Terrible and Wonderful: Chapter 1

On Monday, I had surgery to have my port (or portacath) out.  That event was a marker in my breast cancer treatment path but also a reminder of the journey and its beginning, the advent of the terror and wonder.

Before port-removal surgery

Getting ready for surgery was much easier this time than back in September when I had the port “installed.”  That time I was very nervous.  I’d not had surgery since I had my tonsils out when I was three.  I’d just gotten a breast cancer diagnosis 13 days earlier.  I was confronted with so many unknowns.  I felt overwhelmed and emotionally shut down.  But this past Monday, I knew what to expect from surgery prep, what it was like to be wheeled down the hall on a gurney, what it was like to wake up from surgery, what it was like to go home with a new scar (actually, this one is a new wound on top of an old scar).  This time I was having the surgeon remove a foreign object from my body instead of put one in, and this object represented my undergoing chemotherapy and all that it entailed.  He was taking it out.  This was a happy surgery.


But this surgery stirred up emotions from the first one as well as the second one, which was the lumpectomy and the node-removal, my December surgery.  Even though the results of that surgery were clear margins and no evidence of disease in my lymph nodes, there was another eight-week round of chemo and a whole series of radiation treatments awaiting.  And that was a long ride.  Having this surgery to remove the port seemed too far away even to consider back in December.

I remember walking to my vehicle last September right after getting the cancer diagnosis.  I sat in the driver’s seat and thought to myself, “Cancer.  This is terrible and wonderful.”  I knew that dealing with cancer would push me into areas that were frightening and into which I’d never have the courage to venture – unless I was forced there.  I also knew that, in those areas, I’d find blessings that I couldn’t imagine until I got there.  I was right on both counts.  There was terror.  There was wonder.  There were blessings.

And the journey is not over.

NW Georgia labyrinth

I had the opportunity to walk a labyrinth on Wednesday with some of my centering prayer group.  The walk out from the center is usually lighter, more free for me.  But it wasn’t this time.  I felt a tension in my hip, a kind of catch, something not released, not let go of.  I realized later that that catch, that tension, is that I’m not sure how to be a healthy, cancer-free person yet.  That I still have to digest what I’ve learned in this cancer journey.  That I’m a new person, but I don’t know yet just who that new person is.  So this post is Chapter One as I spend some time considering the cancer treatment path, what I learned, and what that means for me now.  What that means for who I am becoming.

And for who I left behind – or am trying to leave behind.


3 thoughts on “Terrible and Wonderful: Chapter 1

  1. Krista, I am so thrilled you are on this side of the journey.
    Your smile and comfort before surgery this time is an amazing icon.
    Love, Margaret

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