The “mother of all surgeries”

I’m so glad this article didn’t come out a few months sooner. Here’s the lede:

The operation is so terrifying some call it MOAS: the Mother of All Surgeries. It can take 16 hours. The risk of complications is high. And after 30 years of research, doctors are still arguing about how well it works.

….Now, as the surgeon scrubbed in, Phillips was ready — or as ready as one can be — to have his innards scraped with electrified wires and sluiced with hot poison.

Gripping journalism, but terrifying pre-operative reading material. Geez.

Reading this two months after undergoing the same procedure makes me marvel at the fact I was out of the hospital within six days. I trace the scar sealing my own abdomen with wonder.

It’s shockingly long, a vertical slash that starts just under my rib cage, curves around my belly button, and ends beneath my underwear. But it seems to be healing well, and may not be as ugly as I feared in the long run. (The surgeon told me afterward that he typically uses staples but “everyone insisted we do a cosmetic surgery closure on you.” I would have liked to hear that conversation. Thanks, OR onlookers, for admiring my abdomen enough to want it preserve it with as much dignity as possible.)

There was good news and bad news when I woke up, and on the balance, I know I should be happy.

The good news: Remission! NED! All visible cancer is gone! However, so is my womb. This may not seem like a big deal, but it hit me hard. I knew a hysterectomy was somewhere on the list of outside possibilities, and I had signed a consent to remove whatever was necessary to get all the cancer out. But it still feels like I’ve been robbed in the night of the very core of womanhood.

What felt most unfair was that this was not the happy ending I’d scripted (oh, the perils of being a writer), the one where the brave young mother not only beats cancer against all the odds but goes on to have a second child, the one they’d been talking about trying for when all this madness began. He was going to be a boy. I was so sure. I even had a name picked out; things set away.

It was a jarring reminder of something I have to keep learning over and over on this journey: I don’t know how my story ends, and neither do you. Even my doctor doesn’t know. Scary? Yes. But also reason to hope. And trust the One who does know.





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