Two Months After Surgery: **WARNING: GRAPHIC SURGERY PHOTOS**

Mood: Curious ๐Ÿ˜

My breast reconstruction surgery was two months ago today. My body is still working to either absorb or push out the sutures that are still in and I am still having occasional pain from my nerves re-firing, but I am feeling good overall about the healing process. My body has been working hard to heal me and it shows. As you can see, these pictures look very different from the ones that were taken a month ago.

I am meeting with my surgeon on February 12th to have him remove any remaining sutures and to look at just how much my radiation treatments have shrunk my left breast, the side where my tumors were located. He kept the left side larger to allow for shrinking from radiation. Once he removes the sutures we will be able to see what my chest looks like and if I have the desired result. I am supposed to be symmetrical and right now with quite a few sutures holding on, I can’t really see what the end result will look like.

If I am not happy with how everything looks I will have one final surgery to get the desired result. From what people tell me, including one of my doctors, my surgeon is a perfectionist and so I have a feeling that he will agree with me if I feel that I need a few adjustments. The only bad thing is that I am going through 25 radiation treatments, so I may have to wait quite a while before I can safely have another surgery, possibly up to a year. I will absolutely be asking him about a possible time line when I see him next month if another surgery is needed.

The blue marks are the tattoos for radiation treatment, only 2 of 3 are showing in these pictures.
The blue marks are the tattoos for radiation treatment, only 2 of 3 are showing in these pictures.

Radiation Treatment Updates

January 4th, 2020

I had my 10th radiation treatment yesterday….15 treatments to go! I am excited that the “treatment” part of my journey is almost over! I will have more to do once radiation is over but it should be easy in comparison. ๐Ÿ’•

January 11th, 2020

Happy Saturday! Yesterday I completed my 15th radiation treatment…10 to go!! I am doing well so far and I am as ready as I can be for any side effects that will develop over the next two weeks.

January 13th, 2020

Today when I went in for treatment the techs noticed that I had 3 spots under my left breast where my sutures had come out and my skin was broken. My doctor came in and took a look and determined that it was only the first few layers of skin that were broken. Since I said that I was not in any pain from them, there was no need to delay my treatment….thank God!

Last Friday I noticed that my back was hurting after I got home from treatment. I didn’t think much of it because my body has been through so much this past year. But today it was still hurting so I said something to my nurse when she was examining me after my treatment. It isn’t uncommon to have back pain develop while going through radiation. The table in the treatment room is metal and flat so depending on the shape of your back it can potentially cause problems. I have slight scoliosis, about 11% if I remember correctly, so between the treatment table and the fact that last week was my first week of having treatment every day, my back is not happy. My nurse suggested that I take a few acetaminophen before I come in for treatment to help with the pain so I will do that, it can’t hurt to try it. I only have 9 treatments to go so I am pushing through!

My Support System

Mood: Grateful ๐Ÿ™‚

Every cancer patient needs a good support system. I am very blessed to have many different moving parts to mine, and I feel that it is time to give them credit in not only helping me through my journey, but also being a constant in my life since I had the difficult task of telling them about my breast cancer.

God: I have cursed him, screamed at him asking “why?” but my faith has not wavered. I may not understand why I have breast cancer but I know that God has always protected me in my life and will continue to do so as long as I am alive.

Matt {my husband}: Sadly I have read many stories about cancer patients being abandoned by their spouse, boyfriend, partner, etc… I get it, caring for someone going through such a difficult journey is not easy. You need to not only be strong for your loved one, but also for yourself. This is a long journey that lasts for well over a year with constant ups and downs, doctors appointments, surgeries and treatments and my husband has been by my side for all of it….I am so blessed to have him in my life! I will never be able to thank him enough for everything he has done for me during this terrible time. I love you so much sweetie!

My Dad & Brother: I do not have any family where my husband and I live. My Dad is in the Midwest where I grew up and my brother lives in Japan. Even though I do not have either of them near me, we talk often either on the phone, via email or messenger. I keep them updated on what is going on with me both good and bad. I know they wish they could do more for me but honestly just listening to me when I need them is beyond valuable to me. I love you both so much!

My Friends: I can’t possibly mention everyone so I will just discuss how various friends have been there for me since telling them about my diagnosis. I sent private messages to my closest friends on messenger to tell them the news. It was hard telling them, but it was the right thing for me to do. I didn’t want them finding out via Facebook once I was brave enough to post about what was happening, I love and respect my friends too much to have them find out that way. Almost all of them started asking me questions and checking on me here and there which I really appreciated. You never know how people will react when you tell them such terrible news but I have received nothing but love and support. Once I posted the news on Facebook I discovered that some of the women I know either online or in real life are either fighting breast cancer currently, just got diagnosed or have been through it in the past. It has been so helpful to me to talk with other women that understand what I am going through and so rewarding for me to have other patients thank me for being so open and honest in this blog. For me to make a difference in someone’s life is a blessing that I never expected, so thank you Linda for suggesting that I write this blog.

My Doctors: I am active on a few different apps for cancer patients and it is a double edged sword at times. One of the sad things I have noticed is the poor care that some patients receive from their doctors. Reading about doctors yelling at cancer patients, surgeons leaving large horrible scars on a woman’s chest and leaving patients with more questions than answers is horrible and terrifying. After reading of such horrors and seeing pictures as evidence, I have no doubt in my mind that I have been blessed with the best doctors to care for me and help me through my journey. I have three doctors, an amazing surgeon who is also a breast specialist so he has done all of my surgeries and has been with me from the beginning, an oncologist and a radiation oncologist. My surgeon reffered me to my oncologist, who reffered me to my radiation oncologist. My doctors work very closely together and I absolutely trust them to do what is best for me as we fight breast cancer together….they are my team and they fighting right along side of me! I will never be able to thank them enough for everything they have done for me and are continuing to do as my journey is not over yet.

My Hospital: All of my doctors are near or on the Gwinnett Medical Center campus. There is one building in particular where I have spent most of my time in from the beginning of this journey. In that building I have my surgeon, the surgery center where I had reconstructive surgery, my oncologist, the room where I had 16 chemotherapy treatments, the breast center where my wires were placed for my cancer surgery, the cancer support center and there is a rep for the American Cancer Society located there as well. The cancer support center in particular has been so helpful. I was assigned a breast nurse navigator who has been with me from my first appointment with my surgeon to present day. I told her how terrified I was of my first surgery as I had never had one before. I was shocked when she showed up at the hospital the morning of my surgery to bring me a bag of goodies and sit with me for awhile. I was crying alone in a waiting room when she showed up, I was so scared. My husband was not allowed to come back and see me yet so being alone and being terrified was just too much for me….thank God she showed up when she did. So now it is 10 months later and she stills calls to check on me and see if I need any help with anything, if I need to contact any of the many resources her office offers or just need to talk….I am so grateful for her! It is a shame that more hospitals do not offer such an excellent resource!

I have many people to be so thankful for, and I truly believe that it has made all of the difference in my journey! Love you all! ๐Ÿ’•

Reality of Chemotherapy

Mood: Sad ๐Ÿ˜ซ

I know I have written about the side effects I experienced while going through chemotherapy treatments and the after effects, so I won’t go into the details about all of that again. You can read that entry here if you haven’t read it.

This is a hard entry for me to write, to show you a part of me that breast cancer and chemotherapy have taken from me. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I take pride in my appearance. I knew from the beginning that I would lose my hair, so I bought a few wigs early on in my journey and I promised myself that I would not go to a doctor’s appointment or out in public without a wig and at least some makeup on. I didn’t want people seeing me and feeling sorry for me, and I still don’t.

I have an update about my two big toe nails….I had to cut them both almost completely off and quite honestly, I cried…this newest development is devastating to me!

My sad toes, with medication applied!

This is yet one more part of me that I have lost to breast cancer and chemotherapy. First it was my beautiful long blonde hair, then my eyebrows and eyelashes, then the rest of the hair on my body, yes, all of it, then it damaged my finger nails and now, losing my toenails. Luckily, it looks like my nail beds were growing under my damaged toenails, my toenails had almost completely lifted away from my nail beds, so my toenails should grow back healthy and normal, but it will take time. My hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back now, but slowly. I will eventually take a picture of what my hair looks like now and update you. Currently I am waiting for it to fill in a bit better as I have a big patch in the front that is not growing at the same rate as the rest of my hair and I have noticed that my eyebrow on the same side is behind in its growth as well…no clue as to why.

So at a time when I have already been feeling ugly and less than feminine, losing my toenails and worrying about what they will look like by my trip in May, has not been helpful. I know that the way I am feeling about how I look will eventually pass as my body continues to fight to get me back to good health.

Radiation Oncologist Appointment

Mood: Frustrated ๐Ÿ˜•

Last Monday I saw my Radiation Oncologist after my treatment. From now moving forward, I will see her every Monday so she can see how I am doing with my treatments. It will also give me the chance to chat with her and tell her about any concerns I have.

For the first time, she saw my tattoos for my treatment, there are 3 of them strategically placed so they can line me up on the machine for treatment, and she apologized to me for them being so large. They shouldn’t be any larger than this…but mine are 3 times that size. Now I will have to deal with finding someone to remove them. I am hoping that I can have the removal done and healed before our trip in mid-May {my husband & I are renewing our vows in Jamaica, a trip we had to reschedule for next year due to my breast cancer diagnosis. ๐Ÿ˜•} Worse comes to worse I will cover the most noticeable one on my breast during our ceremony and when we are at dinner each night.

My conversation with her about my tattoos really saddened me, as the thought of needing to find yet another doctor to put me through even more treatments is overwhelming at this point. When I see her tomorrow I will ask her how long I will have to wait to have the tattoos removed once I am done with my radiation treatments. I will want to move quickly if I can have them removed soon after my treatments end.

Tomorrow is treatment #7 out of 25….I am getting there. My treatments will go much quicker once I am past New Year’s as I will be going every Monday through Friday, no more holidays to work around.