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I am half way through.

Okay, okay… I never even updated about the when and what and where of surgery on here…. I was too nervous.

Let me tell you guys about that, now that it’s over.

I was terrified and I have no idea why. It was my 13th surgery.  I had been put to sleep and had insane things done to me 12 times and for some reason, I was having horrible, GRAPHIC, TERRIFYING thoughts and images go through my head any time I really sat down let my thoughts roam free. I am not kidding when I say that I thought I was going to die. It was a gut feeling and I hated it.

Then the day came and I was so at peace and ready for whatever was going to happen and no longer thought I would die, because the gut feeling was gone.

Being ready for anything came in handy, because right before I was wheeled into the operating room, a change was made. But let me start from the beginning.

I had planned (along with my surgeons) to have a prophylactic mastectomy on the right side, because of the scary large fibroid adenomas and the amount of grief that was sure to cause every time I had a mammogram. We would go in and move my lattisimus dorsi muscles on BOTH sides in order to reconstruct. Even on the prophylactic side, despite it being skin sparing, so that both sides would match. Implants would go in under the muscles. Skin would be moved from my back as well. Most of you know all those other ‘minor’ things that also happen during this whole process. They aren’t so minor when you realize what is actually being done to your body, but they are surgically.

The morning of surgery, my surgeon came in and told me that Dr Long (Plastic Surgeon) would start. He would start with the muscles. I’ll explain how that works:  he would detach the back muscles and possibly the skin needed. He would not be finished, at all, at that point. Then Dr Bland (Surgeon) would perform his part- the prophylactic mastectomy. Next, Dr Long would come back in and tunnel those muscles and any skin he left attached to them under a small tendon and the skin on my side. At this point, my back would be closed back up and Dr Long would reconstruct.

Dr Long came in after Dr Bland… a little late, to Blands dismay. He drew allllll over me and assured me that my tattoos would not be touched (HOORAY!!!), and asked if he could use an expander on my left side so that I would end up with breasts the same size I started with- I am too small for much actual tissue to be moved- as it would be easier to do with an expander and then an implant. I was so calm that I just told him to do whatever he needed to do to get the results he wanted.

He loved that answer.

……Surgeons. Those egos are so big.

So, I was only in the hospital for 3 days following surgery and I left with all six drains and some necrosis on the left side (the side with the expander), though I had expected it on the small circle of skin moved to the prophylactic side, because I have read that it’s common there. In the hospital nearly half of the tissue that was moved was dusky. Within a week only a quarter was and just a few days later that duskiness became hard, which is good.  I had four drains out after 2 weeks. The last 2 came out this past Monday, 2 days before the 3 week mark. He said my necrosis is healing way faster than he is accustomed to and I begin filling my expander on the 31st, because we could safely guess that the necrosis would be healed by then. I think it will be completely healed by the 4 week mark, which is next Wednesday.

The very next day- April 1st, I will have a mammogram. Can I tell you how scared I am? Not that there will be any abnormalities, but that it is really going to hurt to put a recently filled expander into a mammogram thingy. Is this a cruel joke?!

Pathology has come back on the mastectomy that was performed and all was clear. Three nodes came out and the fibroids were so large that they went on and on about it on the phone with me for quite some time. I just laughed and said I knew- I mean, they had been in my tata since I was about 16 and one of them really was huge. I mean… HUGE.  More than 6cm in diameter and so rubbery that when the biopsy was performed last year, the marker wouldn’t stay in it. Not to mention how hard it was for them to biopsy the thing. Manually.

So glad that’s over!

Anyway, I cannot use my crutches or my arms (nothing that requires weight on them) for about 2.5 more weeks. I have gotten really good at putting on shirts and moving around without using my shoulders at all. Haha! I’ve also learned how to target specific muscles when I move (sitting up was the first thing I had to do, so my abs do most of the work, but eventually turning my torso became necessary and I had to learn to NOT use my lats. Now, I can turn and my boob wont flex. Hooray! Haha)

Anyway. I am relieved. But of course, there is at least one more surgery once the expander is full. Number 14 will be an easy outpatient surgery but, of course, it will signal relief once it is complete, now matter how fast and easy.

Here are some links about what I had done- essentially 3 different surgeries took place, but I wanted to share some lat flap info if anyone needed it.

A video, if you can handle watching a surgery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALIrQGX03dE

http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/cancer-information/cancer-topics/cancer-treatment/surgery/breast-reconstruction/ld-flap.html

http://breastcancer.about.com/od/reconstructivesurgery/tp/latissimus_dorsi.htm

That should cover it!

I can’t think of anything funny or clever to name this blog entry

You guys! I get new boobs in January! How exciting is that?!

Okay, actually… I have an MRI in October and if all is well THEN I get new Boobs in January.

My surgeon is still really nervous about me not having radiation. REALLY nervous.

Lets hope he’s just nervous for the heck of it and I’m actually okay and there were no rogue cells left in my chest.

Also, here is the video of us getting our wish. I talk excessively and Im sorry for that. Also, I am holding my phone at one point in the video. I’ve made sure to tell everyone this: I was not being rude. They wanted to see my furbaby so I was finding a good photo!

Click me for the video

Lots of stuff is happening between now and my surgery!

September is ALWAYS a busy month for me, as it is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, but this year I also have wedding showers and things of the sort. Then of course, October will be busy because I’m freakin’ getting married! Then there is the honeymoon and hopefully a camp beach trip. After that, Ill have about 2 seconds to rest before Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.. and of course, doctors visits will be scattered about in there. And lets not forget about life. Regular, everyday life. Dishes and laundry and bills and work and grocery shopping and work and a smidgen of a social life.

In other words, Ill have new boobs before I even realize what has happened.

Then maybe life will slow down a bit? maybe?

So, tell me about your implants. I have no idea how to research this.

Also, Im 99% sure they still want to move part of my latissimus dorsi around to help out the whole process since I did not have expanders and I don’t have enough tummy for a TRAM.

If you had that, by all means… tell me all about it! ALL about it!

Silicone

The thing about my current fake boob is this:

I am confused about cleaning it.

I cant wait until the silicone is inside my body and I don’t have to open my browser and Google, “how to clean prosthetic breast”

But I just did that and now that I’m sure I’m doing it correctly, I won’t have to Google it again.

Also.

Mastectomy bras offer absolutely no discretion when it comes to the nipple. However, my fake one doesn’t HAVE a nipple so I have walked around for months now with lopsided nipples. Im sure people think I just have one nipple that is over active. On the other hand, when I see a woman with one active nipple, now I just assume that she, like me, has a dumb mastectomy bra on and her fake boobie doesn’t have a nipple either.

Do they even make them with nipples?

How many times can I type that word in one post??

Anyway, Im off to wash my fake boob.

 

PS If you need a good strapless or multi-way bra for your prostetic boob, and- like me- you cant find a good mastectomy one, Victoria’s Secret‘s new Body by Victoria line has a really great multi way bra that holds the boob in really well and curves around it naturally. There is no ‘drop off’ effect and I have no worries that the boob is going to go flying through the air, like it tends to do when Im not wearing a mastectomy bra!

Bald on the Inside

I feel like I should regularly have more updates for you all. I mean, the exciting life of a breast cancer patient is never ending, right?!

Well. Not so much.

I have pretty much the most boring life ever, right now. But I’m okay with that.

And most days I worry or think about normal life junk more than breast cancer junk. Stuff like money. Where the hell does it all go and why don’t we have any? And my dog. Why does he shed SO MUCH? What if he secretly hates me? If I ever have babies will he hate them?!

But breast cancer is occasionally a part of these worries.

For instance, I wore the foam boob the other day because sometimes it’s just less.. hot. I went to the pet store to buy dog food and look at cute animals andsomeone got to witness my prostetic falling out and onto the ground. In the PET STORE. By the gerbils. He handled it well though. He was crouched down next to where it fell and just kinda did a double take at it on the ground, picked it up and handed it to me. Then we continued on with our conversation.

It was a beautiful moment, really.

But on the drive home my brain went haywire.

I’m wearing the foam boob for lots of boring clothes related and comfort related reasons. What if I lean down to hug an adorable child or seated adult? What if I go all sorority pose for a photo op and lean down a little too far?! What if I do these things and that boob just flies out?!

Well.

It’d be a memory…

But really. Sometimes it’s just hilarious.

The hot flashes are funnier, but I wont get in to that.

I wish the other side effects were as funny as the hot flashes. But I have yet to make a memory out of the joint and bone pain, the uterine pain or my constantly growing rear end.

Okay, that last one is just funny on its own.

But really, I know I’ve got it easy.

I had my check up the other day, and while I was the youngest and I got some pretty ridiculous looks… I was also the ‘healthiest’.

It’s okay, though. I didn’t feel left out.

98

I think Ive posted this before, but I thought it was fitting to post again 🙂

I know we are all bald on the inside.

And others…

I know you are so happy about this: I went and got fitted for a mastectomy bra or two and got a new prosthetic that won’t pop out in public!

You can all stop waiting for it to happen when we are together, now! Yay!

I am not lying when I say that I expected it to be a horrible experience. Not sure why… but I really thought it was going to be horrible. But it was the BEST bra buying experience ever. If you are in the Birmingham area and know women who need mastectomy bras, prosthetics or anything cancer related (OR you can go and get one of the really comfy mastectomy bras even if you still have both of your tata’s) I really recommend you send them to For Ladies Only in Vestavia. So wonderful.

While I was being fitted, the lady said, “Your chest wall is BEAUTIFUL!” Without fully grasping what she said, I said, “Thank you so much!” and oozed with happiness over the word beautiful. I mean, I was a nervous wreck in there. I was at least 30 years younger than everyone in the building and I had NO idea what was going on for a minute. I was also EXHAUSTED because I went straight from work (more on that later).

So I heard ‘beautiful’ and like most women, I swooned! (That is not the reason this was a great experience, but it helped)

It wasn’t until I was driving home that I really thought about that comment. “Your chest wall is beautiful! Who is your surgeon?? He did a fabulous job!” That MUST be the same as hearing, “Your implants are beautiful! Who is your surgeon?? He did a fabulous job!” Surely it is the same? I thought about it the whoooole drive home and it still made me proud. Heck yeah I have a great chest wall! And I’m going to have two fabulous reconstructed breasts next year! (I hope)

I wanted to call my surgeon and tell him all about the compliment we received… but I’ll wait til our appointment in July, I guess!

While my chest wall may be lovely, my energy levels still leave something to be desired. I pretty much have PMS every afternoon. I’m tired, sore, grumpy and have a headache every evening. If I don’t work, I try to clean up or straighten up at least one room and do a load of laundry. At about 3, I start crashing. I don’t get sleepy so I don’t nap; I just can’t, so I will rest. I will literally sit and do nothing except watch a show or two online. It doesn’t revive me, but it keeps me going and keeps the soreness and the headaches from hitting too hard.

If I DO work in the mornings (I had previously explained to my boss that my stamina was crap so I have been scheduled for morning shifts since returning to work- until this coming week) I am up at 6, at work at 7 and work until noon, roughly. When I clock out, I’m usually so exhausted that I’ll chug something with caffeine for the drive home. When I get home, I crash for about 30 minutes. There is no stopping it. Around 5pm I get my PMS symptoms. Then it’s dinner, time with Blake, bathe, bed.

I’m not sure if it is the medicine that is making me this way, but I think it must be. This is not the same as post surgery tiredness and surgery was 3 months ago.

So, I need help.

Advice, I guess.

What can I add to my diet or my day that will help me make it through the day? (besides iron and vitamin b)

I am working two afternoons next week, starting when my exhaustion hits the hardest and going until pretty late. I would normally take my medicine at 8pm, but I’m going to push it back to when I get home so that I can make the drive home without any issues (it messes with my focus on top of making me tired). I’m just really lost for what to do about it all and thought you guys might be able to help!

I have a whole list of side effects aside from the exhaustion and eye issues, so I can’t wait to go over them with my oncologist! Maybe she can start me on B12 shots or something?

Let’s talk about boobs

Seriously.

Breast cancer brings up two subjects that most people aren’t comfortable talking about openly: Cancer (and therefore mortality) and boobs.

Okay, some people talk about boobs pretty openly, but only with certain people they know. But I don’t want to talk about boobs in that way.

For some girls, breasts are a major part of their identity. This is particularly the case for those of us who were blessed beyond the norm for our size, and sometimes we don’t even realize how much of our identity is put into them. I really mean identity, here- not self worth, though, that is occasionally the case as well.

Well.

In the last year to year and a half, I went from a DD to a small C and now I’ve only got one of ‘em!

I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t taught me a thing or two about myself and my identity.

I started eating healthy, working out and making an overall effort to be healthier near the end of 2011. It was super gradual until the beginning of 2012. Obviously, as the pounds shed, the boobs shrank and I was amazed! I’ve never been a big girl, but I’ve been curvy for as long as I can remember. I really loved that they shrank, and when I realized it—I found that shocking.

Fast forward to being diagnosed with breast cancer.

In the short time between diagnosis and mastectomy, I got really concerned with how much my body has changed and how my identity had already BEEN affected. Not how it would be affected (yet).

It hit me like a ton of bricks and I was ashamed of myself for being so upset about things that ‘are so petty in the face of cancer’.

I kept it to myself MOST of the time and it nearly drove me mad.

Post mastectomy, here I am.

I have 3 breast forms and I only know where one of them is right now, because when I get home I toss it like I do my shoes. I put it somewhere and hope I’ll find one before I walk about the door again.

And LET ME TELL YOU. These things SUCK.

I am 27 years old. I’m starting to get wrinkles as the elasticity in my skin gives in to being overly expressive. And, since I have been spoiled with good skin my whole life, I tend to do the minimum when it comes to creams and cleansers.

This does not just apply to my face, guys.

Skin sags!

Especially after you lose 15 pounds! (So far, I don’t have saggy arms, and for that, I am thankful.)

Let me get to the point.

Breast forms are solid. And I mean SOLID. While I may have the correct size equalizer/breast form, it is one perky little boob when compared to a normal human breast. It does not need lotion to help with elasticity or sag to the side when laid on its back. It does not mold beautifully into a favorite bra. It just… IS.

And it’s kind of plastic-like, so this humidity coupled with my body heat means that thing basically becomes a suction cup to my perfectly flat and sculpted pectoral muscle.

Taking off a bra will never feel as good as it used to, because I can compare it to taking out a breast equalizer.

Some days, particularly hot days (which I have a LOT- thanks Hot flashes caused by Tamoxifen!), I curse myself for listening to my surgeons nurse. The surgeon asked her, while we were meeting one final time to plan surgery, “Are we giving her an expander?” To which she replied, “No. Not at all.”

I had done a good bit of research on my own and saw no real reason for one, but wasn’t opposed to it, either, if they thought it would help in the long run.

So, my surgeon leaves the room and the nurse says, “I’m sure you just heard him ask about giving you a breast expander. I felt like you wouldn’t need one- and by that I mean that medically, it will be more trouble than it is worth for you. It won’t help when we reconstruct (meaning they will have to transplant tissue with or without it) and they can be really painful. We usually only give it to women to help with confidence—some women just want to wake up and still have a something there.”

I told her I didn’t really care if anything was there. Because I didn’t.

I don’t.

But boy do clothes fit weird. And if it meant not wearing these horrid breast forms and equalizers?

Well. Yeah. Sometimes I really wish I had acted like I really cared about waking up and feeling like I still had some semblance of a breast. But I didn’t.

(I would like to note that this is the case for me, not everyone. An expander can be very helpful for some women. I’m also not knocking wanting something to be there when you wake up from surgery. Totally get that, too.)

And now I have 3 breast forms.

Two are what they call equalizers and are heavy latex type things with plastic coatings. Of those, one is a size too big (::cough cough:: a size too perky) and the other is the correct size, but incredibly dense and heavy. Also, Albus just found that one and ate part of it, rendering it useless.

I also have one that is called a breast form. It is foam and not weighted, so it slides up my chest and occasionally out of my bra all together. Can you imagine your fake boob falling out of your shirt in Target while you look at shoes?

I can.

I have experienced that.

It was like I had been caught stuffing my bra or something… well, I guess I HAD been stuffing my bra, hadn’t I? Anyway, this one is super comfortable because it is light and has a cloth covering. It is usable in a bathing suit, which is why I got it (trying on bikini’s is going to be so much fun!).

In all seriousness, though. These things are rather important! I have left the house only a few times without a prosthetic, usually because I couldn’t find one and my shirt was loose enough or my bra was formed enough (or both working together) that it was just not noticeable, and as soon as I remembered it,  I got a little panicky.

I get panicky because I DO have an identity that involves my gender norm. Not only my gender norm, but I have seriously always had boobs. Realizing that takes the guilt out of caring about it and makes me see that I am not petty to care about them.

I am a woman, and I want to look like a whole woman. That is totally not petty! I am officially putting this all on the table because I think that if someone had told me this, I wouldn’t have let it get to me so much. Now that I’ve accepted it, I’m obviously okay telling you guys that my boob fell out in Target and all sorts of other things.

So, I guess I need embrace my love/hate relationship with my breast equalizers and schedule an appointment to replace the equalizer that my dog ate, huh?

Here’s a photo of that, by the way:photo(6)

783 worries and a few cliche’s

Mither (1 of 2)

Mither (1 of 2) (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

This past weekend got me thinking about my mortally, to be frank.

It got me thinking about it because well, there’s the obvious. But also because before I was diagnosed I’d joke about and say, “I’ve already had cancer once. I don’t think I’m going to get it again for a long, long time.” But here I am. 14.25 years of remission and diagnosed again. All before the age of 30. My body is so freakin’ fancy.

This is actually something I meditated on a lot when I was first diagnosed with my new friend, breast cancer.

But that’s another post.

Thinking about that this past weekend, I realized that I really DON’T think about it as much as some would assume.

I worry about alllllll of those other things.

I’ve probably mentioned most of those things in other posts. But really, I worry about some seemingly petty things and some things that I never thought I’d be worrying about.

My first worry is my job. I have had to take off quite a bit of time because of my set back with recovery and this new pain that popped up a month later. I worry that I’m disappointing my boss, the managers, the people that pointed me in the direction of the job, etc. I worry that it won’t be my job when I can go back.

I worry about money (duh) because I’m not working and because in parking alone, we have spent about 100 dollars- and I’m not even done yet! They never prepare you for that freakin’ parking, do they? Hah

Those are normal worries, I think.

Relationship worries are huge. I’m sure this is something a lot of people relate to in one way or another.

As I’ve mentioned, I‘ve lost a friend or two since diagnosis.  But let’s go further…

I worry that old friends or people I have had failed relationships with have come back because they pity me. That new friends are only nice to me out of pity. I really hate pity, and it makes me really upset to think that- but I can’t really stop those assumptions or worries sometimes.

I have no idea why I’m putting this in print and will be posting it to the internet, but I am. It’s like I think that if I confess all of these worries, I’ll purge myself of them. Then I can surrender to life again and just feel a lot better about my situation, which is really not bad. Worrying is, though.

Anyway, relationships.

I worry that people are scared of me and what will happen to me because I’m going through cancer again.

I worry that people will get mad over my blog (self caused worry, there, but still a worry)

I worry about all of these things because at some point or another, I have known people who have had all of these feelings about a situation.

‘Oh I have to call so-and-so or invite so-and-so because they are sick/having a hard time/etc’

‘She’s only with him because she doesn’t have the heart to break up with him’

‘I had to take some time off of work because of an injury so they found a loophole to use to fire me’

The list goes on when it comes to relationships. I can literally lay in bed for hours and hours and dissect every relationship I have convince myself that it has changed or is only in existence because of the news I got on December 28th of 2012. It makes me feel absolutely psychotic! But I know it’s all really insane for me to worry about. However, I also know that I’m not the only one that thinks those things sometimes. And I only know that… because I know so many people that had cancer as teenagers. And I was their friend when they were going through it… and I know that they told me they had those worries. Sometimes we still talk about that sort of thing. So, at least I know I’m not so crazy that I’m the only person to worry about those things.

More serious worries are about my health and how it will affect my future. Not the mortality stuff… but the other stuff.  I already have quite a few side effects from my chemo and have to watch my heart because of the Adriamycin. I may not be having chemo THIS time, but I know that there will be things to watch again just because of the cancer. For instance, breast cancer is related to a few not so fun cancers and my ovaries and thyroid will need to be monitored. And sure, I’m having a mastectomy on the right breast next year, but do you know how thoroughly I check it for changes? I’m sure you do if you are a patient or survivor.

Oddly enough, I never worried about anything coming back with my first cancer, and it was actually aggressive. This time, my cancer is kind of a wuss comparatively. I know that. Doctors know I know that, and they have said almost exactly those words to me. It’s not new knowledge. But here I am. Poking already biopsied lumps and bumps just in case they change before they are removed.

I promise I haven’t gone all negative Nancy on you guys. I’m just a mildly obsessive person and when insomnia strikes or something triggers a thought, my brain can just take it and run until I catch myself. Then it’s back to meditating and deep breathing so I can laugh at myself later. And you know, tell you guys how absolutely insane I can be.

So, hopefully that purged my worries and my brain can be all footloose and fancy free for the rest of my days!

Mass decisions

“It is important to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated.” A. Dumbledore

What an appropriate quote, huh? A Harry Potter version of ‘Run to the Bear’.

Now, the post:

The good news is that I do NOT have to have radiation.

What?!

I know, right.

I have been told since January 2nd that my tumor was just SO HUGE that I would need radiation. There was not a single appointment in which I was told otherwise… Until last week.

I went in to see the radiologist on my team, and she said I didn’t need it. The side effects would do more harm than the radiation would do good.

I KNEW this would upset my surgeon, so I waited for the call from his office. I got it the very next day. My team had decided to send my case to the tumor board and let them decide. They would look over my case as MY case, not as one of the masses with my type of breast cancer. I became an individual when they decided what to do. They looked at my personal history with cancer and the side effects I have or will likely have from my previous treatments, they looked at family history, and they looked at my tumor’s personality… and they said no radiation is needed, apparently.

Would you believe me if I told you this scares the shit out of me? That I’m not that big of a fan of the decision?

I mean, I feel better now that a whole board of people looked at my case. But I still have the lingering feeling from the first day my radiologist threw me that curveball.

When I had cancer at 12 years old, I had a really aggressive treatment protocol. Like, crazy aggressive. I was in the hospital every other week for a week of intravenous chemotherapy. I lost my hair in about a day (ok, really it was about two weeks- but still).  I’ve said it all along, my curse and my advantage in this is that I have done it before. While I look forward to the arrogant surgeons and decisive oncologists, I have expectations for what will happen. And aside from that, I’ve lived in this world of cancer for 15 years. And as stated before, I’ve seen it cause some damage. From that perspective, my thinking is… “What the crap?! No! Blast me!”

However, this is better. I mean. No radiation?! Heck yeah no radiation! I wasn’t looking forward to it; I’m just programmed to think I need to be treated aggressively if I want to live, when it comes to cancer.

So heck yeah, no radiation!

My skin and my heart are rejoicing! No damage will be done to them!

I’m still not done, though. I’ve still got to meet with my oncologist and start this little pill since my cancer is hormone receptive. But hey, I can take a pill every day. Just pass it to me with a diet coke and we will get this done.

Otherwise, this weekend was a bit of a fuss. I ended up at the UAB emergency room because of an exposed stitch that became infected (EW) and some fluid buildup out of NOWHERE. Turns out, I’ve totally over done it and that is what caused the buildup. I am to sit still (don’t use my crutches) and slow down on stretching and such for a while. No more work for a bit and not for long shifts when I go back. Apparently, I jumped back into that a little sooner than my surgeon would have liked.

Oops.

I just really wanted to go back to normal. And since I have been numb up until this weekend, I haven’t been able to tell if I’m overdoing.  I’ve also had some fat necrosis in my side and around the incision. Kinda disgusting, but it has all either gone away on its own or it was taken care of today.

Plans are to get this pill going at the beginning of next month and recon in 11 months. Now, who wants to tell me about their implants??

I’ll face it with a smile

Being able to (try to) move my arm normally is GREAT. It does result in some crazy soreness and frustration but dang. I LOVE moving my arm.

So glad we stocked up on Advil, though. SO GLAD.

In the way of help, I am STILL eating leftovers we froze from my ‘Take Them a Meal’ group. It is so awesome. It’s like they are still bringing us meals. Don’t get me wrong, we HAVE cooked once or twice since they stopped coming. But dang if we have not been stressed just to have the apartment clean.  It’s just that clutter tends to stay where it is if I’m cleaning.

Next time you clean, tie an arm behind your back and bend your other knee.  Also, NO crutches. It’s kind of a good workout, but it also kind of sucks.

Speaking of such, Two maids and a Mop is here RIGHT NOW.

Cleaning my apartment.

For FREE.

It smells like amazing amounts of awesome germ-free-ness up in here and they just started. It’s incredible.

Whoever decided to start this business that gets companies together to clean for Breast Cancer patients is my new hero.

Sure, a total of 4 cleanings every 4 weeks may not seem like much to some people, but to me it’s a freaking miracle.

If I had clean sheets they said they would even make my bed!

I am in heaven.

They are pure magic and fairy dust.

Enough of that.  Let’s get to what I came here for.

I took a bath all by myself yesterday. I think I only missed a few spots. I also dressed myself, but I picked really easy clothes- yoga pants and a huge shirt that wouldn’t require me to defy physics to put it on.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to brush and fix my hair. And today, I’m waiting to find out when I can use my crutches. See, I’m only two steps, physically, from returning to work!

Emotionally, I am occasionally a mess, though. Where did all of these emotions come from?

Yesterday I had a minor change in decision and SERIOUSLY cried like it was the end of the world, while at the same time, I was telling myself how insane that is because I know that the change doesn’t REALLY matter. It really is not a big deal. I just felt like I was going to lose everything; like nothing would be mine anymore.

It wasn’t self pity. It was complete and utter fear.

Why is it so horrible to admit when we are scared? I have always tried to face my fears head on, and I’m really trying with this fucking breast cancer.

(Some of you may know that the subtitle to my blog, “Run to the Bear”, is a reference to this, inspired by one of my cancer army Lieutenants, Susan, and this ecard. [new discovery: if you google image search, ‘run to the bear’ I come up!])

It is hard. Really Hard.

But I can do hard things.

Life’s not Hard

My body is so weird. All bodies are weird, really, but mine is experiencing things more weird than normal.

I can’t even imagine that… a normal body.

I wish I could go back to myself as a very young child and say, “Bekah, dear… be nice to your body. You play very rough and many people will see that (which is okay) even when you are 27. You will make marks that won’t go away. And yes, you will go through a VERY awkward phase at 10-11 years old. You will know that you aren’t pretty, but you won’t really care. Not really. You’ll care more about being tough and that will cause more scars. (But you will be pretty. Very Pretty). At 12, you will be a very pretty bald girl. Somehow, being bald will cure that awkward phase you are going through. Cancer will give you a new self- assurance. You will have doctors…. So many doctors. And you will be even more scarred. You won’t think about it as a bad thing until you are 22. You will be struggling with depression and all you will see how you and other people have hurt your body. You will spend a year in complete drug and alcohol oblivion, and you will add to those marks, but you will be okay. You won’t get over your scars and marks, but you will accept them, again. When you are 26 you will stop fighting with life. You will accept Gods will easily and find humor in the fucked up situations you encounter. You will find real, true love with an unlikely suspect and people will condemn your love. You won’t care. You will turn 27 and you will be diagnosed with cancer, again, and he will be the brightest part of your day. You will joke about who has the most scars; who is the most damaged, but after your mastectomy, the answer will be quite clear. What I’m telling you, teacup Bekah, is to be kind to your body, because no one else will. Your battle wounds are epic, even though you are small.”

That may seem like a pointless bit to tell a 6 year old. But I think it says quite a lot. I wish someone had explained to me that I would lose so much of my body (literally and NOT literally) in life. And really, I’d probably curse more. I do tend to curse like a sailor…

I don’t think I would have stopped being so rough, as a little girl. But I think I would have been more conscious of my roughness and of my body.

So, my body, like all bodies, is weird.

There are new things, though. New things, since my mastectomy…

You know when you drink something cold and can feel it alllll the way down?

I can feel it in the left part of my back/underarm and sometimes; if I’m lucky, I can feel it in my left arm. My skin is numb and the muscles are SO sore but I can feel it turn cold from the inside, almost. It is my favorite part of drinking cold water, right now.

As far as recovery goes, I’m taking a little more time than I expected. I can start using my arm Saturday. So, maybe in a week I’ll be able to see progress and strength and I can dress and bathe myself. I assume once I can bathe and dress myself and get down the stairs to my car, I can go back to work. Goals!

and now, a quote:

“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secrets to reveal.

A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”
Leonard Cohen, The Favorite Game

Dork-tastic

Me with my poster from Audrey and Ella. I love the drawing of Albus in the top corner more and more.

Recovery photos, most recent to older:

dressing removed

Notice the little baby bump on my chest. I am calling it my ‘firefly’. Its so silly!

Day of Surgery

JP drain tube, day of surgery

Day of surgery, Dressing

Dressing, day of surgery. I hate oxygen tubes.