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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Not always so rosy

I don't want to sound like this is a breeze, because its definitely not. People keep telling me how good I look. I don't know what to compare it to. I've always been one to put on a brave face and not really show how much things hurt/bother/upset me. Even now. Part of it is the way I deal with things internally. Maybe those close to me could say otherwise, but I don't think I've ever been one to wallow in my own misery and circumstances. When things are bad, I try to look to see what I can do to make it better and then set out on that course.

I've tried to do that with breast cancer. Most days, I think I pull myself out of the "dark side." I'm frustrated at the moment, because there really isn't anything I can "do" to get better right now. My life right now is all about pain management and that stinks.

I can't exercise too much. Mom and I went for a walk around the lake yesterday. It was about 2.25 miles. I was hoping to feel like I got a workout, but it didn't. Moving the muscles can't be bad, but I didn't get that endorphin dump like I used to. Not one drop of sweat. I started my post-op exercises yesterday in earnest. It felt good to feel a slight pull on the muscles in my upper body. But I ended up in a lot of pain yesterday. Did I overdo it with the little bit that I did? Should I take more painkillers? I took a total of 5 yesterday. The maximum dose per day is 12. This may sound silly, but in a way, taking more painkillers feels like taking a step back. But I don't want as much pain as I had yesterday.

I can't hug my kids. This really is hard. The older 2 understand and give me "neck hugs." Jean-Marc is only 2. My mother in law is here to keep him busy. I know he's having fun days. But in the evenings, he's fussy and just wants me. It's hard because that is the time of day when I am tired and in more pain too. I can sit there and watch her bathe him, change him, carry him, etc. But I can't do it myself. How I miss those pudgy hugs! Is he going to get used to not having mom take care of him? He has no idea what is going on. All he knows is that he's not getting the hugs and attention from me that he is used to.

I can't take care of my household. I'm probably like most women in that I am used to taking care of all of the details of the house. You don't really know how many of those there are until you can't do them. You do them without thinking. Right now, I can't lift anything over 5 pounds. I can't drive. That rules out most household activities. It's a mixed blessing. Who wants to do that stuff, anyway? But as things pile up, I can tell the tension pile up in the house as well. Eric and his mom are here to do stuff, but they don't do it like I would. I just have to bite my tongue and be grateful that things are approaching getting done at all. But then there are times (like now) when I think Eric resents it too. It's not my fault! Hey-if I could do it right, I would. I ask him what is wrong, and he says "nothing" but I know that's not true. Whatever. I don't have the energy to figure out what is being said between very few lines.

As I read this over, I'm a little disgusted with myself. It sounds like a one-woman pity party. But that is where I am this morning.

My prayer requests:
  • That I be content with what I have and where I am.
  • That my body continue to heal. Specifically, that the fluid that would have been going to the drains disperse in my body without building up. That the pain subside. I'm so tired of popping pain pills.
  • That the kids have a fun day.


  1. If you think that tiny paragraph is whiny, woman, you need whiny lessons!

    Remember--it is ok to feel however you feel and for those feelings to change in the blink of an eye. Anger, joy, resentment, gratitude, fear, relief, frustration, acceptance. All are valid and all deserve to be acknowledged in some way.

    So, wallow in each and every feeling for jsut a bit, then keep on keping on.

    Love and prayers

  2. Honey, you live the Serenity Prayer better than anyone I know.

    "God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."

    You do not wallow in self pity at all, but after going through as big a life changing experience as breast cancer and a bi-lateral mastectomy, you are bound to have difficult adjustments to make, mentally and physically. Persistent pain is something that wears a person down.

    I completely agree with all the comments that Pam made.

    We love you.
    MOM & DAD

  3. It is no suprise you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. Could you be expecting too much from yourself right now? The exercise, the hugs, and the running of the household will not be lost forever. Patience and hope is hard. I am praying!

  4. Hi Tonya,

    Sorry I kept saying how good you looked today. I take it all back - you looked terrible!!! Not!!!

    I thought Blogs are for venting. What you're going through is perfectly normal. You'll feel better when you get some control back in your life. Right now, it's a difficult time.

    Hang in there, you are a Warrior.


  5. Being a caregiver has its stresses too. It's hard to have sympathy for that when what you are going through is sooo big, but it's not easy to be on that other side either. I'd encourage your hubby to get to a spouse's support group whenever he can manage it. You can't do that support for him; you've got your own stuff to deal with. Encourage him to go out and find his own support too.

    As for you, it sounds like you need to find a balance between getting active again and letting your body have a bit of a break. You've just had big surgery and it needs some time to heal. Don't be sedentary but don't push too hard too fast. Find the happy medium. Listen to your body and it will help guide you.

    I totally hear you on how hard it is not to be the one taking care of your little one! That's so hard to hand over to someone else. See if you can find some other things to help him stay feeling connected to you, even if it can't be quite in the same way anymore. Sing together, or watch a favorite cartoon together, or read a book together when you are able....just make sure he gets a little of your undivided time, as much as you can manage. He'll get through this; kids are resilient.

    Hang in there, hon!