Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day Six after Fat Transfer

It's been six days since my surgery and healing is slow going.  I had it in my head that I would be completely back to normal by now, but that has not been the case.  My spirits are definitely high, as I'm thrilled I'm done.  But the pain from the liposuction continues.  Luckily, it's not unbearable and will be gone in just a week or two.

I went to the plastic surgeon's office today to have all my stitches removed; there were about 15-20! Then I asked them to tell me about the fat.  The doctor removed 750ccs of fat from my waist, upper and inner thighs.  And after processing and using the best suited fat cells, based on location harvested, he injected 300ccs into my right breast.  With the breast starting out at 600ccs, then adding 300 more, it's "almost" the size of the left.  With clothes, you can't tell a difference.  But the goal now is to be as careful as possible for a couple weeks to make sure all the fat stays there and doesn't die off.  I guess I'll save the lighted tassels for another day.  Kidding!

I also made a visit to the Oncologist to check in, have some laughs, and get some bloodwork done.  My arm is DONE with needles at the moment.  I've been stuck six times in the past week!  Anyway, he's so pleased with how I've recovered.  My thyroid is completely back to normal levels now.  And I only have SIX infusions left of Herceptin.  ONLY SIX!!  Woohoo!  That will complete one year of the protein blocker.  And once I'm done, I don't know that there is anything left to give me, unless I start the five year treatment with Tamoxifen.  We'll see how it goes.

This cancer journey is quickly coming to an end.  Thank goodness!

Here are some pics of how the bruising is looking. Swelling has gone down a great deal, but I won't see final results for a month or two.  Still happy though!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Join Me to Race for the Cure!!

Today is the day to take some action! The Race for the Cure is September 27th this year. The race raises money for Susan G Komen foundation. 75% of the funds raised will stay here in my community and help pay for diagnosis and treatment for women like me. The other 25% goes to help fund new research and cures for breast cancer.

There are three ways you can be a part of it. You can join my team and race or walk with me. Registration is $30 and will get you a tshirt and spot on the team to raise money. If you want to be on the team to help raise money, but can't be there that day, you can join to Sleep in for the Cure. Registration is $37 and you still get a tshirt and the ability to raise funds. The last way you can participate is to just directly donate to the Anncredible team.

I have set the fundraising goal at $3,000 because I believe that's how much they spent on getting me tested and diagnosed last year. This will be my way of paying them back and helping someone else get the same.

So, decide which option is best and follow the link to my team page. I need at least 20 team members! We need to be a force to be reckoned with!!

I promise to only harass you with this on 4 occasions... Today, Once in August, and twice in September before the race. So join me now to help raise as much money as possible before September 27th!

Why I do it

I'm floored by the responses to my story being featured on the Breast Cancer Site and through their Facebook page.  My video now has over 14,000 views!  And my blog hits are around a 1,000 a day!

People are so full of kindness, love and support.  I can't tell you what it means to me to be surrounded by such wonderful people that know the meaning of empathy, and that help champion this fight against cancer and my fight to get my kids back home.

I was talking with someone yesterday about my blog, and he was explaining that it helped his mother make informed decisions after her recent diagnosis with breast cancer.  And I said, "That's why I do it".

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was the first person my age, or in my group of friends, that had gotten it.  Most of my fear was because I didn't know what to expect.  My only experience with breast cancer was seeing the Race for the Cure women wearing pink and raising money for Susan G Komen.  And I thought, "Okay, I wear pink, I run in a race, and I'm cured".  But as we all know, that's not the reality.

I have shared my story very openly for a couple reasons.  First, it's very surreal to go through this fight.  I see what's happening around me, and I feel the feelings, but it still doesn't feel real.  Even now, looking back at photos and reading my posts, it doesn't feel like it happened to me.  So it's a great way to remember and document my experience.

Second, I share my experiences, good, bad and ugly, because I want other people to know what happens when you get diagnosed with breast cancer.  It's not about wearing a pink ribbon. And it's not all about death.   It's about a genuine fight to get through each day.

There are going to be days you will wish you were dead.  There will be days that it's just a relief to be able to blink without pain.  And then there are days when you feel like you can do anything.  The pride and feeling of accomplishment that resilience brings is one of the best feelings in the world.  I never knew what I was capable of doing.  I never knew how strong I was.

My story is my own.  Everyone has their own version of life and their struggle.  I choose to share mine with the world because it's makes me feel like I'm connected.  It makes me feel like you all fight with me.  And in turn, you get to see the world from my perspective.  

Sharing your stories with me moves me.  And it makes me feel like maybe my pain and my struggle were for a greater purpose.  We're all on this path of recovery together.  And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being a part of it with me.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

O.B.B. Update- Day 2 after Surgery- Slightly Graphic

I spent yesterday, the day after surgery, feeling like I had been hit by a truck.  I spent most of the day resting, with the occasional exhaustive fight with Spanx.  All the places that had been liposuctioned felt as if I had been hit with a baseball bat.  My body was swollen, sore and bruised.  Around 5pm I finally gave in and took Tylenol, mainly because I knew I had to pee soon, and I would have to wrestle with the Spanx once again.

I finally got a chance to get a good look at myself in the mirror last night, for the first time since before surgery.  I'm super swollen, by a lot, but they said that will go down in a few weeks.  In the meantime, I'm taking diuretics and anti-inflammatory supplements like Gotu Kola and MSM.  The swelling was down by almost half of this photo when I got up this morning.  The bruising is a little better than what I expected, but still not pretty.  Again, that will go away soon.   And there are, in fact, thirteen incisions from the procedure.

And then I took a look at the "end result" of my new breast.  To be honest, I thought it would be a little bigger, because with fat grafting, you lose 20-40% of the fat cells.  Some just don't survive, and a lot of that depends on how good the surgeon is and how careful you are until they get a blood supply.  So, I'm trying to be extremely careful.

Regardless, I'm still very, very pleased with the work the surgeon has done.  Even he says that it's his best one he's ever done.  It looks beautiful.  And the rest of my body is so much slimmer with my new, flat stomach, and now thinner thighs.  The next step is getting rid of all these scars with some silicon gel.  I'm finally excited.  I'm not the same person I was when I started this cancer journey.   And now it shows on the outside too.

In a couple months, I will see the final result of the battle I've been fighting for the past year. I've crawled my way out of a dark hole and I'm standing tall in my freedom....

feeling a little like Andy Dufresne....

Friday, July 25, 2014

Operation Bigger Boob- You Down with O.B.B.?

Thanks for all the great thoughts and prayers today everybody!! Surgery was a success, and I'm feeling pretty good. No nausea this time from surgery because I requested that they avoid narcotics. But this was pretty painful by the time I got home, and every time I move, the incisions leak blood. From what I can tell, there are about 10-13 incisions, and think only two have stitches that I should get out next week. I'm bruised and swollen on my upper chest, stomach and hips, and upper and inner thighs. I have to wear Spanx for the next two weeks to help compress my skin back into shape.

So far so good with everything though!! I'm now off all pain meds, just 10 hours after surgery. I only had to take medicine once, which was only one Tramadol when I got home. I'm so relieved to be done with this step. And I'm thankful for my friend Shanna who got up at 5:15am with me this morning, and stayed by my side entertaining me.

The hospital staff was wonderful today, and we all had a great time. We joked, laughed and were all excited to do the procedure. As they were strapping me down to the operating table, I yelled out, "It's 50 Shades of Surgery!" and we all laughed hysterically. They quickly sedated me after that to have their way with my new boob.

Now that this is done, I'll be back to my plan of getting healthy. In just the past couple weeks, I've been able to ramp up my workouts to include the treadmill on full incline, workout tapes, resistance training, and I'm able to swim 30 laps at a time in an Olympic-sized pool. I'm eating low-carb and mostly organic straight from my garden. I'm taking my supplements every day, and my hair is growing so fast and thick. I'd say I'm in better health now than I was ten years ago. There's no stopping me now, and I'm not ever going back to cancer again.

This notarized statement from my doctor says it all for me. I may even have it framed....

And here are some pics from surgery today....

Before Surgery

On the way....

After I woke up

Friday, July 11, 2014

Growing Garden Pics

Cucumbers are growing so fast!

Cantaloupe and Watermelon plants are escaping

This zucchini plant is kicking butt and taking names!
It's taller than my wheelchair ramp and four feet wide

I love coming out here every morning to see the magic that's happened overnight

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Fifth and Final Surgery!

I am now on the schedule for my last surgery!  I will be heading back to Spartanburg on July 25th for my final surgery.  This one should be fairly easy in comparison to the previous one, and I should be heading home by that afternoon.

This surgery will be a touch up surgery to the breast reconstruction, and will include, scar revision, liposuction of my hips and stomach, and then liposuction of my upper thighs, then transferring that fat to the new breast to make it match the other.  I am choosing not to do nipple reconstruction.  After that, I'll be on my own to tattoo a design on my new breast.

I'm so excited!!