Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Surgery Is In 36 Hours

My mastectomy is in 36 hours.

A bilateral mastectomy with full (right side) axillary lymph node dissection.  And no reconstruction, at least for now.

I'm going to wake up on Friday after the 4-5 hour surgery with no breasts, no lymph nodes under my right arm, and long scars across my chest where my 32DDs used to be.

My body will never be the same.  Ever.  For the rest of my life, I will look and feel different.  Even if I have reconstruction in a year (after I heal from radiation), my body won't look like mine.  Every hug and cuddle from here on out will feel different.  I'm not going to fit in clothes like I used to.

I never considered myself a vain person until this whole cancer thing happened.  I realize now how very vain I am, because I cried when my eyelashes fell out.  I was proud of my eyelashes.  They were thick and long and curly, and I loved them.  Turns out I was vain about them.  And I'm going to miss my breasts.  They fed my children, looked good in and out of clothes, and I liked them.  And after Friday morning, I won't have them anymore.

I'm worried about what I'll see when I look down after surgery, or look in the mirror for the first time when the bandages come off.  I'll be bald (nearly) and breastless, covered with scars, and I'm afraid I won't feel feminine or attractive.

There's a song by Plumb that I've really loved lately, and I repeat the refrain when I need the reminder.  And I've needed the reminder a lot lately.  Here are the lyrics, and a link to the song:

Beautifully Broken by Plumb


Every tear, every doubt
Every time you've fallen down
When you're hurting, feeling shame
When you're numbing all your pain
When you've lost your way
And feel so far away

You're not


You're beautifully broken
And You can be whole again
Even a million scars
Doesn't change whose you are
You're worthy
Beautifully broken

Every fear of being loved
For who you are no matter what
When you're stumbling, with each step
And you're haunted by regret
And the darkness closes in
Just listen

You're beautifully broken
And You can be whole again
Even a million scars
Doesn't change whose you are
You're worthy
Beautifully broken
You're beautifully broken (beautifully broken)
You're beautifully broken

Oh, the God who made the stars
Is the God that made your heart
And He's holding you right now
He can heal the broken parts
And make beauty from the scars, the scars
Beautiful scars!

You're beautifully broken
And You can be whole again
Even a million scars
Doesn't change whose you are
You're worthy
You're beautifully broken
And You can be whole again
Even a million scars
Doesn't change whose you are
You're worthy
You're beautifully broken (You're beautifully broken)
Beautifully broken (You're beautifully broken)
You're beautifully broken


Surgery is in 36 hours.  And that surgery is going to remove the cancer from my body and get me another step closer to being done with all of this.

I can do this.




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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Chemo Worked

I had my post-chemo ultrasound on Thursday, and...

There was NO CANCER there to be measured.  They had a hard time finding the biopsy clips in my breast and lymph node.  The tumor bed (scar tissue, basically) could be seen, but nothing measurable.

That is an amazing response to chemo!

I grinned when the radiologist told me the news, and then started crying when I came back to the waiting room to let Jamie know the results.  Chemo was hard.  It'll take me some time still to recover from it, but it was worth it.

Jamie and I met with my PA and Surgeon this morning (love them!) to go over the results and discuss my upcoming surgery.

On July 20th, I'll have a bilateral mastectomy and complete (right side) axillary lymph node dissection.  This means that both my breasts will be removed - tissue and skin, but no underlying muscle - along with all the lymph nodes in my right arm.  Dr. Miggins will make me as flat as possible both for ease of radiation after, and so that I'll have an easier time living with being flat for the next year/year and a half until reconstruction can take place.

We discussed the possible complications from surgery, what aftercare will look like, and what my lymphedema risk is.  I ordered a lymphedema bracelet to wear (no blood pressure cuff, blood taken, or injections given in that arm for the rest of my life), but can hold off on ordering a sleeve unless I develop actual lymphedema in my arm.  Surgery will take 4-5 hours on that Friday, and I'll go back for a post-op appointment about a week and a half later.  We should have the surgical pathology results at the time.  I was also given referrals to a couple of reconstructive surgeons.  I'll set up appointments with them pre-surgery to see who I like and what their recommendations are for me for reconstruction post radiation, and then won't see them again until after radiation is complete.

Yes, radiation is still a go, even with the great response to chemo.  The reason is the same as that for continuing to take all of my (right arm) lymph nodes - to give me the best chance of a long, healthy life with no breast cancer recurrence.  I'm young and my oncology team wants to do everything they can for me.  I'm good with that.

On to phase 2!


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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Quilt

I've received a few different blankets while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, but the one I'm going to tell you about is one of the most special gifts I've ever received.

When my sister-in-law, Natalie, heard about my diagnosis, she put the call out to my siblings, parents, nieces & nephews, and grandparents, and collected quilt squares from everyone so that she could put this together.

I love it.




Here it is, from left to right, starting at the top:










You can tell they know me well - not only can you see music notes on there, but my favorite quotes, Harry Potter squares, and even a nod to Starbucks.  My family is amazing. 



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