Friday, June 11, 2010

cancer free!!!

Hi Everyone -

So I feel like a kid on Christmas - I was told that my pathology report was the "ideal" result. There are NO cancer cells detected in any of the tissue taken at surgery - WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! It doesn't rule out recurrence ( my surgeon is kinda of a Debbie Downer) but i have a low chance of it - and the chemo did its job! I feel great, and relieved - like the weight of the world has been taken off my shoulders! It must be horrible for those who go in and don't hear those words. How frustrating and heartbreaking to go through all of this, only to learn that it didn't work! But for me - it was a great day - I got the last of my drains out
(which i have to say - is the worst) - and both surgeons were very happy with my healing. My Plastics guy said "I think you will be happy with your result" to which i commented (to finally get a laugh out of him) "so i will have a good rack!" he laughed & agreed!

I have had a lot of people asking about the surgery that i went through - I have been kinda vague about it - not wanting to give more info or visuals than people want. But i do feel that how far we have come medically is amazing, so i am going describe what they did - if you don't want to know - skip the rest of this paragraph! First, i was told that i have a 40% chance of getting breast cancer again in my life - to me that is way too high - so this was my choice! I had a double radical mastectomy with reconstruction. But i do not look like it did - and this is how! They started by putting a die in my cancerous side to see what lymph nodes filtered the cancer. They then removed them ( 21 in all - but my surgeon said that if i had the surgery before chemo it would have been more like 50-60 - who knew!?) The next step - the surgeon removed all the tissue from the breast, lymph node area and nipples (yes they saved the nipples - again - amazing!!!) T his is where the plastic surgeon came in and gave me a tummy tuck. He took the skin and tissue from one hip across to the other, and made me a new belly button. he used this tissue, skin and a little muscle to rebuild my breasts. they connected the veins and arteries to the new tissue so that it would thrive like my natural breast tissue. the only stitches i have on my breasts are under the breast toward the arm pit. when it heals - really you won't even see it. The tummy incision is long - but he did only internal stitching and should heal well - and i will be left with a very flat tummy ( after 2 kids - yea!) So it was a very aggressive procedure - but amazing! i feel so fortunate to be able to benefit from these advances.

On to a rant of mine -
I am so annoyed with how the media portrays women with breast cancer and mastectomies. if you ever look up what a mastectomy looks like - it really is not accurate for the strides that medicine has made. why are we seeing pictures these maimed women. Is it for those to pity them into giving donation? we aren't seeing pictures of men with one testicle or amputated limbs due to cancer - why are we seeing women with horrific looking breast surgery. I received a Livestrong magazine in the mail one week before my surgery. There was an article on women who have had different reconstruction procedures and mastectomies - they all looked horrible! It didn't scare me because i knew that i was not going to look like that. My question is - shouldn't a magazine like that show how far we have come? - not show these women for shock value! it is offensive and inhumane to me. I will show almost anyone my results ( Tad has forbade me to show people he works with " please don't show them your boobs - i need to see them everyday - ha ha) - I just want people to know how fabulous you can look after cancer! I am proud of what can be done for women who have gone through this unfair disease. But the important message that SHOULD be out there is : You can get through this, and look and feel great! the word "cancer" is not a death sentence. I always hear my surgeon, Dr. Shearburn's voice in my head - " you can beat this - it will just be a crappy 6-9 months" ! - and that is what it has been - i beat it - and am stronger for it. And there were aspects that were actually good for me and my family. it makes you love and appreciate those around you and experiences in life. Life is Great - and i am thrilled that i have a great one to live! Just know that when you see me - i am better to have gone through this - and i am NO VICTIM!!!!

Love to all -

PS - My hair is starting to grow back - woo hoo! - Coop looks and feels it everyday to keep track of the progress - very cute! Tell me this though - why does leg hair grow back first? - yet another unfair thing - ugh!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

tough week

hi all-

So some of you have known that last week was pretty tough. Tad got the stomach flu -(badly) - so both of us were out of commission! Tad was quarantined to the guest room in the basement ( so the kids and i wouldn't get it). Poor guy!!! in our 11 years together - i have never seen him so sick! Great timing! Honestly though, i think the stress and exhaustion caught up to him, and his body couldn't take anymore.
My amazing mom stayed a couple of nights with us due to needing round the clock help! Love you Mom - we don't know what we would do without you! Also thank you to Sara (who went above and beyond by taking me to Penn), Debbie (the cutest house cleaner ever!), Tootie, Peg, Becky E, Shanan & Mary Kate - they really got us through! We were also brought some beautiful meals that really helped out - thanks Jeanne, Kim, Karen and Patty! A Huge thanks to my cleaning lady - Alda - our house sparkles! And to all those who sent gorgeous flowers - it makes me happy to have so much beauty and color!

Today - Tad is feeling better and will be returning to work tomorrow, and i am getting better everyday. My grouchiness comes and goes - which is good - i am getting feisty - a good, yet annoying, sign. This sitting around is getting on my nerves - but like i said, that means i am starting to feel like myself - ha ha!

SO hopefully this week will be better and run smoother (can't really get any tougher). I got 4 of my 5 drains out last week and the last one comes out on Wednesday. I will also get the pathology reports from the surgeons that day - so everyone think healthy thoughts. i will update again next week-

thanks and love,