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UCSF Medical Center

UCSF Medical Center

It has been almost 2 and a half years since my wife’s last surgery in her battle with breast cancer.  I want to say that it has been almost 28 hours of surgery and probably another 10 of recovery room waiting that I have spent in this waiting room.  Today is just a clean up surgery for removal of scar tissue and hopefully that is all.  They will also possibly scrape for any residual tissue for genetic testing.

The past couple of months have been a bit trying as my wife found out that her younger brother also has breast cancer.  Although rare, this is just so indicative of the fact that there is some genetic mutation that is being passed along.  Their mother had breast cancer and as it turns out their father’s uncle had breast cancer.  There is definitely a trend here.  The fact that my own mother had breast cancer is very worrisome for our children.  While we don’t want to worry our children, we have to balance the education vs. information on which we provide them.

I still remember 3 and a half years ago dropping off my 5 year old daughter and 8 year old son to school, not telling them what was going on with their mom.  They were too young and as a parent the smiles on their faces are always a great healing medicine that eases the pain.  When I did tell them their mom had surgery I had to make sure to hold back the tears because I didn’t want them to worry.  Of course the kids could sense it.  Today they are the most sympathetic kids to breast cancer. They console their friends when their moms find they have breast cancer and they are quick to volunteer for any benefit to the cause.

Now almost 10 and 12, there are no secrets (well just Santa for the younger one).  We told them last night that mom would be going to have another procedure early in the morning and that we wouldn’t be home when they woke.  We told them to make their own breakfast and I’d be back to take them to school once mom was wheeled in to surgery. “So you’re just confirming our logistics for the morning,” my 12 year old said.  It was such a clinical thing to say.  My way and I just nodded our heads.

My wife and I weren’t worried about the surgery this morning as we drove in to the hospital.  It was still about making sure we had the pick up schedule settled and the odd conversation we had with our son the night before. It felt weird to leave my wife even to pick up my kids. Once we checked her in and the anastheseologist did her work, I raced home.  When I got home they were in their school uniforms reading the Kindle and newspaper as if the morning was just like any other.  I was thinking they were de-sensitized until my son, put his hand on my shoulder as I drank my coffee.  He was teared up, “She’s going to be okay, right?”  My daughter was crying too.  They had been putting on a strong face for their mom.  I told them not to worry and this would be easier than all the other surgeries and that she’d be home when they got back from school.  I looked at my son.  He had grown up a lot in the last several years.  He was wearing his dress uniform for a Thursday mass.  I smiled….”nice Windsor knot”.  It was the first time my son had tied his tie all by himself without it being lopsided.

<just got word from the doctor that surgery went fine and she’ll be in recovery for another hour>

The next step is to not just continue to personally fight this battle with breast cancer, but to also help wtih the research.  Our family has been hit hard specifically with breast cancer and survived.  Our goal is to help future generations and others who might be dealing with the same issue.  Is it genetic, environmental or both?

One thing is for sure.  No matter how much we try to put breast cancer behind us, thi will not be the last of it in our lives.  It will be there again.  Hopefully by the next time we have to fight this disease, we will have achieved greater advancements in detection and treatments to prevent us from the suffering we’ve incurred to date.