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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You are going to put WHAT....... WHERE????

Chemotherapy. Yup going for Chemo............
The injection of poisons in my body to kill what was trying to kill me.  Who wouldn't be scared at that though.
I think mostly just scared of the unkown. No one knows how you will feel from the Chemotherapy, No one knows what side effects you will have and no one can tell you what will happen to you. It was like i was waiting to be sent to the electric chair, I may as well have been waiting for that moment for all I knew.

Everything I knew about Chemotherapy was watching my own mother go through it. More that once. Seeing how sick she got from it was what scared me. I knew I did not want to be incapacitated to my bathroom for 12 hours a day laying on the floor and vomiting every time i moved. That was ALL I knew about Chemo. The idea of bald started to set in a bit, We knew that was a given, no one that had this type of Chemo had escaped with their hair still in their head ( I was bound to prove them wrong though)
So I was set for that, but the thought of not being able to take care of myself let alone my family scared the H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS  out of me.

I dont think i slept well that day before Chemo. I was to anxious, At that time i have never heard of the drug called Ativan. I faithfully believe that a Cancer diagnosis should come with a prescription for Ativan and a case of wine. Had I known this I would have been fully prepared by being fully out of it.

Finally getting into that Chemotherapy room, was intimidating. In fact, they were expecting me... there was already a chair waiting for me with my name on it ready to go......... YIKES.. Like seriously, were they looking forward to me getting injected with poison?

This was where I first encountered ATIVAN!  It was the kind that goes under your tongue. Within a few minutes I started to feel that anxiety leave................ oh heaven! It was awesome.
getting poked was not so awesome, although I must say that the Nurses that work in the Chemo room are fantabulous! They really try hard to do this with no pain getting poked at all.
This was when I started to get really really nervous even with the Ativan.
do they read you your last rites when they throw that poison into you? is there some sort of disclaimer that they have to read you? No pomp and circumstance here, SHEESH! They gave me a bag of Benadryl first and some gravol too, then it was on to the first of 3 types of Chemo

My protocol was FEC T. 3 treatments of FEC ( Florouracil 5-FU, Epirubicin AKA The Red Devil and Cyclophosphamide) and 3 treatments of Taxotere

My first 3 treatments took about 5 hours to do, they had to slow my infusions down a bit so it took a bit longer. all was find until it was time for the Epirubicin to go in, It is called the Red Devil for a reason. Its freaking RED! And I mean read as in Cherry Jello, Raspberry Ice Crystal Light, or Hawaian Punch. ALL of which I could not even stomach the sight of until recently, I could TASTE the chemo in it every time I ate it.
The Nurse comes over to me in basically a Biohazard jump suit, OK. So she has to be biohazarded up and yet they are INJECTING THAT INTO ME??????? What is wrong with this picture?
PANIC PANIC PANIC!!  ALERT ALERT ALERT!!
Now this Chemo is injected slowly while the nurse times it, It is hazardous to your skin if it touches y our skin , you can get a chemical burn from it the nurse tells me.. this does not assure me it is good for me at all.

After she pushed that through and got me set up for the C portion of my Chemo, I had to pee bad! All that saline they pump into you has to go somewhere i suppose. SO Off to the bathroom I go pulling my little friend the IV pole with me.
After I pee I go to flush and what do I see?? BRIGHT ORANGE RED URINE!! Seriously, this cant be good. I come rushing out and the nurse sees the panic on my face and chuckles a bit, " oh by the way I forgot to tell you that the |Epirubicin will change the color of your urine for a while" GEE thanks for the warning I thought I was dying yet again..........

We finally get out of the Chemo Clinic  at 5 pm, I was the last one to get unhooked and sent home. I was not sure how to feel at this time, I was woozy from the Ativan, Cocktail of drugs and the relief of so far surviving my first Chemo.
They sent me home with prescriptions of Zofran, and amazing anti-nauseant and Dexemethesone a steroid that helps relieve nausea and make the chemo work better.

All I wanted to do was go home and sleep for the next year till i was done all of this.
I had a few visitors that night, they did tell me at Chemo that about 6 hours later I would start to feel nauseated and stuff, and BAM, 6 hours later right on the nose i started to feel not so hot, My dad and step mom were over and I had to go to bed, I tool Gravol, Zofran and the DEX and went to bed. with that I actually slept till the next morning. Manny had to head off to work that next morning and my
super super AMAZING friend Suzanne Sera came to pick up Liberty that morning, It was a good thing we had that planned, I could barely get out of bed to get her ready. I wanted to lay on the cool cool floor of my bathroom for hours. The thought of food was already making me want to vomit.

I went to bed and watched movies all day, not eating a thing. drinking minimally. Those drugs do a great job of not making me vomit, but the nausea only took a break for an hour or so at most that day.

The first 2 weeks after that first chemo were not as bad as I thought they would be,
I had less and less nausea as the days went on and actually got out of the house a bit to enjoy some nice weather.
then I woke up one day and I was not ready for what was laying on my pillow.....................


" This is no time for ease and comfort. it is time to dare and endure"
Winston Churchill

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Realizing life would be different for a while

Once I came home from the Hospital I knew life would not be the same. I was grateful that my friends Patti and Johnny came for a visit just hours after coming home. It was comforting to not have to be alone at home the first day. I did not get to see my kids for a few days yet and for that i was actually happy. I really still needed tome to adjust to what was happening to me. I needed time to adjust to having those blasted drains and emptying them myself, and having home health care come and check on me .

I was really worried about how Liberty was going to react when she realized that there would be no more breastfeeding, I really needed to work into getting ready mentally for that.
but when she came home, she looked down my shirt and was a little puzzled for a bit. she had not seen me in a few days and wanted to go do what her favorite thing to do with mom. Oh how I was dreading that moment, not knowing how she would react.  To my surprise, she was ok. she looked, looked back at me puzzled, and got a bit sad, then went and carried on her way.
Kids are so resilient i don't think we often realize that things are not as big of a deal to them as they are to us. She was really ok with it all.

I remember the first time that the health nurse came to change my bandages and check my drains. i went to the bedroom and layed on the bed and my cat Elijah who is EXTREMELY attached to me, sat on my stomach. Now you must realize that this cat is pushing 16 pounds. This was very uncomfortable to say the least, he just would not leave me alone. The nurse could not get to me, we had to throw him out of the room and close the door, and even then he was throwing himself to the door to get in at me.. now it is funny, then it just made me cry that some thing would love me so much and be worried about me so much that he was that concerned for me.

Shortly after  coming home I found that one of my drains did not feel very good, I could not get out of bed one day and had no appetite, in fact I was a bit nauseated. I had a friend  come see me that day and layed in bed with me, i just did not feel right, At about 9 pm that night I went to drain my drains and found things did not look good, I could see pus and it was VERY inflamed at the drain site.

Off to ER we go, Manny stayed home and my friend took me  on out way there i became VERY achy all over my body, by the time we got there my body hurt so bad i could barely stand it, I had taken a percocet on the way there and i got no relief from it, Wait at the ER was horrid, it seemed they were letting people in that were not as sick as I was. I still had no idea what was going on, I have never had this happen to me at all. It was almost 2 hours before i saw a DR.   They had to do blood tests and stuff, UGH The waiting was going to kill me I was sure. I just wanted something to knock me out cause i was so sick.

Well It looked like i was going to have yet another hospital stay. Infection, and IV Antibiotics for 3 days. UGH UGH UGH...... I wanted to be at home in my own bed

This was a HUGE blow to my morale. I could not understand how this could happen.  I did not have time for this unexpected visit to the hospital. I wanted to be at home getting back to normal. and i realized that normal would not be the same again.

I had all of my staples taken out the day before I went to the hospital, and while i was in there I blew 3 IV sites, I got ALL of my drains taken out and while i was unattached to anything i decided to have a luxurious shower with no friends on tubes hanging out.

and when I looked in the mirror to admire my unattatchedness and what do i see............something shiny in my chest...............OH OH what could that be?? A FREAKING STAPLE  thats what....... OMG one got missed and it was ANGRY! I told the nurse right away when she came to put the IV back in, she tried to take it out , the other nurse tried to take it out and then a 3rd came..... i felt like a science experiment. They decided to leave it for the Doctor the next day. PHEW good thing i didn't really have any feeling there yet.
The next day they pumped some morphine into me and got that sucker out! YAY!!

we got my results from the pathology back.. it was better than expected, i was stage 2 B my Tumor was 1 Millimeter from being stage 3 . like days away they said. I was glad i had a bilateral Mastectomy as there were pre cancerous cells in the other side and the lymph nodes on the other side were preparing to have cancer cells in them.... i really dodged a HUGE bullet there

Once out of the hospital i was waiting to find out if I needed Chemo therapy, I already KNEW I would have to but getting that actually OK from the Doctor was something I dreaded. the day of the appointment with the Oncologist, I took Manny AND a friend with me I needed support when I heard that news. and it was as we suspected, Chemo. because of the size of my Tumor and the lymph node involvement Chemo was a MUST.   and I was going to start in 2 weeks from then, WOW, they dont really give you time to adjust to anything before they throw you in do they? In that time it was test after test. Chemo teaching and figuring out what to do with my impending balding head....

I went to look at wigs, I just did not feel it, I was not sure if i really wanted to wear a wig or not. Oh how I did not want to loose my hair. I found some cute hats and scarves, and I figured that would be the way I would go seeming that I would be bald over the summer.

I decided to treat myself to a spa day, I wanted a pedicure, a massage and my hair cut, I wanted to take control over this impending hair loss.

I went to my last Salon I worked at Catwalk Salon and Spa http://www.catwalksalonspa.com/ and I made my appointment. my former bosses Ryan and Levi decided to give me the roil spoil.. i got a FULL spa day in their dime!!  they even made me get my hair colored.... I wasn't sure about that because I would only be holding onto it for like 3 more weeks anyway but im glad I did it I really am... it gave me a day to not think about what was going to happen but a day of enjoying a pampering feeling. it was uplifting for sure and I am forever grateful to them for doing what they did not have to do.

Days later I came home one day to people working my my flower bed..seriously.. planting flowers and making things look pretty. I could not believe it. A friend had arranged me to have flowers donated and arranged people to get the plants planted... I could not believe it,  I really never feel worth for anything like that so to have people do nice things for me, well.. i was overwhelmed, i got a free spa day and my garden done. well that was too much.

One thing I came across was this website http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/ We decided to set up a site for me because we knew that there was no way I would be able to get things done around the house and we wold need help with the kids and stuff, it was a great tool for us to use while i was going through chemo. I really urge anyone who is going through treatment or any thing similar to use this site to get help. you WILL need it if you have a family to take care of. And it gives people something to do, because you will have people ask what they can do, or  " call me when you need something" and trust me, I did not want to call people to do anything, this gives you and out, give them your site and they can pick what they want to help with!

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty. i wasn't all peaches and sunshine while dealing with those 2 weeks of my life.. it was hard. I was angry. REAL angry People were driving me nuts. telling me I could beat this i will be fine ETC.. Who were they to say I could beat this, how do they know?  People were asking me how my family was handling it. SERIOUSLY?? I DONT KNOW AND I DIDN'T CARE  all I cared about was how I was going to handle this. People were telling me to take time for myself , Like no kidding.... I didn't care to hear that at that time either.
And then there were the storytellers
"well my aunt Mildred who was 845 years old beat this so You can too"  really?? REALLY? you are comparing me to so and so who beat it.. well my mom had Cancer and didn't beat it. So how does Aunt Mildred compare? If my mom who was about my age when diagnosed did not make it.. why are you so sure I will.... do you have a direct link to GOd cause if you do, please tell him to get me off this ride, im done!
Manny was driving me mad.. he copes with things much different that I do. He just wanted me to carry on with life like nothing was going on. I was supposed to do all of the work figuring out the logistics of how my life was going to work while i was getting treatment. He never once thought how I was going to take care of Liberty for the 2 days after my Chemo treatment. I dont think I should have been left alone with a baby while im not sure how im going to feel. If i felt like they said i was going to feel that would not be an option.. so many unanswered questions still. SO many things to figure out. what was going to happen, how were things going to unfold.......And most importantly how was i going to carry on with my life with still so much uncertainty

lets leave you with this quote

"It is not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left."
Hubert Humphrey

I am determined to use what I have left in amazing ways



Sandra

I wanted to leave you with a few pictures of me from this time....
this was before my surgery 2 days after diagnosis at my Belly dance Performance you can see the look on my face, i was not happy at all... i was trying to keep everyting from unravelling at any moment



and here is one from days before my first Chemo. I wanted to Celebrate so we went for dinner and drinks then dancing. check out that fancy haircut!!!


I know this post hasnt been the most mind bending post nor the most engaging, but it was what happened.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Just a little off the top please

Waking up was hard. Literally.... it took me over an hour to come out of the anesthetic. Apparently my fan club was getting restless.......... Oh yes! I had a Fan Club..... Had i known I really had a fan club Id have started to charge admission............. What is the going rate for letting people wait for you in the hospital and to try and peek a glimps of the new flat chested you? . Hindsight.......LOL

I had a waiting room full of people waiting for me. Manny of course and FRIENDS!! All of whom cared about me at that moment., My friend Lori was there My friends from Saskatchewan were there, made the trip to be there with me............. All I remember when i came too was that the nurse told me that I had quite the fan club waiting for me............. i really felt loved at that moment

Obviously the firs thing you think of when coming out of surgery was " did they actually DO anything?"
Honestly, It felt like i was out for 5 minutes. I was scared that they found out it was nothing and I went through the anguish of the previous week for naught........ or worse........ it was worse than expected and they sewed me back up........

3 seconds later my thoughts were answered. a blast of pain to the whole chest area. YUP! I was flat
bandaged all around my chest, the tape was pulling  a bit........ It was done........ no looking back now

As i was wheeled up to my room, I was not expecting what happened next. There were 10 people WAITING to see me..... it was amazing. They had to take turns coming to see me, I was allowed 2 at a time and the first person I wanted was Manny. I did not want him to leave. I had a revolving door of people to see me all night. It was comforting to know that i was loved ( or that they were just morbidly curious.LOL Could I blame them?)

It was a HUGE adjustment for me to be "topless"I didnt really care as much s I thought while I was in teh hospital because i was in pain... I just needed the meds to get through the day .

One thing I hate about hospitals is having to share a room. |I really wanted to have a room to myself but there were no privates left in the hospital for me to have, so I had to share. GREAT....... Last time i got admitted overnight for a minor surgery the lady had a heart attack in the bed bveside me at 3:30 AM.. How inconsiderate..........

Well it was even worse........ I had a wonderful Native lady beside me.. she was sweet, and scared to be getting a mastectomy too, only she was getting just one removed, we chatted a bit that night in between her millions of visitors.. this is one reason why i love the native culture so much they truly believe in FAMILY....... and well ............ this lady must have been grandmother to the whole tribe. She had a revolving door of guests too........... that lasted MUCH MUCH later than when Manny was finally kicked out at 10:30 pm. Se we were quiet..... real quiet, Listening to my ipod together, each having one headphone........... yeah.. not much sleep there.......just when the kicked one round of guests out.. another round would show up 30 minutes later. Im wondering if they had a schedule set up around the clock or something...... SHEESH.

I ended up staying 2 nights in the hospital, and ended up experiencing something totally interesting DRAINS! yes yes, the wonderful world of drains. Anyone who has NOT had a drain in their body for any length of time consider yourself lucky. See they did not tell me about these drains that would be in my body.. so not only was i scarred from armpit to armpit but i had long tubes hanging out of me that was collecting some sort of funky fluid that was coming from god knows where. It totally grossed me out. and these drains were not easy to hide.. I swear they were the size of a small dessert plate on the bottom, attached by the tube.... HMMM come to think of it, i should have pined them to my chest and called them my new boobs.... oh yes that hindsight............

It wasn't until I had to get dressed to go home that i finally realized what had happened. I remember crying in the bathroom getting dressed, i was hideous........... who would want to be my friend let alone be married to me anymore.

My body image from then on changed. It wasn't untiI had my reconstruction in September of 2010 that i realize how much that in between me, that boobless, topless me really made me feel.
I did not feel whole
Oh yes I had everyone telling me that i was the same girl, that i was perfectly woman still, cliche after cliche after cliche................ all coming from people who had not been there done that........ I had. I joined that sick club and bought the Tshirt.

Doesn't matter what people say to you at this point.  I was not whole and I was sure I would never be again.... The worst part for me was having showers, its the one time in the day you have to be totally naked with a giant mirror on the wall when you get out. I hated being naked. I am sure it was at least a full year until I cold really look at myself in the mirror. really look at me and be somewhat comfortable looking back at myself.

and sex........... yeah sex...... that was something that did not happen much at all after that...... I just remember looking into the mirror one time we were having sex and that was it, I was done, all I saw was this boobless, hairless THING. i felt sooooo unattractive.

I finally came into my own about the whole no breast thing, but really it wasn't until I had my reconstruction that i realized how much my life was different with out breasts. I was not as ok as I thought i worked myself into between my Mastectomy and Reconstruction.
I guess that means that we do come to a place of normalcy about what you go through, but until you get that reconstruction you really never are the same, Not to say Im the same now cause I am most certainly am not the same person I was before surgery. There is no way you can go through this and stay the same,
There is something that gets at the core of you that changes everything in your life when you have to go through that Cancer Diagnosis.  Small things become very important. I celebrate more

I celebrate everything I can now. things like my anniversary date if my mastectomy, my anniversary date of being done treatment, and I am sure I will celebrate the "Birthday" of the "Twins" as well.

Once we start to celebrate the wonderful things in life, we can truly start to enjoy it.

I really encourage everyone to post on here one thing you will celebrate this week. I want you all to remember those among us who are dealing with a Cancer diagnosis over the holiday season and how much they must have celebrated being alive............ I celebrate being alive EVERYDAY

This week I will celebrate 20 years since Manny and I started dating!

"for a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin=real life. but there was always some obstacle in the way and at last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
Fr. Alfred D'Souza

Monday, December 20, 2010

The week before my Mastectomy was filled with lots of Doctor appointments, tests and trying to get ready for recovering time at home.

I have never gone in for a surgery like this so i had no idea what to prepare.
I had one last Passion Party to do before surgery, it was very hard for me to get motivated to even go and do it. I was not sure I could be in a good mind set to go and sell romance enhancement products let alone drive the hour and half to get there. I loathed to be alone with my thoughts. They tended to wander to not nice places. That fear of the unknown is a very lonely place to be.

My amazing friend Suzanne Sera decided she was going to come with me to do the party. That morning i woke up and went to make a coffee, and when I looked out my front window I saw what looked like glass to be on the ground outside my van. I went outside to see what it was and sure enough there was the back window of my van smashed right in. UGH. The last thing I needed at this time was to worry about that. and how was I going to drive to do my party with a smashed in back window. My totally amazing friend Suzanne decided to drive me there, not only did I have the safety of having company on the drive but I did not have to drive myself. It was great to be able to have someone to hash ideas out with and just lift my spirits.
My party was a SUCCESS .  The sales were tremendous, I looked super cute ( as always) and Suzanne said I was the DIVA I truly am. I was on a high on that drive home, and it was just want I needed before my big day. Its truly awesome how some people come into your life that make a difference.

Suzanne has a very calming attitude. I knew that from the moment I met her. I needed her there when I had my biopsy. While i was getting it done she was attempting to do hypnosis with me, and what I mean by attempting was she was doing it, and my mind was not, I DO NOT relax very well, LOL. as the Doctor was working on me she was trying to work the bad energy out of me and Im not sure if it worked or not, but having her there with me meant so much. Thank you Suzanne for who you are, a most cherished friend ever.

I did not know really what to do to prepare for surgery. The first thing I thought of was to get meals organised while i was in hospital. I wanted my family to be able to eat well. and anyone who knows Manny knows he cant cook a lick. fried  eggs  and plantains are pretty much all he knows. Last thing I wanted was to come home to malnourished stick thin kids. I remember one time  I came home from work late one night and I saw some mess of something on the stove. I asked him what it was, Kraft dinner was his answer, he didn't think to drain the pasta before he added the milk or cheese sauce.... funny thing was my kids actually ate it. Not sure if that says anything about my cooking or not. Maybe they were to scared to say anything.... KD soup anyone???

Now if you remember I was still nursing Liberty at this time, I was diligent on nursing her for as long as i could which really was not much more time, pretty hard to nurse when your getting your breasts removed. My dad and Stepmom were taking her for the time I was in the hospital which meant they had to take her the night before because when you are going for surgery you always have to be at the hospital at some ungodly hour.

The day before surgery i made sure to spend some time relaxing, If you remember that is VERY hard for me to do, but i tried. at one point in this day I knew it would be the last time I would nurse Liberty. Manny and I wanted to go out for dinner and spend some time together that night.

The last time I nursed Liberty was at 4:45 on April 25th 2007. I just remember crying as I was doing it, I really felt like I was doing and injustice to my baby. My goal was to nurse until she did not want to anymore. I was not ready and Im sure she wasn't either. The worst part for me was she had no idea what was going to happen. How do you tell an 18 month old what is going to happen. How do you tell her that the thing she loved to do , and her biggest source of nutrition was going to be taken away from her?  I wanted this moment to last forever. At that moment I contemplated running away or not showing up for surgery at all. Oh how I wanted the ability to keep doing what we loved.

The next day was surgery day. I was so nervous, I wished I would have had a sleeping pill or ativan or something, I did not sleep the night before I mean really how can you when your breasts are going to be taken from you the next day. It was odd to have not gotten up in the night to nurse. Would have been easy to sleep all night, but it did not happen for me.

The wait for my surgery was HARD. its a hurry up and wait situation sometimes. Hurry up to get there then sit and wait your turn. UGH, Knowing things were going to change was not easy. I had alot of friends come to the hospital to see me off, ( or see my boobs off LOL) That was a nice thing to see, having the company and support meant alot to me. I am not a private person, just in case you did not know that yet, so I love having people around me and it was calming to have this support. and on the upside they got to see me in the very stylish hospital gown ensemble. The all probably just wanted to for once see me wear something unflattering and everyone knows that the hospital gown line of clothing is akin to a gunny sack. There is no way you can make either look flattering no matter what you do Im pretty sure that is  the reason tey were there, LOL.

As I got called for surgery , I hugged and kissed them all, a couple of them were teary eyed and I was trying not to be, someone had to be strong here, and Im pretty sure I could not run out of there at that point, besides, there was NO WAY I wanted to be seen wearing that outfit outside the safety of the Hopital. One friend even had to give a light boobie squeeze, she wanted to be the last person to touch them. I felt like i was walking to an execution. I was exhausted and was looking forward to being knocked out, then I would not have to think for a while. My thoughts were taking over me on that walk,
I mean what else can you say on that walk to the OR.."well boobs, it has been nice knowing ya" .

One i got to the OR, I knew there was no turning back. Im pretty sure that the staff is trained in Ninja for just those circumstances, so there was nothing to do but comply.

I was going to wake up a totally different person.

"All adventures, especially into new territory are scary"
Sally Ride

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If you think that was hard..........

Telling  your kids is even harder....

We were unsure what to tell the kids, There is not alot of information out there on how to talk to your kids about you having Cancer
Do you bring it up casually, "Hey kids, get ready for dinner, and OH by the way, Mom has cancer?"


Not exactly. My worst fear was to scare them that I was going to die, I really did not want that to happen
 I mean really, most people think cancer is a death sentence. Last thing I wanted to do was scare my kids.

We didn't tell the kids for a few days. Not because we didn't want to, but because   we just didn't know what to say. Manny contemplated not telling them at all "mom, why is your hair falling out?" was not a question i was prepared to answer with out them knowing what was going on,  and I wanted to know more of what was going to happen before we talked to them.

2 days after my diagnosis, I got a surgery date. 6 days later!! WHAT?? They still didn't get that I had a life to live that did not have time for this cancer business. but really I was kinda getting grossed out by this mass of freaky cells growing my my breast. I mean really, do you name it? do I have to pay extra for it on a flight? Seriously.  I think ill call my pet tumor Fred.

Not only was surgery coming up but I was still strongly nursing Liberty. Here comes a major decision. What do we do? I didn't know for certain that I was to have Chemotherapy , but we were 90% sure. So i was just going with the fact that Chemo  was going to happen.

I decided that before we made anymore decisions I would like to talk to my surgeon first.
I went in for my pre op appointment and. we had decided that a single Mastectomy was the plan of action. I really REALLY wanted to have both of them gone, not only did I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, but for vanity reasons I did not want to be lopsided. I think at that point I was more concerned about HOW i was going to look after surgery. This is a HUGE blow when you are focusing on nursing and that bond and nourishment that you are giving to that baby is being TAKEN away from you.

I was not happy with the discussion on having just one breast taken. His reasoning was that there is a higher chance of an infection in the non cancer side when you have both taken at the same time.  I just had this feeling in my gut that this was a bad decision. I needed to have both breasts removed. I had this little fear in my head that I would have to do this all over again. My mom had her cancer return back every 5 years, and have to go through a mastectomy 2 times, 2 separate reconstructions, and all I could think of was her and her battle she fought. I did not want the same outcome for me.

 Now the next thing I did I am not necessarily proud of  but I was grasping at straws. Anger was starting to set in and I just felt I needed to take more drastic measures to get what I wanted. I knew someone who knew someone who worked for the Minister of Health. I had them suggest to me that I should write a letter to him and explain my situation and how desperately I NEEDED to have what I wanted. I explained that i felt unheard for 18 months about this tumor and now it is cancer that most likely has spread to my lymph nodes, and with my BRCA history and I have talked about the risks with my surgeon, I still needed to have it done my way. I did not think what would happen next to really happen

When I went for my second pre op appointment I got asked about the letter by the staff and my DR at the clinic............ In the letter I had mentioned everyone I had been in contact with since the discovery of my pet tumor FRED.
They wanted to know if there was something they did. And really the only thing they did was help me. They listened to  me, and they got to the root of the issue. I had no problems with the DR He is an amazing surgeon who definitely has a passion for what he does, and it shows with how he cares for his patients.

I just needed to be heard. I needed for once to have someone hear me. I had no idea the Minister of health would actually do something about my letter. I never thought I would even be taken seriously and now i had the feeling that heads were rolling over this............. And you know me ( well technically most of you dont, but well maybe by now you do LOL )  . I dont want to rock the boat.but I also didn't  want to die. and by now I just had to do everything in my power to get what I wanted.

They agreed to do the Bi Lateral Mastectomy. I was getting both breasts removed. PHEW I felt like I was making the best decision for me. That was one tactic I had to keep in my front pocket and use as much as I could the next year. It really is a good tool to have, not anyone can make any decision for you, Its yours to make when it comes to your health care. You need to be your best health care advocate in anything you do in your life and come out of that decision with no regrets.

So with that decided and surgery only days away I felt like I was in a whirlwind, Doctors appointments, blood tests, scans and x rays. The most interesting scan was the Bone Scan. They inject a radioactive ingredient into you and you come back alter and get a scan. I felt a little freaky getting injected with it. was I going to glow in the dark after?  And of course my biggest question was I able to nurse my baby? And honestly they did not have an answer for me, no one else they knew was nursing when they had a bone scan. I decided to not nurse that day.

By now it was time to tell the kids, i mean if we didn't tell them what was going on what were they going to think when i came home with no breasts, and where would they think i was going?
"oh moms of to a weekend spa, she will be back on Monday" Yeah I didn't think that would fly, " What breasts, I never had any before, your imagining things"
Yeah.......... probably not going to work.

We had to tell the kids.
And we had to do it now.
 I wasn't sure on what time of day to tell them. When they come home from school? Before they go to bed? I was trying hard to think of when would be less hard on them

We finally decided on after school. we sat them down in the living room. Told them we had to tell them something, and the first thing that shoots out of their mouth is " are you pregnant again?" Oh how I wished that was it. I would do anything for it to just be another baby. I would take having a baby 800 times again over this.

They were crushed. This was way worse to them than a baby,  when we told them I was pregnant with Liberty they told me I ruined their life. Funny now, they all love each other so much.
There was just silence. we talked about possible Chemo therapy. and surgery and  what changes would be happening.

One thing I always was sure of about my kids was I wanted to tell them the truth, and not to really sugar coat things. Kids are smarter than we think they are, they catch on when you tell them lies and half truths, I thought open, upfront and truthful to them was the way it was, that way they felt part of the whole decision making process to through this cancer journey I wanted to show my kids that I thought they were geniuses.

We told them that  I had cancer and I had to have surgery to remove my breasts. We went on to tell them that Chemotherapy will be a possibility and that it will make mommys looks change even more.

My children are old enough to remember what it was like when my mom went through her last rounds of Chemotherapy. The body changing stuff was ok to them. I wanted to prepare them as much as we could for the new bald breastless me.

It was hard for them, of course the first thing they think is that I am going to die. Flashbacks came of the day my mom died. It was a hard day all over again for all of us, But I was bound to show them that I was not going to die.

Life was about celebrating and cherishing, and that week before surgery was packed with cherished moments with my family.


"Life was meant to be lived"
Elanor Roosevelt

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Telling people you have Cancer is one of the hardest things to do.And often it is the people closest to you that are hardest to tell.

Telling your online friends, easy. delivery guy is a piece of cake "Thanks for the package OH and I have cancer"

Closest friends and family.... Id have rather cut of both feet.

I would say the hardest person to tell was my cousin Melissa. We are like sisters. Neither of us have a sister so we kinda made ourselves sisters.

Melissa's mom was my moms sister. Aunt Catherine was diagnosed with Breast Cancer a few years before that. ( see the pattern of family history) And I actually found it easy to tell her, even thought i had to tell her online. I just could not bear to tell Melissa, I had to have her mom do it. I just knew that when I told her that we would both be sobbing bowls of Jello. I just did not have it in me after the day I had to even tell her. Melissa remembers getting the phone call and just yelling " NO NO NO NO " and bawling. She prayed , for my strength, for my families strength, and for Liberty, I was still nursing Liberty and planned on nursing for as long possible, and we were not near done  nursing.  Even just talking about her doing that makes me want to cry.  I don't want people to be sad, And I guess that is one reason I really didn't want to tell anyone, I don't like to be the bearer of bad news.

Pretty much everyone else close to me found out on the phone. I just remember laying in my bed making phone call after phone call. I could not even utter the word cancer

I think the words I most used was " So I got my results back.... Its not good"  NOT GOOD.. That could have meant anything, but everyone knew, they all knew what it was.

Now Im not an overly private person, and in my mind I was trying to make a list of who to tell, This isn't like making a birthday list and calling people to invite. "Hey, its Sandra, Im having  Cancer, wanna check it out?"

My very first phone call when I got home that day was to my best friend in the whole world Sherrylynn.
She knew in her gut when she saw the lump, but did not want to break my bubble of denial and safeness . She Knew it was coming and was not prepared at all. She was pretty pissed off. She was Pissed off because someone else broke that bubble for me.
She knew nothing she said to me would help or get me through it, It was going to be all up to me. She was terrified for me, not because she didn't think I could do it,  But because she knew it was going to be hard for me and she could neither help nor fix it.

There is no way you can really prepare to hear those words, Nothing can prepare you to hear cancer.

The absolute hardest to tell will be my kids..........

"All adventures especially into new territory, are scary"
Sally Ride


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The day I got my diagnosis as a day like any other day to start out with , I had a friend of mine Lori take me so Manny could stay home with Liberty ( a very wise decision her being there would have make it so much harder.) Off to the Hospital we go, and really Im in good spirits cause I KNOW that this has to just be nothing............... Wait......... Did you hear that?? there is that DENIAL creeping up again.

The doctor was running behind as per usual. Do Doctors take a class on how to be late for patients?
One way to keep us on our toes is to be SUPER DUPER late when you are giving out test results.
I was chatting it up with my friends, Joking about the recent trip to Vegas, Totally oblivious to what was about to happen. Could I have been any more dense..GOSH!

Time comes to go in the room,  There we sit, my Friend Lori, the Doctor, a nurse, and ME He asked how my biopsy site healed and i said it was great, it looked fine.I laughed about how easy the healing of the Biopsy went. After all they were just going to tell me that I had a Cyst or Fybroid or something that needed to be drained right??

"well the results are back. Indtra Ductal Carcinoma.... this means its Breast Cancer"
I instantly fell over on loris lap and exclaimed " I cant do this, i have to go to Vegas in a month"

why is it that when the world is crashing around the dumbest things pop in my head?? I could have said
"ok, whats next?" or ARE YOU SURE?" or " Alright guys, wheres the hidden camera?"

No I state I have to go to Vegas, LOL,, SHEESH

The Doctor states to me that Because of where my tumor sat, I am not a candidate for a Lumpectomy, I needed a FULL Mastectomy on that side.  Way to knock the wind out of me............. People know me for my BOOBS. I cant just have it removed! Didn't he realize that one of my defining features of me were my breasts? "You know Sandra, you 'memer  the cute MILF with BIG gazongas?" Yeah im totally not exaggerating either. Those puppies were HUGE  Triple E cup size baby! One breast was bigger than my babies head. Not everyone can grow them like I did. Not to mention they were still nourishing an 18 month old baby at the time. That alone was a defining thing, They were working boobs. they belonged to my baby, and I was very much attached to them.

He also stated that my other breast would eventually have to come off because of my BRCA1+ Gene Mutation, but he did want to do that at the same time because of higher chance of infection

All of this is way too much to take in, I was in that Breast Health office for over an hour. having information thrown at me like cream pies at a circus. Mastectomy SPLAT. Possible Chemo SPLAT
Possible Radiation SPLAT. Cancer SPLAT Cancer SPLAT
It all just got piled on me till i felt like a bowl of Jello. Total Information overload.

He wanted me in for Surgery as soon as possible which meant by the time I left the office, I had appointments for EVERYTHING Ultrasound, Bone Scan, X rays, Blood work, pre op. WOW,

I was numb Right at that moment I wish my husband was there with me, I love Lori, but I needed my Husband and i really really REALLY  wanted my mom. No I NEEDED my mom.

I honestly could not put a thought together on that drive home, I called Manny on the way home and told him over the phone. Seriously.........Why I could not wait the 10 minutes to get home and tell him face to face is beyond me. I felt like a zombie ate my brain.

It was very hard for me to walk in the door of the house when I got home. I was not sure how Manny was going to react.
I walked in the door, and he looked at me, and he was holding LIberty, he grabbed me and hugged me tight and SOBBED just all out sobbed. He kept saying I love you I ove you I love you love and over.

At that point I really felt like i wanted to crawl under a rock and stay there, fly away somewhere. Maybe I was dreaming? This for sure could not really be happening to me at all could it?

The rest of that day I just sobbed.

"Not everything that is faced can be changed. but nothing can be changed until it is faced"
James Baldwin