My 1 Month Post-Op Update
Good evening my friends!!
I hope you enjoy my quick update! 🙂
What about the guys?
My mom brought this NBC2 news clip to my attention this morning, and I immediately knew it had to be shared.
Sadly, to many times over, the men seem to be forgotten when it comes to raising awareness about breast cancer. Even I am guilty of not including and reminding the men out there that they too can be affected.
This short video clip was an eye opener for me, and I encourage you to please watch and share it with the men in your life. They too need our support. ❤
Video courtesy of NBC2 News
I dedicate this blog post to the men in my life… Please check your boobies!
My Secret Birthday Wish Revealed!!
Can you guess what my birthday wish is this year?
Watch to find out, and please don’t forget to share, share, share! 😉
And so the count down begins!
Today marks 8 days before my reconstructive surgery, and while my expansion has taken much longer than I had originally anticipated, I couldn’t be happier with where I am today. My surgeon has been amazing throughout this process, and frequently reminded me to be patient, when what I wanted most was to be done with this phase in my journey.
Now that the day is just around the corner, I’m beginning to feel a bit anxious. Ironically enough, I don’t feel worried about the surgery at all. It certainly isn’t the first time for me, and I’m looking forward to feeling more comfortable with my new implants.
What I am feeling now however, subconsciously taps into a previous feeling. It’s a feeling of “loss”. The memory of having “lost” my natural breast a year ago is hijacking my brain, and is now reenacting that loss with the upcoming removal of my expanders. It’s an interesting observation, and I wonder if other women have or are experiencing this feeling of “loss” a second time around too.
Nevertheless, I feel extremely blessed to be here a year later, cancer free, and ready to move forward with my reconstruction. I plan to keep everyone posted with videos and posts so keep an eye out for my pre-op and post-op updates! 😉
My Amazing New Nipple Prosthesis’s!!
I was so incredibly amazed by how real my new nipple prosthesis’s looked, that I just had to share!!
I recommend this product to any woman that is looking for an alternative to nipple reconstruction, or to use until they are ready for surgery, which is what I’ve chosen to do. It felt so incredibly amazing to have them on, and see just how natural they look!
I put them on, and it was like an instant boost of confidence!! It’s not that I disliked looking at myself or was ashamed of my scares. It was more the feeling that something was missing.
I am beyond grateful to Michelle Kolath-Arbel for dedicating her efforts to providing women everywhere an opportunity to feel whole again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. xoxo
Elizabeth 🙂 ❤
Click here to learn more about Pink Perfect! 🙂
Before I talk about what is currently happening, it’s important that I bring you up to speed with what has occurred over the last month. I’ve provided a brief summary below for your reading pleasure. 😉
- I was informed in February that my AST and ALT exam (commonly referred to as liver function test) returned with abnormally high readings. I was then asked to stop my medications temporarily, to give my liver time to recover from the side effects of the injections and oral medication I was taking.
- I also had a CT scan of the abdomen, full body PET scan and pelvic ultrasound. The recommended MRI I was scheduled for, had to be canceled because of the type of expanders I have had in place since the start of my breast reconstruction. Unfortunately, the MRI will have to wait until after my expanders have been removed.
- In March, I received news that my AST and ALT bloodwork exam had returned within normal limits. Yay! 🙂
- During this past month, I had also scheduled my surgery to have the expanders removed, and replaced with my final implants. I’m nervous, but at the same time excited to finally be changing out my expanders, for something I am told is far more comfortable.
As you can see, a lot has happened since my last post, which brings me to present day.
This past week I received a call from my doctors office and essentially, the recommendations based on all that has occurred, are as follows…
- Resume my Zoladex* injections, and begin taking the Tamoxifen* I had taken once before prior to my second journey with breast cancer.
- Have a hysterectomy*, and as a result, not have to have the injections administered every month.
- Not take anything at all, and assume the chance of recurrence.
So what are my thoughts on these options?
Let’s take a closer look…
My doctor suggested this option because she felt as though I may have had a recurrence of cancer, as a result of my not having had the Zoladex injections, while being treated with the Tamoxifen. This may be true, which in turn makes it something to consider. The medication has worked for so many of the women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and it could be a way for it to work for me too.
This is one I have strongly considered however, my plastic surgeon is not willing to do two surgeries at once since I have had radiation treatment in the past. My risk of infection after the surgery would be much to high for him to even consider the option. Once again, I’m thankful for physicians that tend to play it safe, because I personally didn’t even consider this consequence, when suggesting a 2 in 1 surgery.
With this being the case, I will unfortunately have to wait a year or so for the hysterectomy, because it’s something I would have to plan around my work schedule. After some additional consideration, I think I’d also prefer to close one chapter in my journey, before opening another. Having a complete hysterectomy at this age, with no children, will have it’s own emotional challenges to cope with.
After realizing that the choice to not take any medications, does not resemble my white flag of surrendering, I began to reflect on my current way of life. The side effects of the injection, as well as what I have experienced with the Tamoxifen in the past, is more than I am currently willing to tolerate. This may be a bit selfish, but it’s been very difficult to deal with daily pain and inflammation, memory loss, severe hot flashes, emotional ups and downs, and to top it all off, a decreased libido at the age of 33!
I did after all experience a recurrence, even though my chances then were said to be slim to none, so why make myself miserable now for something that might not happen, or could still happen even with years of treatment?
And just for the record, I don’t blame my doctors for this recurrence. There truly is no way a physician can ever guarantee that cancer will not return when undergoing treatment, and it would be unfair for me to put that kind of pressure on such an individual. I ultimately consider myself blessed to have such wonderful doctors taking care of me. 🙂
So after what I hoped to be the shorter version of all that’s occurred, this is where I stand today; Confused and very uncertain of the “right” decision to make.
The only thing I do know in this moement, is that my gut is telling me to live for today, and to for once stop thinking about the “what if”.
In other words, perhaps no meds for now, followed by a hysterectomy in the future. At least this way, I can enjoy a better way of life for the time being and than later, decrease the chances of recurrence with the recommended hysterectomy.
That’s all for now, but until then…
What are your thoughts?
I’d love to hear from you! Click Here to provide your feedback. 🙂
Information on Zoladex- http://www.drugs.com/zoladex.html
Information on Tamoxifen- http://www.drugs.com/tamoxifen.html
What is a hysterectomy?- http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments_and_procedures/hic_What_You_Need_to_Know_About_Hysterectomy
My Expansion Progress Report…
I’ve had two successful expansions since my bilateral mastectomy in March and each day has been a new learning opportunity. First and foremost, I feel blessed to have had the option to undergo a breast reconstruction at the same time I had the mastectomy done. There have been so many women before me that didn’t have the option and to me that’s a big deal. While the process isn’t always an easy or fun one, there is a sense of peace I feel knowing I will eventually feel “whole” again.
After getting over the initial pain I experienced due to the expanders, the toughest thing has been adjusting to sleeping on my back. I’m usually a side or stomach sleeper so this has been a difficult one to get use to. Nevertheless, I’ve managed and have found great use for the bamboo body pillow I received after my surgery.
The firm and tight feel of my expanding chest is another thing I’ve had to get use to. At times it’s caused back pain or difficulties breathing comfortably. The reconstructed breasts are so rounded compared to what they were like before and they feel so stiff after each expansion. I secretly hope each day that they eventually develop a more natural feel and look but, I don’t know that it will really happen until my final implants go in. You can tell in the picture I posted that it’s starting to look like I have two round balls on my chest… Lol Crazy!
Overall, the expansion process has been an experience I can’t complain to much about. Every two weeks I see my surgeon, he uses a needle to inject more saline into my expanders and I go back to my daily routine, giving my skin time to stretch and make room for more saline.
Radiation treatment has been put on hold till we determine what other treatment options I have so, keeping faith that each expansion will be a successful one is the only thing I try to focus on right now. The biggest concern is that the left breast won’t do well since I had radiation. You can even see in the picture how shiny the skin on the left side is as a result of its inability to stretch as easily as the right. All in all, I am doing well and am looking forward to the final product. 🙂
Round 2… Kicking Cancers Butt!!
While the many questions I have regarding “what comes next” have yet to be answered. There is one answer I know for sure. I once again have breast cancer.
It was only yesterday when I received the call confirming my greatest fear. Same breast and same type of cancer. “High Grade Ductal Carcinoma in SITU.” The fact that it’s in SITU is great because it means it’s in it’s early stages. Nevertheless, it’s been an exhausting 24 hours as you can imagine. No matter how busy I’ve been at work and with my personal life, it’s a topic I find hard not to think about. Just the thought of another surgery makes my stomach churn.
Life was going so well you know? I had just received a promotion and been accepted into the mentorship program I had applied for. It frustrated me more than anything how intrusive this disease has always been. Not that it’s something you are ever ready for. It’s just always taken place during a time in my life where major changes are occurring making it so difficult to enjoy those special moments.
I wasn’t even sure if writing about this now was the right thing to do but, my goal was to write about the good and the bad. It’s about my life, my take on it and my hopes of helping others that have or are sharing my journey. So if you are going through your own personal journey, know that I am here. We are sharing this moment together and together we will pull through this. We are going to Kick Cancers Butt!!!
The start of my emotional roller coaster….
I was successfully reaching my physical goals during my recovery but, emotionally I was riding the most intense roller coaster of my life. The kind that made your stomach tie itself in knots and could make you lose your lunch. Since the beginning of my journey I tried to keep a very positive outlook. I refused to say things like “I’m going to win my battle against breast cancer” or even refer to it as the “fight against breast cancer”. Why? Well, it all starts with the “law of attraction.”
My partner and I were so turned off by the amount of negativity in words like “fight” and “battle”, that we agreed to use less aggressive words. For example, instead of “my battle with breast cancer”, we refer to it as “my journey with breast cancer”. Did you notice the difference? One almost instinctively sends you into “defense mode” where as the other places you into a sort of “daydream” as I like to call it.
A journey is often times associated with something positive so your mind begins to create happier thoughts allowing you to question the good that can come of your current situation. For a while this really worked for me because I was genuinely ready to explore what this gift was trying to teach me. However, even the most positive people can hit extreme lows. That’s what began happening only days after my surgery. I was motivated to set physical goals but emotionally I had become angry and resentful.
Why me? I’m a good person. I even began to question god himself. With so many bad people out there, why did he choose me? I have never be one to wish anything bad on someone else but I was just desperately trying to find logic in something that I couldn’t understand. I felt like such a terrible person. How could I question god and his plan for me? Why couldn’t I just be happy that I was given another chance and continue to see it as the gift it was? I realize now I was chosen because of my strength but none of that made sense then. I was fearful of the unknown and I felt tainted. I was marked by this disease and I would forever be known as the girl with cancer. I felt like somehow I had lost my identity.
I had so much time to think in those two weeks and all I was doing was feeling bad for myself. At times I would even cry myself to sleep. I was so scared of the cancer still being there after surgery or the possibility of it coming back. My mind was playing dirty tricks on me and making me sick to my stomach. I had reached a new level of weakness and vulnerability. A side of me I never wanted to encounter. I wanted so badly to set a positive example and resemble a woman full of courage and strength but the truth is, I was a frightened little girl drowning in my own fears.
I remember asking god to please help me find my purpose in this journey and apologizing for my ungrateful behavior. There were people losing there lives because of cancer and here I was complaining I ever had it, even after a successful surgery that had removed it from my body. “I’m such a horrible person”, I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe how selfish I was acting and how much I couldn’t control those emotions. I think back to that moment and realize now that the emotional roller coaster I was on was normal and all part of the journey but, in that moment, all I could do was write and pray that I would one day regain my sanity and again feel like the Elizabeth I once was…
*** Note to reader ***
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!! See you again Monday! 🙂
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