Just the facts Mammory: Mastectomy

I decided to split my mastectomy posts into two. This one is focusing on the mastectomy without the emotional of psychological stuff. Also I have included some pics post op, so beware if your squeamish although I think I look great and they are not gross or anything.

In my opinion I would say all in all the experience was not that bad. Pain was really bad on the bad days but mostly I felt really good. I really did not get much after care instructions or any lead on what to buy or expect, I have basically figured it all out on my own. As with any advice, please check with your doc ok ¬†ūüėČ

I wont get into details about my horrible hospital stay, I was disgusted and really disappointed in the “care” I was given, but here are my recommendations to help make your hospital stay it’s best: Lipbalm, COMFY COMFY COMFY pants you are able to pull up with one hand (my best friends were a size too big for me track pants, they were the best, I had 2 pairs) or a nightie you can step into, stretchy tank top (loved the tanks, another bestie) or zip up sweaters but the hospital gown and pj pants are just fine too while you are there, wet wipes to help you feel fresher (no shower), an airplane pillow or mastectomy heart pillow to help prop your arm (I found my underarm was too tender for these but most other people find it useful) ¬†but a really well placed pillow works great, your favorite blanket that brings you coziness, ¬†step in slippers or flip flops. Oh yeah, my throat hurt badly so maybe some throat lozenges or spray to help with that.

Watch the seat belt on your way home, oh and you prob wont be able to close the car door depending on what side your mastectomy was on.

At Home: ¬†you will need lots of pillows to prop you up, baby wipes to help keep you fresh (yes, still no shower babe!), lipbalm, dry shampoo, airplane pillow helps with keeping your neck comfortable as you can’t sleep in any position except for on your back propped up! It has been 3 weeks and I still have trouble on both sides. Be prepared to feel gravity when you stand up, I was not expecting that, especially since there is no boob there, I still don’t get it but it feels weird nonetheless.

One week out of surgery and I had not yet worn a bra, the area was still so tender but I plan on wearing a front closure non underwire.

During my recovery I did daily movements and stretches to help keep my arm from seizing and my muscles getting too tight.

After a mastectomy a drain (sometimes more than 1) will be put in place. I found this somewhat annoying but it really helps getting all the blood and gunk out and is important for the healing process. Some women buy a post surgical mastectomy camisole/bra to wear after, these have little pockets to hold your drains, this I defo recommend for anyone with 2 or more drains. Don’t be alarmed if you see clots or tissue of sorts in your drain bulb, it is totally normal! Learn to “milk” your drain. You will have to empty and measure your drain for about a week, so easy but very important as your measurements will determine when the drain(s) can be removed. This is most important because when the drain is removed, you can finally SHOWER!!!! One of the best showers of my life, just sayin’!

When my drain finally was removed it felt so much easier to move and much more comfortable also, I felt so free! The removal was wicked painful, I suggest taking your meds before you go, I did not and ended up crying like a baby and muttering profanities between taking my deep breaths lol

I will be honest, this surgery hurt like a bitch! But we all do what we have to because there is no choice, the pain is there so just take a deep breath and go with it.

A description of my breast before surgery:  there was a dent on the side and my nipple used to be pulled to one side and because of the tumor growth it had been pulled right in so the nipple had basically disappeared. (I forgot to take a pic, too late now lol)

So here are a couple of pics after my surgery. I still have quite a bit of swelling but all in all my healing is going well.

After:

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2 days after surgery I call this my footlong lol
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2 weeks post surgery  

So there we go, my mastectomy in a nut shell. I hope I was able to ease anyone’s fears and wish well to all my brave ladies out there who will end up having this surgery. The mental part of this will be in a post that follows.

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BYE BYE BOOBIE!

Next week I will have a mastectomy.
From the beginning of all this I have been told that surgery was not an option. Not an option because it was too late. Mastectomies are usually used to stop the cancer from spreading aka metastasize. I was not ready to hear this as an option and it has come out of nowhere! In the beginning, I would have gladly given up any part of my body if it meant I could beat this beast, but my mind is not in that place anymore and I am sad. I have struggled to come to terms with this surgery.

As I stare at the boob that betrayed me with it’s ever expanding tumor, dent and disappearing nipple, I tried to imagine what my chest will look like without it. I wont lie, I am terrified. Having my boobs has always brought me some sort of comfort with this disease. Cancer has already, and continues, to take so much and now I can add my breast to the list. I am gutted and shocked at this plan. I have cried, mourned the breast that I will lose. I was also told reconstruction was not an option for me, it will cause too many complications. So for the rest of my life I will be a lopsided scarred mess!

but, as of today, I am ready. Ready for the surgery and ready for the recovery. I have done research and found great comfort in finding out this may bring years to my life! This surgery may be able to finally let us get some control over this nasty cancer. Also, I am getting a much needed break from chemo! Ahhhhh… a month or so without taxol, I am most excited about this lol!

So there are a few positives and I will focus on those instead of the negatives! As for what is to become of my body, I will put it out of my mind for now and take one step at a time! Staying strong and positive until the bandages come off!

 

Flying high!

With this diagnosis, thoughts and ideas have grown in importance and my desire “to do” has increased as well. Remember my bucket list post? Well, for quite sometime I thought about flying a plane, why not!!! My uncle Donnie has his licence and we had talked about it one day last summer in his backyard. He is such a wonderful generous man, so to support my endeavor he gave me all the books and supplies I required, as he did not need them anymore. Time has gone on and between much chemo, not feeling well and having no energy, my flight plans were put on hold. Until one serendipitous night! My sister Tina attended Erica’s b-day party and beside having her ass kicked repeatedly by Donnie playing pool, they talked and they were both disappointed that I had not been able to get out there to the skies. Donnie being Donnie (the dream maker ūüėČ ) they formulated a plan to get me up there. So 4 days later, a big surprise for Krista!!, we were booked! Well today, March 29th, 2017, I flew a plane! And it was amazing!!!

Our pilot, Matt Hobbs was so great. So friendly and supportive. This guy was really awesome! He is only 25 and has been flying for 10 years! He travels all over the world, he just came back from Tanzania! He does not do much teaching anymore but he took the time to be with us. Time I am very grateful for. I just wanted to mention, his landing was so smooth, we didn’t even feel it at all! I am pretty sure landing is the most difficult part of flying a plane and he just did it with such ease and impressed the hell out of us. He is a really great pilot and such a gentleman, he gave me the pilot seat! Yup, I sat in the power seat, the plane was mine! lol

I was lucky to be able to share this experience with my sister and my son Ethan. Ethan was as excited as teenagers get and all he said was “your not going to crash us are you?!” Oh teenager, one day… ¬† My sister and I were giddy and yup, powder-puffs we are, shed a tear or two thinking about how amazing this was! I basically flew the plane the whole time and besides going a little too high ( 5000 ft lol) and being a little tentative on my banking here and there, I took control and flew that plane through clouds and sky!! I loved every second and have had a smile on my face for days!

I need to give the biggest thanks to Donnie of course but also Martin Proulx, Director of Maintenance from Enterprise Air Oshawa! He set up the entire trip and would not take any payment! Thank you so much!! You made a dream come true today and the appreciation we have can not be measured. Truly a flight of a lifetime!!

Ringing the bell…

As a cancer patient there is a tradition when you finish your treatment, you ring a bell. Signifying the end of chemo and your new life “cancer free”! I have a few thoughts on this subject.

This tradition can be extremely emotional. With the end of treatment, it is a bittersweet moment. I know that can sound weird but it really is. After you are diagnosed with cancer, you are bombarded with endless doctor appointment’s, scans, blood work, surgery, oncology, radiation, chemotherapy and the list goes on. As you go through the toughest time of your life, your family, friends and support team are there for you every step of the way and drop off food, cards and visits. Your world is upside down and you have never felt so sick or scared maybe a little lost.

As the treatment ends so does the hustle and bustle. And with that last treatment comes the bell. As you pick it up, a rush of emotions comes over you. Happiness, a little peace but also fear and sadness and yes the lost feeling again.  Now you are CANCER FREE, so just continue your life as you left it before the diagnosis. The fact is it is one one the most difficult things to do. Also, the fear of cancer recurrence can be terrifying and is a very real possibility for most. I understand what they have gone through and my hope is that they know, some of us understand and get it. Keep fighting and live as much as you can! Do not let the fear run your life, you did not go through all of that shit just to crumple and let cancer win! You are more than that and deserve happiness. You have walked the line between life and death and have come out the other side, embrace this gift! Never waste it!

On another note, that stupid bell!!I remember when I did my first chemo, sitting in the suite and hearing the bell from time to time. I was truly happy for them clapped and cheered as loud as I could! But, I was also sad and jealous, I thought, I will never ring that stupid bell!¬†My treatments will never end! Stupid fucking bell, stupid cancer! I mentioned this to my nurse one day. I told her I was sad about never having the chance to beat cancer and ring that bell! She said, “Well you will ring that bell! Just because you are not cancer free does not mean you can’t ring it!” So at the last appointment came and finished, I walked up to the counter and picked up this “bell”. This bell that held such promise and hope, the sound of the end of chemo (for now, at the time, for me) I thought I would pick that bell up and ring the shit out of it, run around a little ringing this bell as hard as ¬†I could, I may never get this chance again! BUT, as I picked it up, I felt small and humbled and it felt big, it was so strange. I felt respect for all who had rung it before me and could feel it’s power. I cried when I rang it. It was a special moment!

After however lol One of the nurses gave a “typical” “standard” little package for finishing chemo. Pamphlets and books all under the topic of “Life after cancer”& “Next steps in your cancer free life”. I was immediately offended¬†and bothered by this delivery. What the fuck! I said “well you can keep this package, I have no use for it, thanks! ¬†My cancer is not curable”. I didn’t want to sound rude or ungrateful but I could not control myself. In my head I said, “If you took the time to read my file or treatment page right in front of your face, you would know that, bitch!” She looked at me a little embarrassed and said, “Well there are a lot of good tips in these and it can still be really useful to you.” Let the record show lol, I have never once used anything in that package to this day! It really wasn’t her fault, she just knew it was my last chemo, I do not hold it against her in any way, she was really nice. But damn, I was pissed. And it ruined my moment, oh well!

As I started this new chemo in September, and learned that I would be receiving it until it stops working  just to hopefully move on to another, I thought about that bell. And as I hear it from time to time as I get my weekly treatments, I wonder if I will ring that bell again.

Wait & See…

One of the most frustrating things about this disease is finding answers to questions. The standard is always “wait and see” and I do understand this although I hate it! I have struggled with it since the beginning. I am a very impatient person and when I want something I want it now, that includes answers to questions!! The struggle is real!

When something changes during treatment it is hard not to think it is related to the cancer. I could probably write an entire post on this subject as it is a recurring theme among all cancer patients! But, for now, I will focus on the wait and see.

Right now my primary breast tumor has changed. I have a lot of pain in the surrounding breast tissue and the tumor hurts to touch. The mass has also become very hard and my already incredibly shrinking nipple has become even smaller! This is important because after 10 rounds of Taxol, this is new, these are symptoms I have never had! Anything new sucks and can be scary really! Some lead to nothing, others are significant in negative or positive ways.

I am trying to focus on positive things! I think that maybe the tumor is becoming scar tissue and dying! That is my hope and prediction! I love being right in the good times lol My onc is ordering a CT a little early and is scheduling it for mid-late March.

So again, stuck in limbo and waiting to see!

Cheers Fats!

ugggg more Taxol!

So, first things first! My cancer has not spread woohoo!!

However, it has remained the same, so!

As strong and confident as I went into the appointment with the plan of stopping Taxol, my doctor would like me to continue with it (he is an amazing salesman really, so good I barely put up a fight crafty crafty Dr. Chang!!). He explained that my list of treatments are limited so if this is working, stay the course.  If I was to stop and change, there are no guarantees the next will work or have less side effects. He also explained I may be giving up longevity, possibly years of life. With arguments like that up his sleeve no wonder I caved so easily lol. I have to admit though, I cried when he said it, for a couple of reasons.

  1. Acceptance of my reality
  2.  More Taxol
  3.  I may feel like this the rest of my life
  4.  Death is real

So hopefully with an aggressive palliative plan my journey with taxol continues tomorrow!! Wish me luck!

Maybe a new hairdo will help!

Love you all xox