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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Home to heal

So today I am home and to say the pain is not bad would be a colossal lie.  I spoke with the doctors and we decided to extend the percocet from 2 days to a weeks worth as well as continue with the toradol.  We also added a muscle relaxer twice a day to help with some of the tightness.

I am happy to report other than a few very minor items the surgery went well.  Minor issue number one they had an issue incubating me and I had some swelling around my mouth with some cuts inside and minor issue number two is my iv caused my left hand to blow up in size from swelling.  Otherwise I only have two drains on each side.  The visiting nurse will start coming tomorrow.  Michelle came to stay with me and even slept overnight in the hospital with me.  She slept on the window sill which was like a very uncomfortable cat perch.  What an amazing friend! 

To recap the surgery I had a left prophylactic mastectomy (removal of a non cancerous left breast as a precaution) and expanders placed in both sides which is like a deflated balloon that will be filled with saline over time and once we reach the right size and healing we will take the expanders out (another surgery) and place in a silicone implant in place of the expander.  This process will take time over the next few months.   Below is a visual representation of the process.

The worst feeling I had so far was the transport guy called me a "sir".  WTF?  I mean please by all means kick me when I am down.  I just lobbed off my other boob and now you are inferring I look like a guy an or I am androgynous creature.  I really was upset but I was so nauseous at the time I could not open my mouth to even correct him.  I have had a few rough moments since the surgery.  I also made the decision I can't wait for my hair to grow out!  I just want to feel feminine again!

Poor Bridget had a really rough day at school and tried to bite twice.  She was very clingy and upset tonight when she got home from school.  It kills me I can't pick my kiddos up or really be involved because I need to heal but they both want their mom and well I am a little over 24 hours since the surgery walking around like a hunch back from all the pain.  Bridget and her teacher Miss Maggie made me a heart melting get well card.  I love how concerned and caring Bridget is.

I remain optimistic but I have to say I am a little down at the moment.  I know I shouldn't be but sometimes it is a bit hard to be smiling when you are in so much pain. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kristin Update!

Hi all!

I met with Dr. Cohen and  I am happy to report that Kristin's mastectomy and reconstruction were successful!  She is on her way into the recovery area now and is awake and doing well!!!!  I am waiting to be taken in to see her.

I am so very relieved that we have drawn even closer to closing this chapter of our lives.  I am sure Kristin will be posting later on today or tomorrow if she's up to it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stomach in knots

It is almost time for my left prophylactic left mastectomy and double expander reconstruction and I have a HUGE range of emotions running through me.  I am excited, scared, nervous, and soooo many more!  I think the hardest part is going to be trying to rest and recovery with 2 kids and my hands on a type personality.  I can't sit still and I have a hard time not intervening.

The Bella's come back for two weeks starting Monday. Then my baby girl is going to start daycare! Michelle is coming up tonight in preparation for my surgery.  Ken and I went on a date night last night as it will be the last one for a little while. Tomorrow my cousin Allison and I have a 5k color run benefiting a local children's charity.  I got a pink tutu :) from glamrunner http://glam-runner.com/ I mean what could be better than running in a pink tutu?!? 

I am so scared about the pain and also my body image issues.  I have had these well before cancer.  I really miss my long hair and pony tails and buns and well not feeling so boyish.  I am concerned after Monday I will feel this way even more so.  

I have so much nervous energy I have done 6 loads of laundry in 2 days and cleaned my house like a mad lady even taking the couch apart!  I know I have OCD cleaning issues! 

My hand is still swollen and my surgeon will look at on Monday but they do not feel it is lymphedema.  For now plan is to try and enjoy my pedicure before this surgery!  And I will probably go home and clean more crazy things to get this energy out!  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pissed off!

 I woke up this morning to the usual right hand pain that I have come to known.  It is in my index finger and my thumb, index and middle finger knuckles.  In addition my right hand and finger were considerably swollen!  WTF!  I am over all the cancer extras and surprises!  I am 100% NOT IN THE MOOD!  It makes thing tougher especially handling Harkin.  I just want this shit to be over.  I am really angry today!  I really am over this whole not being in control of what is happening to my own body thing!

I need to speak with the breast surgeon to see what this is because I have no clue.  It could be Lymphedema http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/lymphedema because it does not sound like Axillary Web Syndrome also known as cording http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/side_effects/aws.  I only had 3 lymph nodes removed in October 2013 in a sentinel node biopsy as the radioactive dye (aka poison) had spread to them and they needed to be removed.  I did not thankfully have the cancer spread to the lymph nodes which was an extreme blessing.  I also do not have the characteristics of not being able to lift my right arm past a certain angle, there is no visible cords and it is now months after surgery. 

This puts me in a really pissy mood as I really was not in the mood for yet another complication/thing to deal with.  I will be calling the surgeon and praying this does not interfer with Monday's surgery!

Here is a comparison of my left hand (no swelling) vs. my right hand:


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Almost surgery time...

I got busy with life and have not been writing.  I was intimidated by the blank white page and not quite sure what to write.  Harkin has kept me very very busy.  I am tired still from the chemo as my body is still trying to heal.  Over the past few weeks it has been revealed I did not have post-partum depression as it was my body reacting to the detox and withdrawal of the opiates in my system.  I am relieved to say I feel better and more connected with my life again since I have completed pain management and I am living life to the fullest each day!  

Left mastectomy and expanders reconstruction:
I will be not quite 2 months post chemo (8/4) and I will be getting my left prophylactic left mastectomy and double reconstruction (expanders) next Monday 7/28.  I have to be there by 5:30 am and my surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am and expected to be about 5 hours with a one night stay in the hospital and I will have 4 drains.  I have a pain management plan that includes no diluadid, 2 days of percocet, 5 days of non narcotic pain medication toradol, and than switching to 600 mg of motrin.  I really really hope this works and I am not in agonizing pain.  I do not want to go through pain management and withdrawal again!  To say I am nervous/scared is an understatement.  I am scared of what my body will look like.  I am scared of the pain.  I am scared of loosing my independence.  I am scared for an infection.  I am scared something will go wrong (given I don't always have the best track record).

This is also not my last surgery but it is at least a big step into getting back to me!  We will slowly fill the expanders weekly with saline and than when the plastic surgeon and I have gotten to where we agree I should be then I will undergo an outpatient procedure to have silicone implants put in.  THIS IS NOT A BOOB JOB! So please don't call it that and please don't say I am lucky to get new boobs because to be quite honest CANCER SUCKS and so does surgery and all the crap that comes with it!  My entire life has been interrupted and turned upside down.  My entire torso is marred with scars     and other reminders of cancer.  While I am lucky to have survived all of this as well as have a healthy baby I would not wish this road on anyone.  I am still dealing with the aftermath of cancer, chemo and trying to reclaim my life.  I take it one day at a time right now because that is till the best way to manage all of this.   

The Bella's
Ken and I have the Bella's coming back in to help for two weeks.  I will than reluctantly start Harkin in daycare so I can heal some more before I go back to work in September.  It will be 11 months out of work by the time I head back.  This is another concept that scares the hell out of me.  Adjusting to going back to work after such a long absence as well as balancing two kids and still recovering from all of this! 

Summer is flying by!  I have been busy going out to lunch, throwing and hosting a baby shower for a friend is going to have her first little girl in October, meeting wonderful ladies through Lady Savant, running errands and of course savouring every moment with Harkin who amazes me more and more each day.  While I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom.  I love this little human more and more each day along with her sister Bridget who is just accelerating in terms of speech, coordination, movement and so much more everyday.  My girls complete who I am as a person.  I was always meant to be a mom and I had no idea you could love someone more an more each day to the point your heart aches from the love you feel.  

My Kidney's
It was revealed during pre-surgical testing that my kidney fuction is the best it has EVER been!  This includes all the way back to when I was 7 years old and diagnosed with FSGS.  The drug cytoxan used in lupus patients who are facing kidney failure is a chemotherapy drug I received while I was pregnant along with adriamycin for breast cancer.  In a strange twist of events this drug actually yielded two benefits for me.  It fought breast cancer and it improved my kidney function.  Potentially I may be in remission with FSGS!  I will need to see my nephrologist before my return to work to see how the kidney's are holding up but there is some very positive signs!  

The Tales of Reese
I would like to bring attention to Tales of Reese https://www.facebook.com/TalesOfReese?ref=br_tf which is an amazing Book series by author "Books by Sparkly Ray" in which Reese, Ruby & Cruiser help children understand the illnesses they are facing (like cancer) and make their wishes come true.  it is very motivational and touches on the human spirit. 



Challenge for my recovery
I would like to challenge those of you who are interested to commit Random Acts of Kindness after my surgery and share your stories and interactions with me.  I am going to be focusing on dealing with pain and getting better and I thought what better way than to hear beautiful stories of kindness and generosity.   

Resources and good reads:
If you know someone with cancer this is a really good read... http://roadkillgoldfish.com/friends-cancer-want-know/

It is NOT A BOOB JOB!!! http://medivizor.com/blog/2014/06/13/breast-reconstruction-isnt-boob-job/





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The limbo zone, curediva intro and a special event with melange spa and Tale of Reese

Right now life feels surreal and like I am stuck in limbo.  It is not bad but not reality.  I am not back to work but chemo is over.  Harkin is getting bigger and stronger and more amazing everyday.  I fought cancer and won which is Awesome!  I am not chemically dependent to ANYTHING right now.  I am watching Harkin on my own.  Yes Bridget still goes to daycare but that is really needed on my end.  My energy is better but still not great.  I have decided I am not stay at home mom material and that does not make me a bad person just an honest one.  I need the interaction with adults and the mental stimulation.  I need to have a check list of tasks I complete each day.  It is just who I am to the core, a Type A personality and cancer has really stripped me of all control to that level of feeling uncomfortable like you are standing in public naked kinda of dream.

Yesterday I had my one month post chemo visit with Dr. Graham and she is very excited with my progress including being off all the pain medication.  I am not sleeping that well but I do not want to take anything for that.  I not only have Hot flashes because chemo can send your body into menopause or chemopause as I like to call it I have these extreme cold flashes to around the same time every night.  At the end of the day I am exhausted to a level that I don't understand what is left over from chemo and what is normal from being a mom and what I can blame on FSGS (my kidney disease).  I do have to say I was not prepared for the lab portion as I thought it was going to be a finger stick and than Aristotle started asking me about the condition of my veins.  I then asked why and he goes because I need to draw your blood.  My right arm is out of the question since the mastectomy.  My left arm the veins are terrible and roll.  Which left just my left hand as the option.  He found a vein and said this is going to hurt and he was right.  At that moment I missed Mrs. Potts my port.  She had been so good to me! 


Yesterday I also got to go to lunch with two lovely ladies both new friends that I have met as a result of cancer.  One is expecting and very excited (thankfully she does not have cancer) and the other is an amazing fighter that had cancer and treatments while pregnant.  She had her amazing miracle son and they are both doing well!  Two things that amaze me and were brought out through our lunch 1: A mother's love is awe-inspiring and 2: it is amazing what our bodies can handle and go through during pregnancy and I am not talking just cancer.  There are sooo many women I know who have overcome so many obstacles with their health and sometimes their baby's health to have a positive outcome. 

This past weekend we were fortunate enough to baptise Harkin and my Tante (aunt in Norwegian) Janet helped us throw a beautiful celebration with our families at her home.  Tante Janet is also my Godmother and she has been so wonderful and supportive throughout my cancer journey.  Harkin did fantastic (no crying) and Bridget was very cute. 

Tomorrow I have my pre-surgical testing for my left prophylactic mastectomy with double reconstruction on July 28.  It's getting close and I am getting nervous for sure.  One because it is a surgery and I feel it is natural to get nerves but two because of pain medication.  I will need to be on something but I am afraid of how my body will react and that I will need to do another step down plan to ensure withdrawal is not overwhelming. 

Two exciting things:
  1. I will be promoting curediva.com through banners on my blog.  Who is curediva.com?  They are a company that provides stylish living through breast cancer as they sell wonderful items that really help when you have breast cancer and are dealing with surgeries and symptoms and so much more.  More importantly they offer support and reassurance through their network of fellow breast cancer fighters through their Diva's lounge. Please check them out and be sure to share with other fellow fighters.  Always good to know your resources!
  2. The awesomely amazing Bella Bambini (http://www.bellabambiniinc.com) company partnered with MELANGE
    MED SPA to Host a Special “Evening of Beauty with REESE”.  I am going to be the Special Guest of Honor! Please join us on July 18th at 135 E. Erie Street Blauvelt, NY. Their phone number is 845-365-1500. Mélange Med spa is proud to partner with The Tales of Reese (https://www.facebook.com/TalesOfReese)for an exciting event!! Proceeds will be donated to “Make a Wish” and Crossfit Kids and myself (to help cover the Bella's over the past months and their upcoming support for my next surgery).  Come join us for a Glamorous night of fun, get to know our adorable Mouse REESE! All for a great Cause!!  I would LOVE to see as many of you there as possible!  I promise it will be a great time!!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

ANOTHER MILESTONE ACHIEVED!!!!!! PAIN MEDICATION FREE!!!!

Yes I completed another HUGE milestone!  As of Saturday I am pain medication free!  Do I still have aches and pains yes but I am not on anything!!! It actually finished early by accident.  Saturday I was suppose to take my once a day 1mg of dilaudid and I forgot.  When I realized it was too late to take it so I just stopped.  I was a little uncomfortable as my body is still adjusting but I am soooo excited to not be on this stupid medication any more!  As a result my mood and energy levels have improved.  I am still tired between the after effects of chemo and the FSGS (kidney disease) that I still have both rob me of energy but I am surviving!  Key words I AM SURVIVING!!!!

I can't wait to get back to being me.  I am seriously the sick person who misses work!  I really love all the people I work with as they are like a second family.  I have never met such a great bunch of people.  The amount of love and support from the dinners they cook and provide every week to rides to and from chemo and the constant check ins I am one very lucky person.  As much as I love Harkin and spending time with her I am itching to get back to my creative side and get back into the daily life of marketing and just a sense of normalcy and my old life.  I am OVER cancer it sucks the life out of you.  I want to get on with LIVING!

Tomorrow I have a follow up to see how the port removal is healing.  Its a little itchy and uncomfortable but seems to be healing nicely!  I also have a pain management follow up so it will be a day of doctor appointments. 

I am in the process of trying a new schedule with Harkin as I can only really get this kid to nap 45 mins at a clip.  The Bella's are nap ninjas something I am not lol.  Harkin and I are going to get use to spending time with each other of the next few weeks until my next surgery and then the Bella's will be back for two weeks or so and than we will start daycare with Miss Bridget before September and Me going back to work :)  Harkin is also getting super close to rolling over!  I can't believe how big this kiddo is getting!!!

A special Thank you card package arrived today from Jillian a former Hallmark co-worker who is super talented and makes her own cards!  She made me these amazing thank you cards so I can begin to try and thank everyone who has helped since my diagnosis.  As you can imagine this is a super long list so please bare with me and be patient!  I am grateful for each and every thing done for me no matter how big or small!  So Thank You!!!

I am going to try and continue to take things one day at a time.  I think I am also going to limit my posts to once a week as Harkin keeps me on my toes and I am going to try and gain health, strength and quality family time before my next surgery.  I would be lying if I did not think about the next surgery constantly but in the end it is going to be a positive result.  I know it will be painful but I have to remember mind over matter! 

Thank you all for your continued support, prayers, well wishes, cards, text messages and keeping in touch with me.  It really helps and I love hearing from all of you :)