Written on March 2nd 2013 (I forgot I had written it and found it today.)
Here it is two days before my hysterectomy and I’m relatively calm. I don’t know why. Being calm is not typically in my nature. Even when I was discussing having the surgery with my doctor 3 weeks ago, I was calm about it. I was upset about it but calm. It’s a funny thing. Since my mother died of breast cancer I had it in my head I’d have my boobs removed one day. I knew that would be my only alternative to keep me from the same destiny as my mom. For twenty years I knew in my gut a double mastectomy would be my only option. Even when others said maybe new technology would come along by then, I knew that would not be the case. Gosh, I had hoped there would have been another option but somehow I knew a double was going to be bashert. And even though I had heard it all from family and friends that I was crazy to think that way, I was resolved to the fact it was going to happen. HOWEVER, talking about it (even for 20 years) didn’t make it any easier when the day came to choose to have a double mastectomy. Only then did I realize the enormity of my decision. I was downright terrified. To talk about it was one thing but to actually have to make the decision and have the surgery was another. It was the most terrifying decision I had ever made as I felt as if I was walking myself (and my boobs) to the gallows.
I did ask myself: Why was I so afraid? Was it the thought of losing my breasts? Was it my fear of needles? How about the pain? What scared me so much? I had always felt my breasts were worth losing in exchange for my life but as the day approached to have them removed, I was sad to give them up. It took the reality of the surgery for me to understand why giving up my own breasts was not that easy. I never could understand why women were so attached to something seemingly so benign (no pun). Ever since I was 15 years old I mentally separated myself from my breasts. I never saw them as being important or of any use to me. As a teenager I bound them and never wanted them to show. In many ways I was trying to live as if I didn’t have them. This way when I would lose them, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, right? Well of course it wasn’t that easy when that time came to have them removed. Many unexpected things would happen to me and those very things would change my point of view.
For one I had not expected falling in love. My partner taught me how to feel in a way I had never experienced and I loved that about her. Here was the thing. Along with hiding my breasts and trying to live as if I didn’t have them, I too never wanted to love. All love seemed to have brought me was hurt and pain. Of course many roads have been paved with good intentions. It was easy to say I was never going to love when there wasn’t anyone in the picture. But, when my partner came into my life she opened up a part of me and she gave me a new understanding of love.
By the time my double mastectomy was approaching I down right hated the thought of loosing my breasts. I had spent so many years telling myself my breasts were bad and not important. But as their untimely death was approaching I realized I was so wrong. They of course were a source of nourishment for our son when I breast fed him but they were also an important part of my intimacy with my partner. When we made love the feeling of her chest against mine was so special. Even as I think about it today it takes my breath away. The feeling of her warm breath against my breasts connected me to her in a way I cannot explain. I hated the thought of loosing them and of loosing that connection to my lover.
After my mastectomy I lost all of my feeling around my breasts. No longer could I feel my partner’s warmth as I once could. It saddened me tremendously and does so even to this day. I miss her and I continue to mourn that loss. I often imagine having it back and feeling her as I once did. And even though I don’t regret having had the surgery, it doesn’t diminish the reality of dealing with the loss.
Having said all of that during the time of my double mastectomy I knew in time I’d have to have a hysterectomy. Because it wasn’t clear if my family’s breast cancer was related to ovarian cancer, my doctor felt having a hysterectomy would be a good idea. However, since I was still young and premenopausal (38 years old) for the time being I’d just have a yearly vaginal sonogram. But at that time my surgeon, my Gyn and I agreed if I was having any problems at any time and/or if something was found, we’d take no chances (and go ahead with having a hysterectomy). I was happy with that decision because having the surgery seemed so far away.
Well all was fine until 6 months ago when I started having problems. My periods were very heavy and it lasted a good 8 days. A huge difference from what I had always experienced (3 or 4 days at the most with not a lot of bleeding). I couldn’t believe what felt like a sudden change. I was bleeding so heavily during the entire 8 days that it lead to me becoming anemic. I was having terrible hot flashes that were coming more often than they were going. So, I knew as my yearly GYN appointment was approaching that a hysterectomy was not too far away. However, when my appointment to have my yearly vaginal sonogram came and then when it was time for me to meet with my GYN to go over the results I was not prepared with what she told me. A polyp was found in my uterus and a cyst was found on one of my ovaries. Of course a biopsy could have been done but as discussed by my doctors and me five years prior we would not take any chances and would go ahead with a hysterectomy. No doubt my first fear was if the cyst on my ovary was cancerous but to be honest I just couldn’t let my mind go down that road. From my experience from my double mastectomy I didn’t want to worry about something that may not be and most of all that I could not control. So, having cancer was not a worry for me. Instead, there was something else that was making me very upset about having a hysterectomy. Of course the finality of knowing I could no longer have more kids was difficult. It will always be my life’s biggest regret. But, there was something else. See after my double mastectomy I hated that I had lost the feeling of my breasts. It was my biggest struggle (even though I knew that was going to happen). And so with the impending hysterectomy I was afraid of what more would be taken away from me that would once again effect my connection with my partner.
Amazing how once in my life I had no care for my womanly body parts. In fact to me they were just parts which were worth being disposed of in order to save my life. Now, even though I do believe loosing them there parts to “save” my life was worth it, there was suddenly more to it. I had a partner who I cherished. I was scared. I was pissed off. It seemed so unfair. I should have felt lucky but instead I was so afraid of what might be taken away.
Let me say this. My partner is a wonderful woman who doesn’t care one bit if I have breasts or not nor does she care if I have my uterus or ovaries or not. The emotions I feel (about my losses) I solely own.
It’s interesting. We never appreciate what we have until it’s being threatened or gone. Through my intimate connection with my partner, I have learned to feel. I never thought I deserved it so I stuffed those feelings away. My partner helped me, though. She loved me unconditionally. She made me feel safe to love her in a way which made me feel we were connected as one. She gave me security in a way no one else could. Those things made our time together so special and poignant. Now that it’s being threatened and could be gone, it worries me. With out that intimate connection what will happen? I don’t want to have to mourn another loss like I did with my breasts. Please, no! Please let it be bashert to allow my partner and I the pleasure of each other in the most private of ways as it allows me to reaffirm my love for her, to reconnect and to remind myself to keep my heart open. This is my hope- this is my wish.
And so here I am just two days before my surgery and I’m ready to get it behind me. Wish me luck!