Monday, December 14, 2015

Respite weekends...

We've done respite for foster care five times now, and it has been such a blessing! I sometimes wonder what the point of us being miraculously able to get licensed was since we won't be able to do much in the coming months, but I just pray that the little we've done has been of some value. These kids are so amazing. I just love them. Since they usually only stay for the weekend, it's a little like playing auntie for me, since we get to have fun without having the daily pressures being a parent brings about. Our kids think of it as a sleepover, and get excited when their friends are coming over. Long term, we're still not certain what to do right now. I'm thinking that our time in Nebraska will have to be respite only, and once we get re-stationed, we can do something long term.
So, I wrote that first part during the middle of the visit, but there was an incident when the kiddos went back "home" that just left me heartbroken. A reminder that this isn't playing auntie, that this is giving these sweet little children & their foster families a break from their reality. Looking back over the little moments over the weekend and I see how they add up to children who desperately need love and stability. One of these sweet babies was so happy to go to bed after hearing I'd be tucking them in again...little things we take for granted. These two sweeties now cheer for our football team, and I wonder if it's because it makes them feel like they are a part of something. I also think about how being a full time foster parent has got to be the most heartbreaking thing anyone has ever have the patience to put the pieces of these children's lives back together, and dealing with the anger and hurt that they display on a daily basis. Or having to say goodbye after loving them for months or years...I feel all heartsick and mama bear worried about these kids that I've watched for three weekends.  I beg you guys to pray for these souls. For the little ones who are stuck in the system through no fault of their own. For their parents-that they would be able to overcome whatever devils are in their lives. For foster families-that they can continue with patience and love.

Monday, December 7, 2015

One month

In exactly one month I will be going in for surgery for a prophylactic (preventative) double mastectomy.  It's a little surreal. I've been thinking about this and researching this for years, and now it's just weeks away. It's something I've always known would happen if I tested positive for the mutation, but even so, its always seemed like something that was in the future, and now here we are.

It has been the easiest and the hardest choice I've ever had to make. Easy, because logically speaking, this is the most obvious choice (in my opinion). I will bring my cancer risk down from 87% (based off the very high numbers of cancer in my family history) down to less than 5%. Easy because I will get to have this surgery done on my terms and on my schedule. Not having cancer means not having to have surgery on top of chemo and radiation. The kind of cancer I'd be facing would be the triple negative, metastatic cancer-so very aggressive and very deadly.  Easy because I will never have the regret of having been able to change my path, but sitting by and doing nothing. I think of all the women who died in my family, and I am humbled by the fact that I have a chance they were never given. I am so, SO blessed with this knowledge! Easy, because when I think of my babies or my amazing husband, I know that I would do anything to have the opportunity to spend another day here with them.

Hard, because I will forever be changing the look and feel of my body. Despite how I joke with my friends, this is completely different than a boob job. Not even on the same playing field, and vanity is a tricky little monster. Hard, because I fear that on some level there will be regret, and this is obviously something that can't be undone. Hard because of the fear of recovery, of the long reconstruction process...of what the first look after bandages come off will be like. There is always the chance that I could be the small percent that would never have gotten cancer. Hard, because any kind of surgery is scary!

Back in July, I had a real crisis of decision, and I ended up writing and lengthy pros and cons list. Everything that I could think of went on that list, and at the end, I found that the pros list was absolutely the strongest. The cons list was by far more fear based. I thought it would be the other way around! Seeing everything laid out so clearly though-seeing what is at stake in black and white and in my own thoughts-really solidified my choice and I haven't wavered since. This surgery to me is exactly the same thing as wearing a seat belt. The belt doesn't guarantee anything, but it most certainly improves my odds.

So here I am. One month left of being "whole." One month left to mourn what I will lose. One month left until I have to discover what my new normal will be. One month left of having a disturbingly high chance of getting breast cancer. One month left before I can tell my kids that I did everything I could to spare them pain,  to give myself the chance to see them grow up, and to one day be able to meet my grandchildren. One month and I will be a breast cancer "previvor."

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