Tagged: reconstruction

What it means when I call you family

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Call it a strength or a weakness, but because of its very nature, this blog is inconsistent.

It is here so that I may record what the world looks like through my cancer lens. In the first year, pretty much everything I saw, felt and did had cancer at its core. In the second year, I slowly edged back towards a fragile sort of normality. And now at the start of my third year since my diagnosis, I can honestly say that I have gone whole weeks without feeling like I’m viewing the world through the eyes of someone who had, or still has, cancer.

I say this as a means for accounting for my long silence. It’s been a happy, busy, eventful silence. I think in this blog’s case, the silences are the periods I should be aiming for.

Right now, the thing that keeps me coming back here is my breasts. Or lack thereof, really.

When we last spoke, my surgeon had dropped the bombshell that he didn’t think that much could be done to rebuild my breasts. What was left was just bone and scar tissue. And we were trying to treat it with injections of fat to build it up and reconnect it to my blood supply as best we could, but we thought my skin was stretched too thin to allow real breasts to become a possibility.

Because I remain a staunch believer that everything is a process and that nothing is finite, I kept on going with the fat grafting.

Along the way, I had a nasty incident where my body rejected that grafted fat and I wound up on a new surgeon’s operating table just before Christmas. It sounds bad, but it was good really, because Dr Hyphenated (my name for him, not his) looked upon me with fresh eyes and told me not to give up. He is my “second opinion guy” and long may he remain so. He is a very good man.

And then in January something nice happened. The fat settled and my flesh turned from thin pale purplish grey to soft warm pink and my first surgeon Dr M looked again and said maybe we can slip a small implant in and that takes us up to pretty much now.

We’ve done it and they’re in – two smallish implants that are so far looking grand. They are much the same size as my breasts were to begin with, although more gravity-defying of course.

I am sending all the love that I can muster their way. Telling my body to nourish and accept them. It will be another two or three months before I can give a sigh of relief and say girls, you’ve survived so for the meantime I’m just trying to be good.

Take my antibiotics. Wear my hideous oversized compression bra. Don’t lift heavy things. Send love.

The last one is my own initiative, but I stand by it. Apparently if you think healing thoughts about a body part, you actually send more blood supply in that direction. Someone’s scientifically shown that. So that’s good enough for me.

Which takes me to today’s metaphor. It’s about sending love.

I know a whole lot of you have been waiting for the big wedding post. March 15 was the day. And it was pretty much perfect.

Coming up to the wedding I kept wondering what I should say. And I kept coming back to the same thought. That there are really only two times in life that all the people you love most are around you.

The other one? It’s your funeral.

In the end I couldn’t say much, I was too overwhelmed. But basically what I said and meant was that every single person who attended our wedding was now family.

I felt like, just as I am now concentrating all my love on two teardrop-shaped lumps of silicon resting under my pectoral muscle in my chest, for one beautiful evening the love of 120 people was concentrated on Charlie and I.

It was the best therapy and treatment I could ever have.

I love you all more than words can ever describe.

xx

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These incredibly gorgeous photos were taken by the extremely talented Brent Winstone who attended as a guest and could not have captured these candid and emotional moments more perfectly.

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Storm in an A Cup

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It’s been so long since I wrote that people have been asking me if I’m all done.

Erm, no.

I’ve been telling people that my silence has been caused by the perfect storm of work, surgeries every 5-6 weeks, and trying to arrange a renovation and a wedding at the same time.

But the truth? The reconstruction process has actually been a bit heartbreaking. And I actually didn’t feel like blogging about it.

I’m now in for round three of the fat grafting process. Round three? I told myself there wouldn’t be a round three. But then, I also told myself that I’d have great (fake) breasts at the end of it.

There have been a lot of lies floating around.

After round two, I went to see my surgeon. The plan: to say right, Sir. We are done with fat grafting. Give me my implants pronto because I want nice breasts for the wedding next March.

And his response. Sort of squirmy. Awkward.

Something along the lines of your scarring is worse than we thought. Your chest wall skin is stretched too thin to accommodate breast implants. But the good news? The “experimental” fat grafting seems to be going well and we’re confident that you can get a good A cup out of it.

Fricking A cup? A CUP???

I’ve been through this many surgeries and this much treatment and this much bullsh*t and you’re offering me an A CUP?

It was all I could do not to collapse in a blubbering heap on the surgeon’s floor.

I know I should feel lucky just to be here at all, but bloody hell, I promised myself breasts. Good breasts.

The little girl inside of me had her red balloon, her teddy bear and her lollipop wrenched off her all at once. My bottom lip quivered for two days.

An A CUP!!!

But then I did what I always do, and rationalised. And compromised. And I bought myself my first ever WonderBra (A cup!) so that maybe, just maybe after round 3 I could take my crappo little A cups and squeeze them into some pubescent notion of cleavage?

So far, by the way, I’m not filling the A cup. I’m aspiring to the A cup.

And my fake foam breasts still fool everyone into thinking everything’s OK. And now they are the carriers of false hope. When I wear them it’s like they’re mocking me. They’re saying like them? These are the fake breasts you can only dream of!

Bitches.

And then you know what else has been happening? Pink Fricking October. Pinktober. Shudder.

I’m here to tell you that the breast cancer community (or at least the ones I know) don’t bloody like Pinktober.

It’s not that we’re not pro fundraising or awareness. No, no. What pisses us off is that Pinktober is the month of platitudes. Where big corporates donate peanuts to a charity, turn a product pink, some idiot buys the product and everyone feels like they’re somehow saving the world. (I can see my advertising brethren backing away from me right now saying that’s our clients you’re panning. Keep your voice down, angry lady. Sorry, but it’s true. You’re helping the economy, yes. But curing breast cancer? Doubtful).

Or, worse. Some idiot decides to create some Facebook meme where women write something cryptic on their wall… Like where they put their handbag… And it’s meant to be some “all us chicks are in this together and those silly boys just don’t get it”… And I guess maybe they think some donation fairy somewhere flicks a few bucks into a research charity? Maybe?

GAAAAHHH!!! There is no donation fairy!!!

Sorry. Control the righteous indignation. Control it.

But guess what? There’s an even dumber event on the calendar. Ladies, meet No Bra Day.

Yep, you guessed it. You can forego the bra in celebration of your fabulous titties and again, that magical donation fairy will flap her shiny wings and breast cancer is cured!!!

Slow clap.

So I’m here to tell you, oh pack of loose titted geniuses, that your no-titted post mastectomy brethren are plotting to hurt you.

Get a clue, brainiacs. Flapping your perfect love bags in our faces is not making us feel loved, or supported. It’s just rubbing in our faces what we don’t even have.

Wow, I feel so much better. This blog is way cheaper than therapy!

So, yeah, that’s where I’m at. I’m sitting in a day surgery waiting room during Pinktober dreaming of my new A cups. Someone will knock me out cold any minute now (and charge me $800 for the privilege) and maybe, just maybe, I might look a little less like a ten year old boy when I wake.

Wish me luck. And boobs.

x

P.S. Why the photo? These are a few of my favourite things right now. A mighty fine little skull-shaped bottle of tequila and a little Day of the Dead bride and groom, lovingly bought for me by the wonderful Mark and Kara in Santa Fe. I thought they might cut through the grumpiness of this post a little!

Black and blue

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I’ve always liked a bruise. They are the daytime soap opera drama queens of the injury family.

All flamboyant colours, spectacular visual representations of pain but very little actual substance. The kind of injuries you can proudly show off to a friend without them gagging in disgust, and boast of the “dangerous” situation by which you acquired it, all while sipping a latte and reading the paper.

Well, my friends, this bruise is not one of those bruises. And this is a G-rated photo of said bruise. If you want the full bruise experience, you need to ask me sweetly to show you a picture of my swollen naked arse and bloated purple thigh (or you could forego the photo and ask to see the real thing, I’m usually happy to oblige). And yes, I am wearing bike pants. Doctor’s orders. Ho ho ho.

OK, Niccola, what gives? Aren’t your medical mishaps normally in the breast department?

Why yes, kind reader, they are! Let me get you up to speed, because you haven’t heard from me for a while. These last three months have been a sequence of blues, and blacks, and purples and yellows. Firstly in the stomach department, courtesy of an injection called Zoladex. Zoladex is a friendly little syringe roughly the size of an elephant gun who gets hammered in to my gut monthly and leaves me in a permanent state of menopause with a bruise that looks like I’ve been assaulted with a rock melon. Nice guy, huh? Bastard.

I thought Zoladex was the baddie in my life, but that was before I experienced liposuction. Liposuction? I know, what is this, an episode of Real Housewives of …? Actually, I like to call it Real Housewives of BC.

Yes, liposuction. The first stage of my breast reconstruction involves what the surgeons delicately label “scar revision”. A so-called “minor procedure” that involves sucking the fat out of my thigh and injecting it in to the cavities formerly occupied by my breasts. “Minor procedure” my swollen purple arse!!!

My breasts are actually faring the best throughout all of this. They are sitting peacefully on my chest with minor, quite subdued bruising, neither concave or convex, not causing anyone any problems.

But my left thigh has swollen to twice its normal size and turned a deep, royal purple. And this is not one of these latte-sipping drama queen bruises. This is a hugely painful affair that means I groan every time I stand or sit (on one buttock only) and hobble around the house in my two pairs of bike shorts.

Minor procedure??? I’d hate to experience what a major procedure is like if this is considered minor. This hurts worse than the bilateral mastectomy. Cellulitis aka The Elephant still wins the pain game but this comes a close second.

Ladies, think twice before you nip down to your local hospital to get a bit of fat sucked out of your thighs. I like my fat. I miss my fat. Cosmetic surgery is so barbaric. I can’t imagine how or why people would elect to go down this path. It’a messed up world where people are starving on one continent while adults are getting their fat sucked out on another… Go to the gym if you don’t like your fat!  Or love yourself the way you are! Grump grump grump. My butt hurts.

What else can I tell you? My beautiful puppy has also been under the knife, and has had a terrible surgical run of it as well. Like dog like owner. Bizarre.

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She also has a messy looking thigh.

We’re a good pair, hobbling around the house together. But the important thing is, she’s home, as am I. We might look a bit messy but we’re A-OK and happy to have each other.

The best thing about bruises is that they come and go. In a week or two they’re a distant memory. They’re not like scars, things that stay with you, a haunting reminder of what’s been. In another few days, I’ll shed my daggy bike pants and return to the real world as though nothing bad ever befell me. And hopefully this bruise leaves a good legacy, a formerly scarred pair of breasts that are ever so slightly closer to being new again.

x

Protector of mankind

I’m beginning to realise that this journey of mine is going to take a little longer than expected. At first, when I had a funny lump in my breast, I thought… That’s OK, it’ll take half a day to go and get the ultrasound.

And then when the lump turned out to be cancer and I met my surgeon for the first time, he said to me… You give me six months and I’ll give you the rest of your life. And I thought… Yep, six months is OK.

And then, I waited two months for the surgery. And four weeks for IVF and recovery. And then I was told I’d need six months for chemo. So… nine months… that’s OK too… I thought.

And then the cellulitis kicked in, and my breast reconstruction had to be undone, and I once again lost my left breast and then my right. And I realised that after chemo was done I’d have to take time out to heal, and then start the breast reconstruction all over again. So… one year then?

Then I really started thinking. About what happens after I finish chemo… When my reconstruction is completed for the second time. What then?

In the early stages of breast cancer, everything happens so quickly. IVF in particular was surreal, because it took me in the course of three weeks from the 30 year-old who’d filed children in the “Later” category to the cancer patient desperately fighting to freeze an embryo or two, safe out of chemo’s reach and preferably not carrying the bad cancer gene to boot. Suddenly, I theoretically had three cracks, maximum, of conceiving a child in the future with my DNA.

But then, as I was getting my most recent chemo, I realised something. Something that I guess I knew in my heart of hearts the whole time. It was a landmark chemo. My fourth AC cycle. I’d never have to see the Red Devil again. Hell, I’d never be able to see the Red Devil again. Six doses is where serious risk of coronary arrest kicks in. It marked the halfway point for chemo. A landmark of sorts.

It should have been means for celebration, but I suddenly started thinking… What then?

When this is all over, the real waiting begins. The waiting to see if the cancer will come back. The waiting to see if my body will come back out of chemo-induced menopause. Some doctors say you should wait five years before contemplating starting a family, because the implications of having a kid and the cancer coming back, it’s too horrible to contemplate.

While my peers are having babies, I’ll be waiting, waiting, waiting for some sign that things are going to be OK, long term.

And it’s sad, this change in perspective. It feels like the final thing the cancer takes away from you is your chance to plan, build and dream.

So in the midst of all the surgery, and the chemo, and the cellulitis, I decided that it was time to invest in something for the future. To stop being so fatalistic… pessimistic and say… Screw you, cancer. I’m enjoying the here and now, and you can’t get me here. This is the one place you can never get me.

So we adopted a puppy.

A big-pawed, blonde, mystery-hound, Heinz 57 Varieties sort of a puppy. And I named her Saskia, which means “Protector of mankind”. Which is expecting a lot of a creature who still can’t stand and scratch herself at the same time, but I think she’s up for the job, long-term.

And when we go out, Saskia and I, I forget that I’m skinny and pale and bald and weak, and just become a regular human being again. People don’t notice my strange hats, or at least they don’t ask, because they’re too busy patting my small(ish) golden hound.

My protector. The protector of my future. Meet Saskia. She’s delighted to meet you too.

x

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The elephant returns

I know how you all like stories about elephants. Many of you have told me so, which is flattering indeed and makes me feel like a Writer with a Capital W.

Sadly, I’m not sure I like stories with elephants any more.

I’m writing this from a rather small but blessedly private hospital room. I say blessedly private, because no-one deserves the punishment of sharing with me and my elephant.

Despite the two surgeries following the mastectomy, the elephant never really left. I thought I’d seen the last of him as I finally went off antibiotics a week and a half ago, but then he started sneaking back in the dead of night.

He developed an unquenchable appetite for pills. Every two hours he’d trumpet for something. I had my work cut out for me tossing Panadol, Nurofen and Endone his way (Side note about Nurofen… It turns out Ibuprofen is really not good when you’re having chemo. I wish I’d known this before the elephant developed a taste for it!). I’d try to buy him off with heat packs and he’d snooze happily for twenty minutes and then yell MORE! just as I was falling asleep.

And then he started spurting pus everywhere. You know a room mate has to go when he spurts pus. That’s the deal breaker right there.

As per usual my crack medical team under reacted. He’s not the biggest elephant we’ve ever seen… they commented. Well, he’s the most painful I’ve ever had… I countered. And it’s true. At night he sits on this nerve under my shoulder blade and it’s bloody agony.

And of course, as tradition dictates, as we suddenly found ourselves four days away from chemo with a wildly out of control elephant on our hands it was “to hospital to hospital jiggity jig” all of a sudden.

After one stunningly sleepless night where the elephant terrified a night nurse with his constant trumpeting and unreasonably frequent demands for heat packs, suddenly everyone in the hospital was treating my elephant with far more respect. We even got to meet an elephant specialist (his business card said he specialised in palliative care but he was at pains to reassure the elephant and I that we weren’t dying quite yet… Well, me, anyway, watch this space Mr Elephant). He came up with a “pain plan” whereby the hospital has to give me pain control whenever I ask, which felt like a bloody miracle and made the elephant dance a happy jig.

And my surgeon announced that what the hell, let’s go for surgery number four which seems to involve washing the elephant out from the cavity left behind by my now deceased right breast.

So once again the elephant has been issued an eviction notice and I await yet more surgery. I must admit all my optimism and enthusiasm is a little on the wane at this point. I hate the following things about surgery: the stupid socks you have to wear afterwards, the horrid anti-coagulant shots they make you get in your thighs which then bleed at the drop of a hat, the scarring, the queasy feeling post-anaesthetic, and the occasional really weird dream. They also cover you with stickers which you keep finding days later which kind of feels like the medical equivalent of those “kick me” stickers that people thought were hilarious in late primary school.

However post surgical pain is seldom, perhaps never as bad as out-of-control elephant pain and as such once again I’m giving my consent for a little more body violation.

On the plus side, I have something very exciting to look forward to this weekend so by hook or by crook the psychopathic pachyderm has got to go. All will be revealed, it’s going to be awesome! I figured I owed myself something wonderful and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

See you all on the other side of surgery number four… Sans elephant of course… And with nice news attached.

Much love, as always.

x

And then it was on like Donkey Kong

No rest for the wicked, as they say.

On Thursday, one week after my surgery, I was back at the hospital for Round Two. Now that the surgery is (semi) behind me, save for two drains hanging out of my armpits and a rapidly expanding pair of breasts, it was time to talk chemo.

Shudder.

I think I mentioned before the surgery that as well as removing (and replacing) two breasts, Dr S was going to do something called a lymphodectomy. As I understand it, and prepare yourself for some seriously half-baked biology here, the lymph nodes transport debris, fluid and anything else that isn’t in the bloodstream around the body.

The way cancer spreads is through the lymph nodes. The doctors call the lymph nodes closest to the cancer the sentinel nodes, and the best way to find out if the cancer has spread to them is to cut them open and look at them under a microscope.

If they find any cancer there, they remove more nodes.

Which is what happened with me. They found some cancer cells in my first sentinel nodes so made the decision to remove all the nodes in my right armpit. This is not ideal, as if you lose all your lymph nodes from one side you can develop something called lymphedema, which is a swollen arm. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, well it’s still a hell of a lot better than cancer.

So anyway, now we know a whole lot more than we did before surgery. The tumour and all the nodes went off to the lab and thankfully it was confirmed that the cancer had only travelled to the first sentinel node, and the others were all clear.

Which brings us to chemo, and Prof E, the latest member of my cancer fighting squad. Prof E is an oncologist, and it’s her job to wage chemical war on my body. Prof E is a straight shooting kind of woman. She didn’t mince words, and within minutes we were very clear on a few things.

Firstly, we have a chemo plan, and it will start soon. It would be starting next week, if not for one other rather pressing issue, which I’ll get to soon.

The chemo consist of two phases, each three months in duration. The first treatment is called AC (they are abbreviations of drug names, feel free to google if you’re curious). AC is delivered through IV (drip) one day every 21 days, over four cycles. Apparently nausea and vomiting isn’t generally too much of an issue (touch wood) but fatigue is, particularly on days 4 and 5 after treatment.

Prof E also told me, almost to the day, when I’ll lose my hair (yep… as suspected), which is about two days before cycle two starts. So I guess it’s time to start thinking about getting my hair cut short so it’s not such a shock when it happens.

The second treatment phase is called T, which is delivered once every 7 days for 12 cycles. Apparently T tends to take any hair that remains, including eyelashes, eyebrows, and (ahem) everything else, which at least means hair removal won’t be necessary for a while!

It’s a lot to take in, but that’s only the superficial side effects.

The biggest risk through all of this is infertility. At some point my ovaries will just switch off, and there’s a good chance that they won’t switch back on again. Which means if we want kids, it’s time for some hasty IVF.

We’re only allowed one cycle, because the chemo needs to start and also the estrogen-heavy IVF drugs are just what my estrogen positive cancer likes to eat most.

As Prof E so aptly put it, there’s no point worrying about fertility if you’re dead, so basically there’s no use ruminating about this one. Fingers crossed we can freeze a few embryos before chemo begins, but if we can’t… Well I guess there’ll be a lot of lucky rescue greyhounds in our future…

So on Friday we started the whole fertility journey, just as a bonus. I’ve got to admit I’m all blogged out right now but I’ll update you next week on this, right now it’s just a stack more blood tests, ultrasounds etc to figure out the likelihood of a successful egg harvest. We’ll know next Friday if it’s worth giving this a shot or just going straight to chemo.

Sounds like Monopoly doesn’t it? “Go directly to chemo. Do not pass go, and do not collect $200”.

Again, a whole lot of you have sent me some really amazing emails. And I’ve been crap and not responded. My defence is that I’m really tired, and still on some heavy pain meds, and my arms hurt, and every two hours I get a call from the hospital checking if I’m ok, which makes me wonder if there should be more wailing and gnashing of teeth going on? I’ll try to write more soon…

x

Walking will get you everywhere

I’m so happy to report that I’m writing this from the comfort of my own bed, a full 48 hours before I ever hoped I’d be here.

It turns out the big secret to getting out of hospital early is walking. Lots. Right from very beginning. I think the close family member who whispered that secret to me last week might be regretting passing it on right now.

It was pretty controversial, me leaving hospital early. Both my parents were concerned that it was too soon. (It probably is). But the plastic surgeon Dr M said I could and my ward nurses agreed. Did I mention how much I love Dr M? Anyone who can check out a bilateral mastectomy patient’s chest 24 hours after surgery then look in her eyes and say “you look absolutely beautiful” has my eternal love. Eternal.

The surgery was long, about 6-7 hours. I woke up in pain, with a lot of bruising and swelling, and four rather yucky drains hanging from my armpits. It’s hard to move when you’ve had major surgery in your chest and it has the interesting twist that the longer you lie in bed, the harder it is to get up as the swelling and fluids sort of pin you down.

Bless the nurses, within hours they’d asked if I thought I could walk to the bathroom (assisted) and as I flat out refuse to use a bedpan and have retained my dignity pretty much this far, I got straight into it.

And from there I walked. Firstly with a nurse as outrider, wheeling my IV alongside, then solo once I started refusing the IV painkillers. I did that really quickly too – both anaesthetic and morphine give me the panics an also delirium as it turns out – more on that later, I was off both within 24 hours.

Next discovery, pain is infinitely better than fear. As I see it, pain is your body healing. It’s there saying to you “be gentle, I’m working hard here just to stay afloat”. It tells you what’s going on, what is hurt and needs help. Pain is also temporary (or so I keep reassuring myself). But fear is terrible, suffocating and doesn’t have a natural end point. And the concept that fear can be a by product of high end pain meds? Well, spare me the meds.

I’m a person who walks off my problems, so walk I did, carrying my four drains and with my underpants clad ass hanging out of my gown. Underpants? Sheer bloody luxury, I couldn’t even get in to those for the first 24 hours! I figured that maybe the whole ward might be inspired by my shuffling underwear clad butt and I think they were, soon after there were lots of patients doing laps of the ward.

At the 24 hour mark, my nurses nicknamed me “little miss vital” because my vital signs were so good. I like this nickname a lot, I think it’s the best one I was ever given! As I walked I got to know some of my fellow patients and got myself a little social network, not to mention getting to know all the staff on the ward. Those guys are amazing.

Again it proves to me that pretty much everything comes down to outlook. I had a series of neighbours who came out of less serious surgery than my own, who sobbed and whined and demanded that the nurses move around their pillows and flat out refused to even sit up or press their own pain or call buttons. And they just lay there, in pain and miserable. No-one is rewarded for a victim mentality in hospital, but if you’re prepared to try, and push, you’ll have the whole ward cheering for you.

All the nurses have been training for City to Surf, and I’d joke with them that I was doing North to South right here on level 8.

I also got so many beautiful flowers (thank you, good people!) that the ward looked like David Jones Spring Flower Show and all the other patients had their bedsides covered in various gorgeous flower arrangements as well. K, the young girl I mentioned in my last post went home a few hours before me, thank goodness. In the end, Elaine, who was my oldest ward buddy (70, and in with a hernia) was wheeled off to her new ward in a cloud of flowers. I hope they stay fresh and happy for the rest of her time there.

What else can I tell you? I still have two drains in- I’m carrying them in a purple library bag that the breast cancer nurses gave me and I empty them myself at night. This whole process has helped me get over a lot of my natural squeamishness- chatting to patients will all their precious fluids flowing happily in and out of them sort of does that.

My breasts look better, although they’re still covered in dressings so I won’t confront the whole (nipple free) truth until Thursday when I see Dr M again. They’re strangely lacking in sensation (something I was warned of). If you’ve ever had local anaesthetic and given the affected area a poke you’ll know what I mean when I describe the sensation- the flesh feels like flesh, and your brain tells you “your flesh is touching your flesh” but all it feels like is a squishy fleshy rubber glove. Still following? Probably not.

There’s lots more to tell, but this post has been long enough. If you’ve been plotting a visit, or wondering why the hell I haven’t answered your email or text, bear with me. The oral pain meds I’m on leave me spaced out for a fair bit of the day and I’m also not eating much (nausea from antibiotics) so I’m not energy triple plus right now. I decided that it was family only this weekend but next week is for friends so I’ll be in touch soon.

Lots of love…
x

Thanks for the mammories

The thing I wasn’t prepared for with whole cancer thing was the waiting. Waiting for the biopsy, waiting for the results, waiting to meet the surgeon, waiting for the gene test, waiting for the surgery. It’s now been two months since I first went to the doctor to talk about a lump I’d found under my nipple, and still I’m waiting.

I’m currently sitting outside one of 1000 admission desks in St Vincent’s, waiting. I’m not even sure what I’m waiting for any more.

Today is my pre-admission day. It’s involved a lot of paperwork, and even more injections. I was quite excited to revisit my friends down in Nuclear Medicine this morning, but it wasn’t nearly as fun as last time. This time, I was injected four times in each breast, 8 needles in total. And it HURT. For the first time in all of this, I shed a tear. I really try not to show weakness during the various procedures, but my poor breasts have been through so much at this point!

The test was a fascinating one, however. The nuclear dye injected into my breasts then travelled to various sentinel nodes, tracing a path that the surgeons will follow tomorrow. This shows how the cancer cells could theoretically travel through the breasts and tells the surgeon which nodes to remove for biopsy. I now have numbers written all over my chest in permanent texta- I’ll get Charlie to take photos later.

I feel better about the fact that until this morning I had no idea where my ‘nodes’ were- it turns out they can be just about anywhere!

This is a steady process of letting go- letting go of my dignity, letting go of my breasts, letting go of my control.

On the weekend, being the good sculpture student that I am, Charlie and I made a plaster mould of my breasts. This was Charlie’s idea, and one that I really love. When all this is over, I’m going to get my beloved breasts cast in bronze… A dignified end for them I think.

So that’s mostly it really, waiting waiting waiting. Trying not to develop a needle phobia. Saying goodbye to my breasts. Yep, thanks for the mammories….

x