About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The day has arrived, almost

It is the day before my surgery. I'm glad this day has finally arrived. I remember blogging about what an eternity 3 weeks was going to be. I some ways, it was. But I had to accept it and use the time as best I could.

So where is my head at today? It is hard to describe. It's a mixture of many things, some of which shouldn't really go together: anxiety/anxiousness; dread; relief; stoicism; sentimentalism...I could go on.

I did a few more "lasts" today. My last workout at the gym. I met my mom there and we did a good 90 minutes of cardio. Mom doesn't like to sweat, but we did today! I did some sprints on the treadmill that were awesome. I got to that point where it felt like I could run forever. But every footfall I couldn't help but think, "When will I be able to do this again?" We finished it off with about 20 minutes on the recumbent stationary bike. That was easy. I'm thinking that, along with walks, will be a way for me to ease into exercise again. I know I shouldn't push it, but it is going to be very difficult to go "cold turkey." Who knows? Maybe I'll be in such pain after the surgery that I won't notice?

There are still so many unknowns. That also is a hard thing. How long will I have to wait in pre-op tomorrow? I don't want to wait for hours in a hospital gown waiting for my turn. I check in at 9:00 am. I want to go in and get it over with. We aren't sure of how "bad" it is, although we know it is in at least one of the lymph nodes. That's bad. But is it in all of them? Will radiation be necessary after chemo? I just don't know. How much pain will I have after the surgery? Pam, the volunteer from the American Cancer Society, warned me that it would be painful to wipe after going to the bathroom. Lovely. Will I be able to sleep? Another warning was that its hard to lie flat on your back. And turning on my sides will be out of the question. I have a wedge pillow, and the ACS was going to be sending me more.

I'm trying to get loose ends wrapped up today. I'm doing as much laundry as I can. I'm changing the sheets on my bed so I come home to a clean bed. I need to pack for my overnight hospital stay. That is weird too. I'm just going to wear down what I plan to come home in. So button up shirts, here I come. Here's another strange thing: I won't need the bra I wear tomorrow again. I might as well toss it into the trash at the hospital. For that matter, I won't need any of my bras. When I do heal, I'll be getting mastectomy bras to put prosthetic "foobs" into.

My mother in law arrived from France last night. I am thankful to have her here. She told me this morning that she is basically at our service. She will take care of the kids, especially Jean-Marc. She also is an ironing maniac, so I've been saving Eric's shirts for her. She's actually standing behind me ironing them right now! It will be nice for Eric to have his mom here to talk with for him. He's had a hard time too. Sometimes I think partners of cancer patients need their own support groups so they don't burden the person with cancer with their issues. With the kids occupied, my mom can focus on helping me more.

We are going to order Fish House Vera Cruz for dinner tonight to take home. I was going to cook, but when she made the offer, I thought, why not? I want to have a good meal tonight because I probably won't be able to eat much tomorrow, even after surgery. Another unknown.

I've been getting many comforting messages on my Facebook page. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I also appreciate the help with meals. It helps to know there is one less factor in the equation to cover. It is a blessing.

My prayer requests today:
  • That we all be able to sleep tonight. I've actually been getting about 6-7 hours each night for the past few nights. I think that is one thing that has helped me not to completely be a wreck. I saw a nurse friend today who just learned of my diagnosis. She told me that in her jargon, I seemed very well "psycho-socially adjusted" to my situation. That is the result of God's grace, not anything from me. I know there are so many out there praying for me, and sleep has been a big issue for me. Eric and our parents need their sleep tonight as well.
  • That I would be able to get in quickly tomorrow without undue delay in pre-op.
  • That the surgery go well. That nerve damage be minimal. There will be some permanent damage on the left side. I also pray that the surgeon does not need to remove any muscle. If there is cancer there, she will. But hopefully that won't be the case. Pray that the cancer is maintained in a small area.
  • That my body tolerate the surgery well without complication. A friend of mine suggested I take the homeopathic remedy arnica montana 30x. I've been doing that for the past few day and am going to keep it up. She had a mastectomy 8 weeks ago and she said it helped keep the swelling down for her.
  • That the kids not have too much fear and anxiety. Isabelle brought the surgery up today at lunch. She's been extra clingy. Pray that they feel the comfort that only the Lord can provide.
I don't know if I'll have time to post again before I go. If something comes to mind that I want recorded, I will. Otherwise, I'll post again on the other side.

Blessings to you all.


  1. Blessings to YOU, dear Tonya. A candle will be lit for you early in the morning so anytime any of us look at it, we can immediately send up a prayer for you and your family.

    No words can tell you how filled with love you are right now... it's so clear how many people love you. Hold hands with all of us in the morning; we're there with you.

    Before surgery, I like to stay up all night so I am tired as all get out by the time anesthesia comes along with drunk meds... that way, I fall right to sleep and don't mind the waiting anymore. Plus, they can give you anti-anxiety meds if you *do* have to wait. Take anything they give you!

    Re: wiping. After my abdominal surgery, Sarah had to wipe me for 8 days, until the drains were removed. I thought it would be humiliating, but in the moment, I couldn't have cared less. Having someone who loves you clean you as you did your babies is an act of love just as great. If it comes to that, I hope you will feel no shame and only thanks.

    Tears fall down my face, Tonya. I want peace and health for you. Feel me close, but feel your wondrous God even closer. You are in His hands.

    *giant hugs of love*

  2. Hi Tonya it's Trisha, Tara's friend I am so moved by your strength. My whole family will be praying for you, and you will be constantly in our thoughts. I feel that the prayers for you, your strength in the lord and in yourself will help to pull you through the difficult time that lies ahead. I love you & God Bless You. You'll be hearing from us soon.

  3. Tonya, strong woman, I've been reading your blog from the beginning but haven't posted yet... I can't let the day close without telling you that I care. I've been praying for you and have added your name to my church prayer rolls. I hope things go well tomorrow and that recovery is quick. May God hold you and your family in His hands. Hugs~

  4. Tonya,

    I wish I had words as eloquent as those spoken here. I don't. I only want you to know what a wonderful difference you've made in my life. I'm praying hard for you and your family right now. Strength to you tomorrow...Many prayers being sent up.

  5. Sending you so much love and support and healing strength!!!

  6. Tonya... not exactly the best time to share this, I know, but... I did get my "freast" last week, and it has changed my life: I love it! (I never liked the word that rhymes with rube; it always seemed so disrespectful, of that which nourishes new life... so call mine a freast, instead!) Mine is made by a company called Amoena, and it is amazing, the same density as "real" breast, and feels really good, inside my "Isabel" bra. Wish I had been able to get it sooner than 7 weeks out, but anyway, I have it now, and it is great. Six or seven weeks may seem like an eternity, now, but the time has passed, and it will for you, too. with love, Laura