Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Surgery Update #2

Greetings! Jessi is now in Recovery. Phase #2 went swimmingly! Dr. Spiro said that Jessi's off to a better start than most. They were able to do most of the expansion in the surgery, so she's already 2/3's done with that! In 20 minutes or so, we'll be able to see her. Can't wait to hear incoherent stories of her time travel! Pretty soon she'll give you an update herself! -c.d.

Surgery Update #1

Hello! This message is from your friendly Guest Blogger. We've just heard that Jessi has completed Phase 1 of her surgery. The mastectomy went just as planned. The lymph node came back negative! She'll have to wait until Tues or so for the pathology results. She's already in Phase 2 - We will update you once she's out! Yaaaay, Jessi!! -c.d.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Time to get this Show on the Road

OK.  So this will probably be my last post before surgery on Wednesday.  One moment I am super ready for this and the next I am beyond nervous.  For now, things are out of my hands and in the hands of extremely professional, well-trained individuals.

During my pre-op testing today (blood work and EKG), the woman who registered me had both my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon for her double mastectomy and reconstruction.  Of course, my first reaction was to check out her goods.  Hey!  It's not like I had to look hard... she was wearing a super low cut v-neck shirt, and her cleavage was practically spilling out.  She looked amazing and everything looked perfectly natural.  Her boobs gave me hope!

After my blood work and EKG I had to answer a ton of questions about my health and previous surgeries.  The nurse was really nice and mentioned that her good friend also had a double mastectomy with reconstruction... by whom you ask?  Well, by MY breast and plastic surgeon too!  Shocking, I know!  She said her friend was beyond happy with how everything turned out.

It's not like I need reinforcement about that, because I am sure I made the right decision... but it's not like I could turn back now anyway.  I am all pre-registered and ready to go!  My scripts are currently being filled and they will be waiting for me when I get back from the hospital.

I will arrive at the hospital at 7am, get my lymph node injection at 9am, and then I will be in surgery at noon for about 4 hours.  That's how Wednesday is going to go.  I am ready to just nod off to dreamland and wake up with some new boobs.  Let's get this show on the road!

- J.

PS Check back on Wednesday for an update on how my surgery went... I'll have a special guest blogger or two for that.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thanks in Advance

I just want to say thanks to everyone in advance.  I want to say this while I am not hopped up and all emotional on pain meds.  I want to thank everyone for their support during this little bump in the road for me.  Everyone has been so supportive and wonderful and I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be surrounded by.  I have an amazing family, an amazing boyfriend, amazing friends, and amazing co-workers.  All of you have made this journey of mine that much easier and I can't thank you all enough for it.  I don't know how I would deal with this without the wonderful support system you all give to me.

After surgery I know I will be an emotional wreck.  That's what pain meds do to me.  I've received good advice from a lot of people and I want to write it down so when I am a cranky bitch I can read it :

  • The first couple days after surgery is NOT how I am going to be feeling for the rest of my life.  Those will be the worst days, but they will be over quickly.
  • Don't look at the surgery as it taking my breasts away from me.  Look at it as taking the cancer out of my body.  I will go to sleep and then wake up cancer free.
  • It's not like they are taking my breasts away anyway.  I will still have my skin, I'll still have breasts.  No one will know the difference.
  • I'm going to be fine, Mom wouldn't let anything happen to me.

Those are just a few of the many awesome sound bytes I have from people giving me good, good advice. I thank you all!

And I am sure I will entertain you all when I come out of surgery and tell you all about my magical anesthesia time travel journey.  My surgery is on leap day, so I plan to do a little bit of time traveling when I am under.  I remember the first time I had surgery I dreamt about unicorns.  That was pretty awesome.  I am hoping for some more unicorns... maybe add some kittens and rainbows to the mix and I'll be all set!

- J.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Week

My surgery is in exactly one week!  I can't believe it.  I'm so scared and nervous but also ready for this all to be over with and done.  I think I am the most nervous about the surgery part of it.  And that part is going to be a breeze since I'll be sleeping through the whole thing!  I think it's just the idea of what will be happening during the surgery that is freaking me out the most.

In exactly one week, I will be in the hospital bed, all hopped up on pain meds, with my temporary expanders all in place.  I will hopefully have no more cancer inside me and be considered cancer free right off the bat.  Hopefully the cancer is contained, is indeed DCIS and the surgery is all I need.  Hopefully no radiation or chemo will be needed.  Even if it is needed, I'm ready for that too.  I'm ready for anything!  Bring it!

- J.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm Ready! I'm Ready! I'm Ready!

OK, take note everyone... how I am hanging out right now is how you will see me during my recovery period - Warm spiced chai in one hand, Cadbury Creme Egg in the other, and It's Always Sunny on television.  Just be warned.  I am not ashamed!  I caught a little cold over the weekend and I am trying to fight it off.  I knew I'd get sick right before surgery, but it's nothing bad.  Just a little sore throat and a stuffy / achey head.  No big deal.  Actually the sore throat is gone, and I am only just a little stuffy.  I fought off my cold like a champ, the same way I am going to bounce back from this whole surgery business.

I can't believe that by the end of this week I will be heading back to NJ to get ready for my surgery.  This Friday afternoon I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon.  We are going to go over all the pre op necessities.  Then on Monday I have to get my pre op blood work done and an EKG.  I've actually never had an EKG before so I am excited about that.  I bet my heart rate will be through the roof since I am so nervous!  I will try my best to just relax and hope that my heart rate is as normal as possible.

I feel as ready as I can be for surgery.  I've got a place to stay (my Sister's) with drinks and snacks.  I've got warm pajamas that open in the front, socks, slippers, a blanket, a robe, an extra large sweatshirt, cute new underwear, you name it, I got it (from my Aunt).  I've got my cheering section ready for when I am in surgery.  I've got visitors lined up ready to take care of my every sad little request after surgery.  I've got people praying for me.  I've got people cheering for me.  I've got it all!

If this has to happen, I'm ready for it.  I've got so many people on my side that I am not going in to any of this alone.  I am so, so ready for it.

- J.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I have dreams.  Not the "I dream that one day there will be no cancer" dreams (though I do dream that too).  I'm talking about going to sleep and floating off to dreamland kind of dreams.  My dreams are SO vivid.  I'd say I dream about 90% of the time I go to sleep... and ever since I was young, about 50% of those dreams are nightmares.  I must admit that sometimes nightmares are kinda cool, but sometimes they just aren't.

I had a pretty bad nightmare last night.  I think it happened because I received letters in the mail from both my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon confirming my surgery date and time.  I will officially begin my surgery 12(noon) on Feb 29th.  Those pieces of paper made my surgery concrete.  It's happening, and it's happening soon.

Now I can't stop thinking about the mastectomy.  I'm scared that I won't be able to handle the pain that will come with it.  I know everyone handles pain differently, and I've always believed that I had a higher threshold of pain than others, but now I'm not so sure.  I don't think my pain tolerance has been totally tested until now.  I can read and listen to dozens among dozens of women's experiences with their double mastectomy's to get me prepared, but I will never truly know how I will react until it's already done.  Some women say it's not bad at all.  Some women say they feel lightning bolts of pain that stop them in their tracks as their nerves regenerate.  Some women say they feel cold and can't get warm.

I am positive that this upcoming month is going to be difficult, painful, and stressful.  I am trying my best to prepare myself for all the emotions / pain I will be going through.  Maybe it won't be as bad as I am making it out to be... usually things aren't as bad as I've made them in my mind, or how my nightmares make them to be.  Then I will be pleasantly surprised.  I just want to know that I'll be able to do this.  I'd like a sign in advance that everything will be OK and that it really is just not going to be THAT bad.  I know I am building it up in my mind... I'm trying my hardest to believe that I'll be fine.

I'm hoping tonight for nice dreams.  No more surgery nightmares please!

- J.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Cancer Club

I feel like I've joined this exclusive club that I've named "The Cancer Club."  I know you are all jealous and wish you could be part of this club with me, but no, it's only for us cool kids with cancer so none of you are invited (unless you have cancer of course, then you may enter).
Ever since my diagnosis my phone has been ringing off the hook from random people I don't know asking me how I am doing.  I think I may have signed up for these phone calls accidentally, but I like to believe that as soon as I was diagnosed I became a member of a cool club.  Please let me hold on to that.  I received a call from Monmouth Medical Center first, which makes sense since I received my diagnosis from them.  I thought it was nice that someone called to check up on me.  Then, a week later I received a call from someone at the American Cancer Society.  I've made it to the big leagues!  The American Cancer Society was calling ME!  And this time they weren't looking for donations.

Now, I found this conversation to be a little intrusive and strange.  This woman seriously needed a training course in compassion and customer service.  We spoke a little bit about my diagnosis and how I was handling things.  I was getting ready to end the conversation when she said, "I am a little confused about something.  I see you have a 732 area code, but live in Nassau County."  Now, at this point I should have just said, thanks for checking in on me and hung up, but I continued the conversation.  I told her that I work in Long Island and she called my cell phone, so... yeah.  That's why.  Then she proceeded to tell me that if I have my surgery and treatment in NJ and have to travel back to Long Island, that's going to be a lot to handle.  I thanked her for her concern and told her that my job couldn't be any more understanding if they tried, and that I will be fine.  She then gave me a website where I could turn to if I needed help... something about Careers and Cancer.

After this conversation I felt really weird.  That's the first time I felt like I had become a member of the Cancer Club.  This anonymous woman calls me to check in on me and instead of helping me feel better about my situation she tries to scare me.  I am sure it wasn't intentional, but her compassion was definitely... lacking.

I can certainly appreciate the services that the American Cancer Society offer to cancer patients.  I can see how these services would be extremely helpful in certain situations, but lucky for me, I don't need any of them.  It is nice to know that if I ever were to need these services I'd know exactly where to turn.  But I'd certainly reach out to a different woman.  Too bad I forget her name.

- J.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cancer Tip of the Week

Sometimes it's just a BAD idea to read breast cancer support communities.

I believe Internet communities are extremely important.  People need a place to bitch and moan (I have a blog for that!).  Sometimes we just need a place to go to for anonymous support.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But it's hard to read a post by a woman whose cancer has returned after many years.  It's hard to read a post by a woman who is going through radiation and different kinds of chemo and how horrible it is on her body.  It's hard to read a post by a woman whose family is having a tough time with her diagnosis and recovery.

I certainly understand that it is comforting to know there are many other people out there that are going through the same thing and can relate to you.  It's important to discuss things and find support with others who have gone / are going through the same thing as you.

Sometimes, when I dig too deep into those forums it just makes me sad.  But then I read all of the supportive words in the replies section and it gives me hope that there are so many wonderful women out there who are so strong, so many women laughing in the face of breast cancer.  I've personally seen people conquer cancer, I have an amazing support group of family and friends all around me, and when I think about all of this... then I don't feel so sad any more.

- J.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Early Detection Saves Lives

Isn't that right Susan G. Komen?  Didn't you teach me that early detection saves lives?  At least, that's what I always believed, and of course I still do.

I am one of the lucky ones.  I have health insurance.  And up to this point in my diagnosis it has been the most amazing coverage ever.  The bills alone for my ultrasound and mammograms would be too much for me to handle.  Now include the four biopsies, breast MRI, and consultations with doctors to that mix and I'd already be way over my head without even having the surgery!

I am also lucky that my breast cancer is located in one of my milk ducts.  If it wasn't, I'd still be living blissfully unaware of anything wrong, waiting to turn 40 so I can get my first mammogram covered under my health insurance.  But, I was "lucky", and the cancer was causing something obviously strange to happen that tipped me off.  My cancer is millimeters in size.  MILLIMETERS!  You can't even feel it.  Who knows if I'd ever have felt it if it was located somewhere else, perhaps in the back of my breast, closer to my lymph nodes.

And this is one of the many things that pisses me off about my situation.  Not one single OBGYN told me that if I took the genetic test, and tested positive, I could have been getting regular mammograms at the age of 25.  Wouldn't a doctor look at my family history and recommend this to me?  It took something to be physically wrong with me for the insurance company to say, fine, yes, I guess she does need a mammogram, we will allow it.  I also believed that, "oh when you are younger nothing will show up on the mammogram because your breasts are so dense."  LIES!  ALL LIES!!  I looked at my mammogram, I could see everything clear as day, don't give me that lame excuse that I believed for so long.

If I am not living proof that mammograms and early detection is key, I don't know what is!  And now Susan G. Komen is pulling funding from an organization that provides free breast exams to low income women?!  This boggles my mind and makes me fume!  Everyone has a right to keep on top of their health, and it is important to do so.  It shouldn't take something to go horribly wrong in your body for you to figure out you have cancer.  Early detection saves lives, and let's not ever, EVER forget that.

And I'm just going to say thanks to someecards for putting exactly what I was thinking in to card form -

- J.