Thursday, October 16, 2014

Operation Polyp: Success!

Operation Polyp has long been over, but it's taken me some time to post to my blog. I apologize! Operation Polyp was a big success. I had my second follow up with the ENT this past Monday and he told me everything is perfect and it looks like I never even had surgery. My singing career can commence! ha.

The morning of my surgery I felt pretty good, but when I was called in to pre-op my nerves started to kick in. Getting one's self ready for surgery is such a scary experience. Take off all your clothes. Put on two different gowns, one opens in the front, one in the back. Put on the grippy socks (which I actually adore and like to take home). And then put on the stylish hairnet. Nice.

The nurse was extremely nice, very comforting and positive. She took all my vitals. My blood pressure was a little high (but who can really blame my blood pressure?), but everything else was great. It was now IV time. I outstretched my right arm (because remember, left arm LIMB ALERT!) and she had such trouble sticking my vein. She told me I had rolling veins, which I've never heard before, but she kept poking and prodding, trying her best. She then had to give up and put the IV in my wrist! EEK! I hate that so much. It grosses me out. She was able to do it, but then I became really anxious. What if she missed the vein? What if the anesthesia can't go through it? What if my vein rolls out of the needle? What if what if what if? I was what if-ing even as I could feel the IV fluid entering my body.

Kevin came in to sit with me as I waited my turn for the operation room. I spoke with the Anesthesiologist. He was very nice and didn't tell me that I could die like the last one. (Whew). Then I was called in! I walked my nervous little self in to the operating room and climbed on to the table. Everyone was extremely comforting and reassuring, telling me it would go by quickly. My doctor asked me what I will dream about and I told him unicorns of course (though that sadly did not happen).

And everyone was right. It was quick! I woke up in the recovery room and asked the nurse for water. That always seems to be my main concern when I come out of anethesia. Where is the water?! She got me some and told me not to speak any more. The doctor also gave me pictures of my vocal cords before and after the surgery. They are pretty gross, but pretty neat at the same time. I want to hang them on my fridge, but that's probably a bad idea.

The worst part of the whole thing was not being able to talk, but I took that very seriously. I wanted to heal perfectly and not have to go through this again. I used a white board to communicate most of the time and it was rather effective. Once I was able to talk my voice was a little weak, but back to normal! I can still feel my vocal cords strain if I have to talk loudly, but my doctor said that this is normal and should be better after a couple of months.

It feels good to be able to talk again and to actually sound like myself. It's the little things we take for granted.

- J.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Operation Polyp: Commence!

You know, it's been awhile since I've had surgery. It's also been some time since I've gone under anesthesia. I think my body was getting a little bored and thought to itself, "I'm getting a little bored, why don't I create a polyp in J's vocal cords? That sounds like a blast!"

And thus, it was born. My vocal cord polyp. For a long time I thought I just had laryngitis. Dr. Google told me that laryngitis lasts about two weeks and clears up on its own. Well, two weeks came and went and I STILL had a hoarse voice, yet I still decided to ignore it. Listen body, I'm busy! Leave me alone OK?

After a month went by I could ignore it no longer and I made myself an appointment at the ENT. I got to experience the joy of a camera up my nose. That was a treat! It actually wasn't that bad. My doctor numbed my nose, numbed my throat, let it soak it, and then had at it. He told me I have a polyp on my left vocal cord and it is irritating the right side as well. He was quick to tell me that it's most likely benign (but haven't I heard that before somewhere else?). Also, the only way to get rid of it is surgery, under general anesthesia. Boo.

At first, I was scared and a bit nervous. More so for the anesthesia than the actual surgery itself. But I will only be out for 25 minutes, and the surgery takes 15 minutes at best. This will be like a walk in the park compared to everything else I went through. It's also a day procedure so I can go home afterwards which is nice. The catch? I need to be on vocal rest - for a WEEK! Well, maybe not THAT long, but at least 3 days. I can't talk. My vocal cords should not be hitting each other. I can not talk, laugh, cry, cough, sneeze, nothing! I don't know how to do that, but I will certainly try my best... though I do talk to myself even when I'm alone (learned from my video editing days).

If anything, all my social media personalities are going to blow up. I'm also going to text like crazy. AND I found an app that will read what you type, so I will be sure to annoy everyone with that.

Type to you all soon!

- J.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Creative Cups is Back!

Yes! It's true! Creative Cups is back!

Remember this post back in March of 2013? Remember the good time my co-workers, friends, and I had? Remember how you wished you knew about this fundraising event earlier so you could participate? Now you can. Creative Cups 2015 is here.


"Creative Cups is a thought-provoking art exhibition and fundraising event to benefit the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program. This life-affirming celebration features bras that are transformed by their creators into works of art. We invite individuals of all ages and levels of artistic talent to Build the Perfect Bra."

Would you like a little more information? Watch this segment on NBC with Pat Battle - Creative Cups Fundraiser.

You can register your bra HERE for a $25.00 fee. Make sure to register soon, only the first 200 registered bras will be accepted.
Final Submission of Bras: October 15, 2014
Creative Cups Auction & Reception: March 19, 2015

I had such a blast creating my bra with my co-workers. The Auction & Reception was such a fun and empowering evening that it should not be missed. I am looking forward to this up-coming Creative Cups event. Please consider joining, and if you do, let me know, I'd love to see your masterpiece!

- J.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I know you can tell from many of my previous posts that my mom was all sorts of awesome. Well, guess what? My dad is all sorts of awesome too and today this post celebrates all he has done for me.

Ever since an early age my dad encouraged me to try different things. To me, that translated into sports. I wanted to play any and every sport I could. The sports I enjoyed, I excelled at. I absolutely enjoyed softball and my dad would go outside with me to throw the ball around. I enjoyed basketball (though it certainly was not my strong suit) and he would shoot hoops with me. He also encouraged me to pursue things I didn't enjoy (like the piano), but I don't hold that against him. He always pushed me to be my best wether it was in the sports world, in the academic world, or in the work world.

Speaking of the academic world, I remember sitting at the dinner table with him for hours on end as he tried patiently to explain mathematic word problems to me. I'm sure I wasn't the only one suffering during those times. Oh, and when I would write papers for school? My thoughts were always all over the place and he would try to reel me in. And once again, that would take hours.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew he would be right there, encouraging me, cheering me on, supporting me. Unfortunately, he had a lot of practice with my mom, but I knew he was up for the challenge. As you know, when anyone is first diagnosed with cancer, there is a whirlwind of emotions, doctor appointments, and research. Your mind is racing and you just want to make sure you are making the right decisions. The day I found out of my diagnosis I went right to my dad's house and just cried. He held me as I literally cried on his shoulder, but that's exactly what I needed at that time. My dad accompanied me to many of my doctor appointments and biopsies. He was there when I was in surgery and for my recovery. He was the one who told me that we'd take care of this, words that made me feel strong and powerful, like breast cancer messed with the wrong person. 


Thanks for being there for me every step of the way dad. Thanks for letting me grow to the person I am today. I know I certainly didn't make it easy for you at times, but I'm so grateful every day that YOU are my dad. I love you lots.

- J.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Design vs Cancer

I come from a creative background. I edit videos. I design posters. I create websites. Therefore, I'm a big fan of a good design. I'm also a big fan of helping other people. I'm a breast cancer survivor and I know what it's like to receive that diagnosis and to feel completely helpless. I remember my second thought after I was diagnosed with breast cancer - will my health insurance cover this? That's a scary thought. I was so afraid that I somehow would not be covered and I'd have to figure out how to financially cover my treatments. I thought I'd forever be in debt.

I am lucky. My health insurance covered everything. I paid what I had to, but it was minimum compared to my actual healthcare costs. Not everyone is as lucky as me. A cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest things a person can hear, but then to worry about how to cover treatments is just awful.

That's why I supported Design vs Cancer from the get go on Kickstarter.
"Design vs Cancer was established to help families with financial assistance during their fight against ALL types of cancer as well as helping stop cancer at the source by supporting cancer research. We operate as a “for profit” business (Design vs Cancer, LLC), and donate all of our after tax profits to a non-profit foundation we established called Creativity Helps. From here, we are able to provide financial assistance directly to the families."
Design vs Cancer sells premium goods (posters, shirts, stickers, etc.) from amazing designers to help support people fighting all types of cancer. You can find more about their mission here. In celebration of the launch of their online store today, a 15% discount is being offered this weekend (May 16th - 18th) if you use the promo code - JOINTHEFIGHT.

Stop on by. Check out some of the amazing stuff they have. Get the word out! Hashtag away (#jointhefight #designvscancer)! I already received this awesome shirt from backing their Kickstarter campaign and I love it!

I absolutely adore these posters as well. The designs and words are just so inspirational!


There is a lot to peruse at the Design vs Cancer store, so please do! Purchase something inspirational for yourself or for a friend. Donate to a good cause. Oh, and just to give you a little extra nudge, today is my birthday. So do it for me. Tell them I sent ya!

- J.

Friday, April 25, 2014

#5words2cancer

I Had Cancer is a great site where cancer fighters, survivors, and supporters can reach out to one another for support, an understanding ear to listen, or to ask the tough questions and get the real answers. They ran a fun contest asking people, if you had 5 words to say to cancer, what would you say?

I thought about this long and hard. What wouldn't I say to cancer? I've always wanted to give cancer a piece of my mind. But to say it in 5 words? Is that even possible? I want to go on a tirade! Spout hateful words in the face of cancer. I want to make cancer feel really, really bad for all the crap it put my family and friends through. It should feel ashamed of itself!

But finally, the 5 exact words I wanted to tell cancer came to my mind... they were uplifting, strong, and made me smile. You messed with the wrong girl cancer.

 

- J.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stay Classy

I'm always reminded that my mom was a classy lady. She was also a fighter and certainly not a complainer. Even at her funeral 11 years ago people came up to me just completely shocked. So many said that they didn't even know she was that sick. These comments didn't surprise me, she never really seemed that sick to me either. Sure she participated in walks, cancer research projects, documentaries, and she even spoke in Washington DC for better funding for cancer research, but she was never complaining, just letting everyone know that things need to get better. She celebrated her survivorship and was an inspiration to all.

As I navigated through my bratty, self-centered teenage years she never scoffed at my fears, anger, or sadness, no matter how small they were. She comforted me when I was sad that a guy never called me or when I didn't make the field hockey team (also that time in Pre-K when I decided on the first day of school, that it just wasn't for me). If I were her I'd just want to yell, "try slowly dying from breast cancer then get back to me with your problems!"

My job hosted a health fair about a week ago. There were a couple of tables set up about different breast cancer organizations. At one table I was checking out, a woman turned to me and said, "Do you keep on top of your breast checks?" I was caught off guard. I wanted to tell her that I already had breast cancer. That there was no lump I would have found. And that yes indeed I still check my reconstructed chest in case anything forms on the leftover skin. But then my mom stopped me. I could hear her say, the woman didn't mean anything by it. She's just trying to raise awareness. Don't be a smart ass. It's true. I just nodded and told her I check every day. She smiled back at me and gave me a pamphlet.

I miss my mom terribly but think about her every day. I ask her advice in many different situations. I like to think I know what she would say because she passed some of her classy-ness on to me, but I'm pretty sure it's just because she's always by my side reminding me not to cause a scene.

"You think the dead we love ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?" ~ Albus Dumbledore

- J.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Charlie the Horse

I experienced something new and "fantastic" the other day thanks to my double mastectomy. I think the medical terminology would be - Charlie Horse.

I've always been prone to Charlie horses, especially during my swimmer days. I'd get them so frequently and so badly in my calves and feet. I'd have to awkwardly swim to the side of the pool without drowning, somehow pull myself out, and then limp around until I worked it out. I still get them to this day and they still suck just as bad, though I'm usually not in a pool any more when they occur.

The other day, out of nowhere I got this crazy, sharp, tight pain in my right armpit. It made me gasp it hurt so bad. At first I didn't know what it was; then I recognized that all too familiar pain. The area by my armpit, where my chest muscle is stretched, was going into full on Charlie horse mode. Not cool!! How does one walk out a Charlie horse in one's armpit?! It's not scientifically possible!

The pain left as quickly as it came after a little stretch (and by stretch I just mean pulling my shoulders back), but it was quite an experience. Add Charlie horse to the side effects column of a double mastectomy.

- J.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Laughter Really IS the Best Medicine

It's that time of the year again. My surgervercary is approaching. It's been two years since my double mastectomy and the start of my life being cancer free again. It's a good feeling!

Just a couple of days ago I began an email correspondence with a friend's sister who is scheduled for a double mastectomy next week. She is going the same route as I did, expanders, then silicone gel implants and she is feeling all the emotions I did exactly two years ago. Her family and friends are incredibly supportive and it sounds like she has a great support system.

I tried giving her as many "tips" as I possibly could so she would feel prepared for what to expect when she is at home recovering. As I was listing all the tips, I couldn't help but laugh as I remembered:
  • Kevin wrapping me in plastic wrap so I could shower
  • Me dropping my food between car seats and not being able to retrieve it with my T-Rex arms as Meg drove me to a doctors appointment 
  • Trying to build origami creatures with my nieces and nephew and then abruptly giving up when we found out we had to use glue
  • And possibly my favorite moment - going to Supercuts with c.d. and receiving this master piece. I remember laughing so hard that it HURT. Literally. My chest was so sore afterwards but it was much needed.
Luckily I have family and friends who, when shit gets tough, make me laugh. Of course, I'll always remember what I went through in 2012. The pain, anxiety, medications, trauma, just wanting to exercise, the frustration, all of it. But I also remember the good parts of my recovery, the time spent with my family, the jokes about my drains, movie nights down in the basement, all the laughing, and oh so much more.

- J.

PS Speaking of wrapping one's self in plastic wrap, I was just currently tipped off to this awesome product that is used for showering after surgery. It's the one thing I look back at and wish I had. If you are interested in other helpful aides check out the awesome CureDiva website.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I've got Friends in all the Right Places

It's been 2 years ago today that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And yes, I still do remember it all crystal clear. As I mentioned in my one year cancerversary post and throughout many of my other blog posts, my family and friends were (and still remain) such an integral part of my recovery process. They give me a reason to keep going, keep fighting, keep laughing, and keep surviving. You all have been my everything.

I also have another important group of people that continue to help me through my recovery process and those are my social media friends. The many wonderful, amazing people I've met from blogging, Twitter (#bcsm), Facebook, and Instagram have been such a supportive, understanding, and strong group of people.

I remember someone asking me, "Why do you blog?" My immediate answer was that it felt good to vent, to write about what I was going through, it's so theraputic. I also wanted to keep my family and friends up to date on all my goings ons. (I loved that I didn't have to repeat the same story over and over again). An unexpected gift I received from this blog? An amazing online support group. A group of people who knew EXACTLY what I was going through, never laughed at any question I had, never scoffed at my concerns, and never ever dismissed my fears as being silly.

My biggest online support group comes in the form of a private Facebook group created by another young breast cancer survivor. It is a safe place where people of all ages and all cancer types ask for advice, support, or just a place to vent. I was lucky enough to be part of it from the very beginning. I've watched it grow and I help participate in the amazing support that continues to flourish from within it. It was so important for me to find this group and be a part of it because there are so many other young breast cancer survivors in it. I would have never met these young, strong, dedicated ladies any other way.


This passionate group also created a video called, "More Than Pink." This video contains personal images from cancer survivors, showing the REAL side of cancer. The video is to remind everyone that cancer is more than just one color and more than just one month. I am proud to be part of a group where such empowerment emanates.



Thank you to everyone, in all aspects of my life, who has stuck with me for the past two years. It's been a rough and wild journey and I look forward to what the future holds!

- J.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014 everyone! I hope it's off to a good start.
video
2013 Top 5 Photos from Instagram: 
Snow, Cancer Survivor, Marriage,
Kevin & Music, Friends

What can I say about 2013? It was a pretty damn good year. Compared to 2012, 2013 was like a daily dose of happiness, sunshine, and kittens. All day. Every day. Sure, 2013, you were pretty shitty sometimes, but none of us are perfect. At least you didn't come with the news of cancer, or double mastectomies. You just came with the news of ovary scares, anxiety, panic attacks, and leftover pain. Nothing I can't handle these days.

I'm excited where 2014 may take me. I'm not going to make any new year's resolutions (I never do), I just like to come up with some things I'd like to do in the New Year, and try my best to make them happen. No promises and no guilt! For the New Year, I'd like to be a bit healthier, and eat a bit better. I've tried, but it's hard. It's always hard. I love food. I love food so so much. Damn you dairy, damn you cheese.

And in regards to my health, I'd just like to be back down to the weight I was before surgery. I've been having such trouble losing the 10 or so pounds I've gained since surgery. I think I need to stop blaming the extra weight on my foobs. I'm pretty sure they don't weigh 5 pounds each, but it was a good try. I still run (or bike) at least 4 times a week, so it must be what I'm eating. Dammit! The holidays are over, so it's time for me to get back on the wagon and give it the old college try. Wish me luck!

Hello 2014! It's nice to see you. Please be kind to me, my friends, and my family.

- J.