Tag Archives: breast cancer

Lean On Me… You Are Never Alone

2 Feb

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I know it has been awhile since I last posted anything. When I started this blog, I did not do it so everyone could be a voyeur into my life. I not only wanted to update my relatives and  friends, but mostly help others who were going through the same genetic unknown I was. I got an message the other day on Facebook from a friend I used to work with at the hospital who is in a internet mom’s group.  She said there is girl she knew who just found out she was BRCA + and had questions about my surgery. My friend asked me if I would mind messaging  her and tell her about my surgery and answering any questions she had.

Her and I ” talked ” back and forth for about an hour and I thought it was neat that I could meet someone half way across the country and let her know I understand and she is not alone even though it feels that way sometimes.

Well, I had my second phase of surgery on December 27th and it was a breeze compared to Phase 1. I had nipple reconstruction and fat grafting to fill in any breast  dents from the original surgery. Fat grafting ( liposuction )  was horrible but healed up in a few days. I do not know how women do that all over their body (OUCH).  I still have at least 1 more surgery to fix my donor site incision on my abdomen ( the one that was so infected after my original surgery. ) That surgery will be in the summer.

Haters Gonna Hate….Ramblings From a Sensitive Girl

25 Oct

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My daughters use to say ” Haters are Gonna Hate” now I know what they were talking about.

What is it about us women that we care so much what other people think? Were we taught this as little girls or is it in our DNA? I try to convince myself that it does not matter what others think. It doesn’t matter for awhile, but the old feeling slowly creeps back in.

I have not had any haters about my lovely writing skills except my 17 year old ( who apparently thinks I write like a 2nd grader ) 🙂 Please forgive my grammar, spelling, and punctuation on my posts. I have dyslexia and am just thankful I can read and write. So no haters please.

Question 1:

Why would you put your life on display for everyone to see?

Answer:

I have nothing to hide. I have family and friend around the country and it is easer to have all my information in one place.

A lot of women that have either had this surgery or are getting ready to have the surgery read this blog. Just as I read blogs when I was getting ready to have surgery and before when I was just researching the possibility. I did not even know you could have this type of reconstruction and If I did not know being a nurse and all I knew other women did not know either. Since I read so many blogs that helped me I want to pay it forward.

I write for my girls to have a journal of sort of my experience, thoughts, and feelings.. So one day they will know everything was for them so I would hopefully live a long life and not get Breast Cancer. I would have loved to have my mothers thoughts, feelings, during the difficult times in her life written down.

Question 2:

Who do you blame for your infection?

Answer:

No one!!!!! I do not know if this is only a  Texas saying or not, but ” Shit Happens.” My doctor has been nothing but great, He went above and beyond helping me heal and I am eternally grateful. I believe God has a reason for all thing in our life. Lessons to learn, teaching patience to the inpatient, telling me to slow down and I do not have to do everything all myself, but mostly give up control put your faith in him and in the doctor’s hand. He knows I struggle with both patience and control and I am pretty bullheaded at times and need to be reminded I am not always in control of everything. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Question 3:

Why would you show your scars to the world?

Answer:

Other women do not need to see the perfect surgery or outcome. They need to see what is real. Hopefully they get the perfect experience, but if they don’t then they will know they are not alone. When we were adopting the girls we went to classes and they told us worse case scenarios about a child you might get from Foster Care. I now believe they did this so anything better than the worst case your could handle and think this is nothing. It could be this bad instead. I approached my Mastectomy and reconstruction the same way I wanted worst case scenarios so if anything did happen ( like an infection ) it was not a big deal and could be worse.

I believe scars are the roadmap of my life. Each scar on my body tells a different story . The story of my life, and it has been a great ride so far.

If someone does not want to read this blog do not click on the link. It was probably not written for you anyway. But for anyone else come on in ask all the question you want, My life is an open book.

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Stuffing Out Stuffing In: My Appointment With The Breast Surgeon

25 Apr

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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.

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

18 Apr

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

4 Apr

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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

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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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