My Battle with Breast Cancer

My Battle Scars

Here it is!  The post I have been promising you with all the photos you may or may not want to see. 

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I had high hopes of making this a pretty snazzy post.  I was going to have all these photos of flowers come up on your screen, and then have you scroll over them with your mouse and it show a different photo.  It works well with one or two photos, but when you go to add as many photos as I did it just didn't load fast enough and the wrong photos showed first.

SO…

I decided to just post the photos people are wanting to see anyway.  I will be posting the flower photos here and there in the future, but today all the photos are going to be of my battle scars.

When you click continue, you do so at your own risk.  I am not holding back, and am showing you just about everything there is to see. 

Now let's get this story started.

May 9th, 2011 I met the surgeon that would change my life, save my life and really change my whole world.  Oh my goodness my world has changed so much in the last month that it isn't even funny. 

Another thing that happened on May 9th was that I had to go shopping.  I had to buy a cami that I would wear after surgery.  It is the most expensive cami I have ever, and will ever buy in my life.  It isn't even that pretty.

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You might notice that I'm a bit lop-sided.  This is the cami I was talking about.  It is not just your average cami.

You see, this cami has pockets for the drain and it was very, very helpful. 

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Now, let's talk about the drain.

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This is where the drain begins.  There was a small incision made, and believe it or not, there is about 6 inches of that tube up in my chest. 

I thought it would be pretty gross dealing with the drain, but it wasn't bad.  I got to where I wanted to measure the fluids that were coming out of my body.  When the fluids were 30 cc or less within a 24 hour period then I could get the drain out.  I was ready for that.  I have great luck, HA!  My drain was ready to come out the Saturday morning after my surgery.  The only problem with that was that the office isn't open on Saturday, so I had to go two more days with that crazy thing.

This is what the rest of the drain looks like.

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This little bulb is where all the fluids go, and then…

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…we had to pour it into this measuring cup.

I should have taken photos of the fluids in this measuring cup when they were up to 50cc.  Oh well. 

Now you kind of have an idea of what I went through with the drain.  I won't go on and on about the drain, but tomorrow I am going to do a little informational post about how to work the crazy little thing.

Finally, the photo some of you have been either waiting for, or wondering if I would post it.  Here it is…my left oobiebay, or lack there of.

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And there ya have it.  I feel like I need to explain something.  This was shortly after surgery, so there was a little bit of the iodine, or whatever it is they used still on me.  The lump in my chest is my defibrillator.  And lastly, I had a mastectomy but I am going to have reconstructive surgery so there are tissue expanders.  That is why there looks to be a little bit of oobiebay there. 

I hope the photos do not offend anyone, and help others who may be wondering or getting ready to go through this themselves. 

Now, I am going to make some cookie dough or something.  I can't believe I am posting a photo of my chest out there for the world to see. 

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49 Comments

  • Reply Sayre June 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    My mom had a drain like that coming out of her head… after brain surgery. It was very strange (especially since they partially shaved her head). I remember wondering how it worked, since it didn’t appear to be gravity-driven. I’ll be looking forward to that drainage post.
    You’re a brave soul, but posting your chest picture is a service. I sincerely doubt you’d have done it if it was being posted in a sexual way.

  • Reply Monie June 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Firstly, you are a beautiful woman, and that is a fact that is not changed by any surgical scar. I think it is a wonderful thing for you to share your story along with the images. Information is power, and your willingness to be forthcoming with details about mastectomy will surely help many women. Without question, I am sure this will enlighten and encourage women who are facing this disease currently, or those that will in the future. I applaud your courage and positive attitude, and send healing thoughts and prayers.

  • Reply Tonya June 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I totally admire you. I did before this but this is awesome. Not sure I could but singled you did. You rock.

  • Reply sheila June 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Oh darlin you are so brave…and tan ; D HUGS!

  • Reply Monie June 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I just remembered something that I wanted to share with you. I was visiting with my spiritual mentor/Bible study leader/pottery teacher, and we were discussing trials/pain/suffering. We were also in the process of firing some vessels in the kiln. There was a rack of glazed vessels all loaded and ready to be rolled into the kiln. (The glazes on the bisque fired pots just looks all muddy…like they just got dipped into one of the mudpots at Yellowstone…but when they come out of the kiln, the fired glazes glow with colors that are rich and beautiful.) ANYHOW, I said to Rachel, ‘You know, I bet those pots don’t want to be put through the fire’…’I bet if they could choose, they would prefer to just stay muddy, and they would be good for NOTHING. But when they come out of the fire, not only are they beautiful, but they are useful vessels!’ I thought of you and this firey trial that you are facing, and just wanted you to have that visual of the beautiful glazed pots!

  • Reply Lisa June 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Julie…thank you for your bravery and willingness to post the photos and information of your battle scars. I went through a little of that last year (during the month I turned 40 too) and I absolutely scoured and devoured any information I could find on the Internet about the procedures I was scheduled for so I think it will be very helpful to empower women to make better decisions and know what to expect.
    May God continue to bless you & McD and heal your body.

  • Reply Laura L. June 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    You are so amazing and brave and courageous. Thank you for sharing. I know that this knowledge will help some people in their battle with breast cancer. Right now, it just helps me to have a better understanding of what you are going through. If there is ever anything I can do, just tell me! <3

  • Reply Sandie June 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I am so proud of you. You are doing so very well. I would be a puddle on the floor. At least I think I would. I guess until I walk in your shoes… Take care of yourself and all the prayers and hugs going your way. You will beat the cancer monster.

  • Reply BethZimmerman June 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    You are amazing, Julie! Bravo! Bravo!

  • Reply Bush Babe June 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    OKay – I am clearly a bit of a ghoul, but I found that totally interesting. I’ve had heaps of ops (knee recontructions etc etc) and have often wished someone took a video so I could see what they had done!
    I agree you are brave, but only cause I know you ARE a private girl and have overcome a natural hesitation. But this is SO informative Jules. I cannot believe they send you home with a drain (in Oz you cannot leave hospital until that drain is out). Has McD been a good nurse??
    Hugs and ♥
    BB

  • Reply Stefanie June 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for this post and all the ones to come. You know I said I was curious. I so want to know everything about this hated thing we call cancer. I’m sure there has to be a few other people that are just as curious. You ROCK!! I’m so proud of you, for being able to share this information with the world. Love you.

  • Reply Jessica June 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    You are so strong!!! I admire your bravery so much. I’m here if you ever need anything.

  • Reply Dawn June 2, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I admire your courage and transparency. My Mom had a mastectomy too, complete with the drain. Back then (1984) though, they didn’t do reconstruction right away. She had the tissue expander put in a year later. Hers sprung a leak a couple of times, necessitating quick trips back to the hospital to stop it. (My Dad had to tell his CO that his wife had sprung a leak so he had to leave to drive her the 300 miles back to the hospital… funny but I guess you had to be there. lol) It’s just so much smarter for them to prep you for it right away. It was a horrendously painful experience for my mom (the whole thing) and I applaud your courage! God bless.

  • Reply Joanie June 2, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    You are amazing! Your faith and honesty is inspiring, and you are in my prayers!

  • Reply Sunny June 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I think you telling us your experience and showing photos will help many people that are just facing breast cancer. I think you are a very remarkable lady. May God bless you.You are in my prayers.

  • Reply chand June 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    You are a brave and beautiful person. I am so happy you are still on this earth! God bless you and keep you healthy until it is your turn to see Him in glory!

  • Reply leslie (crookedstamper) June 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    You ARE amazing! I think this process will help you AND others who are not only curious, but may find themselves faced with some of the same decisions later on. This is a very generous thing you are doing. I think you’ve got heaven all locked up, missy! xo

  • Reply Jackie June 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    You will have served a wonderful purpose in posting the photos if your doing so prompts only one woman who needs a mammogram to go and get it, or prompts one woman who doesn’t do monthly self exams to start now. Best wishes on your journey of treatment and recovery.

  • Reply laura June 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    just found your page, my grandma had a double mastectomy in August, almost a year ago. Thanks for posting those pictures, it helps to see them, I had no clue what to expect when I first saw hers and this helps others getting ready to face this ugly disease.
    Are you doing chemo now?

  • Reply Evelyn Kennepohl June 2, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    only one drain? I had two; one was 18 inches into my body; the other was almost 30! my husband said that he thought they were going to have to peel me off the ceiling when that one was pulled out. My Goodness, what a strange feeling. You are so positive! I was totally freaked about the whole thing; no support other than my step mom who was awesome. Yep, it’s a trial by fire, for sure. Thank you for being so brave and informative; I hope that it helps many people.

  • Reply Gail June 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    You are brave, awesome, and amazing. You have a wonderful, positive attitude. I am scheduling my first mamogram tomorrow. Thank you for what you are doing. You are on our family’s nightly prayer list.

  • Reply Teri June 2, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing something that obviously wasn’t easy but can help other women with their fears and concerns.
    You are amazing!
    {{{{Big Hug}}}}

  • Reply Jaki June 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you, Julie. You are very brave. I admire your willingness to help others by explaining the process when you are in the midst of the battle yourself. A wonderful, positive attitude is one of the best weapons to have in such a fight. God bless you and your family.

  • Reply Marlene M June 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Julie, I do not have the words to express what a amazing lady I think you are. I found your blog from Pioneer Woman when she wrote about Sarah’s and your fight with cancer. I personally feel that a postive attitude makes a difference when faced with toubles of life. You are showing such grace in your quest to educate other people about the process of cancer treatment. I thank you and you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Reply Theresa in Alberta June 3, 2011 at 6:34 am

    You are an amazingly brave and strong woman (there but by the Grace of God goes Julie).
    Julie, I feel that I must tell you this,,,I started consuming Hemp hearts in the morning with my breakfast yogart. I cannot tell you how good I feel!! This is after about one month. I suffer from various health ailments, but with the Hemp I have the energy of a teenager.(i am 50 years old) I wake up alert, and am not exhauseted. I realize surgery and treatments take a lot out of a person, and this may help you feel better. It is 100 percent natural, made by nature.
    God bless you and McD!!!

  • Reply Wenderly June 3, 2011 at 6:38 am

    You are one phenomenal gal Julie! Truly. Your honesty, positive attitude, humor & of course, faith, are all the right ingredients to conquer *anything*…
    You GO girl!
    Keeping ya in my prayers love.

  • Reply Monie June 3, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Theresa, I have never heard of Hemp hearts! Where do you find this, and how much are you putting in your yogurt?

  • Reply Brittney June 3, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Wow….that’s amazing. I’m so glad you are sharing this info with us because I don’t know of anybody that has. I know several women with breast cancer and I always had so many questions but felt I could never ask them. You are so brave and inspiring!
    I do have one question about the drain, though. What fluids is it draining?

  • Reply Jan June 3, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Great job Julie and lots of courage here! I pray it helps someone going through the same thing. Hope you are doing well. You continue to be in my prayers.

  • Reply Marewood June 3, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Your pictures and narrative were really quite well done, and who knows… maybe they will be the impetuous for just one reader to do those self-exams.
    By the way, your scar is healing nicely.

  • Reply Melanie June 3, 2011 at 11:46 am

    YAY JULIE!!!! Your post actually make me chuckle. I love your positivity and openness. You make me wish I had taken pictures of my mastectomy process. Maybe years down the road, it will be interesting to look at and remember this process. I have a followup appointment (every 6 months) and I think I’ll share your blog with my doctor. I think it could be helpful to anyone facing breast cancer and/or a mastectomy. Hugs!!

  • Reply Julie June 3, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Re: TypePad: [Another Chance Ranch] Melanie submitted a comment on "My Battle Scars"
    Melanie!
    Please do share it!  I just want to help someone else.

  • Reply Weekend Cowgirl June 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Julie, this is the most awesome post and I am so admiring your courage to do this, I have two friends that are about a month or two ahead of you on the expanders. And have a friend that just had the reconstruction and she is so pleased. I have never had breast cancer, but I had a breast reduction a few months ago so at least have had an idea of what it is like to have surgery on your breast. I am glad you are doing so well…

  • Reply Susan June 4, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Wow. Just Wow.
    You’re incredible. Kind of like Esther, without mentioning His name once (at least from what I could read through my tears) you’ve told us about your life in Christ.
    I’m doing SSMT (with Beth Moore and Siestas) and this time my verse was Eph. 1:3-“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
    I asked the question–What is a spiritual blessing? Is it Gifts of the Spirit? Fruit?
    I think God gave me an example here today.
    BTW: I think your oobiebay winked at me. 😉

  • Reply Barb.B June 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    thank you for sharing your experience with us, this takes some of the curiousity and mystery out of the whole process, I hope will never have to go through this but if I do I will remember you and how you have helped me, Hoping you have a speedy recovery. Seems you are one step closer.

  • Reply Kelly June 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I’m proud of you for being so courageous to share. These pics will surely help other women wondering what will happen after their surgery.
    You look great and I hope you are recovering well!

  • Reply Terry Gordon June 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Julie. Any of us who have read your blog, could be next. I pray that we won’t be. God willcarry you thru this. You are an amazing example of how God works in peoples lives. Bless you!

  • Reply Kerri Griggs June 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    what an amazing, strong, beautiful woman you are…..no more than ever before! Your grace, strength and courage is an inspiration to us all. Even having close family members battle this disease never pushed me to be as vigilant with self exams and I have never had a mammo bc obviously I thougt it could never happen to ME 🙂 BC of your bravery in sharing I realize I am being selfish in NOT being more pro-active. Thank you for being such an inspiration to us all! Much Love sent your way!

  • Reply Lucy June 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Julie…I think you will never know how much your writing about this experience may help someone else who has to go through it. And the photos…it takes a lot of courage for you to do that, and I really believe it will be helpful to someone. I know it would be to me if I were in that situation. I will keep you in my prayers. You are amazing!

  • Reply Betty G. June 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Julie, you are a blessing to many women right now. They can see that you have come through your surgery and you are doing well. That is an education to many who might be facing this in their future. Hope you are better each day.
    Betty in TN

  • Reply Bridget {bake at 350} June 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

    You probably will never know the number of women you are helping and encouraging. {{hug}}

  • Reply Lady T June 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    And THIS is just another reason I can add to my list of why I love you. You are in the prayers of countless people & can now encourage & inform countless others! I cannot even tell you how proud of you I am…and how proud I am to be considered your friend…much love 🙂

  • Reply mommycoddle June 15, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I am struck by your bravery and grace this morning, Julie. xo.

  • Reply Kimela Armstrong June 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks for being so open about your fight with breast cancer. You never know who you will help. God has placed you in this position for a reason and you are giving him all the glory by being so open and honest about your situation. I will add you to my prayer list. You are right we are told to pray with ceasing and that is what I do. I don’t think you can ever pray too much.
    Kimela

  • Reply Linda Stocking July 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I am now a “button pusher” – you are so brave!
    I will call for an appointment Monday for a mammo –
    you are my hero!

  • Reply Robin ~ PENSIEVE July 11, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Julie,
    So I’ve been reading this morning, catching up with all things YOU and I’m stunned by your candor and courage. You’re such an inspiration and I KNOW others will gain from the way you’re sharing your experience. I can’t help but think *this* will add to your recovering–completely letting people in and keeping your eyes on Christ and walking “worthy”.
    Because cancer has robbed my family of so much (do you know all the people it’s touched in my life??), I HATE IT! And I love it when I see someone being so bold and living like Swampy once said, “I had cancer but cancer didn’t have me.”
    You’re amazing…and I’m glad finally “heard” this was going on with you! Gosh, back in the day I would have never missed your news, but I guess it’s time you had a new prayer/button pusher :).
    Love you. So proud of you.

  • Reply Leyla September 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I am new to your blog, and while I do not have cancer, it seems that increasingly people close to me are diagnosed. I came to your site via Ree Drummond and I’m so glad I did. You are truly and inspiration and very, very brave. Stay strong and positive.

  • Reply Victoria Shulem June 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Hi Julie, I’ve backed into your story thru Ree’s blog. Thank you for sharing this personal story. With no personal, family or friend history of it, I had signed up for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (Santa Barbara 9/23/12) and now I will wear your name on my shirt and in my heart. God bless you, Victoria

  • Reply Miss B March 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for showing these photos. This seems so brave and selfless to me. You are awesome.

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