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Forgiveness.

I’ve wanted to write this letter for a long time, but never had the courage, strength or wisdom to get it out. I’m grateful that today, I did. To Dr. S. I feel such freedom and gratitude in sharing this. Whether I’ll ever give it to him or not is yet to be known, but it is now free from living inside of me and it feels wonderful to forgive and let go.

Dr. S–

I am going back into surgery in a few days for a repair of the structure of my abdominal wall following the prior surgery with you to remove my desmoid tumor in 2008. I have mixed emotions about going into this surgery and what it means to me and my body as well as my relationship and prior history with you. I didn’t really care for you when we were going through the surgery experience last time and I certainly haven’t appreciated you or though fondly of you since, quite frankly, I despised you. Whether any of my feelings towards you or my surgery are right or wrong I want to let them go, let it be the past and move forward to where I live now – the present here and now. The only way I know how to do that is acknowledge my feelings, the truth of these feelings, and as best I can, forgive.

I was angry at you from the start, the first time I stepped into your office and had to wait 45 minutes to go to a room and then 45 more minutes, at the age of 26 in the exam room by myself not knowing what was going on. I was so angry that you made me wait – here is what I also understand about this now:

  • I chose to come to this appointment by myself because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but I felt if I didn’t make a big deal out of it and have my parents travel into town with me to go to it that bad things wouldn’t come true
  • At that time in my life, I had a lot of anxiety and little faith – my anxiety was running high that day due to the circumstances and I was unfair to you given this
  • I understand doctors schedules much better now and recognize that you most likely do your best to stick to schedule, but giving patients the time they need to talk (which you do), seeing the amount of patients you need to see to hit hospital standards and to get reimbursement you need from insurance companies is a difficult game

I apologize for these feelings and I forgive you for this wait time.

I was angry when you came in and just started stating the facts and pulling out your white board to show what you were going to do to my body. WHAT THE HELL??? Who does that to a young girl, just says I will cut you here and here and we will just take this out and you’ll be better – as long as it’s not malignant. I didn’t even know what malignant meant. I hate that damn white board and the X you placed on my stomach where the tumor was and the cut lines – all of it. It has been a horrid image to me since then. I didn’t even know I had a tumor. I thought I pulled a muscle this is the 1st memory I have of any problems. I felt so alone and confused.

  • This is how I remember this – I don’t know if you came in and tried to make small talk before the facts. I don’t know if you knew that no one had talked to me about what was going on prior to you
  • I know you used the white board in caring and compassion to give me a better idea of what was happening and what you might do. It was just the wrong time for me to see it and I accept the education and wisdom you were trying to share with me. The transparency you were trying to offer.
  • I know when you are really in your work for a long time you may not think to explain all words to those you are speaking with – I do it myself when I get involved in my work. I forgive you for not explaining things I needed understanding on more.

I forgive you for this interaction and forgive myself for placing so much judgment and ill feelings towards you for this.

I wanted so much more than you could give me in getting this new diagnosis. At the age and knowledge level I was at – medically, spiritually, emotionally – this was so overwhelming and confusing for me. I wanted holistic options – no cutting, nutrition advice, non-drug pain options/advice, I wanted no post-surgery complications and in NO way did I want my stomach to show that it had been cut open or compromised. I went through this process riding the roller coaster of anxiety versus the flow of faith. I see that now. You told me you couldn’t help me with nutritional advice and it pissed me off because you were cutting open my stomach – you also told me this after you had cut open my stomach and digestive area too and it angered me even more. I wanted a holistic option and I know now this need was bigger than you, it was causing my family disagreements and putting pressure on me that was easier to blame on you than take accountability and stand up for myself. I didn’t want my stomach to be sliced open and muscle to be taken out because at that time in my life my stomach was the only part of me that I thought was beautiful. It was flat and strong and I was proud of it – my legs, my arms, my everything else – I hated and didn’t even look at – and the part that I did was to be sliced and deemed defective just like the rest of it. This had nothing to do with you and what you could or could not do in that operating room and everything to do with my spiritual energy and self worth towards myself. I heard you say in a pre-appointment with one of my best friends that my stomach would look the same after surgery and I would be fine. That was a lie. That is not true and my stomach never looked the same. I had a scar, I had a huge bulge, I lost my belly button and I am pissed about that. It felt so deceptive and wrong and I have had a lot of anger about that.

  • I know you tried to be patient with me and give me appointments and additional time prior to my surgery to discuss the questions I had and I appreciate that.
  • I understand now more clearly that you are not an expert in nutrition or holistic advice as that is not something you were exposed to in school and I feel sorry for that in our medical system and I am devoting myself to helping make that more of an option for physicians in your role, but I do not blame you or get angry for you for that.
  • I know you were trying to relate to me with our exersize likes, our physical needs, our attachments to our body and I know you were trying to help ease my anxiety and I you may have said things that were not 100% true and I may have heard things differently than you said them or meant them – I let this go. I accept that neither one of us were perfect but we did the best we could with what we had then.
  • I know that there are healing things that I need to do spiritually and emotionally with my body to move forward and I have worked diligently on that and continue to now love my body the way it is – no matter what.

I forgive these conversations about my body and the answers to these questions and I let it go. I appreciate you for trying to answer as best you could.

We agreed that you would take the tumor out and the margins if it was a desmoid and just the growth if it was not the desmoid and do nothing if it was cancer. This is not what happened -you took the mass out and sewed me back up to get a biopsy. We did not agree on this and this was my body and I was pissed about this. You compromised my health in a way we did not agree and I was angry about that.

When we did find out it was a desmoid – a week later – you had your nurse call me and tell me on the phone that I needed to come back for surgery. That phone call was so hard to get and hear and I don’t know if I was pissed that you had her call, that I learned from a phone call or that I learned about this at all – now I let it go.

We agreed that you would not use pigs or cows skin in my stomach for the surgery and post-surgery I found out that you did. This was the final straw that made me believe I could not trust you and dismiss you for good. I wanted honesty from you.

  • I realize all the above could also be perception vs. reality conversations/outcomes/experiences – no matter how that happened I let them go and I forgive myself and you for our roles in them.

I am grateful for you finding this desmoid, connecting me with fellow survivors, taking time with me to try to explain what I needed as best as I could at the time and, most importantly, getting all of the desmoid out and having the wisdom and talent to help keep me desmoid free since the surgery.

You are an important part of my life. I care for you and I’m grateful for the role you have played in my healing. I appreciate you and my hope is that our experience together can help us heal areas in our life and others that share similar experiences. My promise is to forgive these experiences, let go of what I have been holding onto in shame, blame or anger since our experience together and move forward to shine light on others that can use the wisdom of what I learned by having you in my life. Thank you for being there when I needed you and for being such an important part of my healing journey.

In love and healing,

sera

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