Tag Archive | breast reconstruction

#120 Coffee anyone?


I was watching the local news yesterday morning and I saw a story about a woman who told all her friends and family that she had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy and didn’t have insurance so she needed to pay cash for it. They had fund-raisers just for her and raised thousands of dollars. She didn’t have breast cancer at all, she just wanted a boob job. From what I heard on the news she ended up getting this boob job done before anyone found out that she was making it all up to get their money . The judge gave her a year in jail as punishment, and this woman said to the judge that she planned on paying all the money back a little bit at a  time when she gets out of jail. I think they should have taken the boobs back too. I can’t believe that someone would say that they have cancer when they don’t have it and never did. I still have people who think that because I don’t “look” that sick that my cancer is all better. I just can’t wrap my head around someone doing anything this terrible, and I don’t think her punishment was even close to being enough. Maybe two or three years in jail would have sat better with me. I’m sure that my own money problems don’t help with my opinion of her either. Our pool is looking perfect again, and just being able to see that everything is working again made me feel much better. I do still have to do a little bit of juggling do find a way to pay for everything else, but I’ll figure it out somehow. Rick is terrible with money so he’s agreed to put all of his money straight into my account and let me take care of the bills for a while. He always pays things backwards. I like to pay the largest bills first and the smallest ones last, he doesn’t do that and it makes me crazy when the most important things have to wait to be paid. That’s never a good idea. I have always taken care of the household bills before and we always had what we needed. I made sure that he always had a few bucks in his pocket and we were able to pay all the bills and still have some money left over to have friends over for parties, and that was with less money than we have coming in now. I’m trying to teach him how to stay within a budget, but he tries to spend small amounts that he thinks that I won’t notice then he’s shocked when I get angry that I don’t have all the money that I need to pay the bills when they’re due. I don’t understand why I get so upset about things like this when I never did before. I guess I can see a much larger picture now and I have way more things on my mind than paying the bills. I would love to be able to teach Rick how to manage everything, but it’s just easier right now if I do it myself. I just hope that I’m able to actually get to the bank when I need to. That was why I started letting Rick take care of everything in the first place. I was too sick to get in the car and go anywhere. I still never know what days I’ll be well enough to get up and do anything but I’ll have to at least give it a shot. In Rick’s defense…he has been buying lottery tickets so that we can one day win the lottery. He really believes that we’re going to be rich one day. If we do get rich I’ll be found back in Hawaii, on the beach with a drink in my hand. For now, my coffee will have to do.

#106 Losing a friend


   

This morning I woke up and started all of my usual morning things, one of which is checking in on all of my friends on a breast cancer support board, and I found out that I have a friend who is probably at the end of her life. She has been such a great support to me and so many others when she herself was having some very difficult health problems, and I’m having a hard time coming to terms with her being in hospice this morning in a drug induced light coma. She is surrounded by her family and friends as well as a great friend that she found on the board. We were all told that if we left a message for her on the board this morning, they would all be read to her so that she could see all the love and prayers that are being sent out to her from all over the world as she faces this terrible time in her life. My first reaction was to be very upset for not only her but also her wonderful husband and the rest of her family. I didn’t realize, until after I had tears running down my face, that if she dies any time soon she wouldn’t be sick anymore. She loves to bake and is known to send people cookies to make them feel better even as she herself has physical issues to deal with, so it’s no wonder that she has thousands of friends wishing, hoping and praying for her comfort and peace right now. It’s never easy to hear about anyone, especially someone who has touched our hearts, who is having to go through so much when she clearly deserves much better. I have a feeling that today won’t be about me at all. Today for me will be about this lovely woman. I feel very helpless to do or say anything that would help, although I did write a little note to be read to her this morning. All of us have different things that touch our hearts, and hopefully we all learn from the struggles that we see other people go through as well as our own trials. This is a lesson that I wish I didn’t have to learn, and an experience that I don’t wish on anybody. I often think about all the women who have given me support and shown me kindness when I myself thought that my disease was progressing. I’m feeling fine right now physically, however it breaks my heart to know that other people are suffering so much every day, and it’s even harder to deal with when it hits this close to home. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own troubles and forget that we’re not the only ones who have suffering in our lives. I can only do my best today to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. For me today won’t be about me at all.

UPDATE; I added some pictures of things that she would have loved …baking was her favorite hobby.

                

About two hours ago my dear friend Mary took her last breath surrounded by the people that she loved the most. I know that she’s in a better place and her pain is no longer. I am heart-broken for her family and friends, but so happy that she went out on her own terms, she chose to be under palliative sedation so that she didn’t have to go through any extreme pain in the end. I’m told that she drifted off slowly and died in her sleep. I’ll miss our talks and her uplifting spirit. You gave us all a gift by being here to teach us all how to go through this terrible time with such grace, so I thank you Mary. You will forever be remembered by so many for the gift of love that you shared with all. God bless you Mary. I know that you are in Heaven, pain-free, and looking over us all. All my love to you my friend. I will never forget you.

cin

#95 Stupit things people have said to me.


I do talk to a lot of other people with cancer, and it never seems to shock me when they have had people who ask them stupid questions or make insensitive comments when really that’s the last thing any of us want to hear. So, I’ve decided that today I will make a list of my personal ten worst and most unwelcome comments and questions. I’m doing this in the hopes that I’ll have less of them, or at least people might put a bit more thought into what they say to a cancer patient.

10.  “You look great”

I had been in my night-gown for two days and hadn’t had my bath yet because of the surgical drains.

9. “Now you can have the boob job you wanted”

I don’t think a mastectomy counts as a boob job, especially when you don’t have reconstruction.

8. “Did the doctor tell you how long you have left?”

Yes but I couldn’t find the expiration date stamped on me so I’ll just wait it out.

7. “My (fill in the blank) had cancer… but she died”

Really?  Most of the stories that people tell me about someone else end that way.

6. “Take the chemo my friend had, it worked great for her”

No two cancers are alike, so your medical thoughts on other people’s treatments are never ok!

5. “I had( fill in the blank), so I know how you feel”

Don’t get me started on all the ways in which you do not know how I feel.

4. ” Quit playing the victim”

This was from a member of my family after I said that I was too tired after going out to dinner to go see a movie. These are the worst kind of comments.

3. “You should change your diet and quit smoking”

If you think that after being told that I’m kinda screwed that I’m giving up my favorite foods and what’s ultimately worse, my cigarettes you’ve lost your mind!

2.”You have breast Cancer..is that right?”

This was a stranger in a parking lot of WalMart. My response was, No I was in a horrible motorcycle accident and laid it down on the right, took off half my body. (It was none of her damn business!)

1. “You’re not having chemo so don’t have breast cancer anymore…right?”

Let me clarify this one. Once you have advanced Breast Cancer there is no cure! At best, you might be able to slow it down for a while.

I really do try to be sensitive to the fact that when these comments come out of people’s mouths that they are usually just trying to make me feel better about my situation. However, if people would just give themselves a little time to think first they might see that they are probably doing more harm than good, especially if you’re talking to a stranger. I certainly don’t want people to stop asking me questions if they really just are curious, but if it at least was started with ” May I ask you a question that I don’t know if it’s ok to ask?” I would gladly let them off the proverbial hook if it did come out as being insensitive. I’ve had very close friends and family ask me questions like these,  but  they also made sure before asking anything that I was ok with whatever question came out of their mouths. They took an extra minute to make sure that I knew that it was an important question to them, and If I didn’t want to talk about it that was ok too. It’s such a simple thing to consider the other person first. My thoughts are this, just read my list and realize that there are women in this world who when asked any of these questions or received any of these comments would be broken by the insensitive way in which they were asked. Even if it’s someone close to you…just ask first. They might just say that it’s ok, but at least you won’t be catching them off guard. Really we (breast cancer patients) have enough to think about without trying to process anything else.

#82 I must be doing better


It seems like forever since I tried to plan  any big projects in my house, but those home fix-up shows have me wanting to rip out my back yard and start over. We are also having the entire house carpeted this week, but that’s been in the works for a while now. The yard thing is new. Most of my yard is sectioned off by the pool and surrounded by rocks but whoever built this house obviously had kids and animals. I have the smaller part of my yard fenced in and it only grows weeds and crab grass.  Even I can’t pull that many weeds, and I can’t stand to look at it anymore. I was sitting in my front living room yesterday while Rick was in the other room watching a movie and I just decided to get up and find a pile of unlined paper and some of my son’s drawing pencils. I don’t draw, let’s get that straight, I never could, but I started to draw out an outline of what I want it to look like when I’m done, and about an hour later I had a very detailed garden with a fire pit and seating area as well as where I wanted every bush and plant. I even found a way to redirect the backwash outlet for my pool to help with watering some of the bushes. rick has just been looking at me like I’m crazy and shaking his head every time I mention it. But, like I told one of our friends yesterday, when it’s done Rick’s going to want everyone to go and see “HIS” new garden. That’s OK because I think he’ll just get in my way while I’m working. Did I mention that other than hiring someone to rip out all of the old yard that I plan on doing most of this by myself? Now I never said that I could do it in a weekend. In fact, I plan on it taking a few weeks because I can only do so much at a time in my wheelchair.I am going to go to a nearby nursery and ask what would survive my attempt at building an entirely new garden, ya know I don’t want to have to do it twice, and decide from there what I’ll plant. I do know that to get around to all of the planter boxes to care for the veggies on one side of the garden and flowers on the other I must have some kind of hard path big enough for my wheelchair. I want stone pavers but if this starts getting too expensive than hard packed pebbles and sand with brick trim it is. I think on some level I need to prove to myself that I’m still here. I’m still good for something, and this is exactly the kind of thing that I would have done before I found out just how bad the cancer is so I think I really do need to do this. Here’s what I do know for sure…my tiny shovel isn’t going to be much help!  Just to top off all the other upgrades this week I’m having someone paint my stairway and landing before the carpet comes so it will look nice and new. Rick and I already painted the whole downstairs but for this high part I’m going to have to let someone else do it because I couldn’t figure out a way to get me up high enough to paint the 20 ft wall. I wish I had a bob-cat, then I could do it all…I could see myself getting a bit carried away with one and digging up a utility line or something. I better leave it to a professional. Other than being really really tired(and coffee helps with that) I’m feeling OK. I have a bad cough that won’t go away and I’m having to use my oxygen at night, but during the day I move around enough to help with that. Rick has been threatening to take away my coffee if I don’t quit coming up with new projects, but that’s not gonna happen and he knows that. It’s nothing new. This is going to be a fun week because we’re also planning my birthday party for next weekend. I think I need more coffee.

#61 Another hospital vacation


I met my new surgeon today and I think she and I will get along just fine. She has my sence of humor and explained everything to me better than any other doctor has so far. She wants to do the biopsies all at once and go into my chest cavity through my left side so that she can get to a few different areas to get the samples she needs to have tested for any malignancies without causing any unnecessary damage while she’s in there. I explained to her that my biggest problem with having any surgery is the pain afterwords and she said that she has no problem with working with my pain doctor and letting him order whatever he thinks is appropriate for my pain level while I’m in the hospital and when I go home. She said that she wants to do it next week so I won’t be able to donate my own blood to the hospital just in case I would need to be given any, however she said that most likely I won’t need to be given any blood anyway. It looks like I’ll be inpatient for three to five days because I’ll have a chest tube in for a few days and I have to be able to get around on my own before they can release me from the hospital. I’ll be going to the same hospital where I’ve had all my tests and surgeries so I already know most of the nurses and doctors there, I don’t know how I would do if I had to go to a hospital where I had to explain my medical background to everyone who was taking care of me. I’m trying to look on the bright side and so far it’s working, I’m not freaking out about this and hopefully I won’t. I’m just happy that she’ll be able to look at all of the questionable areas all at the same time, this way I don’t have to have multiple surgeries and hospital stays. I told mom that I think I will need about one medium bag of M&Ms per day and Rick is going to put together a bag for me with all the things I’ll need to be as comfortable as possible while I have to be away from home and I’m sure that I will be very well taken care of. I think I need a nap now because today took a lot out of me physically and emotionally.

#42 Finally…some good news


I had an ultrasound this morning to check to see if the enlarged lymph nodes under my left arm had grown and three of the four didn’t show up on the screen at all. Only one of them was even visible and it didn’t look as if it had grown so that would indicate that there isn’t any cancer growing on the left side. I was a little bit worried about it ever since I was told about them, but because my cancer is a very fast growing carcinoma any cancer would be easily seen and identified on an ultrasound if it had grown. Rick called ahead to have the hospital put all of the scans that I’ve had at the hospital in the past year put on a disc for the new doctors to see and compare so that they can give me a definite answer as to whether or not I have anything more to worry about. I do have another appointment this afternoon with the lung specialist to have him tell me what the problem with my lungs is. I’ve had different doctors tell me it was three different things and because one of them said it was mets I want to find out for sure because that could change the treatment plan all together. So far so good though, things could definitely be worse, and really I don’t feel too bad with the exception of being very tired all the time. I think that because I’ve wanted to prepare for the worst that when things aren’t as bad as they could be then I can be ok with whatever I find out. I know that a lot of people would just try to look on the bright side and try to stay positive through something this serious but I’ve found that wrapping my head around the worst case scenario then makes living through having cancer easier for me in general. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m all better now, but I’m not dyeing yet either. I’m still right in the middle of finding out everything that’s wrong so that I know what I need to do to get through it. They say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and so far that’s right. I certainly never wanted to be going through all of this again but so far I’m doing about as well as can be expected and that’s in no small way because of Rick. He seems to be able to make all my appointments and keep track of everything that’s going on and keep it all flowing in the right direction. If there were an award for being the most loving and supportive husband he would win that award hands down. It’s ironic how going through the worst time in my life has brought out the best in my wonderful husband and he continues to surprise even me when he steps up to the plate and knows just what to do or what to say to make everything better. I only hope that I’m telling him enough what a great job he’s doing at keeping me healthy and definitely happy. I’ll try to post again later today after I see the lung doctor especially if he has anything new to add to what I already know. Don’t forget to let someone know when they do ar say something that makes you feel good…it matters.

#38 More cutting? Yah, I think so.


When I first found out that I would need to have a mastectomy I thought it would be easy enough to have the reconstruction started at the same time. I was told to go see the plastic surgeon and have him talk to me about what kind of reconstruction I wanted to have and have him find a time on his schedule that coincided with my Breast Surgeon’s schedule because they should be done on the same day and it would be an all day surgery. I thought that having it all done at once would be best for me because then I could recover from both surgeries at once. I’m so happy that I changed my mind. I never did go to the appointment with the plastic surgeon and just went ahead with the mastectomy in December. I think another thing that made me not start reconstruction was the fact that Rick was at that time scheduled for his neck surgery and I wanted to be able to take care of him so I would need to heal as fast as possible. Although Rick’s surgery still hasn’t happened because of all the insurance problems I am so happy with my decision to wait because I did have some problems recovering from the surgery. I couldn’t do even basic things without Rick helping me. My poor Rick has seen me through everything without complaining once about it and I know has taken a toll on him. I’m not a very good patient either because I get very mean when I’m in a lot of pain not to mention the frustration I felt at having to wear a nightgown and pajama bottoms  everyday while the drainage tubes were still in and not being able to even baith myself for the first few weeks. Now since I’m able to take a bath all by myself and have gotten back to doing most of the chores I would normally do I’ve been experimenting with how to handle wearing my normal clothes. I used to wear shorts or jeans, depending on the weather, and a tank-top. I have a closet full of tank-tops. So in the past week I’ve tried different ways to wear a bra, both sports bras and regular bras have had their turn but nothing looks quite right. You would think, or at least I would think that wearing a sports bra would be the most comfortable but they wouldn’t stay where I put them. I was having to adjust it every few minutes to keep my breast from coming out the bottom. I had originally thought that only having one in there would be easier than keeping both in there (I have very large breasts), I was wrong, and I did try different sizes but nothing I tried worked. On to the regular bras. I have mostly the kind that have a thin layer of foam to make sure that it keeps its shape(definitely not to make them any bigger) so I figured that the thin wire in them would hurt me because it would rub me right on my incision site, so on to the ones with the thin foam layer without the wire in it. That one was the most comfortable but because it does have a definite round shape to it I ended up with one side that fit and one side that just kinda collapsed and didn’t look or feel “right” to me. It was comfortable otherwise so I tried to find something to put inside the empty cup side just to keep it from collapsing, not trying to fill it out though. I wanted to find something that would be soft material so that it wouldn’t rub or catch on my incision so I tried a few different things like wash clothes and other small pieces of material. I found a pair of panties that I bought because they were made of very soft material but I never could wear them because they were too small. I didn’t know that when I bought them so I have no clue why I kept them at all, but they did look pretty in my drawer. I took one of the wash clothes and wrapped the pretty panties around it and placed it in the right side of my bra. It worked! Yah, I have two boobs again. I know it didn’t look perfect but unless someone was looking at me knowing that I had just had one of my breasts removed I didn’t think it would be obvious at all. I went downstairs and straight to Rick and asked him how my outfit looked, just like I always do, and he said I looked very pretty and went back to playing his computer game. I told him to look again and it was then that he finally noticed what I had done. A huge smile came across his face. He didn’t even notice the first time he looked so as far as I was concerned…mission accomplished! I went to get started on my house work not giving another thought until a few hours later when I realized that my little invention was not such a great idea. I was starting to have pain under my arm and underneath the bottom of the bra…I had to take it off. I sat down with Rick and asked him what his thoughts were on having the reconstruction started now because as long as it wasn’t bothering me I didn’t want to have anymore surgical changes to my body but now it was bothering me and I want to just be as normal as I can. I don’t want getting dressed everyday to be an issue for me and I also recognize that he has to live with my scars too so I needed his input. I wouldn’t say that I would have reconstruction just because he wanted me to look better, however I do take into consideration what his opinion is. I know he would never say that I should have more surgery just for the aesthetics of it but he would take into consideration how I’m handling it and what would make me feel better about myself. He’s never even seen my body with all the parts I was born with(I had my leg amputated before we met) so I know I can trust his opinion.  Every time I have asked him what he thinks about reconstruction he has always said that I needed to make that decision for myself and that he was fine with whatever I wanted to do. Yesterday after seeing me struggle with trying to just get dressed he said that he thinks I should talk to the plastic surgeon and see what he thinks he can do to help me feel better about my new body. I think Rick is right, I’ll be calling the plastic surgeon monday morning to make an appointment. I’ll be asking him about taking fat from my stomach to build me a new breast. I guess it’s a trade-off, I’ll get a tummy tuck and I’ll have two breasts again, but I’ll also get some new scars. I know that all surgeries are a gamble and that it’s gonna hurt like hell for a while but hopefully this plastic surgeon has a magic wand that he can just tap me on the head with and everything will be just as I want it to be. Maybe after my tummy tuck my pretty panties will actually fit? It could happen.