Breast cancer Round 2: The liminal space of waiting

Too often in my life when things are hard, I just want them to be OVER.

That’s because waiting times can be difficult. I can imagine all kinds of scenarios. And in the past I’ve had trouble getting negative, worrying thoughts out of my mind.

But this time, to my surprise, I’m doing so much better with the liminal time I’m in now. I had one really rough day last week. And I have blips here and there when I feel very anxious. But overall, I’m doing well.

liminal (from Google search)

adjective

  1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

The last few weeks have been liminal for me.

I’m waiting for my surgery date, September 14.

It’s just over a week away now.

And it just happens to be the same day I had my double knee replacement five years ago. I had a feeling that would be the date of this surgery. Two double removals on September 14. But only one replacement. I’ve chosen not to have reconstructive surgery. My life is painful enough now, and the stretching that is involved in breast implants is not something I want to experience.

So the double mastectomy will be it. I’ll be done then with that part of the surgery journey.

There will be more, though, because this cancer is hormone positive. I’ll need to take hormone blocking pills for five to ten years depending on the pathology of the tumor once it’s removed.

Some people can’t tolerate the pills because they are too sensitive to the medication. That’s one reason I chose a double mastectomy. If I can’t tolerate the pills, the odds of recurrence are lower with the mastectomy.

But I won’t worry about that now.

Now I’m trying to be present to each day, to get myself prepared for the surgery mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Especially spiritually.

That’s the foundation for every challenging situation in my life.

Well, actually I try to make it the foundation of everything in my life. But it’s hard to be that present each moment.

I had the doc take this photo during the ultrasound. I can’t make heads or tails of it, of course!

The day before surgery I’ll have to go in for a shot that sends a dye to the sentinel node:

Sentinel node biopsy is a surgical procedure used to determine whether cancer has spread beyond a primary tumor into your lymphatic system. It’s used most commonly in evaluating breast cancer and melanoma.

The sentinel nodes are the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains. Sentinel node biopsy involves injecting a tracer material that helps the surgeon locate the sentinel nodes during surgery. The sentinel nodes are removed and analyzed in a laboratory.

If the sentinel nodes are free of cancer, then cancer is unlikely to have spread, and removing additional lymph nodes is unnecessary.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/sentinel-node-biopsy/about/pac-20385264

I worry about that shot because last time it HURT so badly I thought I might pass out. I may for real pass out this time. On a scale of 1-10 of pain it was a 15 last time. The only good thing is that the pain doesn’t last. But I still dread it. I go for it the day before surgery.

My surgeon thinks the cancer has not spread because there was no indication of that in the 3D mammogram or in the ultrasound, which did search in my armpit area where the lymph nodes are.

That’s my feeling right now, that it hasn’t spread, but I sure accept prayers and positive energy for that to be accurate.

My sister is coming down later this week to take care of me. That’s a big reassurance for me. She’d planned to come this Labor Day Weekend, but her husband is having a health challenge of his own, and she needs to be there with him.

She has had WAY too many times of playing nurse for me with my various health challenges. I do feel extra blessed that she is always ready to be in that role. And that she’s very good at it!

Eleven years ago I had a long Labor Day Weekend waiting to find out if my breast biopsy was cancer. This time I know it is. And the wait has been so much easier.

I surely didn’t want another cancer journey, but here I am.

I try to look at it as I try to look at all challenges.

As opportunities to learn and grow.

This liminal time is helping me learn to be more comfortable with the present moment without going into the future or the past.

My now is pretty good.

And for that I’m grateful.

4 thoughts on “Breast cancer Round 2: The liminal space of waiting

  1. Your minful journey has prepared you to face challenges . Your strength lies in your perspective. I send you love with prayers for healing and strength.

  2. I am just hearing about this! I admire your strength and outlook on life so much. You’ve kicked its tail once, you’ll do it again. Please contact me if you need anything at all. I’ll bring you some wine & we can sit and discuss this liminal life together. Much love and good vibes and prayers for you! πŸ’™πŸ™πŸ’™

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