Reconstruction Part one, two, three and finally take four!

Wow, its been a while since I updated the blog. Let me catch you up. In September I had the Diep Flap surgery with Dr Arya from Scripps Hospital in San Diego. This which was stage one of the reconstruction. The only down size of being in good shape is that if you even need a skin graph or transplant, they dont have much to work with if you dont have a lot of fat. After careful consideration she felt she could use the skin from my stomach rather than my back which she originally thought she would use. I was thrilled because after two kids, the loose skin drove me crazy. I was happy to say goodbye to it...on my stomach. I felt like the abs were shot from having kids anyway not to mention the hassle of drain tubes in my back and not being able to sit comfortably.

I didn't have a lot of skin to work with but the doctor did what she could. My veins were so shot from chemo that they collapsed with each poke of the needle as they were trying to get my IV in for surgery. Finally they resorted to a vein in my hand and got one that was good enough to get things started. The procedure is amazing and very innovative. Five years ago, reconstruction would not have been an option for me because of the lack of skin due to the infection. It would have been like trying to put an apple under the skin on the top of your hand. There just wasn't room. With this procedure, they reattached blood vessels and skin to allow for expander's and eventually an implant.

As I mentioned, the surgery required two surgeons for over 12 hours. They took veins from one area and attached them to the other when reconnecting blood supply. They removed part of my abdominal muscle and moved it to my chest to make a pocket to hold the implant. After the surgery I was in ICU for just over 24 hours. From there I was moved to another room for just less than a week. I was blessed to have great friends who traveled 3 hours to come visit and bring me food. I didn't have to eat a single hospital meal. I mentioned earlier that a friend of mine was diagnosed about 6 months before me. Well, she is the one that told me about Dr Arya. We were both going through the reconstruction process about the same time. I hadn't seen her since moving to AZ (she lived in CA where I lived a couple yrs ago). One day in the office, she walked through the lobby as i was waiting to be seen. we had not seen each other since having cancer and both of us looked like we had a buzz cut. We both did a double take and with tears in our eyes we smiled and hugged. She sat with me while I waited and told me about her reconstruction process and having to have another surgery. She too was going to have the Diep Flap surgery. We joked about having it together and being roommates in the hospital. To our surprise, they doctor agreed. I had my surgery on Fri and she had hers on Sat. We spent the week together recovering.

You might wonder why we had so many surgeries. Unfortunatly, the skin you are left with after radiation is tough. It shifts the implant in weird positions. This is why the need for the Diep Flap surgery. They take fresh non radiated skin and move it to the chest to cover the implant. This way, the radiated skin can be cut out and you have a softer breast that isn't being shifted around as much. The larger the person the better the look and results.

After my week stay at the hospital I was released. I had many drain tubes from the stomach and out of my chest. I couldn't stand straight for almost 6 weeks but of course, that didn't stop me from getting out. Days after I returned home to AZ (an almost three hour trip from San Diego) I went shopping. I had my mom get me a wheel chair at Dillard's and she pushed me around the store. It was so painful to laugh, but we had a great time. Her driving was terrible and she kept running into clothes and mannequins. We almost took a few out. I would laugh, then cry, then keep on shopping. After a few weeks I was able to lessen the amount of pain killers I was taking and use my arms again. Eventually, I started driving again and although I couldnt use my arms, I walked and tried to start exercising with the lower body.

I took a few pictures after the first surgery but then erased them from the camera. I had a really hard time accepting the new look. I knew I wanted to update the photos in hopes of educating people about this process and my journey but struggled with the horrible images. I knew with each surgery things would get better but it was hard to accept the images. I've never questioned why me, I have always known since day one that i was strong enough to handle this but it wasn't easy. I've been so strong through this entire process but accepting my new look is/was difficult. I didn't want someone going through this to see the images before the final product because I didn't want them to loose hope. Sadly, I tried not to look in the mirror either, I didn't want to loose hope either. With each passing day and with each surgery (6 so far, 1 to go)the scars fade and my new breast look more like normal breast.

The Diep Flap surgery was in September 2010. Once healed, I went back in for expanders in November 2010. These are implants with a port that allows the doctor to expand them once inside the chest wall. Every two weeks I would drive to San Diego and get "inflated". It didnt hurt on the non radiated side. The side with the radiation was almost unbearable. The expanders were taken out and a permanent implant was inserted in January 2011. My last and final surgery to re-adjust and enlarge the breast will be in June. I could have it at any time but I'm training for the Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon and I wanted to run it frst. I am back to running, and teaching 8 hours of group ex per week. I feel good and feel like im getting my old life back. My blood counts are not good but I have a new doctor and she is on top of things. The cancer markers are low but we need to get the white and red blood cell counts higher. She also wants to test my bone density since I am in menopause and that takes the calcium from the bone.

My final surgery is in June 2011. The doctor will enlarge the breast and create more cleavage. In clothes they look fine but without they need a little more work. I will have to say I'm 100% impressed with her work and don't mind having perky boobs that don't fall off to the sides without a bra. Once I get the nipple reconstruction (a few months after the final surgery) I will feel normal again...or the new normal.

Overall, I'm feeling good and happy to see the finish line!



I am so ready to have this surgery over with so I can get on with my life. Because my body is shaped different now, I have to be very careful of what I wear. When you have a mastectomy they remove muscle, fat and all breast tissue. The bra and inserts look real under your clothing but if you bend over and someone sees down your shirt it is very obvious you have something “different” going on. Normally, if you bend over to pick something up or your holding your kids and they tug on your shirt and pull it down a little people just see a little cleavage. In my case, they see a big padded bra.

It is already 115 degrees and I mostly wear tanks. I have to be careful to make sure they are not too low in the front and/or too low under the arms because the insert will be seen. I spend more time getting dressed and trying on outfits than driving to where I am going.

Another problem, I am officially in menopause. It is HORRIBLE!!!! They are going me a shot to keep me in a menopausal state and meds to prevent estrogen for the next 5 yrs. I always heard women complaining about hot flashes, I now realize why. For no reason at all, you will break out into a sweat. It is 10 times worse than being pregnant. My poor family is freezing in our house. Last summer we kept it at 78, this summer 71 and I am still hot. We have blankets for my husband and kids on every chair in every room of the house. My friend is coming in town next week to visit and I warned her to bring her thermals. She is going to need it!

We are taking the kids swimming for the first time since the surgery tomorrow. Since I can’t just throw on a swim suit, I bought a rash guard shirt similar to the ones surfers wear so I could wear my bra and breast prosthesis. I tried it on tonight and it looks really natural. The swim suits they sell for post mastectomy are really ugly and for older ladies. I don’t want to be mean, but the designers should all be fired. It is wrong to make people who have already been through so much wear ugly swim suits. lol

On a positive note, I feel amazing! My energy level is back and I am loving it!!! I have been teaching my spinning classes twice a week. Back to running, kick boxing and zumba. My hair is growing fast and a lot of people who don't know me or what I have been through this year tell me how cute the style is which makes me laugh. I don't love it but it works and is better than being bald. I get a lot of salutes on base. Most people think I'm a Marine. I just nod when they salute me and giggle when they pass. It cracks me up.


I just finished radiation. The first couple weeks of radiation made me tired but nothing like what I felt when going through Chemo. Everyday, I feel like I am getting more energy back. I started teaching my group exercise class again the same week I started radiation…maybe that wasn’t such a good idea but I just want to get my life back. At times, it was difficult to catch my breath because my lungs were tight from the radiation.

My skin held up very well until the last 6 treatments. I went every day, M-F at the same time each day for just over 6 weeks. The last 6 treatments are called a boost. They are a little different than the first set of radiation treatments. The all only take about 2 min total but leave you with a chest that is red and feels like a mild sun burn. The burn was not horrible, but a little uncomfortable. The boost gave me a greater burn and I have had peeling skin and a blister for a couple weeks.

A friend of mine who recently battled breast cancer recommended a great surgeon for reconstruction. She is in San Diego and I will be using her for my surgery. I met with her early June and she said I would be ready for surgery this fall. Unfortunately, because of the infection which resulted in a loss of the excess skin they will only be able to reconstruct my breast using a procedure called the flap surgery. This surgery basically allows them to use the skin from another area of your body to allow for expansion in the chest area. They will remove skin from my back around the bra area and transfer it to the chest. The will also need to detach both sides of my lat muscle and flip it to the chest to act as a pocket to hold the expander/implant. It will require 5-7 days of hospitalization and drain tubes for almost a month. I am already losing sleep thinking about this procedure. I am so worried about how having the drains in for that long. They are the most uncomfortable part of the surgery. With the original surgery, I had to sleep sitting up for 2 weeks. Now, it will be a month. Every time you move, they poke you. These hard plastic drain tubes are placed in your body to drain the blood that accumulates when you have empty space such as a loss of a breast or muscle.

When I met the surgeon I had a friend come along who had been through the surgery. I am very glad she was there because my mind just went blank when I walked into the office. I have never experienced “white coat syndrome” but when the dr. sat down, my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of a single question to ask her. When she started talking about the procedure, I was queasy. I read about it prior to entering her office and it didn’t bother me but when she started talking about removing muscles, drain tubes, not being about to exercise or lift my kids for at least 8 weeks, I just about passed out.

One of the hardest was not being able to hold my babies and let them sit on my lap while going through the surgery. Landon was just 12 months old and Riley 2. Riley understand mommy had boo boos and sat next to me and comforted me with her baby dolls but Landon the baby was too small to understand.

For months after the surgery I was so sore I couldn’t hold the baby. When he would cry he came to me and I didn’t even have the strength to pick him up or I had drain tubes hanging out of my body and couldn’t take a chance on having him pull one out. I tear up just writing this because it brings me back to one of the saddest times. My little guy eventually stopped coming to me and would go to my husband or mom who had come to stay for a few months to help out. Once I regained strength and was healed from the surgery I would try to cuddle with my baby but he didn’t want me, he wanted grandma or daddy. It took several weeks for him to re bond with me. It broke my heart but I knew he didn’t understand why his mommy would just have to stand by and watch when he wanted someone to hold him.

Over the last several months, he has become a momma’s boy again. He is a little older now (almost 2) and will hopefully have a better understanding this time around.



so far so good. just finished my 5th treatment, only one to go!! chemo is tough but not as bad as i expected. i think it helps to have a positive attitude and staying busy. i try not to let it take all the fun out of my life. it takes a little more energy than usual but i still go shopping, workout and out with friends on the weekends. i think i would be depressed if i stayed inside resting. i can do that when i am old :). just got back from spending a weekend in san diego. i finally decided to wear my new wig. i don't wear it at home because of fear that one of my kids will pull it off. actually, i think i would just laugh, but around the house it is easier just to wear my scarf. while in san diego, we went to a few museums and stayed in a great hotel overlooking the ocean. a weekend without kids was a great gift. thanks mom! life is good! my friend bought me a clown wig and said she knew i would be the only bald woman brave enough to wear it...and she was right. i love it! i rocked that thing all over san diego. i love making people laugh. wait until they see me in my new shirt that says, chemo ate my eye brows.

Feb 2010
I have been successfully running on my off weeks, but I am getting bored. Last week I ran a 5k race with a group of people on base. I was pushing my 25lb 1 yr old in the jogger. my goal was to run under 30 min without stopping. It took everything I had when I showed up and realized 1/2 the course was off road but I did it without stopping (except to pick up my son's sippy cup he kept throwing out) and under 30 min.
This week I decided to try out a new running club. It was dark, and cold when I got out of car at 6am. I saw a small group of women standing around a picnic table dressed in running clothes. Looks like I am in the right place. I was over to the group and introduce myself. The ladies seemed nice. This was a new group that just started meeting to train for the rock in roll ½ marathon. They were taking turns comparing their “running resumes”. Some had never run an organized race before, others were seasoned runners. I wasn’t sure what I would say when they got around to me. Do I tell them that I have run aver 100 5k races, a few 10 milers, several 10 K races, a couple ½ marathons and one full or do I just tell them I’ve always been a runner and I am just looking for a group to train with to stay motivated? I’ll go with the looking for a running group thing. I also tell them that I am trying to run through chemo so, I don’t really have a goal in mind as far as the pace, I just want to run. Most people were inspired, but there is always that one person in the group. This lady looked at me like I had lost my mind. She was polite, but you could tell by her expression she thought I should be home resting on the couch. Finally, she broke the silence by saying, “don’t you think that is too much”? I politely said, “No, I just do what I can.” The conversation moved on but that comment just fueled my fire. We started off running and I was in the front pack of women. The lady that made the comment was in the group right behind me the entire time. When I started out I didn’t plan to run fast but after the comment about running being too much I felt like I needed to prove myself. So, not only did I run faster than I planned, I ran fast enough to keep that crazy lady behind me the entire time. I really wanted to whip off my scarf and proudly wipe the sweat off my bald head at the finish but I didn’t, I just smiled and thanked everyone for a great run. It felt good to finish and finish strong. I love running. 

Jan 2010

Jan 19th

my hair started falling out the mon after xmas so, we shaved it. we had a lot of fun. not having hair has not bothered me too much. i have a great wig and cute hats and scarves. i thought i would wear a scarf more but i like hats more. still looking for a navy blue one but i have several cute ones now. i never wore hats before, who knew i would like them so much? kelly had more fun than he should have had shaving my head. first we started with a mullett, then the dr phil hair cut and finally got out the bic razor. riley tells me i look silly. she told me she doesnt really like my new hair cut. the other morning she was leaving for preschool and came in to kiss me and my bald head in bed. after giving me a sweet kiss, she turns to leave and says, put your hat on and look silly today. got to love that child! if only the rest of the world really told you what they thought.

Jan 4th 2010
i am still trying to figure out what to expect with chemo. this time around (chemo #2) is kicking my butt. i came down with the stomach flu + chemo + i had to have my IUD out because of the hormones it gives off. i had no idea i would be in so much pain from horrible stomach cramps between all three. i did go out and walk this morning. i actually feel good doing activity but the rest of the day was not as good. i am doubled over with horrible cramping. my appetite is ok, not too hungry. i have not been eating much because of my stomach. this has not been a good week. if i got hit by a bus and ran over it might feel like a massage after my week. lol on a positive note, my chest has healed nicely.

Dec 2010

Dec 09
i really enjoyed the holidays this yr. it was the best so far. kelly was finally not over seas and riley knew what was going on and was excited about the gifts. he has been deployed for the last 3 yrs during christmas. having him home to see the kids open gifts was a blessing. our tradition is to talk to him over the web cam and coordinate a time to have him see riley open presents. we actually even did this when i had our son. we had kelly on stand by in japan and he had his phone ready waiting for the call. when it was time to push, i called him on speaker phone and he got to hear the babies first cry. anyway, this year we were excited to kick the web cam holiday gift opening tradition to the curb and start a new one. we bought the book, the night before xmas. we got the hard paged version since the kids like to tear pages out and we all piled on rileys bed to read it before bed time. on xmas morning i set the alarm to get up earlier than the early riser, at 5 am and rang jingle bells. riley sat up and thought santa was at the house. after she realized it was xmas she sprinted around the corner to see mommy, daddy, grandma and grandpa and all her present. it was by far the best christmas so far.


December 2009

Dec 22
I thought having cancer with young kids was going to be horrible. Seconds after being diagnosed, before even leaving the exam room I began worrying about the kids. Who would take care of the kids while I was in the hospital? How long until I’m able to pick them up after surgery, how do I explain this to them, are my kids at a higher risk of having to endure this as adults…so many worries, so much to figure out.

Much to my surprise, having cancer with little kids may be a blessing in disguise. Kids allow you to find humor in all situations. A common side effect of Chemo is mouth ulcers. Unfortunately, I got them a week after my first treatment. I was walking out of my room and about to start the morning complaining about how much my mouth hurts. I planed on telling anyone who wanted to listen about how my tongue is inflamed and even talking hurts. These lovely mouth ulcers rub the side of my teeth when I talk now that my tongue is inflamed. Just as I was about to complain, I was interrupted by a very excited 3 yr old who watched the polar express for the first time last night. She said, “mommy mommy, let’s get on a train today and go to the norF pole.” I smile and see the excitement on her face and the hope in her eyes. Before I say anything, she says, that’s an idea, huh? Santa will be so happy.” I had to explain that we couldn’t go because it was too far away…sadly she said, “Ok, maybe later.”

Dec 21
Today my head is tingling like I have used peppermint shampoo or something. They say it does that before your hair falls out. Feels weird but I guess not having hair has it's up side. I no longer have to spend 45 minutes washing, blow drying and styling my hair. It is weird when you know all these things are going to happen and you are just waiting to see how the meds affect you and what will happen first. Everyday I wake up wondering what will change today. Chemo so far has not been too bad. I know it will get worse before it is over but being positive and finding humor in life rather than letting the negative getting to me helps a lot.

Dec 16
i am tired today, starting to have a couple hot flashes and my cheeks are flush...besides that i am doing well. the dr.'s say days 7-10 should be my weakest time since my immune system will be at it's lowest point. good thing i finished my shopping this morning and got most of it wrapped. riley was with me and helped me find gifts for kiss mass. i brought her to see santa and we were about 1 block away when she saw him. he was outside walking around. riley spotted him and she planted both feet down, sat back as if she were going to sit on the ground and refused to go any closer. she was yelling, "no mom i don't like santa, i don't want to see him." everyone looked over at us and needless to say we didn't visit santa. once we were back in the car she asked to call santa's mom. she said she wanted santa's mom to tell him not to scare her. apparently, she doesn't like that he says, "ho ho ho" either. she wants him to stop saying that so loudly. we won't be seeing anymore of santa this holiday season...

Dec 15
chemo #1 so far so good...but i know not so good days are ahead. today it took about 2 hours. i was happy to get in and out so fast. kelly and sonya (my mother n law) went with me. the nurses were really nice. i have been a little sick to my stomach but not too bad. i was able to take riley to her first dentist appt (she did so well and listened and no tears). later i went for a 2 mile walk. it felt better than i thought. i just cant shake this terrible head ache. tomorrow i have to get a shot to boost my white blood count...in the stomach-ouch! they say i will feel my worst 10 days after treatment since my counts will be so low. such a bummer because i wanted to do after xmas shopping. i hope my side effects are mild. riley cried when i left because she couldn't go with me. she likes boo boos and has gone to all my appts. yes, even the ones kelly didnt want to attend. she is the strongest little 3 yr old. she held my hand when they removed the drain tubes and stitches and then told me not to cry. it distracted me and made me laugh.

Dec 11

i think I am going to write a book about having cancer in yuma. seriously, this town is trying to cause me to have a break down. friday they called to tell me they thought i could be pregnant and needed to confirm with blood work. needless to say i was a mess. more so than when they said i had cancer. i was given a urine test pre surgery and it said i was pregnant. they tested the urine again and it was negative. i was not aware of the testing results so i was clueless and shocked when the oncologist called. i had no idea there might be a concern. after the lab work, they confirmed i was not pregnant. looks like we are on for chemo monday but my heart hasn't stopped racing all day.

December 2
this time around i am healing MUCH better. i had my mug test monday which was the last thing i needed to take care of before chemo. they withdraw 3 large tubes of blood and mix it with radio active material, bake it 20 minutes and inject it back into my vein and watch it flow through my heart while i am hooked up to an EKG and under some weird machine. it allows doctors to see how well the heart functions as a pump and will serve as a guide for future tests. i also had my pre chemo appt. with the nurse to educate me on side effects and what to expect. there are too many things to list but here are a few things that caught my attention. one med is so toxic if it gets outside the vein (it is in a shot form) it will eat my skin and i will need a skin graph right away. my hair will fall out with in the first 14 days...eyebrows and eyelashes soon follow....a lot of nausea.....another med will eat the wall of my bladder if i do not urinate as soon as i feel the urge...another causes mouth sores, nails to peel or fall off.....another can cause permanent heart damage which is why i went for the mug test . i will have this test every 8 weeks....SCARY not to mention i will be in menopause while i am in chemo (hello hot flashes) and then i will take meds to keep me there for the next 5 years to prevent my body from making estrogen. i think i will have nightmares now.

if you dont want TMI skip to the next paragraph. after my appts i went to hospice to see about getting a bra and the gel inserts. they didn't have much of a selection so she gave me a pair of inserts that were a close match but they don't really stay put if you know what i mean. i thought i would try them out and wear them to the store. i had a v neck shirt on...not a good idea. i leaned over to get something and the prosthesis was falling out of my bra. funny, but not good. so i went to another place in town where they were going to fit me and order the correct size but the lady that worked in that position no longer works for the company. they offered me a man who was trained to fill in....uh, no thanks. he was trained to cover for the lady but i don't think he ever actually "fit" someone for breast prosthesis before because he looked as scared and i did when they volunteered him for the job. i just said no thanks. for some reason i can't bring myself to allow a strange hairy dude "fit" me for my breast prosthesis. that would be weird so i just gave them my number and said call me when you hire a woman.

i got 1/2 my stitches out today and the healing is looking great (as great as it can look). the rest come out on friday :). all that stuff grosses me out but it was painless. i will be cleared for chemo starting on the 14th.

November 2009

Nov 23
The left side is what a Double Mastecomy should look like after surgery, the middle picture is what it should NOT look like after surgery and the picture on the far right shows you what my drains look like. There are a couple different types of drains but the type of drain you recieve will depend on what your insurance will cover.
The "after" picture on the left is without an implant. Most people do not have an implant at the time of the surgery, they usually have expander's or nothing depending on what treatments they need. Everyone is different, your doctor will help you decide what is the best option for you. The reason the stitches are not straight on the after photo is because he was trying to save all the good skin.
Reconstruction will stretch out the scar and it will fade over time. I have seen the after product of a reconstructed breast and nipple, so many of my fears are gone. It is hard to look at my chest now but I am confident I will have a sucessful reconstruction. I met another young girl who went through this process. She showed my what her reconstructed breast. I met her 3 yrs after her surgery and I was amazed. Aside from the scar which had faded nicely, they look "normal". She can wear a bikini and you can't even tell. The entire reconstruction process is long (6+ months) but I am going to one of the top Dr.'s in this field in California who will specializes in this procedure.

Today I spent the entire day at different Dr.'s offices and on the phone with insurance yesterday. As suspected, had a nasty infection set in the area that "died". Dr. Uribe, my regular surgeon told me today that she could no longer treat me, but she was sorry about the surgery outcome. Really? She then left the office to meet with another patient. She didn't even take the time to wrap the area so, I had to look through the cabinets and find what I needed. This infection has been spreading for 3 weeks now. It smells, it's swollen and my entire breast is hard and shaping into a tight ball. After being put an an antibiotic that was obviously not working I was instructed to take a bleach bath. She told me to add a cup of bleach to my bath water and soak 2-3 times/day. Not only was that scary and weird, but it did not work. By this point I was getting really frustrated with my care. I realized she did not use good judgement and should have sent me to see another Dr. earlier before the infection got so bad. Although Dr. Uribe couldn't continue to treat me you would think she would follow up or at least have someone from the office call after they sent me packing...and she is the best in town. Not good!!!!! If you are in Yuma and you need a surgeon, do not go to Dr. Uribe. She lacks compassion for her patients (I have talked to others that are upset with her) and it is not uncommon to spend 1-2 hours waiting to see her because she triple books patients. Anyway, I went to see Dr. Miller (a plastic surgeon) on an emergency status. He doesn't usually take our insurance, but he is the only board certified surgeon in town. After he got over the shock of the condition my chest was in we got to work on getting the surgery approved.

My infection has spread and damaged the good skin. Now, it all must be removed before infection sets in the rest of my body. The size of the area covered most of the breast and 2 inches under the incision. The picture is of the left breast but the right had an infection in it too. In the picture I look like I am missing a nipple but have normal breast. That is because I had an implant but all the breast tissue was removed. What normally happens would be that overtime that skin is stretched out and I would get a larger implant over time. Expander's and flap surgery are options too. In my case, the implant and dead skin was removed. Now that I have lost all the good skin, after my treatments when I go for reconstruction I will need expander's to stretch the skin to make room for the implant. This stretching process will take months.

Back to the appt.....the plastic surgeon was VERY concerned. He had never seen anything so bad and was in shock that Dr Uribe let it get to this point. I met with Dr Miller on Thursday night and he is doing the surgery tomorrow, Friday morning. He is taking everything out and I will restart this lovely process as mentioned earlier. I still plan on going to San Diego for the full reconstruction but have to do something right away with this infection. It is terrible looking and feeling. He said it should be an out patient thing (keeping my fingers crossed) but SO NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DRAINS!!! Those things are just as bad as the operation. They may need to do a skin graph once the infected area heals. my mom is scheduled to fly home sat and we already changed her ticket once so, we think we will have her go home as scheduled and bring her back in Dec. my friend is driving from San Diego to help with the kids for the weekend. Kelly, my husband will take the week off. Chemo is pushed back again but this infection has been removed and I am finally in the care of a qualified caring dr.

November 3




I have attached a pic of the drains. They are very uncomfortable. I have to sleep sitting up and if I move to the side they poke me in the ribs. I have 2 large bags I have to empty twice a day and measure the fluid (GROSS). Each drain has 2 tubes, a total of 4 on each side of my rib cage. In this picture, I am wearing a compression wrap which looks like a tube top. I used a safety pin to attach the drains to the compression top so i can free my hands. When I shower, it is difficult to hold them and try to shave so I used a lawn chair to sit in and had my husband install a new hand held shower head that could be detached. This sounds strange, but using maxi pads to cover the breast is cheaper than using a ton of first aid pads. I attach two together and tape them over my chest to hold them on, I then apply the compression wrap and pin the drains. Having clothes with buttons are the best if you are going through this process. You will not be able to lift your arms higher than shoulder height. Maternity shirts work well to cover the extra bulky drains if you are going to go out in town. Yes, I said go out in town. It may sound crazy but getting out and living the most normal life you can while going through this will help ward off feelings of isolation and depression. The support and encouragement you receive will help you through the bad days.

October 2009

Today I met with the surgeon again. She gave me a little more specific info on my cancer.
GOOD NEWS: I caught the cancer in the early stages (Stage II)
BAD NEWS: It moved to one possibly two lymph nodes under the arm pit.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The type of cancer I have is a common and highly treatable but highly likely to come back later in life if drastic measures are not taken to prevent it. the dr. recommends removal of the lymph nodes as well as a double mastectomy (eventually reconstructive surgery) and chemo. I may need radiation if we find additional lymph nodes so I need to wait on the reconstruction.

I was in shock. I thought I prepared myself for this but I don't think you can ever really be prepared for this type of news. While she was telling me the results I was fine, when she started telling me treatment recommendations I almost passed out. I couldn't see anything but dots, my hearing was fading, I was sweating bullet's and could hardly hold myself up. Apparently this is common and a sign of shock. I feel fine now, just have a lot to figure out in the next few days.

Oct 12
Today I had my appointment with the surgeon to get the results of the biopsy. I took the kids with me because I just thought it was going to be a quick in and out thing. My mom wanted to be there for support. I told her she was crazy and I was fine but she insisted...as most moms would. I figured it was another cyst since I had one removed this summer. Unfortunately, I was wrong, I was diagnosed with breast Cancer. My eyes filled with tears as I tried to process what she just said. I tried my best to hold myself together. I couldn't look over at my kids (age 1 and 2) sitting on grandmas lap. All I could think about was that I wasn't going to let my kids grow up without their mom. Who would teach them how to ride their bike? Who would help them with their homework and embarass them in front of all their friends when they become teenagers?

We left the doctor's office and I called my husband to tell him the news. He was quiet, I didn't say much either. He came home from work early and we started figuring out what steps we would take next.

Overall, I am doing well but have my moments where it hits me and I need a good cry (or an oreo) then I am back to fighting mode. I know they have a lot of successful treatments so I am staying positive. It just seems like a bad dream.

Riley (2yrs old) keeps making me laugh which brings my spirits up. When we got outside the doctor's office and Riley says, “I don’t like that lady that made you cry.” It made me smile. Then in the lobby of the dr.’s office, she told other patients waiting to see the dr. her mommy had a boo boo on her boobies. Got to love the random comments from the 2 yr. olds!

October 9
Monday I met with the general surgeon who will be removing the lump on my breast. Today she will remove the lump. It should be a quick in and out procedure. We decided to fly my mom out for the surgery to help with the kids.

October 1
In Aug less than 1 month after my 29th birthday I found a lump on my breast while doing a self breast exam. Like most people my age I rarely ever did a self exam except for the month or two following my yearly exam. I had recently learned a friend of mine had breast cancer. Like me, she was a runner and lived a healthy lifestyle. I emailed her to see if she could run the 13 mile race I had signed up for since I had something come up which prevented me from running. We had not talked for several months and when she responded to my email, she told me she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was currently going through chemo. I was in shock. I expected this from someone who smoked, someone older but not my friend who on a regular basis spent her free time running marathons. That was what sparked me to do my self breast exam. That is what may have saved my life!