Saturday, September 1, 2012

Paying Forward a Great Summer

This has been an interesting summer. I am a lucky person. I have an amazing life, an amazing family, work that interests and rewards me in myriad ways, and, hopefully sometimes allows me to help others. 

Satch and Janey now
This summer was very much like others in some ways, but very different in others.  if you follow my blog you know that I had preventative surgery in mid June.  I had my ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed.  It was a decision that was always in the back of my mind since my Mom, Jeanne, died of ovarian cancer almost 13 years ago at age 61. Her ovarian cancer was preceded by breast cancer.  As the oldest of 5 siblings I felt like it was up to me to do research and make my Mom's legacy one of healing and hope, not fear and ignorance.

My research took me to two genetic Counselors and a number of doctors, specialists and my therapist who I talked everything through with just to make sure I was sure.  I was.  I had the procedure laparoscopically at Memorial Sloan Kettering.  It was same day, outpatient surgery.  Pretty cool.

Luckily for me, my siblings, my father, friends, my husband and daughters were all very supportive. My clients were amazing also, lending support and compassion for me, a fellow human being.  Blessings and peace to you all.

My original plan had been to have the surgery and feel well enough to attend the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July.  I made it and the folk festival rocked.

I had a couple amazing experiences before and during the surgery.  When getting ready to do my pre-admission testing a few days before the procedure, I knocked over, by accident, my toiletries kit that has a million things in it. I caught it as it was tipping over.  The only things at fell out were a name label "hello my name is Jeanne" which my mother had written her name on.  It was in a little purple mesh bag inside my kit that had been hers.  I had saved it all these years but the name tag never fell out before (though I take it out and look at it sometimes).  The other thing that fell out were 3 bandaids.  My friend Karen Noe says that that is a 100% sure sign from your loved one.  It really was pretty amazing.

Among the many things I am grateful for is my complete healing.  When I was being prepared for surgery, laying on the operating table and talking to the anesthesiologist, she put the mask over my nose and mouth and I began to silently pray the Hail Mary, a very beautiful prayer of devotion and protection that every little catholic child learns. The Blessed Mother is the catholic version of the devoted, sanctified mother of the avatar, not just any gal.  I imagined her above me to the right and knew that no matter what happened, everything was going to be ok.  It may sound like a platitude, but growing up Catholic and going through the many metamorphoses that we Catholics do, the Blessed Mother has been a constant.  So, to my mind, my two mothers were truly with me and I could relax.

In the first weeks post surgery, my husband Jim made my life as stress free as possible, which was a really fun place to live.  My sisters were all there for me, and I was amazed by their sweetness.  My daughters were amazing and giving of their time and patience too.  My father worried, and I hated to put him through it, but he was a steady rock and has been compassionate and kind beyond words.  If you know me you know that this is a true and incredible gift.

Right after the folk festival, we got a new puppy, Satch.

Satch at 2 weeks old
Janey and Mickey a couple years ago
Our doggie Mickey died at age 6 this spring and it was sad.  After a full court press, Jim got his wish - a new golden retriever to keep our other retriever, Janey, company. I am glad we did it. Satch is an awesome little guy, and I don't know who is happier, Janey or Jim.

Just to be straight and clear, this was not a huge surgery and my recovery was swift.  My discovery was that I want to live, and hopefully I will do so for a long time.   I am open to speaking with others who are considering the procedure.

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