Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Amazing Friend

I went to visit Gail this afternoon with our friends Mary Jo and Kim. We all agreed that Gail is absolutely amazing. After all she's been through, she was upbeat and joking today. She looks wonderful, although she describes her face as "puffy". Her night was not restful - too many noises within the hospital corridor. Prior to our arrival, she had attempted to get up with assistance and almost passed out. She was dizzy trying to sit in a chair, but was able to sit on the end of the bed for a short period of time. As she relayed this information to us, we just smiled and reminded her that it had been less than 24 hours since the completion of her surgery. She is on a continuous epidural drip for pain and she described her pain level as tolerable and feeling as if she had lifted too many weights. She has eaten very little but attempted to eat something while we there. Had I not seen her with my own eyes I would still be wondering and worrying about her. But it is at this point that I can honestly tell myself that my amazing friend will beat this. I have no doubt in my mind that she is a survivor and a fighter and that she will be around for many years to come to share her laughter with those of us who know her and love her dearly!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Surgery Day!!

Well, I heard from John about an hour ago. What he told me was short and sweet - and it was definitely SWEET news! Gail was done with the initial phase of surgery, (which went well), around 1:30 this afternoon and the lymph nodes tested negative. She was still in the reconstructive phase of her surgery at the time we talked but I will keep everyone updated when I hear more. I know anyone reading this will be as relieved as I am to have Gail through this part of her journey:)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Night before surgery

I am headed to my daughter's swim meet shortly, so this will be my last post until I am feeling up to blogging again. My friend Cathy will be updating the blog over the weekend to keep everyone informed as to how I am feeling. I will be arriving at the hospital at 7 am, surgery is scheduled for 8:30 am. Surgery is expected to take approximately 8 hours. My bag is packed, my bras are in the garbage and I am ready to go! :)

Very Sexy Push Up Bras

Ok, I found this email in my mailbox this morning! No kidding. Somehow I got on the Victorias Secret mailing list and I periodically get emails from them. I had to laugh because my bras are actually sitting on my bedroom floor right now. They are going in the garbage before the day is over. I will not be the same size that I was (thank god!) and I have no use for them. Maybe Victorias Secret will be one of my shopping destinations now as I never could wear anything they had to offer! This might be a good thing! ;)


There are other important things going on in the world besides my cancer story so I just wanted to post on 9/11 briefly. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on that day? I remember it quite clearly. John and I were in the kitchen getting ready to go to work, the kids were getting dressed for school. Our kitchen TV was on. John made some remark after seeing the first plane crash into the building. I then stopped what I was doing and glanced at the TV. It was shortly after that that we realized something was going on. The kids heard us talking in the kitchen and came and watched also. We watched in horror at the event taking place before us! It is hard to believe it has been 7 years since that happened.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things you may or may not know about me

~I am not a morning person.
~I love the smell of coffee in the morning.
~I hate unloading the dishwasher.
~I never leave my house without makeup or my hair being done.
~I think my daughter is beautiful.
~I love raspberries.
~I would love to be a volunteer at the Humane Society.
~Drowning scares me.
~I was on the synchronized swim team in high school and in the Charm and Modeling Club.
~I think my house is too big.
~I am very low maintenance.
~I am a very emotional person.
~If I could live anywhere it would be on a lake.
~I think my son is one of the funniest people I know.
~I love to sleep.
~I can not tolerate people who are fake or think they are better than me.
~I love the smell of gasoline and fresh cut grass.
~I love a sunset.
~My favorite coffee is Caribous coffee with steamed milk and a shot of hazelnut syrup.
~I love to surf the internet and look at vacation destinations.
~I love the ocean.
~The thought of losing my hair scares me more than surgery or having cancer.
~I love to drive in my car with the music REALLY loud.
~I need my space.
~I have known my husband for more than half my life.
~I love Mexican food.

Why Me?

I actually do not dwell on why this has happened to me, I believe that would be unhealthy, but I have asked myself the question when I was first diagnosed. I do believe that women are predisposed to breast cancer (family history, birth control pills, breast feeding, etc). I also think that the foods we eat and the pesticides and chemicals we ingest have a huge effect on more cases of breast cancer than ever. I also think breast cancer is a crapshoot. Honestly, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Your chances of getting cancer are pretty high. So why did this happen to me? I ask "why does it happen to any woman?" I am no different than anyone else.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Since my diagnosis

I can't begin to tell you the people who have contacted me and supported me in the last 2 months. I have gotten emails from strangers who have shared their stories with me, given me advice and offered support. I have received phone calls from women who have had recent surgery by my surgeon and plastic surgeon and told me their stories. I have rekindled friendships and found new friends (it is a hell of a way to make new friends, let me tell you). I have gone out to lunch and dinner more times in the past 2 months than I have in a year (no kidding, everyone wants to do lunch/dinner and cocktails. How can I say no to that!!) and I can honestly say with some of my friends, we have laughed and kept laughing about this crazy cancer world I am entering. Different family and friends have supported me in different ways, some with advice, some with humor, some with a slap in the face or a kick in the butt , some with nothing more than being there in that particular moment. Thank you to everyone who has shown me love and support thus far! Your love, support, friendship and prayers will help me get through this. A special thank you my dear friend, Cathy, who has listened to every detail of my story and has always been there for me since the day I went in for my mammogram.
I am not one to sugar coat anything. I pretty much say what is on my mind. With that being said "I will be a survivor." I have no doubt that I will get through whatever is thrown in my path and will leave breast cancer in the dust."
I have created this blog to keep my family and friends updated during my treatment and also for my own mental sanity. I have learned so much from reading other breast cancer survivors blogs that I hope I can reach out to someone in return.

Double Whammy! My Story

On July 23,2008, I heard the four words that every woman fears "you have breast cancer."

I had prepared myself in advance as I had this gut feeling that I had cancer.
I honestly knew I had cancer before I had been told. Because of my past medical background (x-ray technician, mammography technician, CT technician) and the internet researcher that I am I knew. What I wasn't prepared for was additional news about my breast biopsies. Not only did I have invasive carcinoma in one breast but had carcinoma in situ in the other breast. After hanging up the phone at work and throwing something against the wall, I sat down and said to myself "Wow, I am dealing with cancer in both my breasts." I knew immediately what I wanted to do and have never wavered from that decision ! (but first I needed to do some research). I can live without my breasts, but I will not live with cancer and the fear of it returning at some later date. I wanted a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
I received several surgeons names from my doctor as to who to see and she up front told me who she would go see if it were her. Ok, good place to start. Call and make an appointment with him. I then went to the Susan Komen website message boards hoping to find someone in the area who I could connect with. I found a woman in town and emailed her asking who her surgeon was and her surgeon was the doctor I had just made an appointment with. She highly recommended him. I then needed to do some research on reconstruction options and found that a fairly new reconstrucion option is available in the Milwaukee area at Froedert Hospital. DIEP flap reconstruction- taking the fat from your abdomen and basically putting it in after your old, crappy breast tissue has been removed. I wanted to see this doctor and see if that was an option for me. Within 2 weeks I had met with a surgeon and plastic surgeon and had all my options. I did not even feel the need to go for a second opinion. I felt very confident that this was the right surgical team for me. Unfortunately I was not a candidate for the DIEP flap (my plastic surgeon very politely told me I did not have enough fat. (gotta love that man!) On to option B-soft tissue expanders with implants in 4 months. It was either that or go breast free (NOT!)
My surgery is Friday September 12, 2008, at 8:30 AM. We will await the final pathology report after surgery and go on from there. I am fairly certain that I will need chemotherapy, not sure about radiation therapy. When you are first diagnosed with cancer life becomes a bit overwhelming, but after sorting through options and details and once a plan is in place, you then begin to feel in control again. I am now in a holding pattern counting down the days until surgery, wishing it was already over at this point. Waiting is the worst. Waiting for appointments, waiting for results, waiting for surgery, waiting for answers. More to come........