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.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Day After Christmas

For as long as I can remember, I've always felt a sense of sadness on December 26. The season that was built up from November 1-December 25 is GONE. Now it's back to normal. Only a little while longer left on break and before I know it, it'll be back to school...on SATURDAYS ( makes me cringe to think about it).

I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful and blessed holiday. Aside from the trauma of my grandmother going to the hospital, it was a great Christmas. For anyone who doesn't know, my grandmother was taken by ambulance to Baptist Desoto on Christmas Eve morning. She is in ICU on a ventilator because of lower lobe pneumonia. The doctors seem pretty optimistic about her recovery and last I heard hopefully the ventilator will come out tomorrow. I saw her for a little bit last night and I think she knew I was there. She was in and out of consciousness and was aware of people in the room. Even if she didn't know it was me, I'm glad she got the sense of someone being there with her.

An unexpected gift that Santa brought was snow on Christmas day! Granted it didn't stick, but it was the first time it snowed on Christmas Day in Memphis in 100+ years. So that was fun :)

Now, in just one short week comes 2011. Everyone is trying to decide on resolutions, whether it's too lose weight, quit a bad habit, save money, etc etc. The list goes on and on. I've been doing some thinking and I think my resolution will be to get through everything thats coming in 2011 with as much grace and courage as possible. Knowing that the distraction of the holidays is gone, I have nothing keeping my mind from thinking about my upcoming mastectomy. I called the doctor and told her that I wanted to go ahead and schedule it.  I need a date to concentrate on, something to mark on the calendar and count the days until it comes. I know it'll be in late April because my last final is April 16.  I just think it'll make my anxiety a lot easier to handle if I have something concrete that I can think about instead of it being some unknown, looming dark cloud hanging over my head..

Another reason for wanting a date is because I want to know if it's at all possible for me to go to MDA Summer Camp this year. I want to go SO badly, but it'll be ultimately up to Dr. Cooper whether or not I can. If I schedule my initial surgery in April, I'll still be going through the expansion prcoess when camp is going on. And I don't know what my doctor will think about me going out of town then. But we will see.

This may be a good time to briefly explain the whole mastectomy process I'll be undergoing. I think a lot of people don't know how it's done. When I have the initial surgery, the surgeon (Dr. King) will remove all breast tissue. The the plastic surgeon (Dr. Cooper) will insert tissue expanders in it's place. Then for a period of about 4-6 weeks (I think that's the time frame she said) I'll go to Dr. Cooper's office to have them filled. (She'll basically run a magnet over the port and then insert a needle into it and fill them up. Once they reach a size that I'm happy with, I will have the exchange surgery. It's an outpatient procedure where they swap the tissue expanders for implants. Later, if I so choose I can have nipple/areola reconstruction. And that is the whole procedure. Pretty straightforward right?

For the time being, I'll try to keep occupied as much as possible. Hopefully my posts won't become too crazy in that time period as I try to stay sane =)

Happy New Year!



  1. I didn't go through the expander process but my sister did. From what I understand, the filling process is really up to you. You are going to be nice and healed before they start filling you and you should have some say in how fast/slow you want to be filled. If you leave town during that process, it should be ok but you might just slow down the end time. My sis was filled in small amounts but went weekly. Others get filled in larger amounts but might not go as often. Your doc may have a way they like to do things but it should be a little flexible.

  2. Oh good I'm glad you told me. I'm hoping the doctor says the same thing. It'll be worth a little longer discomfort to go to camp :) I've got to remember to call this week. Thanks for the info!

  3. hey michelle!!!

    i found you through FORCE.

    i just finished my crazy breast journey and had my exchange surgery dec. 6, 2010. I AM ALL DONE!!! and, i feel great and am now stressing about normal things in life, like moving and starting nursing school on january 10th, 2011...less than 2 weeks away now.

    during expansion, i was able to do lots of things. i even went swimming. my mastectomy was in april, and i was swimming in lakes and rivers by the end of july.

    we are all different, but you might find it helpful to check out my blog, pictures and all of my experience with the mastectomy, reconstruction, and exchange surgery.

    you can check me out my boobies at:

    i am going to add you to my blog roll. please do the same for me. also, scroll to the bottom of the page and check out the cool 3-d map tracker i have. if you add it in 2 dimensional form (better than my 3-d), you can see where all your visitors are from around the world, represented by a red dot. very cool.


  4. Hey Rachel!

    I'm so glad you found me! I'll definetely add you. Thanks for the tip about the map. I'm still new to the whole blogging thing so I love to learn new things about it! =)

    That's awesome that your surgery was around the same time as mine will definetely helps me to get a better sense of my timeline that I'm looking at. Could you do normal activities during expansion? Like exercise, run, etc? I also have a ton more questions but I'll read your blog before I ask LOL.

    Good luck in nursing school! I start back Jan 6 (BLAH) It's definetely going to be worth it :)


  5. Oh and by the way, I cannot figure out how to add that map....can you help?