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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paging Dr. Brain Surgeon

I had my result's appointment today. My recent scan showed progression of the cancer. It had not spread but the activity in the current places was growing busier and so that meant it was time to jump ship because my current medication had stopped working. So, we need to move and a great new option for me is a clinical trial that uses medicinal treatments. It only took me a few moments to determine that this was right for me and the next step would be to meet with a clinical research nurse to get the ball rolling on my enrollemt. I left my appointment today disappointed but glad to have a plan.

Then, I went home and got on with my life. My parents are my strongest supporters that I have and they were with me today. After the appointment, they left and they even took Avery with them for the night, in order to give me a chance to run errands, relax, and unwind from the day's news. 

I was laying on my couch when I suddenly started to experience severe muscle spasms that were leaving my arm numb. Initially, I tried to take an anti-anxiety pill to see if it would relax me. I also chugged a bottle of water hoping it would hydrate me and relax my muscles, and then finally grabbed a snack hoping it would helps blood sugar. But to no avail, the numbness had moved into my right hand now. I lost mobility in my right hand and could not use it. In fact, if I picked up, it would simple fall back into my lap, lifeless. At this point, I was starting to realize that I needed to to be seen by a doctor, so I decided to head to convenient care. When I stood up I realized it was beginning in my foot too, so I called my friend Angie and asked her to come drive me to the hospital. I had trouble walking, but I made it down the stairs where I sat down. I had lost all feeling on my right side at this point and was beginning to panic. I was crying and just kept saying over and over, 'I don't know what is happening to me,' as I had so begun to violently shake. At this point my neighbors had begun to gather and and when the ambulance showed up, I was taken away immediately for fear of a stroke.

At my local hospital, I was given a CAT Scan immediately and steroids to help with numbness and shaking. After being assessed it was decided by my Oncologist, other the phone, that I needed to be transferred to RUSH for more tests. About four hours after I arrived at the ER, I was whisked away in another ambulance to make the trek to Chicago. But luckily, I had regained feeling and the majority of my body motion at this point.

When I arrived at Rush, I was admitted at 1am. At 5am I was taken to for an MRI of my brain which confirmed that there was a tumor and swelling on my left frontal lobe. That area of the brain controls sensation and strength for your body and explains why I had, what they are now referring to, as a seizure.

The size of the tumor is medium/large but it is right under my skull and considered very operable. SO, at 10am.... TODAY... I will be having brain surgery.

I will let that sink in for you, bc I know I needed it to as well at first....

Once the tumor is removed, they will do radiation to the area around it it insure that the removal was successful. From there, I will be transported to the ICU for one night and then a regular room after that, but hopefully won't exceed 3 more days in the hospital.

Going forward, I will be monitored with an MRI in addition to my scans. I actually  knew something was wrong this time. I had felt a shift in myself, in my intuition,
And how I felt physically. But- I hadn't anticipated it to be this. Not at all. But this is considered, catching it early and so that's a good thing!! I'm very at peace with the decision to have surgery and I'm extremely confident in the surgeon who is caring for me.

I'm asking for your prayers and positive thoughts. It is a bump in the road, but I'm still going to be fine. So, please don't worry--- only send your good thoughts, your love, good juju, and lots of prayers!!!

 Xoxo

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's That Time Again...

Surprised to see me again? Yesterday was a scan day, so I thought that I would take you along with me for that ride this time.

I get PET Scans every 3 months to check the progress, good or bad, of my cancer. It can be a mix of emotions because I have had some really good scans and I have also had some not so good scans. Sometimes, I think that it is going to be a long life to live in the unknown for three months at a time. But then, I turn the thought around and think to myself that I will do whatever I have to do in order to have that long life.

Scans can be unpleasant because there are needles involved, but I'm very used to them now and they don't really bother me. Its just a stepping stone to the results day so  that I can soon be on my merry way for the next 90 days.

When I arrive for my appointment, I am ushered back into a small private room with a sterile hospital-style recliner. They always confirm (more like, rub it in) that I haven't eaten in at least four hours, and then add an additional laundry list of questions. I'm not allowed to wear anything that has metal on or in it, which includes a bra clasp, zipper, bobby pins, or jewelry; otherwise, I have to change. And since I don't like to make this process any more complicated than it already is, I carefully plan an appropriate outfit the night before, just as though I'm preparing for my first day of school. These apparel stipulations can be a bit challenging; but, then again, no girl ever complained about having to wear yoga pants. After the initial interrogation, they start the poking. In the past, my veins have attempted to outsmart phlebotomists, techs, nurses, and the like. They roll, they jump, they hide, and they slide similar to some of Jackie Chan's greatest stunts (The veins, not the vampires). The PET Center at RUSH has three men on their team and I've scanned with each of them several times now and they are super nice and they all have stellar aim with a needle into my roly poly veins, which goes along way with me in regard to patient satisfaction.

There is a syringe attached to the needle which is two-sided and first takes blood to test my blood sugar; it isn't that big and scary looking, in fact, it is rather unassuming considering what it is capable of. Once my blood sugar is determined to be good, a flow of saline is released into the line to flush out the blood so the radioactive sugars can be injected. The saline flush is actually my least favorite part of the process because it leaves a less than desirable metallic taste and smell that corrupts my senses. Before the injection begins, the scanner is required to bring in a steel blockade on rollers, that he has to stand behind to administer the medicine so that he is not subjected to the radioactive affects more than he needs to be. <<insert humming of the Imagine Dragon's "Radioactive" here>> After this point, I'm left alone for 40 minutes with a stash of trashy news magazines and Facebook via my cellular device to pass the time. I'm required to hide under a couple of blankets because my body temperature needs to stay warm, otherwise it messes up the scan. So, I cozy up under the heated blanket that eventually becomes my cape as I morph into a superhero while the injected material processes and courses through my body before eventually making the cancer glow so it can be identified in all the nooks and crannies in which it resides.



When it is time for the actual scan, I leave my little room of solitude and head into the hallways full of chatter, zings, swooshes, beeps, and beds whizzing by with patients as passengers to solve their own body's mysteries. The PET Scan requires me to lay on a table that is about 6 inches wide (that might be a slight exaggeration, but I'm leaving it that way so you get the idea of how uncomfortable it is) and I'm slid in and out of a huge ring that does amazingly high tech things while I use the next 13 minutes to take a snooze. Despite what is becoming vast experience with these scans, I'm still reminded -profusely- that I'm not allowed to move. What. So. Ever. Otherwise, we will have to start over. Of course, this triggers every itch, twitch, sneeze, and spasm humanly possible, so I giggle for the first few seconds before I'm actually ready to begin.



The duration of the scan is less than 15 minutes, so I catnap and then I'm sent on my way with well-wishes exchanged between my scanner and myself for our children and families. This last time, I even scored a pair of New Balance gym shoes for Avery as my parting gift. No, it's not a friendly gesture from RUSH, in fact, they charge me an arm and a leg to buzz through their giant donut every three months. Well, actually, I'm not sure that my arm and leg are actually even worth the bill that I get in the mail... But since the PET team and I are buddies now (and one of their wives works for NB), the sneakers were an added bonus for my baby.



So, now, I just wait. The results will process through a computer and be read by some medical professional to whom I am a faceless chart and eventually it will end up in my doctor's hands and translated to me. From start to finish it will be four days until I know the results. But, really, I already know.

And, so do you.

I'm fine.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kaitlin

I've really been slacking in the blogging department lately. My intentions are good, but my follow-through leaves something to be desired at times. I write blogs in my head all the time, whether I'm driving in the car or drifting off to sleep, but lately it seems like I reach my desired destination or cash in my ticket to dreamland before my pen can actually hit the paper or my fingers can meet the keyboard. But, I'm here now, and hoping that my followers haven't given up on me yet so that I have to round you all back up.

I know that cancer can be a devastating disease, and I know that because I have been on both sides of it. Sometimes though, I think that my diagnosis has been harder on the people that I love than it has been on me. I know that my nonchalant outlook can be inspiring but it can also probably be confusing at times. I don't minimize the gravity of the situation, but I choose not to dwell on it either. I know that perspective isn't always the easiest to adopt at first, so I was curious as to how it affected those who are closest to me. I asked some close friends and family to write about my diagnosis from their point of view. (I'm also hoping that it catches on enough to have my guest-bloggers become a small feature in between my own blogs so I don't disappear with life for so long at a time.)

Kaitlin has been one of my best friends since college. We were roommates at NIU for two years and in the same sorority. I've had some of the best nights of my life with Kaitlin, some of which are blog appropriate, and some of which are drenched in a keg of beer and have been locked in the secret vault of college debauchery. Anyway.. we have remained close since our memorable college days, now enjoying being moms together. In fact, we are keeping our fingers crossed for a future marriage for Avery and her son Trace, thus handing down our friendship to a second generation. 

When I asked Kaitlin if she would be willing to write about my diagnosis from her perspective, she seemed incredibly willing and enthusiastic. She said she already knew what she was going to say... 

Ashley and I attended our friend Lindsey's baby shower for her daughter Ella, at the end of January 2013. On our way out of DeKalb, we decided we needed some caffeine and more time to catch up before we left town and went our separate ways. It turned in to ice cream instead, much to the delight of her little mini-me, Avery. Texting had been our main source of catching up for way too long! As we chatted away, she went into more details with me on her health issues and pain that she had been experiencing. She had just undergone more testing with her doctor. She had recently received a call from her doctor’s office and the receptionist asked that she come in to go over the results. Ashley was on her way to her friend, Kaylyn’s already, so she would have to wait to get into the office. The receptionist seemed taken aback; she thought Ashley needed to come in right away. The doctor said it was fine if she waited until Monday. As Ashley told me this, I remember experiencing a sinking feeling. First of all, I had no idea how bad her pain, from which she had been suffering, was. Secondly, it terrified me that the receptionist was so adamant that she come in to talk to her doctor. 

The following day my work BFF and I did our weekend recap. As I relayed that story to her, I cried. I could feel the situation was not good. Ashley told me she would keep me updated on her appointment. Throughout the day, I had many urges to text her. Finally that night, I could not wait. I texted and asked how everything went that day. She responded, “I have cancer. :(”

She was a new mom, and an outstanding and caring person, with an enormous heart. I was physically sick. Yet somehow, I already felt a sense of calmness from her. I have cancer :(. Not freaking out,  not losing it, etc. In our first cancer interaction, she was already foreshadowing how strong she was going to be. Little did we all know just how very strong she would be….
Along the way, we learned it was not only cancer, but Stage IV. As always, she rolled with the punches. Not only is she showing other cancer patients how to fight, but she is showing those in and outside of her circle how to live. Everyday there are bumps that come with daily living, but she reminds me constantly to step back when I think the road is getting rough. In the grand scheme of things, it is never as rough as I might think. She has become a teacher to people all over.

Throughout her fight, I’ve had MANY questions for her, and I have a favorite response to share… I asked if she was so excited when her doctor told her recently that her cancer activity was decreased in some areas and was completely gone in others. She said something along the lines of, that it was great news, but she did not freak out with excitement like some of us may have. It was an expectation to receive this news. It is part of her plan. Very matter of fact and confident. She knows how to put everyone else at ease along her journey, as well. That’s exactly how I feel now. I know she will conquer cancer!

This is me and Kaitlin the day that she and our friend Karen ran a marathon on my behalf. Kaitlin had just had a baby, a few short months, before this day.  I truly do have the greatest friends!

Friday, April 18, 2014

#POSITIVITY

Avery and I recently had dinner with my good friend from college and sorority sister, Karen. She introduced me to a delicious vegetarian place and considering I have eliminated gluten, dairy, beef, pork, caffeine, and artificial sugars from my diet, I figured this place would be right up my alley. I was hoping it would be a relaxed dinner where I wasn't consumed with -adding this- or- eliminating that- from menu items, in order to meet my needs. #dontspitinmyfoodplease. It was even better than I hoped, right down to the vegan strawberry milkshake that I happily ordered in the largest size they had.

I was so excited about my frosty glass of dairy-free deliciousness that I felt it was a preferable moment to share my dietary triumph with the hashtag happy world via Facebook and Instagram. While I am guilty of posting foodie pictures on occasion, I've actually been quite resistant to the hashtag craze... until this blog.

I slid my phone out of my purse but not to be unnoticed by my darling daughter, Avery. She had decided that even though she was a Tri-Sigma Legacy, that she had enough of sorority talk from the old days, as well weddings and baby talk from the new days, and instead preferred to catch the latest episode of Mickey Mouse that could be streamed on my cellular device. Considering I had exhausted all my other options of coloring, princess-playing, and piecing together a portable potato head, I acquiesced her request to "wah-tch Mickey pease," for the last few minutes of my dinner date.

It was during the hand-off that the unspeakable happened, and my iPhone slipped out of her ten tiny fingers before bouncing off the edge of the booth and ending up face down on the concrete floor. Karen scooped it up and handed it over, but not without a horrified look on her face as we both realized the screen was completely shattered.

Shit. Sorry, but... Shit.

I didn't really think it was going to break. For a second, I felt a wave of panic rush over me as I realized that I didn't have insurance for my phone and this wasn't going to be a cheap fix. Then, I thought to myself... "Ok, gurrl needs to get a grip. This is a phone." It did not mean my life was ending. Cancer had already tried that approach and I was now privy to such shenanigans and I wasn't going to fall for that again. I'm not gonna sweat the small stuff. I sweat enough with my hot flashes and until my patent for a personal air conditioned bubble is approved, I'm not giving my body more reason to revolt.

Truth is, I have a pretty good handle on which things are important in life and which things need to be shrugged off. In a two year span of time, I lost my job as a second grade teacher #districtcuts, am going through a divorce #nohusbandnoproblem, and gotten cancer #boobissues. Those have been the absolute worst and hardest times in my life, all at once, and they are very big lessons to learn; but, being positive is how I cope. I have preached it here before and it doesn't take a broken cell phone to illustrate my point but it does make it so much more obvious about what deserves your focus in life.

I'm actually, incredibly happy and instead of being resistant to change, I'm excited of what is going to come next... even $150 later for a cellphone repair. #Longest20minutesofmylife.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy Cancerversary to me!

A Cancerversary. It's a real thing, you can Google it. It can mean different things to different people; but, to me, it means survival. January 31st was my first Cancerversary. That is 365 days of me surviving Breast Cancer. It is also 365 days of me constantly thinking of the Scarlet Letter C, with which I have been branded and wondering if I somehow caused my body to turn against me, or if I could have done anything differently in order to prevent it. Was it birth control? Was it the 3 month phase in my life when I had a soy latte addiction about 6 years ago? According to my doctors, its just bad luck. So, I don't really have an answer and that has left me with a year of being imprisoned in my own mind with wonder and worry. I worry about Avery mostly. I worry about her future and my place in it. But, gradually, as the days have passed, I have begun to release myself from this mental torture. I have accepted that they are things that I cannot change, and instead of letting these negative thoughts consume me, I choose to be positive. That doesn't mean that everyday is easy. Aside from the mental ailments, there are obviously physical ones as well. The hot flashes are actually worse that I anticipated them to be. Little did I know that my joke about my makeup dripping off my face into a puddle, wouldn't be far from the truth. In the beginning, I would have at least 6 hot flashes per hour. Yes, PER HOUR. I'm no math whiz, but that's nearly 150 in a day. And trust me, hot flashes are not a ray of sunshine warming you in the cold winter months. Instead, they are like an explosion of intense heat that comes from deep inside and I can't tear my coat, scarf, sweater *insert whatever outer garment or accessory applies* off fast enough before my face turns bright red and I begin to sweat. They only last for a couple minutes, but afterward, my poor confused body temperature plummets and I'm left on the opposite end of the spectrum, shivering. I'm more than happy to say that the frequency of my hot flashes has improved greatly in the passing months and I now experience only about ten in a day's time and am now smart enough dress in multiple layers that I can expertly rip off faster than any veteran stripper. If only someone tossed me a dollar every time I had a hot flash... man, I would be rich. Oh, the important lessons that I'm learning in the third decade of my life... That includes appreciating my new breasts. I truly couldn't be happier with the results however I do not have any feeling in or around my chest and armpit area and that drives me crazy. It feels similar to when you initially try to stand up after your foot has fallen asleep. You know you're standing but it feels awkward. If I touch the area, I can feel the pressure but that's it and it never fades or goes away. The lack of feeling is a weird sensation and for that reason, I am unable to ever wear an under wire bra again, because it the under wire were to poke me, I wouldn't know if it were poking me. But really, no under wire bra? No girl ever complained about that! ...Because check out my rack... no seriously! I got some great melons during my visit to the produce stand and I don't have to wear a bra ever again, if I don't want to. That right there? That's the silver lining. There are certainly some tough realities about my cancer, and at times, it has taken it's toll on me mentally. There are some days that I have to try extra hard to find that silver lining or that I have to take a second glance at my cup to realize it is half full and not half empty. But, I'm celebrating my first cancerversary as a year that made me stronger and I'm looking forward to the challenges and Blessings of the next 365 days because I know greater things are in the works for me... Except hot flashes...there is nothing great about those... Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Custom Produce

I've never been particularly busty, just carrying around some average grapefruits for most of my young life. But when I got pregnant, I woke up one day with a rude awakening when I found watermelons in my bra instead. I just could not get it right. So, I finally decided to just take the shortcut and get cancer so that I could get new *custom* boobs completely. Well, maybe that isn't exactly how it went, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Fast forward to present day... it has been nearly two months now since my bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy. I have been feeling great and once my recovery was underway, I started going in weekly to get my expanders filled. To recap for you, an expander is an empty and deflated implant. They were put in during my initial surgery and filled with 50 cc's of saline solution. From there, the plan was to go in weekly and have them inject an additional 50 cc's in each side to slowly begin stretching out my skin to allow for full reconstruction. So basically, what took me at least a solid decade to fully develop via puberty, I have now managed to surpass in 6 weeks. 

Initially, I expected the worst when it came to the expansion process. I didn't imagine that even the sweetest lollipop would be able to coax me out from under the examination table to allow the nurse to stick needles into what were once my boobs and now stood to exist as pitiful little mounds of skin. But, I was wrong and thus, pleasantly surprised. I hadn't realized that my entire chest was numb and I wouldn't actually feel the needle being inserted. As the expansions went on, I would gradually begin to develop more sensation but it was never intolerable, it just made my chest feel tight and very full. I was handling it so well that I went from one visit per week up to two visits per week in order to speed the process up. In order to do so, that meant my last visit was going to be a double dose and instead of the normal 50 cc's, I would be receiving 100 cc's in each side. This was a lot to take in, literally, and I could see my bust increase right before my eyes. This was the most uncomfortable fill for a few days following as my skin stretched to fit the growth; but, it was also the most important fill because it meant... I was done. And, I was done fast.

One thing that I have been continually Blessed with throughout my cancer journey? Doctors that get me. Each of my doctors, and nurses for that matter, have seen me for who I am and believed in me. My plastic surgeon was no exception and he knew that I wanted to fly through this process and regain some normalcy in my life. I'm not joking when I say that I know that I'm going be okay. Its not a futile attempt at being a martyr, it is my only option. And, its working. In fact, my oncologist commented that she was impressed because she had never seen anyone go through the reconstruction process so quickly. Maybe my cancer had tried to get the best of me by outsmarting the Tamoxifen and progressing, but I evened the playing field with my first surgery and now I'm about to take back the lead by continuing to kick ass with reconstruction and rehabilitation. Ashley: 2, Cancer: 1.

So, now that my expanders have been filled to their max, I'm ready to move on to the second step in the reconstruction process and that is to have the expanders removed and replace them with implants. This is another surgery aaaaaand, it takes place... tomorrow! It will take less than two hours and as along as everything goes well, it should be an outpatient procedure and I will be back home, in my own bed tomorrow night. The recovery will be far easier than my first surgery; however, I will still be uncomfortable for a few days and have some restrictions on my physical activity... aka picking up my baby. Grrr.

But what's a little gain without a little pain? I'm gonna rock it tomorrow and come away with some sweet custom melons that make the whole produce aisle envious.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Did It!!

I got to the hospital two hours early on the day of my surgery and the walk through the revolving door, spun me into a whirlwind of activity. After registering as a patient, I was placed in a pre-op room where I was given a gorgeous, dusty blue, hospital gown that could easily rival couture apparel found on the runways at Fashion Week. The neat thing about this gown, however, was that it was attached to a tube that circulated heat through the gown in order to warm my body temperature in preparation for the cold and sterile operating room. In reality, the toasty garb just intensified my hot flashes while blowing in so much air that it poofed up and made me look like I had already gotten a triple Z size boob job. My surgery was scheduled to begin at 11:30 but because of it's extensiveness it ended up being delayed until 12 o'clock. That doesn't sound like a long time but when you are about to surrender yourself to three surgeons who are planning to remove everything that makes you a woman...30 minutes feels more like 30 hours. Finally, it was time and the anesthesiologist gave the go-ahead to release the flow of medicine that would begin to make me sleepy. I vaguely remember the trip to the operating room, down a hallway of all windows that featured a stunning view of the Chicago skyline. The last thing that I remember was seeing a familiar set of eyes of a surgical team member, hidden behind a mask before I fell asleep............................

.......................I don't remember much about being in the recovery room after surgery. I remember opening my eyes but finding it impossible to keep them open before they fluttered shut again. It wasn't until I was on my way to my room that I started becoming more coherent. I could hear the voices of the hospital staff that transported me and as we got closer, those of my family members, but they seemed so far away. However, the more coherent that I became, the more pain that I realized that I was in and I became very emotional. I remember the only part of my body that I could move, without being in severe pain, was my index finger. Attempting to move any other part of my body reduced me to tears. That pain followed me into the night and the next day. I would like to think that I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, but when the discussion of removing my catheter arose, I lost it. The mere thought of adjusting myself to get comfortable in bed, let alone walking to the bathroom seemed impossible and it was at that point, on the second day, that a pain team was brought in to reassess my pain management and not only treat my surgical pain but also to be cognizant of my bone pain as well.

To be honest, once my pain was under control, I became a new person. The new medications had been added to my repertoire, adding up to 6 total. They had been administered that morning and by the afternoon I was out of bed, sitting in a chair. Even better yet? That evening, I was cruising down the hallway, albeit at a pace so slow that a snail could race me and beat me twice... but, at least I was walking. Because of my pain, I stayed in the hospital for three days instead of the assumed two. The day that I was discharged, the ride back home to the suburbs was carefully piloted as I clung to a pillow which creating a barrier between my chest and the relentless tightness of the seat belt. Yes, I was still a rule abiding citizen and gritted my teeth in the name of safety. I've told you before that I am rule follower and some things never change. Besides, if I'm not going to let cancer kill me then I'm sure as hell not gonna allow myself to possibly be ejected from the car to become roadkill in the event of an accident.

The subsequent days at home were spent in a bit of a fog. I maintained a uniform of yoga pants and zip up hoodies that I had stocked up on prior to my surgery. The zipper front allowed me to have easy access to the two drains that were attached my surgical sites. I would refer to my surgical sites as my boobs, but I didn't really have those anymore. Luckily, I wasn't entirely carved out like a Thanksgiving turkey and was instead left with small mounds that each housed an expander filled with 50 cc's of saline solution. Before leaving the hospital I was fitted with a special surgical bra that opened in the front and that I was required to wear 24/7 (swapping out for clean ones daily, of course). The drains that were attached to me were long tubes that were sewn into a hole below my incision site. The drains themselves looked like grenades. This term was coined by my friend Dana and her mom Laura, whom is also a breast cancer survivor, and whom has offered me a lot of valuable surgical advice. The purpose of the grenades was to catch the excess fluid forming in my breasts. I had to empty and measure the amount of liquid twice a day and keep record of it. As time went on, the amount would lessen but I was still extremely protective of my drains. In the shower, I had to wear a lanyard around my neck that I could clip the grenades to and when I was wearing my signature hoodies, I would carefully place them into the pockets. I say carefully because I learned the hard way what would happen if one fell....it was incredibly painful and felt like something was being ripped out of me. I had developed such a complex about my drains that my friends nicknamed me "T-Rex," because I would walk around with my arms protectively folded up in front of my chest with my hands just hanging there.

Going to bed at night was slightly a production. I had to sleep sitting up while having pillows to prop up each of my arms. I also had to have my fan positioned ever so specifically to help ward off hot flashes, just as a child might use a night light to keep away monsters. Then, I would take my medicine and fall asleep for a half hour. After that initial 30 minutes, I would wake up and request a snack of cheese and crackers. For some reason, I didn't have much appetite during the day but once I was good and doped up for the night, the munchies set in. My mom, aka Nurse Nancy, would bring them in and sit next to me (to make sure I didn't choke) while I ate them...with my eyes closed. Yep, I was sleep eating and it was slightly ridiculous but became a nightly ritual during my first week home.

During the day, I behaved slightly more normal and would spend most of it sitting on the couch and visiting with my amazing friends and family that stopped by to keep me company or I would read books in bed with Avery. And, sticking with the original theme and title of my blog, I still got up and showered everyday, got dressed, and put on makeup. The only thing that I couldn't do was raise my arms above 90 degrees, so doing my hair was impossible. I was at the mercy of whoever was nearby and sported some extremely fabulous hairdos, let me tell you. Perhaps my overall look wasn't what one would describe as "cute," but I was still determined that I was going to get up and do something with myself, even if it was crooked eyeliner (silly narcotics made it hard to focus) or a lopsided bun. I knew that my recovery would be more successful and faster, if I made an effort.

It turns out, I was right. In the follow up appointments with my surgeons, I was told more than once that I am healing remarkably and looking very healthy. The recovery from having my ovaries removed was extremely easy because the surgery was laparoscopic, so it was the bilateral mastectomy that would take longer to heal from. But, 10 days after my surgery, I was able to cease all medications -during the day- and also have my drains removed. It was a huge victory for me and being drain free made me feel like a new person. Although, the feeling of a nurse yanking plastic tubing out of my body is something I hope I never have to experience again and after that pain subsided, is technically when I started feeling like a new person.

But now, I am nearly a month out of surgery and I am feeling great. I started taking small field trips out of the house each day, to now being able to resume mostly normal life, I say mostly because I have 3 more days until I am allowed to pick up my daughter...and yes, I'm counting them down. It was a big surgery to undergo and a somewhat challenging recovery, but I would do it again tomorrow, if I had to. Every time that I look in the mirror, I pause because I see the scars that will never completely disappear and I know that everyday they will be a reminder that I'm different from other women who have natural breasts or who are able to have children. But, to be honest, I don't really care. In fact, I'm proud of that difference because it will also always be a reminder of the courage and strength that I possess... just in case I forget...


I documented each step of the experience with photos to share on my blog. I should probably be embarrassed of some of them; but really, my blog is about being real...

This was my size Z boob job via my heated gown.

Here we go!!!

After surgery... I probably wouldn't have known your name at this point.

The morning after.

My first time sitting up, out of bed. I was already rocking my signature
hoodie and enjoying my favorite kale smoothie!

My sweet angel came to visit mommy in the hospital.

Time to go home!

The best part of my recovery.

Four weeks after surgery- I did it!!!