Monday, August 11, 2014

Pandora's Box

I'm home from hospital now.

My second mastectomy was a success. I'm doing ok and glad to be back in my own bed again.


I wanted to share the below post that I wrote two days after my surgery. I was in a very dark place. I think that I have a fair bit of work ahead of me in coming to terms with the emotional fallout that comes after battling cancer.

Also, heads up...this is a post about mastectomies. Squeeze your eyes shut if the sight of my reconstructed boob is not your cup of tea, or, you know, harden up and deal with it. It's just another boob.




Friday, August 8th

It's done.



The tears began to trickle from the moment I walked through the hospital doors and haven't stopped.

I wiped them away so that the nurses wouldn't notice in surgical admissions.

I wiped them away as I lay for hours in the room next to the theatre, waiting for my turn.

I wiped them away when the anaesthetist finally got the cannula into a vein, on the fifth excruciating try.

I wiped them away as they put me on the operating table and placed the mask over my face.

I wiped them away as I 'came to' in Recovery.

I wiped them away each time the nurses came into my room to do obs and give painkillers.

I wiped them away as my surgeon came in to check on me the morning after my mastectomy.




And then I stopped wiping the tears away.



The nurses came in bright and bubbly to give me my meds Friday morning and I burst into tears. Not the delicate kind. The great big hiccuping kind. The kind where speech is wiped out by uncontrollable sobs. They looked a bit scared, asked me what was wrong and when I couldn't respond they left me to cry it out in the privacy of my room.


I wanted to scream that I'd just had my breast removed, I wanted everyone to stop treating me like I'd just had my appendix out. I felt devastated. I felt entirely overwhelmed with the sense of loss. I wasn't alright. I wasn't the least bit alright. All of the sadness and stress that I'd managed to lock away during my treatments last year began bubbling up to the surface. This surgery was the last hurdle and I felt so completely broken by it. I felt like I'd slipped into a big black hole.


And so I cried, and cried and cried some more.


My breast care nurse came in and gave me the hug that I'd craved. She said everything that I needed to hear. She knew exactly where I was coming from. I felt understood. She 'got' the kind of loss that I felt. The tears didn't stop but I didn't feel the need to hide them anymore.



Last year I was in survival mode, jumping from one hideous treatment to the next with no time to really process my feelings. I became very good at telling myself to keep going. I had to keep it together for my boys and I couldn't lose control. I was quietly terrified of facing my Pandora's Box of emotions so I tucked that box away.


Well...the lid has now been opened...and its messy...and it feels endless.



Physically I'm sore and bruised and fragile.



Emotionally I'm raw and weak and worn.


I want the tears to stop. I want to recover and just get on with my life. This surgery was the final step and now it's done. It's done.


I want to focus on recovering, I want to be positive about my future. I am grateful that my treatment has given me a second crack at life. I don't want to take that for granted.


But for now, the tears keep coming and the sadness feels immense.


xx Em




  1. Hi Em...
    There is one phrase that we like: "It's done."
    And there is one word we don't like at all: "tears".

    On to new beginnings, and a new future.

    Congratulations, Em.
    IT'S DONE.

  2. Oh Em, I feel heartbroken for you and the emotional pain that you are enduring. Please know that from all the way up here, I am thinking of you and praying for you. I used to think that the word 'brave' should be reserved for people who fought wars etc until my friend fought breast cancer and survived and I also found your blog. Brave people are women like you, who decide to give themselves the best chance they can. You are brave beyond words and I say, cry and cry some more. Sending much love, Gaye xx

    1. Thanks Gaye, your support has been so wonderful xx

  3. Hi Em, I met you via a comment on Emily (Carriushome) blog.
    With me it's the same, but in the other direction. I guess you first had chemo followed by a mastectomy? I had my breast removed and am on chemo now. For me it's the loss of my hair that bothers me infinitely.
    Cry and curse all you need if it relieves you. I will be here to read it and sympathize. Because I do, and I understand.
    Courage x

    1. Thanks Lovely. I was like you and had my initial mastectomy followed by chemo, then rads. Losing my hair was hard but I think being so ill from chemo was the hardest part for me. This mastectomy was a preventative option. Am wishing you much strength for your journey. Will be following to see how you go. xx

  4. To my dear cousin, Em.
    It brought tears to my eyes reading your post. I just want to give you a big hug.
    Its difficult to know the right words to say...I think that its important to let those emotions out. Cry. Scream. Let it out and then when you're ready take a deep breath; look at your beautiful family and they will give you the strength that you need.
    "Its done" Just look at what you've achieved. You've kicked some cancer butt and we are so proud of you!
    Love you heaps.


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