “this can’t be happening” But, I feel so honored that you have found the strength to share your story with us. As usual, you are an inspiration. I pray for your strength and healing.


  4. Victoria Brooks
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 22:03:45

    Soror Barbra:

    Long time! We worked together at Lexis-Nexis in what seems like a lifetime ago.

    I know you don’t feel like yours prayers have been answered, but there is the collective energy of those who know and care for you. It is strong and powerful! Together, we raise our conscious thoughts to invoke a positive and healing force.

    Here’s to vacations with your family from now and years to come!

    Victoria Brooks


  5. Kim A
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 06:28:14

    I have no words. Seriously. You are truly a blessing on earth Barbra. I fight the fight along side one of my dearest friends daily. Through her I can only imagine and that would be in my most vivid imagination, what you must be feeling right now. The hard part was supposed to be behind you and yes, your new “humps” were lovely 🙂 I’m not much of a writer but my words are sincere. Please know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. I miss seeing you weekly, I miss your laughter, quick wit and infectious personality. You will finish this fight and I look forward to having you back! I know you despise the pity thing so I won’t go there. If there is ANY WAY I can step in and be of help I am more than willing. I make house calls 🙂 Miss your face! -best Kim A


  6. JC Ellis
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 12:57:08

    I read this post days after you wrote it & I just cried. And then I didn’t know how to respond & still don’t other than to say we are praying for your fight!!! Love you!


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