Sunday, April 29, 2012

Have I mentioned yet...

...that I have a date for my implants?  I can't remember.  I mean, I guess I could check back through my last couple of posts, but that'd be too easy and make too much sense.

The date for my second surgery is Thursday, June 7th.  That's when these awful tissue expanders will come out and be replaced with Mentor MemoryGel Silicone implants.  I received a little booklet in the mail yesterday that told me all about the implants.  I also did a little research on what other people have said about Mentor MemoryGel and it seems like so many women are pleased with the outcome.  A lot of reviews are by women who had Saline implants and switched over to the Silicone Gel implants.  Many of the comments are about how natural and real they feel.

I am so excited for the implants.  Yes I've gotten used to the expanders, but they are still very uncomfortable and wake me up in the night.  It's not that big of a deal, but it will be nice to have "normal" breasts again.

In regards to my little red mark that I told you all about before, it's still there.  I think it may be getting better; it's just hard to tell.  My skin has always been very, very sensitive and it gets red a lot, so it may just be my skin and nothing I can do about it.  I found new little bralets and I am wearing one for the first time today.  I don't know if it will help, but I am trying everything and anything to get the mark to heal.  I am slightly worried about what Dr. Spiro may say on Friday when I go back to his office to get re-filled.

I still have those feelings of frustration because I feel as if everything looked better right when I got out of surgery.  My skin didn't look that bad and I did not have much bruising.  Now I have this red mark, and a couple of other marks on my right breast.  I just don't know how to keep them safe until the implant surgery!

- J.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comedy for Breast Cancer!

I have always wanted to volunteer for the breast cancer cause.  As we all know, this disease has always been part of my life and I've always felt like I should help out in some way.  So I FINALLY reached out to the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Group.  I wanted to do this before my diagnosis, but never did, so I finally got the push I needed.

I met with a really nice woman named Caroline.  We talked a bit about what I've been through, and then we talked about how I want to help.  I told her the hotline is probably not the right thing for me to be doing at this moment since I am going through my own issues, but I'd like to help out in any other way possible.

She told me they have a fundraiser coming up where all proceeds go to the Adelphi Breast Cancer support program.  I told her I'd love to get the word out, and so I shall!  The fundraiser just so happens to fall on my birthday so that will be fun for me.  I'll be laughing and having a good time, all to support the Adelphi breast cancer program.  That sounds like a good birthday to me!
Tell 'em Jessi sent ya!

- J.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Deflated but not Defeated!

Kevin may disagree on the defeated part since I was all mopey on Friday when Dr. Spiro decided that he needed to deflate my left breast a bit.  (How STRANGE does that sentence sound?  I mean, really).  I was getting upset about the whole thing after leaving the doctor's office, but I think I am over that emotional outburst.  I have now come to accept my partially deflated boob.

I made an appointment on Friday to see Dr. Spiro about the red spot on my left breast since it wasn't getting any better and I was really concerned it was an infection.  I started an antibiotic on Thursday just to be on the safe side.  It can't hurt to cover all my corners right?

When Dr. Spiro came in to my room he checked out my red mark by pressing on it (hard, though I didn't feel a thing) and moving it around.  He said it wasn't an infection and he still believes it to be irritation from rubbing on my clothes and from my skin being stretched too tight.  He said he had to deflate the expander a bit to allow my skin to breathe which will help the redness go away.

I was very bummed to hear that he was going to deflate me a bit.  I was concerned about my progress and how my breasts would look being noticeably different sizes and all.  It's not that bad, especially in clothes.  In the shower the left breast is considerably smaller, but still there.  I can also tell it's deflated a bit because it bends and moves a lot easier.  If I am washing up and flex my muscles the skin kind of bends and folds.  It's a bit creepy, but I just try not to look at it.

Dr. Spiro told me to finish up my antibiotics and then come back to him in 10 - 14 days for him to fill me back up.  I just took a peek at the red mark and it does seem to be getting better so everything is working as it should.  Hopefully when my left breast is expanded back to where it was, the skin will be all healed and ready to accept the stretching.  I think it will be ready... like I said before, leftie has been through a lot, you can't expect her to do everything perfectly!

- J.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Kingdom for a Bra!

I really didn't think it would be this difficult to find a bra that could contain my expanders!  Well, to be honest, it's not the expanders that need containing, it's my poor skin that is having the problem.  My left breast (which had the cancer in it!  Why so difficult leftie?!) still has a bit of red irritation in the middle of it and on the scar.  The skin is chafing and it's not a pretty sight.  The irritation is also warm to the touch so that's not fun... I am HOPING that it's not an infection.  I've been so careful!

I've found two bras that seem like hopeful contenders and I'd like to share them in case other women are having trouble finding a good bra.  As of right now they are both very comfortable, but I will give a better review to them if my redness and chafing goes away.

This is the Bali Wirefree Bra, Comfort Revolution Sure Fit bra.  I like this bra because it clasps in the back, the straps are away from my neck, and the material just pulls up and molds over my chest perfectly.  The clasp in the back is a little scratchy, but nothing I can't handle.  There are no seams so no indents!

This is the Underscore Cotton Bra, Front Zip Cotton Sports bra.  I like this bra because it is mainly cotton which is hopefully allowing my skin to breathe a bit.  This bra does not feel as tight as my other zip up bras and it doesn't leave any indentations.

So I finally found seamless bras!  Are you happy Dr. Spiro?!  But now I am pretty sure the redness is an infection.  Since writing this post, I've been told that it could possibly be cellulitis...  Oofta.  I don't understand why this has shown up about a month and a half after my surgery.  I thought I was in the clear for any sort of infections!  I've been doing so well!  I don't want a set back.

- J.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Never ran away for the sake of scars...

A woman whose blog I follow posted this postcard secret from PostSecret and I found it to be very eye opening...

I've been thinking a lot, and talking a lot, about the scars on my breasts and how they will always be a reminder of the short time that I had breast cancer.  Will they always haunt me?  Will they always remind me that I'm not indestructible?

I know these expanders are not my permanent breasts and that the implants will be much more comfortable and natural, but at the end of the day, they are still not mine.  There is a foreign object in me, posing as breasts, and I'll never have mine back.  It bums me out to think about sometimes because I was always a fan of my girls, but at the same time, I always knew that if something were to happen I'd have to get rid of them.  And that's what I did.

I don't mind scars.  Never have.  I have tattoos, so I think scars are neat.  They remind you of a certain period in your life; but is this something I really want to remember every day for the rest of my life?  The scars are the first thing I see in the mirror every morning, they will be there, always.  I am just going to assume that one day down the road they will become like my sun tattoo that I have on my tummy. I barely notice it nowadays... I got it 11 years ago... it's a part of me.  Just like these scars are a part of me.  They will "fade" over time, and I will hopefully be able to look at them not as scars where my breasts once were, but as the day when I took charge of my own life and did not let cancer dictate the outcome.

- J.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This One's for you Mom!

It is hard to believe that it has been 9 years since my mom passed away.  Sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday, and other times it feels like it's been forever.  I miss her and think about her every day.

I know I wouldn't be who I am today without her.  Her strength and courage has always been an inspiration to me.  I was able to do what I did because of her.  She prepared me for this exact moment in time and because of her I was able to see it through.  I feel her spirit around me always and I hope that I have made her proud.

I will never forget you mom.  I will never forget everything you taught me.  I will never back down from a fight.  And when things start to feel like a little too much, I've always got this to remind me that it's not so bad...

- J.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fill 'em Up!

Yesterday I had a super early appointment with Dr. Spiro.  8 am.  Rise and shine for the plastic surgeon's office!  I knew I'd either get my last expansion or he would tell me that I was all done.  Well, I received my last expansion.  I was filled up with 50 more cc's for a final total of 390cc's.  Not bad, not bad at all.  I wasn't really in the mood for an expansion, but I guess I really didn't have a choice.

The expansion didn't hurt at all.  I could feel my chest expanding a bit, but nothing too crazy.  It feels like I am wearing a super tight sports bra again.  They didn't get super hard, they are still as squishy as before, just a bit bigger.  I popped some Advil throughout the day yesterday, and some today too.  I am feeling a little uncomfortable and sore, but it's not too bad.  I am feeling a bit cranky from the expansion but that'll go away (I hope for everyone's sake!).

Dr. Spiro is no longer happy with my bra choice so I went out today to find new ones.  The little red bump on my left breast is from my bra and it's irritating my skin.  He said I need to be very careful because he doesn't want it to become an ulceration.  I can't feel it since I am numb so he wants me to find a different bra, one with no seams to be exact.  Right now I have surgical padding in my bra as a barrier and I think it's working.  My sports bra made some pretty horrible indentations last night when I was sleeping so I am hoping that these new bras will be better.

I was also told that once the redness heals on my left breast I'll be able to run and lift again!  YAY!  I am super excited for that.  I went out for a "brisk" walk today since it is so beautiful out.  It felt good to be outside and on the move.

I really hope these new bras that I bought today work.  I'm tired of buying bras!

- J.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So Far So Good

Yay!  I am back to being a normal, productive member of society!  Two work days down and many, many more to go.

Work was just as I expected it to be - it felt like I never left.  I played catch up with some of my co-workers, it took me a bit to get adjusted, but I am now good to go.  I do feel pretty tired at the end of the day, which is weird, but I know that will go away in time.  I am trying to be very aware of my 5 pound only rule.  One of the teachers yesterday went to hand me the teacher's laptop case and I felt kinda bad telling him I couldn't carry it.  He (obviously) didn't mind and said, "you look so good that I completely forgot!"  I am really, really, REALLY hoping that Dr. Spiro lifts this 5 pound rule soon.  Or at least gives me a date of when it will be lifted.  I feel so constricted with it!

OH!  Look what was waiting on my desk when I came back to work on Monday...

This shopping bag was FILLED with goodies, both healthy and unhealthy.  It was way over my 5 pound limit, so I separated the food in to two piles, one to leave at work and one to take home with me.  I think I have enough snacks to last me half a year!  It was an extremely nice gesture to come back to.  Shall I add another, "how lucky am I?!"

- J.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back to Work I Go!

First off, Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Happy everyone!

I am back in Long Island (lameee).  I arrived back here around 7:15 and brought everything in that I was able to carry.  It's a little strange being back in my basement home, but it's good to know that I will be going back to work.  I'm not anxious or worried about it.  I have this feeling that it is going to be just like I left it and I won't even miss a beat.  I know I'll have a lot of gentle air hugs to come back to, and I'll probably have to tell some stories, but after all that dies down it will be like I never left.  The months leading up to my leaving were a little hectic since I had doctor appointments I had to keep running to, but now I am ready for a sense of work normalcy again.  (Though I will be running back to Dr. Spiro on Friday, but that's another post for another day!).

I must admit that I was getting quite spoiled living at my sister's house.  It was so nice and comforting and made my recovery SO easy.  I truly believe that I recovered so rapidly because I felt so safe and at ease there.  I was taken great care of and of course my nieces and nephew were always a great source of entertainment.  I will miss them!  It was also super awesome being so close to C.D. again and all my family and friends!

I need to get my butt back to living in NJ.  This Long Island lifestyle is certainly not for me!

- J.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This is why I can't have nice things...

As we all know, I've been complaining on a regular basis about how hard my expanders are and how strange they feel.  Well, now they have become squishy and I don't like that either!  What is a girl who had a double mastectomy to do?!

I have noticed in the last few days that my skin / expanders have been a bit squishy to the touch.  At first I was alarmed because I know the expanders can deflate and god knows I do NOT want a deflated boob!  I called up Dr. Spiro's office and told the nurse Mary Beth what I felt and what was going on.  I told her the expanders do not feel super hard any more and feel more like a barely deflated kickball that needs a lil extra air.

She asked me if I have lost any volume and I haven't.  She asked if I saw any rippling in my skin and I do not.  She reassured me that all of my "symptoms" are normal.  My skin / muscle / soft tissue are becoming more resilient and that is why they are a little squishier to the touch.  She said if I see any rippling to give her a heads up, and to call her if I have any more questions.

I swear I hated the hardness of the expanders, but I was getting used to it!  Now I have to get used to this squishiness?!  MY LIFE!!  DRAMA!!  I haven't had a fill since 2/27/12 so that makes sense too.  I guess when I see Dr. Spiro again next Friday he'll either fill them up and they'll be hard again, or he'll just leave them be.  This feeling is probably what Dr. Spiro wanted when he wanted to fill me up last Tuesday.  I don't know.  I may be making things up now.  Soon I will be a plastic surgeon!

- J.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Take that Sucka!

Guess who has MORE good news for all of you out there?  ME!  This girl over here who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the beginning of 2012 has MORE good news.  How can that be?  Well it CAN be.  I saw my oncologist, Dr. Michaelson today to go over the pathology report and decide a plan of action.

Well, the plan of action is...  NOTHING!  That's right!  I don't have to do a single thing besides get better from this double mastectomy / reconstruction.  The words coming out of Dr. Michaelson's mouth were like music to my ears.  We went over the timeline of my diagnosis and what transpired.  He then examined me and was really impressed with how everything is progressing.  Once back in his office he shared his thoughts with me.

He explained that Tamoxifen, chemotherapy, or radiation would probably do me more harm than good at this stage of the game.  The 1mm of cancer has been taken out, there is no lymph node involvement, and all is going well.  The side effects of all these other cancer drugs / procedures would probably affect me more than any benefit that it could possibly do.  He said why put my body through something like that?  It's already been through enough.  And I agree!

It was great to see Dr. Michaelson again (under the circumstances of course).  I have always thought of him fondly, just as my mom did.  My mom simply adored him, and I think he is such a wonderful man.  He fought so hard for my mom and I know he will always fight hard for me.  I was ready to follow what ever treatment he recommended, but I would be lying if I didn't confess that I was hoping for this recommendation.

After my appointment with Dr. Michaelson I headed over to physical therapy.  It was good to see Rita again after having the last week off.  She was SO impressed with my improvement and that almost all of my range of motion has returned to my arms.  She was actually so impressed with my progress that she discharged me from physical therapy.  I just need to continue to do the stretches she taught me and all will be well.  I can reach out to her any time I want, so that makes me happy.

As you can see my day has been pretty productive.  My emotions have been running high all day and I am so happy that I can just focus on getting better from the surgery.  I feel like a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I can't believe that at the beginning of 2012 I had breast cancer.  It's already April and I am cancer free.  I could not be any happier.

- J.