Below is a picture of what I was left with after a bi-lateral mastectomy. Initially I decided not to do reconstruction because my oncologist was saying I probably had a year to live. I had no knowledge of metastatic breast cancer at that time. A year passed and I realized there was no expiration date stamped on my head. That was when I decided to do reconstruction. I didn’t mind being flat chested, but I wasn’t flat chested. I had indentions on each side of my chest. My clothes just didn’t fit right anymore. The next picture shows me in a tank top. You can see the indention the best on the right side. The third picture was taken during the expansion process. When that was finished Dr. Swelstad ( his link is below) finished me off with implants. I chose not to do nipples because I didn’t want another surgery and I didn’t want to have to wear a bra all the time.😁
October the 17th was my birthday. I’ve almost lived 5 years with metastatic breast cancer! When my mama asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said maybe I should get nipples. So she bought me nipples for my birthday. No surgery, just tattoos. The pictures below are from the day they were done. They really do look like nipples. It’s funny, I was so excited when I saw the final result. Dear Cancer, I got my nipples back. Of course I’d rather have my own breasts and nipples but, it is what it is.
Here’s a link to my plastic surgeon, Dr. Swelstad. He’s in Grand Junction, Colorado. If your in that area I highly recommend him!
I know it’s been a month! Pinktober has passed! A fellow blogger was doing a special awareness piece for October and I thought I would join in. All you needed to do was video yourself reading a piece she had written. I started reading it and hit the 2-5 yr statistic for stage IV women. Then I realized I will hit my two year mark soon. I couldn’t finish the video. That realization hit me hard. I never think of myself as a statistic. I never really even think of myself as living with stage IV breast cancer. I try not to think about it. I take my pain meds and enjoy life. The last Friday of every month I have a visit with my oncologist. That’s when I visit Cancerland. After each appointment I treat myself to a new restaurant and forget it until the next month. This past month I feel like I’ve lived in Cancerland! That 2-5 yr statistic has been lingering in my head. I’ve been in a funk! I have new pain in my rib and of course I can’t help but wonder if it’s back. I’m scheduled for new scans on the 17th. Having that to think about doesn’t help! I’ve put off getting my tattoo until after scans. I don’t want anything to interfere with those results! I need some good news to ease my thoughts! Until then, it’s Javiee to the rescue! We have decided to spend our weekend decorating for Christmas! I know it’s early! We did this last year because I was suffering from scanxiety and it helped so much! Here’s to getting out of that October funk!
Aside from crazy thoughts of my impending death, life is good in North Carolina! The leaves have changed to red, yellow and orange. It’s beautiful here! We explore a new place every Sunday (family day!). Here’s a picture from last Sunday.
I love you guys and I hope your all doing well! I’m going to catch up with your blogs this weekend.
I know it’s been a few weeks! I took a trip South to visit family and look at houses. I’m home now and about to start a new chapter on the cancer front.
Unfortunately, Tamoxifen didn’t work for me. My tumor marker seems to be rising about 40 points a month. I’m in the 180’s now. Today I go for my first Zoladex injection. I’m not looking forward to it! That hollow needle looks painful! If it works I should be going through menopause very soon. Geez! Can a girl catch a break? Next week I will start taking Femara and I will continue to get Xgeva and Zoladex shots every four weeks. I am praying this brings my tumor marker back down. If not I’ll be back in that chemo chair way sooner than I had hoped!
Here’s a picture of the Zoladex injection.
I’ve gotten so many messages since I’ve been away and I’m reading them now. Most are wondering about my reconstruction. I will tell you I am healed and so very happy with the results! I will do a post on it this week.
A year ago today my Javiee and I were standing in a parking lot hugging and crying. We had just been told I had breast cancer. This has been the hardest year of our lives! I’m so grateful to have made it through this year! Happy New Year to me! May I have many more!
The results from my CT and Bone Scan Came back clean! They show nothing! I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am! I was sick with worry. I don’t think there will ever be a time that having new scans done doesn’t stress me. The results are like a verdict to me. Am I gonna live or die this year? It’s horrible! People tell me to relax. We could all be hit by a car tomorrow. It’s true, we could. The difference for me is that I’m not standing on the side of the road. I’m standing right in the middle waiting for that car to hit me. It’s not an easy way to live! For now I am so thankful to have clean scans! This has been the hardest year of my life and it ends on Feb the 6th. I’m ready for my new year!
I’m almost two weeks post op from my final reconstruction surgery. I’m feeling good and so happy that I did it! I will do a blog post with pictures soon. I’ve been so stressed with tumor markers, scans and recovery that I just haven’t felt like doing it!
Here’s another reason for a happy dance! My little one was inducted to the National Honor Society this week. He did such a good job giving his speech! I’m so proud of him!
Monday I go in for my final reconstruction surgery! Any surgery makes me a little nervous, but I’m ready to get it over with. I’ll post some pictures of the expansion process this weekend. The difference with just the expanders is amazing!
My tumor marker is at 108. That’s not good, but I’m not overly concerned about it right now. Last week I went down with the flu. That was three days after my blood work. I’m hoping that could have made my number higher. Either way, I’m not going to waste my time worrying about it. I go in for a bone scan and a CT scan on the 30th. That’s going to be a long day! I start at 9 am with an injection for the bone scan. At 9:20 I get my yummy drink for the CT scan. My CT scan is scheduled for 10:20 and the bone scan is scheduled for 1:00. Now that’s a day to look forward to! I have an appointment with my oncologist on the 31st at 3:45. That’s when I’ll get the results. Fingers crossed!
WARNING: Breast Reconstruction Photos Below
My reconstruction journey has begun. Today I’m one day post op. My expanders are in place. I’m so happy with my decision to do reconstruction. The difference is already amazing! The indentions in my chest are so much better! Here’s to Dr. Swelstad at Regenesis Plastic Surgery and Skin Care. He’s fantastic! I highly recommend him!
This is before my expander placement.
This is one day post op. We’ll start filling the expanders once I’m healed. For now I’m just going to take it easy for a few weeks.
WARNING mastectomy pictures below.
Initially I decided against doing breast reconstruction. I heard stage 4 and honestly thought I wouldn’t be alive to see my 40th birthday. I mean really, if I’m on my death bed why would I opt to have another surgery!? Well, it’s almost October and I will be forty on October the 17th! I’m alive and I feel good! So I figure it’s time to get me some “foobs”! I thought being flat chested would be fine, but I’m not flat chested. I have indentions on each side of my chest. My clothes just no longer fit right! I do have these lovely prostheses that help my clothes to fit the way they used to. They are so darn heavy! I don’t even wear them anymore. So it’s reconstruction time for me! I’m ready to reclaim myself!
You can see the indentions on each side in the picture above.
This is the aftermath of my mastectomy. Sure I’ll always have the scars, but my clothes will fit right!
My surgery is scheduled for October the 9th. I’ll have expanders placed to stretch my skin. It’s an outpatient procedure so I’ll be home the same day. Everyone I tell about this asks me where I’m having the surgery done. Utah, Denver or Texas seems to be the expectation of most. I’m actually doing it right here in Grand Junction. My plastic surgeon will be Dr. Swelstad at Regenesis Plastic Surgery and Skin Care. I felt very comfortable with him. He was knowledgeable, informative and personable. I’m comfortable with my decision to have him do my surgery. He will be posting before and after pictures on his website. You know what that means right? It means he has to do a great job! I’m excited! I’ll post new pictures after my expanders are in.