Before and After Moments

Family Photos

Family Photos (Thanks, sis, for the photos of photos!)

Before the diagnosis, we didn’t have that many family photos up around the house. Now, though, we have a bunch. I wanted to see our smiling faces looking back at me from every room in the house, so we selected our favorites and had them surround us. For the most part, I love looking at them. We look so happy, so healthy in them. But once in a while, they act as a reminder of the me I was before the diagnosis and I feel a bit sad. It’s not nostalgia, because that is too wistful a word for what I feel. It’s not quite a feeling of mourning either, although on some days it feels that way. It’s more like something bittersweet, the sting of having experienced something so sweet and lovely and recognizing that it is gone for the moment. While at the same time, hoping that it makes a return sometime soon.

These photos bring me happiness but they also act as a sort of “before” photo, an image of a person about to be transformed. Life right now feels very much like a series of before and after moments. As I think back on the last few months, I find myself categorizing all the many stages we’ve gone through: before the diagnosis, after the diagnosis; before chemo and now after chemo, and of course, tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be another milestone in the treatment process. After Wednesday will be the after surgery portion of my life.

I knew the surgery was coming but because I had been focusing so much on the physical and emotional challenges of chemo, I hadn’t processed yet what the surgery really meant. Now though, as it looms so close, I can’t get it out of my head. I alternate between wanting to run away from it, and from wanting to just get it over with. I went to a pre-operative information session last week and the nurse went over some of the details. Here are a few: The surgery will take place at 8am on Wednesday and will likely take about 3 – 4 hours. I will be under general anesthetic and will stay at the hospital for one night. On the left side, they will be removing my lymph nodes, but the lymph nodes on the other side will stay intact. I will be unable to lift my arms over my head and will not have full range of motion for at least a few weeks. I have been given a whole slew of exercises to do to help aid in the healing process.

The nurse also told me about the stitches, and the drains, and that although I’ll be in the hospital for only one day, a nurse will come to check up on me at home daily until the drains are removed (usually within 10 days). She also warned me that I would be unable to pick up Nate for some time. During the session, I had felt relatively strong, but at that moment I couldn’t help but let a few tears fall. Because that’s what makes me want to cry – the thought of him reaching up for me, and not being able to scoop him up in my arms. Hopefully, it won’t be long till I get full mobility back, and am healed enough to pick him up and cart him around on my hip.

Mitchell, as always, is amazing. Instead of referring to Wednesday as surgery day (as I have been), he’s calling it Cure Day. I love that. I hope that in the days and weeks and months to come, that’s how I remember it. I hope that one day I will be able to look at the scars on my body as the traces of a life-giving surgery, a surgery that I hope will cure me of this disease.

But, unfortunately, before I have scars, I will have wounds, and I have to brace myself for that. In the meantime, I’ll look at the family photos we have around the house and think how lucky we have been.

We're on a boat.

We’re on a boat.

Frames and tulips.

Frames and tulips.

About Naomi

Writing about health/wellness and motherhood at and academia and research at
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31 Responses to Before and After Moments

  1. naomi and david says:

    we are all wishing you only good things, sending you lots of love and strength for cure day and beyond. A refuah shlemah!
    naomi and david

  2. Liz Mesok says:

    How my heart aches for you, dear Naomi. You write about your journey with such strength, courage, grace and honesty that really gets right to the core of how emotionally painful and difficult this all is. As you say, your wounds will heal into scars, but until they do it is okay to feel however you feel about them. You can be grateful for the chance they are giving you at life and at the same time feel pissed off or angry or grief-stricken or however you feel! But it is so wonderful that you are focusing on how the loss will give way to new life. Your ability to have that perspective is incredible and inspiring in a way I cannot articulate.

    I am glad you have this outlet for sharing all your emotions, because it is teaching all of your readers a lot along the way. Know that there are people from all over sending you so much love and energy on your Cure Day.


    • Naomi says:

      Liz – thank you so much for you kind words. You have a gift for articulation too, and I’m so appreciative of your emails and comments on the blog. You are giving me strength.

  3. Megan Mallen says:

    Thinking of you always. So much love your way for cure day. You will conquer this as you have everything else. And in no time at all cure day and the healing will be in your past, and the scooping of Nate will be your present and future.

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Megan. I feel much better today than yesterday so that’s a good first step. And I think that, although it will continue to be hard, it’ll just keep getting better. I can’t wait to hang out sometime soon. xo

  4. jb says:

    Cure day indeed! You have made it so far, and you have shown so much grace, strength, love and light throughout this whole process. As with everything else you do Naomi. We are all sending you so much love, and looking forward to celebrating your amazingness as soon as possible. Everybody hearts Naomi, Mitchell and Nate!!! xoxo j

  5. Dillon says:

    I’ll be thinking of you and sending all sorts of positive energy for Cure Day tomorrow! You’ve come a long way and you’re almost there. Go Naomi!

  6. Sarah l. says:

    Dearest Naomi, you and your family will be in our thoughts tomorrow (Cure Day!!). We’re sending you all our love–Portland’s got your back!! Stay strong.
    Love, Sarah, Katy, and the Sprecher/Levy families.

  7. Doreen London says:

    Dear Naomi,
    We are thinking of you. You show remarkable strength as you face everything head on as you continue on your journey. Cure day and cured days are ahead of you. Wishing you a speedy recovery from your surgery. With love to you, Mitchell and Nate. Doreen and Ian

  8. Sarah says:

    Sending much love and great big hugs and kisses your way. Thanks for sharing your amazingly written posts. Cure day indeed! …a healthy happy future ahead, we will be thinking of you tomorrow with positive healing energy, love Sarah, Pete, Joshua and Eliza.

  9. Marilyn says:

    You are an amazing person Naomi…we are sending you much love and many hugs and will be thinking of you and Mitchell on Cure Day…love you both

  10. Susan says:

    Beautifully written, and beautifully thought, Naomi…
    All our love to you on Cure Day and always,
    Susan and Pa xo xo xo

  11. Virginia says:

    I saw this earlier today on fb but am now able to sit down and have a good read – you are one inspiring courageous momma and your writing is so beautiful. Know that ill be thinking of you and I am sending you lots of big hugs and love xoxo.

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Virginia! I’m glad you’re following the blog! Look forward to catching up in person at some point too. Much love. xoxo

  12. Chocho T says:

    We will be praying for you Naomi on Cure Day. All the best to you for a speedy recovery. May your family continue to be your strength as you recover from surgery. God Bless! xo

  13. Steph says:

    I feel the exact same way about looking at photos… sometimes they make me so happy, and other times I just look at them and cry. It took me awhile to even be able to look at old photos at first. But it is nice to have all those happy memories… and you will have more soon! Thinking about you today. I can promise you whatever you are feeling right now, you will feel a million times better once you’re home and in your own bed. xoxo

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Steph. It’s a long road to recovery (as you know!). Getting better, slowly but surely. Hope you’re doing well too. xoxo

  14. Hope that Cure Day went well yesterday and that you are recuperating comfortably. Been thinking about you. Looking forward to your next post and to seeing you sometime soon! xox

  15. Kimiko says:

    The cherry blossoms are blooming! I like to think that they’re celebrating cure day. 🙂

  16. Pingback: Naomi Angel: The Art of Slowing Down After My Double Mastectomy - Freshwadda Brooks | Coming Soon!

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