Saturday, September 19, 2009

You Go Girl! by Diane LeBleu

Yesterday was the last of my surgeries related to my cancer experience – an oophorectomy . Great word, meaning ovary removal, so obscure that MS Spell Check doesn’t even recognize it. Not a bad procedure, laparoscopic day surgery, so by the time I was out of recovery into my little hospital POD, I was ready to go. With one exception. They wouldn’t let me leave until I had peed – ostensibly to ensure the surgeon hadn’t nicked anything important on the way to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Anyone that knows me understands that under all other circumstances this would not be a problem. My most frequented room in the house is the bathroom. The ‘running’ joke around here is that my twin and I split one bladder between us. Combine that with having had four babies and drinking way too much beer in college, my bladder has been compromised. So when the nurse said “As soon as you void, you can leave”. No worries I replied confidently. Unfortunately, I was mistaken and no amount of coaxing was going to get me moving.

So as I sat in the can, my feet submerged in a pink plastic tub of warm water, a cup of hot coffee in one hand and the Marketplace section of the WSJ in the other, I had a lot of time to contemplate the many events that had transpired this last year. Bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive breast surgery, chemotherapy, followed by a triumphant trip to Cozumel with my twin and our husbands to celebrate our 40th birthday. I began to assemble a list in my head of all the people that had prayed, encouraged, called and helped this year in my battle and I quickly became overwhelmed. Like an Oscar-winning starlet with too many people to thank in her acceptance speech, I need to at least try to acknowledge some of the contributions, if not to assure myself that in a world of so much senseless violence and political strife – people really are generous, kind, and selfless.

Starting with God and his grace and mercy to give me the power of the Holy Spirit to walk by my side throughout this hellish ordeal and the countless angels that served me day in and day out including my husband of sixteen years, with his strength of spirit and ‘let’s dodge this next wrench’ attitude, my sweet children, without whom I might have succumbed to self-despair had their need for routine not outweighed my desire to sit around and feel sorry for myself, my mom and dad for their love and financial assistance, my sister for being a mentor and inspiration, as a 6-year-survivor, my in-laws for their tireless efforts to provide support and the most current medical information for treatment and healing, for my best friend Holly and her creative idea to form a ‘ChemoFairy’ network despite her being in Budapest, for Cici and her husband Harry in their constant prayers (I felt them every day), for Maggie and her family driving down from Virginia twice for both post-surgery support and to mind the kids while we went to Mexico, for all the neighbors and friends who provided meals and housekeeping and childcare. For the Football team, our extended family, for the teachers and counselors at River Place Elementary. Thanks for our church home, Austin Christian Fellowship and our 242 group. My writing mentor, Dawn Yun of the original Writing Mamas Salon ( without whom I would never had recognized my passion and need to write. For my own Writing Mamas of Austin who I thoroughly look forward to seeing and commiserating with in our shared love of word craft. For the consistently fine care I received from surgeon to nurse to lab technician at virtually every medical center or doctor’s office this past year.

I’m totally ripping off my new friend and author Valerie Hausladen of ‘Professional Destiny – Discover the Career You Were Born For’ when I quote the following Sufi poem, attributed to Hazrat Inayat Khan:

I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to learn to solve
I asked for prosperity and God gave me a brain and brawn to work
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome
I asked for love and God gave me people to help
I asked for favours and God gave me opportunities
I received nothing I wanted
I received everything I needed.

I certainly did not ask for cancer but I received more love and encouragement than I could possibly have fathomed when I first heard the news on December 3rd, 2008 “This is cancer.” When I look at all I have in my life, I can never say I have not been blessed nor have my prayers been unanswered.

I recently read a book about British explorer Percy H. Fawcett and his adventures battling the Amazon basin in his famously unsuccessful quest to find the lost city of El Dorado in the 1920s. He wore a signet ring bearing is family motto ‘Nee Aspira Terrent’ or ‘Difficulties be Damned’. I love the idea of a family motto – a collective mission statement to inspire and rally the troops. My favorites, including Fawcett’s and William Borden’s ‘No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets’ and Yoda’s ‘Do or Do Not – there is No Try’ are obviously already taken so I’m onto a new theme. Perhaps it will be ‘Quit ‘effing around’. Too crass. Or ‘Tomorrow is another Day’. Too Scarlett O’Hara.

My dear friend Holly told me once that our pastor Will Davis, Jr. will pray for small things – like for God to show him where he left his car keys or misplaced his wallet and we always get a chuckle out of that but Will says God wants to be involved in the every day details of our life. So as I was sitting in the Seton Hospital bathroom, feeling ill, hurting, and just wanting to go home, I prayed that God would just let me pee so I could leave. Guess what happened next? Therefore, I’m officially deciding on the family motto of ‘You Go Girl!’ Sorry Tom and Travis – you’ll have to come up with a male version of the same.

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