Tag Archives: health

An Open Letter to My Boobs

Dear Bionic Boobs,

I know you’ve been adjusting to your new digs since the reconstruction surgery seven months ago. I’ve protected you from wild elbows, supported you with a bra, and exercised you by smooshing you girls together. (Doctor’s orders.) You seem happy enough and pretty perky.

I do have some concerns.

One night, I looked down and you had wandered off to the sides of my chest. You left four inches between you two. I almost had a heart attack. I thought I’d torn something while vacuuming.  As you know, I’ve started wearing a sport’s bra to bed to corral you at night, so I don’t wake up and freak out.  I wish you girls would stick together.

Although you’re shaped like hamburger buns and aren’t huge by any means, you weigh more than my old boobs. In fact, you’re a little on the hefty side. The doctor suggested some exercises to build muscles in my back to keep from hunching over.

I thought I’d never need to wear a bra again, but apparently some of your sisters have sagged. I’ve been instructed to wear one when I’m active. Bummer. You’re a little wrinkly when you’re just hanging out, but I refuse to get a fat transfer. You’ll have to get used to that.

You look totally fake and I’m sure some people will stare and roll their eyes this summer. They’ll think I had a boob job. I can always wear this t-shirt. Continue reading

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A bad cold is just like this…

We’re all in denial when experiencing the first sneeze. We’re still feeling great.

1283773005_parkour-wall-climbing

We go about our day and brush off that first little tickle in our throats.

1240302804_nice-bike-trick

Then we notice something just isn’t right.

1295259061_woman-high-jump-fail

Drinking coffee doesn’t snap us out of it. Continue reading

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The Boob Report – Tits for Tats

I’ve never been a tattoo girl. My uncles and grandfather had their arms tattooed while serving in the military. From a distance some give the appearance of a horrible wound. On closer inspection, the bloody scar transforms into a huge red rose, an eagle or a cobra. I warned my children not to get them since they’re difficult to remove and they’d look like members of a motorcycle gang.

When I received the call to come back for testing after a routine mammogram, I knew I was in for a Wild Ride. I’ve always faced adversity with a plan. That first day, I came up with the idea of writing the Boob Report. I would never post, “Poor me. I have cancer,” stories. That’s not how I felt and I didn’t want to ruin my humor brand just because I had some major crap to go through.

Continue reading

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The Boob Report – Waiting for Release

I want to go outside and play

Do you remember being grounded? You pressed your nose against the window and watched your neighborhood friends play. Time slowed. I’ve been out for seven months. My clock is full of spider webs and the windows need washing.

Looking back, much of it’s a blur. I can’t believe it’s November! I’m so far out of the loop, I’m orbiting another galaxy. Much of my social life revolves around tennis. Being sidelined since April has been isolating. Instead of organizing social events, I’ve focused on my health and writing since my double mastectomy in May. I’ve heard from a few people, but most have been sucked into the vortex of their own fast-paced lives. Mine has rolled along at the speed of a snail.

I’ve counted the weeks. At eight after my last reconstructive surgery, my doctor released me to running and biking. My first ride lasted ten minutes. I came in the door soaking wet and out of breath. A few days later, I ran (alternating between shuffling and walking), with Roxy. She walked alongside me with 4 inch legs! Yep. I started out slow. Continue reading

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Show Me Your ‘Stache!

kellyandleksy

My son Kelly and his girlfriend Leksy sporting their ‘staches.

It’s No Shave November or Movember, a month of growing facial hair to bring awareness to prostate cancer. Want to join me in donning a ‘stache and doing a little blog hop? While having some fun, we can get the word out about a disease that can be hard for a lot of men to talk about.

This cancer is very common among men and very treatable. According to the American Cancer Society, there are over 2 million survivors. I have a couple of friends that are being treated for it right now. Like breast cancer, it is all about early detection.

Rockin the staches for Movember

Post a picture rockin’ your No Shave November mustache, beard, or full-on facial fur on your blog and paste the link back here in this comment section. I will add it to the bottom of this post.

I will keep a photo on the side of my blog to click on. You can check back and click to see who’s added their ‘staches to the list!

Remember to include a link to a donation site.

Donations can be made to No Shave November at Cancer.org.

I can’t wait to see your photos!

Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. The more facial hair photos, the better. It will be a WILD month!

Have you noticed that men are getting harrier this month?

Here are some fabulous ‘stache posts to check out!

We need some women to balance the list out!

JWo from Life of JWo

John Howell from Fiction Favorites

Waldo “Wally” Tomosky from As I wandered

Andy from Our Life in 3D

Charles Williams at Fingerprints

Maria at Swimming to My 50’s

Kassandra Lamb from Mysterio Press

Ginger Fight Back

Prostate Cancer

American Cancer Society – Prostate Cancer

Movember – Wikipedia

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The Boob Report – Buns Up!

My boobs are fully bionic. This was the last surgery in the double mastectomy and reconstructive process. The swap was made by reopening my scars, deflating the expanders, rolling them up like cigars and slipping them out.

Expander

The deflated expander’s front and back, showing the blue magnetic area where saline is filled with a needle. 

Breast implant

The bait and switch. This is the example, but the actual implant is round.

Replaced with soft silicone, my halogen high beams became hamburger buns. I could see why my doctor wanted me to do the fat transfer. It looks as though they are in a push up bra while defying gravity.

Bra size in buns

Bra size in buns. My boobs resemble the B cup, I mean bun. Continue reading

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The Boob Report – Warning: Wild Rapids Ahead

Do you tense before being pricked by a hypodermic needle? You know it’s going to hurt, so you brace yourself. When I participated in the Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day, I stood in line tense and shivering. I had imagined it would hurt to hit the icy water, but I knew I could do it.

brrrrrrrrrrrr

Having been through a double mastectomy, I know what it’s like to take the needle and wake up in icy water. Wednesday, my reconstructive surgeon will remove the hard expanders, open up the interior pockets inside my chest wall and sew them closer together. Then the soft silicone implants will be stitched into place. Yes. I’ve been tense all week.

After I splashed out of the frigid water, I dressed and ran for the car. My husband Danny blasted the heat. I took a long hot shower when I got home, but it took hours before I stopped shivering. Continue reading

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The Boob Report – Back to Reality, Oops There Goes Gravity

I made it through the double mastectomy in May knowing I would soon be surrounded by beauty in some of my favorite places while eating delicious food.

Mystery photo #4

My husband Danny and I flew to Barcelona and met our daughter who studied abroad. It had been over five weeks since the surgery and I still had some lifting restrictions. Being without cancer for the first time in years, my energy level soared! We hit the ground running and didn’t stop until the cows came home at O’ dark thirty.

Oh, glorious food! I tried to watch my portions since everything was prepared with simple ingredients and lots of butter. Chocolate croissants melted in my mouth, every morning. Restaurants used seasonal fruits and vegetables. I entered food nirvana.

After driving through France, we took the train to England. What a trip.

The timing rocked. The European adventure took my mind off my health and upcoming breast reconstruction surgery on Wednesday, August 28th. Yep. I have one more step in the breast cancer journey. I am lucky. As the poster child for early detection, I don’t have to go through chemo or radiation. My treatment consists of taking a Tamoxifen pill every morning. How hard is that?

Back to reality. When I arrived home, I weighed myself, but wasn’t too surprised. I didn’t gain any weight. We had walked for hours every day while on vacation and burned off the calories from the rich food.

Two days later, I had an appointment with my reconstructive surgeon. We discussed the swapping of the hard expanders behind my pectoral muscles to the silicone implants. This is not the silicone of the 1990’s. It is the same material used in hip and knee replacements.

I was looking forward to this routine procedure, so I can sleep on my side again without pain. It seems nothing in my life is routine.

He examined my breasts and scowled.

NOTE TO SELF: It is never good when a surgeon scowls while examining your body. Continue reading

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The Boob Report – Bosom Boosting Buddies

Bosoms. My sister Patty and I broke out in fits of laughter after one of us said that word. We shared a bed when we were little girls and were supposed to go to sleep after the lights went out.

It referred to our private parts; our undeveloped breasts modestly covered up at all times even though we only had flat nipples like little boys. We thought the word was naughty. My mom would hush us and again we would whisper, “Bosoms!” until tears ran down our cheeks and we couldn’t breathe.

There is something very antiquated about the word bosoms these days, but there is nothing antique about the feeling of having close friends or bosom buddies.

A few days before my surgery, a couple of my girlfriends threw a Boob Party Send Off for me. These were uncharted waters, but they responded to my sense of humor.

sweet boobies

Karin, the hostess, went all out and bought everything to make cupcakes. She sent the project to another friend of mine whose daughter bakes. Ale said, “I’ve decorated a lot of cupcakes, but these are my first nipples.” Continue reading

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The Boob Report IV – Coming Out of the Haze

after surgeryWell that was a huge load off my chest. Sorry. I’ve been dying to tell that joke. I have to make up for lost time. Life has been a little on the wild side since my bilateral mastectomy.

I will be posting a huge thank you to everyone, but I want the fog to lift a little more.  You are all the very best!  Here’s my update:

I have been in a Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze since the surgery. Dreamless sleep took up most of the first few days. In a slow motion ADD-like state, I would wake up and notice a cloud outside my window. With a growling stomach, I would start to roll out of bed, (the most painful movement of all), then I would give up and lay back down, check my email on my phone, notice a cloud outside my window, hit a few likes on Facebook, realize I was still hungry and force myself out of bed. I would eat something, take my pills, notice another cloud forming in the distance and go back to sleep for a few hours. Then I would wake up and start all over again.

Managing my pain and staying on a pill schedule was and still is the main focus. Thank you Danny!

I lie on my back at a 45 degree angle for proper healing, drainage, and since it’s the only painless position. After sleeping like an Egyptian mummy for a week, I am used to it. Since I am using my ears for ballast, I  shouldn’t get any wrinkles. Bonus!

Four tubes ran from my body into clear hand grenade-like plastic bottles. They collect the fluids. It is very sensitive where the tubes enter my body. I held the bottles while taking my first shower then handed them to Danny and said, “Don’t drop them. This like handing you my heart.”

Drains are used for many kinds of elective surgery as well. Two are at the base of my armpit while the other two collect from my chest. The nurse removed two of them today and the uncomfortable armpit drains will come out on Monday. Yes!

I came up with an idea for my second shower – a belt! I pinned them on then realized the tabs are loops. My doctor wasn’t aware of that either until I showed him my fancy belt yesterday.

The drains look pretty cool actually. I had Danny take a picture after my shower. 

locked and loaded2

Locked and loaded.

My husband Danny has been “stripping the tubes” and measuring the fluids since I got home on Sunday.  Yep. I had to stay an extra night in the hospital. I always have the opposite reaction to drugs. Why is that? I was still cracking jokes and yammering on about my Boob Report while they carted me into surgery. They must have given me a little extra sedative. It took me a whole week to get it out of my system and I am still not close to being clear-headed. This is the first day I have been able to focus and type.

Believe it or not, the most painful part of the surgery was my LEFT EYE! Do you remember my post about how I sleep with my eyes open? Well, the drugs were so dehydrating, my left eye felt like a hot poker had branded it during the 4 hour surgery. The general anesthetic must only work on boobs or the removal of them.

My first bedside doctor was an ophthalmologist!

Dehydration made it hard to talk, but of course, I talked anyway. Danny spoon fed me ice chips for hours to keep my lips from sticking to my teeth.

I couldn’t pee or get out of bed without nausea on Saturday, hence the extra night in the hospital.

They gave me an IV of anti-nausea medicine and I slept for three hours. When I woke up, I ate everything in sight and raved about the hospital food. I savored the Jell-O like an exquisite dessert! Okay. I must have been really out of it.

Danny drove me home on Sunday.  I had to learn how to get in and out of bed without the use of my arms. Man. I use them for everything, but my feet are becoming pretty dang dexterous. I learned that if I lie on my left side and hook my right foot on the outside of the mattress, I can pull myself upright. Ingenious. I know.

The doctors wanted me walking right away to increase my blood flow and rid the drugs from my system. It really does help!

The pathology results concluded I am in the thirteen percentile for recurrence of any kind of cancer. Low numbers are good. The way I look at it, I have an 87% chance for never getting cancer again! That means, …drum roll please…NO CHEMO!!!

Chemotherapy reduces the chances for recurrence by 25%. Since my Oncotype percentile is 13%, chemo would only reduce my stats by 3%. It wouldn’t be worth the side effects. Yay!!!

I will take the pill, Tamoxifen, (a pretty cool drug), for at least the next five years. You see, every cancer thrives on something. My rare lobular cancer thrives on estrogen. This pill mimics estrogen and if any cancer cells start showing up in my body, POW! The Tamoxifin blows them up!

Radiation was never in the cards since my lymph nodes are clear (so is the left breast), and there is nothing left to radiate. No boobs = No radiation.

I would like to nominate myself as the poster child for EARLY DETECTION.  Yeah. I got lucky. I listened to the news about how women don’t need mammograms every year, so I skipped 2012. The cancer would not have shown up on a mammogram last year because lobular cancer is fingerlike. If I had skipped this year, I would be screwed and not in that low percentile.  Scary!

Schedule a mammogram every year during the same month. Some cancers grow very fast compared to mine.  

You don’t want this kind of ride. It was NOT fun.

I had four tumors. They were 1 mm, 2 mm, 5 mm, and the largest was 16 mm. That stinkin’ thing had been growing in me for five to seven years!

Everyone’s cancer is unique. Who knew? There are many different combinations which require different treatment. Remember, I am that 1 out of 5000 healthy women who had (nice to put that in the past tense!), lobular cancer. It has an estrogen receptor, but it could have a progesterone or a non-hormonal receptor. There are 21 genes in the breast cancer’s DNA and all of those are studied along with many other factors to come up with each individual’s Oncotype score. You can’t compare cancer or treatments.

Some cancers are very fast growing and feel like a pea or piece of hard bubble gum. Mine grew at a moderate pace and mimicked the surrounding tissue.

Estrogen is my enemy. I will be avoiding all forms of soy and flaxseed since they raise estrogen levels in pre-menopausal women. I tried to figure out why I got this hideous and dreaded disease. I am suspicious of the soy craze that hit several years ago. Being somewhat lactose intolerant, I loved the taste of soy milk. I drank it until my periods got wonky and my breasts became tender all the time. I began avoiding products with soy and found it was even in our vitamins! It continues to be in many foods including organic bread. My children’s pediatrician recommended never giving any soy products to my daughter and that was many years ago.

Scientists are beginning to study the link between soy and certain types of breast cancer in women who are pre-menopausal. It takes years to get results. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m working on healing up and feeling normal again. My normal means kidding around and making dumb jokes. I asked Danny if he liked the “quiet me” this past week. He replied that he loves my crazy off-the-wall way of thinking about things and he missed me. What a guy!

Thank you so much for all the amazing support. I truly believe that the reason I have an amazing prognosis is because of  YOU!

I will be writing a proper thank you when the fog completely clears. The purple haze still lingers, but at least I can see the door. The floor, not so much…

Related articles:

The Boob Report I – Roadblocks and U-Turns

The Boob Report II – Laughter is the Best Medicine

The Boob Report III – Post-op

Breast Cancer

Mastectomy

P.S. Typing hurts, so I am reading, but not commenting very much at this time. Thanks again for everything!

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