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Reconstruction of a Different Kind

As I may or may not have mentioned, hubby and I recently tackled a remodeling project. It was time; in fact, it was past time.

We moved to our new state and present home seven years ago (wow seven years already!) and at the time had good intentions of “fixing up our fixer-upper” right away. We did tend to the outside of the house right away, the inside not so much.

We did not mainly because as they say, life got in the way.

Our new state and home did not seem to greet us very warmly.

Immediately upon arrival Brittni, our eldest and much beloved golden retriever, became seriously ill. She deteriorated in a matter of days to the point where we had no choice other than to “put her down.” The family rallied together, shed some a lot of tears and said goodbye.

Almost immediately we realized hubby’s new job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and we started wondering why we had uprooted ourselves and taken the big leap. (Thankfully he’s moved on…)

In early fall of 2007 my mother’s breast cancer recurred. Cancer reared its ugly head again, this time with a vengeance and unstoppable fervor.

Months of too many to count back-and-forth trips between my house and my parents’ house in Minnesota began. There were countless doctor appointments, medical consultations, decisions to make, drugs to try, drugs to stop trying, a “what have we got to lose” attempt at chemotherapy, several hospital stays, a trip to Mayo Clinic, and finally the realization we were not going to be able to hold off the terminality of metastatic breast cancer, which culminated in a forced and very brief nursing home stay.

Those were fall and winter months of an almost dizzyingly (is that a word? If not, it should be) frantic and often desperate nature.

By March 2008 my mother, the centerpiece of the family, was gone. Metastatic breast cancer had stolen another life.

Almost immediately after my mother’s death (in reality it was almost two years after, but it felt like immediately) came my diagnosis.

The frenzy that cancer brings returned to my family. This time it was my cancer to own.

Remodeling was the furthest thing from our minds.

As well as dealing with cancer and cancer treatment, we grappled with “remodeling” or reconstruction of a different kind, my bilateral mastectomy and subsequent reconstruction.

I’ve always thought the term breast reconstruction sounds somewhat ridiculous. Reconstruction is something I associate with roads or buildings, not breasts.

On a side note, the term lumpectomy also seems totally inadequate and trivial, making it seem as if you’re talking about removing a little cyst or an annoying pimple…

When my cancer treatment ended and then most of my reconstruction, hubby and I started trying to figure out our “new normal” because that’s what we were told we must do.

We’re still working on that one.

One thing about our new normal is that we don’t put things off quite as much. Hence the back-to-back winter get-a-ways the past two years. Before cancer, such trips were rarely discussed and certainly never happened. There were always too many excuses. You know the ones; no time, no money, too busy, can’t get away.

This year we decided not to put off our remodeling project any longer either.

So several months ago the reconstruction/remodeling began on our kitchen, family room and two bathrooms.

(Yes, it was stressful, but we survived!)

The project started with considerable demolition, in a weird sort of way, not that much unlike my bilateral mastectomy, which might be likened to a “demolition project” of sorts as well.

The house remodeling progressed slowly and in stages, again, not unlike my breast reconstruction which also progressed slowly and in stages.

Finally, the house remodeling ended with a finished product that is rebuilt, a different version of its older former “self.”

It’s far from perfect and is in fact, still flawed, but for now it’s good enough.

We’re done.

Sometimes good enough is just that, good enough.

Now when have I said that before?

Do you put things off less often post-cancer diagnosis?

Have you ever undertaken a remodeling project of any kind?


The "before" kitchen looking even more dated (& cluttered) than I remember


The "after" shot with Ninja looking on


A different angle, Ninja seems pleased.













Cancer, Chemotherapy, An Ebook & Why Me?
Was it just a bad dream?
My Bilateral Mastectomy – Was It Just a Bad Dream?


Monday 25th of February 2013

Is it OK to have a bath or kitchen remodel while undergoing chemo? Is there health concerns?


Friday 1st of March 2013

CJ, I imagine this might be a very individual thing. My first reaction would be this might not be the best time to do a remodel as one can be bothered by unusual smells, disturbances or whatever. On the other hand, it might be a perfect distraction for someone else. I would suggest speaking with one's doctor first, just to be sure of the safety aspect. Thanks for sharing your question.

Jan Baird Hasak

Saturday 2nd of June 2012

I love your kitchen remodel and the clever analogy you made to your breast cancer "reconstruction." Where do they come up with these words, anyway?

Post-cancer diagnosis, I've taken on new hobbies such as playing the ukulele, painting with watercolors, and trying my hand with sonnets and limericks. While these aren't "must-do" projects, they enhance the quality of my life as I make new friends along the way and experience new creative challenges.

The only time I've remodeled is when we had our kitchen redone in a Colonial Revival house (circa 1907) many years ago. We used the pantry as our kitchen until the main room was finished. I remember eating out many times. It was a great excuse not to cook! xx


Sunday 3rd of June 2012

Jan, I love how you've challenged yourself with your new hobbies. Good for you! Sounds like you had a "confining" remodel project too. I must say, eating out was a nice benefit. I'm still trying to get back into the cooking thing. I fear I've lost my touch a bit! Thanks for commenting.


Thursday 31st of May 2012

Oh, Nancy...I haven't finished with my own remodeling either -- breasts or house!! 'Good enough' I know well. Any sort of progress feels like a major accomplishment, doesn't it? xoxo


Friday 1st of June 2012

Kathi, Yes, you are so right, my friend. Here's to "good enough."


Thursday 31st of May 2012

I am having kitchen envy. Love those benchtops!!!


Thursday 31st of May 2012

Liz, It's definitely an improvement. Benchtops? - is that the same thing as countertops? Thanks for stopping by!

Julie Goodale

Tuesday 29th of May 2012

Nice kitchen! Beginning of 2011, we started a big roof repair/reno. Had to move out of 1/2 our house & squeeze into just 2 rooms, kitchen & bathroom (yes, it was small but functional). They walled us off, started the demo, & then winter hit - blizzards every 4 days, all winter long. Because of the various elements/people/schedules involved (and lots of time out of town for us), it took a year & a half. And then we haven't been home at the same time much, so it was only over the weekend that we really were able to start moving furniture & begin reorganizing life.

We're now in the painful process of figuring out how it all fits/works again, & a lot of re-sorting & reorganizing. Things don't fit the way they used to....hmmm, seems familiar.


Wednesday 30th of May 2012

Julie, That sounds like one long and stressful project. Good luck resorting and reorganizing. Hope it isn't too "painful." Thanks for sharing.

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