Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The good, the bad, the ugly

     Well, today has been one of those days! Right now I just want to be left alone and get some sleep. It started this morning when a total stranger struck up a conversation with me. Then, 10 minutes later, it happened again! I barely like talking to people I know, what makes a complete stranger think I want to have a conversation with them? Skip the small talk and just pretend you don't see me....please! The second stranger struck while my 4 year old was crying and whining about how she wanted a stupid little rubber ducky in the smoothy shop. "No" was the answer (as I had just bought her a dress). Well, she carried on like only a 4 year old drama queen can. I distracted her long enough to squelch the irritating whining. Total stranger #2 says something like, "oh, I was going to buy it for her if she didn't stop." Seriously? I would have to poke your eyes out with a plastic fork lady, really??! Yes total stranger, please reward my child for making me want to pull her fingernails out! I'm sure that lady gives her dog cookies when it barks non-stop at her too.
     Unfortunately for me, the 4 year old whining and crying at the drop of a hat continued for the rest of the day. This evening, I received an email from work stating that one of my co-workers had passed away. She was in her mid 50's, had 2 teenagers, was always so much fun to work with. My heart hurts. She had become ill last spring with some sort of blood disorder, had gone through chemo and a stem cell transplant. I knew from the get-go it wasn't good, but this just really sucks. I will miss Deb and remember her enjoying her yodels and Little Debbie snack cakes.
     So, let's move on to 'the good.' Hubby's sister got married this past weekend and what an awesome party it was! We got all dressed up, ate good food, enjoyed some cocktails, enjoyed good family and friends, and danced up a storm! It was awesome. I had great energy and...dare I say...even forgot I had cancer! That's the thing with waiting so long until surgery (6/30), I am enjoying myself and forgetting what lies ahead (and within me).
     My doctor appointment last Friday went fine. My genetic testing came back and I am BRCA negative. So, no genetic markers of this cancer being hereditary. Good. But, I have to tell you that signing a consent form to have both of my breasts removed took a little wind out of my sails. I think my bottom lip even pouted out a little when the surgeon gave me the pen. I felt sad, heartbroken....the same way I felt when I learned I had cancer. But, a quick trip to Target for some retail therapy and I was feeling better. (Sorry honey!)
     Overall, I feel good and am really enjoying being a full time mom...even after today! My little one warms my cold, cold heart! ha! Last night while reading to her before bed, she placed her hand on my right breast and asked if that was the one that had cancer in it. I told her it was. She said ok and moved on to lefty to use as a pillow. She talks of how she will care for me after my surgery and even let me watch some of her movies if I want. I am happy that we have an open dialogue on the situation and it is not the 'scary' thing it could be. Enjoy your last weekend of May, the little and I will be heading out to visit my mom and dad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The waiting game

     This whole journey has been a waiting game. In the beginning, this drove me nuts. Now, I'm used to it. I was supposed to find out my genetic testing results and schedule surgery on Monday. Well, looks like insurance held up the genetic tests and now I will get the results on Friday. No biggie, the results won't change my decision on having a double mastectomy.  If I am positive for a BRCA mutation, I will most likely be adding an oophorectomy to my repertoire!
     Last Friday I met with my plastic surgeon, whom I really like and respect. We went over my reconstruction options and a step by step of the whole tissue expander process.  The reconstruction phase alone take close to a year, so I'm not putting any thought or concern into it right now. I kept myself busy last week stocking up on button front jammies and camisoles with shelf bras to hold my drains. I did learn that I have a very tentative surgery date-June 30th. Supposedly the breast surgeon and plastic surgeon are working on moving that date up. I sure hope so, I am ready to get this cancer out of me. NOW!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hey bartender, let's make it a double!

     So, I haven't lost much sleep over this whole cancer thing. I have it and I can't change that fact, so I just focus on treatment and moving on. I honestly feel like this is just a big pain in the ass. I could lose some very valuable beach days to this shit!  I have always had the idea in my head that I ever got breast cancer, I would have a double mastectomy, no questions asked. Well, I never really thought I would get cancer! WTF!
     So I went into my first surgical appointment with this point of view. My surgeon told me of all the statistical data against having a double mastectomy and even pointed out that lumpectomy + radiation has the same prognosis as mastectomy and doesn't change the survival rate. Having a double mastectomy leads to increase in recovery time, increased chance of complications, etc. Ok, I'll give those points to him..I will wait for my genetic testing results (this coming Monday)...or so I thought.
     So the topic to save lefty or not has weighed on me enough to make me lose sleep the past 2 nights.  I have been up to all hours reading all the research as well as breast cancer survivors stories. I really want to trust my gut and do the double, but seems like a decision not to be taken lightly! Really, what did lefty ever do to me, maybe he deserves a chance!
     Then today, at pre-school pick up(of all places) the decision became very clear. A breast cancer survivor came over to offer her support. I know that she is going in for a prophylactic mastectomy in 2 days. I told her of my struggle-to save lefty or not. She told me of her first cancer, treated by lumpectomy and other treatments, only to be followed by a recurrence in the same breast some years later which resulted in a mastectomy.  She is looking forward to removing her 'good breast' and said she wished she had done it 20 years ago.
     Done! To hear someone who has been through this battle say she wished she had done this procedure 20 years ago sealed the deal. I don't want to look back and say, "I should have", "I wish I had." I have a 4 year old and want to see her graduate kindergarten, go to prom, change the world with her huge, sweet heart! I can't miss those things and I would never forgive myself if I didn't do everything in my power to be there. I have never lived my life with regrets and won't start now because things are a little tough. Tell those you love how you feel, every day. They may not be here tomorrow!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The beginning

     I have been thinking of breast reduction sporadically for years. Last summer, while shopping for a new bathing suit and only being able to wear 'grandma' suits, I decided it needed to happen. I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon for a consult. In August 2014 I was approved through insurance for a breast reduction. I knew I wanted to lose some weight prior to surgery so the girls would stay nice and super perky for years to come. I chose Ideal Protein to lose the weight and lost 50lbs in less than 5 months. I felt amazing, healthy, dare I say confident? As part of my pre-op testing, my plastic surgeon requested I have a screening mammogram even though I was 38. This made me respect her even more.
     In March 2015 I went to my local hospital for my easy, peasy mammogram. A week later, I was back for additional views. That was quickly followed by an ultrasound and breast MRI. Next was a biopsy. I kept feeling like, "of course they found something, that's just the way things happen to me."
     April 30th my primary care physician called me. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, grade 3, ER+ PR+ HER-. I felt heart broken. I felt that undeniable pain and tightness in my chest. I have never thought 'why me?' But, I plan to move quickly and do everything to keep this from haunting my life.