January 8

Well, there's no turning back now, although I must admit the thought crossed my mind today (only half-joking). My plan was to have a stress-free night, a nice dinner, and a little wine, without much whining.

None of the above.

Very busy from sunup to sundown. When Buff got home, we all gobbled prepared food off paper plates. Then the whining began. My daughter was angry because I said she had to read a book instead of watching TV. I explained why I made this decision and Buff started yelling, "This is not a negotiation!" I swear, can't we just have one night chaos-free? How about the night before I get my breasts cut off? Is that too much to ask?

I grabbed Cole's face today and asked him to be a good boy while I am gone. With his big brown eyes staring up at me, he promised he would be. What if tonight is the last time I see him?

January 9

Leaving for the hospital. In the shower, I ran my hands over my breasts for what will be one of the last times ever. I looked at them, these sad, pitiful little things, pitted and scarred from years of being poked and cut open. I'm going to miss them. I prayed a lot. God, please take good care of me.

January 10

Hospital room. I had a moment of panic before surgery. Lying on the table, I started to cry—it was all hitting me, I guess. But then I was out.

When I woke up, I felt like a truck had run over me, backed up, then put itself in drive and run over me again. Later I got up, had a shower (from the waist down), and got a first look at my new girls! They are incredible. They feel like two 500-pound boulders on my chest—completely disconnected from my body—but the plastic surgeon was able to repair the damage from past biopsies, something he wasn't sure was possible. I am thrilled. Both doctors have made me whole again.

The man I really need to thank, though, is my husband. Even though I called him Nurse Ratched, because trust me, he did have his moments, he came through like a champ. I almost forgive him for lying in my bed when they hauled me up from recovery and listening to FOX News Channel and eating potato chips from a crinkly bag when all I wanted was soft music and even softer-sounding food. I do love that man.

January 13

First the good news: My doctor called me yesterday and said that there was no cancer in the tissue they removed. What a relief. Now the sobering news: They did find several areas of atypical ductal hyperplasia—and the frightening thing about that bit of information is that the hyperplasia was in the right breast, not the left one, which had been subjected to all the biopsies.

Clearly, this was the time to take action.

René Syler is the author of Good-Enough Mother (Simon Spotlight Entertainment).


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