Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hold Myself Up and Love My Scars

I learned something new today. Today is BRA Day. BRA Day you ask? Yes! Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. It's a day to celebrate me and my new boobies! Yaaayy!

No, really. According to the website, My Hope Chest, "...nearly 6200 women a year lose their breasts and are uninsured." I couldn't even imagine. When I was going through the planning for my double mastectomy, not once did I think, maybe my reconstruction won't be covered. Reconstruction was part of my recovery and my insurance company didn't even blink an eye. I never worried once, but many women do. When uninsured or under insured women hear, "you have breast cancer," that may mean a double mastectomy with no insurance for reconstruction.

I believe every woman deserves the chance to decide if she wants reconstruction. I wish insurance did not have to be the deciding factor. There are many strong women who decide to opt out of reconstruction on their own accord. I went with reconstruction and I'm personally glad I did, though I can have mood swings over it. Sometimes when I look at my new boobs I think, maybe I shouldn't have done this because they just don't look like mine. Then other days, I look at them, scars and all, and think, fuck yeah I took matters in to my own hands and I'm proud of them!

It makes me sad to think that there are women out there who feel breast cancer has made them incomplete because their only option was a double mastectomy with no reconstruction. That's just not right. Dealing with the diagnosis of breast cancer is enough trauma. My Hope Chest is the only national organization focusing on treatment for uninsured women.

This is the Breast Reconstruction Awareness ribbon My Hope Chest has created. "The colors in the breast reconstruction ribbon transition and transform, just like the survivors My Hope Chest helps to become whole again. The ribbon goes from pink - the original breast cancer color, to white - known as the "light" or the power of healing. The white blends to yellow, the color of hope, sunshine and new beginnings."

One day, hopefully every woman will love her body and her scars, reconstructed or not. But it should always be her own decision.

- J.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

In the haze of pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness / prevention this October, only one day is "dedicated" to the patients whose breast cancer has metastasized to other parts of their body. Seriously? A day? Just a day? Why isn't this whole month dedicated to ALL aspects of breast cancer? Of course it's uplifting to hear the stories of women who beat breast cancer in its early stage, but let's also hear the stories of women with Stage IV breast cancer. There is NO cure for Stage IV breast cancer and boy isn't that a downer. Who wants to hear that? Well, I do. And I think everyone else should!

I have many opinions on October and this whole pink ribbon campaign now that it has directly impacted me. But I will always have a special place in my heart for the pink ribbon. My mom embraced it and it makes me think of her. Not in a sad way, I like seeing the pink ribbon! I am currently rocking her pink survivor ribbon pin this month and I am so proud of it.

I just think we all need to be a little more aware of where our donations and monies are being spent. No more donating money to charities where it goes to awareness and prevention, we get it! I want to donate to charities that are researching a cure for Stage IV patients. I want to donate to Planned Parenthood so that women who can't afford mammograms will be screened no matter what.

While you are here, I highly recommend signing this petition that is asking to change October to "National Metastatic & Breast Cancer Awareness Month." You can also help the movement here. I say let's not only recognize Metastatic Breast Cancer... what about the men who are affected by breast cancer? What are their feelings towards the pink ribbon? What about people who have other cancers? What do they feel about the pink ribbon explosion during October? This is a great article about the problem with pink. It's an interesting read!

This is my first October being a breast cancer survivor. Seeing all the pink ribbons doesn't make me think of my battle with cancer any more than say in February or August. I think about it a lot. I assume this will change as the years go by. Will I get angry when October comes around for reminding me of what I went through? I don't know. I think it will always follow me around. And that's fine.

- J.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Check Up!

Last week I had my four month check up with Dr. Spiro. I was kind of nervous about this check up because I knew we would be discussing nipple reconstruction. I made up my mind that new nips are just not for me at this time but I thought maybe he would try to talk me into them.

He did no such thing. All of my nipple excuses I thought up were for naught. When he came in to the room he examined me first and said I was healing really really well. He said my skin was reacting nicely and that my scars looked great too. No fat grafting is needed! He then went on to explain how he does nipple reconstruction (since there are many different ways). What he would do is he would pull up some of my skin on my breast to form the nipple part. Then he would take a circular patch of skin from my lower abdomen to create the areola. He would cut a hole in the patch of skin so the nipple could peek through. This would be done under local anesthesia. The nipple would have to heal for about a month and then he'd tattoo the pigment to the newly reconstructed nip. All very very intriguing in my opinion, but I'm still not interested.

He told me whenever I was ready to do it I could make an appointment. And it can be done whenever! Weeks, months, years later. Or never. Whatever I decide. The nurse then took pictures of my progression and I was done! I walked out of the office with no next appointment scheduled. A first! Now it's just up to me and my body to keep up the good healing.

My next doctor appointment is with a new obgyn. Since I am BRCA2 positive I've got to keep my eyes on my ovaries. I'll probably get yearly ultrasounds and they'll then get removed after I am done having children. Let's keep the least amount of estrogen in my body! For now I am just looking forward to only regularly scheduled doctor appointments. No more surprises, ok body?

- J.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Today is the day...

Not that I don't always blog with love... but this is with some capital letters here. Today, I Blog with Love to introduce all my readers to a very special online study. An online study with the intention to find the CAUSE of breast cancer.

A couple posts down I blogged about the Army of Women website (did any of you join?), which is a program of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Today, I am joined with many other bloggers as we all Blog with Love. As some of you may know, and some of you may not know, many breast cancer foundations use our donations for promotion and awareness campaigns. Seriously? How many more awareness campaigns do we really need? We get it. Breast cancer is here. No one is denying that fact.

Today is the day we need to take this awareness and turn it into action! Today The Health of Women Study has been launched. HOW to be short. This is an international online study for both women AND men, with or without breast cancer. This is a study that collects information about your health, your family history, your job, your diet, etc. Are you a fan of filling out questionnaires? I know I am! Periodically you will be sent questionnaires and by filling these out, it will hopefully lead researchers in the right direction to what causes breast cancer.

I feel very passionate about this organization and this cause. All of us can come together and find a cause together. THIS will lead us towards a cure, not promotion, not awareness campaigns. We have enough of that. We need this.

I am doing this for me. I am doing this for my mom. I am doing this for the women and men who die every day from breast cancer. I am doing this for the women and men who are diagnosed every day with breast cancer. The list goes on, and this is why I am participating. Why will you participate?

- J.