I am down to the last three days before surgery. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride due to the plastic surgeon rescheduling twice from the original date. His office called on Friday to tell me that I would now be scheduled for Thursday instead of Tuesday and that they could not give a surgery time until Wednesday, the day before. Yet another preparation began. After three scheduled dates, I began wondering if I am meant to have the mastectomy at all and maybe this is God’s way of telling me to turn around and go the other way. In reality, I am always looking for an escape route when it comes to difficulties in life. However, I realize I will not escape this trial and must press forward.
In the same conversation with the scheduler, I was told that I was to arrive at MD Anderson on Monday afternoon to consult once again with Dr. Selber, the plastic surgeon. Also, after that appointment, I was to go to the research lab and participate in a project that will study the physical and emotional effects of reconstruction after mastectomy. I intended to inform them that they should study the emotional effects of preparing for three different surgery dates and the physical effects that their plastic surgeon was about to endure from the lunatic of a woman presently called his patient. Frankly, the description of the study sounded a whole lot more fun than any part of this ordeal to date, so I agreed to bare all after my visit with the surgeon.
I had been sitting in the very comfortable waiting area of the breast center at MD Anderson for thirty minutes, when Dr. Selber’s nurse walked through and announced loudly that Dr. Selber was running an hour behind schedule. I wasn’t surprised given the history of my surgery dates so I settled back and began to study the people around me. An hour of watching people with horrific scars; a missing eye ball, a neck cut from ear to ear, a jaw and throat distorted and the more mild cases of, women with sore chests and backs, I could feel myself again giving into fear. This fear did not subside as I was called back, disrobed and climbed onto the table for examination. There was something very comforting about having Bill with me during the last visit with the surgeon despite hiding his entire head behind a 7” x 9” IPad as I stood with my gown wide open for the surgeon and two nurses to assess the plan. Bill has obviously never lost his modesty during medical exams and birthing children. This time, I did not have Bill’s embarrassed face to give comic relief to the situation as I thought I could handle the second consultation on my own.
Dr. Selber entered and we conversed briefly when I saw him reach for a black Sharpy pen. He asked me to stand as he measured and drew lines from my neck to my hips. A couple of times, he rolled his stool backwards, tilting his head from side to side as an artist would do to admire his work. He then asked me to stand in front of the mirror so that he could explain exactly how he would go about removing and reconstructing. When I turned to face the mirror, doubt set in like a piece of cement. Had I had any clothing on, I would have high hurdled the exam table and hit the door in a full sprint! He asked me to get back on the table and he would have his nurse come in to sign release forms.
The door closed behind and I could feel my breathing raise to a level of hyperventilation. Anxiety had reached its peak. All I could think to do, as I have done often since January, was pray for peace and assurance. I said Lord, please show me that I am where you want me to be at this moment. I am scared to death. Let me feel your peace and strength in this upcoming surgery. I need your assurance today. Your word says that you will never leave me nor forsake me. Thank you for bringing me this far in this journey. I pray In Jesus name, Amen.
The nurse came in. I signed all of the appropriate forms, releasing my life into the hands of the young doctor. I stepped back into the waiting room to listen for my name to be called for the research appointment. I didn’t go back to my original seat but chose a different seat across the room. I sat down and glanced to my right. There on the table next to my chair, a handwritten note on the inside cover of a small book, with the front cover folded back, caught my eye. “To the person who takes this book, I have prayed for you! Lean on Jesus during this time and He will carry you through victoriously. He is our Redeemer, Healer and Friend.” Signed with a cross inside a heart. I placed myself back into the hands of Jesus, thanking Him for my answer. I then prepared to have a grand time in the research lab.