Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Final Countdown

Things are looking brighter these days.  First of all, I've gotten so much support from people who have or are going through what I'm going through - it's an amazing fellowship.  One person called it a "sisterhood."  I really didn't ask to join a "sisterhood" and I hope there are no more initiation rituals beyond getting breast cancer...but, okay, now that I'm a member, I'm happy to have the new friends and support.  (So, Neener to all of you that said NO CLUB would ever take ME!  Hahaha!  Showed you!)  Secondly, I've just gotten so much support and prayers from everyone else!  Even people I don't even know!  It's amazing!  (Feel free to send cookies)

Third, yesterday I made the appointment for my surgery.  July 6.  I'll be having a double mastectomy.  The countdown begins.  Now that the decision is made and the surgery is scheduled, I feel more at peace.  I'm not happy about it and I certainly have moments where I wonder if I'm doing the right thing - but I really think it's the only sensible choice.  It gives me the best chance at a long future to stay around and become a burden to all those who know and love me.

Before scheduling the appointment yesterday, I was able to visit with the surgeon again and ask all the questions I could think of.  I'll be having a skin-sparing mastectomy so that, later, when I have reconstructive surgery, it's much easier and more natural because some of your skin is still there.  In the meantime, until reconstruction, I'll be looking like a Sharpei.  I've heard it's not a good look.  The doctor said that anyone that sees it might laugh.  Does he think I'm going to go around showing this to people just to get their reaction?  Well...maybe...  However, my husband has strict instructions to not laugh if he ever has any hopes of seeing me naked again...EVER!  He didn't seem to take the threat very seriously...I don't know why.

The name of the type of surgery I'm having is a "Simple Mastectomy."  Obviously an oxymoron because it certainly doesn't sound "Simple" to me.  The surgery takes over 4 hours.  They'll remove all of the breast tissue as well as a good part of the skin, some lymph nodes on the left side (to check for cancer involvement) and my nipple.  (I'm sure you really wanted to know that, but, yes, I'll be nipple-less).  They can do surgery after you get your "new boobs" and MAKE a new nipple.  I'm quite intrigued by this...  Also, if you want the areola back (that's the ring of color around the nipple), you can later have it TATTOOED ON!  Yes, really!  Fascinating!  I wonder if they only do color - maybe I could get a picture of like a Snoopy or something cool instead of just color around the nipple.  Would that be weird?  Don't answer that.

Perhaps the cruelest part of the surgery is that before I go into the hospital that morning, I have to stop by another hospital and get a SHOT in my left breast!  A SHOT!  Like with a NEEDLE!  I think we all know how I feel about needles - I do not like them.  I just think this is cruel and unusual punishment!  To have to get a shot in the boob and then go have it chopped off!  That's just mean.  Anyway, they do it so they can put in the dye for the lymph nodes so that by the time you have surgery they can see where the nodes that are most likely affected would be and remove those.  Still, a SHOT!

After speaking with the doctor, I scheduled the surgery with a lady named Laurie who told me she had just had a double mastectomy a year ago!  I, of course, tried to NOT look at her boobs, but I sneaked a look and she looks amazing.  I didn't need to do that though because, later, she just showed me one anyway.  Haha!  Well, only part of one - but she looks great.  She had the surgery because there had been so much breast cancer in her family and she found out she was BRCA+ with an 83% chance of breast or ovarian cancer.  I think that's such a brave choice to make.  She said that for her, it was a "no brainer."  She also told me about a class given by the hospital for mastectomy patients where they go over everything you need to know and give you a bunch of free stuff.  Well, she had me at "free stuff."  I'll be there!  I'm scheduled to go to that on the 29th.

Tomorrow, I meet with Angel Joy to find out the results of the genetic testing.  I'm so  interested in what they found!  I hope it's something cool!  Something that could get me in the Guinness Book of World Records preferably.  I would use my 15 minutes of fame so wisely!

So, now, mostly we wait.  I have several more doctor appointments in the meantime and some tests to do (most involving needles of course - lucky me).  On July 4th it will have been 6 months since I lost 25% of my kidney to renal cancer.  I am to have a whole battery of tests to check and see how my kidneys look.  I'll have to try and fit those in.  I'm terribly busy with the whole "having breast cancer" thing right now.  How inconvenient.

Keeping up with a normal routine (even though it's so hard) helps keep my mind from obsessing.  For instance, today was Field Trip day for my 9 year old daughter.  I didn't want to go, not really.  I wanted to take a nap, but I knew my daughter would be devastated if I didn't go -- and I'm so glad I did!  Though it wasn't without its perils.  Some crazy person (Jessica, I'm pointing at you!) tried to get me on roller skates at the skating rink!  Really Jessica?  Are you trying to kill me for goodness sakes, I already have breast cancer you know.  No need to put some wheels on my feet too!  ;)  Then, another parent tried to pull the candy machine down on top of me (Kris, you know it's you).  I have now determined that school field trips are nearly as dangerous as breast cancer!

I am feeling more like myself now, though it comes in waves.  I feel happier for the most part, but there are also times that I just sit around and hold my breasts and I cry.  I'm saying goodbye to them.  I apologized to them.  I thanked them. Wow, this sounds just as ridiculous as it was.

I wonder if my doctor ever put in that referral for a psychiatrist...

Boob Count = 56


  1. I know this sounds demented... but I really want to know what free stuff you get. Must keep me updated! I was very excited when I got free stuff at the Race for the Cure. All I got was two thingys of hummus, a small bag of pita chips, a Gala apple, a pair of $1 pink flipflops from Old Navy & a couple of BOGO coupons for yogurt... but you should see how excited I was. :P

  2. OK, the making a new nipple thing is quite fascinating!

  3. Just think, when people ask if you have a tattoo you can say yes and be hip to all the teenagers.

    Joy is a saint and an angel and all around good egg. I count her as a blessing in the whole thing. Tell her hello from a former patient.

    Good luck on the BRCA test. I hope you are negative. I found it kind of weird to have my genetic profile in a database somewhere. Hope they don't decide I should not be renewed at some point.