PRINCESS LEIA

I felt completely out of place, but Jorge really wanted to go.

Within moments of entering into a shop that looked like an episode of Hoarders, Jorge disappeared in the stacks of paper thin books that were carefully slipped in between a white cardboard backing and a clear plastic film. Rather than follow him into the depths of Superman or the Hulk, I chose to stick near the toys close to the door. I knew about action figures. I had played with them growing up. 

I remember inhaling the stale smell of the comic book shop that mixed with the smokey New York “right-above-the-subway-grate” odor every time the glass door opened. I wasn’t really looking at the action figures. I was more like standing there next to something that was familiar. In the crowded store, where more people were browsing than buying, I dodged backpacks and shopping bags that nicked my sleeveless arms whenever someone tried to fit more than 2 people into an aisle. 

I could feel him next to me. He stood there, admiring the action figures, but lingering. I glanced over at him, giving him my hardest New York City “if you’re creepy, back off” look.

“Do you like Star Wars?” he asked. 

“Excuse me?” I sounded more confused than angry and turned my head slightly to the side to look at him. He seemed “normal” in that kind of geeky, comic book guy way.

“Do you like Star Wars?” he repeated, his voice shaky, as he pointed at the packages of Han Solos and Death Stars hanging in neat rows from display hooks in front of me.

“Um, I dunno. Sure. I guess.” I mean, who doesn’t like Star Wars? 

Not wanting to move away from the door, I turned my head around to look for Jorge but couldn’t find him. I  stayed put. There was no way I was venturing further into the store to go find him. I didn’t move.

Neither did he.

I heard him inhale deeply, and I wondered whether he tasted the staleness of the comic book shop or the pungent NY subway steam.

“Well,” he began.

“You’re, um,” he continued. 

“Well, um … you’re much prettier than Princess Leia,” the final part of his sentence moving faster than the A-train express.

I have never been one to yell in a grocery store or even draw any attention to myself in a public crowd. I hated people who did that.

“JORGE? JORGE VEGA! IT IS TIME TO GO!!” as I became one of those people. I felt the humid New York City air hit my face.

I’m not sure how long it was before Jorge darted out of the store and onto the sidewalk where I was standing. Probably seconds. It felt like minutes. 

“What happened?? Are you okay??” he asked quickly. 

I retold the story, horrified. Jorge doubled over in laughter, grabbing his stomach and stumbling down the sidewalk yelling for me to wait for him. 

He finally caught up to me and put his arm around my shoulders.

 “Liza, you’ve finally arrived. You’ve been hit on by a comic book geek.”

I walked away smiling, knowing that it was actually the second time. 

The first guy was my future husband.

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Peace, love, and Princess Leia,

Liza

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The Strength Within

Hi friends! It’s been a while, I know. Since my oophorectomy in January, I just haven’t quite been the same. And, now, 7 months later, I’m just finally coming out of the “fog” that I think has really been brought on by surgery: lack of hormones, dosage of hormones, a difficult recovery from an infection, fatigue, slow-thinking. But, of all these, I have been really impacted by the weight that has piled on since my oophorectomy. It’s not the most popular, nor pleasant topic, but one that has really kept me from fully engaging in blogging and writing about life post-hormones.

I’ll be real here: I’ve gained 15 lbs in the 6 months since my surgery. That means I’m heavier than when I was pregnant with my son. Heavier than I’ve ever been non-pregnant. And, my body has been feeling every pound-per-pressure. In the cycle of hormones-fatigue-weight-hormones-fatigue-weight, it has been a difficult road to walk. The good news (and my friend Maria Sullivan will be happy to read this) is that I have, yes, made an appointment with my doctor to see if my hormone levels are too low, affecting my body’s metabolism and ability to keep off weight. Update to follow!

But, as life has always sent me the right thing at the right time, I got a text message from my friend Denise last week. Denise and I met at a Cancer Fitness Program — one that was designed for women survivors (and those impacted by cancer-like surgeries) of cancer to regain strength and fitness after and during treatments. The group, for me, has always been more than just increasing the number of sit-ups or the time in a spin class. For me, this was the one event that really turned my brain around from being a physically-weak survivor of a bilateral mastectomy to someone who could tap into my inner-athlete. In fact, just 6-months after my bilateral mastectomy, I found myself nearly 20 feet high up a ropes course climbing my way on a shaky rope ladder, relying on nothing but my own mental will and the confidence I had in my body to do its job.

“Hi there. It’s Denise from Fitness Unlimited. Come out to drinks with us after our Tuesday night class,” she wrote. I called her back immediately.

Though it had been nearly 2 years since I last saw Denise, she has always been a special part of my life. After her mastectomy and battle with breast cancer, Denise always kept me thinking positive thoughts about my strength and fitness. One day, she had told me that, after her surgery, her one goal was to “lift my arms high enough over my head so that I could make a snow angel this winter.” After her mastectomy, and mine as well, we had limited range of motion in our chest and arms.

By that following winter, I made a snow angel.  And though the image quickly melted, that feeling has stayed with me to this day. 

I grew stronger after my mastectomy, easily reaching above the refrigerator top where I kept my children’s favorite cereals. I could carry my son, age 4, to his bed after he fell asleep on the couch. I could easily lift heavy air conditioners in and out of our windows.

After my mastectomy, I grew physically stronger and emotionally stronger. I took up running again, running faster, harder and longer throughout the summer months. I grew more brave — auditioning for a band and singing back up, then learning how to play the guitar, and then launching my own solo work. I grew more confident — enrolling in a doctoral program, producing original research, and presenting all around the country. I grew more courageous — talking more about myself publicly which led to speaking engagements and even a small part in documentary film on race and racism.

I had reached the top of the mountain, and on the other side was my next surgery: the oophorectomy that would save my life from the risk of ovarian cancer but would launch my body into a soft, tired, and older version of who I was just months prior.

“I’m not just meeting you for drinks,” I texted back. “I’m going to go to the class!”

I hit “send” and knew I was locked in.

When I arrived at the spin class, I began to make excuses. “Go easy,” said Laury, the incredible trainer, friend, and  cancer survivor who started the program. “Be kind to yourself.”

“You’ve forgotten, Laury. I don’t know how to ‘go easy.'” I talked a tough game, but really, all I wanted to do was lay on the floor and cheer on the 10 women who not only survived cancer but who were taking back their strength and lives.

“Just pedal,” she said.

I slowly pedaled, feeling my stomach fat block my thighs from hitting a 90-degree angle on the bike. I felt my back slouch, my shoulders tense, and my feet tight in the stirrups. I cracked a few jokes, bobbed my head to the music, and shifted in my seat to avoid the sore spot on my butt that was developing on the hard bike seat.

But then, something happened.

I felt my abdominal muscles tighten. I felt my arms reach out into 2nd position as my legs quickened in cadence. I watched my hand reach out to the gear shift and increase from 10, to 11, to 12, to 13 and felt the wheels tighten. I heard my lungs fill with air and then send out a strong breath.

And I felt the strength within me awaken.

As the class ended, I felt a cool chill on my shoulder. It was an icy breeze that sent a shiver of warmth through my body. I turned around, and there was Denise, on the cycle behind me, smiling.

And, I knew, that whole time, my Snow Angel was watching over me.

Peace, love, mental will, and confidence,

Liza

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Moving Towards Wellness Group 2014 (Denise is pictured smiling over my left shoulder)

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HorNormal

“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, hey mom, mom, mom,” she kept on. 

“Whaaaa…t…tss..hh.,” I muttered back, my eyelashes stuck together. I have to remember to remove my mascara at night. My eyes cracked through the Fort Knox of Maybelline. 

“Oh, you’re awake. Cool,” she said. “What do you think of my outfit?”

I reached out, my fingers splayed to make up for the fact that I couldn’t open my eyes to see, and banged the nightstand in search of my phone. “6:03am.”

“It’s 6:03am, Jada. What do you want?” I was not happy.

“I just want to know if you think I should wear this blue dress as a dress or as a skirt. I’m thinking skirt, but I wanted to know what you thought,” she said excitedly, as if she drank the 3 cups of coffee I had automatically brewed for the morning. The coffee which wouldn’t even start dripping for another 27 minutes.

“Whaaaaatever, Jada. Just, whatever.”

I was already feeling it coming on, and it was barely morning. 

 

deep breath. deep breath. 

 

I spend most of my time lowering the rage-o-meter. I find myself pausing more between sentences, though my mind is racing with words of anger. It’s not real, I keep repeating. It’s not real. You aren’t really angry. This is not actually upsetting.

 

it’s just the hormones….

 

It’s just the hormones….

 

On January 17, 2014, I had an oophorectomy — a surgical procedure to remove my ovaries. And, with that came surgical menopause and a complete destruction of the hormones that regulate my body, my moods, my thoughts, and my weight. I’m fatigued. I’m irritable. I’m angry. I’m in desperate need for some alone time.

All of those things: Impossible. 

With three energetic young children, a full time job, a full time doctoral program, a looming dissertation and multiple research projects, I just can’t. I just can’t.

I admit, I even mildly experimented with some of my hormones, which, yea, that was not a good idea. (note to others: do not experiment with your hormones…baaaad. baaaad idea.)

So, I’m heading to the doctor. I’m heading to the doctor to figure out what’s “normal” and what’s “hormonal”.

Or, what’s hor-normal. 

For all you “hor-normal sisters”, I’m right there with you. I’m putting on a good show when I’m out of the house, but collapse into a mess as soon as I walk in the door. I’m on the verge of crying nearly all the time. I use up all my energy to just get out the door and make it back in one piece. My body aches from the rapid weight gain that seems to just keep piling on no matter how many bare-dressed salads I eat and how many measured steps I take on my pedometer (which aren’t many because I’m so fatigued). 

 

You’re not alone. And, I know I’m not either. 

 

But, I’m hoping that the doctors can help me figure out what I can do, and that I can accept the changes that are simply the new hormonal normal. 

 

Peace, love, and remembering to breathe, 

Liza

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THE GRIP

I have this problem:

 

I’m confident.

Like, really confident.

Whenever I see a camera, I jump in front of it and pose. Whenever someone wants an interview or needs to film someone for a class project or a promo or a video shoot, I not only volunteer but insist on being in it. I speak in front of audiences of hundreds and web-viewers of thousands. I put on an outfit and think, “Yup, I’m cute.” When I enter a room, I don’t fade into the wallpaper or stand in a corner; I make my way to the middle of the room, the center of the dance floor, and smile and engage others.

I insist on being seen. 

What you don’t see, though, is why I do it. I do it to stop being invisible. I do it to challenge people’s ideas of who the “chubby lady in that loud print dress” should be. I do it because I want other “big girls” to know that we have worth, that we have value and that we take up space in this world that we deserve.

But lately, I’ve gotten bigger. I’ve taken up more space.

Before my oophorectomy — the surgical removal of my ovaries to save me from getting cancer — I was already heavy. My butt is big; my thighs rub together; I’m too chubby to cross my legs in that sassy, sexy legs way; and my baby pooch is prominent. After my mastectomy, my body started to look a little less proportional because, dang, silicone doesn’t gain weight when the rest of my body does. So, I have these tiny breasts and a big old body.

But, I have, for years, embraced my double-digit sized body. You can’t miss me when I enter a room, and that’s the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it.

However….

after my oophorectomy, my body went into hormonal shock. I had a tough recovery which was complicated further by my hormonal roller coaster. Fatigue, a painful post-op, and then artificial hormones set in.

And, on came more weight. 

And, this time, it tipped the scale (pun, maybe, intended).

I hit a point where, ouch, feeling big feels awful. Feeling big feels, well, just big. Not big and beautiful. Not big and sexy. Not big and sassy. Not big and confident.

Just big.

The kind of big where my confidence is chipping away. The kind of big which keeps me from even attempting to go to my high school reunion. The kind of big where, urgh, I’m feeling embarrassed to take up space. Where I don’t want to be noticed.
The kind of big that puts big girls like me back into a shame spiral (my favorite term, courtesy of my sister Grace).

 

Until Grace (same sister) sent me this article where the author describes her feelings of humiliation based on her weight:

That’s the thing about humiliation—it sticks with you. It becomes a part of you. Because it’s not an external emotion, like anger, it’s internal. It’s losing your grip on the image of yourself you’re trying so desperately to control and project. It tears down the curtain. It undermines who you think you are as a person, and that’s frightening.

That’s frightening. And, it felt good to read it. It felt good to know that this is real. It felt good to know that this space, this feeling, is about me. 

All of the years of building myself up, of feeling confident, about wanting to disrupt how we treat people who embrace big bodies, about being body positive are starting to wear thin (dang, did I just write that word? thin? see how it’s permeating my brain!!!)

I’ve been doing damage control — dressing up more, wearing flashy high heels, loud earrings, and even more dramatic makeup just so that I won’t disappear into the landscape. Bought some new red lipstick. I made a few plans to eat out so that I don’t feel like I am only good enough to hide in pajamas on my couch. I even cut 14 inches off of my hair, just so that I would be noticed.

Is it working? Yes.

It is permanent? No.

Is it real? As real as the grip in this gripe.

Peace, love, and, yes, still debating whether or not to go to reunion,

Liza

 

 

 

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About Us

Sassy, thirty-something woman with great sense of humor, good career, positive attitude, and go-getter spirit. Also has hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, sleep disturbances, memory changes, mood changes, fatigue and weight gain. Seeking a plate full of carbs, chocolate covered anything, a self-regulating blanket that knows when she’s about to wake up in night sweats, and a scale that reports 40 lbs less than she really weighs. Applicants accepted immediately.

 

One day, I just noticed it. It didn’t creep up on me like I had expected to, but one day, it was just there. Unavoidable. Like a surprise dinner guest when you just got into your comfy pajamas with the yellow ducks and soap bubbles patterned up and down the sides. The pajamas that you spilled coffee on a year ago and just can’t seem to get the stain out, but that stain reminds you of how much you love coffee. The pajamas where the seams are just slightly coming apart. The pajamas that, when you spilled some frosting on them from the cupcake you are eating, you wonder “are these actually clean enough to use my finger to scoop off the frosting and lick the frosting?” but then you do it anyway because you trust these pajamas pants. They are your soulmate. And, you would definitely lick frosting off your soulmate. 

Every Wednesday for the past three years, I have attended this weekly meeting with the other Directors in my division and I sit in the same spot, same chair,  and have the same view of the room. My routine is comforting — I enter into the room, place my pen and paper on the table that seats 12, position my phone to the right hand side of the very fancy desk blotter that sits in front of each Director, turn the wheeled chair a tad to the left, slip into the chair, and pull the chair in so that my elbows are at a 90 degree angle on the table. I am ready for anything.

Two weeks ago, I entered the room, placed my pen and paper on the table that seats 12, positioned my phone to the right hand side of the very fancy desk blotter that sits in front of each director, turned the wheeled chair a tad to the left, slipped into the chair, and pulled the chair in so that my elbows are … urgh… what the? …. ugrh… What the hell is blocking my chair? What the hell is blocking my chair??

I swiveled around and peeked under the desk. Maybe one of the wheels was caught on my bag or a fallen sweater. I used my legs to pull my chair in, hoping to at least break free from whatever it was that wouldn’t allow my chair to move forward.

And, that’s when it hurt.

Physically and emotionally.

I felt the harsh edge of the table push up against my mid-section. My stomach. My body.

My own body.

My own body was keeping the chair from moving in close enough for my elbows to sit at a 90 degree angle on the table.

I wasn’t ready for this. 

 

I had heard that weight gain was a common result of surgical menopause. I had read that women unexpectedly watched the numbers on the scale creep up after surgical menopause, a result of my high risk of ovarian cancer and the decision to thrust my body into a hormonal abyss. A decision to remove my ovaries, my future of child bearing, and an untimely battle with cancer left me with a growing mid-section.

 

I hadn’t felt my pants getting tighter or my clothes fitting smaller. I hadn’t felt weak or noticed any trouble lifting myself out of bed. I hadn’t noticed myself getting bigger or doorways getting smaller.

 

But, at that moment, I was faced with the reality of my changing body. And, like most women who have been socialized to place worth on how our bodies look or what types of norms we should fit, I began to feel like shit worthless. I began to think of all the speaking engagements I should cancel because it would be horrifying to for all of these people in the audience to look at me under glaring spotlights. I began to think of all the conference presentations I had to go to and whether or not people would see me as “the chubby Asian American lady.” And, any doubts and fears I had about going to my upcoming high school reunion were dismissed because, well, I definitely wasn’t going to go now.

 

“But, you don’t look like you gained weight,” said my co-worker when I revealed to her about the hormonal weight gain. It’s funny how a well tailored black jacket can do wonders.

 

For the rest of the day, I kept thinking about (and, oddly enough, banging into) my much larger midsection. I went to more meetings that day and tried to hide it. Once, when sitting, I tried to fold my arms across my chest, but quickly realized that my arms were actually settling in on TOP of my stomach — yes, like a shelf. That trick ended quickly. Then I tried to sit super close to the table so that my stomach hid underneath the table top. That worked until I realized my boobs were just laying on the table like a shelf. Awkward. Eventually, I just let it all out. I just let myself be me.

 

When I came home, my 5-year old son asked me to sit on the couch with him. And, like always, he snuggled up underneath my arm, took his tiny hand and began to rub my stomach. “Oh! Flat tummy! I love flat tummy!” he said in a familiar tone. Evan asks for “flat tummy” at least 10x a day.

“Oh, son. I don’t think Mommy’s tummy is very flat anymore,” I said, trying to let him down easy.

“Well, it’s so soft and fluffy, and awesome, and it’s my favorite part about you,” he replied.

And it’s my favorite part about us. 

Peace, love, and being all of me,
Liza

I wasn't kidding about the pajamas

I wasn’t kidding about the pajamas

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HEATWAVE

My eyes begin to dry. I can feel my heart beating in the space just above my cheeks. My skin begins to tingle and a fast warmth travels from my toes to my ears. 

 

And then I hear myself.

Yelling. 

 

My eyebrow furrows and anything near me is fair game. 

 

It’s not just a hot flash, although, that’s part of the problem. It’s now hormones + stress + anxiety. It all comes together in a mild panic attack. 

 

This isn’t the first one since the surgical removal of my ovaries, a procedure done to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer. I’ve had a few. Today, I actually had to leave a doctoral seminar because my head was consumed with preparing for my upcoming trip, getting my son ready for his first plane ride without me, and my first time coordinating a national awards ceremony. I couldn’t concentrate on conceptual frameworks or drawing diagrams of my literature review. 

 

“Sorry, everyone. I have to get going. I need to pick up my son,” I declared three hours before his school even closed. I made it to my car, drove about two miles, and had to pull over in the parking lot. Conveniently, it was the parking lot of my dad’s favorite Chinese food restaurant. “It’s like a drug,” he always says. “I don’t know what they do, but I crave their beef chau fun. It helps me relax.” Whenever he drives near the city, he stops at that restaurant. 

 

I pulled into the space, squeezing in between a hybrid car with two booster seats in the back and a delivery truck with red, unfamiliar writing on the side. 

 

I tugged at the zipper of my long, black puffy jacket, appropriate for yet another day that has left icicles dangling from my wheel bumper. I rolled down the window, turned my nose towards the chill, and took a deep — yet shallow — breath. I wanted to scream at anything. At something. At nothing. I grabbed the rearview mirror and tilted it downward. My face red and unfamiliar.

 

The timer on my phone played a soothing chime, signaling me to walk inside and pick up my order. I felt my heart relax. Maybe it was the chau fun. 

 

I used to crave stress. Stress, and busy-ness, made me feel important, needed, wanted. It made me feel useful, strong, and brilliant. Oh, I work full time, am a full time doctoral student, raise 3 kids the majority of the week, shuttle everyone to and from school/ to and from activities, make the lunches, the breakfasts, and the dinners? Yeah, I got this $hit. 

 

But now, with just the bare minimum of estrogen and progesterone to keep me upright, my body has a different idea of success. My stress meter is a fraction of what it used to be. When I hit that mark, my face gets red, my heart rate increases, my eye brow furrows, and my anger returns. My breath shallows. My stomach turns inside out. My mind races. I feel anxious. And, all I have left in me is to fall to the ground and cry. 

 

Tonight was one of the worst yet. I yelled at my son for not jumping rope properly, even though tonight was the first time he had ever held a jump rope. I yelled unkind words at my 7-year old for turning the pages of her 400 page book too loudly. And my 10-year old, when she asked me why I was yelling at everyone, got the worst of it. I felt the heat building up on the inside of my skin. The more I yelled, the more my insides boiled, and the more anxious I grew. 

 

I’ve always known that stress has physiological (and psychological) consequences. Now, after my surgery, I realize how little my body can take. And how quickly my body can take over. 

 

At the end of each day, I snap the silver blister tab that holds the next dose of my hormones. The felt the chalky small yellow pill on my tongue and the coolness of the water on my lips. I looked up in the mirror and began to cry. Who am I now? Who was I an hour ago? Who do my children think I am when my hormones take over?

 

“I’m sorry,” I whispered as I lay next to their beds. “I’m so sorry that I was yelling. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you certainly didn’t deserve that.” 

 

“Was it your hormones?” asked my 10-year old. 

 

“Maybe,” I replied. “But I can’t blame my hormones or my surgery. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t what Moms should do.”

 

And, for the first time that night, we hugged. I was thankful for the warmth of their cheeks against the outside of my skin. 

 

Peace, love, and having my own personal heatwave, 

Liza

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winding Down

ImageI’ve always loved the hospital.

Okay, maybe not the commute in or the rushing-around-to-wait experience. But, the hospital has always been my place of comfort, kindness, belonging, and safety.

As the child of a doctor, I was very used to the hospital being “the place my dad worked.” My dad treated me to lunch at the hospital cafeteria every day when I worked in his office. After church, if he got called for an emergency, the entire family would all pile into the green station wagon and parade into the emergency room with my dad while he attended to a patient. We begged to get treats at the vending machines. We got used to the constant beeping of machines. And, seeing people at their worst — in pain, scared, impatient — and treating them with respect taught us about the importance of compassion.

When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and was hospitalized immediately. I remember sleeping at the hospital by myself. My parents had the other children to worry about, and I was already so comfortable being in a hospital. I even remember the first time I had to advocate for myself. I had to get up to go to the bathroom, and needed some assistance to walk. I didn’t realize that there was a “nurse call” button, and I remember trying to get anyone’s attention by lightly banging on the wall behind me hoping someone would hear me. When a nurse finally heard my tapping and came into the room, I knew that, if I ever had to, I could effectively get help if I needed it.

When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer at age 2, the only place I felt safe was in the hospital. I liked the predictability of the routine. Check in, vital signs, chemo, sleep, play, chemo, eat, chemo, vital signs, sleep, chemo, vital signs, check out. I liked seeing the same familiar nursing staff. And, they liked seeing my growing belly with Baby #2 along the way. When the world grew cruel, staring at my daughter’s missing eye, I yearned for the accepting embrace of other parents in the hospital. And, each year as we returned for her check ups, I could breathe again knowing that she was still cancer free.

For the past 9 years, I have been coming to Mass General Hospital. Of those, I have been a patient for 7 years. Beginning in 2007, I was in and out of Mass General following my high risk of cancer due to the BrCA gene. Every three months, I was either having a breast exam or a gynecological exam to stay ahead of any tumors that were destined to develop in my body.

In 2010, those visits became less frequent because of my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. Soon after, my breast exams went from 3x a year to only 1x a year. After a quick check of my implants, my surgeon stated “See you next year!”

Though my breasts had been removed, my visits with the gynecological oncology staff continued. Every 4-6 months, I had blood work done as well as transvaginal ultrasounds to stay ahead of any ovarian tumors that would develop.

After the removal of my ovaries on January 17, 2014, my visits will also decrease to 1x a year.

Life, up until now, has been routine. I’m used to the routine of going to the hospital, seeing the staff, and getting my favorite cup of Coffee Central coffee — a half decaf/half hot chocolate — a tradition I started when my daughter was a patient.

“We’ll see you next year,” my breast surgeon said. I started to tear up. “Actually, my family is likely moving to New York sometime this year. So, I won’t see you. Again. I’ll need to see a team of doctors in New York.” I couldn’t fight back my tears any longer.

I thanked her for her kindness. For her care. For, in many ways, saving my life before it needed saving. Because of the surgery, my risk of breast cancer has been reduced from 90% to <1%. My oophorectomy reduced my risk of ovarian cancer from 60% to <1% as well.

The oophorectomy closes the door on a long journey as a BrCA previvor. In about an hour, I’ll be heading into my last visit with my gynecological oncologist who, too, saved my life before it needed saving.

Over the past four years, my body has had parts removed, parts replaced, and scars to mark the path. But, I don’t regret a single day. In the few hours I have been at the hospital, I have seen a family react to a new diagnosis. I assisted a woman as she walked cautiously to her appointment, the frailty of her bones the result of harsh treatment and bone loss. I have listened to two men crying while looking out the wall of glass windows in the hallway. And, I saw a mother and daughter holding hands in the waiting room, siting in silence.

As this chapter in my life winds down, I wanted to thank you all for coming along with me on this long and winding road. Some of you ran next to me. Others carried me.

You all were with me.

May you be loved, live in peace, and be bathed in happiness today and always,

Liza

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