Monthly Archives: September 2020

16 Inches

I am now 11 days post-op. For me, it has gone fast. Probably because I have done a lot of sleeping. For the rest of the people living with me it has probably been slow. Probably because while awake I complain? My main restriction is that I cannot lift more than five pounds. That is virtually everything! This is hard to do and annoying for everyone. Isaac and Chris has been awesome in helping out! Eli has done fairly well understanding I cannot lift him and we have figured out ways for him to climb on my lap and me to use my legs to give him a lift if needed.

Since before the cancer diagnosis I have wanted to get my hair done. I have made appointments and for one reason or another had to cancel. When I was diagnosed and found out I would be receiving chemo that would take my hair I thought, what is the point of spending all that time and money getting an awesome hairdo. I have gone back and forth with this over the last month and half.

As chemo draws closer, about a week and a half away, I decided that at the least I needed to cut my hair shorter to make the losing of it less of a mess. I was trying to remember the last time I got a haircut. I am not one to spend money on “girly” things so hair is often put on the back burner. As I thought back, I believe it was just prior to Eli being born. Roughly two years ago! There may have been a cut since, but I cannot remember it. Regardless, my hair was long. Nearly to my waistline!

A sweet friend had offered to cut my hair for me and has been my hair lady for a while now. We finally were able to get a time and date scheduled and she, being her awesome self, came to my home! I didn’t get a before picture and almost missed the cutting of the ponytail. She had just snipped the first snip and I said, wait! Chris take a picture!

The ponytail measured about 14 inches! She took off an additional couple of inches to make a final cut of about 16 inches. I have saved the ponytail so that I can donate it. I am still researching around for the best place and would love feedback if you have donated your hair in the past. All I know is that there are a lot of people out there who want/need wigs and prefer real hair over synthetic. The amount needed to donate varies by the organization, but I encourage all of you to donate. Hair does a lot for your self-esteem and overall attitude.

This is one of the hard parts of cancer. I know it is just hair. I know it will grow back, eventually, but knowing I will lose it all in a matter of weeks is difficult. Maybe even more difficult to me than losing a breast. I know that this too shall pass and that hopefully this time next year my hair will be back. But this has been hard! I’m actually excited to see if comes in curly or a completely different color! I have thought about getting a wig, but have decided to just do wraps and such. I can change them up and there are a ton of cute ones out there. I can show my personality through the headgear I sport.

Why did I decide against a wig? There is only two months where I will be getting chemo that kills my hair. Then the hair will begin growing back while finishing up the final chemo medication. I can’t justify the cost of a wig for such a short amount of time. There is no way to k ow how long it will take for my hair to return, but since it will be wintertime And would be wearing beanies and which anyway, I will take that route and use the money I would have spent on the wig to her an awesome hairdo once it all comes back in.

We were told that roughly two weeks after starting chemo (my start date is Oct. 6) I will lose all hair from head to toe. For some they eyebrows are spared (weird). How it falls out is different for everyone so we have to decide if we shave my head beforehand or let. Happen naturally. If you’ve gone through this I value your input!

I will leave you with the after picture of my cut. I love big earrings with short hair and I think I will enjoy big earrings with head wraps. So look out for some cute ones and share with me where to get them if you find some.

Five Days…it’s all a blur

We are officially five days post-op and there isn’t much I remember about the last week. I will start with how I’m doing. All in all, I am doing well. There is pain and discomfort, but it is manageable with rest and the pain medicine I was sent home with. (Tylenol 3)

Let me try to give you the “Reader’s Digest Version” of everything since surgery. I checked in bright and early Wednesday morning and was nearly immediately taken back to the pre-op area. I was put into a gown and an IV started. The town was temperature controlled and I thought that was so cool. I took a picture to send to my family.

The rest all happened so quickly, for me anyway. I was told that Dr. B had encountered some issues in the surgery before mine and was running a bit behind but not to worry. She’s a pro at shaking it off and taking the next surgery. In my wait, which I later learned was a couple hours, I had nice conversation with my OR nurse, the anesthesiologist, and my pre-op nurse. I knew what the plan was and I was just waiting my turn. Dr. B came in to see me and make her marker mark of which breast she would remove. We confirmed that we were all in agreement and she went to scrub in. I was told I would be given something to relax me. I remember them saying it was going into my IV and I remember them releasing the brakes on my bed. I have no clue how I got to the OR…I believe I remember being told to scoot onto the OR bed. The next thing I remember is several people, including Dr. B standing over me. I saw two huge lights, that were not turned on, and Dr. B saying something as a mask was put on my face. Everything was kind of foggy. Like I have seen on TV before. I couldn’t really hear anything but I knew they were talking. Those must have been some amazing drugs.

Don’t remember taking this, but it looks to be right as I got checked in. 8am

That was it until I awoke in recovery. They said I had been in recovery about 30 minutes already. Again, brakes on my bed were released and I was told I was being taken to my room where Chris was waiting for me.

My room was nice and cozy!

According to messages to family that I saw later, I got to my room about 1 pm. Surgery had taken about two hours from start to getting to my room. The rest of the day I remember very little. The thing that sticks out the most was how dry my mouth was. I, thankfully, did not need to be intubated during surgery but medications had dried my mouth out. I tried to eat and could not get enough saliva to swallow. That was so odd. I also remember being very hot. Telling them I was soaking wet and could not cool off. They brought me in a fan and a cool rag. Thankfully, that passed quickly and was the result of the anesthesia.

Another thing that sticks out to me and still makes me laugh is that the nurse told me the dye used to identify the “gateway” lymph node would make my urine blue. Very quickly after getting to my room I was helped out of bed and to the restroom. They weren’t joking. It was BLUE. Like 2,000 flushes blue. I got a good laugh out of that. I slept off and on most of the day, but they did get me up and make me walk the halls. I sat up in a chair before being moved back to bed for the night. I must have gone to the bathroom 50 times. I remember having to call the nurse over and over and feeling like they had just left. Each time they came in with a smile and walked beside me to make sure I did not fall. I know Chris was there but I genuinely cannot remember even talking to him! I wonder what our conversations were like…

About 9 the next morning Dr. B came in to check on me and asked if I was ready to break out. I was given the all clear to head home. The discharge process was quick and we made it home by 11. Just barely 24-hours after the start of surgery. That day (Thursday) I was still pretty out of it. A few people brought food over and stopped in to check on me but I have little recollection. I’m sure they have some stories and I cannot confirm if they are true or not!

I have taken it very easy, but still getting up to move around and use my arm. The doctor told me that was critical to recovery. I was sent home with one drain that I empty twice a day. It sounds worse than it really is. The plan is for the drain to stay in place for a week or two.

During surgery they also put in a port that will be used for chemo. There was minimal discomfort with that and it is healing up nicely.

As for how I feel now, five days later, I get worn out quickly. I have had to sleep in an upright position on the couch since coming home. There is quite a bit of swelling under my arm and sitting upright helps the fluids move out of that area. The exercises I was told to do feel good. The stretching doesn’t hurt, it provides relief.

My family has helped so much. My parents were here those first few days I was at home and it was wonderful having them around. Isaac is a huge help and so caring. Eli understands mommy can’t pick him up, but he is always welcome to crawl in my lap for snuggles. Chris, as always, is my rock. He holds me while so cry and says all the right things. The church has been providing meals and taking care of us and we are grateful!

One final thought about surgery. Prior to going in, my OR nurse and I were talking about Dr. B and I asked what music she plays. She told me she prefers “Old lady rock”. She mentioned a few of Dr. B’s favorite songs but I can’t remember any of them. I then asked if she ever sang during surgery. The nurse said, yes. That means surgery is going well. If we hear her signing we all relax and know that things are under control. I told her to let me know if Dr. B sang during my surgery. I received a thank you card upon discharge and the nurse had put a note in there, “Dr. B sang!”

God was watching over me and all those caring for me. He heard all the prayers and provided good results! I follow up with Dr. B Thursday and will find out this week when the next part of treatment will begin.

UPDATE: Apparently I wrote a very similar blog post entitled “Surgery Day”. The reason these blog posts are very similar in content is because I don’t remember writing the first version! Like I said, it’s all a blur. I didn’t realize until I was looking back at my posts! Someone could have told me!

Great news!!!

I have made it home from the hospital and am resting well. During surgery the doctor said all my lymph nodes looked good but we were waiting on a final pathology report to confirm the cancer had not spread to the nodes.

Dr. B just called me and said the lymph nodes were clear!! She also said that the right breast had seven, yes SEVEN masses. All were removed with the mastectomy. We still plan to hit treatment hard so that this monster never returns.

God is good! All the time!