Archive | April, 2013

Stuffing Out Stuffing In: My Appointment With The Breast Surgeon

25 Apr

nipple sparing

I had my appointment with the breast surgeon this morning.  Brian and I really liked him, he was direct, kind, and answered all our questions. We discussed my options about types of mastectomies and he said I would be a great candidate for a skin sparing and nipple sparing mastectomy, that means I would get to keep all my outer parts. Skin and nipples and the inner parts, meaning breast tissue, would be removed and replaced with my belly fat (can I hear a hallelujah?).

He told us that the mastectomy would not be the painful part and that the reconstruction scar would cause the most pain. His part would only feel like a “bad bruise“.  WOAH back the horse up a minute doc, you’re telling me that getting your breast literally chopped off and  stuffed feels like a ” bad bruise?”  Do I look like I was born yesterday?  I wanted to say “oh yes  the  same way my mother in law told me labor felt like  having bad menstrual cramps,  uh-huh right.” (wink wink)

He explained usually everything goes perfect, but occasionally the nipple’s blood supply can become compromised and it turns black and dies. This is what we label n medicine as necrosis. Nice, having a black, dead nipple does not sound to appealing  to me, so hopefully everything goes perfect. He explained if this happens, I  will lose my nipple and they have to make me one.

He also explained that I could bring my breast cancer  lifetime risk from 50-70%. (Which is what I am now) to  1%, but not to 0% since they can not get every speck of breast tissue.  Doggone it, if I get breast cancer and go through all this, I will be really pissed. However, he said it would be on the surface of the breast and we could feel it and catch it early.

The best thing I got out of the meeting was reassurance that I was doing the right thing. The doctor stated the majority of his patients are preventive mastectomy patients. I stated “So I’m not the only crazy one?” He said I was doing the right thing and if his wife had my family history and risk factors, he would want her to do the same thing. If it is good enough for his wife, then it is definitely good enough for me.

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Are You Dense? Why Yes,Yes I Am: The Most Important Blog Post I Will Ever Write

18 Apr

dunce

I confess, I am dense. I just found out that I am dense last year. My density came to me in a letter no less. I am not talking about my smarts, but rather I am talking about my breast density. My last mammogram report stated I have dense breast tissue. Below is a picture of the USA, if you live in the pink states, a law is in effect to tell you your breast density when you have a mammogram.

states

The law in Texas is called Henda’s Law. Henda’s Law – named for Henda Salmeron, a Dallas Realtor and breast cancer survivor who led efforts to pass the legislation – requires mammography providers to notify patients with dense breast tissue that their mammogram may be less accurate than that of women with lower breast density. The law states: “If your mammogram demonstrates that you have dense breast tissue, which could hide abnormalities, and you have other risk factors for breast cancer that have been identified, you might benefit from supplemental screening tests that may be suggested by your ordering physician.”

Breast Density is a measure of the amount of breast tissue a woman has. The more tissue, the greater the density and the higher the risk of breast cancer. However, in women with dense breast tissue, mammograms are not as effective in detecting the cancer. This is because both breast tissue and breast cancer will appear white on a mammogram and the lack of contrast makes identification of the cancer more difficult.

The mammogram picture below shows someone with dense breast that has a tumor. It has been circled in pink. See how difficult it is to see.

dense breast

Here is a mammogram of a tumor in a regular breast and a dense breast.

dense breast 2

What to do if you have dense breasts?

Ask your doctor about having additional screening studies such as an ultrasound or breast MRI. For more information visit http://areyoudense.org.

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Never Forget Your Self Breast Exams!!!

18 Apr

Never Forget Your Self Breast Exams

A Sentence I thought I would never say: “I am so thankful for my fat.”

4 Apr

20130404-174318.jpg

The other day I got a Cat Scan so the plastic surgeon could examine the vessels of my abdomen and to see if there was enough fat for me to use my own tissue for reconstruction of my breast once I had the mastectomy. I had liposuction on my lower abdomen a few years ago to get a little pouch of fat off that I could not get to go away at the gym. The doctor was worried that the blood vessels that needed to be used might have been damaged due to the liposuction procedure, and maybe there was not enough fat there to make breasts. I beg to differ but he is the doctor right?..Well, I got the call today from the nurse stating everything on my CT looked perfect, no damage to the vessels and plenty of fat and we were a go when I was ready. Yeah fat!!!!! My next step is to see a breast surgeon at the end of April and go from there.

Baby Ellen I gave you life now you save mine.

2 Apr

Breastfeeding-Guidelines

I have a confession to make. I have never told a soul, not even my husband or daughters, but now I am sharing it with you. I gave my 1 day old baby a job and that job was to save my life.  Let me explain; since I knew of my high risk for breast cancer, my OBGYN told me that breastfeeding for 6 months reduces ones risk of breast cancer. If a woman breast fed longer,  it did not lower the risk.  6 months, in my book, was the magic number.

I had my first daughter in 1995 and my plan was to breast feed for as long as possible, not only for her health, but for mine to lower my BC risk.  I had imagined my child would just come out knowing how to feed and we would have a wonderful breast-feeding relationship. Ellen, my daughter, must not have gotten the memo that breasts were for eating not for falling asleep on. We tried and tried to get the breast-feeding going.

I remember crying in the dark holding her telling her she must nurse or I will die.  “Please save my life. You MUST eat or I will die!”  I know now it sounds illogical but I was a postpartum mom with crazy hormones. My mother saw what stress I was under to get her to eat and she wanted me to give her a bottle of formula. I was adamant that she nurse at least 6 months, not that there is anything wrong with formula.  In my mind, she had to save me.  She finally got the hang of it and breast-fed for 9 months.

The other day I was reading a new study, that for every year of breastfeeding a women’s risk is lowered by 4.3%. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/cancer-questions/how-is-breast-feeding-related-to-breast-cancer   My daughter should be thanking the good Lord that I did not have this information back then or she would still be breastfeeding to this day. I know I am totally grossing her out as it is:)

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