Almost Surgery Time

One week from today I will undergo a bilateral mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection, along with reconstruction. So basically I’m having my breast tissue removed, most or all my lymph nodes on my left side removed, and tissue expanders put in to make room for implants later on down the road. Sounds pretty violent right? All of those things happening and only one night in the hospital. I suppose if all goes well I will have some amazing perky breasts with killer nipple tattoos in a year or two. It really is amazing what they can do with a tattoo gun these days. The tissue expanders will be placed the day of surgery and will be slightly filled and then expanded over the next 8 weeks to my desired size. Very uncomfortable and painful at times from what I hear. My situation is a little different from my mothers and sisters, my cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes so radiation has always been the plan. After meeting with a radiation oncologist at Menorah, he suggested that I plan on doing radiation even if my pathology comes back negative for cancer. So the pathology from my surgery is going to be super important and will determine my next move with the killing of the cancer.  I would rather not do radiation but if will help further my life then I’m all in. Funny little story.  When the radiation oncologist came into the room he started off by saying how sorry he was to hear of my diagnosis. He explained that when my breast surgeon had presented my case at the board meeting, a year earlier before I had cancer, that they didn’t think a mastectomy was in my best interest because my sister and mother were BRCA negative. All the doctors were very surprised when my name popped up in June with a triple positive breast cancer diagnosis. I told him I was still just a little bitter. Okay, maybe a lot bitter. 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely nervous and scared. The thought of having to look at myself after the surgery is what scares me the most. It will take a lot of time and I’m sure I won’t let my husband look at me for at least a year or two, but the shock will eventually go away. Will he still love me? Will I look like an alien in a swimsuit? Can I love myself? Cancer is an emotional roller coaster for me and I don’t expect it to end anytime soon. It has changed me forever. I don’t know if I will ever be the same girl I was before but I will do anything and everything to be a good role model to my girls. I want to to be that amazing wife that husbands brag about (still working on that) and that mom that kids want to be around.  I am very thankful for my family and friends that have been there for me through the last couple months.


So the next week I will be nesting like a fool most likely and trying to gain back a little weight. My taste buds have come back almost completely so I’m enjoying foods that I haven’t had in months. I never thought I would miss salad so much but lettuce was not my friend during chemotherapy. Election night is tomorrow so maybe I’ll treat myself to some steak and potatoes and maybe even a glass of wine (God knows we will all need the wine tomorrow night). I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with my family this weekend before I’m confined to my house for the next couple weeks. 

Another funny story. So my husband and I ran up to Sam’s Club the other day and were approached by one of those people pitching a new product for the holidays. You know what she handed him? A hair straightener. Now if you don’t know my husband, he shaves is head. I didn’t have a wig on either so I was confused on why she would hand us a hair straightener to try. I’m still a little sensitive about the whole hair loss. Some people. 

Bye Felicia, I mean Chemo

After having to skip my Taxol chemotherapy last week due to low blood counts I was pretty bummed out. I was scared that I wasn’t going to get better in time for my my last treatment today or that we would need to push surgery back. So last night I sat in bed, Ambien-less, and thought about what life was going to be like moving forward.  I tried to remember what “normal” felt like. Many breast cancer survivors say that life never goes back to “normal” and that you will always have little things that you will deal with everyday. I’m not going to accept that. I will not let breast cancer rule my life (my four year old already excels at that job). 

Today was emotional. Very emotional. I finished my chemotherapy with no problems or set backs. I will still go back every 3 weeks until July for Herceptin infusions but they will be quick and easy, no side effects. 

​Next is a couple weeks full of many doctors appointments and recovery from chemo. On Monday, November 14th I will have my surgery at Menorah Medical Center. I will be have a double mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection with resconstruction. My lymph nodes were positive for cancer cells when this all started so we are just going to take them out. After we get the pathology back the doctors will decide what the next set will be. Some doctors are saying radiation and some are saying that I may not have to have it. Of course I will be getting multiple opinions from some great doctors.

Just wanted to say thank you to all my friends and family for the continued support. It is amazing to hear from people that I haven’t seen in years. I believe that if you surround yourself with good people that are kind, loving, and compassionate, you really have it all. I am looking forward to the future and spending time with the ones I love. 
And eating lots of great food. 

Giving Back

The ups and downs of chemotherapy are exhausting, just ask my husband. He has been such a trooper through all of this and I truly couldn’t do it without him. This week has been so much better than the last two weeks. Thank god. My tastebuds are slowly coming back and all the really ugly side effects have disappeared. My amazing oncologist and nurse practitioner have switched my chemotherapy to Taxol, which are lower doses and given in weekly treatments. Four more weeks!!! Hopefully these treatments have little to no side effects and I’m able to keep my counts up every week to keep on schedule. My surgery has been set for Monday, November 14th and I’m determined to get to that day so I will fight through the next four weeks. 

As the end of my chemotherapy comes to an end, I would love to do something to help put a smile on other patients going through the same thing. Chemotherapy has been the toughest and most depressing time of my life so far. The loss of my hair has been devastating. My skin is completely dried out and ashy. My nails are turning colors. I have lost so much weight and muscle that I feel weak. It has put me into a depression that I could never imagine. I feel unattractive and embarrassed by the way I look. I know it’s silly but it’s the truth. Hopefully I can help a little bit when it comes to helping someone else going through the same thing. 

As many of you may know, I am a stylist for Stella & Dot. I have put my business on the back burner lately because of my health, family, and my (real) job. I would love to do a little fundraiser/program for the other chemotherapy patients at the KU Cancer Center. We will call it “Sponsor a Pouf” and it is going to be amazing. All I’m asking is for you to buy a pouf from Stella & Dot and I will fill it up with some great goodies. I received some pretty great gifts from everyone during chemotherapy but it was the little things that most people wouldn’t think about that made the difference. Things like a great hand lotion, Chapstick, lemon heads, blush, nail files, lip gloss, and mouthwash. I used all these things on a daily basis. My goal is to sponsor at least 25 poufs and give them to the KU Cancer Center on my last day of treatment in October. I plan on using my commissions from the “Sponsor a Pouf” and our Breast Cancer Awareness Boutique to purchase some fun things to fill the poufs with. The poufs are just $24 and will run you around $32 after shipping and taxes. Just click the link below and at check out select ship to hostess and it will come right to me. Or you can paypal me or if you are in the area, just $27 and I will place a bulk order. 

Our Breast Cancer Awareness Boutique items are available now! I love the rose gold pieces…especially the necklace. It is so simple and classy. You need this piece. These would also make great gifts. 
There are so many women in my life that have been affected by breast and ovarian cancer lately, which is super scary. From now until October 31st, all net proceeds from the Breast Cancer Botique will be donated to Bright Pink by Stella & Dot. Bright Pink is a non profit organization focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women (ages 18-45).  

I would love your support. I would love to give some of these woman battling breast cancer a little gift in hopes to make their day just a little better. Shop this link for the poufs and some really great jewelry. 

https://www.stelladot.com/ts/zark6

#imsohungry

So I’m two weeks post chemotherapy and still am struggling to get better. This round as been the absolute worse by far. I had the brilliant idea of self medicating starting the day of the treatment in hopes of staying ahead of the side effects. Nope. Failed. Only I would get every side effect that each drug could give me. So basically I have been popping Ambien, Imodium, Hydrocodone, and various other pain pills. I’m frustrated with my treatment plan and honestly believe that I’m receiving too much chemotherapy. The treatment and after effects are getting worse each time and have begun interfere with my ability to stay positive. I want to quit. I want to get a second opinion. I want this to be over. 

One of my main battles is my taste and appetite, or lack there of. My mouth feels as though it was torched and then wrapped in a fuzzy sweater. Gross. Both food and drink tastes awful and I just force enough down to stay alive. My weight is dropped to 118lbs which is pretty close to what I weighed in high school. It’s feels super strange and not in a good way. All I dream about is food. I want pasta from Osteria Il Centro.  I want a Winsteds cheeseburger with crispy onion rings. I want a slab of ribs from Gates BBQ. Seriously, I just think about eating all day. 

This week will hopefully be a game changer. I have my first MRI scan since I have been diagnosed and hopefully it will come back tumor free and the lymph nodes clear. My hope is to have a clean scan and then get the amount of chemotherapy reduced for my next treatment. I’m scared to death to have my next treatment, especially if they don’t change it. I feel like I set up to fail on the dosage that I am on and that it will make things worse. I also meet with my breast surgeon this week to go over my surgery. Hopefully the surgeon will have some words of encouragement to help me get through the next couple months. I pray that I have the strength to make it through the rest of my chemo without any major hiccups. I pray that my family stays strong. I pray that I can eat at the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company.