Three Things.

It has been 6 weeks since surgery! Hooray! That means I am no longer forced to sit still most of the time and I can FINALLY use my crutches. Obviously, I celebrated by walked Albus. He was almost as excited as I was about it!

Also, I have had my expander filled twice. Both times with the maximum 120cc (4oz) for a total of 240cc (8oz) and whatever was put in during surgery (I think he said 120, as well. But I may be wrong). I think I need about 60 more Monday when I go back. I was TERRIFIED when I went the first time. I mean, those needles are huge!! Once it was happening I realized it was kinda awesome, though. They use a magnet to find the port. I kinda felt like a refrigerator. Then it was like my left side was going through puberty very, very quickly. Of course, I was prepared for extreme soreness after each procedure but I only experienced it slightly in my left should and upper arm. The tightness was gone by the next morning. So, my experience has been great with the expander under a lat flap recon. I wasn’t able to find many survivor stories about this sort of lat flap recon, so I am going to be adding mine to forums later today in hopes that someone like me needs it.

Now. On to the main reason for this post.

The last seven days have been a whirlwind of emotions.

About this time last week I went into my “Other Messages” folder on Facebook because I hadn’t in so long. I was greeted with what is possibly the meanest message in the history of mean messages. I’m going to share it, now. If you are really upset by cursing, there is one doosie in the message, though it is hardly the worst part, so use discretion and skip over it if needed:

“Have you changed, or are you still a miserable sociopath? I have spent hours empathizing and trying to love you, but you were always just a miserable, manipulative cunt. Did the threat of death at such an early age horribly scar your psyche? Is self-preservation the only human emotion you have left? How do you sleep at night, knowing that you lied incessantly to further your petty goals? Have you ever truly cared for anyone, or are we all just a means to an end? I wish you peace, love, and happiness. I fear you are incapable of experiencing basic human emotion.”

The message was sent from a false profile with the name of a famous WWE person, and I am clueless about who it could be and I no longer want to know. I really did want to know for the first few days. I was utterly heartbroken, to be honest. It really, really got to me. I don’t care if he knows that, either. At first, I tried to grab onto anger and not be upset- I didn’t want him to win and get what he wanted. But my ideas about that have changed over the week. I AM upset by these words. I know that they are false, now, and I know that I should pity this person. I do empathize with him because I have been that angry with someone and with life, just like him. The words still hurt, though, because I know that there was a time in my life that I was miserable, though not in the way he says.

There is one thing in particular that had made me realize his words are false.

I was nominated as one of Birmingham’s Most Beautiful people. This isn’t a contest about looks- no worries. Anyway, there are quite a few nominees and only 20 will be featured in the magazine once the results are in. It is an amazing opportunity to get word out about the charities and things that we each work with.

It is not the actual nomination that has helped me feel better about the horrible note, but rather, the amount of love I have received from people I have never even met. It was like a snowball: friends and family shared. Then their friends and family shared. Comments upon comments.

It has made me feel like everything I do matters, and reminded me that I am not the bad things someone says about me. I know that I am a good person and there are good people that believe in me and my story- as corny as that sounds, it worked. I stopped feeling the hurt and shame that note made me feel. Not only that, but the contest has caught me on fire and I am more than ready for the next thing. I am hoping to help camp with a new part of their program now that I’m healed and I’m busting at the seams about it!

So, blog people, here are the links to the contest and to my bio, submitted by the person that nominated me.

Here is the bio page: http://photos.al.com/alphotos/2014/04/bp_pics_1zip_30.html

And the Contest: http://www.al.com/bhammag/index.ssf/2014/04/vote_for_birmingham_magazines_1.html

Also, here’s a link to some really good music! It’s a friend’s band, Kenny George Band, and they are pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself:   https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gunshy/id858654835

It is also on Amazon and Google Play. If you want to check it out on either of those sites let me know and I will share those links.

21.097494K

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!

Foaming at the Mouth

A few nights ago, while I was fighting to sleep, my thoughts took a rather obsessive turn and I followed through with my obsession and hit up Google, for the thousandth time, about a topic already in my search history. After roughly an hour of hiding under the covers with my phone so as not to wake my husband with a jarring light, I realized exactly what I was doing and grounded myself. Then I posted a jest on Facebook about how absolutely crazy I can make myself.

While it was a joke, it was obviously received loud and clear.

The topic is a very serious one.

I have lightly touched on the invincibility a childhood cancer survivor can feel and how it affected my breast cancer diagnosis. I generally put off going to the doctor over anything until it was too late- until I had developed a fever of 101 or until I had realized exactly how gross and sand papery those lumps felt (one month after my boyfriend told me to go have them checked out).

At several points in my life I had the gall to say, “Life is not so cruel that I would have TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT CANCERS before I hit 30/50/70.”

Well, life showed me, didn’t she?

So the topic of interest is the level of hypochondria I have now.

Pardon my French, but this shit gets crazy!

The status I posted is as follows:

This whole second cancer before 30 is turning me into an insane hypochondriac. I used to be exactly the opposite (which led to putting off going to the Dr about my booby lumps). Blake is too, only he’s all, “I think I’m getting a cold/the flu/a stomach virus/ear infection” but it’s usually because he sneezes once. I, on the other hand, think of some really morbid stuff because I’m (probably) having side effects from my cancer treatment. I Google to see if it’s a side effect- if it’s not or is uncommon I Google more. The next thing I know, I have 7 new cancers and rabies.

I think I’m a little misleading in blaming Google for my self diagnosis, because sometimes I give myself a diagnosis and check to make sure that I am correct.

I have never been offered any support emotionally when it comes to my recent diagnosis (As far as professional support goes) and I am finding that to be kind of weird. This is obviously a real phenomenon. Of course we do this to ourselves! Even if we only do it every now and then at 4 in the morning and we can ground ourselves and make jokes about it- it is real.

I don’t think I realized that until I read all of the comments I received.

I also think I am more on edge about what is going on with my body because I have an oncologist that is so unreceptive to my worries, so blasé about my aches and pains and side effects. Not only that, but my general physician is a complete twat and the office is a joke. Seriously.  (I’d love to change to another one but this is not currently an option).

Anyway, these are all topics I intend to mention when I mean with Dr. N on Friday.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

And no worries- I am not going nuts over here, I am balanced, I do not worry a lot (but when I do, WHAM), I know I don’t actually have rabies, etc etc etc.

I am fine. However, my humor may be a bit morbid.

This!

This article could have been written by me, in so many ways.

THIS ONE! Click me! Yay!

One of the things I love most about being a childhood cancer survivor (And one of the things I love most about my peers) is that life becomes richer and more intense, afterwards. Some of us act invincible. Most of us have said something about how we have already had cancer, what else could happen? If you are reading this and you’re thinking, ‘my daughter/son/cousin/nephew/whatever is a survivor and he/she is not like that!’ then I will say this- they were either too young to have it effect them the same way, they turned to God and immersed themselves in religion instead, or they are really good at hiding their actions from you.

This is just my opinion, of course.

But think about it- for quite some time our brains think we are invincible. Isn’t there a word for that in teens? Anyway, sure. We thought we were invincible, but we knew cancer kills people. Then we got it… and we didn’t die!

I know a lot of survivors that have done a lot of crazy stuff just because they can.

Of course, this same mentality leads most of us to over achieve in a lot of areas and under achieve in other areas.. but that’s another post.

EITHER WAY.

I lived a pretty secretive life for a long time. The risk taking lifestyle got pretty dark in some places.

Then I started fighting against a dark part of myself. There is a big force behind me bettering myself in a lot of ways. THEN I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (aka cancer #2) and it made life less of a struggle. That risky lifestyle might still be there, but the dark part of it is not fighting so hard to show it’s ugly head.

Over Compensating (or Tales of a pretend wonder woman)

Sometimes I like to completely over compensate and try to be wonder woman. For real.

Today, for instance, I had to run a few errands- one in particular. I really needed to have my oil changed and my tires rotated and such. So, I did that. Then I went grocery shopping.

A lot of people that are helping me really hate when I go alone, but sometimes I really like to- because I’m wonder woman.

So, I pushed my buggy around while using my crutches and worked off some of my anxiety over the day (my family is crazy) and got stuff for dinner and breakfast for the week. It was fine. No big deal, just a few weird looks, per usual (That girl on crutches is pushing her own buggy and not using a motorized cart! It’s insanity up in here!!).

Then I got home.

And I had to carry the groceries in.

Up the stairs.

Why do I do this to myself?

I put the milk in my purse and everything else into a big reusable shopping bag and threw both over my shoulder. Once Id made it up the stairs, my purse broke.

I couldn’t even be upset because I was so satisfied with what I had done! Not to mention, my AdvoCare distributor packet was waiting for me on my doorstep. Hooray!

(I decided to sign up as a distributor because, what do you know if they don’t make the one thing I have found that pulls me out of my slump! The product I fell in love with is Spark- you can find the ingredient list and info here: http://www.advocare.com/products/active/A2094.aspx and my website here: https://www.advocare.com/13055182 This stuff is seriously awesome and packed full of vitamins and good stuff!)

Anyway. I am not wonder woman.

But I sure did enjoy pretending to be, today.

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)

A Return to Normalcy

Though, for America and Harding that was WWI. This is my WWII.

Isn’t that comparison so strange? War and Cancer. I think I may have read something about in a blog not too long ago… maybe? I don’t know. But it is oh so weird sometimes… (but I use it when I talk about my support system- or as you guys know them, my ‘cancer army’).

If compared to war, it’s more like the days of the draft and less like now, where we can choose to enlist. I had no choice. I never made any decisions that led to my disease (either time), which I constantly want to point out when people compare cancer to things that, at some point, involved a choice.

I had no intention of this post going in this direction, but my choice in title led me here. Oops.

The word of the day is choose, I guess!

I have chosen to return to work! My body says go for it on a few levels.

Ill explain.

I went back for a few shifts and completely ruined recovery from surgery. I became a swollen achy mess. I wound up back in the wheel chair and it was really unpleasant for me! That little taste of my previous routine was wonderful.So, I sat and sat and sat and MADE FLOWERS for the wedding (as many of you have been pushing me to do to get my mind off of things) and learned to relax again, despite pains and swelling and cancer junk.

Over the last two weeks I have added more and more activities to my day or week. For a while, all I was really doing was going to the bathroom by myself! Slowly, I started going up and down there stairs by myself. Then we stopped using the wheel chair at grocery stores for short trips, then longer, bigger trips. Then we took the chair out of the car! It was incredible. Im still jubilant over that (Why don’t people say jubilant more??!)! Then I started walking Albus every now and then (by that I mean… 2 times a week) and eventually every morning. Now I walk him every morning and sometimes in the afternoon, with only a little help from others when i am not able.

Over time, my activities could increase because the swelling stopped being so extreme and about 2 weeks ago, it became almost nonexistent. I won’t say it’s gone, because this past weekend I really did quite a bit and have just the littlest bit of fluid under my skin.

I have no idea why this much time was necessary. From my start over point, it has been about a month and a half, I guess. Now that I don’t have any pain, it was totally worth it.

My only issues with returning to daily life are due to my exhaustion. I think part of that is due to my lack of activity, so, I’m starting off slowly at work. I have 3 half shifts this week and they are on light days. Hopefully we can build them back up and I can build back up in my work outs, too. Right now though, this will be me ‘taking it easy’.

Is anyone out there on Tamoxifen? Are any of you experiencing extreme fatigue?! I think mine is worse at about 2 hours after taking it, then it does not get better.

Do you know how bad I want to do a push up? I really want to do a push up. I never thought I would say that.

No worries, though. I’m being good and building to that point in my work out.

Now it’s time for some photos from my huge weekend!

The first two paper flowers I made. These are about as big as my head

The first two paper flowers I made. These are about as big as my head

Most of the family at my grandmothers surprise birthday dinner.

Most of the family at my grandmothers surprise birthday dinner.

Me and my cousin Ella

Me and my cousin Ella

Me and my cousin Audrey. Showin off tattoos and crutches.

Me and my cousin Audrey. Showin off tattoos and crutches.

The next two are of me and two of my best friends in the whole world, at a dinner for young adults that have survived childhood cancers. Amanda and I have known each other for about 15 years and Tina and I have known each other for about 12 years.

Me, Tina and AmandaAmanda, me, Tina

And that’s it!

I was so exhausted after the weekend that it took me about 2 days to recuperate! I looked so tired that people even told me I looked tired! haha

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??