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Cancer stuff

Back to work after double mastectomy

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Wow….what a week! I’m not sure where to even start with this post. This girl gets to put on her big girl pants and go back to work! I think I’m more mentally ready than I am physically. A double mastectomy is no walk in the park when it comes to recovery.  However, I’m excited to go back to work for many reasons. One being that we have some exciting things going on and I can’t wait to get back in the middle of it all! When you’re in marketing, no day is the same, so I have no idea what I’ll be walking into.

My plan for going back to work

I have been taking small naps throughout the day since my surgery. Obviously, there will be no napping for me once I go back to work.  I’ll only be working part-time tomorrow and Friday but I’m sure I’ll be exhausted come 8pm. The first couple weeks back will be hard but with a flexible schedule, I think the transition will be much easier. It will be weird going back to work after my double mastectomy, but it’s all in my head.  On a good note, I’m looking forward to our Friday night as we will be going to a little carnival here in Brandon called  November Fest. I’m such a dork but I truly am looking forward to it. Both Justin and I are nerdy like that. We may love it more than Gianna. But whats not to love? Family time, memories, rides, fun houses, beer, elephant ears….need I say more??

Other happenings

Now to the not so fun parts. Gianna got an infection again this past Monday (same one for the second time). She’s doing much better and it has cleared up tremendously thanks to antibiotics and some cream that I can’t even pronounce. Staph infections are no joke and this is the second one she’s had in the last two months. We also have a very close family member that was admitted into ICU last night. If you don’t mind please keep her in your prayers. It’s very serious but also lovely to see family come together for the ones they love.  Radiation starts next week. On to the next lap in the marathon.

Did I mention I got my port removed Tuesday???? I’m so happy! It was really noticeable on me and Florida weather calls for tank tops- even in the October & November months!

Sweet dreams-this girl has a career to go on with tomorrow!

Obviously I'm the only one who took Halloween seriously in this pic! haha!

Obviously I’m the only one who took Halloween seriously in this pic! haha!

November 7, 2013
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Even better news than we thought.

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Best.news.ever.

On Tuesday I had my post-op appointment and received what I consider to be the best news we’ve received since this whole cancer thing became a part of my life. Chemo killed everything. There was NOTHING left of it and it has been 100% confirmed that cancer was never in my lymph nodes. So the 7mm of cancer that the doctor saw during surgery turned out to be NOTHING but part of my tissue.  Let me say that again, in a different way. They said I’m CANCER FREE AND THAT IS A FACT. A truer fact than it was last week.  Living in the present has never been a  thing that comes natural to me, so I had to ask how this all relates to my future and long-term prognosis. His exact words were,   “It has everything to do with it”. My prognosis is excellent and although there is no guarantee that the little son of a bitch will never return, we damn sure killed every bad cell that was in my body.  We’ll proceed with some insurance that comes in the form of radiating beams. That starts in less than a month.

Aside from having the most horrible sleep I’ve ever had-I’m doing ok after surgery. I can’t drive so I’m kinda at the mercy of others but with two drains, (I had 4 but the doc removed 2 of them on Tuesday) going out isn’t at the top of my priority list right now. And going from a DD to a whatever I am now is kinda nice. Justin said I look like an A/B-cup. Hopefully I can get one more fill before I start radiation.

I really appreciate all the emails, text messages, FB messages, flowers and cards from everyone. Hugs and kisses to all of you! XOXO

October 17, 2013
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Days Leading Up to Double Mastectomy Surgery

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It’s day 5 after my double mastectomy and I must say I feel pretty darn good. I am on some good pain meds and I know that has a lot to do with it-Lol! I wanted to document how I felt the day leading up to my surgery. But first, I have to write about the Sunday before. It was a great start to my surgery week.

Sunday morning I went to church. I went by myself because Gianna wanted to sleep in with Daddy.   I know what some of you are thinking—I can’t believe he didn’t go with her! Especially, right before surgery. Listen, I grew up with my Mom going to church on most Sundays without my Dad. For me, its normal. Would I love for him to go- absolutely! In time, I believe he will make his way to that 3rd to the last pew in the center isle and join me.

Thankfully my Mom and I go to the same church so I knew she’d be there. I sang my heart out to one of my favorite songs, Going Through the Motions by Matthew West. You are missing out if you haven’t heard this song. After church we all went to my parents house for some yummy Spanish food. My Mom loves to cook and it definitely comes through in the food. By the time we got home from my parents it was around 4. My two BFFs were coming over to spend some QT with me before my surgery. Amanda brought Kendal with her so Gianna was happy to have some company too. Jose Cuervo also made a visit, but I didn’t really entertain him much. We talked, ate, chilled, laughed and before leaving Melissa wanted to say a prayer. I didn’t even think about doing that with all of us and I’m so glad we did because it was such an awesome, powerful moment. Melissa led the prayer as we all stood in a circle in the middle of my kitchen holding hands. It was me, Chanty, Kendal, Gianna, Melissa and Amanda. Justin’s not much into prayer (I do believe he will be saved one day) but half-way through the prayer he came over and held mine and Gianna’s hand. After “amen” we all hugged each other and cried. I can’t explain it but what I do know is that God gave me the most amazing friends.

 The day before surgery 10/8/13

The day before my surgery (Tuesday)  started like every other day. I dropped Gianna off at school and headed to work. The plan was for me to work until 12pm, pick up Gia from school and just spend the afternoon together. She was so excited for our mommy/daughter time. I knew I wouldn’t be carrying any big pumpkins soon so I wanted to take her to the pumpkin patch so she can pick out her pumpkin before things got a little strange for this 4 year old.

Before even making it inside her classroom she was out of her chair telling her friends, “My Mommy is here and I’m going to the pumpkin patch!”. Gianna had been telling her classmates  and teacher all day that we were going to the pumpkin patch! Mrs. Ferguson said that she told everyone that Mommy was picking her up early. That seriously made me feel awesome!

At the pumpkin patch she picked out her big pumpkin plus 6 little ones. Afterwards, we went for ice cream at Menchies. She LOVES that place! I didn’t talk to her about what the days ahead were going to be like. That’s not what this time was about. I wanted to make her day and some memories that she would always remember-I mean, how many kids get out of school to go pick out pumpkins and eat ice cream! I don’t really remember much of that evening at home though-I know that’s pretty weird.

On Wednesday (surgery day), we arrived at Moffitt at 7:45am…..15 minutes late. Are you surprised?!  The first thing they did was inject me with blue dye. One reason is so the surgeon can see what lymph nodes to take out. Even though my MRI showed no cancer cells there could still be microscopic cancer cells left behind. The surgeon took out 1-2 lymph nodes from each side-they appeared clear of cancer but, we won’t know for sure until I get the pathology report.

After they injected the dye there was nothing left to do but wait. Before going into surgery, my Mom and my best friends Mom Barbara came to see me. We talked a little bit about the stress that Amanda and I put them through during high school. Lets just say we were far from angels. Before going back-we held hands and said one last prayer. Barbara prayed out loud which is a HUGE thing for her. I’m so happy that she did it under these circumstances. Barbie-thank you for being there for my Mom….you are a beautiful person. I know where Manda gets her big heart from.

How to prepare for a double masectomey

  1. Pick up your kids and hold them often. It will be awhile before you are allowed to lift anything above 5-10lbs
  2. Make sure you have sports bras that clip in the front. I suggest getting at least 5.
  3. Get small pillows to support your arms while you lay in bed. These are especially helpful when you sleep. I think long  small throw pillows worked best. You can tuck them under your arm and you will find it brings some major relief to the area.
  4. On the ride home, have a big pillow against your chest. Trust me when I tell you that you feel every single bump on the road.
  5. Ask for help! This is a hard one for many of us. Just say, “ok” when your friends or family offer to help you.
  6. Buy some sassy button up pajamas to wear home. I promise that it will lift your spirits during what is already a very difficult time.
  7. Keep everything that you will need at home below shoulder level. You won’t be able to lift your arms very high for a few days.
  8. Get some comfy socks or slippers to wear around the hospital
  9. Mediate, pray, sing, walk – do something that brings you peace and feeds your soul
  10. Take a deep breath and remember that there is a huge army of woman that have been exactly where you are at. You CAN and WILL get through it.
October 13, 2013
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Update on Surgery!

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Hi everyone! This is Chanty (Jessica’s sister) writing in my sisters blog on how she is doing!

Surgery went great! Whoop whoop!! The doctors removed what was left of the tumor (very small piece), tissue, and two lymph nodes. The lymph nodes looked good by the looks of it but will be sent to the lab to confirm it. The doctor did tell my sister that the fact is she is now cancer free!!! She is recoverying well and will be going home sometime tomorrow 🙂 Today she was able to move around and went walking around the building a few times to help with recoverying. Overall great day

 

Tonight is a sleepover! Girls night!! about to get crazyyyyy!!

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Love you sissy pantalones!!! :))

 

October 11, 2013
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Surgery day is tomorrow!!

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So I had written this post a few weeks ago and just hadn’t had the chance to post it. Today  is the day before my surgery and I feel kinda well…..I don’t know. Some very mixed feelings. I left work early to pick up Gianna and spend some QT with her. We went and picked out some pumpkins followed by some ice cream at Menchies. Her teacher told me that she was so excited that she told the entire class that Mommy was going to pick her up early and go to the pumpkin patch! That really made me feel wonderful.  So here’s my post regarding the surgery I’m having tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll feel OK by the weekend to update.

So what now? I’ve completed 4 rounds of the red devil and 4 rounds of the famous Taxol-now what? The next step in treatment is surgery. My surgery as been scheduled for October 9 (originally it was Oct 2). Before going on I’ll define the word, foob. Here’s the definition according to the Urban Dictionary:

Foobs:

Term popularized by breast cancer patients to mean former, future, or fake boobs. Often used during the various stages of reconstruction after mastectomy.“It’s been four weeks since surgery and my foobs are still really itchy.”

I had a few options as to the what type of surgery I could receive. Let me tell you that having “options” has its drawbacks. First, I was highly recommended by my surgeon to do a bilateral mastectomy (bmx), go through radiation then wait 9 months to have reconstruction. Um yeah, my reaction to that was basically a hell no! That option was just not right for me.  The reason this was his first recommendation was because  if you start the reconstruction process before radiation there is a higher chance for complications and not so perfect results (looks wise). He went on to explain, how radiation can effect the skin and he’s seen some bad results because of it. After making it pretty clear that this would not be an option for me he said we may be able to do a lumpectomy now, then 9 months after radiation do a bmx & immediate reconstruction.  Dr. Kiluk (my surgeon) had to first look at the originally films from my MRI and see if this was even a viable option. Two days later, I received the news that based off of my first MRI, a lumpectomy could be an option. Yeah!!! Decision made, now lets schedule the surgery!  After lots of prayer, research and inner soul searching, I started to back away from the whole lumpectomy option. Truth is I have no desire to save my boobs. I actually started to feel very strongly that I wanted to do a BMX as soon as possible.

With this new decision, came some homework. I needed to find a plastic surgeon that does reconstruction even through radiation. This reconstruction process is done over many months time with something called tissue expanders. Immediately following a mastectomy, the plastic surgeon comes in and places  expanders where the new foobs will be. The expanders are slowly filled with saline until the desired size is reached. However, since I will be getting radiation I can’t have any “fills” during this time period. I would get a few “fills” before radiation then start them back up a couple months after radiation has been completed. Hopefully my skin won’t be completely fried after radiation. In the case that it is, they will take skin from my back and replace that radiated skin during the swap out. By swap out I mean, taking the tissue expanders out and replacing them with the implants. This all sounds like a walk in the park, huh?

The first plastic surgeon I met with told me upfront that he won’t even touch me until 9-10 months after radiation. He wouldn’t even do reconstruction on me if I just did a lumpectomy! He came highly recommended by one of my doctors but one of the things I’ve learned during this whole process is that each case is different and you have to make decisions based off of YOU-not someone else. I did some more homework on other surgeons and found one that was very upfront with me, but still confident that she could give me the desired results I wanted. The bad thing is that she is out of network. However, I do have out-of-network coverage which covers 60%. Not the 100% that I would otherwise receive, but I know she’s the right plastic surgeon for me.

Even though I decided I would take the chance of having complications with my new foobs, I HONESTLY don’t think that I will be one of those bad cases of radiated skin. I’m fully aware of the risks and complications  and I’ve decided to just deal with those when and if they come. For now, take my boobs off and fill up my foobs!

October 8, 2013
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