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“Inspiration comes in many forms.  Let’s keep our eyes open.” – Today’s email to my wife

Actually something less formal like “Keep on Truckin'” might have been a more appropriate word of the day as we headed into this Labor Day weekend.  We are both working the late shift getting major projects done and trying to keep our lives as hectic (normal) as possible.  We still keep getting the “How are you doing” phone calls which we politely respond to, but then have to cut short not only because we are so tired of telling everyone, but also because we have so much to do before the surgery.

The surgery itself is fairly new but even moreso is the reconstruction.  The following photos from Breastcancer.org describes the basic procedure:

Skin-Sparing Surgery Image from Breastcancer.org
Skin-Sparing Surgery Image from Breastcancer.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pink line indicates “keyhole”–like incision

B pink highlighted area indicates tissue removed at mastectomy

The major difference for my wife is that the “A” incision will be done above the nipple and not around the nipple thus sparing the nipple as well.  We were told that this can only be done if the nipple has not yet been exposed to the cancer as some tissue is left around the nipple.  This is a surgery more recommended for women who are early stage.  My wife was also told that she did not have enough tissue from other parts of her body to pull from her tummy or her back shoulders so this was probably the best way if she wanted reconstruction.  Each side takes an additional 45 minutes.

Many husbands might be adverse to the feel etc of implants, but for me I think this is the woman’s choice.  Many believe that reconstruction will best leave them with a mental state that will help them adjust to life after cancer.  This is truly the woman’s decision and I think that every spouse or significant other should try to stay out of the reconstructive decision and not pressure their spouse to do it.  While I wanted my wife to choose reconstruction, I feel better that it is her choice that she made and fully understand her reasoning.  I also think the doctors believe it is the right decision for her and she is making it for the right reasons.

I know some people might  think I’m full of baloney on this, but one of most inspiring stories I ever witnessed was that of Dave Dravecky, the SF Giants pitcher who lost his arm to cancer.  I happened to attend that game when he lost his arm.  I heard it snap.  I cried for him and still cry when he comes back for Giants reunion games. It wasn’t just any arm , but a million dollar arm that earned him a living.  Did he choose to wear a prosthesis? No.  He says sometimes he still dreams that his arm is still there.  But that is not the end of Dave’s story.  he has gone on with his life as a pitching coach and inspirational speaker for those not only diagnosed with cancer, but those he need to be inspired even when they lose something so important and identifiable as who they are.

While my wife’s chest is not the same as a pitcher’s arm, for her it is part of her identity internally.  Only she knows that and there is no way I will be able to relate to that.

At the same time, my wife is wondering how I can be so unselfish about this.  She has always laughed about my infatuation with the human drama of sports.  I do have a bit of a ridiculous man-crush on my idols, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana and she never got it.  I often told her the story of Dave Dravecky and his inspirational life.  She never got it until now.  Now she knows how I feel about her.  Things do come full circle and our inspiration can come from many places and might have been with us all along.

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