I’m loving all these trips to Lexington. Jeff and I have been eating out, visiting friends, and enjoying some much needed pampering. Lexington is home and always will be for me, and it’s a shame we haven’t spent more time in the past several years enjoying the company of friends and family.
Last night was...well…pretty amazing. Debbie and Brian, the Lexington couple we met in Savannah, invited Jeff and I over for dinner. Debbie served Lemon Drop Martinis for us ladies and Jeff and Brian drank beer. How sweet, I thought. They remembered what we drank at the restaurant. Debbie, who could seriously give any Food Network chef a run for his/her money prepared the Olde Pink House’s BLT Salad, Jambalaya, and Key Lime pie! Jeff and I laughed hysterically as Brian entertained us with his spot-on Jimmy Stewart, Bryan Williams, Keith Morrison (NBC), JFK, Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Julia Child impressions. Their black lab Regis kept stealing my shoe and demanding rewards to retrieve it. For a few hours, I forgot about why we were in town.
Liz and Barry have opened their home to us whenever we need it during this ordeal. My head was still swimming from all of the wine with our new friends. I collapsed on the couch with my head in Liz’s lap. She stroked my hair until I almost fell asleep and said, “I have something for you.” She handed me a Saint Agatha medallion. “She’s the Patroness against breast diseases,” said Liz. “Dang,” I said. “I love you Catholics. You have a Saint for everything!” The coin came along with a prayer and a footnote that five Hail Marys and five Glory Be’s must be said after it. She recited them both in a quick, well-rehearsed prayer while I stared at the medallion. It looked to be about one inch in diameter, the same size as my tumor. I did what anyone would do under the circumstances. I strategically placed it in my bra.
My appointment with my surgeon, Dr. A.J., was this morning. After an examination, my entourage and I sat in another conference room while Dr. A.J. sat at the head of the table. This time we were missing Jordan-he was moving today, but my sister Gail joined our party. Peggy, the Oncology Nurse Navigator sat in the corner taking notes. I had my notebook and Susan Love’s The Breast Book situated in front of me. As always, the box of Kleenex was conveniently placed in the middle of the table. I kept thinking…”Nope. Not going to need it. Not today. I can already tell that I love and trust this surgeon. The ball starts rolling now and I’m on my way to being cancer free!” I nodded and smiled as Dr. A.J. confirmed and reiterated some of my newfound knowledge on my kind of breast cancer. Whenever I would glance at Peggy, the nurse, she was staring at me, trying to read my eyes. I’m sure she thought I was in denial, but I’ve already graduated from that stage of grief. I looked at Jeff, Lauren, Gail, and Liz’s faces and could see that they also knew that we had found the right doctor. He spent over an hour explaining the different surgical procedures, i.e. lumpectomy vs. mastectomy vs. bilateral (double) mastectomy. I do know this about myself: Having two of my most feminine possessions-three if you count my hair, sliced and shaved off within the same time frame just might destroy my soul and this positive spirit that everyone seems to think I possess. I’ve decided, for right now, to have the lumpectomy and lymph node dissection, on AUGUST 9, where he will remove the cancerous lymph node along with a few others. Sixteen weeks of chemo will follow. Shortly after the surgery, we will know the results of the BRCA gene test and the other lymph nodes he removed. The plan will be slightly different depending on the outcome. For now, I’m praying that the other lymph nodes removed are negative.
Dr. A.J. left the room and Peggy explained in varying detail: chemo, breast reconstruction, estrogen, progesterone, wigs, prosthetics, support groups, HER 2+, HER 2- and how with stage IIB Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, I “was going to make it through this.” I told her, “Now that I know that I have an 83.5% chance of surviving five years or more (according to the chart in the Breast Book), my biggest fear was that cancer would steal my joy.” Then, of course, I needed that damn box of Kleenex. Again.