PREVIVOR: A person who is not diagnosed with cancer, but has survived the predisposition, or higher risk, of cancer due to a genetic mutation and/or strong family history. After being armed with this information, a previvor can make informed choices prior to a cancer diagnosis.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I admit I LOVE the holidays. Really LOVE them! Around October, I start getting this giddy feeling because I know all of the holidays are coming up. Then in November I get really excited, because that means Thanksgiving and my birthday. And then comes the best one... CHRISTMAS! I honestly turn into a nerdy little kid. I listen to Christmas music in my car and at work. I love decorating the house. I read Christmas books and watch Christmas movies. And I love getting gifts for people (bet you thought I'd say I love receiving them...which is nice as well =) ).  I really try to take the time to make each gift meaningful. So whether or not the receipent likes it, I at least feel good about the fact that I spent a lot of time and effort planning for it! Even the fact that finals are coming up doesn't really damper my spirits.

But, I admit this holiday season is a little bittersweet. Because I've started thinking of EVERYTHING in terms of "This is the last one with my real breasts" Stupid huh? (That was a rhetorical question. If you answered yes, then my answer to you is that it's my blog and I can be stupid if I want to. Ha ha). Seriously though, I'm thinking this is my last Christmas with my real breasts, this is my last birthday with my real breasts, this is the last season of all of my favorite TV shows with my real breasts. Truth be told, my boobs will only live to be 27. Which is a little sad. But on the other hand, the other BIGGER hand, I'll live much longer as a result. My breasts have to die for me to live...... ok I think I'm going crazy for real. I honestly can't believe I just said that. But I guess the whole point of this blog is to get my feelings out. Uncensored. And for those who know me, you know I'm slightly goofy already.

Just to keep you updated- my plastic surgeon's appointment is December 10. Then I guess I get to just live my normal life until finals of the Spring semester. Hopefully I won't completely crack up before then.

Well, I'm off to get some studying in. Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Steps

Well, today was my post-op follow up appointment. The doctor reminded me of my plans (as if I could forget!) and said to call him when I was out of school in the spring and we could get the ball rolling. I told him that I wanted to see the plastic surgeon now, so I can go ahead and start planning things. He seemed pleasantly surprised that I'd taken the proactive approach to it and immediately left a message for the plastic surgeon. His nurse is supposed to call me tomorrow to let me know when I can set up an appointment for a consult.

I did some research on the plastic surgeon (ok I just googled "Laura Cooper-plastic surgeon-Memphis TN) but saying I "did some research" sounds more mature :) She's younger (mid 30s) and just starting out. It says she's worked with "world renowned innovators in the field of reconstructive breast surgery." It didn't mention any names, but that was the terms that the article used. It also says that she employs the latest technology and techniques and strives to exceed her patients expectations. She comes very highly recommended by the doctor. I like that she is younger, which means that she will be more open to using technology and techniques (I'm dying to ask her about Alloderm, the one step reconstruction.). It also means that she'll understand the importance of "natural looking post-reconstruction breasts" (The article said that as well). So I'm looking forward to our appointment!

It IS a little scary in the fact that I feel like I have taken the first step in this whole lengthy process. No turning back now! I'm trying to go ahead and research "supplies" I'll need after the PBM. I've read about special camis, bras, and a really cool pillow. It's called "rest easy pillow" and it's for post-mastectomy patients who are "side sleepers."  Honestly, that was something that was freaking me out a little (I can ONLY sleep on my side, not on my back). I feel like that was an answer to prayer!

After I got home from the doctor, I decided to go to Zumba tonight. It was the first time that I've done anything remotely resembling excerise since my surgery two weeks ago.  I was excited but now I'm really feelimg it. I will be going to bed soon!

After I got finsihed with Zumba, I went to my parents house to trim and file my grandmother's nails. I feel like she is getting depressed (or deeper into it) and I only hope my little visit gave her some pleasure and happiness. For anyone who doesn't know, my grandmother has inflammatory breast cancer. She does get lonely, so hopefully I helped make her happy for a little while at least!

Well after all this excitement for one day, this is one tired girl! I'd like to sign off with a quote that I read on a sign at Race for the Cure and absolutely loved:

"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death" (seems to REALLY apply to me!)

Good night!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And so it begins

Ok so here goes nothing. I had heard a lot about this blogging thing so I wanted to give it a try. I've heard it's a stress reliever so I figured I'd give it a shot. If you read my profile (or know anything about me) you know I'm in nursing school and work a full time job. If THAT'S not stressful enough, I get to add some crazy medical issues to the mix. To make a long story short, I have Cowden's syndrome which is a genetic mutation of the P10 gene (the tumor supressor gene). I've had benign tumors just spring up my whole life. (I think the surgery I just had brought me up to 12. I've lost count). The most serious was the brain tumor. I honestly think that issue is under control (ok I admit I just knocked on wood. Can never be too careful).

Another thing that my wonderful genetic condition gives me is an increased risk for breast cancer. A REALLY increased risk of breast cancer. So much so that I've had four (yes FOUR) doctors tell me I should seriously consider having a prophylatic bilateral mastectomy (I'll call it a PBM from now on. Because those are too big of words to type more than once.) In layman's terms, they recommend that I should remove my breasts and have implants instead. At first I thought that they were insane. I wasn't cutting off ANYTHING that didn't have cancer.I mean come on, their my breasts! They're part of what makes me, me. So I stubbornly told the doctor that I wanted to do the "increased surveillance" option instead (a mammogram and breast MRI every 6 months).

Fast forward to August of 2009. They found a suspicious lump in both breasts and the results of the biopsy that they did said that atypical cells were found. (these are not cancer cells, but many people call them "pre-cancer") They removed the lumps, and the doctor said that I needed to prepare myself for the cancer diagnosis. When I went back to get the results, everything was clear! The doctor said if I wanted to continue my surveillance, then that was fine since I'd gotten a good report. Fast-forward to October 2010. We began the same routine that was all too familiar. When I went for my appointment to schedule the surgery the doctor said "Will you please have the PBM so I can stop worrying about you?" I feebly told him that I didn't want to take that much time off of school to recover. I told him that April 2011 was the best time for me to have a big surgery. I am taking the summer semester off of school and would have more time to recover. He then told me that he was ok with that, but made me promise to move the PBM up if the biopsy showed anything. I agreed and then he left me to get dressed. When I was getting dressed I looked down and felt a little sadness for my breasts, but relief that I was being proactive and making sure I didn't end up with cancer. So, not only do I have Cowdens, I also found out my biological mother has breast cancer which elevates the risk. AND this made the second time that weird cells were found which elevates your risk as well. This put me in the "not if but when" category (my doctor's words).

I had the surgery about 10 days ago and the results of the biopsy were clear. I'm going to see the doctor Tuesday and he'll make me an appointment to see a plastic surgeon. And then the waiting until April starts.

The reason I started this blog is because I needed a way to relieve some tension in my head. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm making the right decision but that doesn't make it any easier. Hopefully, writing about it will make me feel better. Even if no one ever reads it, I'll feel better when I write down everything between now and April. And I'll try to write about other stuff too, not just my boobs =)

And I just realized that it's not even 10 pm, and I'm in my pjs in bed on a Saturday night. I'm pretty sure I'm the oldest 26 year old ever!

Good night!