Pre-Surgery Update

It’s been almost 2 weeks now that I found out my cancer had returned and I’m officially packed and ready to head to the other coast tomorrow in preparation of my surgery Monday afternoon.Β I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by.

Packing was a little different this time as there was one essential item that wasn’t coming with me. My bras! I know it sounds kind of silly, but when it finally clicked in my head that I would no longer be wearing my bras, I felt a whole in my stomach and a pain in my heart. I mean it’s not like I just received the news yesterday but in that moment, it felt like I had.

I have one day left before I say goodbye to the “lady lumps” that have been causing so much emotional stress in my life.

While removing them is the best decision for my future, they’ve been mine for 32 years now and I think that merits the right to be a little upset about losing them.

The plan for my surgery is a bilateral mastectomy, (one side required and the other preventative) with reconstruction. The reconstruction will take place in phases as they will not be putting in the final implants right away. I’ve opted to go with the placement of “Expanders” first at the recommendation of my plastic surgeon, due to the fact that I am small to begin with and have had radiation to the left breast in the past, making the healing process a more difficult one. It will reduce my chances of complications due to infection or my incision not healing correctly.

I admit I’m a bit nervous and am overwhelmed but I try to stay positive and remind myself that what I’m doing now will bring me so much peace in the future.

Flowers from my love :)
Flowers from my love πŸ™‚

I’ve also been blessed to have such an amazing support system to help me get through my daily struggles. My partner, family, close friends and new friends. They’ve all been an essential part of my mission to “keep it together”.

I will continue to blog throughout my recovery so be sure to follow along. I hope what I have to share will be both educational and comforting to others who may be going through something similar or know someone who is.

At the end of the day my purpose for sharing my story is to educate others and help in any way I can to comfort others going through the same. The support I’ve received along the way has really just been a blessing from all of you. One of which I am extremely grateful for.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth πŸ™‚

P.S. The painting above was done by one of my co-workers. The woman represents me and the 2 flowers above my head represent my journey, one flower being darker than the other to resemble a larger and more difficult journey the second time around. The flowers below are white representing peace and the bird with the survivor ribbon represents my freedom and survivor-ship after completing my journey.  This painting truly touched my heart. ❀

Tests, tests, and more tests…

After having my mammogram and ultrasound done I was scheduled for an MRI on November 1st followed by an ultrasound guided needle biopsy on November 6th. I was told that the results of the biopsy would be the determining factor as to whether or not I had breast cancer but, once the results of the MRI came back it appeared everyone was already convinced.

I remember getting the call while visiting my partner on the other coast. It was one of the most difficult calls of my life. I tried with everything in me to hold back my tears but once I hung up I completely broke down. Not only were we discussing the possibility of my having cancer, now we were discussing the possibility of my needing to have a mastectomy. It went from one extreme to the next.

That weekend I spent it reflecting on all of the things I had done in my life and most importantly all of the things I hadn’t. In that moment I told myself that once I got through this I was going to dream big and go for those dreams. I also needed to find balance in my life. I was stressing far to much about the things that just didn’t matter.

Later the following week I went in for my ultrasound guided needle biopsy. I was a little scared about this appointment. I’ve always had a pretty high tolerance for pain but, let’s face it, who wouldn’t fear someone putting a needle into their breast. The thought alone was painful after the testing that had already been done and had left my breast tender. I didn’t want anyone or anything near my breast.

They called me back into the room and had me change into a beautiful designer blouse. Actually, it was a scrub top that criss-crossed in the front for easy access but, in the effort of making a small part of this seem luxurious, I will refer to it as designer blouse. πŸ˜‰ My mom and my partner waited patiently outside when they brought me back into the exam room to start my test. Here is where the luxury ended.

They began prepping me for the test by disinfecting the area and, once the doctor came in, they started injecting my left breast with a numbing agent. The pain was worse then I had imagined and for the first time in my life I cried on an exam table. With each pinch of the needle my eyes and fists tightened. The tears flowed until I could no longer feel the needles. Once I got the courage to open my eyes I watched as they took samples of the tissue and tagged the tumor with a clip. It was fascinating to see it all being done on the screen in front of me. So much that the vacuum like sounds of the machine and the voices of the technician, doctor and nurse were drowned out for that brief moment. All I could do is stare at the movement of the needle and at the tumor that was just sitting there looking so harmless.

The test finally came to an end and I was off to breakfast and back home to rest. In the days that followed I was scheduled to sit with a surgeon and to have a PET scan done. There was so much going on and I needed that afternoon to rest and get myself organized. If indeed this was cancer and I was going to need surgery, I needed to have my personal matters in order. For now however, it was time to rest and wait…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth πŸ™‚