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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Day 4 post-op.

I'm so thankful for sleep. Again last night, I slept over 8 hours. I'm surprised that I am sleeping so well, considering that I am not able to move positions at all. Not only that, but I just took a 2 hour nap. Thank you, Lord!

Today I took a look at myself in the mirror. I needed to shower, so there was no getting around it. Mom came and helped get me undressed and untangled from all of my tubes and bulbs. There was a tiny bit of dried blood on the gauze that was around the left drain tube. I don't know if that is normal or not. I had a lanyard that I put around my neck and pinned the 3 drain bulbs to it. The shower felt good, but it was awkward with everything hanging from me. I was also a bit paranoid about getting the stitches too wet, so I stayed with my back facing the water most of the time. My right arm is able to move more, so I was able to wash my hair. Mom helped me dry off as I looked in the mirror.

Gulp. It's hard to describe what I saw. I look skinny, for one thing. The sutures themselves are puckery, since they used some dermabond on them. So there are two puckery, jagged diagonal cuts about 3-4 inches long on each side. When I look down, I see my stomach. It's strange not to have anything in between. When I look in the mirror, its strange because I can see my rib cage but nothing is above it. It is totally flat, and even concave on the upper chest. I touched my skin between the scars, and it was numb. I've had friends who went through this say their chest got numb as well. Eric came in as we were re-dressing me. He wasn't there for the big reveal. He said he wasn't freaked out. And honestly, he didn't sound freaked out. I think he was worried that I was freaked out. He kept saying, "This isn't who you are." Well, yes it is. At least on the outside. But as we tell the kids, it isn't what is on the outside that counts and makes you who you are. Maybe that is what that means.

Speaking of numbness, I'm numb on my left upper arm around the tricep area. I'm also numb on the tip of my tongue. That has been there since last Thursday. It feels like it does when you go to the dentist and get your mouth numbed. When you start to regain feeling, you get that prickly pins and needles feeling, you know? That is how the tip of my tongue feels.

I need to try not to slouch. It is so easy to do, especially with all of these tubes and stuff. They all are tucked away in pockets around my waist. When I button up a shirt, I look pregnant. I know I have said this before, but I will be SO HAPPY when these drains come out. It is so creepy to milk the tubes and drain them. If I don't concentrate on it, I could faint when we do that. There is less fluid in them each day, which is a good sign. The fluid is turning from a bright red to a yellowish-orange color.

How do I feel today? Mentally, I feel like I passed a big hurdle by looking in the mirror. Hopefully each time will get better. Physically, I am sore on my chest and sides. I'm still on pain meds, trying to go 3-4 hours in between each one. Yesterday I took a total of 7, whereas the first two days I took 9. The pain meds have made me a bit constipated. I've been taking some stool softener to get things moving. So far it isn't moving much, despite a high fiber diet. The sleep has been a godsend, for sure. I don't want to over do it, but I would like to venture out in the neighborhood for a walk. Maybe I'll go get the mail.

My prayer requests today:
  • Healing, healing, healing. That is my big need right now.
  • That the lower end of my digestive system get moving. :-)
  • Patience for Eric. He has high standards for the kids. They are feeling like all he does is yell at them for playing video games or whatever. Just being kids. He doesn't even realize it most of the time. Everyone is under stress and he expects the kids to pick up some of the slack. But they are still kids and need to be given the room to be kids.


  1. Still praying for you and seeing God through all this. Sounds like you are healing very well...that is a HUGE praise!

  2. I seriously cannot believe how brave you are. Wow. I wasn't expecting to read a looking in the mirror post for quite some time! Hugs.

  3. Hi Tonya - Just wanted to say that I'm thinking about you, praying for you, and admiring your strength. Sending you hugs. -Berna