Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Find a Cure...For Our Daughter's Sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of the first things I thought about when I found out that I was BRCA2+ was whether or not my little girl carried this same dreaded gene as I do....My mom was BRCA2+, had breast cancer, and was told that her little girl, (ME), would probably carry the same gene as her. Now that I know that I am in fact BRCA2+, obviously, I now wonder if my little girl carries this awful gene. In fact, when I got the news back in November of last year that my genetic testing had come back and that I was positive for the BRCA2 gene, the first thing that came to my mind was my daughter, Brooke. Does this mean I have passed this on to her??? Does this mean that she is BRCA2??????

Lately, because of my recent surgery and everbody's fixation on my chest area, including myself, doctors, friends, family, strangers even!, Brooke has taken notice to all of this....She is at the raw, innocent age of 4, and is already asking me when she is going to get boobs..(Which these days, isn't too far away, considering 5th graders are starting their periods now, and some have bigger boobs than I ever did, or now do.)..The other night, she asked me if they will take her boobs off when she gets big, as if that is just what happens to all women when they get older, because she sees me, her mommy, going through this, and accepts that it is normal...

I have tried my hardest to keep my pain and other issues out of my kids' sights. I don't want them to worry about me, or to worry about why I have to have my boobs, or body parts, removed. I just want them to be kids....But when Brooke or Andrew sees me undress and they see my strange, nipple-less breasts, or accidentally lean across me and fall on my rock hard chest, and I grimace in pain, they notice....They realize that their mommy is not how she used to be...And for Brooke, being a little girl, she takes notice to every single detail, every single mole, hair, and ecspecially, the new nipple-less boobs on her mommy. She is very aware to the fact that I no longer have nipples and she doesn't quite understand this. She keeps asking me if they will grow back, or if hers will oneday disappear, like mine did...(Because to her, my nipples just vanished...Kids don't understand the concept of "surgery". You can try to explain it to them, but if they have never had surgery, then they don't really understand...And it's scary for them...)

She also is very conscious about how her clothes look....On her chest.....And I'm sure this is my fault...She sees and hears me look at myself in the mirror constantly, staring at my foobs, trying to somehow make them look normal. Struggling to feel normal again in my new body..I no longer look at my face or hair in the mirror...It's all about the foobs...Well...The other day, Brooke was wearing a button down shirt, and she was so worried that the buttons were going to come unbuttoned...She kept saying, " I don't want everyone see my nipples."  Hmmm.....Really made me think....I need to be a little bit more careful about what I say about myself and how I talk about myself, and how I look at myself when she is around.....I look at myself in the mirror, and all I see are boobs, but when I see Brooke, I have to remember that she is a mirror of me...I need to remember that.

So all of this brings me to this issue.....Some people have asked me, "Are you going to get Brooke tested for the gene?" Well, NO......First of all, I don't want to test her now, because there is nothing I can do if she tests positive...There's nothing I can do presently...She's 4! It's not like she can go have a double mastectomy, go on preventive chemo, or have frequent mammograms...Once again, she's four years old!  Second of all, knowing that your child tests positive for an awful gene and having to sit around on that information for a while until your child is able to make her own decisions as to what to do.....Uh...no thanks........I don't think I could handle that.

I always say that if my mom could have been able to do this genetic testing and could have had her breasts removed BEFORE ever getting cancer, that she would still be alive today...But the technology wasn't there during those years.......Look at where we're at today....Genetic testing told me that I have a genetic mutation, the same type as my mom had, that would allow tumors to grow, particularly in my breasts, and I was able to have my breasts removed BEFORE that ever happened. Now, I no longer have breasts, so tumors can't grow there= fuck breast cancer. So just think where technology will be in 20 more years....Maybe a vaccine for BRCA+ people......Maybe a cure? Maybe breast cancer will no longer be a threat to any woman, or man, in the world anymore...Maybe....

That's what I am hoping for. I don't want my child to have to go through anything like this...It's fine that I have to do it....I am finally at peace with that...But I don't want to have to see my little girl have to..So when you see the word "HOPE" associated with breast cancer awareness and stuff, a lot of times, that hope is for our future generations....For our daughters. The hope that a miracle will happen...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Woman in the Mirror

As I look at myself in the mirror lately, all I see are HUGE, nipple-less, rock hard foobs, with scars across them.....I have had 4 fills to my tissue expanders, for a total of 410cc's into each one, and to tell the truth, I think my body will only be able to take one more fill. I have been in so much pain since my last fill, which was 4 days ago. Right before my last fill, the pain was starting to subside....The percocet was too strong for the pain that I had every day, and I actually only took them like once or twice a week....So when I saw the doctor this past Monday (8/23/10), I asked her for something a little bit weaker, but for something that would still relieve the pain. (Ibuprofen didn't do crap for me..) So my doc prescribed me Darvocet....WELLLLL, little did I know that this fill was going to be extremely painful, and I should have just stuck with the strong shit, instead of asking for something a little weaker......Oh well..At least I'm stocking up on my pharmacy at home...(JK....I'm a nurse...I'm not a druggie....I don't supply others with MY drugs...Seriously!) It's just frustrating to be in pain, not be in pain, then be in pain again....The cycle is exhausting....Mentally draining, as well...

And that brings me to another point. I have read from other womens' blogs who have gone through this, and how they have struggled with depression during their recovery and stuff...Well, now I am writing about my own experience with this dreaded shit. The depression demon has reared its ugly head into my life the past couple of weeks, and it really sucks....I don't know what else to say except for that...It just really sucks ass.

First, you get the news of being BRCA+, go through the depression, denial, and eventually, acceptance of all of that shit.....Then you go through the process of planning your new life.....For me, it was surgery....Removal of my breasts.....So you go through the anxiety of waiting for that....Then it happens.....Then your life changes...Acutely, and permanently...It changes short term, because you are recovering from major surgery, aren't able to lift anything, do anything for a while, are in pain, are hurting, can't do things for your kids/family, can't work........It changes permanently because you are changing your natural body- you no longer have your breasts....And for me, even though I got immediate reconstruction, and have foobs (fake boobs, mounds, rocks, tissue expanders), it's not the same.....My new "breasts" (still in the process....I still have another surgery for the more permanent implants in about 3 months) really have no biological function....They have no feeling...No nipples.....They will never be able to produce milk, which I don't plan on ever doing again, but still......Your life also changes permanently, by having your breasts removed, because you no longer have to worry about cancer..I no longer have to worry about that 95% chance of getting breast cancer before I'm 50 years old...I no longer have to worry about the cysts...The lumps.....But during recovery, after the pain kind of goes away, and after the initial shock of having your body parts removed goes away, depression comes....Slowly but surely.....You're able to do things, but not able to do ALL the things that you were able to do prior to surgery...Such as: Running, lifting, work as much as you would like, etc.....And that right there can cause DEPRESSION.......(WAaaaaa!!...Somebody call the WAAAmbulance, right?? )

Depression is like one of those abusive, toxic "friends" that everyone has, or has had at one point in their lives...You know, the type of friend that makes you feel stupid, makes you second guess yourself about everything-about the way you act, the way you look, the way you talk, walk, dress, eat, EVERYTHING...The type of friend that mentally and emotionally breaks you down, makes you feel like shit, but there's nothing you can do to make that friend leave you the hell alone....Yea...That's depression......And I am no stranger to this so called "friend", or more appropriately called, ENEMY...I am no stranger to the most intense type of depression...After my mom passed away, depression ruled my life, literally  drove me to almost kill myself on numerous accounts, and I was hospitalized, medicated, treated, evaluated, etc....So depression is something that I know all too well....So I know when it's present in my life....And most of the time, I know how to deal with it......(Yes, I take antidepressants too on a daily basis.....Effexor XR 75mg)....Most of the time I can help others deal with it too.....But this time....Damn....This "friend" really likes me...

So lately, when I look in the mirror, I don't see Angela..All I see are those two fake, reconstructed breasts looking back at me....A depressed Angela is not who I am, and I know that with time, this will pass...But for now, I feel empty, just as my breasts are now empty.. ..:My emotions feel about as heavy as these tissue expanders are, that lie inside my chest muscles....And I'm as fragile as my skin is on my chest, from stretching to the max...But deep down, I still know that I'm going to get through all of this, because look what I've gotten through so far.....We don't gain strength without struggles....You don't cherish life until you've been faced with hearing a potential "death sentence", as a lot of us BRCA-ers call it....And I was able to do something about it...And I did...So for that, I'm thankful...Not depressed......So I'm trying to dig myself out of this dark hole....Trying as hard as I can, but when the pain sets in, I can't lift myself out of that hole with my own two arms...I don't have the strength yet....

Monday, August 16, 2010

MISS Angela

Picture taken on 8/15/10. I currently have 360cc's in my tissue expanders. I still have 3 fills to go..

"Do you miss your old boobs at all?"  This is a common question that I am faced with lately...Quite honestly, the answer is, "No."  But I will tell you what I miss...I miss my nipples...I really do. I don't know why. It's not like they served any purpose to me anymore...I have had my children, have breastfed them, (and am NOT having any more kids), and let's just be a little more honest here-my nipples really didn't serve any purpose in the bedroom.....But still...I miss my nipples...It's hard to look in the mirror, look at my gigantic foobs, and just see scars run across the lengths of them...Without nipples. It's like trying to look at your face without eyebrows or something. It's just wrong. It just looks weird...

I also miss being able to take a deep breath. And the ability to sneeze. Sneezing gives you an amazing feeling afterwards, but I can no longer experience this, due to the tissue expanders not allowing my chest to fully expand..Which is what happens when you sneeze.....It's awful. I pray that I am not in public when a sneeze comes on, because I start freaking out and yell/spaz out when the "sneeze" occurs. It's bad...And then I cry a little because of the severe pain it causes. Not cool at all. I actually scared the crap out of my kids the other day when I sneezed. They wouldn't come near me for about 3 hours afterwards. Yea..It's that bad.

I also miss the softness and jiggly-ness of boobs....The foobs I have right now don't do anything. I actually let my friends feel me up, just so that they can feel how H A R D they are. I always say that having these expanders in are like having big rocks sewn up inside my chest...Seriously. I can feel the edge of these "rocks" scrape up against my sternum all the time, and sometimes they get stuck between my ribs...UGH. Not cool, and it hurts...

I also miss not being able to sleep on my stomach....Awwwwwww.....I think I dream about being able to sleep on my stomach...I miss it that much. I am finally able to sleep on my side, but it's very awkward. I wake up feeling like the side I slept on is all crooked or something...

But with all of these things that I miss so much, I think about the things that I have gained. Number one, I no longer have to worry about breast cancer. The number one enemy in my world. Breast cancer is no longer a threat to me. Yes, I have to deal with some things that I don't like and obviously having to give up my god-given breasts, but I have peace of mind now. I wouldn't trade that for anything. I don't have to worry about my kids losing their mom to breast cancer when they are young. I don't have to worry about leaving my husband behind to raise our children alone because of breast cancer. I don't have to worry about WHEN anymore. Breast cancer is no longer a threat to me because I don't have breasts anymore.

So yea, I might miss my natural breasts at times...It's normal to grieve the things that we once had....But because I was so lucky to be able to have reconstruction done at the same time when my natural breasts were taken from me, these allow me to still feel like a woman-WOW! That's freaking amazing. Technology is amazing. I absolutely believe that had I not have had this surgery, I would be fighting breast cancer, probably in the next 10 years or so. (Partly because my mom was so young when she was diagnosed. She was 32. I am 26. My mom was BRCA2+, as well as I) I also believe that if my mom could have had her breasts removed before she had to fight with cancer, she would still be here today.  That's why I had my breasts removed.

So let me answer that question again..."Do you miss your old boobs?"  No....Not at all.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Masty Matters

Being groped by a statue...This was taken the day before my surgery...
Yesterday was exactly ONE month since my surgery...And to celebrate this occasion, my body decided to get sick! YAY!! How nice, huh!? Throwing up, fever, nausea....The whole SHABAAM! Not to mention body aches, which made my foobs hurt and cramp even more than usual. It was an awesome day....I got to spend it bent over my commode, and every time I hurled, the pressure of doing that felt like it was going to make my foobs EXPLODE out of my chest....And the constant feeling of nausea-Nothing in the world comes close to that one, let me tell ya!

So yea, all in all, yesterday SUCKED ASS! I have been back at work for 2 weeks now, and am planning on returning back to seeing patients next week, but then this happens.....I hope it's just a 24 hour type of thing, which means I should have 1 more hour of feeling crappy..Haha. I doubt that's the case, but we shall see.

Anyways, the other day I tried sneezing and I discovered that it is next to impossible to sneeze when you have these expanders in....And this got me thinking to do a blog, dedicated to describing things that you can and cannot do after having this surgery...(Bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction done with tissue expanders) I just throw that in, in case you are new to this blog...Then you have some catching up to do!

So here it goes.....I will go ahead and go back in time and go back to one month ago....

*Immediately following my surgery-DAY ONE AFTER SURGERY
Things I could do                                                        
-Raise my arms up to do my hair                                                                                   
-Wipe my own butt after peeing                                               
-Feed myself                                                              
Things I COULDN'T do
*Change clothes
*Empty my own drains
*Get in bed by myself
                                                      WEEK ONE AFTER SURGERY
Things I could do
-Bathe myself without the help of Bryan                        
-Drain my own drains                                                   
-Put on button up or zip up tops                                    
-Sleep in my own bed instead of couch                         
-Do light chores (unload dishwasher, dust, etc)         
Things I couldn't do
*Poop (Yea. I didn't poop until 8 days after surgery. Talk about traumatic. It's because of the anesthesia and the pain meds....)
*Change into my clothes by myself
*Get into a car by myself
                                                     WEEK TWO AFTER SURGERY
Things I could do
-Sweep the floor (very slowly)                                   
-Do laundry                                                                                  
-Cook light meals   
Things I  couldn't do
*Poop regularly.....Even with stool softeners.It was bad.
*Lift myself up with my arms..At all
*Open a water bottle child proof medication bottle.
*Sleep on side  :(                                                       
                                                    WEEK THREE AFTER SURGERY
Things I could do
-Pick up dog poop (not happy to do this)                         
-Drive! It is painful though.                                               
-Kind of sleep on my side....Not very comfy though          
-Go back to work  (In the office)                                                
Things I couldn't do
*Lift more than a milk jug without severe pain
*Hold a baby
                                                     WEEK FOUR AFTER SURGERY
Things I could do
-Vacuum house (painful though)                                          
-Go shopping with the kids by myself and                          
  push the cart with kid in it                                                  
-Close the back door of the Tahoe. WHEW!
Things I couldn't do
*Lift more than 20 pounds..

So that is to give you an idea of things I have and haven't been able to do this past month...I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out, but I can't remember it all right now. It's been an interesting past month....When I think back to all that I have gone through this past month, I can' t believe that it's only been a month. Day by day, I guess, and trying to just do what I can with what each day gives me.....I'm just thankful I can poop now...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back to Work

Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since I had my surgery...It doesn't seem that long, but when I think back- to the actual surgery, the trips home and back up to Albuquerque for my first fill, and the early stages of recovery, - three weeks is a long ass time....21 days to be exact! Haha. In fact, I felt that today was a good day to start back to work...Everybody thinks I'm insane for going back this early, but sitting around the house NOT getting paid just doesn't do much for me....And even though I got paid for the days off that I took for my surgery(because I am a "salary nurse"), I am the type of person that feels bad for getting a paycheck when I haven't worked, or earned it....I know, I know...WEIRDO FREAK! Haha...

So here I am....It is 7:30 p.m.....I worked from 8:30am to 5pm today, and of course I didn't see patients, but working in the office wore me out...Sitting at the desk, with my neck looking down, writing, stapling.....All that uses your pectoral muscles.You don't really realize that until you have something wrong with those muscles.....And as in "something wrong", I mean-having my muscles cut into to have a foreign object shoved into, much like a pocket....And now, I am HURTING...My muscles are cramped like crazy, and now my neck is trying to join in on the cramping party...But guess what?? I made it throught the whole day...I'm proud of myself....My goal is to hopefully start seeing patients next week...I go back on Monday to get my rocks, I mean expanders, filled for the 2nd time.....I might be in more pain after that than I am right now..It's so frustrating, because the pain/cramping is a day-to-day struggle and mystery....Will I  be in pain today? What about tomorrow?  It's impossible to know....I still have to take the Percocet on a daily basis...Sometimes in the morning, and that's it...Sometimes in the morning and at night.....It doesn't make me feel like I'm drugged up...It just takes the pain away..I am also on Flexeril...I take that twice a day for the cramping...I don't know about other women who have gone through this, but my foobs cramp almost CONSTANTLY. The only way I can describe it is like when you get a charlie horse in your foot, or the back of your leg...But these cramps don't go away....Sometimes they feel like a sharp knife/stabbing, that only lasts seconds.....Sometimes the cramps feel like braxton hicks contractions (if you've ever been preggo, then you know what I'm talking about), only in my foobs....All I know is that the cramps SUCK ASS, and at the end of the day, I am so exhausted from dealing with the cramping....The medication sorta/kinda helps....That's all I can say about it....

In fact, I'm so sore right now that typing is hurting.....So buh-bye..