If somebody tells you that 36 hours from now Angelina Jolie is going to temporarily flip your world upside down would you believe them? I wouldn't but that's what happened to my family. Yesterday morning the world awoke to find that Ms. Jolie underwent a double mastectomy. As sometimes happens the local media jumped to find ways of bringing a national story home.
Not everybody knows this but approximately six weeks ago my wife, Madeleine, underwent a double mastectomy at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Somebody from Roswell got a hold of my wife's story and she spent the better part of yesterday and this morning making the rounds on local media. It's worth noting because women are making this same decision every day. This is her story.
My wife broke the news to me in the summer of 2012 while we were still living in Washington, DC. It was, in a word, stressful but her OB's recommendation was clear. Double mastectomy and, for kicks, removal of both ovaries. There was a lot going on at the time so we put off the inevitable while contemplating the next phase of our life, which include relocating to Western New York. It was a little abstract but it was always there lurking in the shadows. I'm fairly certain it was attached to the U-Haul trailer.
Jump ahead to February 2013. We're sitting at Roswell meeting with the various surgeons. Shit just got real. I quickly learn how courageous my wife is to go through this for her family. It's important to note that if you have a strong family history you have options and you should investigate them all. For the few, including my wife, with the BRCA1 mutation it means statistically the best option is a double mastectomy. We (meaning my wife) reviewed all the research, considered all the options and then we consulted with the surgeons; who confirmed what we already knew. We made the decision to have the surgery primarily for the twins. Kids need their mother. I think Madeleine explains it best to the listeners of WBEN (here) and viewers of WIVB (here). What the hell - here too.
The surgery was Tuesday, March 26th. We arrived at 9:00a. Madeleine went under the knife shortly before 1:00p. I saw her next at 8:00p. Over the next two weeks, including three days in the hospital, I really understood Madeleine's strength. She took a short walk less than 24 hours after going under, was eating and sitting up shortly after, and off her pain medicine less than a week after the surgery. Then it was just clearing drains regularly, rebuilding strength, a few weeks of physical therapy and visiting nurses and we are done...with Part I.
Then it was regular filling of the expanders (you can Google it). At the end of July Madeleine begins the reconstruction process. The entire show should be over by the end of the calendar year. The twins, at the ripe old age of 3, have been remarkable through this process. The support of friends and family is immeasurable.
I am telling this story to brag. Not about my connection to Angeline Jolie or about Madeleine's 15 minutes. I am, however, bragging about my wife - her strength, her courage, her love and sacrifice for others. We are telling this story so others have a better understanding while making this important decision. Hopefully many other women are telling their stories as well. Also, F-You Cancer.
Us - 1
Cancer - 0