One Month Update

Hey y’all! It’s been a while! I have a couple updates for you.

First of all it’s been one month today since my surgery! Time is flying. Feeling great!

Last Friday I went to get my hair colored for the first time since around Thanksgiving. When I went to pay for it my friend told me someone already had. Literally wanted to cry. Happy tears that is. I just feel so lucky with all the love I have gotten so far.

Last week I had my first tissue expander fill. It sounds crazy but it actually is pretty cool! Here is what they use to fill the expanders.

Basically they take a needle and insert it in your skin (not as painful as it sounds) into the tissue expander and use saline and fill the expander up. It’s a fast process. And my girl at Dr Unger’s office rocks. So no pain at all.

Today I went in and had the last fill. So now I’ll be rocking these expanders for about a year. Since I’m having radiation after chemo they want me to wait 6 months after radiation to have the surgery where they will replace the expander with a silicone implant.

Today I also had an echo of my heart to make sure it’s healthy enough for chemo. They told me it was perfectly healthy. Little victories y’all! I have been having some severe “Scanxiety”.

I meet with my oncologist on Thursday and should have a plan to get a port put in for chemo and a plan on when to start the chemo.

Honestly I’m ready to start it so I can get these next few months behind me.

Just wanted to update on the little bit of info I have right now.

I’m ready for this! Bring. It. On. πŸ’ͺ🏻

The Waiting Game

Update time! So this weekend was filled with smiles and laughter. I first of all want to give a shoutout to my friend/hairdresser Shay. She fit me in to her busy Easter weekend schedule, last minute might I add, for a hair wash, dry, trim AND style. She’s the bomb. If you’re in Nashville go see her at Troubadour Salon.

Then it was Easter with my family. It was so nice to see my family. And to see them see that I’m ok. One drain is a lot better than 4. It was way easier to hide.

Speaking of drains I still have this one hanging around. It’s filling up too much to be taken out. I got the other two out on Friday. It felt amazing!!! Ok so it stung like the dickens when she pulled them out, but it felt amazing afterwards! Hopefully will get the last one out this Friday. 🀞🏻

Today was a big day! I went back to work for a few hours which was so nice. Then I went to meet my oncologist.

My oncologist came in and talked to me. She said she couldn’t believe it. She said she thought she was looking at the wrong records. Basically because she saw that I was going twice a year since I was 17 and we didn’t catch it until now. She said I did everything right by keeping up my appointments. Sometimes this just happens.

I asked her what stage I was. She said because of lymph node status I’m considered a stage 3a. Not gonna lie that scares me. I thought it was considered maybe a 2. Definitely not a 3. But that just makes me realize that I need to fight that much harder.

My “cocktail” will be AC + Taxol. You probably have no idea what that means. Honestly I just know AC is the hard part. Taxol will be easier on me. So what they are thinking is AC will be given to me 4 times. This will be done every 2 weeks. Then I will have Taxol every week for 12 weeks.

I’m highly considering cold capping. This means basically icing your head before during and after your chemo treatment. This will help with losing hair. I still may lose it all but it’s worth a shot. In the mean time I’m going to be doing some wig shopping!

I probably won’t be starting chemo for another month. She is wanting me to have a PET scan done first, and some heart tests. A PET scan is basically a cancer scan for your whole body. Then they will put a port in for the chemo.

I just want to quickly give a shoutout to people who have contacted me. Strong amazing women who had the courage to go get screened. This is one that I got the other day. It’s amazing.

It takes courage and strength to go in for these kinds of test. I know because I’ve been there. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you I’m scared to death to get this PET scan. I am. It’s scary. But it can save my life. So you got to put your big girl panties on and do it. Gah I hate that saying. Haha! But really I’m just so proud of you guys.

My oncologist told me that she was just talking to her colleagues about the increase of Breast cancer patients that are in their 20’s and 30’s. She said the problem is mammograms tend to not work as well on younger women because of dense breast tissue. And MRI’s are only insurance approved on women that are high risk. It’s crazy. It’s sad. It’s NOT ok. Hoping this changes soon.

I want to say thank you for the people who have reached out to me regarding what to expect during chemo. I was trying to write this blog to help others but it’s helping me just as much. If not more.

I appreciate you all!

Until next update…

Kitchen Sink

I’m not going to sugar coat this. Yesterday was a hard day. Yesterday I found out that I will need chemo and radiation.

It sucks. It is obviously not what I wanted to hear. BUT it is ok. I had my pity party yesterday and I woke up this morning ready to fight.

I’m not mad. I’m not asking God “why me”? Because I truly believe that because of my situation I will be able to help others. My nurse Norma with tears in her eyes told me yesterday that she is so glad I always kept up with my checks. She said if I would had done what society and doctors tell us and come in at 35 or even 40 this would had been real bad. I love her. She’s my hero. But you guys this is what I’m telling you. Please don’t wait till your older to start checking yourself.

A sweet sonographer, Alicia, messaged me on Instagram a couple days ago. She was talking about how hard it is when she screens someone and knows that they will be told they have cancer. AND she said they keep getting YOUNGER.

Ok I’ll get off my soapbox but I just needed to make the point yet again that young ladies and men need to be checking themselves and if possible go in for testing. Even if it’s just keeping up regular appointments with your gyno.

So back to yesterday. We waited for two hours in the waiting room. Talk about anxiety! Mine was thru the roof. Finally my name was called and my mom and dad followed me back to a room.

After a few minutes Norma and Dr Whitworth came in to see me. He said that if he was a betting man that he would bet it all on me being cured. He said that my prognosis is great. Awesome right?! Then came the dreaded “but”. He told me that they took 27 lymph nodes out. 5 of them had cancer. He said that there is no oncologist on this Earth that will look at my results and not say that I need chemo. He said they will want to throw the kitchen sink at me to make sure I am cured. He also said that he will want to do radiation therapy as well. This will come after the chemo. Not going to lie to you guys. I lost it. They will be doing 6 months of chemo, and then 6 weeks of radiation.

So there it is. Yesterday was hard. Really hard. I think the hardest part was telling Ray. He has been so amazing. He is also a liar because he told me he thinks I’ll be so cute bald. Okay Raymond! πŸ˜‰

So now I’ll take it day by day. And I’ll be taking you guys on the journey with me. It’s a longer journey than I thought but I’ll be stronger in the end.

So many people have asked “what can I do”. Honestly the best thing you can do for me is to make sure YOU stay healthy. There is a charity that I mentioned in my first post that I am very fond of. It’s Christina Applegate’s charity called Right Action for Women. She raises money to help fund MRI’s for young high risk patients. If you want to help me, and you have an extra $5 laying around, that would be a great way to help me out. To help others. Also prayers. I truly believe in the power of prayer. And I have quite a few prayer warriors out there. I’m so lucky.

I got this.

Good Doctor Update

Yesterday was one week post surgery. It was also one week post washing my hair. SO my mom took me to get my hair washed. It was the first time I had been out of the house since the day after surgery. It’s amazing what some fresh air can do.

It was a Monday and the quickest place we figured we could get in was Wallyworld aka Walmart. Can’t say I’ve ever gotten my hair did at Walmart before. But hey it was $2.95 so SCORE. The lady didn’t have time to dry it. So not score. When we got home my mom dried it and I felt like a new person. Or maybe more like my old self. Either way it helped.

I spent the rest of the day walking around a lot. Until I basically crashed. I slept better last night than I have in a week.

Then today I woke up, took a bath, put makeup on, and straightened my hair. I was finally back to myself. Sorta.

At my appointment with the Good Doctor I was informed that they could only remove one drain. Wah wah. The nurse had me take three deep breaths and on the third breath she removed my drain. It burned a tiny bit but was SO worth it.

After that Dr Unger aka the Good Doctor came in and said everything looked great. He said because of how many lymph nodes they took out I will have to have more fat inserted in my chest by my arm. Free lipo? I’m down! Basically it won’t be a one and done surgery when he replaces the tissue expander with the silicone implant. He also said he put way more saline in than he thought he would be able to. This means I won’t have to have but 2 or 3 fills. Which is amazing!

So hopefully Friday I will get the rest of the drains out.

Tomorrow I go to see my Breast doctor to find out pathology reports. This will tell me if more than that one lymph node shows cancer. Praying hard for no other nodes showing cancer. If so that will maybe mean chemo and radiation. Which I am praying I will not need.

I’m typing this out at my own apartment. My mom had Ray pick me up from the doctor and take me to my apartment so I could see my cat Scully. Yes I’m a cat lady. And these last few days I’ve been missing him like crazy.

My heart is so happy right now!

It’s been a good couple of days. I love reading you guys sweet words. I’m very grateful to have so much support.

Speaking of support I have had quite a few people reach out to me that are going thru a similar process. Or know someone who is. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. That is why I started this in the first place. I’ll help in anyway I can.

Until tomorrow….

Heart is Full

There is not too much to update today. My drains are seeming to produce less fluid which is really good! My pain has been about a level 8 which is not so good. When the surgeon made his incision he did it under the Breast. This will be amazing for the cosmetic part. But it makes wearing the bras provided hard. The bras are tight especially on the incision site. The pain medicine helps make it manageable for the most part.

Ok enough whining! πŸ™‚

Really I’m just writing today to say THANK YOU. I started this blog to help others who may be going though a similar process. And to bring awareness to younger women. I never once thought how this can help me so much. The amount of prayers and kind words have been overwhelming. I really can’t even put it into words. I try to respond to most of you but if I don’t please know your words have not gone unnoticed. I am so very lucky to be cared about so much. I am not taking that for granted.

I’ve spoken to SO many women who have told me that they are scheduling appointments to be checked. If just one person did this than I would feel like I’m making a difference. But not just one person has said this to me. MANY have. I am here for each and everyone of you going thru this. Also if you have a friend or partner going thru this feel free to reach out. I’m here to help in anyway I can.

Also I realized I hadn’t put a picture of one of my “rocks” on here. This guy is the best. He gives me foot rubs and belly laughs. And he doesn’t complain TOO much about all the girlie shows I’m making him watch. πŸ˜‰

Hopefully I’ll have something of substance to update you guys on next. Until then….

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Today I woke up feeling pretty good. The last two nights have been really rough. I start feeling nauseous and then start shaking. Hurting really bad.

Last night I had a fever which was scary. My parents helped me into bed and I just laid there shaking until I guess the pain pill kicked in and helped lower my temperature.

I’m writing this blog to show positivity and to help other women get checked. If I left out the bad stuff it wouldn’t be fair.

This is no walk in the park. It hurts. I have moments I just cry because it hurts. Or because I’m numb. I literally can’t feel my breasts. Under my arm is numb. When I scratch it I can’t feel it. All of this SUCKS. But even though I go through these feelings, I am still grateful. Grateful that my nurse found the cancer. Grateful God gave me the courage to decide on a double mastectomy.

It’s not fun. But it gets better every day.

I’m ready to get these drains out so I can take a proper shower!

Here is a really pretty picture of me this morning. You’re welcome. Hahaha!

The shiny thing on my chest is kinda like Saran Wrap only tape version.

My incisions are healing wonderfully! My doctors rock. And I’m not flat chested. They actually left me with some boobs thanks to the tissue expander above the muscle. Shout out Dr Unger!!! πŸ™ŒπŸ»

That’s the update today. I know it’s not a pretty update but I’m hopeful that each day will continue to get better.

Surgery Day

I woke up actually pretty calm. I took my shower with this surgical solution. Made my skin feel reaaaaal nice. Jk it made my skin SO dry. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

My parents came to pick me up, and off we go to the hospital.

Once there they took me to the pre op room. I had to put on this purple gown. Which btw I was kinda obsessed with the color. So that was nice! They also put my iv in and put a nausea patch behind my ear.

Dr Unger and Dr Whitworth came in and talked with me. Dr Unger drew on me with a sharpie. Then the nurse put this dye in my lymph nodes to tell if I had lymph node involvement. This shot must had been a bad one bc they gave me some feel good medicine in my iv before they gave me that shot.

After that my parents, Ray, and my brother were able to come in and talk to me. Then it was go time. I waved to my parents and was wheeled off.

Next thing I remember is waking up in post op. They were monitoring my breathing and vitals. Dr Unger was able to go above the muscles so pain wasn’t bad.

Then I was wheeled into my room. This is where I found out that one of my lymph nodes showed a “speck” of cancer. Lovely… they did say that when they took the node out that it was attached to another node. That one looked clear. So I’m praying and hoping that I still will not need chemo or radiation. However those are back on the table now.

My dad stayed with me at the hospital. We had a pretty good night. Other than being woken up like 5 times but that’s expected.

The next day I was able to go home after I ate lunch. So exciting! I was worried about the bumpy drive home but my dad was a champ at missing potholes etc!

I have 4 drains right now. They basically suction any bad stuff out of my body. It’s kind of gross but necessary. I have to change them 3 times a day and measure what I am getting out of them. Another shout out to my dad and mom for doing this for me. I honestly don’t know how anyone goes thru this alone.

There was pain but it was manageable.

I go back to Dr. Unger on Tuesday to hopefully get two of the drains removed.

Yay!!!

One more thing. I got SO many beautiful flowers and balloons. Anytime I’m feeling down I just look at them. They make me smile.

I also got a huge comfort package from two of my girl friends. I’m pretty lucky to be loved so much by my family and friends.

I appreciate each one of you reaching out to me. I’ve been trying to respond to you all.

If anyone has questions for me I would be happy to answer them for you.

I was overwhelmed by the ladies that told me that they would schedule a mammogram this week.

I’ll write more later but just wanted to give you guys an update on the first two days.

Tomorrow I’ll Be Cancer Free

Today has been easier than I thought it would be. Yes I cried a few times. BUT as soon as I did start feeling bad about myself, I would remember that tomorrow is going to be a GOOD day. I will be cancer free by the end of tomorrow! This is so much more important that any bad feelings I may have about losing my breasts. Tits been real! But ya gotta go.

I think the most nervous thing is the unknown. How bad is the pain going to be? Is there any cancer in the other breast? Will my lymph nodes show cancer invasion? Will they be able to put the tissue expanders above the muscle?

I’m ready though. Cancer ya got to go! Ready as I can be for what these next few days/weeks may bring. Until then I’ll leave you with my quote for tomorrow.

devil-storm

Plastic Surgeon aka the Good Doctor

β€œOne important thing to know is you’re still the same person during it. I’m more eager than ever to do what I did. I want to do everything.” Kylie Minogue

Yesterday I had my meeting with my plastic surgeon. He agreed that I would be able to have the nipple sparing mastectomy. This is good news! This means the only incision (other than one under my arm for lymph node removal) will be under my breasts. So the scar will not be very noticeable. It is truly amazing seeing how far reconstruction has come.

He also let me know that I may get lucky and have the tissue expanders on TOP of the muscle instead of under. This would make recovery time a lot faster.

Basically I call him my good doctor. He is giving my boobs back unlike that other guy. JUST KIDDING! I love my other doctor just as much. He is taking the cancer away!

I would like to point out that while the nurse was asking me why I was there, and getting all of my information, she told me that she sees more women with cancer my age and younger, than older women. I was stunned.

THIS IS WHY I’M WRITING THIS! We have to do SOMETHING to take care of our younger girls. Mammograms just don’t do it. And MRI’s are too expensive. It’s really disheartening to think about.

That is all for now. My surgery is scheduled for Monday at 1:00. Tomorrow is my pre op appointment. Shizzz is getting real y’all!

The Journey Begins

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“I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” – Angelina Jolie

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February 12, 2018 I heard those 3 words no one wants to hear. “You have cancer”. In a way I already suspected I did and those words gave me a bit of closure. Then it hit me. I’m 31 years old. 31! I am not suppose to have breast cancer but here I am. The next thought I had, was how lucky I am to have found it early. One reason for this is because I have been going to the breast doctor twice a year since I was 17.

A little back story for you, I found a lump in my breast when I was 17. I went in for a biopsy and it turned out to be a fibroadenoma. Basically that big fancy word means that it was a benign tumor. Fibroadenomas are the most common lump found in young women. Over the next 14 years I had more biopsies because those suckers loved to turn up in my breasts. I had 4 on the right side and 2 in the left. All biopsies were shown to be fibroadenomas. I honestly never was scared by finding a new lump because it always turned out to be the same thing.

Well, February 6, 2018 I go in for my 6 month check up. While during the checkup my nurse Norma found a new lump in my left breast. Again was not feeling worried at all. My nurse then proceeded to perform an in office ultrasound. I could pretty much be a breast ultrasound tech at this time because I know exactly what fibroadenomas look like on ultrasound…. This did not look like a fibroadenoma. Still I was not completely worried, but at this point I realized something was not right. Norma told me that she wants to biopsy this one. I looked her in the eyes and asked her if this looks bad. She hesitated but then told me that she was concerned. She said that if it is something it is small and we will take care of it… I pretty much knew then that I had cancer.

February 7, 2018 I had a core needle biopsy by my awesome doctor Dr Whitworth (Shout out!) . I asked him at that time what looked different about this one than my previous lumps. He said this one has “jagged edges”. Ugh, those two words haunted me those next few days. Because of course I then went to “Doctor Google” and saw that jagged edges were most often always cancer. I was a HOT MESS yall. Like really. I had to wait 5 days to find out for sure what this was. It felt like it was 30 days. Thankful for my family and awesome boyfriend during this time. I’m sure they all thought I was crazy.

February 12, 2018 I found out for sure that I had invasive breast cancer. My mom and dad were there with me. They have been my ABSOLUTE rocks during all of this craziness. At this time they wanted to take blood for genetic testing. They said the results of this test would take 4 weeks. What the genetic test tells is if you have the BRCA1/2 genes. I’ll go into this testing more on a different post. In the meantime my doctor wanted me to have a breast MRI to make sure there was nothing else that was concerning.

February 16, 2018 I had a breast MRI. You guys this was the weirdest thing ever. It’s almost laughable. You have to lay on the table and put your breasts in these slots. It was super weird.

During these next few days I felt really good. I was ready to meet with my doctor and come up with a plan that next week. hahahaha not how this thing works. Who knew?  I got a call from Norma telling me they found more spots on the breast MRI and want me to now go in for a mammogram and ultrasound. I really felt like I was handling this all pretty well but that call definitely put me in a bad place that day. I was pretty down. I just wanted to know what this was. If I was going to need chemo, radiation, etc. She did tell me over the phone that day that my cancer was ER/PR positive. And I would need to start hormone therapy.

After I had the extra tests taken I was able to meet with my doctor. I had so many questions. When he came in, he told me that he had just presented my case to a board of doctors. He said that every one of them said that I should have a mastectomy. Wait, what? This was not part of my plans. He said that it is ultimately my decision. He said if I was older he would think a lumpectomy and radiation would be all I needed. But unfortunately I got this at a young age. He said that every year I’ll have to come in for multiple tests. Be picked at (biopsy) every time they find anything at all. The thought of this being a reality for the rest of my life was sickening. I knew then what I had to do.

I have decided to have a nipple sparing double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. This means during surgery my doctor will work with a plastic surgeon and put in what is called tissue expanders. These will be filled in the weeks/months after until I get to a size that I like. Then the plastic surgeon will transfer the tissue expanders out and replace with implants. The results are truly amazing.

Why am I sharing this? To be honest I’ve gone back and forth at how I want to handle this. I feel like God has given me this for a reason. Yes it sucks. Yes these next few months will be full of trials and pain that I can’t even begin to comprehend. But in the end it will be worth it. I am LUCKY. What? Weird right? But yes I am LUCKY that I had fibroadenomas which caused me to go every 6 months for checks. THANK YOU NORMA! She’s my hero for finding my cancer early. This is why I am sharing.

Early detection is key. It can save your life. What sucks is that these tests that are done for screening are NOT cheap. But that is why I’m sharing my story. I want you ladies (and guys too!) to get to know your body. Feel for lumps or anything that may just not feel right. Get checked often. One of the scariest tests I have taken is the genetics test. Thank God mine came back negative. But that is an important test to have done to see if you have an increased risk of breast/ovarian cancer. If it does come back positive you have options. You have ways to decrease the chance of getting breast cancer BEFORE it happens.

Christina Applegate has become my best friend. She just doesn’t know it yet. But her story has really helped me. She has an AMAZING charity called Right Action for Women. This charity raises money for early detection. They use this money to offer women free MRI’s. I think this is great. And I hope to sometime in the future help raise money for this charity.

That is all for now. I have my meeting with the plastic surgeon this Tuesday and hoping to then set a date for my surgery.

Oh and also I’m accepting any and all prayers right now. GOD IS GOOD! πŸ™‚