May 4, 2012 by Julie
Today I spent the morning at the hospital with my family. My future brother in law was just diagnosed with testicular and renal cancer. When I got the news from my sister I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. This is my baby sister and her sweetheart. How in the world could this be happening while they are falling in love and planning their wedding. Just took the wind right out of me. I feel sad and angry and a bit overwhelmed by it all. ENOUGH WITH THE FREAKING CANCER!!!! He had an orchiectomy surgery and we await the pathology from that surgery and then he will have his kidney biopsied next week. I’m so grateful he is on the journey to taking care of all of this but goodness it is so intense. It makes my heart break because he is such an amazing guy and I’m so grateful my sister has found him.
But back to perspective. As we were sitting in the waiting room I was surrounded by family and friends who have all had intense things in their lives. Each of their stories is quite overwhelming honestly. But there we all were…sitting there, survivors each in our own way. I am grateful. I am humbled by the whisper that is our life in this large world. Our lives are a mist. Be grateful….be still…be intentional. Soak it all up because in an instant…we are dust.
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,cancer,family,Surgery,waiting | No Comments
February 14, 2012 by Julie
Tomorrow marks 2 weeks since surgery. The incisions on my back side are healing nicely. I do still have my two hip drains that I will keep for 2 more weeks. They are a pain and they keep me from feeling like a normal person. I can’t wear normal clothes because they are bulky and have to have room for them. I will be sooo grateful when I am able to get rid of them.
The right breast is healing well. It looks so normal and the nipple looks untouched. The left breast is a bit gross right now. Because I had to have the sentinel node biopsy on that breast it complicated the surgery a bit. It has a huge scab over the nipple that we are keeping covered with Silvadene (Silver Sulfadiazine) to help it heal. Eventually the scab will come off and hopefully the nipple will have survived. I have no idea how long this will take. I am grateful my mom is here because honestly I can’t even look at that nipple right now. It makes me a bit nauseous.
I have to wear a bra 24-7 (minus showering) and though it’s stretchy and “soft” it’s getting to be very uncomfortable. I have to wear it for another two weeks as well.
My breasts today feel stiff and tight. Different than they have felt so far. It is so weird to have them and not be able to feel them. It feels as if I have something strapped to my chest. I am adjusting. I am sleeping better. Did I mention I can’t wait until these drains are gone. Seriously hate that part.
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,medicine,nipple,pain,recovery | No Comments
February 12, 2012 by Julie
I have had a very hard day. I’ve been having adverse reactions to the pain medications that I have been taking. I feel so overstimulated and prickly and uneasy from the inside out. Thankfully we have decided to quit taking these meds and try something different tomorrow. It is an awful feeling…like when you have a limb fall asleep…that prickly feeling as it’s waking up…that’s what I feel all over my body when I take those medications. So goodbye Percocet and Lortab. May I never need you again in this lifetime.
In the middle of the day was a special treat. My sister paid for a local woman to come over and give mom and I pedicures here at the house. It was so sweet and relaxing for the most part. My pain meds caused the end to get a little weird because my senses were overstimulated and I could hardly breathe…everything smelled so chemically strong even though it wasn’t. I did sleep this afternoon and though that was good I still feel awful and can’t wait for these meds to be GONE from my body.
I felt as though the whole day was ending on such a sad and sour note. I was feeling down and very sorry for myself. It’s in these moments that I feel regret for choosing this path. I feel sad that I don’t have to be feeling this way but put myself in this situation. Let’s just put it this way…it’s not a good place.
And then tonight around 9 pm. I got a message in my facebook inbox. The person is my friend but not someone I regularly see or speak to. We had been more involved in each other’s lives before there were 6 children between us. Our paths have crossed from time to time but I did not know her story. Tonight she shared her story with me. She wrote about her mother’s breast cancer at age 45 and losing her father just a few years before that. Her mother survived that battle but has now been faced with another area they will biopsy. She had been talking to her mother about me and her mother decided to get the BRCA testing done. They are still waiting on results and then will decide on their path after those results are in. It was an amazing story but the line that really struck my heart was this.
“Following your story of empowerment has made me choose a path of empowerment over the path of ignorance that I have been on.”
I will sleep well tonight because my heart is full. Two women are DOING SOMETHING because I did something and wrote about it. Her sharing that with me today is helping me to keep on keeping on! It’s the sunrise on this dark day I’ve had today.
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,blessings,BRCA,breast cancer,decisions,family,fear,friends,medicine,pain,Sleep | No Comments
February 8, 2012 by Julie
I remember my mom talking about strange feelings in her breasts after surgery. It feels like I have an itch or it feels like a tiny sharp pain from time to time. I can’t itch it though. I have no feeling in my breasts. She said it was the nerves starting to reconnect. I’ll have to research that more. It’s a very strange feeling. The only thing I can compare it to is like when you have your mouth numbed for a filling and you can’t feel your jaw/cheek…that’s what my breasts feel like all day. It is WEIRD!
I also have lots of brusing so that I can feel and it hurts and oddly enough pain medicine doesn’t really do anything for the bruising pain. I had an oversized rib (dr said it was cartilage) that was located on my ribs on my chest and the plastic surgeon had to shave that away before he could do any reattaching of vessels and arteries. It is no longer there….that is weird. I am pretty bruised in that area as well.
The other thing that hurts lots tonight is under my left arm where they removed the two sentinel lymph nodes. It is so very sore.
I’m sure these won’t be the last thing that is weird!
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,fear,nerves,numb,pain | No Comments
January 31, 2012 by Julie
It was a beautiful day driving here to Charleston today. Sun shining down on us and clear skies…easy sailing. Baby girl has been sick for several days and today she was really happy and perky and feeling so much better. That was exactly what my soul needed. I was so worried about her. My mom and I went out to dinner tonight and these were my two fortunes. I thought they were pretty awesome. I think the hardest part about this whole experience is that it is a bit of a surprise…I don’t know exactly what to expect on Wednesday. I don’t know what it feels like to be in a hospital not giving birth. I haven’t ever been intubated. I haven’t ever had surgery (minus removing a couple wisdom teeth..hah). I certainly haven’t ever spent 5 days in a hospital. I’m definitely unsure of how my body will react to all the drugs. How quickly will I recover? Will it hurt lots? some? beyond belief? less than I could imagine? I don’t feel anxious but I feel calm, serene…I am peaceful but quiet.
I did get a call from the breast surgeon’s office today and they decided that based on my MRI from last week that they would like to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy on my left side during surgery on Wednesday. Just another little bump in the road but another thing that will give us more information and help me have a healthier future.
Category The Journey | Tags: baby girl,biopsy,charleston,plans,travel | No Comments
December 10, 2011 by Julie
We had all the bills come in today for Scarlett’s broken foot in October…xrays are not cheap. That on top of the cost of my biopsy, mammogram, ultrasound. We still have so many medical bills from this year, dental bills, etc…and the funniest part is that we were really all well all year. So today as we were discussing the cost of my surgery it came up that maybe we should postpone the surgery another year. I really have no idea how we are going to work another $5000+ into our budget for 2012. So very grateful that we have health insurance and that this is even an option so that I am not facing a $200,000+ cost…but wow…still a lot to swallow. I’m feeling really overwhelmed by the cost.
Category The Journey | Tags: bills,biopsy,decisions,expenses,fear,finances,insurance,waiting | No Comments
November 17, 2011 by Julie
That huge gust of wind you just heard was my mother breathing a sigh of relief. I got the call from Dr. Stallings today that the biopsy results came back with no sign of cancer. Such a relief and so grateful. As my good friend reminded me “Now you can have your surgery on your time.” This is a big deal. I will be leaving next weekend to go to Charleston to meet with my potential surgeons. I am planning so much for next year but I get to do it as a healthy person…cancer free. So grateful that I don’t have to wait until I have cancer to do something about this. Having the opportunity to be proactive is such a blessing.
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,breast cancer,charleston,family | No Comments
November 14, 2011 by Julie
I just realized that tomorrow is my birthday and likely the day that I’ll get my biopsy results. I’m voting for no cancer news on your birthday…talk about Debbie Downer.
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,breast cancer | No Comments
November 12, 2011 by Julie
Friday I went in for my breast biopsy. I had a 1 mm spot on my ultrasound that Dr. Stallings felt was worthy of investigation. I went in to have her do a needle biopsy and aspirate the fluid and we will send it off to pathology to see if it is cancerous or not. I believe she did a core biopsy as well. I should really ask more questions. My mom met me at the breast center. It was a very quick and simple procedure. They numb the area and then I didn’t feel anything after that. She said I would bruise quite heavily since it was near the muscle. So far I show no bruising though I was pretty sore yesterday. I am pretty sure the waiting is tougher for my mom than for me. I don’t have any feelings that this is cancer. I can’t do anything about it until Tuesday or Wednesday when I hear from Dr. Stallings so I am really just fine. I know my plan of action should anything come back negative and it is the same plan should everything come back normal.
I am so grateful for the support I feel I am getting from friends and family. You never really know how your friends will respond to you telling them you’re going to have a mastectomy even though you don’t have cancer. Most of them tell me I’m being brave. To me it isn’t about being brave but about being smart. I’m actually pretty scared but I feel like my knowledge overpowers that fear. It really breaks my heart that there are so many women out there who won’t have the BRCA testing because they are afraid to know.
I met another BRCA + woman at the breast center yesterday. She was in for a lump and planning her prophylactic bilateral as well. She seemed positive, strong and smart. I gave her my email…I hope she contacts me. I met another woman there whose mother was going through radiation. She said she herself was in that office all the time because she always had lots of lumps. She seemed more nervous, unsure of what was going on and uninformed about what might be going on in her body. Knowledge is power. I hope after our conversations she reads up a little more about her situation and becomes empowered.
I feel strong. I feel smart. I don’t feel brave yet but I know I will. I will BE brave when the time comes to be brave.
Category The Journey | Tags: biopsy,BRCA,breast cancer,decisions,family,fear,surgeon | No Comments