Like any athlete in training, I am preparing for the physical and mental challenges that lie ahead. Except one small minor detail: I’m not an athlete, nor have I ever been one.
[There was a small window in 4th grade when I held the record for girls standing broad-jump in my class, but that window soon closed. I know it can be intimidating for kids to grow up in the shadows of their parents’ tremendous accomplishments, so I don’t dwell on this too much in front of the guys and Miss J.]
But I do have friends who are athletes! They tell me that it’s important to attend to both the body and mind. And so, it is in this spirit, that I am in training.
Step 1: Body Conditioning
My friends P and E took me to a Korean Day Spa in Japantown for a purification body scrub and oil massage. Before I get into the treatment itself, let me describe the Imperial Day Spa. Its website says it’s a “restful little corner in the heart of busy city” and they’re not kidding about the busy city part, as the Spa is sandwiched between KFC and Taco Bell in a strip mall on Geary Boulevard. The main space boasts a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and cold plunge, as well as a Jade Fomentation Room. (Fancy name for a room with red lights where women disrobe and lay on the floor with a stone head rest silently or in prayer.) Now, I know you want me to tell you all the nitty-gritty deets about what went down at Imperial Day Spa – and I really, really, want to tell you! But believe me, it’s way better if I don’t and just simply offer three words: Body is prepped. Dying to know? Experience it yourself. It’s quite surprising, amusing, relaxing, and provided a few much-needed giggles.
Step 2: Mental Conditioning
As I face my CJ head-on, I have come to realize how much I would benefit from outside professional assistance, not just to have an outlet in which to unload unfiltered, but also gain perspective and tools to keep dark scary thoughts at bay. Help sleeping at night would be a bonus! So luckily, my friend L’s mom is in the field and pointed me in the direction of the Institute for Health & Healing in Marin. I’m so happy she did – because now not only do I have some appointments set up that will really help, but I also will receive them for free as part of a grant that the Institute receives for any patients currently undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer.
So what am I training for exactly?
Step 3: Surgery date November 14th at CPMC for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction
I chose this route for a number of reasons – some which will make sense to you, and some which may not. This surgery means I will avoid radiation and chemo and then take a pill called Tamoxifen for 5 years. This surgery also means that I will have a long physical recovery, first from the surgery, and then from the reconstruction. It may take up to several months to be 100% again and perhaps even longer.
I’m lucky because I have a great Doctor at CPMC, a great plastic surgeon, a great nurse who’s dating my cousin, and a great network of friends and family who have sprung into action to take care of the kids, the carpools, the dog, the meals, and the laundry. And so, like any good athlete, I will continue to train, both mentally and physically for the elusive finish line.
Next week’s training might involve a mani-pedi.