Keri's Breast Cancer Story: Preparing for Surgery
My wife Keri was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 25. We had only been married for nine months. My name is Doug Haberstroh, and this is Keri's Breast Cancer Story. In her latest email, Keri writes to family and friends about her upcoming breast reconstruction.
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005
Okay so we now have a date set for the big surgery. First off, the little scare we had with the lump in my right breast was just a benign cyst and is nothing to worry about. Now about the big surgery, I will be going into surgery on Wednesday August 3 around 1:00 in the afternoon. I will be in surgery for around 2 hours, but of course I have to be there early and they keep me in recovery for a while afterward to make sure I wake up okay so for Doug it means an all day waiting room event.
My parents will be here as well so at least he will have some company. I will be in the hospital for at least 24 hours if not longer. So now comes the moment of truth...I am scared to death of this surgery. The surgeon talked today like it was no big deal and that within a couple of days I should be up and moving around, but to me it seems like the biggest deal ever.
To give you some more detail, (skip this part if you don't want to hear the specifics of the surgery) they will be doing a modified radical mastectomy on my left side and taking lymph nodes from under my arm as well. They will be saving as much skin as possible while doing this to make the immediate reconstruction as easy for my plastic surgeon as possible.
They are also removing my port as I will no longer need it since chemo is over. Then the plastic surgeon will come in and put in an implant for reconstruction. This will be the first of two surgeries regarding reconstruction since they will be removing my nipple during the mastectomy it will have to be reconstructed as well at a later time after some recovery.
So it feels nice to have a date finally set and to not have any other small problems in the way. It also feels good that I am now on the road to the end of all these surgeries and to finally be getting back to a semi-normal life. The scary part is having to still go through it all. I keep trying to look at it as though as soon as this surgery is over with then the cancer is gone and I don't have to worry about it anymore.
The reconstruction surgeries are just a side effect in a way of getting rid of the cancer. I am almost 4 months into my diagnosis and eventually I'll quit counting the months and start counting the years only. The mark for breast cancer survivors when they can assume that it won't be coming back is 5 years. Until then there will still be check-ups often to make sure it hasn't come back and even still after the 5-year mark only my mind will be better off at that point. So as the days go by this next week and a half I will try not to be too anxious about it. We'll see how that goes. Thanks again for all your support. It has really helped. I'm sure Doug will be emailing soon after the surgery to let everyone know how it went. Happy thoughts.
KeriA Note from Doug: We're also telling Keri's breast cancer story as a weekly comic strip. Check back each week to follow her story. The most recent episode, Episode 3, follows a bad reaction to chemo, shortly after her first wedding anniversary.