A Change of a Breast

....Or Two!

It has been exactly 1 whole week since I have been boobless.
Yes, that's right, I had a double mastectomy! I've been trying to wrap my mind around what it means to be without natural breasts anymore, but before I get too existential, I am going to just sit back, enjoy the heck out of these pain meds and tell you what has happened in the last week. 
Monday, October 12th, the day before my surgery, I had to go in to the hospital to receive an injection of blue dye in to my right breast. The blue dye is picked up by the lymphatic vessels and travels to the sentinel nodes. The day of the surgery, the surgeons use a probe that highlights the dye, enabling them to find the main sentinel nodes, which are considered the "gatekeepers" to the other lymph nodes. From there, they remove 1 to 2 sentinel nodes and dissect them to make sure my cancer hadn't spread to the nodes. I haven't gotten the news on this part of the surgery but I am pretty confident there wasn't any cancer in there. Below is the diagram of the shot I received, which to me, is a terrifying photo. I was more nervous for this shot than the actual surgery - Look at that needle and how deep it goes! Before the shot, I made my sister hold my hand while I looked in to her eyes with the fear of God. The nurse giving the shot was really stumped as to why I was so nervous because, first of all, considering everything I've already been through, this should be a walk in the park, secondly, turns out the size of the needle was nothing more than a bee's stinger (exaggerating, but it really was nothin'). So one procedure, down!
From the hospital, my dad took my sister and me shopping. I felt like it was the grown up version of getting a lollipop after a doctor's visit. One beautiful Zara trench coat later, and we were off to dinner. Tom met us for a really special meal at Kulletto's downtown. We ate our hearts out and did one one last cheers to my boobies. Dad rented a hotel room for all of us because we had to be at the hospital at 6am, and who doesn't love staying in hotels? By 9PM we were all passed out, dreaming of lovely things. (By we, I mean they; I didn't fall asleep until 5:00 am, and we had to be awake by 5:15 am. 
Arriving at the hospital at 6AM with the crew was surprisingly calm. I was put in to a prep room, hooked up to an IV and rolled in to the operating room all by 7:30. As I was being put on the operating table, a nurse said she was going to give me something to calm my nerves, and that's the last thing I remember. When I finally woke up, 6 whole hours later, Tom was right there by my side, Dad, Jess and Sam following closely behind. We had the best dinner in the hospital room, compliments of the Ramen Shop and Sam - I felt so spoiled. 
I spent the night in the hospital so they could keep an eye on me and the drains coming out of the incisions. The nurse rolled in a sweet bed for Tom and we had a peaceful night sleep in the hospital together.
The next morning, Tom drove me home to my dad's house in the East bay. We only had one issue on the way home - my dinner from the night before decided it didn't want to stay in my stomach any longer and I was honking out of the car door down Van ness Avenue, and that's the only thing I remember from that day!
The last week has been a bit difficult - It's been very painful with the drains and the stitches and the dressing and only being able to sleep on my back. Just like with my port, I can actually feel the expanders moving around in my chest, which is very weird. I'm also not really sure what's going on under what seems to be a billion layers of padding on my chest, but I do know that I look like some sort of line backer who's gotten her shoulder padding placement confused and wound up putting it on her chest. It looks like I am a 34 double F and I keep wondering if they got confused on the size that I originally wanted to go with? It's also been a bit boring being stuck on the couch because most movement causes a lot of pain.... but I couldn't be happier about my decision to do a bilateral mastectomy. Right now I have the temporary expanders in that will stretch the skin and muscle, and in about a month and a half I will have permanent implants put in. After that surgery, I am hoping I will be able to say goodbye to all things cancer, for good.  

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Happppppy Birthday to meeeee!!!!!

Tuesday was scheduled to be my very last chemo session, which on one hand I was super stoked about, but on the other hand, it was chemo, which made me sick to the point where I could hardly even lift my head off the pillow. I had a lot of mixed emotions but the main one was fear. The way this round of chemo made me feel was unbelievably nauseous and kept me bed ridden for at least 5 days. Torture! I kept asking my family if I could pleeeease just skip this last one, what difference would it make?! But in my mind, I knew that wasn't an option. So, last week I started taking every kind of anti-nasuea supplement you could imagine - ginger root, astralagus, echinacea, and the list goes on. I think I actually kind of made myself sick with all the supplements but I wasn't going to stop, I was on a mission to proactively kicking this nausea to the curb. 
Fast forward to last Tuesday. I woke up still feeling sick from the last chemo, which was 2 weeks ago. My sister and dad picked me up in the morning, per usual, and I was so happy they were going to be by my side for this.
The minute we entered the building I started to feel even more sick. The sterile smells of plastic gloves and anti-bacterial gel had finally gotten to me, and were about to make me lose my lunch.
The morning's events turned out to be pretty normal - blood draw, breakfast, and then a meeting with the doctor. But by the time the 12:00 doc appointment rolled around, I knew the chemo was getting closer and closer, and I was ready to call it quits, book a cab to ANYWHERE but there, and never ever return. I figured it wouldn't be fair to leave my sis and dad high and dry like that so I decided to stay. My doctor arrived to our meeting and immediately acknowledged the fact that I had to go to the ER the weekend before for dehydration and nausea, and then back to the infusion center FOUR times for the same thing. I'm telling you guys, I was miserable. My doctor didn't like that one bit, and hinted at the possibility of skipping this last chemo session. My socks almost blew off I was so excited. She left the room to check with another doctor to see if that would work.  My dad told me to not get my hopes up yet, that there's a big possibility I would still have to have it. I knew that was true, but I couldn't contain myself. The doctor walked back in and after a few minutes of discussion, announced that I would NOT HAVE TO HAVE THE CHEMO!!!!!! My sister started crying, then my dad started tearing up, then I started crying, and there were enough hugs to go around for 3 years. 
I don't think I have ever been so happy in my whole entire life - I felt like I had just dodged a big nausea bullet. Not only would I not be feeling like I was going to die for the next 2 weeks, but I could actually celebrate my birthday! That was a really stellar feeling. 
SO, I'm done with chemo, and next up is surgery! I am scheduled to have a bi-lateral mastectomy on October 13th, so wish me luck!

 

Put 'Em to Sleep

This post is about my ovaries so if you want to know nuthin' about them, then don't keep reading. 

Here we go:
I previously wrote about how my ovaries will shut down from the chemo, so I decided to freeze my eggs in case they don't wake up again and some day I decide I want to have kiddos. Well, they weren't naturally shutting down so my doctor ordered something called Zoladex a few weeks ago. I soon learned that it's 2 shots given 28 days apart by a nurse in to either sides of my abdomen to make my ovaries go to sleep. When the chemo is over, I will have a better chance of them waking back up since they are being put to sleep and woken up manually, instead of naturally. What I did not know until the time came, is that the shot is not liquid, but it's a kind of capsule that is injected in to my belly. NO NO NO NO NO NOPE.
The process of the shot requires a very cold bag of ice to be held on to my stomach for about 10 minutes, then a shot of Lidocaine (local anesthetic), then the actual shot. the nurse was kind enough to warn me how much it will hurt and motioned my sister over to hold my hand so I could squeeze her hand while she was injecting it. The shot actually didn't hurt that bad, thank goodness, but it left behind a pretty nasty bruise so good job to the ice pack and Lidocaine for doing what they were supposed to do. I received the 2nd shot last Tuesday so it's now safe to say, my ovaries are asleep and dreaming. Good for them, but they've left me to deal with some pretty nasty hot flashes so there's no way I am wishing them sweet dreams over here. 
Also, the gross thing about these shots is that I can actually feel the little capsules in my belly if I rub my fingers over them. That kind of stuff really makes me squirm. 

My sister in the hospital bed with me, making me laugh, per usual 

My sister in the hospital bed with me, making me laugh, per usual 

Cuddling up to Adrien Brody, He's so dreamy.

Cuddling up to Adrien Brody, He's so dreamy.

Kick Rocks, Chemo

Last Tuesday marked my 12th chemo session, and this is big big news because 12 sessions means I am donezo!

I kind of just lied. Wishful thinking!!

Like you've read before, I was on a trial chemo drug and a generic chemo drug, doctor's orders, for 12 sessions, and THAT round of therapy is fiiiiinally over. Last Tuesday when I was in the hospital, I had the feeling for the first time of how over cancer I am. I even said it to my sister, remember, Jess? And I never thought I would actually say that out loud. And in the cafeteria of all places. But I am way over it if you couldn't already tell. Although I do need to say, I'm not over the time I get to spend with my sister and dad. I think that's what's been keeping me from saying screw everything, because they really are the best. 
So Tuesday's chemo session was a little difficult. I had to muster up every single tiny particle of energy I had to get out of bed. I was not feeling good. When we got to the hospital, the sickness hit me like one of those trucks I've talked about before and I was not a happy camper. My sister and dad, in true form, made me laugh like hell through the day though, that is, until I was given an Ambien for my nausea and then the benadryl IV. This had to have been one of the deepest sleeps I have ever had in my whole life, and afterwards had me questioning whether Ambien mixed with Benadryl mixed with all that other stuff is safe.....
Anyway, I was awoken by my nurse, dad and sister, all very excited that I had hit the 12th session of chemo. 12 weeks, I cannot believe it. 
On the way out, I grabbed a barf bag as a joke, and then was really glad I had it once I took a few more steps. I got in to the back of my dad's car and felt no other comfortable way than to lay out like a dead rag doll with the AC blowing on my face. I am sure I looked very rude and ungracious, but my god did I feel rotten. I'm so glad there is no photographic evidence of that car ride home. Thank you sissy and dad for all you do and put up with. 

Over the next 8 weeks I will be receiving the more "hardcore" chemo called AC, in which, as my doctor said in not the most delicate of ways, I will lose all my hair, will have neuropothy like it's no body's business, the energy levels of a super tired 90 year old, and have to take 2 shots of the white blood cell protein every couple of days. The anti-nausea medication that I just picked up at Walgreens was no joke either - an excellent indicator as to how I will feel as well. 30 boxes of anti-nausea medication. Even the pharmacist looked a bit surprised with the amount I was carrying out. Better to be safe than sorry right?! 

Not my best photo, but the struggle is real. 

Not my best photo, but the struggle is real.