Browsing Tag

mastectomy

My Battle with Breast Cancer

Come Contribute To My Story

This morning, as I write this, I am trying to keep busy so I won't think about how thirsty and hungry I am.  My surgery is at noon today, and I am not supposed to have anything to eat or drink before hand.  In fact, I couldn't even get a drink in the middle of the night.  That midnight cut off is rough. Scroll down and read yesterday's post to get more of an idea of what is going on in my life today, if you missed it.

Yesterday, I asked my Facebook friends what kind of entertainment we should have today.  I think the Story Time theme won.  So today's post will all be in the comment section.  I am going to start the story with a few words, and let you guys keep the story going.  Hopefully there will be more than just one or two of you play along.  I know I really don't need to say this, but I am going to anyway.  Please keep it clean.  Our grandkids see this, and they are old enough to read. 🙂

On to the comment section…

My Battle with Breast Cancer

Surgery, Mastectomy, & Expanders – Oh My

Tomorrow, I will be going in for my next surgery. 

I have been very open with my battle with breast cancer, and I don't want you to think I have been holding back.  Truth be told, things have just slowed down.  It seems like when I was first diagnosed things happened so quickly, now that I am finished with chemo everything has slowed to a tolerable pace.

Tomorrow, I will be having a right mastectomy and begin the reconstruction process.  The reconstruction process seems to be a long one, and involves a few surgeries.  But, it is all going to be worth it. 

When I had my left mastectomy, I thought my breast surgeon put a tissue expander in at that time but I was wrong.  Actually, he had left extra skin for the reconstruction process. 

Here is what an expander looks like.

Breast tissue expanders
The round grey looking area is where they will insert the needle to add more saline.  The object of all of this is to slowly stretch the muscle.  The muscle? You say. 🙂

This is how it is done.

expanders-muscle

As you can see in the photo above, the expanders go under the muscle. 

When I asked my plastic surgeon how big my oobiebays would be after surgery he said, "You will look like an eleven-year-old again."  We all got a laugh out of that. 

I have to deal with the drains again, but they will only be in a week or so.  Then after a few weeks, I will go in to have saline added to my expanders.  When the expanders get to the size we are wanting, then I will go in for surgery to have the implants put in. 

At this time, I don't know how long this process will take, but I am on the road to a full recovery!

Tomorrow I am posting a game of some sort.  There will be people in the waiting room needing entertainment, the surgery lasts for 3 hours, and I will need entertainment after my visitors leave.  So, be sure to come by and play along.

My Battle with Breast Cancer, You Asked - Answers

Answers to Your Cancer Questions

The other day I asked if you had any questions for me regarding my cancer, and several of you actually had questions.  Believe it or not, I always cringe when I hit the publish button on one of the "do you have any questions" posts.  I don't cringe because it is a bad post, but I cringe because I fear that no one will have a question.  Silly, yes, but very true.

So here are the answers to your questions.

Do you still feel sometimes like this is not happening? (from Debby)

Yes, I feel like that a lot.  When I was newly diagnosed, I prayed that God would give me the strength to get through this, and I believe that is exactly why I feel the way I do. 

Do you have a bucket list, even one you might have had before you found out about the cancer? Are you the "I've re-thought my priorities" kind of person now or are you "I'm not doing anything differently just because I have cancer" kind of person?  (from Denny144)

You know, I've never had a bucket list.  There are things I would love to do before die, but I've never really sat down and made a list.  When I first found out about the cancer, I told McD that I want to take my Dad to New York so we can watch a Yankees game together.   He told me that we would do that, but after I kick this cancer. 

I think I am a "I'm not doing anything differently just because I have cancer" kind of person.  I have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me. 

How do you keep your spirits up?  (from Carolyn)

I've never been one to be down.  If I start worrying about something, then I immediately pray about it.  I try to give my worries to God and let him deal with them.  It isn't always easy to do, but that is what the Bible tells us to do, so I try my hardest.

How do you pray about this?  (from Carolyn)

To tell you the truth, I am not really sure how to answer this one because prayer is such a private thing for me.  I've prayed for strength, courage, healing, and patience.  I've asked God to use me through this battle to help, encourage, and bring awareness to others.  I've asked that a cure be found.  I've thanked God for giving me this battle and not our kids, or other family members.  And, I've thanked him for the strength, courage, feverless days, and patience he has given me.  I also thank him every. single. day. for such a wonderful husband.  I don't even want to think about going through this without him. 

What's something new you learned about yourself in this ordeal?  (from Carolyn)  

I am stronger than I thought.

Are you able to receive your treatments close to home? (from Kimela)

Yes.  We live out in the middle of nowhere, so it takes us about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the clinic.  My doctor from the big city comes here once a week, or I would be traveling to get my treatments. 

Are you planning to celebrate the end of chemo?  (from BB)

Several people have mentioned that we need to have a big party, but that would involve me being the center of attention and I am not a big fan of that.  I'm sure we will have to do something!

Is it worse/better than you anticipated?  (from BB) 

There is a little bit of both.  For some reason I had it in my head that chemo would be a breeze for me, and the first treatment almost did me in.  The second treatment went a lot more like I thought it should, thanks to the shot they gave me.  The hair cut is better than I anticipated.  Oh, and the tastes.  My tastes are a lot worse than I anticipated.  But it is such a minor thing that I feel ridiculous complaining.

Your surgery was going to be done in two stages…and I wondered about that…as to why they would not do it all at once?  (from Monie)

When I told the Wonderful Wizard of Boggs that I wanted to remove both breasts he gave me options, then he let me decide.  I chose having two surgeries.  The second surgery will be when they do the right mastectomy, and start the reconstruction process.   I will have the same amount of surgeries doing it this way, and no pain on the right side until the next surgery.

Did your chemo start immediately after you got your port?   (from Connie) 

My port was put in on Monday, and that Thursday I received my first chemo treatment.

Did it HURT?? (from Connie)

I had heard that there was a freezing spray that they can use to numb the area before using your port, so that might have been the first thing out of my mouth the day of my first treatment.  They used the spray and it didn't hurt.  I felt it, don't get me wrong, but I mainly just felt the pressure.  When I was admitted to the hospital they used my port, but when I asked for freezing spray they looked at me like I was crazy.  They didn't use the spray, and it was just a week after getting the port so it hurt a little.  The nurse assured me that it gets better with time.   I suggest using the freezing spray.

What kind of cancer is your … her2 positive? hormone positive?  (from Connie)

My cancer is IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma).  It is HER2 +, and hormone positive (ER/PR+)

Do you know the things that cancer cannot do ?  (from Kathy/Swampwitch)

Yes, I do…

Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple Love
It cannot shatter Hope
It cannot corrode Faith
It cannot destroy Peace
It cannot kill Friendship
It cannot suppress Memories
It cannot silence Courage
It cannot invade the Soul
It cannot steal eternal Life
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

Do you know how much you are loved ?  (from Kathy/Swampwitch)

Honestly, I had no idea until all of this happened.  The outpouring of love and support has  been overwhelming, humbling even.  I cannot thank everyone enough for their love, support, and prayers. 

 

My Battle with Breast Cancer, You Asked - Answers

Any Questions? – Cancer Edition

IMG_0021 Occasionally, I ask you, my readers, if you have any questions for me and today I am doing just that.  But, it is a cancer edition.

Do you read my posts but still have questions about my current condition?  Cancer?  Chemo? Mastectomy?

Now's your chance to ask.

Ask away, and I will answer these questions on Friday, July 29th.

My Battle with Breast Cancer

How To Work A Mastectomy Drain

Yesterday, I shared some photos of my drain, as well as some other things.  I just happened to mention that I would tell a little more about the drain today. 

JULIE_1398bc3

This is one of the photos I posted yesterday.   I completely forgot to thank McD for taking all of the photos for yesterday's post.  I took a few, but he took the majority of them.  Thank you, McD!

My drain was a Jackson-Pratt Drain.  As you can see in the photo above, it is a small tube connected to a rubber bulb shaped like a hand grenade.  In yesterday's post you could see how the drain was kept in place with some stitching.

Brittney from Our Greener Acres asked a great question.

Continue Reading

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. 

JULIE_0020bc

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. 

Continue Reading

My Battle with Breast Cancer

In Real Life – Rephrased

I'm a blogger, but sometimes it doesn't come easily for me.

You see, I'm a pretty private person in real life.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I almost shut down completely.  A good friend of mine, who is also a blogger, reminded me that I am a blogger.  She made a great point when she said that I might get more support from other survivors if I post about my fight with this beast.  We both thought of all of the prayers that I might have if I blogged about it.

Now I am so thankful that I shared with all of you about my current situation.  I know for a fact that the reason I am in good spirits, fighting like a champ, and at peace with it all at the same time is because of answered prayers.

The only thing that I am struggling with is how much I should share.  I am to a point that I could share it all, but there are some photos that I am just not sure I should put out there. 

How do you show photos of things like drains, sutures, expanders, etc on a family friendly blog? 

What all do you guys really want to see?  Or hear about?

I want to be as informative as possible, but I don't want to gross anyone out either.

*Added to Clarify*

In real life I am a pretty private person, on here no so much.  I want to share photos, and stories, and any information I can about this.  I want other women to be aware.  I lost all modesty back when I had my mammo, ultrasound, & biopsy.   Three people in a room staring at or touching your ta-tas kind of does that to ya. 

I just didn't know if you guys wanted to see those kinds of photos.  I have ideas of how to make them titled graphic, etc. 

I have been trying to decide what to call it, The Beast, BC, etc.  Now I have an idea for today's post. :) 

Stay tuned.

 

My Battle with Breast Cancer

I’ve Got A Strategy!

Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy, which is part of the four levels of warfare: political goals or grand strategy, strategy, operations, and tactics. Building on the work of many thinkers on the subject, one can define strategy as "a comprehensive way to try to pursue political ends, including the threat or actual use of force, in a dialectic of wills – there have to be at least two sides to a conflict. These sides interact, and thus a Strategy will rarely be successful if it shows no adaptability."  from Wikipedia

I am using the word strategy because I am now in a battle, and in order for me to win this battle I have to have a strategy and a good troop behind me. 

Yesterday, May 9th, I met with a big city surgeon and really, really liked him.  Actually, I really liked his whole staff.  They really seemed to care, genuinely care. 

We left his office almost giddy with excitement that we now have a strategy, and that the battle has begun! 

Here's the strategy:

Bone Scan & Lab work – check

CT Scans – scheduled for today

Injection & Scan of Lymph Nodes  – scheduled for next week

Surgery – scheduled for next week

Details:

I have decided to have a mastectomy of my left breast next Tuesday.  After I have completely healed from surgery I will begin my chemotherapy.  At this time, I do not know what kind of chemo I will have or how long I will have it.  After I have finished my treatments I will have a mastectomy of the right breast and reconstruction of both breasts. 

Tomorrow I will tell you a little more about my experiences with the tests I have taken, and my thoughts on how we, as patients, could be better prepared for these types of tests.