Monday, July 29, 2013

"My Breasts Don't Define Me". Gag.

Rant of the morning...

I was reading someone else's breast cancer-related Facebook page and someone had commented (regarding reconstruction), "breasts don't define me". Oh, how I loathe that. 

If it were reconstruction of any other body part, people just wouldn't say that! Your body is your body. If you choose not to reconstruct, that's absolutely your prerogative, but don't play the "I wouldn't be so vain as to reconstruct - GASP - breasts!" card. (I know that not everyone does this. I'm just venting!)

My breasts didn't define me but they sure were a big part of me. (Snicker. Pun not intended.) I am more than my funbags but it doesn't make me love them any less. 

I'm sure I'll have a longer post about this at some point but just really wanted to get this off my chest. (Snort.) 

Hoping off my soapbox now... 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Dancing

I'm going to say something that will probably piss more than a few people off. 

Cancer may have threatened my life in unimaginable ways but strangely, I think it may have saved it, too. 

(Let the backlash begin...)

In the few years leading up to my cancer diagnosis in March of 2012, I dealt with a variety of significant personal and work-related issues. My stress level was at an all-time high. The migraines that plagued me for nearly 30 years had gotten so frequent that I had to switch medications twice in a matter of weeks. They wouldn't simmer down.

The depression that I had battled off and on for the majority of my adult life had also decided once again to rear its ugly head. I bit the bullet and made an appointment with my family doctor to rule out any other possible issues and to begrudgingly ask for a prescription for Prozac - my happy pill of choice.  

The bottom line was that I wasn't happy at all. I felt useless and hopeless and drained of emotion. I could be silly and laugh and joke, but when I was alone, my brain wouldn't calm down. It was a downward spiral that I had been down before and was afraid of heading there again.

After describing all of my woes and symptoms to my doctor, she ordered blood work to see if I was actually pre-menopausal, which would explain quite a bit of my issues. This was in December of 2011. 

Two months later, I found the lump in my breast that would ultimately lead to my diagnosis of stage IIB, triple negative breast cancer. I would have to endure  13 rounds of chemo, 30 radiation treatments and removal of both breasts. 

Now that I am nearly 8 months post treatment, I've had plenty of time to reflect and do what I do best - over-analyze. 

I have had one pretty minor migraine since I started chemo about 16 months ago. ONE!  I haven't gone a stretch like that in decades. I rarely get headaches now, period. Those that I do get are usually knocked out with a couple of Advil. No prescription meds!

Given all the shit I've gone through mentally and physically in the last year and a half, my stress level is a fraction of what it's been the last 5-10 years.  I am still taking my happy pills like a good little girl and clearly, they're working. 

I appreciate life in a different way now. I hold those that have been there for me very close to my heart and try to tell them often how much i appreciate them. All others? Well, I don't waste my precious time worrying about them. They didn't worry about me! 

I'm eating better. I'm sleeping better (finally!). I'm making better and more thoughtful decisions. I'm trying to be a better person overall. 

I will never cop to thanking cancer for any of these good things. I wouldn't rather have those things back in my life at all but cancer was placed in my way and for whatever reason, I was able to recover. Regardless of what my future holds, right now, I'm stronger, healthier and yes, happier, than I've been in a very, very long time. 

I'll say it again...

I am happy. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

19 years and counting!

To my most awesome husband, Matt, 

Someone was clearly looking out for me when they put you into my life over 20 years ago. From the best of friends to our lives as a married couple, we've certainly seen our ups and downs. 

We've had all of our vows played out in brilliant technicolor. For better, for worse... Check. For richer, for poorer... Yep, got that. In sickness and in health... Oh hell, yeah. We're stronger for the obstacles life has given us. 

I'm proud of you and I'm proud to be your wife. Thank you for being the man you are and loving me for who I am. 

Happy 19th anniversary, baby.  

I love you. 

-- Nancy


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cleavage!

I am pleased to announce to anyone that cares that cleavage is back in da' house!

Whoop, whoop!

During my expander phase, I had a weird wrinkle in my skin that made my "cleavage" (using this word very liberally here) look like a freshly shaven vagina. Yep. I said that. Nope, you can't unread it. You're welcome. 

Thanks to McBoobie's handiwork, the weird clea-vagina is gone and I have just one chestal crevice. While my boobs are still not perfect by any stretch, they're more normal for sure. His main concern at this point was to create an attractive "V" area on my chest. I'm pleased! 

I'm not ready for down-to-there shirts quite yet but I will freely admit that I've checked my cleavage out many times over the last two days. Interestingly, it's also just about the only area on my chest where I have any sensation at all. That little valley is all I get. 

I'll take it. :)

Excuse me. I have to look down my shirt again... 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hair, hair, hair

"Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair"

To me, hair is just hair. I've never been too emotionally attached to it and always had the opinion that it would just grow back if it was too short or a bad cut or whatever. 

Enter cancer. 

Like many people, I cut my shoulder-length hair short in anticipation of chemo. I had always said - WAY before my own cancer - that if I ever got it, I'd shave my head rather than waiting for it to fall out. I did just that once the first clumps started to fall through my fingers and didn't look back.

I've said before that I never shed a tear over it. Welllll, that's a bald-faced lie. (See what I did there?) I did cry. I cried that first day, not for my hair, but because it was real. Chemo was affecting me. That was just one of cancer's many sucker punches. 

It's no secret how much I loved my mohawk. I'm such an attention whore and that shit got some attention! It was fun and unexpected and one helluva conversation piece. If I hadn't lost my hair, I would have rocked that fucker for the duration. No lie. 

Being bald was also no biggie. It was empowering and freeing and so convenient - especially in the brutal Texas heat. I didn't mind it but didn't want to stay bald. It did invoke the "poor you" look for sure. I was definitely happy when it started to grow back. 

I wore my short, choppy hair like a badge of honor. I was a cancer survivor and this was part of my visual proof. I'd see people with like 'dos and feel a sense of camaraderie. It's like bus drivers or motorcycle riders; I wanted to do the "you're one of my people" nods. 

In the 10 months since I finished chemo, I've had six trims and have colored it a few times. People would compliment me and would ask if I planned on keeping it short. I couldn't imagine long hair again. It was just so convenient short. Why would I ever go back?

Yeah, I've had a change of heart. 

My hair is currently in an in-between stage. I feel like it either needs to be a little shorter or a little longer. The color looks like Joan Jett - The Frumpy Years due to a bad bottle job choice. I finally came to the conclusion that I want to let it grow. I want to be able to tuck it behind my ears and have style options. Most importantly, though, is that I don't want the constant reminder of cancer. It's the sole reason that I sport this 'do and I'm over it. 

I'm not going to go all Crystal Gayle or anything and will likely not go past my chin but it's time for a change. Shedding one more "skin", I guess. 

I'll be sure to post pics of the really cute awkward stages. I dread the thought of clips and pins and - oy - headbands to keep my wazzy tresses under control. I may lose patience and buzz it all off but I will try. I've been through FAR worse than letting my hair grow of course. 

It's only hair. It'll grow back. 

Cue the hairy, naked hippies...

"Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy"


Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's National Cancer Survivors Day!

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day. I've seen a mixture of reactions from the cancer community. There are some that are so thankful of their survivor status - regardless of what the future may hold. There are others that are now faced with the devastating diagnosis of stage IV/metastatic breast cancer, which has no cure. Fortunately, at this point, I belong to the former group of people. 

I consider myself a survivor. 

I survived the initial diagnosis.
I survived 16 rounds of chemo.
I survived 30 rounds of radiation. 
I survived two surgeries; one of which, required complicated microsurgery. 
I survived losing my breasts. 
I survived being bald - all over my body. 
So far, I've survived CANCER. 

How this is NOT a survivor? I understand that everyone's experiences are their own and I don't begrudge people for going through this awful journey in whatever way they need to. I do believe; however, that you can be a current-state survivor. In my humble opinion, if you're living, you're surviving. Perhaps that's too simplistic. I like simple. It doesn't make my little brain hurt. 

As Destiny's Child said:

"I'm a survivor
I'm not gonna give up
I'm not gonna stop
I'm gonna work harder."

This is my life. I'm gonna rock it. 

Survive on, my friends. 




Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And the surgeries keep on coming...

Happy Tuesday!

I saw McBoobie today for another follow up to my DIEP/prophylactic mastectomy surgery.  He was a chatterbox, which is unusual, but we had a lot to cover! I think, too, that it's because this is his element. The expander was too, of course, but it's really just a piece of the cancer puzzle. The reconstruction is his big gig. This is full on plastic surgery. 

He said that my scars were all healing well and noted that my tummy was still swollen (whew... I was worried that it was chub overflow!). Now that my incisions are healed, I need to make sure that I keep them moist. (Yes, I said that word. Blech.) While Aquaphor is my "lube" of choice, he said that I can really use anything, from lotions to scar creams, etc., at this point. He reminded me to massage the scar along my stomach to help keep it smooth and help break up scar tissue. He ran his finger down the incision in demonstration and I grimaced at the grody factor. It didn't hurt but it just feels so... nasty. And no, not in a good way. 

I've known that I'd have to have another surgery after this one. As I've mentioned previously, it's fat grafting, which is basically lipo on my stomach, hips - or wherever else - and then replacing that fat into my fledgling boobs for contouring and symmetry. 

As it stands now, Frank looks to be a good two cup sizes smaller than my healthy side. The radiated skin really won't stretch further so the left side will need to be lifted as well - again - for symmetry. I have divots on my upper chest on both sides from the removal of tissue. It's more prevalent on the right side because the radiation effectively zapped it. 

This surgery will take approximately 2 1/2 hours or so. It's outpatient surgery this time. Recovery is expected to only take a few days, which is a welcome change. I'm really amped to look like I was dragged behind a Greyhound bus, but given when I've already gone through, this should be much easier to manage. The best part? NO DRAINS! Woot!

I was told that I may need another fat grafting session after this one. He can only move so much fat because each fat cell needs to have a healthy cell to live. Too many fat cells could mean that they may die and get absorbed back into my body. Sounds yummy, right? 

I'm thrilled that I'm healing well and can do most normal things now. I'm still not lifting anything but my minions have been more than helpful in that area. I'm NOT so thrilled to be a science project, though. I trust McBoobie and am looking forward the the finished product. 

In other news... I will return to work next Monday. While I am absolutely stir-crazy, I'm so glad that I had the time to recover as stress-free as possible. I'm anxious about finding clothes that I'm comfortable in.  I am the same size that I was pre-surgery. I may have a flatter tummy and smaller boobs but my weight is the same. Of course, I haven't tried on any pants yet, so we'll see. 

The uber insecure part of me doesn't want people to look and me and think (or God forbid - SAY), "She's still fat! What kind of tummy tuck is that?" Of course, they can fuck right off, but I hate feeling like I need to explain - even though I really don't. That probably doesn't make any sense. Sigh... 

At this very moment, I genuinely am happy. Happy for my life and the support I have. Happy to be healthy. I know I'm a work in progress and as McBoobie told me, this is really an exercise in patience. We all know that patience is a virtue that I struggle with but I'm trying... 

Okay... These Sex & The City reruns are confirming my stir-crazed state. Off to find something more interesting and productive. 

Ciao, peeps!