a surgery.

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Welp.  Here I am. I cannot believe I am actually writing my first post following my exchange surgery.  My expanders are officially a distant memory and I am spending my spring break recovering and getting used to my new, expander-free life.  I had looked forward to this surgery for so long… and now its over…it seems bizarre that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Although everything turned out ok, the road leading up to my exchange surgery wasn’t quite as smooth as I had anticipated.  I spent all week last week preparing because I was originally scheduled to have surgery last Friday, March 28th.  However, the stomach flu had different plans for me.  I became extremely sick last Thursday and, when I called his office, Dr. Noel recommended that we postpone surgery until I felt better.  Obviously, that was the right thing to do, but at the time I was super disappointed.  I cried. Silly, I know…. but I was SOOOO ready to get rid of those expanders!!!.  So, I spent 4 days in bed and drank more water and Gatorade than any one person should in a lifetime. THANKFULLY I was better just in time to have surgery Monday morning.

So, with even more anticipation that normal, I woke up early Monday and got all ready for my operation.  Just like before my first surgery, I showered and washed with this special anti-bacterial soap that tingled like crazy.  Then, I curled my hair and put on mascara and lip gloss, even though they said not to wear makeup. =)   What can I say… I like to bend the rules a little bit.  Finally, it was 10:30am and my friend Sarah and Super Husband drove me over to the hospital.

Even though I was excited to have this surgery, I was a little more nervous going into this surgery than my last.  I know the first surgery was a much bigger deal and had a much longer recovery… but this surgery was different for me.  It marked the first major medical event in my life that I would go through without any family.  As most of you know, I am an only child and my mom passed away a couple of years ago.  Until about a year ago, my dad was my only family within about 500 miles.  Now,  my dad… well… he isn’t around anymore.  So, going into surgery alone made things feel pretty different for me this time around.

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I know I am 30 years old.  I know I have an amazingly sweet and capable husband.  I know God has blessed me with the most amazing friends on the planet.  However, there just isn’t anything that can take the place of knowing that a parent… someone who loves you more than anything… is waiting on YOU to come out of surgery.  For reasons I am still trying to figure out, this just wasn’t in the cards for me this time and knowing that made me much more anxious than I normally would have been as I headed over to the hospital.

Fortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about things once I got to the hospital. As soon as I checked into the surgery waiting area, the nurses called me back to get ready.  I tell ya, that hospital always runs on time!  It’s so nice.  Once I changed into a hospital gown and verified my name and date of birth about a gazillion times, they finally let me have some company.

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Here I am with Super Husband.  He is so good.

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And, here I am with my friend Sarah…. Laura and her sweet mom were also there with me.    They were such good company and did a great job distracting me while I waited.  I am super bummed I didn’t get a picture with all of them.

Finally, Dr. Noel came to check in with me and do all his final markings.

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After we’d had a chance to talk (and Dr. Noel ASSURED me that I will someday be able to do push ups again), they gave me all kinds of medication, put me in a hair net, and I said goodbye to my people.

Before I knew it, I was back in what seemed like the same stark, white operating room thinking about the same beach that brought me peace during my last surgery.  The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.

As I prepared for this surgery, I was told by lots of other women that this surgery was “a BREEZE” and “so much easier on your body” compared to the first surgery.  Well, let me tell you… if you are getting ready to have your exchange surgery and this is what you’ve heard… YOU HAVE HEARD CORRECTLY!!!  There is just no comparison to how you feel post mastectomy and post exchange.  When I woke up in recovery, I was in very little pain and was even able to walk and get myself dressed.  Even though it sounds weird, my chest actually felt better after surgery than it had before.  My poor chest muscles had been so sore and strained over those crazy expanders and I felt like I woke up to instant relief.  I stayed in recovery an hour or so and before I knew it, they were sending me home.  My surgery had started at 12:30pm and I was home by 5pm.  CRAZY.

The last few days since surgery have been a blur of company, percocet, naps, and Sex and the City reruns.   I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy doing absolutely nothing. Ha. Thank goodness my sweet friends have come over to see me so I don’t Pinterest myself to death.

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At this point, I am three days post exchange and the only medication I am taking is an antibiotic to prevent infection.  I am not hurting AT ALL from the surgery and haven’t needed to take any pain meds since yesterday morning.  I can’t drive and I’ve only taken a couple small trips outside the house, but for now that’s ok with me… especially since I have these back…

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THE DREADED, HORRIBLE DRAINS.

I am hoping that these beauties will be removed tomorrow during my follow-up appointment with Dr. Noel.  I know they are important for a healthy recovery… but I need them out for many reasons.  First, they are driving me crazy.  Second, the dang things hurt…. those tubes are sewn into your skin!!!! Last… and MOST important… I need to get rid of these things so I can cheer on my UK Wildcats when they play in the Final Four on Saturday!!!!!!  It’s hard to cheer when you have all these crazy bulbs hanging around and holding you down.  Say a little prayer for me…  TAKE. THEM. OUT.

I’ll keep you posted.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!

Jayne

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a celebration.

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That’s right… I am done!  No more fills for me!!! I could not be more excited!

Before I give you the lovely details of my doctor’s appointment, I wanted to share a couple of things with you.  Ever since I started this blog, the anchor has become a really important symbol for me.  It reminds me of my journey and how proud I am of the choices I’ve made along the way.  Anyway,  the last couple of months I have found some super cute anchor products I wanted to show you.

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This is the sweetest little gold bracelet and I have totally fallen in love with it.  I found it on ebay for an excellent price and I bought several.  I kept one for myself and gave others to some of the amazing women who’ve supported me throughout this whole ordeal.  This happens to be the bracelet that belongs to my sister-in-law (Krissy… by the way… your wrist looks great on camera… hehe). Cute, huh????

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I also received this sweet navy blue sweater for Christmas from Super Husband’s mama.  She knows how to pick out a great gift!!  I know my eyes look crazy tired in this picture… this was taken just after a long day with third graders and a doctor’s appointment, so don’t judge!  Ha! I just love things with stories and meanings behind them.  Love.  This. Sweater.

So… enough about anchors and on to the good stuff!! I am a little late in writing this post…. had a lot going on this weekend.  I had wanted to write sooner, but my friend Jess is getting married soon and my best friend and I threw her a bridal shower this morning.  Since the shower was at my house, I spent most of the weekend cleaning and getting all my decorations ready.  I couldn’t quite find the time to type.  However, the shower is over now, it went well, and here I am!

Here’s the update on what you can expect 3 months (OMG, 3 months!!!) post surgery.

I had a routine expansion appointment with my plastic surgeon last Friday.  I was anxious to see my plastic surgeon because it had been over a month since my last appointment. To my surprise, it ended up being a very productive appointment!

First, I was able to get some information about some soreness that I’d been experiencing.  I mean, let’s be honest, these expanders aren’t fabulous and a little soreness is normal.  However, the last couple of weeks I’d noticed a little extra soreness and, actually, the shape of my right side had changed a little bit.  As it would turn out, my expanders have actually rotated under my skin!  It’s not a huge rotation, but the ports used for my expansions are now located on the sides of my body as opposed to the top.  I guess that would explain a little extra soreness and the change in shape.  My plastic surgeon didn’t seem alarmed and he explained that it wouldn’t have an effect on my final results, so I’m not worried…. but it is interesting to know that something like can happen.

Second, as I already mentioned, I had my final expansion during the appointment.  Yippeeeee!  My expanders  are done being filled and they finished with 400ccs of saline.  I have been pretty fortunate… I haven’t had a lot of discomfort during my expansions.  Usually, just sore for a day or two afterward. However, each of those little expansions has sure added up to quite a lot!  I feel like I am walking around with giant boulders on my chest.  My expanders are much bigger now than I would like my implants to be….  I have been reassured though… my final result will seem smaller because the saline implants will be slightly smaller, have a smaller diameter, and sit slightly lower on my chest.  I sure am hoping!!  I’m feeling rather large and in charge these days!  Ha!

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And last, during my appointment I was able to schedule my exchange surgery!!  March 28th.  I am counting down the days!  I cannot wait to have this surgery and move on from all of this!  My plastic surgeon said the upcoming surgery will take about an hour and will have a much easier recovery than the first surgery.  He also told me that I would come up with 2 drains afterward. BOO.  Major BOO.  However, he said it would only be for 5 days, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Not sure if I will stay over night in the hospital or come home?  I probably need to look into that.

Now that it’s over, I am really surprised at how well everything went.  The expansion process wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined (I read some horrific stuff and had pretty terrible expectations).  I know I didn’t make it through alone… I owe a lot of my strength to an amazing network of friends and family members who have checked on me and helped me through and through.  I just don’t know how I would have done it without them.

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I also know that I have been extremely blessed to have had excellent care, fabulous doctors, and a recovery without any complications.  Everything really came together.  Such an answer to prayer.

So, the countdown is on… 74 days until my exchange!!  I cannot wait!!!

Until then… keep me in your thoughts.  I turn 30 this Saturday.  YIKES.

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I’m definitely not a cheese… so I’ll go with this for now.

Have a good week.

Jayne

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a snow day.

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Well… I made it through a big week!

As for my main accomplishment… I survived my first week back to school!   The week actually went very well.  My coworkers were extremely nice Monday morning and I was glad to see them. My kids seemed happy to see me and we fell back into our classroom routine easily.  Contrary to what I had anticipated, I didn’t get crazy exhausted as I took on my old work schedule.  As a matter of fact, I actually felt like I had more energy than before my surgery.  Maybe it’s because I had time to rest while I was at home.  Maybe it’s because I had a break from the pressure surrounding the Common Core-Testing craze.  However, I’d like to think that some of my energy came from the weight that lifted off my shoulders the day I had my mastectomy.  I’ve mentioned before that I used to have horrible anxiety about developing breast cancer.  I feel a gazillion times lighter knowing breast cancer is not my destiny.  I have to believe that I felt so good last week because I was not wasting precious energy on senseless, powerless worry anymore.  Now my brain can fully focus on what needs to be done to help my sweet kiddos.

As I brag about how easy it was for me to make it through the week, I have to be honest…  We only had four days of school.  I woke up Friday morning to find out that there was no school. School was cancelled because of “snow”.  I was slightly shocked because when I looked out my window Friday morning,  this is what I saw:

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I didn’t quite understand why school had been cancelled.  However, as a teacher, I don’t question snow days.  I appreciate the break! So, I climbed back in bed and fell back into my post-surgery morning routine: coffee and Pinterest to the sound of the Today Show in the background.   Little did I know, my snow day was going to be very busy!

It all started when I was pinteresting and ran across some fabulous news about BRCA awareness.

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Decoding Annie Parker is a movie that tells the story of how Mary Claire King, a geneticist, and Annie Parker, a breast cancer patient, work together to discover and unravel the BRCA gene mutation and its effect on families.  I heard about this movie throughout the last year.  There were showings around the country over the summer and this fall, but I was never able to make it to one. Well, as I scoured Pinterest pins about the movie Friday morning, I read that Entertainment One purchased the rights to the movie last week.  As I understand it, the movie will be coming to theaters everywhere this summer!

I was super excited to read the announcement about Decoding Annie Parker.   I really want to see the movie and now I will have the chance.  The movie will also provide the general public a great opportunity to learn more about BRCA mutations.

Here’s the link to the preview if you’re interested:

I was so excited after I read about the movie on Friday morning that I texted my sweet friend Katie Pass, who is also BRCA2+, to tell her the news.  After we texted about the movie, she realized that I had the day off.  She asked me to join her and another BRCA+ woman for lunch at a local restaurant, The Feed Bag.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to meet another woman with experiences similar to mine.  So, I put Hoda and Kathy Lee on hold and got dressed so I could brave the “snow” and meet the girls for lunch.

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When I arrived at Lunch, Katie and her friends were already there.  Mindy, the sweet woman in the brown vest, and her son’s girlfriend, Vanessa, quickly welcomed me to the table.  I sat down and we all immediately started talking about our BRCA experiences. There is such a crazy bond between women who have the BRCA mutation in common. Something about bond makes you feel like it’s totally acceptable to spill your guts to someone who is basically a complete stranger. Ha!

I told Mindy and Vanessa all about losing my mom and how hard its been to go through my mastectomy without family around.  Katie shared about her amazing progress.  Mindy shared her  BRCA story.  She is BRCA1+ and has been through several surgeries related to her genetic diagnosis.  I don’t want to broadcast her business, but let me tell you…  Mindy is AMAZING.  She has lived through some pretty horrific experiences because of this stupid gene mutation.  She is a true fighter… and real BRCA hero.  I greatly appreciated her willingness to share her story.  I know a lot more about how to proceed and what to expect from my next surgeries.  I continue to be in awe of all the Louisville women who have come forward and offered support to me.

After we finished our lunch and bonding session, I got ready to go to Dr. Noel’s office for my 6th expansion.  I REALLY didn’t want to go.  “They” already feel so big and after each expansion I have become even more sore.  However, I knew I had to go.  The sweet appointment lady at Dr. Noel’s office called me Friday morning and explained that I needed to come in that afternoon.  Dr. Noel had told her that I should be expanded before my wisdom teeth are removed next week.  So, I left St. Matthews and made the familiar trek to 4001 Kresge Way.

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As expected, I was expanded 30 more ccs during my appointment.  Apparently, even though I am close to the size I want to be, my expanders need to be filled with additional saline so the final results following my exchange surgery look more natural.  It’s very hard to trust someone else with all this.  I know Dr. Noel is doing the right thing (obviously… he’s been practicing for a trillion years and I’ve talked to tons of  more-than-satisfied patients), but when I look at the expanders… oh man… they are just really working my nerves.  I’m ready for them to be gone.  I have one more expansion in January.  Then, I wait for my exchange surgery.  It can’t be soon enough.

When I was done with my appointment, I headed down the elevator and quickly discovered why school had been cancelled for the day.

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That would be ice covering the trees.  While I was in Dr. Noel’s office, Mother Nature had decided to show me why we’d had a snow day.  The ice was pretty worrisome… I mean… I’m a bad driver in the sunshine with dry pavement.  Trying to drive home in all the ice wasn’t exactly ideal for me.

By the time I made it home from the doctor’s office, it looked like this:

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And within just a few minutes… it looked like this:

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Now, I  lived in Illinois for many years… I know that doesn’t look like much snow compared to what others see regularly.  But, remember… there is ice under there! It was not good.  I almost had to call Super Husband to come get me on the drive home.  Good thing I didn’t.  It took him two hours two drive home from the south side of town because the roads were so hairy.

After I got home, I was pretty sore from the expansion.  I decided the best idea was to drown my soreness in some Tylenol, hot chocolate, and carmel corn.  Even though I took some medicine, I was still pretty sore.  The pain is definitely manageable though.  It certainly wasn’t enough to keep me from wanting cheeseburger pizza from BJ’s at Oxmoor Mall for supper!  We headed out a few hours later, into the snowy madness, to have dinner with my fellow pea-in-a-pod, Laura, and her husband.   We were pretty much the only people outside in all of Louisville. Ha!  The things you will do for a cheeseburger pizza…

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We made it to the mall and had a super tasty supper.  Then, we headed back into the cold and went home. I pretty much crashed as soon as I walked in the door.

I woke up this morning to cleared roads and quite a lot of soreness across my chest.  I’m hoping the soreness will dissipate before my next expansion.  I hadn’t really felt long-lasting soreness with these expanders until yesterday.  Let the countdown to my exchange surgery begin.

Enjoy the snow.

Jayne

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a return.

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

I actually super enjoyed my holiday and ended up eating everything I wanted too!  If you hadn’t read before, I was planning to stick to mashed potatoes and applesauce because of a ridiculous wisdom tooth infection.  However,  thanks to the handy-dandy antibiotics the dentist gave me, my tooth recovered just in time for green bean casserole and chocolate chip cookies. I tried to eat as many crunchy foods as I could because I am having my wisdom teeth removed on the 13th.  The doctor said I was pushing it by waiting that long, but the only other option was this Tuesday and I’m just not ready for all that quite yet.

While my antibiotics were slowly working their magic, I traveled up to Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with the greatest in-laws ever.  If you haven’t ever been to Illinois… let me just tell you… IT IS THE FLATTEST PLACE ON EARTH.  On most days, you can literally see from one town to the next.

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I’ll be the first to admit, I love the rolling hills of Kentucky…. but there is a lot of beauty in those simple Central Illinois cornfields.  You can see for miles around.  It’s a very surreal view for my Kentucky eyes and it baffles me every time.

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Pretty, huh?

Anyway, in addition to traveling through cornfields and eating my weight in chocolate fudge, I loved spending time with my husband’s sweet family.  We had a great time visiting, playing cards, and shopping.  I even got to meet my new niece, Camilla.

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I’m telling you right now… they do not make babies cuter than this!!! She has the best cheeks.  Already looking forward to seeing her again at Christmas.

After our three-day trip, Super Husband and I drove back to Louisville so he could be at the station this morning.  We must have had a good trip.  The dogs slept the whole way home and they’ve hardly woken up at all today.

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So, now we’re home and I’m getting ready for a big week ahead.

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I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but tonight marks the end of my six-week recovery period.  I go back to work in the morning.

Thankfully, I have no restrictions as I head back to work with my little 3rd grade people. I am pretty nervous about getting back into the swing of common core and I’m not quite sure how I’ll handle all the questions from kiddos…  What kind of surgery did you have?  Why did you need surgery if you weren’t sick?  What body part did they operate on?  Hmm….  I think I may stick to changing the subject instead of trying to come up with answers.

At this point in my recovery, I feel really good during the day.  I can carry heavier things with little effort and I have pretty normal range of motion.  The biggest problem I have is pushing down on things… shifting gears in my car, opening medicine bottles… pushing anything is a struggle.  Not sure when or how my poor chest muscles are going to get used to working right again. I don’t feel super strong, but I do feel like I have the energy to do my job. At least I think I do…. I have heard from a few teachers at my school that my class may need to be whipped back into shape after being with a sub for so long.  Tomorrow will definitely be interesting.  Pray for me. Ha!

The hardest thing about going back to work tomorrow is knowing that I am moving on and that the mastectomy is over.  It’s not that I want to go back and do the surgery over again, but I definitely don’t want to forget it or leave it behind as I head back into my 3rd grade bubble.  My choice to have a preventative mastectomy was the most defining decision I have ever made for myself.  The surgery has changed me… inside and out.  I am capable of things I didn’t know I could do.  I realize that I can use negative experiences to positively affect someone else.  My priorities have changed.  I know more than ever that the most important things in life are health, family, and friends.

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I’m not quite sure how to integrate the events of the last six weeks into my normal life.  I’m nervous about how my new self will fit and work in my old routines.

I guess we’ll find out soon.

Jayne

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A surprise.

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Five weeks.  I am five whole weeks post mastectomy.  I can hardly belive it.  It seems like a lifetime ago that I was dealing with drains and a stupid rash from pain medication.  It seems like forever ago that I had so much trouble getting dressed and taking care of  myself.  It seems like it has been AGES since my party on the stunning 6th floor of Baptist East when my best friend, Laura, brought a bunch of people Dairy Queen blizzards to eat while they visited with me.

Yet, here I am just five short weeks later… absolutely shocked at how beautifully my body has healed in such a short amount of time.  Sure, I still have some work to do with reconstruction. However, other than when I look in the mirror, I completely forget sometimes that I’ve recently had a major surgery.  I feel wonderful, my energy level is high, and I am hardly sore at all.

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The last few days I’ve followed my normal “weekend” routine.  You know… the routine that includes running a couple of errands, visiting with friends, catching up on house work, sleeping slightly late, taking a nap or two, and watching a few (ok… maybe a ton…) of One Tree Hill episodes.  It has been wonderful.  Mitch and I even went out to have a few pictures taken today in the hopes of using one for a Christmas card photo.

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We had some better ones taken with a much better camera… this one was taken with my cell phone, so it’s not as good.

Anyway… I am so surprised at all the things I am able to do at this point after surgery.  I can’t workout yet and I’m not supposed to go back to work until after Thanksgiving, but it’s so much better than I thought it would be.  If you had asked me 2 months ago, I never would have imagined that I would feel like getting my picture taken 5 weeks post surgery.  I would have thought that picture-taking would require too much energy.  I definitely would have thought my body would look too weird to photograph.  At the very least, I would have thought that I would have to wear a scarf or thick sweater to camouflage what was missing.  I was totally wrong.

Even though I don’t look like my old self and I am still “in progress”, I am proud of how I look and feel right now. I feel so much better than I did before surgery. As crazy as it sounds,  I actually like the new version of “me” better.  I am stronger.  I am healthier.  I am more optimistic.   I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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a friendship.

Happy Tuesday!

You may remember from some of my earlier posts that my husband is a fireman.  Well, what you probably don’t know is that the first night I ever talked to him (holy crap… has it really been 11 years?!), he was wearing a pink polo shirt and khaki shorts.  I knew as soon as I saw him in that pink polo that we were going to get along JUST FINE. =)  Ha! All to say, given that I clearly love a man in pink and I have appreciation for firemen, you can only imagine my response when I saw this picture on Pinterest!

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Firemen.  Pink.  Breast cancer awareness.  Love.  I think the St. Matthews fire department should invest in some new uniforms!!!

Speaking of my fireman husband, he has been busy traveling for his part-time job and working at the fire station.  He’s been gone for the last couple of days.  In the beginning of my surgery recovery, his time at the station was a little challenging because that meant I needed to coordinate drivers to doctor’s appointments and people to come help me do things around my house.  However, that’s not the case anymore! The last week of my recovery has really been awesome.  My chest is becoming much less sore.  I even wore my seatbelt across my chest today for the first time!  I haven’t been expanded in over a week, so I’m sure that has contributed to my improvement.  I get expanded again this Monday and I’m hoping that my body continues to feel good afterward.

While my husband has been gone, I have been trying to keep busy.  One of the best things I did the last couple of days is get together with another woman, Katie Pass, who lives in Louisville and is also BRCA2+.

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Katie and I actually met over facebook.  Just 8 days after my surgery, Louisville’s newspaper, the Courier Journal, featured an article about a woman choosing to have elective surgery after finding out she was BRCA+.  The article explained a lot of interesting things about BRCA, told Katie’s story, and explained how she decided to have a preventative mastectomy.  Obviously, being a week post surgery, this article struck a chord with me and I posted it to my facebook wall.

The article was really wonderful.  If you are interested in reading it, you can click on the link below:

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20131028/PRIME01/310300022/Like-Angelina-Jolie-many-women-opting-radical-surgery-face-breast-cancer

Anyway, after sharing the link on facebook, it only took a few minutes for someone to comment and tag Katie’s name.  Then, with just a click, I was able to find her on facebook. Facebook really makes finding people way too easy.  I sent her a message and we messaged back and forth for a few days until we finally decided to get together and talk yesterday.

Once we started talking, I realized how much we really have in common.  Our surgeries took place within two weeks of one another. Both of our moms passed away from BRCA related cancers.  We live just a few blocks apart from one another. We are two years apart in age.  Neither of us have had kids yet.  We even have the same plastic surgeon!

0dd0fed77d560c8a4b6d118810b37ea9During our conversation, I kept thinking about how glad I felt, knowing we’d had the chance to meet. It was so therapeutic and comforting to finally meet someone who has struggled with the same experiences and choices in the same period of their life.  Don’t get me wrong… my friends and family have been ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Some of them have shown empathy to me in ways I didn’t think possible. However, there was so much power in telling someone my story and knowing they truly understand because they have lived it TOO… the loss of a mom, the dreaded genetic diagnosis, the overwhelming choices, the surgeries, the angst about the future, the hate for cancer and what it has done to our families.

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After almost two hours, we agreed that it felt like we’d known each other much longer than just a few days.  We even decided to get together again today with another BRCA+ woman, Kim,who also lives here in Louisville.  Today’s meeting was also great because Kim has known her BRCA status for much longer than me.  She was able to fill me in on all kinds of info regarding the surgeries and tests I will need in the future.  Here we are at Vint, a local coffee shop, discussing all things BRCA…

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I know, I know… this picture is blurry.  My fault.  We asked a poor innocent coffee drinking bystander to take the picture and I didn’t bother checking it once we were done.  Whoops.  Katie is in the front with the long blonde hair and Kim is the snazzy lady in the red sweater (you should have seen her super cute  hounds tooth pencil skirt!). It might be hard to tell in the picture… but let me tell you… Katie is two weeks post surgery and looking fabulous!!

I feel so lucky to have met some wonderful women who have shared their BRCA stories with me.  Until this week, I have never known anyone who was BRCA+ besides my mom.  Meeting others with the gene helps me feel so much more positive about my choices and my future.  My body has been doing an excellent job healing… my heart is doing a great job as well.

ceff71566ed5ade4ecd723b6db719640If you are struggling with genetic testing decisions or being BRCA+, please reach out to others or local organizations that can help you get in touch with others who are BRCA+.  It makes such a huge difference.

If you are interested in reading more about Katie and her BRCA journey, she also has a blog outlining her preventative mastectomy experience. Here is the link:

http://katiepassjourney.weebly.com/

Have a wonderful night.

Jayne

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a milestone.

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I can’t believe I am saying this… but it has been FOUR WHOLE WEEKS since my first surgery… and I feel GREAT!!  I can hardly believe that my body has made so much progress in such a short amount of time.

As far as how I feel physically, I am no longer in a lot of pain… just super tight across my chest. As I told someone earlier, I now feel like I just finished a hard workout as opposed to feeling like I’d been thrown down a flight of stairs. Ha!  In all seriousness, I really do feel good.  I haven’t needed to take any pain medication in 3 days now… not even a Tylenol!  The only pain I’ve had the last few days are these super weird zings that run through my incision on the left side for about 5 seconds before they are gone.  The zing doesn’t happen often though.. thank goodness… and mostly happens when I lay down.

There is one thing that continues to happen that is driving me crazy… phantom itches.  Not sure if it’s because the skin is healing or what, but I keep having these crazy itches across my chest.  When I go to scratch the itch, I can’t scratch it because I have NO FEELING anywhere. Super bizarre.

My activity level is not back up to pre-surgery levels, but I have been driving short distances, walking around my neighborhood, and keeping up with laundry and light cleaning around my house. I had hoped that I would be going back to school soon since I felt good, but my doctor advised me to wait until after Thanksgiving break.

Speaking of my sweet, precious 3rd graders… I got a card from them in the mail today!!!  It was super sweet and all the kiddos signed their name. It all looked pretty normal until I saw this…

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Bahaha…  Poor Kamiah.  From what I understand, she and my sub had a rough start after I left school.  Looks like my absence is really starting to take a toll on the poor girl! Ha.

Anyway, in the event that you are a little more curious about what life is like 4 weeks-post mastectomy, I can tell you that it is much easier to than the first couple of weeks.  In the beginning, the drains REALLY make things difficult, but once they are gone, everything just gets so much better.  This week, this has been of  my go to treatments:

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About a week ago, my skin started having a hard time stretching during expansions and I started developing some not so fabulous stretch marks.  When I asked my doctor, he explained that post-surgery skin has a hard time adjusting to changes and, with the cold weather, my skin was probably drier than usual.  Both of these things had contributed to my new, unwanted marks.  So, my doctor recommended that I put Eucerin on 2 times a day to help my skin stay moisturized as it stretched to accommodate the expansions.  Even though Dr. Noel said to only put it on twice a day… I’ve been putting it on more frequently because I’ve been walking outside and it really has been cold around here!  I hope that’s ok…

In addition to using the Eucerin, I’ve also been using a cool product to help reduce the redness and bumpiness of my scars.  My scars didn’t end up looking as bad as I thought they might.  However,  I am still on the fence about having nipple reconstruction and, in the event that I choose to forgo that surgery, I need these scars to look good.  My doctor recommended that I use these handy dandy strips to help the appearance of my scars.

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I got this box of silicone scar sheets at Walgreens and it cost around $16. In the box, you get 8 scar sheets.  I cut each sheet into two strips that cover each of my scars.  Each strip can be worn for up to 7 days and they even give you this lovely little white case to use when you take off your strips before showering.  Maybe its all in my head, but I feel like I can already tell a small difference in my scars.  The informational pamphlet in the box says it takes 6-8 weeks to see good results.  We shall see!

By the way, I am in the middle of adding a new page at the top of my blog’s front page.  If you have a family history of breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer you may want to read the information located on the Genetic Testing page.

Knowledge is power!!!!

Jayne

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