Category Archives: BRCA2

Chest exercises after reconstruction

I’ve never been good at push-ups, but I could at least crank out 10 or so on my knees prior to my surgery. Most mornings I would wake up and do push-ups, crunches and other accidents.

After having a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, it is very difficult to do push-ups and other chest exercises. I would assume it’s because my implants are behind my chest muscles. I am continuing to push through the exercises and hopefully, it will get easier.

Thankful

I know everyone on Facebook has been posting what they are thankful for everyday.  I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, but I figure I’ll post a few things I’m thankful for today. 

I’m thankful for my loving husband who has stood by my side during the past two years dealing with cancer and doctors and surgeries and my whining.  I’m sure I haven’t been easy to put up with especially since starting menopause this past summer.  As far as I know he has never complained, which I’m very grateful for. 

I’m thankful for my beautiful daughter who is wise beyond her years.  We have tried to keep her in the loop with surgeries and treatment because I felt so left out when my mom was diagnosed.  I think my family was trying to protect me, but in the end I feel that it hurt more because I didn’t know what was going on or how serious it was until she died.  I never wanted H to feel left out or unsure of what was going on. 

I’m thankful that I have a job that was very understanding.  They worked with me through everything and have been very supportive.  I would not have made it through all of this without them.

I’m thankful that I have the ability to vote and make my voice heard.  This year I became more active with the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network to make sure our lawmakers know that we need more funding for cancer research.  Hopefully, in 7 years when H turns 18 and has to be tested for the BRCA gene, there will be more options.

I’m thankful for family and friends who prayed for me.

This past two years have been trying, but I’m thankful that they are now behind me. 1 biopsy, 1 cancer diagnosis, 4 surgeries and countless doctor visits.

NaBloPoMo is here

I’ve been debating whether or not to participate this year.  I have plenty of things to blog about, so finding a topic isn’t the problem.  It’s finding the time to actually sit down and do the writing. 

Here are some of the topics that I want to discuss, so I have them in one place and can come back when I think I don’t have anything to write about:

  • hysterectomy and oophorectomy
  • DisneyWorld
  • football dinners
  • football season
  • Rachel’s Challenge
  • my cancer journey

I will probably use Saturday and Sunday to just post a couple of pictures from the week or any that I like. 

We’ll see if I can get farther than last year.  🙂

Stuff I need to do

Maybe if I put them down, I will actually do them.

I have several blog topics in my head that I need to get written:

  • total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy surgery in June
  • Coaches Outreach weekend in June
  • Disney World Vacation in July
  • football season – upcoming

I need to start meal planning for our Monday night football dinners.  The boys have already requested spaghetti for the first week, so I need ideas and recipes for the other 9 weeks to feed 10-20 hungry football players. 🙂

I need to get into the garage and get rid of crap.  I need to set a date for a garage sale and follow through.  We have stuff that has been in boxes since our house was broken into in 2003.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need it anymore if I haven’t needed it since then.  We also have stuff in newer boxes from our move in 2010.  Haley has a ton of toys and clothes that just need to get out of my garage. 

I’m sure there is more stuff that I need to do, but at least this is a start.  Maybe I’ll get to work on those blog topics when I’m not busy at work.

2011 in Review

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Had surgery (3 actually).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t think I made any resolutions last year.  If I did it was to lose weight and I think I stayed pretty constant throughout the year.  I have set a goal to lose weight this year.  We are doing the Biggest Loser at work again for 5 months and hopefully, I lose at least a pound a week and I will be happy with that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My boss and his wife had a baby.  They have been trying for several years and were working on adopting when she got pregnant.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

None

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Patience

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 10 – Lumpectomy
June 7 – Bilateral Mastectomy with tissue expanders
November 1 – Exchange surgery to remove tissue expanders and replace with saline implants
December 29 – Plastic surgeon told me that I didn’t need to see him anymore unless I had any problems.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving the year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not keeping better control of our finances.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Unfortunately, yes. Breast cancer and testing positive for the BRCA2 gene which resulted in the other surgeries.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Jason for sticking beside me through all of it.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

There are some people who will remain nameless that caused me to check my head at their behavior.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Doctor’s appointments and surgeries.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I can’t say that there was too much to be excited about this year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Martina McBride’s – I’m Gonna Love You Through It

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier. this time last year I was scheduling my lumpectomy to remove my cancer.
b) thinner or fatter? about the same
c) richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stayed out of doctor’s offices

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

We stayed home.  Christmas Eve we went to church and then to my Dad’s for our annual Christmas Eve get-together.  Christmas morning H woke us up at 4 am and then again at 6 am to open presents.  We went back to bed until it was time to get ready for church and then we went to Jason’s dad’s house for lunch after church.  Then we went home and played with the Xbox Kinect. 

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

More in love with my husband for standing by my side.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

I loved the Voice and that introduced me to Adam Levine and Moves Like Jagger.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No

25. What was the best book you read?

I read many books this past year.  I read all of John Locke’s Donovan Creed series. I read Water for Elephants and then was pleasantly surprised that the movie didn’t deviate from the book. I can’t remember when I read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, but I’m pretty sure that was this year, too.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Adele.  Now I know what I was missing.

27. What did you want and get?

Not having to do chemo and/or radiation.

28. What did you want and not get?

a fun vacation

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I can’t say that I had a favorite.  I enjoyed the Smurfs with Haley and I watched Midnight in Paris last week. Nothing else jumps out at me as my favorite.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 31 and I was sick with the flu.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having to deal with this whole cancer crap.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Very casual – jeans and t-shirts with my flip flops.

33. What kept you sane?

Jason and my friends.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

None

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

I tried to avoid political issues this year.

36. Who did you miss?

My mom – I think this year would have been a lot easier with her here.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

The wonderful nurses at my surgeons’ offices.  I need to remember to pick up a gift card for one of them.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

This verse stuck with me all year – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 
Even though these definitely wouldn’t have been my plans for the year, but by going through it now, I do have a future.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more breath
Just take my hand, together we can do this
I’m gonna love you through it.

No more drains

I had my follow up with my plastic surgeon this morning and thankfully, he removed both of my drains.  He is very happy with the way everything looks.

I can drive now, but I still can’t return to work.  I can’t exercise. I can’t lift anything more than 10 pounds.  I can’t lift my arms over my head.  But I can take a shower without having to worry about those stinkin’ drains getting in the way!

I see him again on Monday to have my stitches removed and then I can go back to work.

I have to wear a supportive bra 24/7.  Right now I’m wearing a post-surgical bra that they gave me at the hospital.  After my shower tonight, I will try on some of my other bras to find the most comfortable ones and to figure out if I really am the same size. 🙂

Now I will enjoy the rest of my week at home.

P.S. I did work for about an hour today from home and it was more comfortable than being at the office.

One Year Ago

It’s hard to believe that everything that has happened this year, started one year ago on November 3, 2010.

That’s the day I went for what I thought was going to be a baseline mammogram at the age of 30.  I never even thought that it would end up with a cancer diagnosis and then bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.  This has been a long year.

Cancer was always a possibility in the back of my mind.  When you lose a parent at a young age to cancer, the worry is always there that it’s going to happen to you.  I was 11 when my mom was diagnosed at the age of 42.  She died a year later.  I grew up quickly at 12 years old.  I also learned to keep everything in and not to depend on anyone else.  I was going to be the best and do it on my own.  This year was a lesson in letting others help me.  Even at the hospital it was hard for me to push the button for help, so I did it as little as possible.

At home it’s even harder to ask for help because i don’t want to feel like a burden to Jason.  I know he doesn’t see me that way, but I feel that way when I need help just to get up and go to the restroom.  He is wonderful to me and I hope he knows how much I love him and am so grateful to have him in my life.  It’s been a bumpy road but I guess that’s where the vows: for better or for worse and in sickness and in health come in to play.

August 1st

I can’t believe it is already August 1st. Almost two months since surgery, so I figured it was time for an update.

Surgery was June 8th. I was in the hospital until the 10th. Everyone at South Texas Surgical Hospital was wonderful. If you are local and have a choice, I highly recommend it.

Both surgeons were very pleased with the results. I have yet to look in the mirror and probably won’t until after my next surgery. Both of my doctors know and support my decision to not look. I have looked down and it freaks me out, so I think I think it’s better for me to just wait.

I have already had two expansions. My most recent was today. My plastic surgeon said that I probably only need one more expansion and then about six weeks after that, I’ll have my next surgery to take the expanders out and put in the permanent implants. I have 500 cc expanders and we have already put in 420 ccs of saline in each one. I’m ready to wear real bras again instead of sports bras.

The next step after that will be nipples. I have a couple of options there and am still looking at what will be best for me. Hopefully, all of this will be finished up by the end of the year.

I do need to visit with my gynecologist about having my ovaries removed, but I will do that at my annual appointment in October.

Overall, I’m still glad that I did this. The pain and the soreness are worth not having to worry every six months about breast cancer showing up again. I was very lucky that my cancer was caught early. I’m just ready for all of these doctor visits to be over. I know that I will see them several times over the next few years, but hopefully, those will all be quick, happy checkups.

Health Update

I’ve known this day was coming since February when I received my genetic test results, but now we have a surgery date.  June 8th, 2011 I will be having my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with expander reconstruction.  I will be in the hospital a couple of days and then will be at home for 4-6 weeks.

Over the next month, I will be cleaning up my office and make arrangements for the duties that must be done while I’m gone and figure out what can wait.  Thankfully, the taxes are done (corporate and individual).  The taxes (as well as Jason and Haley’s school schedules) were the main reason for waiting. 

I talked to my big boss today (I have 4, but only one actually oversees my work) and he told me that he will meet with me several times over the next month, so we can work everything out.  He said that he would even spend more time in the office if necessary, so that I won’t worry about things getting done. We’ll see how that works out.

I need to make an appointment with my plastic surgeon to go over what exactly is going to happen.  I have a pretty good idea from researching the internet and from April’s blog.  She has been a lifesaver to me.  She has even been brave enough to post pictures and I hope she realizes how much that has helped me. 

I would love to be able to provide the same type of support, but all I can think about is my husband’s students finding the pictures.  Password protecting the pictures would be an option, but I wonder how many women would actually email me for the password.  That is something I need to decide in the next month.

Hopefully, I will update y’all each week leading up to the surgery.  I’m sure that I’m going to get more nervous as it gets closer, but I do know that this is the best thing for me.

Book Suggestions

When my journey with breast cancer started, I realized that there was a ton of information out there, so I didn’t know where to start.  I didn’t have much time to process the DCIS before I was in surgery and having the cancer removed.  Afterwards, all I had to do was wait for my genetic test results.  I didn’t find out about these books until after I received the news that I carried the gene, but hopefully, I can help others know where to turn.

My friend, Justine, told me about a book her friend had mentioned.  What We Have: A Family’s Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival by AmyBoesky.  I haven’t had a chance to read all of it, but so far it has really touched me.  The author was only 32 at the time she wrote the book, so our ages aren’t too far apart.  The main difference is that she didn’t have cancer, just the gene, so I guess that’s why I haven’t finished reading it.  My situation is just a little bit different.

While I was looking on Amazon at What We Have, I looked through the other suggestions and came across Positive Results: Making the Best Decisions When You’re at High Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer by Joi L. Morris and Ora Gordon.  This book saved my sanity.  I was reading it up to the moment we walked into the oncologist office.  I didn’t want to just skip ahead to the chapters I thought I needed to read, so I was reading so fast because I wanted to get to the chapter about understanding the genetic test results.  Finally I had something in writing that explained in plain English what my results meant.  I also realized how important a genetic counselor is in this process.  I am so frustrated with my gynecologist for not referring me to the only genetic counselor in Corpus Christi.  Instead, he chose to have the blood drawn and sent off and then never explained the results.  Yesterday, I met with my surgeon and he is going to send me to the genetic counselor because there are still some things we need to talk about like when to tell Haley and when she should be tested.  I don’t have that appointment, yet, but I’m getting my questions ready.

The third book I purchased for my Kindle was Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions by Dina Roth Port.  I’ve read a few of the chapters, but haven’t finished it, yet either.  This book documents 5 ladies who all carry the breast cancer gene either BRCA I or BRCA II.  I know that I will pick it back up again soon, but I’m trying to finish the other books I am reading right now. 

I hope that if you are ever facing the decision to get tested for the BRCA I or II gene that you find a genetic counselor and also check out these books.  I’m sure there are plenty of others out there, but these are the top of my reading list.