Monday, January 30, 2012

No longer filled to the brim :)

I had a 4 hour appointment today at Abbott's radiation department.
My new doctor is fabulous and I loved all the techs. I feel like I am in good hands there.

I had a CT scan and it was determined that it would be impossible to do the radiation without deflating the right expander. To get the 2 cm out that they needed, they ended up having to take 155 ccs. You know those gigantic needles from prior posted pictures? That's 2 1/2 syringes full.

They also determined that I am a great candidate for the gating radiation like we had hoped. It will be much safer for my lung and heart.

A 2nd CT scan today confirmed that after the deflate, I'm in the safety zone and can proceed.

Once radiation is finished in March, I will immediately have the right side refilled. The expanders will stay in 6 months after radiation ends and then I will have the exchange for my new silicon ones. :) They will go in through my current scars.

By October 2012, I should have softer boobs, chest port-a-cath out, be done with the Herceptin infusions and be all done with radiation treatments.

Besides a daily pill for 5 years, we will hopefully be able to go back to living like we were pre-cancer. October seems so far away, but we're so excited.

Here's a mold they made of my left side.

We are set to start radiation next Tuesday. My tentative end date is March 22. If you need me in the next 6.5 weeks, you know where to find me!
This is page 1 of 2.

Check out the awesome shirt my friend Sheri got me. Also note the fabulous sign that Dawn sent. Love them!

I hope your week is wonderful!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Filled to the brim

I had my final expander fill yesterday. I'm glad it's done, but I'm nervous that I didn't push for one more fill. I hope they will be big enough.
Dr. Migliori has said that anything over 510 ccs on my frame is going to look unnatural and be a pain for my every day life.
I trust him, so that's where we stopped.

I'm back on the pain pills at night for sleeping purposes. Nighttime is just like mastectomy time all over again. I'm starting to think that the pain I attributed to my mastectomies was actually more to do with the tissue expanders. I can sleep in bed instead of the recliner, but I wake up very often.
Thankfully, it only lasts about 4-5 days post fill and then just goes back to the weird numbness. Because of the size and stretching involved this time, it feels like my sternum is cracking when I lie down.

The almighty Migs thinks my boobs will be fantastic when this process is all over. He recommends that I moisturize "the shit" out of them with Cocoa Butter. I love it when doctors throw out a random swear word here and there. It makes them seem like real people.
To any curious folks, Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula is paraben-free! :)

He again talked about how "remarkable" it was that I was a complete response to the chemo and that he thinks I should have been included in a study. There aren't many documented cases of the aftermath of people who have Neo-adjuvant therapy. Neo-Adjuvant means that I had chemo BEFORE surgery and radiation. It never gets old to hear that your body responded well. God and chemo had my back!

We talked about my crazy appointment with the radiologist a couple days ago. He said that Dr. Herman actually called him and that he acted like he had no idea what to do with me so he was going to refer me to Abbott. Migs said he acted like it was his first day on the job. Wow.
The good part is, Dr Migliori wanted me to go to Dr. Sullivan at Abbott the whole time and was planning on bringing it up to me anyways. He agreed that Dr Herman appeared to be a whack.

There is a really high tech machine at Abbott that they will be using on me. It's only a couple years ago and will have less "collateral damage". It will protect my heart and they may not have to deflate my right expander. That would be nice.
Here's a pic of the machine. Looks like fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Radiation Update

Dr. Herman called today to let me know that his office is not equipped to treat me. I figured.
Although he thinks my heart is in the right place, it's also right where I need to be radiated.
At Abbott, they have a machine that would allow me to move my heart over during radiation by holding my breath.

Although inconvenient, I'm grateful for all of the options for treatments I have.

They are transferring my records to Abbott Northwestern hospital in Minneapolis and that's where I will report daily for almost 6 weeks.

I might finally get to be a really good downtown Minneapolis driver!

I will meet with my new doctor on January 30 to set up my new radiology game plan.

Until then, I should continue having my boobs filled as previously planned.

I'm going to push Dr. Migs for an overfill tomorrow. Maybe it will be my last one. It's about time to wrap this tissue and muscle stretching thing up before I really do end up looking like Dolly.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Moving Forward With Radiation

I would be lying if I said I was happy about being told today that radiation was our best bet.
In a perfect world, Dr Herman would have told me that my percentage for a recurrence would be the same either way.
Unfortunately, It didn't go down like that.

My appointment that was supposed to be two hours turned into three in a hurry.
I was bombarded with information and overwhelmed.
I finally told the radiology oncologist to call my oncologist and figure it out.
They hashed it out via phone while I listened.

Radiation is my best odds. The percentages aren't much different, but they're there. I didn't come this far to quit now because it would be the easiest route. Even a few percentage is more than I started with.
I am considered a T2N1 now and still classified as Stage 2B on that fun ol' cancer scale.
Because of that, we move forward with more treatment. It doesn't really matter how clean the scans are now. We have to base all treatment recommendations on how severe the cancer was when I was first diagnosed.

This is getting exhausting. I feel like all I do every day is go to appointments with different doctors that contradict each other.
Today was pretty effective. I'm thinking the "get my other doctor on the phone and you guys fight it out" plan might be a good route to travel from here on out.

It's fun hearing doctors debate your prognosis.

Because of where my radiation will be and how big my boob expanders are, there is a chance I will have to have my right side deflated during my 28 treatments so that the lasers can get a direct shot to my left side. Yes, you heard that right.

Also, because my heart is already wonky, they are going to be very cautious that no radiation beam comes anywhere near it.
They don't have the technology at the radiology center near me....of course, so I quite possibly might be making the trek daily to Minneapolis for my radiation.
Good news is that they're being cautious, bad news is how much more time per day that would take.

I pushed to be mapped today so we would know where to go from here.

All the what ifs had me in tears. I don't care about what ifs. Map me and then just tell me when and where to show up.
Too many words were coming out of his mouth.
It was super frustrating.

The mapping consisted of a CT scan that will show him where my heart is, where they will radiate and will show if I can be radiated at the hospital here.
I also received 4 tiny permanent tattoos today so they can line the lasers up in the same spots every time I go in. Everything is measured to the precise millimeter.

For now, all is at a standstill until I hear from Dr. Herman tomorrow. Hopefully, he's less word-y and calls bearing good news.

Until then......

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2011- Cancer is Expensive

I tallied up the cancer related bills that were submitted to my insurance company from the date I was diagnosed in August until 12/31/11.

The grand total was $239,303.38.

I can't wait to see what the bills submitted this year look like after my mastectomies and exchange surgeries.

Thankfully, we pay very little of this amount. Eric's insurance through his employer is AMAZING.

Busy Week!

Sorry for the lack of updates. I had appointments every day this week and it left little time for anything else.

Wednesday, I had my Herceptin infusion. My blood count was good and I was able to go over my pathology results again. Dr. Hartung was so happy with how well I responded to the treatment that she said she was no longer "gung ho" on my need for radiation.
She wrote me a list of things to go over with the radiology oncologist on Monday.
Her thought is that unless he says it's going to give me at least a 3-5% chance of not having a recurrence, I could decline without her arguing with me.
She really wants me to weigh the risks vs. pros with him.
I'm pretty nervous.

Up until this point, it was just assumed that I would have radiation.
How great would it be if I didn't have to do it?
My risk of lymphedema would go down. I wouldn't have 6.5 weeks of radiation appointments. I wouldn't have the possible later repercussions of receiving radiation. I would be able to be radiated on that part of my body if needed later in case of a recurrence. I wouldn't have the possible cosmetic effects on that side of my breast/arm that come with radiation.
I would also be able to get my expanders out about 3 months earlier to do the exchange.

On the same token, I would feel better knowing that I did everything possible so I will be meeting with Dr Herman for two hours tomorrow. Hopefully, I will leave the appointment with a plan and peace of mind.

Thursday I visited with Dr. Kobenia again for expander inflations. I love how they make it sound like I'm getting my tires aired up.
I was able to get another 50ccs on each side. That puts me currently at 425 ccs on each side.
They kill. Seriously. I never in a million years thought I would be in so much friggen pain with these dumb things. I would have never thought that I would need pain meds after a fill. They are massively big feeling. They are odd shaped and they rub the side of my armpits. Considering my armpit is still numb from the surgery, it's an ungodly awful sandpapery feeling. Yuck.
They don't feel too bad during the day, but I still can't lie flat.
I go back again on Wednesday for another fill.
Shoot me now.

I have to do exercises four times per day.
Here's one of my exercises.
It's called Elbow Winging. I'm supposed to start with my elbows pointed towards the ceiling and move them towards the floor. I'm making really good progress with my right side. My left side, eh, not so much.

It's frustrating. I feel like I start making progress and then I go for another fill...2 steps forward, 1 step back.

Here is what my expander boob things look like now. This is with no bra. I haven't had to wear a bra since my surgery.

Here's an update on my hair. It's filling in! I'm also starting to get some more wiry looking eyebrows. They're not ideal, but I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Karsyn's Wish

I checked my 5 year old daughter's backpack this morning as she was getting ready for school. What I found left me in tears.

While it's heartbreaking that these are REAL world problems that she's concerned with, it makes me so proud of her at the same time.

Dream big, little girl.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pathology Results and Updates

I had an appointment this morning with the surgeon who performed my mastectomies to check my incisions, range of motion and go over my pathology results.

I'm happy to report that she was happy with all of it.
If Dr. Bretzke is happy, I'm happy.

She commented that my "breasts are stretching amazingly well in a short amount of time."
That's certainly not something I would have wanted to hear last year, but now, it's a good thing.

I have mixed feelings on the breast tissue expanders.
While they're currently weird shaped and feel like turtle shells...with a shirt on, I like them.
I look to be currently about an average C. They're crazy full and I don't have to wear a bra. They are definitely more than a handful. We will have to over expand them past what size I want to be so that I have enough skin after radiation to make the exchange.

Radiation will probably shrink the skin on the left side and make it tough like leather. It can also cause burns. We will do all of the stretching before starting rads because in some cases, the skin doesnt't stretch well afterwards.
This is the route they think will render me the best results.
I meet with my Radiation Oncologist on Monday to figure out the game plan.

My chest is still numb. I can't feel anything on my skin or my left armpit area.
I usually don't even know if I've bumped into something until my turtle shells are stabbing me in the ribs. It's an odd feeling. It hurts to hug. I still need pain meds at night and I continue to sleep in the recliner in my pillow nest. It hurts my muscles to lie flat.

During the day, I feel pretty well. I still can't do a ton with my left arm, but I have started exercises to help my range improve.
I start physical therapy on Friday to keep my Lymphedema risk down.

I go for a Herceptin infusion tomorrow and a check up with my oncologist.
This seems to be the week of never ending appointments.
I am so thankful for a great husband and fabulous friends who are willing to watch my kiddos while I go from place to place.

My pathology reports were as good as they could possibly be.
Evaluation of the lymph nodes showed no evidence of metastatic disease within 23 nodes. This means it hasn't spread. Two of the nodes showed changes showing treatment effect. That means chemo zapped them.

My first tumor is gone. The report states, *NO RESIDUAL INVASIVE TUMOR PRESENT.*
Holy-baby-Jesus-in-a-manger, was it ever good to see that in black and white! :)

A secondary tumor was found in the same breast at the time of the mastectomy. It was 0.3 cm and it was called Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. It was within the breast tissue that was taken out and it's long gone now.

I got a handshake from the doctor and the all clear to not come back for one whole year.
Today's a good day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Good Intentions

It is finally snowing in Minnesota.
I don't mind snow, just how darn cold it gets when it snows. I hate being cold.

I DO like that when it snows on weekends, we don't feel like we need to go anywhere. It's nice to just stay home with the fam and relax.

I woke up this morning and said, "Self, today you are going to start Weight Watchers again and you're going back to the gym.
Honestly, I actually said that out loud...the 'self' part and all. I'm so lame.
Anyways, from the get go, I had good intentions for the day. I was feeling all motivated and stuff.

I found my shoes, my gym bag, towel, but not my headphones. As I searched, the snow kept coming down. It has now been 7 hours and I still can't find my damn headphones.
We all know perfectly well that one cannot go to the gym without headphones. It also would be unsafe. I could get in a car accident or something.
I took those as signs that I was meant to start my routine tomorrow. Hopefully, I will remember by then where my headphones are and the flurries will cease.

I attempted to redeem myself by doing a kids Yoga dvd with my little ones this evening. It was so freaking hard. My show off kids were all, "Downward dog? Easy! Child's pose? Simple!"
as I struggled just putting the dvd in. Humiliating.
I'm obviously not ready for yoga or anything else that requires much more than walking right now. Thank God I didn't go back to one of my old classes at the gym or something idiotic like that.

I am hoping to lose the 'cancer-baby weight' and tone back up. I miss the gym. I miss my old clothes. I miss my gym buddy, Jilly. I miss the gym daycare...digress much?
I have a few months until I get to go on a much needed vacation with friends to Chicago. Motivate!

In the beginning of this, I was a little bitter that I had put the time in to live a healthy lifestyle and was just going to be killed off by stupid, jerkface cancer.
I had thought that I would just enjoy not going to the gym and go to town, so to speak, on the chips and bad foods because obviously, being healthy didn't matter.
My husband (and doctors) helped me realize recently that I was looking at it all wrong.

Honestly, my body did a really great job at doing what it was supposed to do to fight off the cancer once it was detected. Did it make a difference that I was, in my opinion, pretty healthy going into the fight?
Who knows. It sure didn't hurt me though.
I came into this with my guns drawn. I think that I very possibly could have had a much different cancer experience if my initial spirit and health were any different than they were.

While it sucked getting cancer, it could have been worse.
The gaining weight part wasn't fun. Becoming increasingly sedentary over the past few months hasn't done squat for my self esteem. The cancer's gone. It's time to work on my overall mental and physical health again.

That includes the gym, meditation and prayer, and my old trusty friend, Weight Watchers!
Cancer aside, the slobby lifestyle I was leading most of the time while fighting off cancer wasn't really all that great.

You do realize I am putting a ton of pressure on myself by blogging that, right?
Now I HAVE to lose some weight or the next time I see you guys, you will say to your husband as I walk away, "Geesh.....she started WW months ago and doesn't look like she's lost a pound!"
I really do love you bitches, but you know that's SOOO true. ;)

Anyhow...that's my big plan for the moment. Hopefully nothing crazy derails my attempts.
The nice people at the Purple Star Buffet will miss me, I'm sure.

Hey, that reminds me! Is this not the funniest thing ever?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Life IS much better without drains.

Anyone I have ever talked to regarding breast reconstruction or augmentation has said that once the drains come out, it's all easier. It's only been a few hours but so far, I agree.

The plastic surgeon I generally see had to fly home for a family emergency today, so I saw one of his partners.

He checked my fabulously meticulously self-upkept output chart and agreed that those disgusting drains were ready to be removed.
He also confirmed that my skin looked great and were ready for another fill.
Could this Friday the 13th get any better?!? No, it certainly cannot!

Eric came with me for the appointment which was awesome. Appointments are always better with someone that cracks me up...and then takes pictures of me. :)

I will have another appointment next week for another fill.
The surgeon advised me to start trying on clothes so I know how much more we want to push in these puppies.
He, of course, didn't use those words, but that's what I got out of the conversation.
So, I'm supposed to just keep coming every week for fills until the shirts I like fit. That sounds easy enough.

I'm a walking breast cancer ribbon poster child some days.
Some people get peeved by the ribbons and logos. I don't. I like them.

I like when obviously ill people wear "their color" so I know which type of illness they are fighting. It's like a little unspoken language between everyone. It saves me time thinking about it.
I can just see someone obviously with cancer wearing a pink ribbon and think, Hmmm... Breast cancer. That sucks. Then I say a quick prayer for them. If I see someone wearing a logo or colored ribbon I'm not familiar with, I google it. Gotta stay educated on the causes!

I like to think that all of these ribbons really are spreading awareness.
Even if they're not, maybe there are some people like me that just like to drop random prayers for people wearing cause ribbons.
That works, too. :)

First and foremost, how adorable is this guy?
I mean, seriously?? He was just sitting in the plastic surgeons office and I knew I had to take a picture.
Actually, this is my adorable husband, who doesn't get nearly enough props on my blog. He is AMAZING.

One reason he is super amazing is that he doesn't care if I wear crazy hats or pink wigs. He doesn't get embarrassed. He takes me everywhere and anywhere without thinking twice. He's one of those guys that really gets the whole "in sickness and health" part of his vows.
Here is the hat I wore today. It's cold as hell here.
Cancer Hat...check!
Cancer shirt...check!
See how easy it is to determine why I'm bald?
You're all welcome! ;)

Here's what an expander looks like that is sitting on a cold counter top and hasn't been filled yet. I found it in a drawer. I'm super nosy at doctor's offices. It's a deceiving little sucker. This one looks so nice and soft and cozy. In fact, once it's placed and filled, it feels similar to a softball. The surgeon I had today said that I could "easily knock a little kid out with them." I might try that before bed. Kidding.
Instead, I will spend the next 6 months learning how NOT to sleep on my stomach or side.

'Weighing my options' with some fun implants I found in another drawer. They're really lucky that people don't steal their cool drawer stuff. I don't know what my fascination is with doctor's office drawers. I couldn't care less what people have in their house drawers and cabinets, but put me in a doctor's office unattended and I'm like a kid at Christmas. Ace bandages and gloves?? Score! :)

Tastes like chicken!

Getting ready to have the drains removed. The doctor and nurse counted to 3 and pulled them out at the same time. It was a little sore for a few minutes but feels great now. Easy Peasy.

Here is the handy stud finder. He uses this to find the little silver circle in my expanders. That's where they insert the needles for my fills.

This is me trying to persuade them to throw an extra 75 in each one. He flatly told the nurse to stop at 50 for today. Come on, man! Let's stretch these suckers!

If I weren't actually going through this right now, I would totally think people were just making it up as they describe the breast reconstructive process.
How can you not just lie there and laugh as two people simultaneously shoot fluid in your softballs with gigantic syringes? It looks like an SNL sketch!
I love my life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A whole lot of nothing!

My drains are putting out what they should be FINALLY, so I think we're on track to have them taken out on Friday. Houston is trying his damndest to yank them out before then. He keeps me on my toes. In his sweet little mind, the fluid in the drains is cancer and he wants no part of it.
I don't blame him. My littles sure have learned a lot about the c-word since August. I can't wait until the day he tells all of his friends that his mom has new big boobs instead of cancer. :)

It's been nine days since my surgery and my mom is heading back to SD tomorrow. All good things must come to an end. She spent today packing. It gave me a 'trial day' to see if I could handle my kids alone post-surgery.
I was a little sore, a little tired, but we all managed. The kids were actually pretty easy on me. I'm hopeful this is a new trend.

I now know that anything I plan to feed the kids has to be on the 1st and 2nd shelves of the pantry and fridge, since I can't raise my arms. Thank goodness my kids are fans of cereal, grilled cheese, jarred peaches and cottage cheese. :)

I forgot to post some pics from the days right after surgery.

Here are the signs I was welcomed home by:

My wonderful niece, Cheyanne, made this fabulous sign for me once we got the all clear on the pathology report.
Yes, she's wayyyy too young to write ASS. We will let it slide since she asked her dad's permission first. Love that girl!

The most fabulous woman ever took the day off from her job as a social worker to babysit my kids for the entire day of surgery. She even came equipped with art supplies.
The kids are still asking for Jodi to come back to "do art and play phones."
I will never be able to thank you enough, Jodi!

Here's me in all of my hotness. I have no idea which day this was. I may or may not be wearing the same exact outfit right now.
Don't hate on my XXXXL old lady robe. The recommended zip up flannel robe options for post mastectomies are very limited.
I made myself a drain holder by using my dusting mitt to stuff my three bags in. That's some Pinterest shit, right there. ;)

Here's a different pic of my drains. Gross, right? Check out the fancy safety pins. :)
The pants may be even worse than the drains. They, too, have become a staple this week.

I have to write down my outputs daily.

I also kept a little med chart so I could make sure my caretakers remembered to keep me drugged at all times.
Yes, for all you eagle-eyes, I did take a stool softener for a few days. No, for all you nosy people, they didn't work. Ha!

Small things like this crack me up.
Six months ago, I wouldn't have in a million years even posted a pic on Facebook that I hadn't first used to take 5 lbs off, add highlights to my hair or whiten my teeth.
I now openly (and often!) post pics of me sans make up, a little chunkier than I would like and with no hair, eyebrows or lashes. I also post the frequency of my stool softener usage.
Insanity, I tell you!

I would like to think that once I'm back to full on health, I might splash on a little lipstick and mascara, for old times sake. Paraben-free, of course!

Whew. I feel so much better getting this all typed out and off my oddly shaped chest. You know this blog is more for me than for you, right? ;)

Have a good one!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Recovery hurts a tad more than I had anticipated.

I have been on strict orders to stay off my feet as much as possible for the two weeks following surgery.
I have been doing as little as possible and am still draining like a stuck pig.
I will go back to Dr. Migs on Friday to see if some (or all three) of my drains can be removed.

My 24-hour drain output has to be under 30 at the time of removal. I'm not even close to that yet. I'm hoping something drastically changes in the next two days so I'm not stuck with these things any longer than I need to be.

Until the drains are removed, I can't shower. I have taken shallow baths since the surgery, but I still look pretty rough. A shower is desperately needed.

Along with a King sized bed in my room, I also have a chaise lounge, and now, a huge Lazy Boy recliner.
I "bed hop" within my room most of the night. It's next to impossible to find a good position that I can stay in for more than a couple hours.

I just have to stay hopeful that I will be less uncomfortable once these drains come out.

My expander/boobs still look about the same as the last time I posted. Still not much for bruising or shifting.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Little Update

I had a lot of time to think about the second cancer diagnosis that I received last night. Knowing that I had beat the second type of cancer, without even knowing about it, made me extremely happy. I haven't really spent any time sad since the operation. I'm not very emotional.

I know a lot of people told me that I would have this roller coaster of emotions regarding the loss of my breasts when it was all said and done.

I really don't think that's applying to me. I'm not sad they're gone. I'm not mad at God for being one of the "chosen ones" to fight this stupid battle. I'm just kind of numb.

Because I had neo-adjuvant therapy, meaning I had chemo before surgery, unlike other people; I had a whole lot of time to prepare myself for what was about to happen and to weigh my options.

They were/are just boobs. Big deal. While I'm ecstatic that I'm getting new ones, they sure didn't and don't make or break me.
I'm still me whether I'm riddled with scars or if I'm sporting a nice rack at the finish line.

It's just not a major concern for me. I also know that my family and friends don't care either.
I honestly feel like I have no pressure. The ball has always been in my court.

The pressure to beat the cancer is gone. We succeeded.

I was sent home from the hospital with another wad of pills. I hate pills.
I was still throwing up sporadically through last night. I know it's the pain killers.
I made the decision today to stop with the pain meds (oxy) and just take Tylenol and the antibiotic.

I'm hoping to be able to continue that regimen. I don't enjoy sleeping the entire day away and I REALLY don't enjoy vomiting- so hopefully this will take the edge off enough for me to make it through the rough part of recovery.

My swelling isn't too obnoxious and my bruising is pretty minimal. I'm excited to see what they will look like after the next fill.

My dad and brother finally made it back to SD. They were so great for coming. My mom and Eric are doing everything here around the house. I'm not supposed to lift anything over 5 lbs or move my arms over my waist. Basically, I'm supposed to sit and watch tv all day. It's not as fun as I had imagined it would be.
I'm so thankful for them....and DVR. :)

I am starting to hear from more and more survivors and co-survivors from all over about what to expect in this crazy process. I do hope that my blog can help people to not be so frightened.
Please, if you feel like you know ANYONE that may benefit from some information in my blog, pass it on.
I would be happy to talk or email to anyone that may have questions. Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone that has been there/done that.

Keeping in mind that everyone I meet is fighting a hard battle, I'm praying for all of YOU!

Take care of yourselves. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Even more news!

Dr. Bretzke just called me with my pathology reports from my operation.

It turns out that not only did I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my left breast, but I also had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ on the same side that was missed by the mammogram. My crazy boob had two separate types of cancer brewing in there. Thank GOD we found them when we did.

The great news is that it doesn't matter! My reports all came back clear and in her words, "You had a total response."

This is absolutely the best case scenario.

I asked if it would change my need for radiation,etc., and she said no.
The only thing that has changed is that my prognosis is really, really good now.

I didn't ask how many more years I will have. I don't care.
I don't want to fear living. I want to make the most out of each day that I'm alive.

Anyways, sorry about all the posts today but I feel like the good news just keeps piling up and I just want to tell the world!

Thanks to all of you for keeping my spirits up!

Much love!

Here they are~

So, this is the first stage of reconstruction.
My boobs are out, tissue expanders are in. They are actually a really good size for a starting point.

I will make weekly trips to my plastic surgeons office starting next Friday to fill them up a little more. They are 350 ccs on each side now. I'm still hoping to be close to 500 ccs on each side by the end of the expansion period.
We'll see as we go. If they start looking obnoxious, we may stop filling early.

Expanders are generally placed too high and too hard in order to have the best tissue stretch. Mine have dents, etc, but that's normal. Hopefully once the real implants are exchanged for the expanders, they will look more soft and normal.

I'm going to post a picture. I know it may gross people out. If you're one of those people, I apologize.

The main reason I'm doing it is because there are a lot of people fighting cancer right now that are reading my blog to learn what is going to happen to them next.

I just want to show them that it's not that bad. It hurts, but it's tolerable.
I was in the hospital for less than 48 hours. I can now walk around without getting sick. I just can't lift things quite yet.

With the awesome support I have, nothing is impossible. I hope anyone on their own cancer ride has a fabulous team like I do.

You can still see my port on my right side of my chest. That will hopefully come out in August.

Isn't this the truth?

I'm home!!

Surgery went well!
It hurts like hell, but it's becoming more tolerable by the hour.

The first two days I vomited quite a bit, but only once so far today.

My meds are really helping.

I will type a little more when my head isn't such a blur.
Until then, here's some pics.

Angela's Team getting ready to head to the hospital. The shirts were such a fun surprise!

Catching the last glimpse of my boobs before surgery.

Surgery is over!

These are my drains. They will HOPEFULLY be out by next Friday.

The expanders are awesome. Considering they're temporary, I love them. We were hoping Dr Migliori would be able to fill them about 100 during surgery, he actually was able to fill 350 ccs on each side. That's remarkable! I will go back in 4-5 more times to get fills and then will start radiation.
I'm half tempted to post a pic of my expanders in my chest. Would that gross you out?
I'll think about that a little more.

Dr Bretzke will be calling this afternoon with the results of my pathology. I'm hopeful they got all the bad cells out.

Thanks for loving me, friends. You are the most supportive crew ever. <3

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tomorrow is the big day!

I can't believe the time is finally here.
I have to check in at Abbott Northwestern at 10:30 a.m. for 12:30 surgery.
I am to have nothing to eat or drink after 3:30 a.m. I haven't yet decided if I should get up in the wee hours to eat something, or just stay asleep and be a raging hungry beast all morning.

The surgery should take somewhere around 3-4 hours for the mastectomies, removal of lymph nodes and the placement of the tissue expanders.
I will be in recovery for a couple hours and then off to my room. I will *hopefully* be discharged on Thursday.
Thursday afternoon the results of my pathology should be in. We will know at that point how successful the surgery was. Fingers crossed!

My brother and dad are coming to Minnesota today so they can be with me at the hospital. My mom's good friend, Jodi, will be staying with the kids all day tomorrow. Thank God for my supportive family and friends!

I'm not scared of the surgery itself. I'm not looking forward to the pain of recovery though. Giuliana Rancic has really put the pressure on after returning to work on E! only two weeks after her double mastectomy.
I'm going to have to step it up.

Here are some pictures of what is going to happen tomorrow.

I know some people like pictures that are a little graphic. I'm one of those people.
If you are also, go to this link to see the mastectomy process...and a massive chest tattoo.

Following the mastectomies, I will have drains and tissue expanders put in.
Here are what the drains will look like. They are a surgical drainage device used to pull excess fluid from the body by constant suction.
The devices consist of a flexible rubber bulb—shaped something like a hand grenade -- that connects to an internal drainage tube.
They will have to be emptied regularly. I will have them for 1-2 weeks.

Here is an illustration of a tissue expander. They will continued to be filled in small increments over the next 6 months. It's a long process.

At the end of 6 months approximately, I will have my exchange surgery. The expanders will be removed and the implant will be put in.

I do have one other little worry that I haven't mentioned before.
Because I'm having to have lymph nodes under my left arm removed, I do have a pretty good chance (or not) of getting lymphedema at some point.
The surgeon said it's usually a 50/50 thing. It could develop immediately or even 10 years from now.
I obviously don't want it at all.

This is the definition of lymphedema.
Lymphedema is caused by a blockage in your lymphatic system, an important part of your immune and circulatory systems. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and as the fluid builds up, the swelling continues. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment.

I again could use your prayers...especially since I know some of you have a direct link to the man upstairs. :)

Please pray that my surgery goes well. Prayers that my surgeons have steady hands and clear minds as they operate on me. Prayers appreciated for my co-survivors. They have been through hell. Let this be done. They need a break.
Most imporantly, prayers that the anesthesiologist gives me really, really, REALLY good drugs. :) Just kidding.

Love you all!