Friday, October 29, 2010

Apparently I'm only pretty with lots of effort!

Well, men are as predictable as ever! (Sorry guys.) I went back into the Sherwin Williams store to pick up my paint after getting myself dressed and made up for the day. I had barely stepped in the door before the same guy that couldn't wait to brush me off earlier hollered from the back of the store, "Can I help you?" He obviously didn't recognize me because I told him who I was and why I was there, and he couldn't believe I was the same person. His eyes actually widened a little, and he made a face before he caught himself (one if those surprised, I can't believe it faces). Once again, I'm no beauty, but apparently make up makes an enormous difference!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Am I pretty?

Just FYI, this has absolutely nothing to do with cancer. It is an observation I made and thought was interesting, so I am sharing!

Last week, I went into Sherwin Williams to buy some paint to redo Luke's old playroom into my new office (YEAH!). Anyway, at the time I originally went into the store, I had just left the house and was as decked out as I get. Not that I'm a stunner or anything, but I was dressed nice, had on make-up, and my hair was as good as it currently gets. Anyway, the guy in the store was very friendly, attentive, and even gave me a contractor discount on my paint. He was not inappropriate in any way, but he did go above and beyond as far as I'm concerned. Fast forward to today. I went back to Sherwin Williams after dropping Luke off at school. This time, I was coming back home to work on the house so I was wearing old clothes, no make up, and a hat. I was the only person in the store. I needed them to darken up some paint I bought last week because it was too light. The guy took one look at me and told me they would work on it and give me a call later. I asked how long it would be (again, I'm the ONLY person in the store). He kind've sighed and said, "Well, if we stay slow like this, it probably won't be long. Just leave your number and we'll call you." They weren't rude per se, but come on, I'm the only one in the store. You can't just go ahead and get to work on it, and then if you get busy tell me to come back later. Seriously! So, now I'm curious. When I go back to Sherwin Williams later today to pick up my paint, you can bet I'm going to be looking a lot better than when I went in. Once again, I'm no beauty, but apparently a little make up makes a HUGE difference in how I look. I'm just going to conduct a little experiment and see if how I look makes a difference in how they treat me. Unfortunately, I'm willing to bet it does. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Maybe I should become an investigative journalist...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pink Ribbons

So, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This means there are pink ribbons EVERYWHERE! There are pink ribbons on the cereal, the toilet paper, tape dispensers, plastic bags. You name it, there are pink ribbons on it. As a survivor, sometimes I find this somewhat uncomfortable at times. When I go to the store to buy things for the house, I do not want to be reminded every 10 seconds about breast cancer. It's kind've like getting punched in the stomach repeatedly. Yet at other times, I almost find the ribbons comforting. What can I say, I'm a complicated person. For instance, I have a pink ribbon bracelet that I like to wear. It does not bother me at all...I wear it as kind've a badge of honor; however, when I buy toilet paper, it drives me crazy that it has pink ribbons on it. This probably is not making any sense. That's alright, I seldom really make any sense anyway. I'm glad there is a Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so many products help raise money for breast cancer research. I just wish I didn't have it shoved down my throat repeatedly for an entire month. The fact that I was diagnosed during October doesn't help things either. This month has been really hard on me so far. I'm so thankful to be alive and healthy today, but I can't help flashing back to everything I was feeling last year this time. I've posted it before, and I will probably post it again. Each time I get discouraged or feel anxious (which is a lot lately), I can find comfort in this..."Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:3-5.

P.S. It has not escaped me that my background for my blog is covered in pink ribbons. Like I said, I'm a complicated person!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kidney Stone

Yeah, seriously...I had a kidney stone last week. Apparently, chemotherapy can cause kidney stones. No one ever told me this. I was none to happy about it. In fact, I was downright ticked off! I did not have a pity party when I found out I had cancer, but the kidney stone almost through me over the edge. I definitely sank into one of those why me, it's not fair, what's next moments for a little while. I think I'm better now, but the whole thing still really ticks me off. Anyway, hopefully it was just the 1 stone. And, in case your curious, it is as painful as child labor. It was awful, I never want to do it again, and I'm glad they make really good pain drugs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


As promised, here is a picture of my hair. It is somewhat darker than it was before, and is starting to get curly in the back. I have a terrible feeling it's going to be a nightmare to do anything with in another few months because I apparently have cowlicks everywhere. We'll see...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Feelin' good!

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I'm trying to resume normal life and have been really busy lately. I'm feeling great in general; I'm almost back to normal. Other than running out of steam a little faster than I would have a year ago, I can pretty much do whatever I want. I'm exercising and doing some light weight lifting and having no trouble with that at all. My body is still in limbo, but that is to be expected. It can take 2 full years to get completely back to normal. I'm still in full menopause, but something seems to be kicking back into gear as I gained about 6 pounds over 1 weekend and can't lose it no matter what I do. My only guess is that some long-dormant hormone has started back up. That is incredibly irritating, but I'll get it off eventually. My hair is growing back in for those of you who don't see me regularly. I need to get a picture posted. Luke will start Kindergarten on the 19th, so we are gearing up for school. I can't believe he is starting school. It's been a crazy year for us to say the least. Anyway, that's the update for now. I'll try to be better about posting, but this blog probably has limited time left. Here's a picture of Jeremy and I in Times Square from our New York trip. If you don't know, Jeremy took me to New York the middle of June as a treat for finishing up the worst of the chemo.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Side Effects

If there is a single part of your body that chemo doesn't mess with, I want to know about it. Overall, I'm doing really well. I'm still having some emotional side effects, but I've pretty much physically gotten back to normal. My biggest problem at the moment is menopause. The chemo has thrust me headlong into menopause at the age of 33. I have minor symptoms like hot flashes and other symptoms that are much worse. I can't take oral hormones because of the cancer, so I'm pretty much stuck. This stinks beyond comprehension. I'm hoping any day now my ovaries will kick back into gear and start working again, but, the truth is, they may never start working again. I guess I'll just have to deal with that when I get there. Oh great, I'm having a hot flash right now.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I had my last full throttle chemo treatment today. In about 4 weeks, my hair should start to grow back in, I should start getting some energy back, and most of my bodily functions should start returning to normal. I'm so excited I'm giddy! I do still have to take 1 of the drugs (Herceptin) every 3 weeks for the rest of the year, but it does not have the side effects of the 2 drugs I am finished with. It also only takes about 30 minutes to have the Herceptin administered whereas the treatments I've been taking up through today took about 4 hours.

All I can say is WOO HOO!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Race for the Cure

Last night we had a wonderful pasta party with the team to get ready for the big race complete with petit fours from Shelby Lynn's! Unfortunately, the weather was so bad today we decided to just go eat breakfast instead of actually participating in the race. (I really did not want to catch a cold 2 days before my next treatment!) We still had a great time, and I was reminded once again that I have the greatest friends in the world. Not only did they throw a party for me and bring hats, masks, and special shirts for the race, 3 of my friends came all the way from Little Rock to be here. I am so very blessed!

Thanks and I love you guys!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Men Everywhere

So where have all the female nurses gone? On my last visit to UAMS Friday, I had 4 male nurses, 3 male doctors, and 1 male nursing student. (We were there for 7 hours because no OR was available.) Seriously!!! And, it's not like I'm having knee surgery. You know they have to come in and "mark you" before your surgery. I had my right breast autographed no less than 2 times Friday night by 2 different men. I really don't think this could get more embarrassing. Nothing like having a wound check in a sensitive area by 5 different men in the course of 2 hours. Next time, I'm requesting female nursing staff!

Unexpected Surgery

I'm sure you've all heard by now that I had some unanticipated surgery on Friday. I have had a small hole on my right breast that has never healed since my initial surgery. It has never been infected and seemed to be healing very slowly, so I really didn't think too much about it. I had a followup with my plastic surgeon on Thursday, and he seemed to think it was a very big deal. The long and short of it is I had to have surgery on Friday to have the hole closed up. Not only that, but since the hole had been there for so long, the doctor felt like my implant needed to be replaced as well. So, now I'm on my 3rd implant. I'm really hoping this will be the last surgery I have for, oh, say 40 years or so. Anyway, I'm doing well. I have a little pain but nothing major. I'll be going back and forth to Little Rock for a month or so now to have the area checked, but nothing should affect my chemo treatments. I am still scheduled to have my final heavy chemo treatment on Monday. Unless something changes, this should go on as scheduled. All I can say is, it better go on as scheduled. I don't need anything else coming up!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stomach pains and work

So, I nearly died Friday night. Apparently the chemo has decided to attack my colon this time around. Suffice it to say, besides the birth of my child, I have never experienced anything so painful in my life. I am feeling much better today; although, I am still a little more weak than usual. I also found out a couple of weeks ago that I am going to have to start working again. My job has been really good to just let me be off, but they have extended me every courtesy they can. I will be trying to get in 20 hours a week but will have a flexible schedule. I hope I'll be able to do it. It's hard enough to make it without working. Please be praying about that. I'm also really looking forward to AYC this weekend and Race for the Cure in 2 weeks. It's nice to have pleasant things to look forward to. It seems to make the time go by faster.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1 To Go!

I had my 5th treatment on Monday, so I only have 1 bad treatment left. I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is really nice! I'm feeling pretty good; although, I am a little tired and worn out. Just keep praying everything continues to go smoothly.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blood cells, anemia, and aches...oh my!

I had blood drawn Monday for a check, and it was not great. My white blood cell count is lower than it has ever been. As a result, I was given a Neupogen injection Monday and another today to help stimulate my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. Unfortunately, the stimulation of the bone marrow makes your bones ache. I feel like I have the flu. It's not fun, but it's livable. I'm also anemic again, not blood transfusion anemic, but anemic nonetheless. As long as my treatment doesn't get delayed on Monday, I can live with it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I've had a few very polite questions lately about any possible future Flanagan babies. Many of you already have heard this from me, but I thought I would explain to everyone else. To keep you from too much suspense, Luke WILL be an only child (apart from any miraculous intervention from above). Basically, the type of cancer I have makes it very dangerous for me to get pregnant. I actually have 2 different types of cancer. One of these types is what they call hormone-receptor positive. This means that any surge in hormones, such as from pregnancy, make the cancer grow at a very accelerated rate. In fact, my doctors believe based on the size of my cancer that I probably developed it in my late 20s. They also believe that my pregnancy with Luke probably caused the cancer to take off and develop much more quickly than it would have without being pregnant. After Luke was born, the growth rate slowed back down, and it was able to fester for 4 years before I found it. Pretty scary, huh! Even though they believe all of my cancer was successfully removed with my surgery and now subsequent chemo, it would be very dangerous for me to get pregnant. If there is even 1 cell of cancer left anywhere in my body that might have remained dormant for years or even for the rest of my life, it could begin to grow again if I become pregnant. If I did become pregnant, and the cancer did take back off, I could not (or would not) treat it until the baby was born. This could basically be a death sentence for me. Often times, by the time the baby is delivered in these cases, it is too late for the mother. I realize this is all very morbid and sad, but Jeremy and I are fine with it. I often thought I might like to have another baby someday, but to be perfectly honest, we were about 75% sure Luke was going to be an only child anyway. Those of you who know Luke will understand why!

We are very happy with our 3-person family. Jeremy very lovingly told me he could live without another baby but could not live without me. Please don't think of this as something sad, but instead think of it as yet another way God has allowed my life to be spared & shown me His will. I have felt very guilty about only wanting 1 child, and God made that decision very easy for me. Not to mention had I gotten pregnant again before I discovered the cancer, there is a good chance I could have died due to another growth spurt of the cancer. Luke is the joy of my life. I am very content to be his mommy and only his mommy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My platelets came back completely normal on Monday. YEAH! This should mean that my treatment won't get delayed again. Apparently, the carboplatin dose was the major culprit with most of the problems I've had. I still feel really great and am enjoying some quiet time without my boys; although, I do really miss them. On a much sadder and somewhat pathetic note, I have now watched New Moon (which I purchased on Saturday) 3 times. I'm pretty sure I need help with my Twilight addiction.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feeling Good Still

Every time I post about how good I feel I get sick, so I will say I feel good so far. This is actually probably the best I've felt after a treatment. They cut my carboplatin dose in half to try to help my platelets, and apparently that made a big difference. I've also developed a wonderful habit of taking an hour long bath every night with jacuzzi jets on, candles, bath scrub, and a good book (currently Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice). This has been working wonders on my emotional well being. It's amazing what a little relaxation will do for you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

4 Down 2 To Go!

I finally got to have my 4th treatment today. My platelets were still well below normal but were high enough for me to go ahead with treatment. My doctor cut the dose in half on one of my drugs (carboplatin if you care) which hopefully will resolve the platelet issue. Everything should be back on track now. Hopefully, nothing else will go way down and my last 2 treatments will stay on schedule. I do have to get my blood drawn once a week now for a while to see how things are, but I would rather do that and have an opportunity to fix anything that is too low before treatment.

On a side note, I bought and read The Notebook during treatment today. I actually liked the movie better than the book. I also thought Twilight ran circles around The Notebook. I don't know if I'll ever be able to read another book again without thinking it doesn't compare to Twilight. I know; I have a serious problem and need to seek addiction counseling. I wonder if they have a support group for Twilight addicts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hoping for tomorrow...

I will hopefully have chemo tomorrow. I am going back at 9:30 (so say a big fat prayer about then) to have my blood counts checked again. As long as my platelets are up and nothing else has taken a dive, I should have treatment tomorrow. I can tell you right now, you do NOT want to be around me for a few days if my treatment gets delayed another week and I end up needing another transfusion. You may be wondering, it's only a week or two so what's the big deal. I'll tell you what the big deal is. It's another week without hair. It's another week to be exhausted and feel like poop. It's another week of hot flashes and crazy mood swings. It's another week of not having my life back. I know 1 or 2 weeks off schedule doesn't sound like much to you; but if you put everything into consideration, I think you can see where 1 week makes a HUGE difference to me. I will certainly keep everyone posted on what happens. I will try to have a perkier post next time, but I won't make any promises about that! :-)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stupid Chemo!

Warning: I am ranting today.

I'm pretty ticked off. I have been very even tempered about this whole thing, but today I am angry. This isn't fair, it stinks, and I don't have to like it. I'm starting to have a lot of anxiety problems no doubt caused by the chemo since everything else is. There is no part of your body the chemo doesn't mess up. Let me give you a short list here: hair falls out all over your body, mouth sores, spasms from eyelids to stomach to legs, my hands look like I'm 80 with wrinkled skin and very dry, tired ALL the time, bloody nose, upset stomach, very irritable and grouchy (sorry Jeremy and Luke), anxiety that can be mild to severe, sudden mood swings, can't sleep even when exhausted without heavy medication, lethargy, I'm either starving and stuffing my face or I can't eat at all, and very dry skin. I'm sure I've left out several things but these are the most irritating. I really, really hate this. I need to go to the beach or something. I need a!

Monday, March 8, 2010


I was not able to have my treatment today. My platelets are very, very low so they can't do it. Assuming they come back up, I'll have treatment next Monday. I'm pretty bummed. I really don't want to add another week to this whole thing. I realize a week really isn't that much, but it sure feels like it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Well, that's what I get for saying I feel good in my last post. I have felt terrible for 2 days now. My stomach is upset and I have no energy. I don't know if I've got another virus or if this is just part of the treatment side effects. I think the latter because the symptoms seem to always hit me about a week out from treatment. Oh well, I'll make it either way. I just hope I feel better by Luke's birthday party on Saturday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nothing New

I really have nothing new or exciting to report. I guess that is a good thing. My last treatment seemed to make me more tired than usual, but I was also recovering from a stomach virus so that definitely could have had something to do with it. I am doing great otherwise. I have recently become obsessed with the book series, Twilight, and have read about 1500 pages worth of books in about 5 days; but other than that, we are all doing well. It's nice to escape now and then even if it is to fantasy world with teenagers and vampires!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whoa, Half Way There!

Today marks treatment 3 of 6 for the nasty ones. I will still have the Herceptin to take for the rest of the year, but it will be a walk in the park compared to the other 2 drugs I'm on. We survived the stomach virus mostly unscathed and are all feeling much better. My mom is still pretty weak but should feel much better tomorrow. I am very tired but am feeling pretty good. I'm hoping for more relatively benign side effects, so keep your fingers crossed and a prayer on your lips!

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Valentine

I had my transfusion today, and everything went very smoothly. I already feel a little bit better and should be good to go for treatment on Monday. On a much happier note, I was looking through some old pictures and found this one of Jeremy and I from Christmas 1996 when we first started dating. It's been 13-1/2 years together and almost 11 years of marriage. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful husband!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anemia Part 2

Well I am still very anemic, in fact, more so than before. For those of you with a medical background, my hemoglobin is 8.8 and my hematocrit is 26.4. Hemoglobin is supposed to be at least 11.7 and hematocrit 34.1. I know the numbers don't look that low; but in laboratory results, those are both significantly low. All of this means I will be having a blood transfusion tomorrow. It should last about 3 hours. I am having 2 units transfused. The good news is, this means I should be on track for my treatment Monday. There are also really no side effects with blood transfusions so I should feel just fine. Anyway, just another bump in the road!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Stuff

This post has nothing to do with cancer whatsoever...I got a new bedspread and bathmats and want to show them off. My mom got me a gift card to JcPenney for Christmas (thanks, Mom!). Instead of buying clothes, I decided to spend some of the money on bedroom improvements. I actually got the bedspread at Bed, Bath, and Beyond but everything else came from Penney's. Believe it or not, the pillow with the pattern came from a totally different store than the bedspread. I could not believe my luck when I found it!


Decorative Towels


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I had some blood work done today, and I am pretty severely anemic. I feel okay, but my counts are really low. I'm having blood drawn again on Thursday. If my hematocrit and hemoglobin, in particular, do not go up, I will need to have a blood transfusion on Friday. I really don't want a blood transfusion, so please be praying that this will resolve. I am doubling up on the vitamins and trying to eat iron-rich foods in the hopes that will help. My next treatment is supposed to be Monday, and I really don't want anything delaying that!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Still Good

Sorry for the delay in posting. I really don't have much of anything to say. I am still doing really, really well. I had a pretty bad day Friday but since then have been great. I got a wig today from the cancer home in Fayetteville. I think it is going to turn out pretty nice once I have my hairstylist fix the bangs. I will post a picture after I get it fixed up. I wasn't going to get a wig at all, but it was free so I figured why not. I'll try to be better about posting!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feeling Good

At the risk of jinxing myself, I am feeling great! It seems my main problem last time was the antinausea medicine. It apparently is what caused most of the fatigue and sleepiness. I am taking a different kind this time around and am doing much, much better. I am very tired and slept 11 hours last night, but I am not anything like I was last time. I still have not developed any nausea (knock on wood) and so far things are much better than expected. Wednesday and Thursday were my worst days last time, so I expect to be more tired tomorrow. I'm eating better this time and have much more energy. YEAH! I will try to get Jeremy to take some pictures of me in some of my scarves and post them sometime this week. I made 2 from material I bought at Hancock, and they turned out pretty well if I don't say so myself!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Before and After

I started losing my hair by the handfuls today, so I decided to bite the bullet and just shave it off. Luke enjoyed the process quite a bit and told me afterwards (without prompting from Daddy) that I was still his mommy and that I was beautiful. You can't ask for more than that!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bald is Beautiful!

Well, I knew it was coming just not when. Apparently, about 14-15 days after treatment is when. I ran my fingers through my hair about 30 minutes ago and way more than should have came out. I don't know if it will pretty much all fall out during the night or gradually over the week, but it is definitely on its way out. On the bright side, this will make my getting ready time in the morning significantly shorter!

On a side note, here's a picture of Luke and I at Monster Jam last week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


My head is itching like crazy! I don't know if this means anything or not, but my hair is still firmly in place. According to Google, some people had itchy heads before their hair fell out and some did not. All I know is that my head feels like I have poison ivy all over it and on the back of my neck. On I side note, I ordered myself some footed pajamas the other day. I get so cold lately I just decided to get something more comfortable to wear around the house. I might post a picture, but I make no promises about that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Race for the Cure

If you are interested, some of my wonderful friends have started a Race for the Cure team that will be participating in the Ozarks Race for the Cure on April 24 in Fayetteville. The team name is Jessica's Chemo Sabes, and we will be wearing pink cowboy hats! If you are interested in joining with us, please feel free. I am putting the link in below to register with the team.

Bangs and a Checkup

I decided I needed to try out some bangs today, so I cut me some earlier this evening. Unfortunately, Luke walked in on me. I threatened his life if he ever cut his own hair which of course lead to the obligatory "but Mommy, you just cut your hair" followed by the "I'm a grown-up, and grown-ups can cut their own hair." Anyway, we'll see if he tries it. Here's a picture. It's not great, but you get the idea. I think I did ok. Jeremy keeps calling me Natasha. He says I look like a Russian spy. (And yes that is a pink, zip-up, fuzzy robe I am wearing...It's really comfy and warm; what can I say!)

I did have my checkup today. My white counts are low, but they are where the doctor expects them to be. The exhaustion is getting better daily as is the eating. I would imagine before my next treatment I'll probably gain back 5 pounds or so. In total, according to the doctor's scale, I've lost 9 pounds since my treatment Monday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monster Jam and Baldness

We went to Monster Jam last night. Luke loved it. He told me at least 4 times that it was "the best birthday present ever." That's all I needed to hear to make the exhaustion worthwhile. So far, that is my biggest beef with chemo. I am just totally exhausted all the time, and I am as slow as a 90-year-0ld woman. I have an appointment tomorrow just for a checkup. On a side note, I should be about bald by this time next week. They told me it would all come out within 1 day after 2 weeks. We've decided to make a family event of it and let Luke and Jeremy take turns shaving me. Jeremy and I both though it would be less traumatic for all involved this way. Imagine being a 4-year-old boy and suddenly seeing your mom bald, pretty scary! There will be pictures to come. Luke is very excited about it. He thinks shaving Mom's hair is "pretty awesome!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

7 Pounds

Well, I've been losing weight intentionally on and off for about a year now. I've lost about 20 pounds so far and kept it off; however, I've lost 7 pounds since Monday. I'm pretty sure my doctor is not going to be very happy about that. I'm not trying to lose weight, but it is really hard to eat when everything has a metallic aftertaste and nothing sounds good. If this keeps up, I'll be back at my birth weight by the time this is over.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Out of the Mouthes of Babes

So Luke obviously has a limited understanding of what cancer is. He does, however, know that he is supposed to be very careful with me since my surgery. Lately, he has come up with a new phrase that Jeremy and I find adorable. We should probably correct him, but it is just too cute. When Jeremy reminds him to be careful, he says, "I've got to be careful so I don't hurt Mommy's cancer!" I'm sorry, but that is just cute! On a side note, I called my doctor today and they said it is completely normal for me to be feeling like poop. They said days 3-7 after treatment are the worst, and I should be feeling a little better in a day or two. I hope they are right because I really, really hate feeling like this!

Monday, January 4, 2010

1 Down, 5 To Go

I finished my first treatment about an hour ago. I didn't have any problems and feel fine so far. I am taking a pretty strong nausea medication regularly for the next several days and also had IV nausea medication before they started my treatments. I'm sure everything will kick in at some point, but I'm hoping it will be tolerable. My booty hurts from sitting in a chair for 5 hours straight and I've never pee-pee'd so much in my life; but other than that, all's well.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Beginning

I have been encouraged by several friends to write about my experience with breast cancer. I'm not much of a writer, but I decided to give it a shot. I was diagnosed in October 2009 at the age of 32. As a wife and mother of a 4 year old, this was definitely not something on my agenda (not that it is for anyone). I have virtually no family history and no risk for this disease, especially not at 32, but tell that to the cancer! I ended up having a bilateral mastectomy in November. The cancer was only in the left side; however, a lumpectomy was not an option for me as the cancer basically involved the entire breast. My risk for recurrence in the right side was astronomical due to my age, so I decided to go ahead and just do the right side as well. Fortunately, I was able to have my surgery at a wonderful medical center with the best surgeons on the planet and was able to have immediate reconstruction done. The exact type of surgery I had is still pretty new, so it is not offered everywhere yet. For those of you who have a general idea about how reconstruction works or you know someone who has had reconstuction, I did not have expanders put in and will not have a 2nd surgery to have the implants put in. I had what is called a total skin-sparing mastectomy meaning they took out all the tissue from my breasts and left all the skin including the nipple skin. I had my implants put in that same day. This makes the recovery a little more painful and a little longer, but you don't have to go through a separate surgery to have the implants put in later. You also don't have any time where you don't have your breasts. When the pathology came back, I ended up having 75% of the cancer catagorized as DCIS. DCIS is basically cancer that stays within the ducts of the breast and does not spread; however, if untreated long enough, it can become invasive cancer. Invasive cancer is cancer that does spread. The other 25% of the cancer ended up being highly aggressive, grade 3, HER-2 and hormone-receptor positive. What all that means is it was really, really bad. If you want more details about all those terms, Google it! I have essentially recovered from surgery, but I still have to wear a bra basically 24 hours a day which really, really stinks. Because I immediately had the implants put in, they did not have very much holding them in place, just chest muscles and some skin. Wearing the bra for a couple of months nonstop gives your body a chance to heal around the implants and keep them where you want them to be; otherwise, you could end up looking like you got plastic surgery done in the back ally of a free clinic. I will start chemo on January 4th and am very nervous about that but hoping for the best. As they say, this too shall pass! I welcome your comments, thoughts, and especially prayers. I would love to know that you are praying for, thinking about, and/or buying gifts for me!