surgery scheduled: health update

He found a lump. Back before he had heart surgery, I used to joke about Phil’s manssiere, or “bro,” his man bra that was his external defibrillator. The thing used to go off—asking bystanders to step away from the device—during sex. Then he had surgery, where they implanted an internal defibrillator, which I still fear will go off. Though, while I joked, I never implied that my man had actual breasts. He has a manly chest, so it feels wrong to say “He found a lump in his breast tissue,” but, that’s what has happened.

“You don’t worry until they tell you there’s something about which to actually worry.” I’ve heard this advice from just about everyone who’s ever been diagnosed with anything frightening. It’s great advice if you can follow it. Just saying it aloud as a mantra helps me, but then again, it’s not my body. Phil went to get it checked out, first by his primary care physician, then by an oncologist. He had a mammogram, or what I refer to as a “man-o-gram” and other external testing. The radiologist and oncologist agreed, “Whatever it is, it’s not normal.” They couldn’t tell from the imaging if there was blood flow around it, or in it. It could be a cyst, a benign fatty-tumor, or something else. They don’t know what it is, so this Friday, they’re going in to remove it, along with some surrounding healthy tissue and  a “Pizza pie slice of your nipple. Not so much that people at the beach will notice, but you’ll always notice.”

Thursday night, we’re seeing Love Letters on Broadway, and Friday morning, Phil is put under and surrounded by love. Thankfully, his mother is sleeping over to watch the kids. I don’t really know what to expect in terms of recovery time. So, I plan to do a bit of nesting, crockpot cooking, trying to make his life easier. I don’t know how many of you pray, but please keep us in your thoughts. We’ll get back on the saddle soon enough.



  1. Sending good karma your way. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with so many of us.

  2. I’ve had a lumpectomy, it was intraductal carcinoma, which sounds like a bigger deal than it was. I don’t think men can have it (It’s a milk duct almost pre-cancer, Stage I, very early), but I can speak to the surgery recovery.

    It wasn’t bad. I was home same day but pretty late. I wasn’t allowed to pick anything up heavier than a half-gallon of milk for a week, I think. I healed well and have a faint, white scar that I can see but nobody else would notice, I don’t think. The area under the scar is slightly depressed, but since the incision ran from 6 PM to 11 PM (think of the nipple as a clock), you can only see the depression if I turn slowly and you’re looking for it.

    I never took any of the pain medication prescribed, and I never felt any sharp discomfort, just sort of battered and bruised. The worst part of it for me was the anesthesia, honestly. (And having to have the doctor initial my breast pre-surgery. Awkward.)

    I will keep you and Phil in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Sending positive thoughts and good wishes to you and your family from snowy Minneapolis.

  4. Every, single bit of courage and strength I can muster is headed your way. You’re in my thoughts.

  5. Stephanie, if it turns out it IS breast cancer, there’s a wonderful organization I volunteer for called SHARE, which has a helpline of survivor volunteers. There’s a male survivor he can talk with if he would like to. And as a female breast-cancer survivor, I’d be happy to talk to him too.

  6. Keeping you and Phil in my prayers. Wishing him a swift procedure and easy recovery.

  7. Stephanie, Here’s the number for Share: 866-891-2392. Also, if it comes to that, there’s a caregiver’s helpline as well. And all service are free of charge.

  8. Hang in there, we are all sending lots of positive thoughts to all of you! My husband had cancer twice before he was 34. Surgeries, recoveries, etc. are hard on the patient and at least as hard on you as wife, mom and care giver. Take help from everyone who offers it and enjoy nesting with your family!

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