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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Work in Progress

Once again I feel like time is moving so slowly. This anticipating and waiting for something to happen SUCKS. Every day when I hear my cell phone, I cringe thinking it's my PS's office telling me that the surgery will have to be put off.

I feel like I'm stuck in limbo. Like I'm incomplete. And I swear my self-esteem has bottomed out. I don't think I've ever felt this bad about myself. No boobs + extra weight from being a lazy slob for a few months does not equal a positive self image. I feel like it's hurting me in a lot of ways, like in my relationship with Mike. I just almost wouldn't blame him if he moved on to someone else, complete with real boobs and nipples and a little less weight.  I mean, I know he loves me and I don't think that would happen (?)...see there I go doubting myself again. I need to be just locked in a room until my exchange.

The scary thing is, I don't even know if this feeling will go away when I have my exchange. What if I'm like this forever? Should I just send Mike on his way and join a convent? I mean I AM Catholic.

I imagine in a few years, once the scars have faded, the implants have settled, and the phantom pains have ceased I'll feel a lot better. Whenever I start feeling upset, I think about what prompted me to have the surgery in the first place. I've never lost sight of it, but I'm realizing now what I didn't realize then. The impact that it would have on my self esteem. I dodged the breast cancer bullet, but at what cost?

I think I'm suffering post traumatic stress disorder.

I feel almost bad burdening people with how I feel. I've been going on and on about this for over a year now. People I've talked to that are over and done with, in the "all done club" say they never think about their mastectomy. I'm getting there...but whenever I change clothes it's a grim reminder.

I promise to stop complaining, to try to snap myself out of it. God help me, I'm even anxious for school to start. At least then I'll have a whole new set of things to worry about. And I'll try to keep all of the reasons that my PBM was a GOOD idea in my head, and that I'll at least be around for a long, long time, boobs or no boobs.

Before I wrap this slightly depressing blog up, I wanted to direct my reader's attention to another blog. I'm not adding this to my blog roll, because it's not a "fellow previvor" but Rachel's story is inspirational nonetheless. Check her blog out at:

And from here on out I promise- nothing but happy blogs :)

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Well it's that time again. December 26. The Christmas season has come and gone. My absolute, all time favorite present was my Keurig coffee maker. It's AMAZING, but I'm scared I'll have a heart attack from a caffeine overload now. Since this will be the hardest year yet in school, I have a feeling that little machine will get quite the workout.

Well on the boob front, I haven't heard anything yet about a problem from my insurance company. I know it's early days yet, but it makes me feel optimistic. I just need to do my implant homework and get the forms mailed back. They seriously gave me homework...literature to read and forms to return!

Since this is the last week of the year, I've been doing some thinking on my New Year's Resolutions. I went back to my post entitled "Happy New Year" on January 1, 2011, which you can read in it's entirety here.
These were my resolutions for this year:

1- I think I mentioned it in a previous blog but I want to handle my PBM with as much grace and courage as possible. I also want to add some humor into it! I want it to be as easy and painless (figuratively and literally speaking) as possible!

2-I want to be a better person in 2011. I can't really pinpoint a specific fault I want to change (do I have one? Just kidding =) ) I just want to be the type of person that people look at it and think "I want to be like her!"

3- I want to make an A in one of my classes this semester. I'm not picky, I just want one! An A has managed to elude me so far in nursing school.

4- I've mentioned this before but I want to get in better shape and lose more weight. I mean c'mon that's got to be a resolution right? It's like a MUST to have a weight-related resolution.

5-I want to help others! I really think that God had me survive all of this medical craziness for a reason, and I want to use my experiences to help other people.

I was quite the optimist huh? Here's how I did:

1. I know I did this. I've had a lot of people tell me that they admire how I've handled everything. That's not to say that I think I'm all that (well...;) ). You don't seem as courgeous to yourself as you do to those around you. But I'm glad to know I pulled this resolution off.

2. I have definetely matured since 2011. But does maturity equal a better person?

3. **BIG SIGH** I ended up making a D in AP2 which is nursing school code for "DUMMY you must retake the class" I've been told by several people (one of which is my advisor) that I had a lot going on in the Spring trimester and it's ok that I had to retake it. I am happy to report though, that I repeated the class in the Fall and came out with a B. So Pathophysiology, here I come!

4. **BIGGER SIGH** I am sad to say that while I was laid up recovering, I did not starve to death. My gym ended up closing for good in July and while I still enjoy working out, it's not the same. I'm trying though and this Zumba orphan will find a class somewhere! (They don't do classes at my new gym)

5. I'm in the process of doing this. I'm working with a friend to start a local FORCE support group. So I'm definetely excited to see that happen!

Am I going to make a list of my resolutions? No. I will state that my big resolution is "FINISH WHAT I START." oh and also to actually save money this year :)

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011


If you pay attention you'll see the new addition to my blog over here ----->

That's right, my date for my exchange surgery has BEEN SET! The OR is all booked, pre-op photos are taken, and now I just have to wait on my insurance to approve the surgery (my doctor's office and I neither one foresee a problem), then I get to have my marking appointment and then SURGERY!

To say that I'm excited about getting implants is an understatement. I will be SO glad to have squishy soft boobs again!

Sitting in my doctor's waiting room, I saw a patient stagger in who had clearly just had a mastectomy. She moved slowly, with her arms away from her sides. She was wearing baggy clothes, no makeup, and had trouble sitting down..all while clutching a drain output sheet. She looked around a little wild eyed, as if she couldn't believe where she was.

Was that really me a few short months ago? I wanted to say something to her, but she was across the room and whisked back before I had a chance. I started thinking that you probably can't tell that I had a mastectomy 8 months ago. I looked like a perfectly healthy girl sitting in there. There is no outward sign of what I've been through.

I am so happy to finally have a date for my surgery. I have something that I can countdown too. I know I'll still have the process of getting tattoos and nipples, so I still have months left in the process. But it's all down hill from here :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year....

...except for the two weeks involving studying, last minute lectures, MORE studying, stressing, MORE studying, and then finally final. But it doesn't end there. There's the huddle in the hallway with the other students, comparing answers, and the waiting and stressing for your grade, and then the brillant climax when you see your grade.

I'm not including this time (Can you tell my first final is tomorrow?)

This year though, it's a little off. Some of the joy and celebration feels faked, or at the very least, forced. Whether it's that the exchange surgery is always looming in my mind (and I thought I was DONE with the stress and worry) or that this is the first holiday season without Granny. Or maybe it's that she went into the ER with lower lobe pneumonia on Christmas Eve last year.

Tonight, I read a Facebook status from my cousin about a present my grandparents got us when we were little. And it got me thinking, remembering things. Thinking about why exactly I love Christmas so much in the first place. It's the traditions I grew up with, that I remember. That's why shaped my love for the season. Here's a few of the best memories:

1- The facebook status that my cousin posted, got me thinking about a similar present Granny and Grandaddy got me when I was young. They had a book printed with me as the main character and all of my cousins and sisters in it as well. In the book, we all got to go to the North Pole. Now, how cool is that?

2- Papaw used to dress up as Santa Claus. Of course we thought Santa had made a special stop off at Gigi and Papaws house before delivering presents. We'd eat and talk and discreetly Papaw would leave the room. A few minutes later, a knock would come on the door, and lo and behold it'd be Santa with presents for each and everyone of us. I thought it was the coolest thing that my Papaw was friends with Santa!

3- This helped our belief in memory #2. A man down the street from my grandparents (to this day) dresses up as Santa and his wife dresses up as Mrs. Claus. "Mrs Claus" would be wearing a hidden mic and when she repeated our names "Santa" would hear. Imagine our shock when Santa knew our names when we went to sit in his lap! We just assumed that Santa stopped at Gigi and Papaw's house since it was so close. When we got older, we used to walk to that house EVERY YEAR expecting to see him and EVERY YEAR we were let down.

4- On the way home from Gigi and Papaw's on Christmas Eve we would see red lights in the sky and be convinced it was reindeer. We'd be rushed off to bed, and I would stay up all night, unable to sleep from anticipation. And to this day I swear I heard reindeer feet on the roof.

5- In the morning, Mom and Dad would wake us up (with the video camera). As we got older, we'd get up extra early and rush to the bathroom to fix our hair and makeup and then rush back to bed and pretend to be asleep. Like we were in a soap opera and woke up fully made up. We'd have to wait until all four of us were ready and we'd run in the living room to see what was left there. The cookies and milk we left out the night before were gone and a note from Santa was in their place (which strangely looked like Mom's handwriting).

6- After we opened our presents, we'd run to get ready to spend Christmas day with Granny and Grandaddy and the rest of our family.

7- I remember on Christmas Eve day, Grandaddy would come downstairs (in jeans and white shirt) and say "Christmas Eve gift" Apparently if someone said it to you before you said it to them you had to get them a present. I also felt like I needed to read a Christmas story, like a Christmas Carol or the story of Santa Claus.

8- Every year on Thanksgiving we'd draw names for Christmas presents. We weren't supposed to tell who got who...but by the time we were teenagers we would leave that day knowing who got who and what we were going to get. I also remember searching and searching for our Christmas presents, the Gigi and Papaw began buying in August.

Those are only a few of my favorite memories. There are SOO many more and this blog could be SOO much longer. I someday want my kids to feel the same way about the holiday season.

Now that we no longer keep up with those family traditions and I know who's behind the jolly old fat man, I feel like something is missing, I cannot wait to have kids around to keep up with those traditions.

I have managed to add some of my own though. Now that I've started going to a Catholic church, I have Christmas Eve mass. I LOVE midnight mass, but it's the only time of the year that Mike will go with me and he likes going to an earlier mass (midnight is past his bedtime)

Another thing I've added is I've started a Christmas village, This year is my first year and I'm really excited about growing it one or two pieces at a time each year.

Another thing I did (which I'm sure some people will make fun of) is get an Elf on the Shelf. No, I don't have children in the house and yes, I've named the Elf (Sparky) and move her around the house each day. And yes I said her. Its kind of a funny story. I bought a SKIRT off of EBay, thinking I'd bought the whole elf. When I found out my mistake, it was too late send it back so I figured, "Why not?"

Monday, December 5, 2011


Ok, I have to admit something. It's temper tantrum time. So there's your warning. Continue reading at your own risk...


There I said it. I'm sick of feeling pain when I sleep on my side, of not getting good sleep because of constantly tossing and turning. I'm sick of the sound it makes when  I accidentally hit my boob. I'm sick of feeling like I have a tight bra on and never being able to take it off. I'm sick of the hardness of my boobs. I'm sick of holding back at the gym because if I move wrong I get a weird feeling in my chest. I'm sick of the pockets of fat that have accumulated under my arms. I'm sick of when I do normal things, like eating, my chest muscles contract and my boob moves slightly. And I'm sick of not haviing nipples.

I've tried to be patient. I really have. I'm a GOOD patient. When my PS said late winter/early spring for the exchange I didn't throw a fit. I didn't toss my purse across the room and stamp my feet in protest. I didn't start banging my fists against the exam table. I didn't hurl my cell phone in her direction. I merely smiled and said "Whatever you think is best"

I had an appointment to see my PS tomorrow. When the office called and said they needed to reschedule and then said "'re post-op aren't you? SInce August? Well..we may not be able to get you in this month" I MIGHT have gotten a bit agitated. When Leigh Ann, Dr. Cooper's scheduler called me a few minutes later, I told her I was very sorry but I was tired of waiting. She luckily understood and managed to get me in Dec. 19 (after I desparately explained that I just wanted a DATE for my surgery)

I've tried to forget about it. I've ignored the FORCE message board and only occasionally read blogs. I've decorated for Christmas, started to eat too much, crammed for finals, and stressed about not having money to get all of my Christmas shopping done (all Christmas traditions).

I will say this...I can't stand reading peoples posts about how excited they are about getting their exchange surgery date, or how smoothly recovery is going for them. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for them but it makes me sad and jealous. I want this SO bad!

Once I see my PS again, I'm sure I'll feel better. If not, I can always ask for another prescription for Xanex

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blast from the Past

I'd been dreadfully neglecting my neurosurgeon checkups- mainly (well all) because of the fact that I couldn't have an MRI because of the magnetic port on the tissue expanders. I had been in contact with my doctor's office and the nurse told me to call when I was able to have an MRI. When I found out that my exchange would be pushed off until "late winter/early spring" I decided that it was ambigious enough that I should call my neurosurgeon's office again. I let the nurse know, and she said for me to come and see the doctor just to touch base.

After three hours I finally got sent back to see Dr. Sorenson. He is by far one of my favorite doctors (of course Dr. King my BS and Dr Cooper my PS are right up there with him). He just laughed and said he'd schedule me for an MRI in 6 months ( I told him if my expanders weren't out by then that I was likely to rip them out) and in the mean time if I had any problems that I could call and he'd order a CT scan.

After I left I realized that it'd been 9 years since I was first diagnosed. MAN time flies! I can only imagine the next 9 years and I'll be talking about how I can't believe my PBM was that long ago. I realized that I'd talked about being diagnosed with a brain tumor, but never really told about it. Granted, it WAS 9 years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday (a little fuzzy on the details though).

Like I said in my previous post, I had began having vision problems and horrible headaches. We'd pushed them off as migraines, but they just wouldn't go away. One day as I was driving, everything got blurry and it looked like the cars were weaving in and out (they weren't) I pulled over and tried to calm myself down. When I got home, I told my Dad what had happened, and he finally agreed that I needed to find out what was wrong.

The next day I went to an opthamologist, who took pictures of my optic nerves and then ordered a CT scan. He thought I had a condition called thyroidopthamotholy (a fancy term for edema in the eyes) and made an appointment for me with another, specialized, eye doctor. I had the CT scan, and went home.

The events of the next day are very well ingrained in my mind. I can honestly look back on it and say that was when I realized just how much inner strength that I had. I was asleep and my cell phone rang. I checked the caller ID and saw it was a number I didn't recognize so I just let it go to voicemail. Curiousity got the better of me, so I decided to listen it. It was the opthamologist, urging me to call him ASAP. I called his office and spoke to the secretary, telling her about the message he left. The secretary hesitated and then said "Well..he's not in today, but he wants you to call him at his house" As she was giving me the number, I started to sense something was really wrong. I asked why he was insisting I call him and she replied "Well, he wants to make an appointment for you with another doctor." I knew something was up, but I replied ok and dialed the doctor's number. When he answered, I told him who I was and nervously laughed a little. He cut right to the chase and said "I got the results of your CT scan. It's not what I thought it was" and I said "Well, what's wrong with me?" and he says "The radiologist who read your scan saw a mass growing on the base of your cerebellum" I was shocked. "I have a brain tumor??? Is it cancer??" he says "I don't know, but it's indictive of a disease called Lherrmitte Duclos which is a benign  brain condition" "Do I need surgery?" "I honestly don't know. I've arranged for a neurosurgeon to meet you at the ER at Methodist University." He then starts telling a story to lighten the mood, that most neurosurgeons are out of town at a conference, but he's managed to find one that's stayed behind. I'm really not listening, I have a million thoughts rushing through my head. Everyone I'd ever known with a brain tumor had died. "Can you repeat everything you told me to my Dad?" I asked him quietly. "Sure" he said. I ran downstairs and thrust the phone in my Dad' face and went to sit on the stairs. I heard my Dad tell the doctor bye and he came over to where I was. He gave me a hug and told me everything was going to be fine. "Go take a shower" he told me "And then we'll go to the hospital"

I went upstairs and showered and changed. I still remember what I was wearing...a black tank top, jeans, and flip flops. It was October, but in South you can never tell the weather :) When I came back downstairs I saw my grandmother crying and she gave me a hug "Heaven's not ready for you yet" she said. (Looking back, this probably wasn't the most helpful thing to say, and the fact that she was crying her eyes out almost discounted any comfort she was trying to offer). On the way to the hospital, we had to stop and get the films from my CT scan the day before. One the way I called my work to let them know what was going on. When we got to the hospital I remember looking around the outside thinking "Will I ever see this again?"

My Mom was on a field trip that day (she was a Kindergarten assistant) and my Dad didn't want to bother her until we knew more. I don't remember waiting terribly long in the ER (a miracle in itself) and before long I was whisked back to a "room" A nurse explained that my doctor (whom I had yet to meet) had ordered steroids for me to help with the headaches. She also explained that my doctor wanted an MRI and that I'd be going back shortly. I repeatedly tried to call my Mom's cell phone but she didn't answer. I finally called the school and left a message with the secretary asking her to tell my mom to call my cell phone ASAP and that it was an emergency. I guess I figured that "Your daughter is on a bed in the ER receiving steroids through an IV and about to meet with a neurosurgeon regarding a brain tumor" wasn't quite the message one would like to receive, but I guess my cryptic one wasn't any better.

I had the MRI and I remembered that my pastor and some people from church had come to the hospital. I got taken back to my room and finally saw the two residents from Semmes Murphy. They held up my MRI films, and I was startled to see it. One half of my brain was twice the size as the other half. The doctor gently explained that I had developed hydrocephalus, caused by the tumor in my cerebellum. He said that my vision problems were caused my the pressure put on my optic nerves. He then followed that statement up with something I hadn't really counted on hearing "We are going to admit you to the neurotrauma ICU"

WHAT!? Hold the phone..I hadn't planned on being admitted, much less to the ICU. And the NEUROTRAUMA ICU? That sounded like a place old sick people went, not young 19 year olds. I was finally taken to the ICU that night aorund 8:30 or so. To another "room" No TV, no phone, no walls. Fantastic.

The first night was SO long. I remember a nurse coming by to give me a sponge bath (yes a sponge bath at 19. And people wonder why I have no modesty). She was so nice and what she was using smelled SO good. She said that it was bath gel that she used for her patients. I finally got some sleep after that.

**SIDENOTE: After the steroids got started I felt fine. You got that? FINE. So imagine. a 19 year old perfectly healthy laying in a hospital bed.**

The next day I had another awesome nurse. She helped me get into a chair and wheeled me over to the nurses station so I'd be included in the nurse's conversation. When I got back into my bed, I finally met Dr. Sorenson. He was so nice, explaining everything to me, how I had a mass at the base of my cerebellum. The mass itself wasn't a problem, the hydrocephalus it caused was (hydrocephalus is literally "water on the brain" It's when cerbreospinal fluid cannot drain properly). He cautioned that while they'd run tests to determine what was wrong, I needed to prepare myself for having surgery. I giggled nervously and said that the thought of brain surgery freaked me out. He said that I wouldn't be normal if  I was ok with the idea and he promised I wouldn't have to write out my will just yet. The doctor looked at me and then looked around and said "You're bored aren't you?" I must have looked desparate when I said yes because he said "I'll get you moved to the back of the ICU where the TV's are" One of the nurses brought me lots of books to read too. And they'd bring me lunch from different restuarants on their lunch break.

In the 10 days that followed, I had several tests run (one of which was an artierogram, which I've tried to block out. I've told Dr. S. on several occasions since that I'd rather have surgery again). Then I had surgery.

One of my very sweet nurses bought me a teddy bear for my surgery. She said she was going on vacation and couldn't be hear but wanted to know she was thinking of me. She brought me a telephone as well. If I had to stay longer, I was thinking of getting a tub built in my little room.

I remember how nervous I was the day of my surgery. I had plenty of visitors off and on, and that helped to take my mind off of what was going on. When they wheeled me to surgery, I remember turning and seeing an old man lying in bed hooked up to a machine, either asleep, in a coma, or dead. The nurse quickly stood between us and said "Don't look at him. He's old, you're not. That won't be you I promise" None of my family could come back with me, so I had to say my goodbyes in the hall. The same nurse sat beside me and held my hand until all of the pre-op people came back. I remember seeing a cooler (filled with my blood type) sitting on my bed. When Dr. S. appeared I said "What is that for???" he just laughed and said "It's in case we want to have a picnic. People forget to bring their lunch sometimes" I remember going back to the room and getting hooked up to the machines. I remember the anesthiesologist saying "Pretend you're on a beach sipping a mai tai" and it was lights out. (I'm sure he didn't realize I was 19 and he was condoning underage drinking)

When I woke up, I felt like I'd been hit my a train. I had staples in my neck, an arterial line in my wrist, an external shunt in my head, a catheter in my (you know where THAT goes), and a central line running from my neck. The nurse asked me if she could get me anything and I'm pretty sure I asked her to kill me. They came to get me..for a CT scan! I had to have  CT scan right away to make sure I hadn't developed a blood clot. While I was getting hoisted over by about 5 medical personnel I noticed a bag with a pinkish fluid hanging by my bed. "What's that?" I feebly asked. A younger guy heard me and said "Do you really want to know??' when I told him yes he said "It's CSF draining from you" Oh my...

When they got me back to my room, my nurse came into see me. Since I'd been a patient for 10 days I had become familiar with the nursing staff, and glad to see a friendly face. "Please don't let my family stay in here long" I begged her. I was EXHAUSTED. She said "Don't worry hun. I don't mind being the bad guy"  I heard her explaining to my family that I was extremely tired and needed my sleep. She told them only to stay a minute.

That night was so long, but thankfully I could sleep from the painkillers. When the nurse saw that the doctor ordered Lortab she says "Oh good grief, that's what they give you when you have your wisdom teeth out. I'll get you something stronger." To this day, I'm here to tell you...2 lortab and 2 shots of morphine would make an elephant with ADD go to sleep. I do remember a very sweet maintenance woman coming in to check on me during the night, I made a lot of friends lol.

The first day is still a haze. I just know that my parents had to feed me and I slept between each visitng time. I progressed so much that by my 3rd day post-op they moved me to a regular room. I was sad to leave my ICU friends, but glad I was making progress. A few more days in a regular room and then I got to go home!

Since that October, I've had a VP shunt placement and three more cranieotomies. Each surgery got easier and it's been 4 years since my last one. Today at our appointment Dr. Sorenson said we'd hopefully be going to a check up every two years.

Kind of a funny thing..I've had the same anthesiology team for every brain surgery since the first one. Dr. Sorenson goes with me into the recovery room to make sure I know everything went ok. 

Truthfully, throughout this whole PBM process I've been terrified that I'd have brain problems again. In the past I've been to postpone surgery by taking a a steroid pack (which makes me gain 15 pounds and turn into the Hulk). Even if I do have to have brain surgery again, I know I have an awesome team of doctors behind me!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Famous again!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am featured on The Fight Like A Girl Club's website. It's like I'm famous! It is pretty cool to see my story where everyone can see it :) Take a look and enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Belated Blog-o-versy

Wow...yesterday marks the one year mark since I started this blog. I can't believe it! I was thinking about it on the way home from the gym. Thinking about how I almost didn't want to start the blog, and then was convinced that no one would ever read it. I just checked, and I have 7,972 hits. Pretty good for a small town southern girl ;)

I was also thinking how that in spite of my reservations about letting people see the vulnerable side of me, I'm so glad I've started the blog and kept it. I know of how many people have reached out to me, saying that I've helped them and they felt comforted by my words. I only hope that there are other people who have found some comfort and hope in my journey. Or at least people have realized that they are not crazy, or felt some solace in knowing that they are not alone in their craziness! HA HA

As for me..I'm waiting, waiting, waiting. I have my follow up PS appointment on December 7. Then if I'm given the all clear I'm sure I won't have another appointment until my pre-op. It makes me sad that I'll have to have the expanders that long. I HATE them! I'd take them out myself if I didn't think it could create a whole new mess of problems. It's hard to sleep, my right side hurts sometimes, and it's just all around uncomfortable.

It's weird...everyone treats me as if I'm normal. (surprise, surprise). It's like that no one KNOWS that I don't have boobs anymore. I kind of almost want to shout " I HAD A MASTECTOMY BEFORE I WAS 30 SO I DIDN'T HAVE BREAST CANCER" Ok maybe not that extreme. But I just feel like I have a secret.

It feels so weird that so much has happened this year, but time has flown so fast! I can't believe I'm going grocery shopping for Thanksgiving next week, my birthday is in two weeks, and Christmas is right the corner.

All I know that in this past year, I've lost a few parts, but gained some strength and courage in its place. And this time next year...I'll have two great foobs complete with fipples (hopefully lol)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Longer Tunnel

Wells folks it's official. It looks like this will be a year long process. **SIGH** I had managed to stay catiously optimistic about the red spot on my right foob. When I got to the PS's office yesterday I proudly showed off too her, assuring her that I had not been running a fever or feeling ill in any way. She studied me for a second, and then asked if it was ok to let another doctor look at it just to be on the safe side. She brought her partner in, and he said he was sure it was fine. He said it looked like an area that wasn't having proper lymph drainage yet, as well as thin skin. He suggested geting a SED rate test (blood draw) to check my levels to see if I had an underlying infection or condition.

After I agreed to the test, my PS started showing me everything she wanted to revise and touch up during the exchange. I hesistantly asked her when we could do the exchange. She said that normally she wants to wait 3 months after the final fill which would be late December...however given the complications with the right side and the amount of time difference between the two expanders (my left side has been fully expanded since July, and has dropped nicely and almost resembles a breast and my right side is still more rounded and sitting a bit higher) that she wanted to wait early spring/late winter. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Granted, I didn't throw a fit or cry or scream. I just said "Sure whatever you think is best" like a good little patient. After hearing her explanation that while she could physcially drop the left side during surgery, but letting it dorp on it's own would achieve a more natural look in the end I calmed down. I want the best looking foobs possible dang it!

I was supposed to have my one year follow up with my neurosurgeon in the summer, but I knew I couldn't have a MRI with the TE's in because of the magnetic ports. THe nurse had originally told me to wait until I was done. When I heard it would be another 6 months, I called to let her know. She told me to make an appointment to come in to talk to him and he could order a cat scan if he needed to. I feel like my entire life revolves around doctor appointments!

I'm upset about the delay in my exchange surgery, because I really hate these expanders. I hate that I still toss and turn and struggle to find a good position when I sleep. I hate when I accidentally brush by something and I can tell how hard they are. And I hate that they're not squishy!

I'm trying not to let this get me down too much. I've got a lot more to focus on and think about (my school and job) and I'll just try to keep busy until it's time for the exchange. I don't see the PS until mid-December, so we'll see what happens then.

I keep trying to tell myself that there is still light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel just got a little longer.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I took this work at home job so I could study between phone calls. However, here I am surfing the internet, and catching up on my blog readings. My notes are out right next to my keyboard, so does that count for something?

I happen to glance at the date on my phone and saw that it was 10/17....which means tomorrow is my six month anniversary since my original surgery. WHAT?!? Time literally has FLOWN by. I was just re-reading my earliest entires on this blog, and remembering how insurmountable this seemed at the time and how long away it seemed. Now I'm sitting here, 6 months later... not complete but pretty close!

This will be a short post..I just wanted to share my realization :) It's like Sally Fields says in Steel Magnolias "Life goes on.."

I'll be seeing the PS at the end of next week "to talk about getting my implants if everything looks ok" I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Setting the Record Straight Part 2

Back in January, I became increaingly frustrated with the misconceptions some people have about PBMs and the reason behind them. Whether it was out of ignorance, or plain hatefulness I got pretty tired of people dancing around the topic, talking behind my back, or making snide comments. One good thing that that post did was to let people who supported my decision come to me and tell me that they supported my decision.

I sit here at work, supposedly supposed to be studying between phone calls (I have I swear!) and I find myself distracted by something. If I get what I'm thinking out, I'm hoping I can go back to giving my A&P lab manual my full concentration.

Even before I had a PBM or efven considered it, I was a little confused as to why it was such a hot button topic. Who am I to judge someone for removing a part of their body? I mean heck, it's not like they were trying to remove a part of MY body...let them do what they want!

As I struggled to make my decision, I kept hearing that that was just what it was..MY DECISION. I know having a PBM is not for everyone and that's ok. I just know that I feel uneasy gambling with money (even though I have been known to from time to time) much less my health and ultimately my life. Actually, what completely clinched the decision for me was a bold statement I made in high school. I remember it like it was was my senior year and I was in American Government. We somehow got into a conversation about tanning beds (in Am. Gov't..go figure) and how unhealthy they were. One of the girls said that she would rather die young and look good. I turned around and gave her a look (in all of my 18 year old wisdom) and proclaimed that I'd rather LIVE than look good and nothing would stand in the way of me living a long, healthy life (pale skin and all).That kept ringing in my head.....the way I saw it, it either came down to two choices- Keep real breasts and have a possibly shorter life or have fake breasts and live longer. To me, it was really a no brainer.

I realize that not everyone is like that. I realize it may not be as clear cut for some people. That's fine, and I accept that....however I flat out do not understand people judging ME for it. Don't think I haven't noticed the avoidance, the numerous friends that all of a sudden deleted me from Facebook, the snide remarks when I mention my surgeries. I'm not naming any names, but I've come to the conclusion that I simply don't need those people in my life. I refuse to let it bother me just makes me sad that it's made me realize who my real friends are.Now granted, all of this could be completely unrelated to my surgeries...however I know I haven't had any quarrels with anyone, and I just find it interesting that several situations have happened after I had surgery.

I know I've joked about the fabulous new foobs I'm getting...but trust me it's the silver lining. And that doesn't mean that I had my PBM for implants...

Like I said, I'm simply not letting it bother me anymore. Let the haters hate.....I'm going to try to look at it as I'm just giving someone else a rest from being talked about and judged!

But I can guarntee you that in 50 years when I'm old and gray but still have the boobs of a 20 year old...I will be laughing the last laugh ;)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Phantom Pains


Phantom pain sensations are described as perceptions that an individual experiences relating to a limb or an organ that is not physically part of the body. Limb loss is a result of either removal by amputation or congenital limb deficiency (Giummarra et al., 2007). However, phantom limb sensations can also occur following nerve avulsion or spinal cord injury. Sensations are recorded most frequently following the amputation of an arm or a leg, but may also occur following the removal of a breast or an internal organ

I had always heard of this phenomenon but never gave it any thought...until now. I brought this up to my PS on my last visit and she just nodded and agreed that I'd be having them. I'll be sitting here and all of a sudden I'll feel like someone is stabbing me in the chest...and then as soon as I remember that a) my real boobs are gone and b) I wouldn't really be able to feel pain in the foobs I have now, it goes away. But then I start to remember that I used to feel pain in my boobs all the time..and I get a little sad. It'll be a long time, if ever, until I feel anything real again. Don't get me wrong...I still do not regret having the surgery. I knew what I was giving up when I agreed to have it and I decided that it was worth the price. Boob sensation vs. Life??? It's a gimmee...a no brainer!

Still, I think people don't grasp the meaning of NO FEELING. And, yes I'm talking sexual. No nipples + no feeling = no second base. And what fun is baseball with a whole base missing? (And for the sake of any family members who may be reading this, this is the only time I'll refer to anything sexual I promise. I'm just trying to make a point). I've had several people tell me how good my foobs look...and they're funky expander boulder boobs. And they do look pretty sweet. I've got awesome cleavage, they sit exactly where your boobs are supposed to sit, they don't bounce, I don't have to wear a bra, etc etc. But then there's the no feeling thing...and almost the feeling of being left out when everyone else's boobs start to sag. But what can I's tit for tat (no pun intended he he he)

I was really freaked out by the red spot on my right side. My PS and her nurse both said it was probably just tissue damage and bruising due to really thin skin. My PS did put me back on antibiotics (ugh side effects). When I went to see her last week, she looked at it and said for me to make an appointment for the end of the month and to call her at the end of this week. She said that as long as it didn't look worse, we were ok. She said that once I was off of antibiotics, if there were something brewing that was being suppressed by the antibiotics it'd make itself known. She said that as long as it wasn't getting worse, we could talk about my there really a light at the end of the tunnel???

The redness seems to be getting better, so I'm hoping it stays that way after I quit taking the meds. If I lose this expander AGAIN...I may lose my sanity along with it. I'm strong..but I dont know if I'm THAT strong.

This surgery has me looking towards my future. After all, I gave myself a second chance at life..I better not waste it!

On a side note, October has begun, officially kicking off breast cancer awareness month. It's so funny, this year I already have a ton of people just pointing out breast cancer awareness stuff to me. I don't mind...this is apparently going to be my cause.

And on a completely un-boob related note- I get the grade for my second first AP2 test tomorrow (second first..get it? Ok I'm a nerd. But I laugh to keep from crying about the fact that I had to repeat the class). Fingers crossed for a good grade!

Friday, September 23, 2011

David Haas- Guest Post!

Hi all! I was recently contacted by David Haas who showed interest in sharing an article with readers of my blog. I think it's a wonderful article and very true! Hope you enjoy! :)

Groups Help Increase Hope

Cancer Support Groups

It is at their lowest point, their darkest time, that humans find they need the most support. Those who have suffered through or are currently suffering from the effects of cancer and cancer treatments find these low points more often than any one person can bear. Cancer patients and those in remission need the support of their friends and family. For those who think they must face this trial alone, many support groups are available to offer support and a place to share concerns and hope with other cancer patients and survivors.

According to the Cancer Society of America,
supports groups can greatly enhance the cancer patient’s overall quality of life, but the opinion of the scientific community as to the long term health benefits of support groups is mixed. Support groups help cancer patients in many ways. Their primary goal is to help patients dealing with cancer with their immediate issues rather than long-term problems.

They use a variety of methods to accomplish this goal. Support groups can use the group interaction to allow cancer patients and survivors to share their stories, concerns, and information about how to best cope with certain treatments.  This serves to relieve any feelings of isolation that can lead to depression. Depression decreases the chances of recovery. Support Groups help gain information one needs to help battle the cancer from people who are going through the same thing or have already gone through it.

Cancer groups are often separated by the type of cancer that is afflicting the patient. Women with
breast cancer would find they have little in common with a Vietnam veteran suffering from Mesothelioma. Each type of cancer affects the afflicted in a different way. Cancer attacks the body and is often concentrated in particular areas of the body such as the breasts, testicles, lungs, or brain. It is very beneficial for patients to receive informative knowledge about how to best cope with the exact treatment they are going through from people who are going through it also or have gone through it in the past.

The scientific community offers conflicting opinions on the efficacy of support groups in terms of long-term cancer survival. Studies have shown that those who regularly attend support groups live longer than those that do not. Other studies have shown that support groups have no measurable effect on the cancer survival rates. Each of these conclusions may be true, but that does not matter. The
doctor who refers their patient to a support group is not hoping that they will achieve a spontaneous remission. They are encouraging their patient to seek the support. They realize that cancer recovery is a long journey, and that the patient will need all the support they can find.

Those who suffer from cancer must depend on their support system, but they often feel as if they are a burden to their friends and family. Support groups offer a place where their fears and concerns will be met with support and hopeful optimism. Such support can only help with a patient’s chances for recovery.

By: David Haas

-- David Haas
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger -
Personal Blog -

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Catch up!

Ok, I admit it...I've been HORRIBLE about updating!  I started school and in addition to that and working full time it takes up ALL of my time. The time that I'm not working or studying I'm normally eating or sleeping.. I get the occasional play time but let me tell you, I'm exhausted when I hit the bed at night! I still take muscle relaxers and/or a pain pill to help me sleep. Hopefully, I can stop doing that soon as that may be contributing to some of my fatigue through out the day.

Well, I finally got my drain pulled this past Wednesday. Thank goodness! However...I'm still draining out of that hole...eww I know. I have to keep a bandage on it and I'm taking care to make sure it's clean. She gave me another fill of over 200 cc's when I had my drain pulled. She actually filled me BEFORE I had the drain pulled and that definitely added to the ickiness feeling when the drain was pulled! I literally felt it push on the tissue expander and she had to pull a little harder to get it out.

She wanted to see me today, to make sure there wasn't a seroma forming from where she pulled the drain. Since I'm still draining from the hole, the bright side was that I didn't have a seroma! So yay? I also got another fill soooo.......(drumroll please) I'm now even and full on both sides. YAY! A total of 910 ccs on both, even though she said at the exchange surgery that there may be a slight difference because of the difference in the skin on the right side.

One thing that was SLIGHTLY concerning was the slight patch of pink on my right foob. I dismissed it as a bruise because a) it wasn't warm, b) it looked different than before and c) it didn't have fluid build up. She said I was more than likely right and she wasn't too concerned, but she'd put me on another round of antibiotics to be on the safe side. When she got a nurse's opinion who'd be dealing with mastectomy patients for 20 years, she said that it was fine. She said that a lot of patients are entirely pink throughout the whole process and it's just the tissue's way of reacting. So cross your fingers and your toes, pray, light a candle, dance naked in the moonlight (HA I stole that from a Facebook friend), make a sacrifice, whatever you have to do that it's nothing! I have another appointment with my PS next week and I'm hoping it'll be smooth sailing from there.

Well that about sums up the excitement in my life here lately! My next post is actually going to be a guest stay tuned for that excitement ;)

Have a WONDERFUL week!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blessing in Disguise

First of all, let me start off by saying I still have one drain. No, really that's NOT a joke. It's still here...holding on for dear life, still draining away. The original plan was to leave it over the holiday weekend and hopefully it would be through early this week. I saw that it wasn't letting up anytime soon, so I bit the bullet and called my doctor. I told her it still wasn't letting up and asked her if she wanted me on anymore antibiotics. I REALLY don't want to take the chance of another infection. 1- if I don't get my foobs by the end of the year I'll probably DIE and 2- they told me my last infection was low grade MRSA...serious stuff. They hammer the danger of MRSA into you at school, so I didn't want any more of that nasty business. She told me to run up to the office, and she'd give me a fill (an unorthodox thing to do with the drain still in, but not really a taboo thing to do- just not the norm) which would hopefully fill the space that the fluid was trying to build up in. She also gave me a prescription for more antibiotics and some pain pills (I swear I'm turning into a junkie). My PS is pretty laid back when it comes to fills. She prepares to do 100-150 ccs each time, but she'll stop whenever you say stop. She filled the first 100 ccs and asked if I was feeling any tightness. I told her no, and she said she'd go for another 100, but to stop her if I started to feel anything. When she was done with that, she had me sit up and asked me if I felt anything. When I told her no she says "Welll I can try to put in another 50 ccs if you want." I told her to go ahead, and she made me promise to tell her the second I had any pain. Which, oddly enough I didn't. I had a fill of 250 ccs at one time...and I still have yet to really feel anything! I'm almost a little nervous...hope I'm not in too much pain later....

I had to work as soon as I got in from the doctor. Since I've started working from home, taking insurance claims, I've heard lots of crazy stories! I've talked to all sorts of people's been pretty interesting. One call today really stuck with me....the caller was a younger sounding man (he was in his 40s, I later found out) and he said he needed to file a Leave Request (FMLA). I started the claim, asking him probing questions to find out the specifics of the request. He said that his wife had recently passed away (about 10 days ago) and he needed to take intermittent leave to help take care of his kids. He said he was extremely stressed out about this...he has two small children and no one around to help take care of them. He then went on to tell me that his wife had died of breast cancer...after a long, two year battle. His voice started to break when he asked if I knew if he'd get into trouble for missing work. He said he's having to try to find a sitter for his kids, because they have no family around. I was almost in tears as I took his claim...he sounded so helpless! He couldn't even really take the time to grieve for his wife, because he needed to take care of the kids. Then I realized that the kids would have to grow up without their mother, and I almost lost it. I told him that I was very sorry for his loss (duh! the most stereotypical thing to say) and that I sincerely hoped things worked out for him.. being raised a Southern and a Baptist I was about two breaths away from offering to cook for him (When someone dies- I feel like the grieving family needs food. Either a casserole or fried chicken!)

When I hung up the phone, I realized how easily that could have been me. Had genetic testing not been so common, so readily available,  I would have never known that I have Cowden's syndrome. Had my neurosurgeon not had the idea that I needed to get tested for Cowden's in the first place, orh ad I not had a brain tumor in the first place I would have never known about my high risk for breast cancer. I had so many near-miss scares, that one of them could have EASILY been the big C diagnosis, had I not known to monitor it so carefully. I mean what person in their 20s even thinks to have a mammogram?? There's a girl in the area, who was about my age when she died, who went to the doctor about a lump she found in her breast. The doctor dismissed it, told her it was nothing, and sent her on her way. It persisted, and when it was finally tested, it was stage 4 breast cancer and she later died. So many people have died so early, and I could have easily been one, had I not known about my genetic risk.

I say all of that to say this....while what I'm going through SUCKS (no doubt about that) it could be worse. I don't have to fight a two year battle with breast cancer, I don't have to go through chemo or radiation and then eventually end up having a mastectomy anyway. I guess I'm realizing that it's a blessing in disguise.

No one's getting rid of me that easily :)

***AUTHORS DISCLAIMER: Even though I've come to this epiphany, that doesn't mean that I still don't know that my situation sucks a big one. I reserve the right to still complain would complain to if you had a tube with bodily fluid draining into it hanging from your armpit****

Friday, September 2, 2011


I just tend to automatically assume that EVERYONE has a Facebook page these days. Its what all the cool kids are doing now, right? Well, even if you haven't been on Facebook, I am sure youve heard about the games to raise breast cancer awareness. First, the baffling color statuses (the color of your bra) and then the sexually suggestive, "I like it on the _______" (referring to the location of your purse) and now the pregnancy statuses (Im ___ weeks and craving ____ based on your birthday) Naturally, since all of these are to "raise breast cancer awareness" I received several messages about each "game". I obliged, participating in each but not really knowing exactly how I was raising breast cancer awareness. I mean I am aware of breast cancer for sure....there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it. But, how exactly was I making others aware? That I wasn't sure of, but I figured no harm, no foul and posted the statuses anyway. WRONG! A friend posted a link to this blog, imploring others to read it. I am going to post the same link, and ask that you read it with a open mind. With October fast approaching, there will be loads of breast cancer awareness. And while I know that this has become my cause, whether I want it or not, I'm sure if we all put our heads together, we can raise awareness the RIGHT way and not potentially offend someone else in the process.

CG Ward Photography

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Negative is the new positive

I know I've been posting more frequently lately, but seeing as how I'm in the middle of recovery from another surgery, I have a lot to talk about it! (Ok,ok, ok I know I always seem to have a lot to talk about it, but that's not what I meant). And as I've said before, I enjoy writing!

I've managed to keep on acting somewhat normal as anyone can who still has one drain and wears extremely baggy t-shirts to hide it! My PS had said that she wanted to have the drain out at the two week mark (which was today). However, my output last night was 70 ccs. AHHH!!! She wants it to fall to 20-30 ccs before she pulls it. I called her today, half hoping that she'd have pity on me and go ahead and pull it but she says she wants to wait until it falls to 30 for a few days. She started laughing and said "It's going to happen over the holiday weekend I bet" I think I laughed to keep from crying. I start school a week from today and would REALLY REALLY like to have the drain out by then. (Fingers crossed/praying/will light a candle next time I'm at church/is there a patron saint for JP drain patients? if there is I'd pray to them too!). I was all excited about my nice long weekend from work, but now I'll have to deal with this dumb drain. We are going to the Train concert at the casinos on it looks like I'll have to figure out a way to hide the drain, wear my fake boob, and look halfway decent. The things I do for good music and the Paula Deen buffet :)

Well, a few weeks ago I'd made reference to having the test done for the BRCA gene mutation. I really wanted to make sure that I wasn't in a high risk category for ovarian cancer as well. And YAY I'm NEGATIVE!!! WOOHOO!! That is fantastic..I know I still have Cowden's so I'm still part of the mutant club. But now I can keep my ovaries, so there's no rush to have kids! Because, yes if I'd been positive for BRCA and had a higher risk for ovarian cancer, I would have had my ovaries removed prophlaytically as well. Would seem almost a double standard to remove the boobs but not the ovaries. So, I definitely feel like a weight has been lifted.

So now I'll just sit back, relax, and try to enjoy this last week before school starts. I'm undecided on whether or not to go to church this Sunday with my drain. It's just so hard to find clothes AND have to worry about knocking into something or accidentally pulling it out (My doctor would probably think I purposely yanked it out). And if I have to go to school with the drain for a few days then that's what I have to do. I wonder if I can get extra credit for having the drain? Kind of like a walking A&P project?

The PS did say that she'd fill the TE 100-150ccs the same day she pulled the drain. She said that that way, it would be less of an extra space for the fluid to build up that hadn't been drained out. Then I'll truly be lopsided!

All I have to say is that if my drain isn't out in a week, I may hang myself by the tubing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No end in sight

Despite all of the surgeries I've had in my life, I've always prided myself on remaining relatively healthy. I don't get "sick" too often. I have good blood pressure, good lungs, good pulse etc etc. I've always tolerated anthesia very well and never have been allergic to anything.

By the middle of the week, I was feeling pretty good. Even though my one remaining drain seemed to flow ceaselessly, I wasn't in too much pain. I really only took muscle relaxers at night when  I couldn't get comfortable. On Wednesday, when I sat down to work, I noticed my wrist was itching like crazy. I looked down and saw a red welt on it. I called Mike in there and asked him if it looked like a spider bite. He said no, but maybe it was another bug bite and he said he'd get me some alochol the next time he went out to the store.

I started working and in about an hour I realized my knee was itching the same way my wrist had been itching. On my break, I ran into the bathroom and saw a big red welt on my knee, identical to the one on my wrist. WHAT?! My mind started racing, and I wondered if this was yet another side effect from my meds. I quickly googled my antiobiotic and saw that a skin rash was indeed a side effect. Just to be on the safe side I called my pharmacist and asked if it was a side effect and not an allergic reaction. He said it could be either, but that I should call my doctor to be on the safe side. By that time, I had red welts on my feet and it was getting painful to walk. I called my PS and spoke to the nurse. I explained what was going on and she said she'd called my PS and see if she could call in another antibiotic for me. I went back to work, and realized that I was now itching all over. I tried to ignore it and continue working.

I got a message from my PS saying that she had called me in another antibiotic and it would be $35 (yippee...I might not get breast cancer but I may end up in the poor house) By the time I went on my lunch break,  I was in agony. I didn't know the extent of my hives, mainly because I was scared to look.  My feet and hands were swollen and not only was I itching, I was also in pain. I literally just wanted to curl up and die. Mike told me to take a shower and that might make me feel better. I took a shower and staggered back to my computer to continue working. My sweet boyfriend went to the store to pick me up some benadryl and hydrocortisone cream while I was trying to work. About an hour went by, and my hands were so sore and swollen that I knew I couldn't go on. I called my work and told them what was going on and that there was no way I could continue the other two hours I was scheduled to work. Before I changed into my pjs I started to put on my hydrocortisone cream. I hadn't seen the extent of my hives yet..they were EVERYWHERE. I was miserable.  I popped two benadryl and went to bed (this was at 7:30).

When  I got up the next morning I felt a little better, but when I went into the bathroom I saw that the rash was just as bad. I fixed myself breakfast, took another benadryl and went back to bed. I got up right before I was scheduled to work and after work I went right back to bed. I was not a happy camper by any means.

Friday morning, I woke up and hesistantly looked in the mirror. The rash was better! But wait...I took a closer look at myself and realized that instead of my lips, I looked like I had two cigars on my face. OH MY GOSH. I was a poster child for a botched Botox injection. I ate breakfast, took two benadryl and went back to bed, wondering why God was apparently mad at me and what leprosy looked like. I texted Mike that my lips were swollen and I was going back to bed. When Mike came home from the gym he took one look at me and said "Do I need to take you to the hospital?" I assured him that no, I knew the symptoms of anaphalyxis and I'd let him know if I started going into shock.When I woke up, my lips had almost gone back to their normal size and my rash was getting better. YAY! I worked that night with really no problem and took two benadryl before bed to be on the safe side. I looked in the mirror and saw while my lips had gone down to their normal size my cheeks looked like a chipmunks. Will this ever end?

I was feeling good, and most of the time I managed to forget about the drain I still had in (which was starting to feel like an extra appendage, and just part of me). I told Mike I would run up to the grocery store since the doctor had just said not to drive while I was on pain meds. I checked with some FORCE ladies (LOVE that website!) and they agreed that as long as I was careful, driving with a drain would be ok. I hastily threw on a wrinkled button down shirt (I don't even own an iron, and three tries in the dryer weren't getting the wrinkles out) and some stretchy pants and quickly applied make up (So I wouldn't look like a complete beast). I didn't think it'd be wise to try to fit a cami over the drains, or even my wireless bra so my fake boob was out. Oh well...if someone said something about my only having one boob I'd shut them up by saying that I'd had a mastectomy and making them feel bad. I ran into Kroger thinking I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. Of course, I passed a frantic looking mothing whose box of Capri Sun's fell out of the bottom of her cart. Normally, I would've helped her, but I knew I couldn't/shouldn't lift it. I kept my head down and practically ran past her, saying a Hail Mary silently for not stopping to help and wondering if this would need to be brought up in confession when I finally got to go. I kept my head down and hurried down the aisles, really not having anytime of list or knowledge of what we actually needed. I just knew I didn't want to carry too much out of the store by myself. I rounded a corner and lo and behold there was someone I knew. CRAP. She spotted me so it was too late to duck and cover. I plastered a smile on my face and managed some polite conversation for a few seconds. (If you're reading this, I really wasn't trying to get rid of you...I really wasn't in any position to see someone I knew). As I hurried away, I thought I could hear God laughing....

Last night, I had trouble sleeping because my arms and legs ACHED from all of the hives and havoc reaked on them in the past week. I managed to toss and turn fitfully until finally falling into a deep sleep around 3 AM. I woke up around 8 AM this morning, and vowed not to take a nap so I'd sleep well tonight.

Now I'm just praying that my drain comes out this week! School starts next week and if I have to go to school with one boob and a drain...well let's just say I should definitely rack up some major karma points for that one!

I also have a nice little 3 1/2 day weekend (I say 3 1/2 because I'm off Fri-Sun and only have to work 8-9:30 pm Monday night...thank you Sedgwick!) and would prefer to spend it without my 3rd arm.

My scars healing dermabond started to flake off in the area where I had the most problems last time. I almost had a heart attack but when I saw a nice pink scar underneath I breathed a sigh of relief. I do have a "knuckle" on the right side like I had on the left. The doctor didn't act like it was a big deal before so I don't think it'll be a big deal now. She did say she wanted to wait 2 weeks to start fills to let everything heal completely..which is ok by me. I know the skin is pretty tight on that side, so I'm perfectly ok with going as slow as possible!

Fingers crossed that I get my drain out by Wednesday! =)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Side Effects

Well everything pain wise has been going ok. That's not to say that I'm not IN pain but it's very manageable. Kind of feels like I did 100 chest presses with a lot more weight than I'm used to. I managed to get through today with only a lortab in the early morning and regular ibuprofen during the day. I went back to work today...since I work from home so no one minds that I'm in my pjs and have on no make up and two drains hanging out.

I've always said that I wouldn't be posting pictures of myself and my "work in progress" boulder boobs (I can't even call them foobs yet). HOWEVER, I got to thinking about it and realized that part of the reason for this blog is to help other women who are going through this. So if you'd like to see a picture of my scars, drains and all just shoot me an email at: I will not however be sending topless pictures to people I know so don't even try :)

Currently I'm on Lortab 7.5, Robaxin (a muscle relaxer), and Spectra (an antibiotic). I get side effects from every medicine I take...especially antibiotics. So yes, that means even though I'm not in pain per se, I have a headache, my throat is dry and scratchy (I don't know whether or not to blame that on the meds, or the tube down my throat during surgery), I'm sick to my stomach and I'm dry coughing to boot (and that makes me scar hurt everytime I cough). And I've got the one side effect of pain meds that makes grown people shiver in fear. I won't  go into details..but let's just say things aren't moving quite like they should yet.

Now I know not everyone will get these side effects. I'm just one of the lucky ones I suppose. Hopefully, things will get better soon! I'm seeing Dr. Cooper tomorrow and getting my one drain pulled. My other drain is still putting out so much I'm beginning to wonder if it's healthy to lose this much fluid.

On a positive thing this experience has shown me (really reminded me) is how much I do love to write. I've always loved to write, ever since I was in grade school. My grandmother had family newsletters I wrote when I was younger, and I was constantly writing plays and short stories. I would love to write more. Now the question is, do I have enough real talent? Hmm... I did put in an application to be a write for The Fight Like a Girl Club. We'll see if I make it! I don't want to give up nursing school to be a writer..Lord knows I'd be mad at me if I'd been through this much of nursing school to quit! More of a hobby would be nice. Like I said, we'll see how everything pans out.

Since I've officially been off for 7 minutes, I'm headed to take a shower, empty my drains, medicate myself and fall into a coma...umm deep sleep. =)


Friday, August 19, 2011

Second Time Around

Well four months later, here I sit In the recliner in my button up pajamas and drain belt with my two drains with I Love Lucy playing in the background. I feel like I never left.

That being said, Im in a lot less pain and have better range of motion. I can brush my hair by myself! Those are all pluses in my book :)

Wednesday morning, on the way to the hospital, it started raining....storming is better word. When we walked down the hall to the same day surgery area, the lights started flickering. When I went to check in, I nervously asked the receptionist if the OR had a back up generator. She assured me it did. I went back and got dressed in my gown and babbled nervously until it was time to go back. Oh and there was a little girl down the hall who had literally screamed the entire hour and a half we were back there. When i said something to my nurse about it (not complaining just more nervous babbling) her reply was "She just got earwax removed from her ears its not that big of a deal." geez....

I didnt have to wait very long until it was my turn in the OR (unlike last time) but it was funny because they had to get my PS to sign the consent form, since it still said the lat flap and i wasnt doing that anymore.

When i woke up, i realized that i wasnt in too mich pain, but my throat was SO scratchy! I got up to the room, and got some more pain meds. I managed to sleep for awhile and then actually sleep pretty well throughout the night. I was at home by 1:00 pm the next day.

Im scheduled to see Dr Cooper on Monday for my post op followup appointment. I know ill get at least one drain out, since its only putting out 10 ccs a day. The direct opposite of my other one....which doesnt STOP draining. Hopefully itll slow down soon.

The PS filled the right TE with 200ccs during in doesnt resemble a breast in any way looks like a raised flat surface! But i know itll come....eventually.

And God willing, ill be able to ave my exchange by the end of the year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Minute Changes

If I close my eyes, I can vividly remember when I sat down to type out my surgery eve blog in April. We had gone to see Scream 4 in the theaters and had dinner at Pei Wei. I ran to Wal-mart for a last minute run, and after I ran around trying to get everything packed and settled for the hospital I sat down at the kitchen table to write. I was not really scared..well I was but more of the unknown then of the actual surgery itself (You know you've had alot of surgeries when the nurses don't even go over the risks of anthesia with you..they just say "Oh you already know all of this.")  I guess now I'm more apprehensive of the end result then the surgery itself. I know pretty much what recovery will be like. As I touched on in my last post, I don't want to be weak and reliant on other people again. I HATE that!

Well I went into my PS appointment today to be marked for surgery. She said she'd decided after thinking long and hard and talking with her partners that a TE only would be the way to go. YAY! So no lat flap- just a tissue expander placement. I'm excited because that means they'll be more equal in every way.

Well this is a short post- lots to do before I turn in. I have to pack my bag..and it's 11:05...I MUST eat again ;)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life's not fair

I'm definitely in a funk. I feel very unreasonable, like I just want to pout. I'm not really in the mood to be reasoned with or talked to. Or even agreed with... I'd prefer someone not to talk to me about this at all. I undrerstand that me writing a blog on the subject that I'm in no mood to be talked to about is counterproductive but I don't care. SEE??? THAT'S the mood I'm in. Completely illogical and irrational...

According to my counter I have 2 days and some hours until my next surgery. I feel like at this point in April, I was definitely preparing myself. I was ready to face things head on...I didn't know what to expect, but I felt like I could take on anything that was thrown at me.

Oh, and there was plenty thrown at me! I needed several more hands to catch it fact I wanted to throw some of it back. I won't rehash everything that's transpired since April..if you've read past blogs or kept up with me in any way than you'll know (and if you haven't, feel free to read past blogs!) But somehow, I prevailed. I didn't let any of that stuff get me down and I managed to be semi-normal over these past few months. I started a new job, got my hair done (courtesy of Ms. wonderful hair stylist at Tangles...shameless plug hehe), spent more time in the gym, saw movies, etc etc. I lived! I saw my PS a few times, but that was ok. Instead of rushing in with no makeup, hair in a ponytail, glasses, and too big button down shirts and workout pants with flip flops, with my drains hanging out, I bounced in with my hair done, makeup, and decent clothes. I no longer spent at least 20 minutes a day, looking at my new body in the mirror obsessively. I didn't obsess over every little change with my stubborn right side. When I had first had my expander removed, the doctor told me that it would be extremely hard to the touch...and it was like a brick wall! She told me it would soften up, and once it was softened all of the way up it would be ready to be operated on again. Imagine my shock when I looked down one day and saw it all soft again...I hadn't even noticed! I say all that to say this- I'd gotten back to some sembalance of normal. Even though my wardrobe choices were limited and I can't lay on my side for very can forget laying on my stomach at all. I did make some goofy wardrobe choices...circa a 9 month pregnant Rachel on Friends coming out in a halter top and stubbornly asking everyone "What does it not look ok?"

I think about all of I enjoy my life now and I realize that in 2 measly little days I'll have to START ALL OVER?!? That I'll once again be dependant on the kindess of strangers (Well really Mike and my family), have to deal with not 1, not 2 BUT THREE drains, take at least 30 minutes to take a shower, 5 of which include actually being in the shower the rest is just prep time, not really being able to actually fix my hair so it's thrown to a crap ponytail until my mom feels sorry for me enough to fix it for me, looking like death...and probably smelling like it too because my arm is too tired to lift itself up enough to put on deoderant. Taking my pain meds like clockwork, because the one time I tried to skip a dose I ended up in so much pain I wanted to claw my eyeballs out. Do I sound bitter?

Let me clarify...the recovery from the surgery isn't really that bad. It's no walk in the park, but it beats having cancer and going through chemo..and oh yeah the recovery won't KILL YOU. But this is where I start to whine...I've paid my dues. I've gone through the crap and I shoukl, in a perfect world, be getting readt for my implant exchange surgery so I could happily start this semester of school with new foobs. Instead, I'll barely have my drains out and I'll be thrown back into school. Which means I'll have to deal with fills as well as studying. But then again,  I guess in a perfect world I wouldn't have had to have the %&^* surgery in the first place.

I'm complaining now, but I know my personality. I'll bounce into my PS's office Tuesday to get marked and then bounce in the OR suite Wednesday morning, full of "Yes ma'am"s and "No sirs" and "please" and "Thank you." If they have trouble starting an IV or taking blood I'll apologize profusely like it's my fault that my veins roll. You see, ever since I was little I was taught to be polite to doctors and treat them with respect. You really are a product of your upbringing,,,which is a scary thought. That's a completely different blog topic that I'm not touching right now.

For the next two days, I'll go to the gym, play with my dogs, and play with my niece. I'll try to stock up at the grocery store and try to push my surgery out of my head. Do I dare hope it'll be smooth sailing from here after this operation? That I'll soon be back to bouncing into places and getting fills and before I know it, it'll be time for my exchange?

Only time will tell....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Testing, 1,2,3

As I've said before I made my decision to have a PBM based on a genectic mutation called "Cowden's Syndrome" which is a mutation of the P-10 gene (the tumor suppressor gene). I've always known about BRCA 1 and 2 but just thought that like every other thing in my life I was in the lower percentage of people who had different genectic mutations. I never really gave it a second thought...Cowden's was enough to deal with!

Recently, my biological mother passed away from breast cancer. I had been told that she had "the breast cancer gene" which made something click in my mind. Could I possibly have the BRCA mutation as well as  Cowden's? My first thought was, "Would God do that??? Would God give me two genectic mutations???" I timidly broached the subject with my BS during my pre-op consult. He said that it was possible that she was referring to the BRCA gene, but I shouldn't worry about being tested since I was having a mastectomy based on the Cowden's syndrome. He said I should wait until everything passed over and  THEN worry about getting tested.

I had tried to put it out of my mind as best as I could. It was always there, lurking in the farthest corner of my thoughts though. Could I be a BRCA carrier as well? I also knew that there was an ovarian cancer risk associated with one of the BRCA mutations. Since I'm only 27, I do not want to have my ovaries removed yet, but if I had a higher risk I wanted to know about it. I knew that ovarian cancer was a hard disease to catch in the early stages, but that there was a blood test that could be done to kind of watch certain levels in your blood.  I didn't really know too much about it though, mainly because all I could (still) think about was BOOBS!

My yearly dreaded trip to the OBGYN was due and I finally decided to make an appointment for today, so I could get it out of the way before my surgery Wednesday. When I got there, they handed me some forms to fill out and also an extra pink sheet. The receptionist explained that it was a questionaire that they had added for all patients. I looked down and saw it was a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer in your family. I looked harder and saw that they had started offering the BRCA test to their patients. I sighed as the thought "Well, there goes my excuse that I don't have anywhere to go get tested:"

When they called me back to the exam room, the nurse brought up the subject of testing to me. I had already explained that I had my PBM in April and told her of my possible BRCA inheritance. She said just to bring it up to the doctor. When the doctor walked in, after I gleefully said "You don't get to feel me up this time!" then after he looked at me with surprise I explained about the mastectomy, I asked about the testing. I told him while I didn't want to remove my ovaries at this time, it'd be nice to know if I have an added risk. I also wanted to know every joyful thing I could pass on to my hypothetical kids (there are those hypothetical kids again). He said that we could do the blood draw in the office today and get the results back in a week.

So, here I am, waiting for my surgery date and waiting for my test results. I don't feel like I'm an emotional wreck about the test results like I know some people are. I guess it's since I've already made my decisions, carried them out, and am now just waiting on my life to get back to normal. I just want to KNOW. Because as cheesy as it sounds...the saying is true "Knowledge is power!" or at least in this case, ignorance certainly isn't bliss.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new....

I realized earlier tonight that this is the first time since I've started this blog that I've gone more than a week without writing a new entry. I used to look at people's blogs who would go 2-3 weeks between updates and think "Wow, I hope I get to the point where I don't NEED to update all of the time.." Am I there?? I honestly don't know yet.

I went to the doctor this past week to have a "secondary pre-op consult." I'm READY to get this surgery OVER WITH! According to my counter, I have 10 days. I've gotten the time off from work approved and am ready to go. Just need to get my pre-op blood work done this week. One weird thing- they haven't gotten the approval letter from my insurance company yet. Since I've swtitched jobs, I do have new insurance HOWEVER I've paid for COBRA for this very reason. The people in the doctor's office said there shouldn't be any problem so I'm going to try not to let it stress me. I told them that I'd just proceed like everything was ok until I heard otherwise from them.

I don't remember if I made reference to it or not, but one of things that I did for myself before surgery was to have boudoir pictures taken. Now, this was a semi-difficult thing for me to do. I've always had some body images issues so the idea of parading around shirtless and again in lingerie wasn't a thought that was incredibly appealing to me. However, I knew that I wanted to capture the way that I was naturally. And I wanted it better than me snapping a pic with my digital camera in  the bathroom. So when a friend of mine recommended this photographer (Made You Look Photography), I went for it. I finally got the finished product today (no ones fault..I just waited awhile to get the pictures) I'm so glad that I did it! They are by far the best pictures that I've ever taken. I've never seen that side of granted I probably won't be parading around the house in lingerie but it definitely has helped me have more confidence!

I've been asked why I felt the need to take pictures...why I'd want to remember something that tried to kill me. It's very hard to explain...but I'll try! I needed to be able to hold onto something from the past. I needed to have something tangible to grasp and look at and say "That's what I used to be"  I didn't want this PBM to erase the person I used to be.

Now, I know there may be people who are thinking ,"You only changed the size of your have you changed that much?" Well,  a PBM..or any mastectomy for that matter, changes you greatly on an emotional level as well. I'd like to think that I've matured a little this past year. I certainly look at things differently and process things differently. Puts things into perspective, I guess. So yes my bra size did change, but my outlook on life changed too. When I stop and think about what I've been through...what I'm going through now...I'm almost surprised at my strength and resilience.

Do I know what the new me will be like? What the finished product will be? I'm not sure yet....stay tuned!

Old Me

New Me??

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Misery loves company..but apparently company doesn't love misery?

It's funny...the post that I wrote entitled "No Words" a few months ago almost didn't get written. It was probably at my lowest point, and I didn't think that anyone would be interested in seeing that side of me. I also didn't want to scare off people reading this blog, who were potentially debating on having a mastectomy. However, it actually had the opposite effect. To this day, it is the most read post on my blog (116 views) and I've had several e-mails about it. "Honest and moving" is what one comment read. In fact, in addition to the two testimonial type things that I wrote for The Breast Reconstruction Guidebook", the author is using part of that post in the book. (The book will come out next summer). I say all that to say this, since I'm pretty much in the same mood NOW as I was when I wrote that post, maybe this post will be just as popular. Or this will be the one that causes me to lose friends and eventually get committed to an asylum. It's a toss-up really.

Poor little naive me, thought that once I had my PBM in April that I'd be ok. I thought that all of the stress and worry would be gone and I'd be happily on my way to wonderful foobs (and fipples). Fast forward three months and a few days and I'm just as stressed and worried as I was then, Except now I REALLY can't put my finger on what's bothering me. Feeling like damaged goods, maybe? Spending an extra 10 minutes in the morning obsessing over whether or not my fake boob is even with my boulder boob? Being hot because our 100+ humidity days do not lend themselves to layering like I am having to do (a shelf camisole under EVERYTHING plus occasionally a cardigan on top to cover up the un-even boobage I have going on? Dealing with stress the best way I know how but the worst way for me (eating?) ???? So, see I have lots on my place. Not to mention a new job and a new semester staring me in the face. I already didn't pass AP 2 last semester..if I don't really bring it this time then it's bye-bye nursing school. Or maybe it's the fact that I feel like such a broken, damaged person that I can't have a nice, normal relationship with anyone. I feel almost unworthy of love and attention from anyone. I know, I know that's stupid and silly but it's the way I'm feeling right now so bear with me. Or maybe it's because I feel incapable of being what some people want me to be. OR it could be because I'm nervous about telling my new job that I need off a few days for my lat flap (I work at home, so hopefully I can stagger in my "office" and work a few days after surgery) See why I feel crazy and stressed?? Before anyone reserves me a bed in the mental hospital, take my current situation into account please.

It's just hard having to go this alone. Not alone, alone but there's really no one I can talk to honestly and openly about everything. So unfortunately that means that my readers are my only sounding board and get to hear all of my rants and ramblings. When I think about how much is ahead of me, I get tired. In a perfect world, someone out there (I'm not sure I care who now) will hold me when I cry, tell me I'm a beautiful person inside and out, promise to be there every step of the way, and hold my hand through everything I have to go through. But truthfully, it's almost hard for me to take that. Ever since I was young, I always thought it showed weakness to cry and lean on people. That means my stock answer to "How are you?" is "FINE!" and "Do you need anything?" is "NO!" I've said it before, but I guess it's because I feel like people have their own problems and don't need to be bogged down with mine.

Oh and did I mention that my right side scar is itching SOOOO bad!!! =(

I know, I know...when I look back on all of this it'll seem so far away, I'll be a better person BLAH BLAH BLAH. I'm just not to that point yet.

Well I'm done rambling incoherently now. Time to hit the gym, and see if I can bust some stress the healthy way

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? I could really use a wish right now"

I actually heard that song on the way home from my PS appointment today. But I thought it fit my mood, and honestly it's too hot here right now to put a lot of thought into a clever, witty title so there you go :)

My PS appointment.....BIG SIGH. I didn't get another fill like I thought I would. I have 910 CC's in my expander and she said with a 800 CC implant that leaves enough of a skin pocket for the implant. I also have excess skin under my arms (hey I was a big chested girl) that she said she could lipo off when I had my exchange.I'm pretty happy I get a break from fills for awhile.

We also discussed my other surgery. She had said they had discussed latissmissus flap vs. tissue expander...but the general consensus is that I'd be better off doing the lat flap for my right breast. I had always thought that I'd leave it up to my PS..that I knew what I wanted to do but she knew what was better for me medically. She said that she would like both of them to be the same (so would I) but if I want to get back to school and back to LIFE in general, that the lat is the best way to go. She said that they will divide the sensory nerves and there really isn't much pain involved in the surgery. She said at worst that it'll feel like I had a really rough workout (oh boy). She said she's had patients tell her that the lat flap is less painful than the TE placement.. So hopefully, it won't be a big production for me to go through...just wham, bam, thank you ma'am and I'm back to normal. Another good thing is that the fills will be quicker, because the TE doesn't have to get as full since there's the lat muscle there as well. So that's DEFINITELY a good thing.

So those are the pros- here are the cons. I'll have to stay overnight in the hospital...pretty sucky but it's doable. Since I'll have one implant and one latissmissus recon, the appearance of both breasts (in clothes) will be the same..not perfectly symmetrical but what real breasts are? However, the scar pattern will be different on the two breasts. I know that those fade with time, but it's still in the con category. Also, the two breasts feel different. The implant side will feel...well like an implant. The lat flap side will  feel a lot more natural. On the left side, the only thing standing between me and the TE is a layer of skin and some pec muscle. I'll have a nice big hunk of lat muscle on the right side, which will give it a softer, more natural feel. She said that I would be able to tell the difference and whoever I was with would be able to tell the difference. Uh-oh. Now granted Mike knows about everything...but a girl wants to feel and look normal, you know? When I'm with someone, I don't want to be thinking "Ugh, I'm all scarred and funky looking..and of course they feel different so it's obvious they're not real." This is probably a dumb thing for me to be thinking about, but I can't help it. This surgery as a whole does a real number on your self-esteem and body image. Just something I'll have to deal with I guess. And I'll have drains again...not sure how many. I'm hoping for one but I'm betting on two realistically. And they do SUCK. Literally and figuratively. They're uncomfortable, hard to carry around, and someone has to help you empty and record the output. Trust me, it's very hard to feel attractive when someone is holding a cup of bloody drainage from your surgical site. Also, I feel like I'm reaching the end of people's patience with this whole process. I'm scared I'll end up driving myself to the hospital next month.

Since I had my expander removed on 5/18, the doctor says I can have the lat flap surgery on 8/18, or around that time. That should give me plenty of time to get well before school starts on 9/7. So if you'll notice, I changed the date on my countdown clock to 8/18. I'll change it again once I get the firm date set. And then the waiting begins again.... I feel like my whole LIFE is governed by countdown clocks!

Monday, July 4, 2011


I know I mentioned it when my grandmother died in April, but since there was so much happening for me in such a short period of time, I feel like I didn't get to really touch on the subject. I stand by what I said before, that I'm glad that her suffering ended. It was truly hard to see her towards the end. And I also stand by the fact that I feel lost. I tried to visit her as much as possible, and when I couldn't we'd talk on the phone. She was great! I have yet to find another person who's face lights up when I come to visit them like her's did. I felt like I could talk to her about anything and she'd listen and not pass (much) judgment. It's definitely an adjustment now that she's gone. I have several of her things at my house, which make me feel a little better (her cross stitch pictures, a quilt she made, her jewelry armoire and some jewelry). I guess I just feel like I didn't really get the chance to mourn like a normal person..I had to get through the funeral without crying much (she made me promise not to cry when I gave the eulogy), and then I had finals, surgery, and recovery from surgery. I'm just now calming down from it all!

I'd mentioned before that I spoke at her funeral. The day that she died, I wrote out what I was going to say. Of course I didn't save a copy on the computer, so I wanted to type it out here so I'd have it saved somewhere. She basically told me she wanted people to know that she was a good person, and always smiling. And she wanted people to laugh. I also had a time limit imposed (by her). So, I think what I wrote met all of those criteria. If not, I'm sure one day when I get to heaven I'll hear about it :) Bear in mind, I ad libbed a couple of things but stuck to this general guideline. I just wanted everything down in case I got too nervous and ended up just reading it. Here it is:

"One day, visiting my grandmother, she began asking me what I thought about her funeral arrangements. I knew she was meeting with the pastor soon, and these things were weighing on her mind. She then took a deep breath and asked me if I would mind speaking at her funeral. She asked it so seriously, it actually rendered me speechless for a minute. When  I recovered from shock, I told her I'd be glad to. Then, knowing me as well as she did, she looked me in the eye and said, "Honestly Michelle try to keep it to under 3 minutes. I know how you like being the center of attention." So, I'll try my best not to dissapoint her.
When I try to think of a memory of my grandmother to share, so many run through my mind. Because I lived in the same hour as her for most of my life, there are not only the memorable moments, like holidays but the simple day to day things that only my grandmother could come up with. For instance, once at Christmas time, she was sitting on a large box, taking pictures and opening presents. When it came her turn to open her present from my grandfather, she realized it was a necklace. She looked up at him and said "Oh a silver necklace! How nice!" and he says "Actually, it's platinum" to which, she promptly screamed and fell off of the box.
I think I speak for all of the grandchildren, when I say that our fondest memory was of Granny's Camp. My grandmother had all of her grandchildren at her house for the week. a task I'm not sure she was up too..since there was only ONE week-long Granny's camp. That week she had to put up with such antics as me boldly proclaiming that the safest place to walk down the road was in between the yellow lines in the middle of the road, I can only imagine her surprise and horror when she looked out of the window and saw all of her precious grandchildren walking down the middle of the busiest street of the neighborhood. Although the week-long camp never happened again, that wasn't the last time that Granny bit off more than she could chew. I remember one August, she decided she was going to get up and cook breakfast for my sisters and I before we went off to school. That lasted all of 2 days, until she realized that kids go to school way before 12 noon, which was the time she normally got out of bed.
One memory I'll always have is my grandmother's fiery red hair. I always thought that God knew just what he was doing when he picked out her hair color because it matched her personality so well...until my mom told me that it was more Clairol and not God who gave Granny her red hair.
 Another thing that my cousins and I will always remember fondly, is her vocabulary. I honestly thought that words such as "Geehosaphat" and phrases like "I'll jerk a knot in your coperosity" were in the dictionary. That really got me some strange looks when I started repeating these phrases.
I could go on and on for a lot longer than 3 minutes talking about the different things my grandmother did. As eccentric as she was, Granny was always someone you could go to with anything. While she may tell you just how wrong you were in doing something, she always looked at you with an understanding smile and love in her eyes. Sometimes, she even offered advice. One time, while my sister was discussing her romantic troubles, Granny says "Get married and then fall in's the old fashioned way." She was very supportive of anything that we did and would listen to our stories for hours on end, with the rapt attention that one would give a good book or a suspenseful TV show. And no matter what, she was always ready with a smile. I can't think of a time that I saw her, that she didn't smile. We found a poem that she  wrote, called "The Value of a Smile" which  I think sums up her personality. In the poem she says "A smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive it, without impovershing those who give. It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever." On the morning that she died, right before I left the house, I came in to say my goodbyes. When I looked at her face, finally at peace, I could still see a hint of a smile. Even though there will be a big hole in all of our lives, now she's in heaven, singing with angels and smiling down on those she loves."
When I was a teenager, my grandmother and I didn't really get along. I don't know if it was because she lived in the same house as I did and I saw her more of a mother (and what teen gets along with their mother?) or because we were very much alike. I want to say I regret that HOWEVER I think that short period of not getting along helped me to appreciate her as I got older.

I'll always remember when she told me, "Sometimes you'll hurt, sometimes you'll be sick. Take your medicine, do what you do to have to get well and move on. Don't dwell on's not your whole life" Well something to that effect!

I know I've said it before, but my grandmother readily agreed that I should have my PBM. Having her blessing, made the decision easier. Even though she couldn't be with me on surgery day, I have a feeling she convinced God to let her watch..otherwise He would've gotten an earful :)

 We love and miss you Granny!

Me and Granny at my cousin Jenifer's wedding. This was during her last round of treatments for Inflammatory Breast Cancer. This was in October of last December she'd go into the hospital with pneumonia, and then her health never got any better. She died this past April 
My sisters and I with Granny on her birthday. She died a week later.