Boob Voyage

I’m one week from having a double mastectomy and full hysterectomy to prevent the possibility of cancer, since I have the BRCA mutation.

At this point, I’m excited simply because I’m close to getting it over with. Looking back over the last six months, I’ve gone through a full range of emotions and I just wanna get off this roller coaster and be done with it.

Interestingly, I’m forcing myself to write this because I know writing always makes me feel better. But it’s one of the few things I actually don’t want to share on this blog. Perhaps it’s too personal, even for me. In an earlier post, I promised I’d write about it, since it’s as “true” a story as any on this site, but I haven’t felt like it.

So I’ll be quick about this (no editing!) and make a list, and hopefully, as often happens when I write, I’ll feel better. And maybe someone who is going through the same thing will read this and feel better, too.

Things of note.

  • Last week, I got my period. And I realized, “I’ll never have my period again.” And while that would often be cause for joy, it made me cry. Another thing to say goodbye to. (Other times I’ve cried include the moment it hit me that I will have no more children and the moments I’ve thought about losing parts of my body.)
  • Often-present sense of guilt that I feel this sad and emotional about my surgeries, since I don’t actually have cancer. There are groups devoted to the support of people like me, and while at first I thought that was a bit overboard, now I get it. Plus, there are other cancers I still do have to worry about, that I can’t have surgery to help prevent.
  • No, I am not excited about getting a “boob job,” since that’s not what I’m getting, not really.
  • The number of doctor appointments associated with this process is between extraordinary and extra-extraordinary.
  • For a while, I was scared about the surgery itself, more scared than I’ve ever been about anything. I “knew” I wasn’t going to make it through and that was going to be the end of me. I’ve had surgery before, but was never this scared. Fortunately, I’ve passed that phase. If my mom can have a hysterectomy, I can too. This took some mental work, a good reminder that we can change our thinking. Just picture it differently and the picture will change.
  • I’ve never doubted this is the right decision. I’ve definitely freaked out about surgery, but I would freak out even more if I had to get screened for breast and ovarian cancer every six months. As it is, I’ll have to be regularly screened for pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
  • One of the hardest things to put to words is how much I value and appreciate the love I’ve been shown by family and friends. The words “value” and “appreciate” are so ordinary. I’m almost uncomfortable with the wonderful things that have been said to me and done for me. And they remind me that while this isn’t the situation I’ve hoped for, the reality is this: I can largely do something about the shitty situation I’ve been placed in, and that isn’t the case for so very many people. On top of it, I can do something about it surrounded by people I love, and that’s not the case for some, either.

So, really, at the end of the day I feel lucky. Because out of the range of shittiness that can happen in one’s life, I’ll take this any day of the week.

My sister masterminded a surprise “Boob Voyage” party for me, which was awesome in and of itself, let alone considering she will also be having a double mastectomy, one month after me. That’s the kind of people I roll with.

Enjoy some pictures of the party, and I’ll see you on the flip side (meaning after the surgery, not after life).

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Courtesy of my mom and sister.

My mom, me, my sister, and my aunt all carry the BRCA mutation.

My mom, my sister, my aunt, and I all carry the BRCA mutation.

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A table full of some of my favorite people, in a room full of even more of my favorite people.

My husband and sister.

My husband and sister.

I'm quite touched by the number of men who came out to my Boob Voyage.

I’m quite touched by the number of men who came out to my Boob Voyage.

And finally, one of the best cards I’ve ever received, from my friends John and Michelle:

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Endnote: it took some strength for me to call this Boob Voyage, though appropriate. As some of you might remember, I don’t like certain words such as “blog” because they’re too flubbery sounding. Same goes for boobs. But Breast Voyage sounded too serious.

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36 thoughts on “Boob Voyage

  1. What a brave and beautiful post, Jessica. My hopes and prayers are with you, as a woman, a writer, a wife, sister and daughter. Thank you for sharing your journey-in all its fear, hope and determination. Hugs and hugs to you.

  2. Dear Jessica, the bright side is it isn’t the end of the world, it’s a new lease on life, one without the fear of having breast cancer or ovarian cancer or uterine cancer. Your family and friends, including your “cyber-friends” will be rallying around you lending support, cheer, help, and prayers. My dear friend, I will be one of those people. Take heart, be strong, and tackle this the way you do when you write. Love and prayers coming your way.

  3. I don’t like the word boob, either, for the same reason (so this may be the only two times I’ll ever write/say it in my life), but here goes just for you: Boob Voyage.
    p.s. that’s an amazing note from your friends John and Michelle.
    xox Julia

  4. Lovely post, Jess. Your sister Katie and your mom have the right idea—celebrate ALL of life, including the tough parts. Like the cake says–out with the old but in with the new. Minnesota is full of people who love and care about you and are sending bushels of good vibes.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your Boob Voyage with us. Funny- my fingers typed /book/ first- glad to know that I clearly write /book/ way more than I write /boob/! While the word boob makes me feel funny too, it is truly the perfect name for you party! I’m sure it made everyone grin just a little 🙂

  6. Once again you have touched my heart with your writing and your strength. Love you more each day. We will all travel together on this new journey and will be better for having traveled through it. Mom

  7. Jessica, you seem to do everything beautifully, including this. Deep breaths, positive thoughts, and before you know it you’ll be on to the newer, BRCA-foiling version of you. Keep celebrating! – Jon

  8. Jess, thank you for sharing your journey with the wider world. It is so brave, truly, as I believe you are. I am in awe of your incredible family and their wonderful party, though after meeting Katie, I’m not surprised. You have a great support base, and all of us far away will be holding you in our thoughts and prayers as well. Lots of love and hugs coming your way. xo JK

  9. Well, I’m glad you wrote about it, even if you were reluctant. It’s a really important message, and I hope that reliving some of this process and revealing your fears brings you some peace going into next week. You are being much braver about this than I think I could be. I am sure that strong spirit will serve you well in your recovery, too. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts these next few weeks.

  10. Jessica, I believe today is the day. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I love that your family did this party for you. How wonderful to know you have this love and support.

  11. I’ve been thinking about you all day and hope you are flying high without a care right now. I know you’ve been in a holding pattern these past six months and I can’t wait to see your life take off again. You are an amazing person Jess and I love that your family and friends did this for you. You are loved, dear girl. xox

  12. Pingback: Almost There — Two Weeks Post Mastectomy/Hysterectomy « True STORIES.

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