Monday, July 25, 2011
Actually I cannot write poetry very well, but I have always loved the word Ode, and I figured that if I'm getting my booby cut off, then I can pretty much use whatever damn word I like, even if it's not perfectly accurate.
My SIL, M, has a friend who wrote the most wonderful poetry for her bridal shower a few weeks ago. She included a poem with every present -she even wrote a sonnet about her bath mat! That is some cool friend!!
Alas, my post today will NOT include a sonnet about my boob, but I might have to talk to my SIL and ask her if her friend could write a nice one for my boob, posthumously.
Today is my last day with my boob. Tomorrow I will be the one-boob wonder. I realize only for a few months while I work on expanding my new - stretch mark free! - robo-boob. But these past few days I've been taking moment here and there to admire, squeeze, bathe, gaze at, caress, tan, oil, perfume and rub ointment into my surgical incision above my nipple so that my booby will look as nice as possible on the day it gets cut off.
I cannot imagine what it will be like to have it gone after 40 years together. (well, actually, 40 minus 14 since that is the age I was when they popped out, overnight, practically) and became what they are today.
When I was 25 and my boobs were fabulous, I lived for awhile on my own in a one bedroom apartment in E.Lansing, right off MSU campus. It was a very spacious one bedroom, and when my good girlfriend at the time divorced her husband and abusive stepson, I let her move in with me and share it while she got back on her feet.
We had an amazing time together, she is hysterically funny, and used to call up the am radio show in town and do all sorts of characters for the dj's that she was friends with. Due to necessity of timing for our jobs ,and the fact that I had only one bathroom, we ended up getting ready in the bathroom at the same time. (and also because ALL girl room-mates giggle, have pillow fights and jump on the bed whenever they have the opportunity to do so, just watch 'the man show', it's totally true.) but....I digress....
The bathroom was such that the vanity/sink was separated by a little alcove from the shower tub and toilet, so there was a bit of privacy there. My friend K, would get up first, shower and then start to get ready at the sink. I would get up, and shower while she was in there, and inevitably when I would turn the water off and open the curtain to get my towel, she would say, dramatically (and with an Australian accent)..."dum dum dum...it's NAKED WOMAN" (imagine Robin Leach saying "these are the livestyles of the rich and famous and you will get an impression of what this sounded like. If you are too young to ask "who's Robin Leach?", I'm going to have to ask you to leave this blog and never speak to me again). It was hysterical. She cracked me up every time. Eventually, since we also liked to go to a bar at MSU campus and play serious pool and drink Sam Adams in large mugs, we decided that we had to come up with a super hero comic strip storyline that was about "Naked Woman".
By day, a mild mannered customer service representative, by night, dum dum dum it's NAKED WOMAN and her side kick, Sudsy Girl. Naked woman's super power was her mesmerizing breasts. One look at her mesmerizing breasts, and the villain would be instantly struck powerless, thus allowing capture, arrest, and ultimate incarceration as necessary. Sudsy Girl was covered in a big pile of soap bubbles that floated around after Naked Woman and helped her out, as all good side kicks do.
The beauty and subtlety of the comic strip version of Naked Woman (which, unfortunately never came to fruition) was that the reader never actually got to SEE Naked Woman naked. This, in my opinion is what made it ART and not just porn. :) Maybe you'd see her dark silhouette cast from a streetlamp while she apprehended her villain. Maybe just a leg, or an arm or a portrait shot in the frame, but no one EVER got to see Naked Woman in all her glory. It was just too overwhelming, sort of like viewing a god in greek mythology....just not possible.
The other beauty of the idea was this- It was TOTALLY plausible! How many petty criminals and thieves (alright I'm being a little sexist here) would stop and stare at a completely naked young woman who told them to "STOP RIGHT THERE!" They TOTALLY would!!!
Alas, my friend K moved out and on with her life, I found my hubby, got married, got pregnant, got old and saggy and NAKED WOMAN moved on into the shadowy recesses of memory.
But..... if this were the movie version of that comic strip that never was.....in the final scene....NW would be on the table, undergoing the mastectomy and reconstruction and faintly, as a voice-over, you'd hear a man's voice speaking to sudsy girl......"we can rebuild her, we can make her firmer, perkier, stretch-mark free....we can bring her back!"
Cut to black........
this is not the end.....
Sunday, July 24, 2011
"A further meaning of the word yoga is 'to attain what was previously unattainable.' The starting point for this thought is that there is something that we are today unable to do; when we find the means for bringing that desire into action, that step is yoga. In fact, every change is yoga." T.K.V. Desikachar in "The Heart of Yoga".
This morning, I practiced with one of my yoga DVDs for the first time since before my surgery. It's been so long that I actually don't remember if it was before my first or my second surgery that I practiced to calm my mind!
I've been doing yogic stretches and postures here and there since then, of course, but not a focused practice. My old stand-by is Suzanne Deason's "Beginning Yoga for Stress Relief" by Living Arts (now Gaiam). I've been using this program this for so long I had to replace my original VHS with a DVD!
This is my go-to yoga- the one that I recommend to anyone just starting out, and the one I go back to when, like now, I've let my practice slide a little bit. It's easy enough to do when I'm out of practice (in fact, when I first started out, some of the asanas (postures) were difficult for me to do!) But true to the nature of yoga, I can always find some challenge in an asana that I've been doing for 8 years - a little deeper, longer, straighter, more focused, align my breathing better - something - that brings me back to this simple little 20 min. practice every time.
I had good intentions to resume my practice at Cascade Yoga Studio- my favorite around here- in these weeks before my surgery, but as we so often do, I got busy, I ate too close to the class time - I found an excuse to skip the practice. I'll go tomorrow! or the day after or the day after. Well, now I am out of days for awhile to go out to class - my mastectomy is in two days!
I realized while talking with my hubby last night that I've been afraid to find out what changes have happened to me since my last practice - my sentinel node biopsy has greatly restricted my range of motion in my left arm; I can barely hold it out straight by my side. Sweeping swan dives during a simple sun salutation are definitely out of the question at the moment! This is really difficult for me, being a 'gumby girl' as my hubby calls me. I understand my strength limitations- I know that I can be stronger if I practiced more, but I have always taken pride in my range of motion and flexibility that is my inherent gift.
So, here is where yoga comes into play. I am forced to make a change; I cannot do what I did before, I must find a different way of doing, thinking, being. My little 20 min practice is my baseline, I know what I can do and I can gauge my improvement or my lack of practice when I go back to the practice that I know so well.
The lovely part of yoga is that just being there, breathing, in the moment is considered a successful practice. I went upstairs to our very warm third floor 'yoga studio' and did my practice this morning.
Here is what I found: I can pretty much do everything I could do before with some modifications: instead of raising my arms over my head in Urdhva Hastasana (Upward hand pose) I put my hands on my hips and concentrated on alignment and evenly stretching my front and my back. Same with Trikonasana (triangle). Hand on hip rather than raised up straight in the air is a completely acceptable alternative and brings new opportunity to tweak something else in that pose- work on elongating both sides of my waist evenly, keep the back of my neck long.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), one of my favorite poses, is very challenging now. It is the nerves in the under side of my upper arm that are painful, so I found that I could either go less deep in a balanced pose and concentrate on the small stretching of that more painful side, or go deeper on the right side in order to get a good stretch there, but be off balance. Balance is always better in yoga, in my opinion. Accomodate the side that needs more, in order to help it grow, versus favoring the strong side at the expense of balance.
I realized that here again, I am learning new ways to use yoga to help me with the changes that are happening with my body. I can use the simple poses that I know so well to help me with my physical therapy of getting back as much functionality on that left side as is possible- I just have a new baseline. After Tuesday, I will REALLY be out of balance, I'll be missing a boob! The lesson I have learned today is that I can 'go back' to the beginning and work from there, this is not failure or pain or loss, this is change. This is yoga, and I am happy.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
of one thing leads to another..."
"...don't fool yourself
into thinking things are simple
nobody's lying, still the stories don't line up
why do you try to hold on
to what you'll never get a hold on
you wouldn't try to put the ocean
in a paper cup.."
"...cuz i have had something to prove
as long as i know there's something
that needs improvment
and you know that every time i move
i make a woman's movement
and first you decide
what you've gotta do
then you go out and do it
and maybe the most we can do
is just to see eachother through it."
"..hour follows hour like water in a river
and from one to the next
we don't know what each hour will deliver
we just call it like we see it
call it out loud as we can
and then afterwards we call it all water over the dam.."
"..maybe the moral higher ground
ain't as high as it seems
maybe we are both good people
who've done some bad things
i just hope it was okay
i know it wasn't perfect
i hope in the end we can laugh
and say it was all worth it.."
"..we make our own gravity to give weight to things
then things fall and they break then gravity sings
we can only hold so much is what i figure
try and keep our eye on the big picture
the picture keeps getting bigger."
This is one of my all time favorite songs. I love Ani DiFranco. I was playing this song on my iPod on my way home today for the first time in a while and tho it talks about a failed love affair, it pretty much applies to life regardless.
I used to think this song was sad and tragic, but now I realize that it is exactly the way I am living my life right now- moment to moment and hoping that in the end I can laugh and say that it was all worth it.
I got am FB friend request from someone I've never met today She is friends with some friends of ours that we met thru the SCA when we lived on the East Coast. She sent me a message saying we didn't know each other but she thought that I sounded awesome and wanted to be my friend! HOW COOL IS THAT?
A woman I work with who is fast becoming an AWESOME GF (my Girl J) sent me a link about tattoos (This one in particular reminded her of me.)
WHOA there Hubby and any other men reading this who will STRONGLY disagree, but let's face it, it's like a man's package...yes, we can say it's attractive cuz me know what it's capable of, but really if you take the sex part away, wouldn't you rather look at a really nice piece of art? That's what I'm talkin' bout!
|(around the nipple option)|
|cool buddha on a lotus option|
(According eastern beliefs Lotus bloom symbolizes rebirth. In Buddhism, it is the most essential symbol for spirituality and art.
|(above the nipple and then swing the stem around it? option)|
The lotus also denotes truth and enlightenment, especially to those of the Buddhist faith. In a lot of ways, it expresses the quest for truth and enlightenment amongst the darkness and struggles of life. excerpted from a blog at http://www.types-of-flowers.org/blog/meaning-of-lotus-tattoos/)
YOU KNOW I'm gonna want to show that bad girl off... but then, that might not always be acceptable in all situations, like in case I meet the queen of England or something like that. I was thinking that getting a pink ribbon tattooed on my left pec might be a nice little reminder, but then again, I've always wanted a arm cuff or a wrist bracelet tattoo and I thought tattoing a pink bracelet with the ribbon theme would also be cool. I suppose that theoretically I COULD do all these things, but I don't want to go overboard or anything like that :). So if you have any ideas or recommendations, feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think.
Oh, last but not least, here is a cool new community site called I had cancer. AND thanks to my punk rockabilly girl S, I got me a NEW user name.....so I'm changing it here too!!!!
This works a lot like FB in that you need to be invited in, so if you know of anyone who would like an invite, shoot me an email and I will send them an invite.
Here is the link:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
My hair is at a good length if I want to shampoo every morning and blow it out with product, but who wants to do that when I'm spending the majority of my time chillaxin' in the pool.??!!! It is NOT at a good length to be told-REPEATEDLY- that I am not allowed to use any hair product prior to any of my previous or future surgeries. Are these people trying to kill me?? seriously, I can go without deodorant for days, but my 'do just does not DO without product. Period.
I went to a graduation party this past weekend at my neighbor's house and there was a woman there 3 months out of chemo from BC with the CUTEST hairdo- just growing out from being bald. I thought....I NEED to go get my haircut now! and while I'm at it, why not bleach it platinum or dye it pink. so I did.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I have my oncologist appointment today, my voodoo witch doctor, hence the photo for this post. I LOVE this voodoo doll. I almost can't bear to use it, but maybe if I get desperate enough I will burn it. I'm hoping we will not get to that point.
At this point in time, I know that I will have to have some form of chemotherapy - Herceptin at the very least, to counter act the HER2/neu receptors that were very high on my biopsy report. Although I haven't done a ton of reading about it, from dealing with my Rheumatoid Arthritis, I understand the concept that this is something in my body (again!) that is acting inappropriately and getting all cranky and agitating the cells in my body to grow like cancer. If you want the less technical version of what I just described here is a link that gives some information that might be useful : http://breastcancer.about.com/od/diagnosis/p/her2_diagnosis.htm
....Additionally, because of the size of the tumor, I'm in the Stage 2 category, but luckily have no evidence of the cancer having spread to the right breast or the lymph nodes, I willl most likely get some other form of chemotherapy to make sure that any other misbehaving cells in my body don't get uppity and start forming cliques elsewhere. again, sorry to be so technical, but I AM an analyst!
That is the BIG excitement on the cancer front this week. Next week, Monday, I go in to the hospital to do my pre-surgical screening. I tried to go in on Tuesday, my birthday, but they didn't want to get me a cake, so I agreed to come in the day before. Brian will be in Atlanta on business, but I'm pretty confident I can drive to the hospital for some routine tests to determine if I'm fit to go into surgery next week. As long as they don't try and give me an IV--- AGAIN, I should be fine.
My surgery is scheduled for July 26th- High Noon...I want to get the soundtrack from the movie to play as they are wheeling me in....or whatever that one song is that everyone thinks about when you hear the words "high noon"...you know the one....I should probably google it to find out what song that really is, but in the meantime, I'm pretty sure that you know the one I'm talking about!
I'm going with a mastectomy on the left side, followed immediately by the plastic surgeon coming in and putting in a tissue expander under my left pec. This will allow them to slowly fill in the 'balloon' with saline until lefty is the size I want her. (the actual size is still under debate in my household- I'll let you guess who is voting for MUCH MUCH BIGGER and who wants 'eh, maybe the same size, maybe a wee bit smaller'.
After it gets to the much-debated "appropriate" size, then I'll go in for another surgery and Dr. Booby will put in the saline implant and do an extreme makeover on righty and I'll be good for a whole new set!
Happy Birthday to me!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Mom brought me my breast cancer quilt, too...finished in record time I think. It turned out awesome. I had her bring it into the salon so I could show it off to the ladies there. She gave me fabric markers so I can have people sign it if they like.
Today, I had to go get my MRI to check out the girls to see if there is anything else in there that the mammogram missed. Brian drove. On the way I saw a family of Sandhill Cranes out in the corn field just before you get on the freeway. Two adults and a baby. Made me smile.
The MRI was no big deal, I've had THREE in the past, not so much stress about getting another one, except that I am still really sore from the node biopsy and was a bit concerned about how having my girls hanging down into cups on the table was going to feel....no big deal, it went fine. I listened to Lady Gaga station during the test and tried not to tap my toes. I'm finding that my yoga practice is standing me in good stead these days. there have been lots of situations where lying still and breathing is coming in handy!
I had to get another IV tho, for contrast. first time I've had to get an IV for an MRI, go figure. I'm glad I didn't know about it ahead of time. This makes SIX IVs in the past 3 weeks. Luckily, it all went ok and I didn't even need a xanax ahead of time.
After MRI, Brian and I ran some errands at the mall, I had to return some stuff I bought that didn't work out. Then over to the plastic surgeon ....Dr. Looby. His office was really busy today, so he was behind. When we got called back we discovered why...he's also a hand surgeon, and ....Monday was the fourth of July. I was happy to show him that I had all 10 fingers intact.
Discussed my options. Despite my thoughts to the contrary, he doesn't believe that I have enough in my stomach OR my butt to do live tissue transplant for the reconstruction. He didn't even look at my 2nd butt to confirm. The back muscle 'comb over' that they can use just gives me the heebie jeebies AND the hillie willies, so I think we decided to do a straight saline implant for the left side. I really don't want to start feeling or looking like frankenstein with my butt as my boob, and my kneecap as my nipple, etc. etc.
All kidding aside, it sounds like the least complicated process and I'm ok with that. Now we just need to work around everyone's vacation schedules!
While we were waiting to get called back, I checked my voicemails. Dr. Beane's nurse left me a message to call her back. I knew instantly she was calling with the lymph nodes update and since she was asking me for a call back I knew it was going to be good news. Still, when she told me they came back negative, I burst into happy tears right in the waiting room of the plastic surgeon!
FINALLY some good news from a test during this whole crazy process. It's amazing the weight that was lifted as soon as I found out those results. In a way, tho, I almost felt let down. I've been living with so much ambiguity, such dire possible outcomes, when I thought about the fact that I was not stage 3 or stage 4, it was like, oh...well, it's JUST stage 2 breast cancer. Interesting the way the brain works in times like these. I guess I AM a drama queen at heart. I will just have to make due with a simple ailment, mastectomy and maybe chemo (maybe! probably, but maybe not!?). I think I can be content with that for now.
I got a call from a total stranger today. Well by 6- degrees- of- Kevin- Bacon standards, she is really not a stranger- she is my girl H's friend , who has lived through the whole breast cancer experience. She is also a minister. My girl H told me I might like to talk to her about it. Since I've decided I'm not turning down any "opptys" that come my way, I told her I was totally open to it. She is on vacation next week so we'll try to meet after she is back. I think the coolest thing about this whole thing is the fact that I've reached out to friends, family and even strangers and have found out how cool people are.
I love you guys!
Monday, July 4, 2011
I wrote up a nice long post on the 4th talking about my journey up to this point, since so many people have asked me...how the cabbage did this happen???!! but when I went to publish it, my computer took a big ole dump and I lost the whole thing. so...here is the MUCH abridged version, which gives just the basic time line.
Week of 23- Lump in left breast discovered (thanks Honey!)
Friday June 3: Appt with Julie my PA for my (0verdue) annual pelvic, pap and breast exam
Friday June 11: Mammography and ultra sound returned as "suspicious". Biopsy indicated. Googling informed me that 4/5 'suspicious' lumps from mammograms turn out to be benign.
Monday June 20: consult with Dr. Beane, my surgeon. He told me according to the 'cancer calculator" that I had a POINT 5 percent chance of having an invasive form of breast cancer. However, the now HIGHLY suspicious lump had a 20-40% chance of being malignant.
Thursday June 23: Excisional Biopsy. The surgeon told me he removed a baseball size of tissue out of my left boob...but that it doesn't look appreciably different...how is that possible???
Monday Jun 27: Dr. Beane preliminary diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma. I think I need to go play the lottery with those odds!
Wednesday Jun 29: final pathology report with Dr. Beane:
Diagnosis invasic ductal carcinoma: EstrogenReceptor positive (ER+ favorable) Progesterone Receptro negative (PR - not favorable). HER2/neu Expressed +3 (means it's agressive) , Bloom-Richardson Grade=3. Grade 3 is the most aggressive type of tumor. Lymphatic blood vessels-negative. This is favorable towards negative lymph node involvement
Mastectomy on Left side indicated, prophalactic on right possible. sentinel lymph node biopsy and MRI still required for staging.
Tuesday, July 5: Sentinel Node biopsy- they injected a radioactive dye and then watched on a nuclear scanner to see which ones lit up first. My lab tech looked like a very young Chad Lowe...I think he was about 12, though. Then I went into surgery and we took those nodes out. I had general anesthesia this time so I was very groggy coming out of surgery. I kept my eyes closed the whole drive home though, and didn't have a repeat of last time's midway drive flop sweat attack. I also didn't take the 2 Norco's before I left the hospital, just one this time and that seemed to work out fine. More pain this time, but I still managed to get out of bed the next morning (well, if you consider 1pm still morning) so I could head over for my pedi with Mom.
I figure if you are going to be fighting breast cancer, you should have nice looking feet at least!
Thursday July 7: MRI to check for further involvement in left or right breast. Consult with Dr. Looby (rhymes with Booby!) for surgical reconstruction options. One of the girls at the salon has heard of him and said he does AWESOME work. this makes me happy.
Wednesday July 13: consult with Dr. Zakum, oncologist. My girl M from work tells me he is DA BOMB and I am going to love him.
"...whatcha gonna do with all that breast, all that breast inside your shirt? Ima gonna make you work, make you work ya make you work" ~Fergie, BEP.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
People dancing, people laughing
A man selling ice cream
Singing Italian songs
Eh curare! Itza nice Ey!
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I've been waiting such a long time"