We don’t understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it. – Jules Renard
This weekend marked 8 months post-surgery for my wife. She has since had reconstruction, a follow up surgery, 6 months of shots,6 months of a test bisphosphonate, and Tamoxifen. She has finally started to take another drug to lessen the effects of her side-effects of the drugs. I really don’t know how she does it. All these distractions and she continues her duties as class parent, team mom, family glue, top chef, businesswoman, and loving wife. It’s all become par for the course. Just yesterday she sent me a text at work to tell me that she had another follow-up procedure scheduled for the end of the summer. It just seems like such a casual thing now for her to write me and say that she is going to have more surgery, but this is just a stage in our life, not a WAY of life. We are going to move past this chapter.
In truth as we’ve come to realize her skin-sparing mastectomy is still a relatively new thing in the world of breast cancer surgery. While it does save your skin and is less traumatic for the survivor than we ever imagined, there is still quite a bit different from the traditional “Hollywood boob job”. Skin-sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction has become popular with patients because, compared with delayed reconstruction, it improves the cosmetic result, reduces cost and anesthetic risk, and in one sitting completes most of the surgical treatment that the patient will ever require for treatment of her breast cancer. Provided that the breast skin is not involved with or close to the tumor, physicians prefer to perform the mastectomy with optional removal of the nipple-areolar complex (total skin sparing) and the tumor biopsy scar. The mastectomy is otherwise the same as a standard modified radical mastectomy with removal of all breast tissue and an axillary node dissection. The part that is difficult for most patients is that so much tissue is removed that the breast becomea basically a large water balloon that holds a big bag of silicone, saline or whatever. Because the skin is now so much thinner, it is hard to prevent wrinkling and rippling. With so little tissue left, the breast can look a little misshapen at times. That said, the results do look pretty good and like life small adjust ments will be needed. Yes, this is the procedure that you hear for celebrities like Christina Applegate.
I know many women don’t want to talk about this too publicly. I mean, how can you complain when you think about the alternatives? These women are so thankful yet feel so close to what they can see is the final visual end to their suffering. All of this though is a change. A change from what past generations had. Not only was life extended but the quality of that life has been improved.
It is with that frame of mind while sick the past couple of weeks it come to my mind that suddenly we were so accepting of all these new changes in our life. We’ve reached that mid point in our life. They talk about midlife and the word crisis is always used to describe it. I don’t think so. Sure we’ve come across some bumps in the road. I told my wife that rather than a mid-life crisis, this is half-time for us. In the world of sports, this is the time to make adjustments and a time to assess where we are, where we’ve come from and where we want to go.
Such is mid-life for us I guess. After taking 10 days off from running because of a nagging cold I found my rested body was now better suited to tackle my nightly runs again. I told my wife how my body was responding and she reminded me I’m not getting any younger although I may feel young. Either way, the rest gave me renewed energy and a new energy and perspective that allowed me to set new personal bests three days in a row. The 10 days of mental relief reminded me of how lucky we are and how blessed our life is. It isn’t about fate or faith, but about the sense of being.
We took our time to plan that second half, revise our targets and think about how we want to live our life. It is not about settling. It is about making choices and pursuing what we believe to be important to both of us. The one thing we agreed upon is that this is a shared goal and we wouldn’t have it any other way.