Season 2, Episode 1: Surgery
On the drive to the hospital last week, I closed my eyes (fear not, I was not the driver) and imagined all of my friends that signed up to be spiritually present and supportive for my surgery, lining up outside the O.R, preparing to surround me a few hours later. This image felt good. I was peaceful and ready for this next step in my treatment. It was a great opening for Season 2 of my Cancer Journey.
Only a few days earlier, however, I was not feeling fearless or calm. I noticed I felt off, and to me, off means fearful. I wasn’t afraid of the possibility of pain or prolonged physical recovery, but of the unknown.
In my day-to-day, regular life when I notice myself feeling off, I seek understanding, which always brings peace. In essence, I ask myself some deep questions, such as “What are you afraid of right now?” I also pause to notice what scary stories I am making up that cause me to feel out of control or victimized by a situation, which is never a good thing.
It was my goal to get myself back to a place of calm where I could once again trust that all is well, so I reached out to my nurse navigator at the Kathryn Lundy Breast Center with a list of questions.
My questions were about the anticipated specifics of the procedure. Although the verbal description of my surgery was a lumpectomy, the operative permit noted a partial mastectomy. I needed some additional reassurance regarding how much tissue would actually be removed. My fear was that I would be deformed and although I know I could eventually adjust to that possibility, I was not ready to do that just yet.
I also had fears about the number of lymph nodes that were to be removed, understanding the greater number increases the incidence of post-op complications such as lymphedema (swelling of the arm). Once again, gaining more information and the reassurance of my nurse for the expected outcome, calmed those fears.
The operative permit also noted I was to undergo tissue rearrangement. I felt relief to learn this meant that after the removal of the remaining three tumor areas, the soft tissue could be manipulated in a way to give a more normal contour to the breast. Hearing the word normal provided great relief. In spite of my usual preference to not fit into a box called normal, in this situation, it felt good.
As my fear dissipating-conversation progressed, I noticed I was gradually returning to my personal normal state of peaceful acceptance. Although there were no guarantees of the exact surgical outcomes, having a better understanding of what the various terms meant and learning a mastectomy was not an option (at least during this procedure), I gradually felt a shift from fear to calm.
Once I returned to a more solid emotional state of peacefulness, I noticed I was better able to be open and feel the impact of all the loving support and prayers that were being offered by my supporters, or those I call my Earth Angels. Since I was more present and open to receive love and feel the power of love, I was also able to feel a greater sense of gratitude. (Note: they are always connected)
Once I was able to visualize my team of Earth Angels tuned in and spiritually present for my surgery it increased my sense of calm and a knowing that all was well. As a result, my level of trust for a positive surgical result went through the roof. Suddenly I just knew I would be fine no matter what was needed to be done during surgery. I felt spiritually confident resting in the palm of God’s hand, trusting I could and would handle whatever was to come next on this journey.
The shift from fear to love that occurred in my attitude created what was a truly miraculous experience throughout my day of surgery (both pre and post-op).
Since fear was not present, my best and highest self was able to show up and co-create a series of miracles with the divine.
I went to sleep feeling blissfully grateful and awakened in the same state. An additional physical bonus was that I had no pain or discomfort. In fact, I peaked under my hospital gown to make sure I had surgery. Sure enough, dressings were in place over the intended operative area. I could also see that my left breast appeared to still match the right one, which was very encouraging.
In the days since my surgery, I continue to surprise myself by my lack of surgical discomfort. Although I still deal with fatigue due to my magnesium deficiency, which was likely exacerbated by general anesthesia, my energy in between naps remains high and positive.
I am left with a deeper understanding of the power of love over fear and that I am in charge of directing that transition whenever fear shows up.
I now know more than ever that gratitude automatically opens my heart so that love, peace and joy can be my co-pilots.
Although this is not the end of my story, this particular segment of my journey has given me confidence in knowing that I can return to peace, no matter what is going on around me or even inside me. I just need to be aware when I get off track so I can guide myself back to peace.