Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday afternoon

I felt like an old woman getting up this morning! I don't think my body moved an inch last night. Or maybe I was scared to death to move because I didn't want to feel that sharp stabbing pain again. LOL I took a pain pill before bed and slept until about 5 am. I just took some Tylenol today. The revision surgery went well yesterday, as well as could be expected. It sets back my final reconstruction by about 4 months. I am not too thrilled about that, but I don't have much choice in the matter. I just have to keep telling myself those brand new perky boobs will all be worth it in the end.
Happy Saturday everyone, enjoy the weekend!


I haven't cried since the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Until last night. My sweet niece, Melissa, gave me this beautiful silver necklace with the word "fearless" on it. When I stop and think about it I guess maybe I am fearless. I have taken this disease, plunged head first into it, and have taken charge when I can. Obviously, I can't take charge of everything, but I do have some power over how cancer affects me mentally. I have to be fearless because if I'm not that means that cancer will win, and that won't happen. This little necklace will remain around my neck until the last day of treatment as a reminder that someone has the belief in me that I am fearless and as a reminder to myself to stay strong no matter what happens along the way. I love you Melly, and thank you!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Home Sweet Home again

Surgery went well. I was home by 3:30 this afternoon. Besides the fact that it feels as if I have an arrow sticking out of my side, I feel pretty good. I had a great anesthesiologist who probably gave me a quadruple dose of anti-nausea meds. I woke up feeling good. Not one bit nauseous or dizzy. I am on some pain meds for now. I will write more tomorrow.

Headed to the hospital/update

I just got a call from the surgery department and apparently they made a scheduling error and I should have been there this morning, so...... I am now headed in and will have surgery sooner than we thought.

Happy Birthday!

Today is my baby's birthday. He is now 14 and taller than me. His voice is low and he has to shave once a week. He loves girls and sports! I remember how happy John was when he was born that he was a boy!! His actions as a newborn and young child definitely proved to us what he would be like as a teenager. He cried, he never slept, he was cranky, he was stubborn, he had major temper tantrums,he was difficult. LOL As a teenager he has changed somewhat. He is still stubborn (damn stubborn) but does not have temper tantrums, he is still cranky, but he does sleep. He is still difficult but is the most kind hearted boy!!!! He was my child that would always ask me when I was not feeling well "are you okay mommy" and climb up in my lap to sit with me.
He is the humor in our house and the reason we have gray hair. He was the reason that John started drinking coffee in the mornings. We could not function as we never slept when he was young. He was the one who texted me in the hospital and asked me how I was after surgery last Friday. Happy Birthday Billy! I love you with all my heart!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I just got a call from the surgery department and my outpatient procedure won't be done until the afternoon. I am to arrive at the hospital at 12:30 pm so don't be concerned if there are no updates until later.

Just another day

I am back at work today for a few hours. I got scolded for working (and driving) by my daughter, Natalie, yesterday when she found out. LOL It is nice to know she is concerned. I am feeling really good today, so I am planning on going to Natalie's swim meet tonight. It is the conference relay meet and usually a fun time for the girls. I hardly EVER miss one of my kids sporting events so I am feeling a bit guilty for not being there to cheer her on for the past 2 meets. Enjoy the beatutiful weather for those of you in Wisconsin.

Tommorrow is my outpatient surgery scheduled for around 8:30 a.m. Please send good thoughts that this goes well. I have the utmost confidence in my plastic surgeon. I am hoping this is the last surgery for me for awhile.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Working today!

Hey I am at work today for a few hours this morning. It was kind of weird to get in the car and drive after being holed up in my house for 12 days. I will head home after work and probably take a nap this afternoon. I am making Natalie's homecoming "theme" dress this year as she could not find anything in the store. It is a cute little purple sparkly sequin dress for the "space" theme this year. I have a sample dress made to check the fit and hopefuly I can get the pattern layed out today and maybe cut tonight. I know what you are all thinking??? What the heck??? It is an easy project and will look so cute when it is done. I am up for it, I need to do something, can't be sitting around waiting for my ass to get bigger during all of this recovery. LOL

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I love my book club and my book club gals! We always have the best food,wine and good times when we get together.
Below are some of my favorite books that I thought I would share in light of all this heavy conversation today. :)
Loving Frank-(currently reading, so far I really like the writing and the story)
Someone Knows My Name- Lawrence Hill-Historical fiction.
The Stolen Child-Keith Donahue-Fantasy.
The Pillars of the Earth-Keith Follett-Historical fiction
The Sparrow-Mary Doria Russell-Science fiction.
Memoirs of a Geisha-Arthur Golden-historical fiction. All time favorite!
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan-Lisa See-Historical Fiction
The Shadow of the Wind-Carlos Ruiz Zafron-Mystery-Another all time favorite!
The Birth of Venus-Sarh Dunant-Historical fiction.
Water for Elephants-Sara Gruen-story of a circus family
The Space Between Us-Thrity Umriger-Fiction.

Feel free to leave any good book recommendations!!!

No Port/ A little update

My oncologist called me this morning and discussed my case with his senior colleague who felt that due to the minimal lymph node removal (one on one side and two on the other) and only 4 cycles of chemo, that a port was unnecessary for me. He felt that the veins in my arm would be fine to use during this time, so at this point we will not be putting the port in on Friday. If we do decide that we may need onethere is still time to put it in as chemo will not be until the end of October. Sounds logical to me.

Long Day!/Very Long Post

Yesterday was a long day for me as I had three doctor appointments. I missed my nap, darn it! LOL so I was too tired last night to blog.

My first appointment was with John(we are on a first name basis now haha), Dr. Hijjawi, the plastic surgeon. He removed the final drain from one side but not the other. The reason being,,,,,, unfortunately, I have some necrotic(dying) tissue on one side that does not look as if it will live. What that means is he needs to go in and get rid of that dead tissue and connect healthy tissues together. It is a simple 30-minute procedure done in day surgery. It is a fixable problem, a complication that can occur when doing this kind of surgery. We were aware of that going into this. The problem is the tissue is kind of a large area,so this will set back my reconstruction several months because we are basically starting from scratch and expanding my skin from scratch. Not what I had hoped,but hey, it could be worse,right? I am REALLY not looking forward to anesthesia AT ALL, but hoping that because it is so short I won't have the same side effects as I did during initial surgery. I even asked if I could be awake,and he kind of chuckled and said "welllll, if you really want to to, but I think you should be sleeping." This is scheduled for this Friday morning.

My second visit was with the surgeons nurse practitioner. This was just a short follow-up visit, no big deal. She briefly went over the pathology report.

My third visit was with oncology. Dr.Charlson is my oncologist, whom I immediately liked. I also met with a Dr. Hake, who I also really like. We discussed my pathology report and options available to me for chemotherapy treatment.
My tumor turned out to be larger than what was seen on any of the imaging (a good lesson in that imaging does not always show what is really there). I am very fortunate to not have any lymph node involvement, but because of the tumor size, chemotherapy was recommended for me, and looking at the statistics of having chemo versus not having chemo, it really is a no brainer. With chemotherapy and hormone therapy (more on hormone therapy later) my chance of recurrence goes dramatically down.
The good news about the treatment they have recommended to me is that I will only need 4 cycles of drugs. (chemo can be anywhere from 4-8 cycles). Four doesn't sound too bad. I will have chemo 1 time every 3 weeks. The usual regimen includes 3 drugs. For me, one of the drugs has no benefit versus risk, meaning the risk and the benefit wash each other out, it really is not going to make a difference if I have it or not. It was a nasty drug anyway, from what I have read.
The two drugs they are using are Taxotere and Cytoxan, very common chemotherapy breast cancer fighting drugs. Because of this little extra reconstruction on Friday, chemo will not be started until 3-4 weeks after this surgery (end of October). I will also need a port line placed for lab work and chemo administration. That is a permanent line that stays in and is easily accessible for any kind of lab draws or injections. I now have limited access for veins. Because of the bilateral mastectomy and the removal of lymph nodes, they can not use either of my arms for intravenous lines or lab draws. My feet and neck are the only options. We are hoping that that line will be placed during my reconstruction on Friday. One less trip to the OR with anesthesia is the thought.
Whew! Told you it was a long post. I had a ton of information thrown at me yesterday, I was pretty prepared for what I heard (of course I had heard all these drug names and researched chemotherapy before going in). Poor John looked kind of lost in the sea with all the information they were talking about. He did pretty well though, and got the jist of what was going on. LOL It was good to have two sets of ears to hear all this information. When talking later he remembered things that I couldn't and vice versa.

That's it for today, I have a little sewing project I need to work on this morning (I will tell you about that another time) before the Young and the Restless. :)
On a side note, honeycrisp apples are in season right now. They are the best!!!

Thanks to all of you for the meals, cards, gifts, phone calls, emails, texts, rides, voicemails, visits, coffee, etc. I am a little overwhelmed with all of the kindness and generosity right now. Our family really appreciates everything that everyone has done for us. You guys are the best!!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reconstruction with soft tissue expanders

Good morning!

By the time this is all over you will probably know more about breast cancer and reconstruction than you ever wanted to know! I promise I will not get too graphic for those who are squeamish. LOL

I have had a few questions regarding surgery and the soft tissue expanders and exactly how they work. For me, I had two surgeons the day of surgery. The surgeon removed all the breast tissue except the skin, and the plastic surgeon did the reconstruction. They did this all through a 3-4 inch incision directly across my nipple. I have no other incisions on my breast except this one. The surgeon basically takes out the lymph nodes he is looking at and the breast tissue. His job is then done. The plastic surgeon then does the reconstruction part of the surgery. In my case because I opted for double mastectomy the surgery was long (7 hours).
The whole process of achieving the final implants takes about 5-6 months following surgery. The expanders themselves feel like a rubber Tupperware lid. (They don't hurt but I can tell they are there). I can actually feel the edges of the rubber of the expanders. Upon waking from surgery there is saline in the expander, so you are not completely flat. Mine were already half filled. Every other week or so I will be going to the plastics department and they will then "fill" them with more saline until they are the desired size. After they are filled to the desired size, I then have to wait 12-14 weeks for the skin to retain that memory and then the final silicone implant is put in (simple day surgery).

Article taken from

Filled tissue expander

For most women, the skin that remains after mastectomy must be stretched or expanded to make room for an implant. To stretch the skin, the surgeon inserts a balloon-type device called a tissue expander under the chest muscle. The expander has a port (a metal or plastic plug, valve, or coil). The port allows the surgeon to add increasing amounts of liquid over time (about six months), without extra surgery.

Gradually, your skin and soft tissue are stretched to achieve your desired appearance. The tissue is actually stretched a little beyond your desired size, to create a natural droop. If the tissue is stretched too far, it can cause discomfort and occasionally flatten part of your rib cage. Final steps

When stretching is done and your other treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, or both) are completed, the expander is usually replaced with a permanent implant. Breast implants are filled with either saline or silicone gel.