Breast Cancer Awareness, Stories, Support

This blog is dedicated to everyone who has been touched by Breast Cancer. It is a means of sharing my story (the good the bad the ugly) and to spread awareness. My first post: October 1st 2010. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please follow as I share my story. Leave a comment or share an experience. You can contact me by e-mail at



Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bye Bye Cancer, Bye Bye Boobs

Cancer free, cancer free, it’s great to be cancer free!!!

Well I am officially cancer free (and for the moment boob free). My expanders are in place and I think I will be starting the filling process in a few weeks. I had my follow up appointment with the breast surgeon yesterday (which went well, more on that below) and I will see the plastic surgeon on Tuesday (I will be sure to let you know how that goes). During my short hospital stay they were very happy with how I was healing. Most of my pain has been in the armpit area (where the lymph nodes were removed) and where the drains are. I don’t remember a whole lot about my hospital stay except that my wonderful family was by my side the whole time. My hubby spent both nights with me which was a good thing because he spent most of that time scratching my itchy spots about every 30 seconds. The anesthesia and the morphine made me so itchy. During the day I felt like Cleopatra only instead of people on either side of me fanning they were scratching.

My surgery was Friday and I came home Sunday. Kind of quick but I was happy to go home until I got very car sick. That made for a horrible day. The doctor called in a script that was very helpful. Since then I have had good days and bad days. I think the pain medication makes me feel light headed and nauseous some times (not to mention giving me CRAZY dreams). Not having the full use of my arms is not much fun and very hard. I don’t have much range of motion right now. I have started doing my exercises so that should help. Showers are an interesting experience since the plastic surgeon doesn’t want me to get my incisions wet yet. I am not the most pleasant smelling person these days either. I am not allowed to use deodorant yet…blah. I can barely stand the smell of myself. My hubby, sister, and sister in law have spent the week taking care of me plus lots of company from family. Family and friends have also sent over lots of food which has been very helpful.

Right now I have a lot of numb areas. The most uncomfortable thing is the drains. I can’t wait to get those out. That will be up to the plastic surgeon.

I hadn’t looked at my boob-less chest yet and I was thinking of waiting till Halloween to check it out (I thought that would be appropriate :) but then I thought I better look before I see the breast surgeon in case I had any questions. Before I looked I imagined the worst thing I could. The reality was a little worse. Mainly all the extra skin. It doesn't bother me tho. As I said it is great to be cancer free. This of course will also improve as the plastic surgeon does his thing.

Speaking of the breast surgeon my appointment with him went well. The skin and incisions look very good. When you have breast tissue removed the surgeon leaves the skin very thin and sometimes the skin can die which makes the skin turn black. I have almost no areas of black. He said there may be some near the incision but it is hard to tell with all the steri-strips. The pathology is back. The tumor was a little bigger than they thought, 3cm not 2. The left side breast tissue and sentinel lymph nodes were all clear. One of the sentinel nodes on the right had a micro metastasis (a very small cluster of cancer cells, not enough to warrant going back in to take the rest of the nodes out). This will most likely change the chemo treatment a bit. I have an appointment with the Oncologist scheduled for November 12th. I will let you know how that goes too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Firsts and Lasts

The past couple months have been full of firsts and lasts. After I got the call telling me “Yes I have cancer”, even though it certainly had been there for some time, I started thinking about firsts. This is the first time I’ve been in my bathroom with cancer. (Yes I answered the phone in the bathroom but I was just doing my hair so don’t get all ewwww on me. You know you do it too. Where else would a person with Crohns disease be lol) Anyway this is the first time I’ve seen so and so with cancer. This is the first time I’ve gone to the high school with cancer. This is the first time I’ve been in the grocery store with cancer.

Now I’m going through the lasts. This is the last time I talk to so and so with cancer. Yesterday was the last time I’d go to the high school and grocery store with cancer. Ironically last Sunday was the first time I watched B play baseball with cancer and the last time I would watch him play baseball with cancer. On Friday I will be saying goodbye to Sugar and Spice (no I did not always have names for my boobs I just figured I should name them before they are gone). Sugar (used as a term of endearment) is the one on the left w/out cancer, kind and sweet. Spice (a pungent odor or fragrance (often used before a noun) is the one on the right with cancer, mean and brassy (brightly dressed in a cheap and showy way, and behaving too confidently or noisily). I kinda wish I did have names for them, if only to have a more personal relationship with them. Naaaaaaaa. I think tho I should have a more personal relationship with my new perky boobs. Maybe you can help me name them ;) Well regardless in a few days these boobs will be gone and when I’m feeling up to it I will let you know how everything went and how my hospital stay was (and all its diversions – Lucy: Sense and Sensibility) I just love Jane Austen and I think I will be reading and watching a lot during my recovery.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why yes I’d love to go out to dinner!

I’ve noticed something since my diagnoses. Everyone deals with a cancer diagnoses differently. I know how family deals with it. My family has dealt with it too many times. My family is the type of family who deals with it with lots of love and support. We are there with each other every step of the way. What I have noticed recently is how other people in your life deal with it. I’m not saying that they don’t love you or care about you because they do. I’m not being critical just observing. I’m sure not perfect. I’ve mainly observed two different responses. They either want to feed me or ignore it. Seriously I’ve had 8 different invitations to go out to dinner. I’m not complaining, I love to go out to dinner so yeah let’s go. Others just kind of ignore it or avoid me which is fine I completely understand it but it is hard to ignore, it’s kinda like an elephant in the room (a big pink one lol). At first I wasn’t sure what to think. Now I think sometimes people don’t know what to say. They may be afraid of upsetting you. It is sometimes easier for people to stay away. Some are ok with talking about it, some aren’t, and some want to feed you :) There is no right or wrong. I would love it though if we all went out to dinner. I’ll even let you pick the restaurant ;)
Ahhh make that 9 dinner invitations (a new one today) Nom Nom Nom :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Even though I’ve always thought I knew exactly what I would want to do if I got breast cancer - bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. A prosthesis would be fine. Then when I was faced with the actual diagnose I found myself wondering what I should do. My first question was “your boobs or your life” hence the title of this blog. The one thing I did know was that if I chose to have a lumpectomy or just one breast removed I would constantly worry that the cancer would come back in the same breast or the other one. Bilateral mastectomy it is. Now the question: to reconstruct or not to reconstruct. I’m very well endowed so I think it would be very shocking to go from that to nothing. I would much rather have a little something so yes to reconstruction. I am going to downsize though.

I’ve been doing a lot of research. Trying to get some idea of what to expect post-op. I’ve come across a lot of helpful information about the surgery, drains, expanders, and even what to take to the hospital with me. (The surgeon said that I could be in for 2 or 3 days.) As a matter of fact I have already started packing a bag. I need to go shopping for some stuff like pj’s that button down the front. I have lots of comfy slipper socks. I know the hospital ones are lovely but I’ll pass. I must remember my chap stick…I cannot live without my chap stick. I also have this spray that is the same idea as dry shampoo. I’ve used it before and it works very well. I don’t know if I’ll feel much like eating but I may throw a few snacks in there in case I get hungry in between the tasty hospital meals. If anyone out there has any other good idea’s please share.

Once I’m home I plan on watching a lot of movies and reading all the books I have sitting around that I haven’t gotten to yet. I guess I’ll be spending a lot of time in my bedroom at first so I’m going to make sure I have everything I need at my fingertips.

Here are some other tips I found on a great blog
Baby wipes – to freshen up
moisturizer, and a brumisateur
electric toothbrush
comfy blanket
iPod or MP3 player
cell phone

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Anxiety??? Emotional??? Who Me???

Well I’ve had my pretesting done and October 22nd is creeping up on me. Ever since I got my surgery date its been like WOW Oct. 22nd is so far away. When I say Oct. 22nd it still seems far away…until yesterday when I realized Oct. 22nd is two weeks from tomorrow. Now Oct. 22nd is too close. I still can’t wait to get this over with but omg two weeks! All this time I’ve been wondering how much anxiety I’m going to have the week before and the night before. It’s crazy…I’m starting to have anxiety about having anxiety. Ahhh yeah, I’m sure my family is not at all surprised by this. I think I’ll be taking a lot of deep breaths for the next two weeks!!!

Today was an emotional day. I went to B’s high school (for those of you who don’t know my son is a senior this year and a baseball player. He has been looking at colleges and meeting with coaches). So as I said I went to the school to talk to the Athletic Director about the schools B is interested in. I know he has a lot of information and contacts so I’m hoping he can get his name out there some more and bring some coaches to some games this spring to see him play. He is very glad to help in any way he can. He thinks B is wonderful and a great player. Now for the emotional part…I also explained to him that I am having surgery and may not be able to help him much for the next few months. Now its been my recent experience that when I say to a MAN that I’m having surgery they just say “sorry to hear that” and don’t ask any questions. I think they are afraid it is woman stuff that they won’t want to hear about hahaha. Also I find it easier to talk about my breast cancer with someone who already knows. I can joke around about my boobs trying to kill me and that I’m going to have these new perky boobs and everyone is going to be jealous. Buuuuutttt when I have to tell someone who doesn’t know I get very emotional and being the great guy that GN is he asked…and I got very emotional. Ugh!!! I don’t like getting emotional in front of people who are not family or very close friends but he handled it very well and he didn’t ask to take me out to dinner??? Haha but that is another story.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love and Support

My first phone call was of course to my husband at work. That was a very hard call to make but he is so supportive and strong. He did what he does best, assure me that everything will be ok and he is always right (but don’t tell him I said that :). Then the calls to my family and in case you don’t already know it I have the most wonderful family in the world. Within twenty minutes they began arriving at my house, to be by my side, to love me, to hug me, to cry with me, and we even laughed a little because that’s what we do best. They wouldn’t be anywhere else. Already planning how they would take care of me. Getting copies of my biopsy report, making phone calls to family and friends who know exactly what the report means and who can recommend great doctors and helping me plan what to do next. Yes they are the most wonderful family in the world.

Here are the details:

Diagnosis from core biopsy:
1. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, Intermediate Nuclear Grade
2. Lobular Carcinoma In Situ, Intermediate Nuclear Grade

Strongly positive for estrogen, strongly positive for progesterone
Negative HER-2/neu, score 1+

What to do next involved a lot of Doctors appointments and tests:
MRI Findings:
No chest wall involvement
The mass is about 2.2 cm

CT Scan:
Lungs clear. No nodules. No enlarged lymph nodes

Whole Body Bone Scan:
No evidence of bone metastases

My surgery is scheduled for October 22nd. My surgeon is wonderful and very good of course. He is very positive and so am I.

Because of my strong family history of breast cancer (mom, sister, first cousin) I am having a double mastectomy, reconstruction (Yay for perky boobs), followed by chemo, and 5 years of tamoxifen

I saw the plastic surgeon and he is wonderful as well. We went over all the options and decided on implants. Using my own tissue from my abdomen is out of the question because I have Crohns Disease and a large scar from surgery.

I was taking Cimzia for the Crohns but had to stop. I can’t be on any drugs that suppress the immune system. I am trying to stay relaxed and praying that the crohns beast will stay calm through all of this. I am usually what one might call a “worrier” and I have to admit that I cried almost nonstop through the testing and for about a week after the diagnosis but I am amazed (once I stopped crying) at how calm I’ve been. I do still have my moments but it is a calm that can only come from God. I am so blessed to have so many people praying for me.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

“My faith is strong because I know my God is faithful, and His faithfulness is my shield”

Friday, October 1, 2010

I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and this is my journey.

On August 23rd, one day before my sons 20th birthday, two days before my wedding anniversary I got the news that I had breast cancer. I don’t really remember much about the call. She did a lot of talking and I did very little talking. I wrote down what I thought was important. I was strangely calm…and then I hung up the phone. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. I wasn’t really surprised. Because of my strong family history and a cyst that kept filling up I’ve hand many many mammograms and ultrasounds. This time it was different. The cyst had filled back up but there was something else, another area that needed a closer look. There were no smiles from the technician. There were no comments. There was very little eye contact. From the moment just after the first mammogram when they started doing more views I knew. Then when they did the ultrasound I knew. When they scheduled the biopsy for the next day I knew. When I saw the films right before the biopsy I knew. When they scanned my armpit just before they did the biopsy I knew. After the biopsy I laid on the table and the tears rolled down my face, no sobs just tears. The technician was so kind, I knew. I was almost out of the waiting room with my husband when I burst into tears. I told him “It’s bad, it’s bad, I know it’s bad. He said “Don’t say that we won’t know until we get the results”. I knew!
To be continued...