New boobs and new friends

The air bags are out and the implants are in! Too much information — sorry!

It’s now been five weeks since my most recent surgery and hopefully one of my last. This was a pretty involved one although it only meant two days in hospital which was amazing but brilliant.

A 6am hospital admission was followed by a visit from my reconstruction surgeon who drew all over my chest with a permanent marker before I was wheeled down to pre-op where I was met by my general surgeon and the anaesthetist.

The general surgeon had his turn first, removing my ovaries and tubes – a decision we made based on the fact that I have the BRCA2 gene, which increases risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Not that I was aware of the changeover as I was well and truly off with the operating theatre fairies, but the next surgeon then came in to remove my the air expanders that had been in my chest since January and had totally outstayed their welcome.

They were bloody awful things and I was ready for them to find their way into the rubbish bin. The implants are a lot softer and more natural and I can now even sleep on my side – which is sheer bliss!

Purple Brad day June 2016
At Nicola Peachey’s bootcamp with Sharon for Purple Bra Day

 

In the weeks following this, my fourth surgery since my breast cancer diagnosis in October 2014, bootcamp called. I’d never done a class before and the only reason for this attempt was to support fellow breast cancer survivor Nicola Peachey who hosted the event to raise money for Breast Cancer Care WA’s Purple Bra Day.

Nicola and I met in June last year when I spoke at Breast Cancer Network Australia’s Pink Lady luncheon. She came up and introduced herself and I will be forever grateful that she did. She’s been an amazing support over the past few months.

Incredibly, at the bootcamp, I ran into another gorgeous woman who I had met (although she was a lot clearer about our first meeting than I was). Sharon re-introduced herself to me. We were both at a Look Good Feel Better workshop last year. Now we both had a head full of hair (check out mine below) and were coming out the other side of treatment stages of our life battle. People come into your life for many reasons, and these two have certainly entered mine to help with my sanity! They are absolute gems!

July 2016
My hair is getting longer — woohoooo!!

 

From here there may be some ‘minor’ surgeries but they are more for cosmetic purposes.

Most importantly our little family of four is counting down the days until we head off overseas for four weeks. In 82 days, 2 hours, 38 minutes and 22 seconds (the Countdown app on my phone is very specific) we’ll be on our way to the USA. We all need something to focus on and we can’t wait to create some more amazing family memories.

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Underestimating and wishing!

Meeting the fifth major player in my medical team took the wind right out of my sails yesterday.

Here I was, seemingly about to breeze into a five-week stint of radiotherapy with the idea that my two follow-up surgeries could be over and done with by the end of the year.

Well, I was way off!

Everything has gone as well as it can since my breast cancer diagnosis last October. Scans all showed the tumors were contained, chemo was degrading but the outcome was the best we could ask for and surgery appears to have depleted my body of those nasty bastard cancer cells.

The radiation ‘clean up’ will be time-consuming and monotonous — but I only see it as one of the small hurdles (like those the under 7s start with at Little Athletics)!

Next stage is a mastectomy on the other side and, at the same time, reconstruction of that side and a complete rebuild of the other. None of these things HAVE to happen. But they are likely to save my life!

As one of those ‘genetically challenged’ people with a BRCA gene mutation (my doctors reckon they know most of us by name) my chances of cancer rearing its ugly head in my other breast and /or my ovaries are increased. So I’m chosing to lose them!

That means an even longer time under the knife and in recovery than I thought.

Underestimating the time it may take my skin to heal after radiotherapy was the first lapse of time I inconveniently overlooked — as was the time needed between the first part of the reconstructive surgery and the second.

In the scheme of things, I hope, when I look back in 10 years’ time it will be a tiny, minute spec of my life that I had to put in the hands of this BC. It’s just that it’s all been a bit overwhelming this past 24 hours to think of what lies ahead in the next 9 months (not the next 4 as I really hoped it would be).

What is a few months though hey? Well I’ve already been part of this fight for 10 months so a few more can’t hurt.

Trouble is I just wanted it all over and done with, to live life not defined by cancer. That will come — as a family we all know it will — it’s just going to take a bit longer than my impatient mind and body had hoped!

Date night with hubby last week
Date night with hubby last week