Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Happy Ending?

If my journey over the past year and half was a movie, my life as I'm experiencing it now, would be the happy ending. It would start with the phone call from the surgical ob gyn that reported the perfect pathology results from my last surgery, followed by me breaking down in tears. Next would come the appointment with the breast surgeon where she declared she wouldn’t need to see me again for another year. The next scene would be a montage of all the celebrations of me turning 40, healthy and happy. A flash of me at a Billy Idol concert, snapshots of several nights of dinners and drinks with friends, and a dizzying whirlwind of my family trip to Disney World - all while some upbeat music plays, probably Iggy Pop's Lust for Life (figuring it's my movie and I'll have some say to make sure the music isn't totally lame.) Then the movie would end and the audience would feel satisfied with the feel good performance just delivered by Kerri Russell (as me) and Michael Rappaport (as my husband). I still have to work out the casting, but I'm fairly certain I would want Lena Dunham to write the screenplay and Judd Apatow to direct it. Surely, the audience would immediately report to all of their friends about the inspiring true story of Stacy Davidson Minicucci who tested positive for the breast cancer gene, bravely got (what she thought was going to be) a preventative mastectomy, only to find out that it ended up saving her because she had breast cancer after all.

And you know what? It would be entirely accurate, because in many ways it really was that simple. I am now on the other side, looking back - healthy - with a really positive future prognosis. I discovered what my daughter defined as my super power: I bounce back from surgery really quickly. I'm happy (at least most of the time) and much of what made my journey difficult, is now over. So there you go...a happy ending.

But not so fast...because this is real life after all, and not a movie, and life is dynamic and forever changing. In truth, after that phone call about the positive post-op pathology results, I did well up a little, but then I completely forgot to share my news with anyone for about six hours because I was focused on my daughter who was sick with an extremely high fever. So yes, things are back to normal, but normal includes witnessing someone close to me in pain. I'm left with an insane amount of medical debt, I'm kind of disappointed with the final appearance of my reconstructed breasts, I don’t have ovaries anymore, and my body is forever chemically changed. Yet in the end, I have no regrets about the decisions I made, and the process was easier than what I was prepared for.  So, while I know I that I have lots of good ahead of me, I am frequently reminded that life is an uphill battle. But thankfully, mine continues.

In October 2013, when my journey and this blog just began, I tried to make sense of life through the Lou Reed song Magic and Loss. Fifteen months, three surgeries, and one cancer diagnosis later, I return to where I started. "Theres a bit of magic in everything and some loss to even things out." And so it has been for me.