● The Doctor Examined the Lump

I saw my oncologist yesterday, and thankfully, she says it’s nothing to worry about. She asked me if I’ve been fighting a cold recently. She thinks it could be an immune reaction in a lymph node or some sebaceous junk collecting below the skin’s surface. She said it’s very soft and kind of spongy which is inconsistent with cancer. It’s also less likely to be anything because it’s on the wrong side. I had an Oncotype DX test which put my recurrence rate at less than 5%. The other thing is that it’s highly mobile, and a tumor would tend to be more fixed in one spot. Also, cancer doesn’t hurt when you squeeze it.

I’m just so relieved. I’ve asked for an ultrasound anyway, just for my own peace of mind, but I’m confident. I feel like I have a new lease on life! I was so happy today, it’s ridiculous. Everyone noticed 😊

● Lump #2 😕

So, this is a post I was hoping never to write on a blog I was hoping never to use again. “Survivor” is forever. I don’t want to be downgraded to “Fighter” again. But, it may be so because I found a lump yesterday…

It’s the same as the first. It’s about the size of a pea. I can roll it around between me fingers because it’s right below the surface of the skin. It hurts when I squeeze it. What’s different? My boobs are gone, so if it’s cancerous, it found a tiny scrap of tissue to grow in. What’s Weirder? It’s in the OTHER breast – the non-cancerous one. So, that’s either good (because it’s less likely to be cancer) or really bad, because it spread.

I have an emergency squeeze-in appointment tomorrow afternoon. I’m sure it’ll just be for a feel and we’ll see from there. I’m crossing everything that it’s nothing.

● Breast Reconstruction: Results

I had my second post-bilateral mastectomy reconstructive breast surgery on November 21st, 2014.   It has now been three weeks since it was done and I am just about healed up.  I thought it might be helpful to young women such as myself who might be going through something similar to be able to see what things look like as the process unfolds.

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Just before the real boobs came off

A little background information: The first surgery was done at the same time as the mastectomy.  I had implants put in immediately.  Now, a year and a half later, I had some fat grafting to make everything look a little more natural.  It was just in time for the Christmas parties! The bruising continues to a minor degree, particularly in the breasts as there is not much natural blood vessel action going on there anymore. No problem, my party dress doesn’t plunge THAT deeply.

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A year and a half later, I have cleavage again!

This photo was taken a few days before the surgery. As you can see, I don’t have a lot of body fat, which is why I was a good candidate for this procedure.  My surgeon tells me that most women have a more natural-looking outcome with the implants alone: not so in my case.  I was told to put on some extra weight and that the needed fat for the procedure would be “harvested” from my mid-section.  I did as I was told, but I only managed about ten pounds because I was on the waiting list for nearly a year and it was hard to keep the weight on.

By far the worst of it was the pain in my abdomen afterwards.  There was substantial bruising and equal amounts of swelling.  Wearing clothes was difficult; sitting down in them was nearly impossible. Here are some pictures of my very sore and bruised abdomen.

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If you’ve never seen what liposuction actually looks like, check out this video. Warning: GRAPHIC! It’s not for the faint-of-heart.

The entire process only took about 45 minutes and was an outpatient procedure, which is to say I was never admitted into the hospital but rather I stayed in the same waiting area both before and after. There were other people sharing my ward, all of whom seemed to be having either elective or non-life threatening things done. I was allowed to go home about two hours after the anesthetic wore off. Though there was a lot of pain, I never ended up taking the Oxycodone that was prescribed to me. I hate the feeling if being stoned so I opted to take Tylenol at regular intervals instead. The key is taking it on a schedule and never allowing it to wear off completely.

So, without further ado, here are some photos of the healing process. I think it turned out pretty good, although the breasts did look fuller before the swelling went down. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers. 😛

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The day before – wrinkly

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2 days after – sore!

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1 week after – rainbow

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3 weeks after – almost healed, and fuller!

● As One Door Closes…

Hello friends! I just wanted to let all of my loyal followers and supporters know that I have decided use this blog: “Survivor@37” less often. As my cancer journey is losing steam, it seems cancer is no longer as relevant of a theme for me. I am still on medication and will continue to be for the next three years. If I have any medical news, updates or observations, please expect them to be found here. I am hoping to announce that I have survived five years without a recurrence of cancer in 2018. Please check back! 😉

I am interested in pursuing new interests and themes on my new blog which can be found at: https://harddayswriteblog.wordpress.com/  I’m also planning to transfer some content from this site over to the new address.  I hope to see you there! And, again, thanks for your time and all of your support during my rough time. Now, let’s go talk about some other stuff!!!  Eff cancer!Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 2.28.53 PM

● That Time I Was Kidnapped in Venezuela

When I was a college co-ed, I decided to take my white bread Canadian self down to South America with my then-boyfriend Adam.  The idea was that I’d broaden my horizons and see some of the world during the semester break.  First stop:  Caracas, Venezuela.

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Here’s an excerpt from the Lonely Planet [guide to discovering] South America on a Shoestring ©1997. (Yes, I still have it.)

DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES

Venezuela is a relatively safe country in which to travel, though robbery is becoming a problem. Common crime is increasing in the large cities. Caracas is by far the most dangerous place in the country, and you should take care while strolling about the streets, particularly at night. Keep your passport and money next to the skin, and your camera, if you are carrying one, hidden in a pack or bag. Venturing into poor shanty-towns is asking for trouble.  Avoid police if you can, and if they stop you, be polite but not overly friendly. Don’t get nervous or angry – this will only work against you.

What follows is a very slightly edited entry from my travel journal:

Friday, May 1st, 1998

The adventure begins in sunny paradise… or does it? Continue reading

● One Flew out of the Cuckoo’s Nest: An Open Letter to my Little Brother

We’ve been through a lot, you and I. You came into my life when I was three weeks shy of my 12th birthday. I had long wanted a little brother or sister and I’d made no secret of it. Your arrival was pure joy.

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It’s a boy!

 

When mom brought you home, I begged her to let me share a bedroom with you. I wanted to be the one to wake up in the middle of the night and feed you. Those things didn’t happen, but that didn’t stop me from trying to be your mini-mom.

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I got my wish two decades later when you decided to leave home and come live with me. Continue reading