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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Surgery Day and other things...

I'd been meaning to post pictures of my surgery day, but haven't gotten around to it yet. My mom was with me every step of the way during my hospital stay and took pictures of everything (well not the actual surgery, but you know what I mean.) Lots of girls post pictures of their foobs in various stages of reconstruction but this is the closest I'll get to that. :)

This is me at the plastic surgeon's office before heading to the hospital. This is while I was waiting on Dr. Cooper to get there to mark me before surgery

This is at the hospital back in the same day surgery room. I had just changed into my gown and was waiting on the nurses to come play 20 Questions with me and stick me with my IV and all that fun stuff

This one is a little blurry. I had gone back into pre-op holding only to be told that my other doctor (Dr. King- my BS) was running late. Notice the phone in my hand- I was frantically texting Mike and updating Facebook, trying to keep my mind off of the fact that I'd be taken back into my PBM any minute

My lovely hat right before surgery. SOO fashionable. Notice the marking on my chest (There was so much more..I was covered with marks!) At this point, Dr. King and the rest of my wonderful surgical team was there, we were just waiting on an OR to open up

This is me after the never-ending night I spent in the hospital. I had changed to my comfy pjs (that were a gift from my Aunt Bobbi) and had been moved (somewhat reluctantly on my part) to a chair beside my bed. I wasn't trying to cover up my flat chest- the doctor had ordered me to keep a warm blanket on my chest. I also had to have oxygen. The doctor was trying to help my right side, which was already showing signs of failing.

These aren't neccessarily my best pictures by a long shot, but I wanted to post them. Notice the lack of sleep on my face? And my glasses and no makeup. I had tried to straighten my hair that morning in a misguided attempt to make myself feel better before I left for the hospital. HOWEVER I was so distracted that I did a less than stellar job (notice the first few pictures). Luckily for me, my mom put my hair in a ponytail the next morning. I got to go home about 2-3 hours after the last picture was taken.

For those of you not keeping up with my blogs (shame, shame) unfortunately my right expander couldn't be saved. I got it removed a month after surgery. Then I have to wait 6-8 weeks to have a lat flap procedure done to reconstruct the right side. An expander will be placed under the flap so I'll eventually have a small implant and a lat flap on the right side and a bigger implant on the left. I've had several people ask me how the procedure will work. The PS will make a small incision on my back and cut part of the latissimus dorsi muscle. The muscle, or "flap" will be tunneled around to my chest and placed. Part of the skin will be used to close the incision, so the skin won't be stretched as tightly. The lat flap will have good blood supply as well. The PS has assured me that each side will look the same in clothes, and only the scar pattern will be different on the right side.I don't have the exact date for this surgery, but I've started kind of an approximate countdown clock for it anyway. After I have the expander behind the lat flap filled, I'll wait 3 months and FINALLY have the exchange surgery, so I'll start an approximate countdown clock for that as well. I'll change them when I have a firm date. I've located these pictures on the internet, as kind of a diagram of how the procedure is performed-

Now that I'm feeling better, I can start to worry about selling Mary Kay. I have added the link to my website under my Interesting Websites list. You should definitely check it out! I love Mary Kay products, so I'm excited about being able to sell it! And it'll be nice to have some extra spending's a change not having a steady paycheck and still having little expenses. Of course, Mike has been wonderful, getting my prescriptions and buying groceries. The address to my website is You can ship your order anywhere for a low price! Ok, that's it for my shameless plug!

One problem I'm having is anxiety again. It's not as bad as it was before my surgery- but I worry about things going wrong. I constantly look at my scars, and analyze it. I mentioned this to another PS I saw (Dr. Cooper was out of town- and I needed to get my drain out) and he said he didn't blame me for worrying. He said I was fine, but it was completely understandable that I would worry because of everything I'd been through. Hopefully the worse is behind me and it'll be smooth sailing from here (and yes I knocked on wood!)

Hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day tomorrow! I'm going to my Aunt's and Uncle's. I may not get in the pool,but it'll be nice to be around family and get out of the house. I'm slowly but surely getting back to normal. Pretty soon, it'll be time to ZUMBA again..I can't wait!!!!

The Misadventures of a Lopsided Girl

Since I'd been feeling better over the past few weeks, I decided it was time to start venturing out of the house. I ordered a fake boob..a leisure form from and was impatiently waiting on it to come in the mail. I guess in all honestly it wasn't too noticeable that I was lopsided, but I'd feel better knowing I looked even.

My mom called me and asked if I wanted to go with her and my sisters and the kids she babysits to the Wolfchase mall. I agreed..I was so bored I had scrubbed the sink the day before (that's bad!). When it came time to get ready, my package hadn't arrived so I was stuck trying to find something to stuff my shirt with, running around like a flat chested 13 year old girl. The PS had told me to wear a camisole with a shelf in it or a wireless bra. Since all of my bras had underwire, and were too big anyway I found one of my camis and finally decided how to stuff it. I cut the shoulder pads out of a shirt and used a pad from one of my sports bras.

I had a really good time at the mall. Hanging with Baylee and Ty (they're 3 and 1) is always a treat. I was a little tired, but happy to be back out in civilization again. We rode the carousel, and hit up the Disney store. The kids started to get hungry, so my mom, my sisters, and I took the kids to the food court. When we settled down to eat, I felt something on my stomach. I looked down and realized my impromptu boob had fallen down my shirt! I looked over at my sister and said "MY BOOB FELL OUT" As she was laughing, I discreetly tried to fix it.

Needless to say, I was worn out that afternoon! The next night, Mike took me to Pei Wei and to see The Hangover 2. By then, my leisure form had arrived in the mail, so I didn't have to worry about my boob ending up in my stomach. I had so much fun going out! The food was delicious as usual and the movie was SOO funny!

Mike suggested that I get up and drive myself to church this morning. I haven't been to church since April 17, the day before my surgery. I got myself up, got dressed, and actually DROVE! I hadn't driven a car since April 17 either and was very excited! Church was great, and I missed everyone so much. I'm so happy to slowly be getting back to a normal life...even if it's only for a little while until my next surgery.

Even though my leisure form is very natural looking I'm still self conscious. I kept looking down and trying to discreetly adjust it....I suppose I'll get used to it (eventually). It's hard finding clothes to left side in all it's expanded glory is sitting high on my chest, so I have cleavage sticking out on one side. I try to cover it up as much as I can...I suppose it's all in my head.

I was looking on and found this shirt. I LOVE IT! I want to order's funny and makes me less self conscious---

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Lesson learned....things will not always go the way I want. I have been sufficiently taught this lesson can SOMETHING go the way I want? Sheesh. I won't even begin to go into how my imagined recovery vs. My real recovery has differed. Im trying to grin and bear it..really I am.

It's been six days since I've had my expander out. I'm beginning to see exactly why everyone who didn't have reconstruction said the surgery was so easy. Aside from the initial "Ow, I've been sliced open!" pain, I have literally felt no pain on my right side. My left side however...ouch! Dr. Cooper expanded me pretty aggressively. I know have 750 ccs in my left expander, and aside from the 50 ccs that was filled during my PBM I've only been getting fills for two and a half weeks. When I was at the doctor Friday she asked me if I wanted another fill. I told her a little one, and she filled me 50 ccs. I started to feel it and asked her to stop there. I immediately asked if she thought I was wimpy and she assured me after everything I'd endured, nothing could be farther than the truth.

I've had a lot of people ask me if the fills hurt. They don't hurt....but they're no walk in the park either. Have you ever seen the old movies where they hooked someone up to a device, by tying their hands to one end and their feet to another and slloowwllyy turned a wheel to stretch them out? Well that's what it feels like!

I still have one drain in from last weeks surgery (I think I'll have one forever) and I have some pain and discomfort from that. Then my back is sore, and I feel like I have a boulder on my chest. I've began sleeping in my bed again...I tried to lay on my side, but as I was going down my shoulder popped and it freaked me out so bad I haven't tried again. When I wake up, my chest feels really heavy. It's like I have something sitting on my chest, pushing me down that I have to try to fight against.

One thing that's been really weird is my right side is completely flat! Even though I had a TE and only 50 ccs in, it still was something! I am now completely flat.vso, I've ordered a fake boob to stuff my shirt with so I don't look completely freakish when I venture out into the world again. And just when I get to feeling normal BOOM it'll be time for my lat flap!

Since I have 750 ccs in my left side...I think that's a C cup, but I'm not sure! It's completely aggravating me not to know! I have to remember to ask my doctor...but I read somewhere that 250 ccs equals one cup size. When it's all over, she said I'll look like I had a breast reduction. Which sounds great to me!

So until then, I'm going to slowly try to get back to some semblance of normal...we will see how that goes :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Month

I honestly cannot believe it's already been a month since my mastectomy. Even though, with all the complications I'm still very glad I had the surgery. You may be asking, "Why am I blogging again so close to my last entry?" well, two reasons..1- I wanted to write about what happened yesterday and 2- since I can't eat or drink I need to pass the time until it's time to leave. Oh yes, you heard me. I'm having surgery today. Apparently my right expander and my body really don't get along, so one of them has got to go..and obviously it's my expander and not me.

I was originally supposed to go to the doctor today at 11am to make the decision whether or not to remove my expander, which would then be scheduled for Thursday. Well, yesterday morning, I noticed a wet spot on my shirt. When I went to the bathroom, I saw my incision was leaking. I immediately applied pressure to it, thinking it would stop soon. It didn't, instead it started leaking more quickly. I started to panic, texting Mike and then calling the doctor. The nurse told me that Dr Cooper was out but to come in right away to see the on call doctor. Mike went to Walgreens and returned with gauze and tape and started to bandage me up. He put three gauze pads on and taped it pretty securely. (Which by the way, I think he deserves a medal or something. He's been absolutely wonderful during this whole thing. Even though I've told him more than once I'd understand if he left. I feel pretty gross lately) While I was standing in the living room, waiting on him to get changed so we could go, I noticed a wet spot. WHAT!? I yelled at him that I was leaking through. He grabbed a paper towel and we headed off to the doctor. We had no more than made it 10 minutes up the road when I realized I had soaked through the paper towel. He pulled off at a store and got a roll of paper towels. And off we went. Did I mention I was in full on panic mode? I can handle a lot and I like to think I'm a strong person but something about fluid practically gushing from your body was enough to undo me.

By the time we got to the doctor I had calmed down. When we walked in, the nurse from the surgery center told us hello. The surgery center is across the hall from the PS. Guess I'll get to talk to her today... Anyway, as I walked in I realized that potential patients of the PS may get scared off. I looked horrendous! I went and talked to the doctor we reaffirmed what Dr Cooper thought would have to happen. They moved my 11am appointment to 9 am and instructed me not to eat or drink after midnight. I'm just ready to get this over.

So I guess it's a lopsided life for me for awhile. I guess I'll buy some bras my new size and stuff the right side. Funny, I had an image of boldly walking into Victorias Secret and asking them to measure me for a bra..and then seeing one boob. Bet I'll win the prize for most interesting customer :)

Well, guess I better start getting ready. You know, Dr Cooper said I'd made quite an impression on all the nurses at the surgery center. At least I know I'll get good care :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Never been good at waiting

When I ended my last post, i was worried about having more debridement surgery.Well, on Monday I did. But on the bright side my doctor removed my last two drains! I can't tell you, it's so much easier to do anything without feeling like you have extra limbs.And she started to fill my left side during surgery! She said since the right side was still healing she would leave it alone for now. So I was a happy camper since I started to have a boob and surgery was done.

As I went to my appointment on Wednesday and the PS took one look at my right side and said "You're probably going to lose that expander" WHAT?! Apparently, I had developed cellulitis. She gave me Levaquin and Bactrim-two very strong antibiotics and told me to come back on Friday. She gave me a 10 day supply and told me to call if it gets worse. So, now I was stuck taking meds that made me feel horrible.

When I went back on Friday she agreed the infection had cleared up but that we weren't out of the woods yet. So now I have an appointment to go back Wednesday to make the final decision.

So, you may be asking yourself, what happens if I lose the expander? Well, I'd have to wait 6-8 weeks and then have another surgery...the lat flap procedure. That is where they take part of your latissimus muscle and move it to your chest wall. Then, they also place an expander in. She said the lat muscle is about 400ccs so the idea is to add 400ccs to the tissue expander and eventually another implant. I'm exhausted just talking about it. Hopefully the meds will work and I can just fill up thus expander I already have. But that's the plan if it doesn't work.

Did I mention I have 500ccs in the left side and 50ccs in the right? FIFTY. So I'm lopsided! And if I have to have the expander removed I'll stay that way for awhile. That sucks!

I'm trying slowly but surely to regain my normal life. I went to my sisters baby shower yesterday and went shopping beforehand. I had fun, but when I got home I had to take a muscle relaxer and pain pill and slept for almost 4 hours.

This infection is making me feel so helpless. All I can do ia sit around and wait for the meds to work...... Until then, I'm trying to keep my prespective and keep smiling. All the trouble I've had and I don't for one second regret having the PBM. And even though this seems like forever now, this too shall pass. And when I'm 80 and still have the breasts of a 20 year old, I'll look back at this and laugh :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

A minor setback

Well I ended my last post by saying that I'd definitely have the other two drains out by today. WRONG! There's a place on the incision on my right side that a scab fell off prematurely and now it's open. When I went to the PS today, she was concerned about it. She said that if it had been a simple breast reduction then she would just leave the area alone and let it heal. BUT being that I have alloderm and tissue expanders so close to the surface that she didn't want to take any chances on them getting infected. So I have strict instructions on how to care for the area over the weekend. I go back to the doctor on Monday and unless it's a lot better looking, I have to go back to the OR for another debridement. AH! if that happens, that will mean it will be 4 surgeries total.bnow, I know it could be worse. I keep telling myself that. I mean I completely dodged a bullet by eliminating my breast cancer risk. But between this new development and the fact that my drains haven't stopped draining YET (and yes ive already been told it's because I'm full of it) this SUCKS no doubt. I have no idea how this all will affect my timeline of recon that I had laid out in my head going into this. Oh well...I'll be able to exercise my "go with the flow"ness that everyone knows and loves :)

Another thing, I hate being stuck in the house! I feel like the whole world is going on without me! Maybe when I finally get these ***** drains out, I'll be able to get out some and slowly regain my sense of normalcy!

Well I'm going to wrap this up. I don't want to be completely whiny and complaining. I'm just feeling crappy right now! Maybe tomorrow will be a better day!