Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Remember that time I had cancer?"

I like to say that sometimes as a joke, and I'm glad most people are able to laugh about it.  I said it at work today and my co-workers got quite a kick out of it.  It's nice to be able to laugh about the whole thing.  I might still be in the midst of my double mastectomy / reconstruction phase, but at least when it comes to the cancer stuff, I'm in the clear for now.

I got this tattoo in 2006 to remind me of my mom, her strength, her love, and her fight against breast cancer.

When I was designing the tattoo I was concerned about getting the breast cancer survivor ribbon tattooed on me, since at the time I wasn't a survivor.  But the tattoo was for my mom so I got over that and was always happy with my choice.  In the back of my mind I knew that I may be a survivor one day so it may become relevant to my life.

I was thinking the other day that I've now become a "survivor."  It's a pretty awesome word.  I'll take it.  But just like how I felt about my tattoo, I feel like perhaps I don't deserve such a fierce title.  When I think of a survivor I think of my mom.  Not only did she have to deal with breast cancer, but she had to deal with the chemo, the radiation, the stem cell transplant, losing the hair, the everything!  For 12 years!  I had breast cancer for 3 months.  Yessssss, I had to have my boobs removed, I know, but in the overall scheme of things it's relatively small to what other brave women have to deal with.

So to all you survivors out there who have dealt with cancer in all of its evil evil glory, just know that I salute you and look up to all of you!

- J.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Song for my Road to Recovery Pt.2

Another beautiful song that compliments the Mumford and Sons, "Ghosts That We Knew."  Feeling down?  Have a little pick me up courtesy of The Shins.

"I know that things can really get rough, when you go it alone, don't go thinking you gotta be tough, and play like a stone."

- J.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hurry Hurry Hurry!

I had my pre-op consultation with Dr. Spiro tonight and it went just as I expected.  His nurse gave me ALL THE MEDS!  More nausea medication before surgery, more antibiotics, more Percocet, and more Valium.  You can never have enough of them apparently.

The nurse then took pictures for staging purposes and then I met with Dr. Spiro.  He examined me and he is still saying the same thing - be as careful as I can possibly be.  The red marks are still there (as you all know) and he is aware that my skin is not reacting well to the expanders.  But, as long as I am careful and I don't overdo anything, I will make it to surgery just fine.

My second surgery is scheduled for Thursday June 7th, first thing in the morning.  He explained the procedure to me and if I understand him correctly, he will make a new incision above the scar I have now.  This one will be smaller.  He will remove the tissue expanders and place the silicone gel implants in via a funnel of sorts.  My old scar will basically be removed and I will have a new baby scar.  This is all quite intriguing and confusing.  He told me I could check out the procedure on YouTube, but I think I'll just let him do his thing.  I don't really need to know what's going on whilst I am away in anesthesia land.

This time, instead of being scared and nervous for surgery, I am SO looking forward to this one and it can't arrive soon enough!  I can't wait to get these expanders removed and get those implants in.  I can't wait until my skin heals and looks normal again.  I can't wait until I can run and exercise again.  I can't wait until I am back to normal. Whatever normal is from now on...

- J.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I think I've finally got it!

I know you've all been waiting for the day to come when I post about how the red mark on my left breast has finally healed.  Well, this isn't the post.  Sorry to disappoint!

It's still there!  The damn thing won't heal and I think I've finally figured out why that is.  I am slowly becoming braver and I can now touch my skin / scar area without a buffer.  I still can't rub lotion on the scar without a makeup pad for protection, but I can at least touch it and see what's going on.  When I press gently on the red mark I can feel the expander clear as day.  There is a bump on it that is pressing right into my muscle / skin.  I think the "pointy" area from the expander is just irritating that one spot and it's not able to heal properly because it's not given a chance to do so.  It kind of makes sense to me.  Does it make sense to you?

So I will continue to do everything I am suppose to.  No running.  No walking.  No exercising whatsoever.  And now I understand why.  I just need to be super careful for 17 more days and then I'll get these horrible expanders replaced with the nice smooth and soft implants.  Then I will finally get my life back!

I went this morning to get blood work done for my second surgery.  Tomorrow I have a pre-op appointment with Dr. Spiro.  I am very interested about what he will say.  I know he is confident that my skin will heal properly once the implants are in.

Oh, and the comedy fundraiser went really well!  I had a lot of fun and there was a great turnout.  I sent an email to Caroline to ask her if she felt it was a success.  I will update you on that and my Dr. Spiro consultation in a later post.

- J.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Don't Forget!

Don't forget to purchase tickets NOW if you are able to go to the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program fundraiser at Governor's Comedy Club tomorrow night (May 16) in Levittown, NY.  It should be a good time and we'll all have a laugh for a good cause.  Also, it's my birthday, so ya know, you owe it to me and all...

Call Caroline Mulcahy at 516-877-4315 or go HERE to purchase tickets online.  Hopefully I'll see some of you there!

- J.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Deflation Redux

This past Friday (May 4th) I went back to Dr. Spiro in the hopes of him inflating my left side back to where it was before.  To be honest, the red mark was still there, so I was unsure of what his course of action would be.  Also, to top it off, another red mark was appearing, but this time on my right side.  Like I told you all before, I was becoming quite frustrated because I am being SO careful, yet these red marks still keep coming.

He examined by left side a bit and then I mentioned the red mark appearing on my right side.  He said that my skin is becoming very thin and that is why it is getting all marked up.  He decided to deflate my right breast to be even with my left.  He has taken out 90 cc's from both sides now.

I guess that just goes to show you that I was never meant to be a c cup.  Sorry if anyone out there is disappointed.  I am quite happy though.  I didn't want to be a c cup anyway.  I wanted to stay a b and a b I shall stay.  My skin is very, very sensitive so the stretching and tightness of the expanders was just getting to be too much.

After the deflation Dr. Spiro ensured me that I would still get good results.  Hey.  It doesn't bother me at all that I will be a b cup so I'm certainly not disappointed.  It does bother me that I STILL can't run, and I won't be able to until the implants are in.  He needs me to be extra careful, and I figure I only have a month left so I can wait.  He says I will be much happier when the expanders come out and my skin will be happier too.  I am counting down the days to June 7th... I can't wait for these suckers to come out.  I am very much looking forward to the next step!

- J.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sunrise Rounds

This was written by oncologist James Salwitz, MD on April 17, 2012 on his blog, Sunrise Rounds.  I think it's so beautiful and wanted to share it with all of you.

On the day we cure cancer I will rise in morning dark.  I will stand in last night cold, and watch stars fade.  The light will come and a following breeze blow.  On that incredible dawn, there will be brilliance.  I will make sunrise rounds on the day we cure cancer.
I will stay late and breakfast with my wife.  We will talk about flowers, kids and books. I will stand out and see children with parents laugh and scurry almost late to a bus.  Mothers on porch steps.  Grandfathers there for early stroll.  Families whole.  I will see life on the day we cure cancer.
At the hospital, we will drink coffee and eat donuts.  Make new syringes into trash. Pour harsh drugs down drains.  Turn radiation monsters into kaleidoscopes and planters.  Dull scalpels.  Plan vacations.  Have wheelchair races.  Give out beds to homeless.  We will smile quietly on the day we cure cancer.
I will call the insurance company and wish them well.  Thank the lab tester, blood drawer, x-ray taker, pharmacy mixer, front desker, researcher, bill sender, educator, social worker, floor cleaner, food cooker, CT scanner, doctors and every disease task doer.  Congratulate all on victory day.  I will salute the soldiers on the day we cure cancer.
I will cry, I will cry, and I will finally cry.  I will recall fallen millions.  The men and women and moms and dads and sons and daughters and leaders and followers and smart and dumb and good and bad and weak and powerful.  I will curse waste, loss, pain and fear.  I will replay battles fought and won or lost.  Honor the harsh bravery of victims. I will remember them on the day we cure cancer.
I will call survivors.  Make sure they are all right.  Tell them it is OK to come out.  No need to cower.  They are whole.  It is safe.  On the day we cure cancer.
I will fish. I will read. Fix the swing.  Hold warm earth.  See art without darkness.  Enjoy a lunch meal.  I will live without struggle.  On the day we cure cancer.
At end I will be home and walk in joy with those I love.  We will hold hands too tightly.  Feel the emptiness of the loss, the fullness of the saved and the hope of not again.  I will not watch the setting of the day.  I will hold the brightness.  The glory of the day we cure cancer.
- J.