You read the title right…I am officially cancer free! Praise the Lord! Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Lots of things have happened since my last blog, so I will try an catch you up.
I woke up the morning of July 12th surprisingly calm. I tried not to think about what was going to happen, that I would forever look different by that afternoon. Everything happened quickly when I arrived at the hospital, which was a huge blessing. God knew I couldn’t handle sitting around waiting for surgery. I was barely left alone before they were getting me ready. My only hurdle that morning was accessing my vein. It took 4 different nurses to finally get an IV started. This was a result from one of the attempts. I told you I don’t do needles well!
Through this journey, I have learned to make light of situations and find laughter whenever possible. It takes a toll on your body, mind and soul when you constantly think negative. So when the nurse came to bring me to the surgical room, she politely told me they were going to untie my gown so I wouldn’t have to lie on the knots. I couldn’t help but laugh and told her I knew I was getting naked. Umm, they were about to cut off my boobs and she thought I wouldn’t know I was getting naked? I think I startled her with my reply because she didn’t say much after that. The last this I remembered was telling the anesthesiologist to please be careful removing the tape from my eyes, since my eyelashes just came back in. I sure didn’t want any of those hairs removed. I was glad to finally be getting them back. (Yes, they tape your eyes shut to keep debris from getting in them.)
When I woke up, the nurse in the recovery room told me it was a pleasure taking care of me. I remember thinking, lady, all I did was sleep. When they wheeled me to my room, the first person I saw was my love. He was waiting for me in the hall way. It was such a relief to see his face. I was told surgery went well and the lymph node that was taken looked clear with the naked eye. Of course we would have to wait to see what the pathologist said.
Everyone including myself was surprised with how well I was feeling. I was pretty much pain free except for some mild discomfort. I could feel exactly where they made the incisions because it burned, but it wasn’t horrific. I hit all my milestones that I needed to hit within a few of hours after surgery. I peed, ate and walked around. I could have went home that night except for the pain medicine. I was getting that by IV and needed to be able to control my pain with oral medicine. After three doses, I asked to be taken off the IV and did great.
Dr. Seiloff and Dr. Parades came to see me the next morning and assured me everything went well. I was a little freaked out with the left breast because there is a major indention in the middle. I was told it was from so much tissue being removed and could be some scar tissue. Dr. Paredes assured me he would fix it when we start the reconstruction. The good news was I could go home! Jonathan just needed to learn how to strip the drainage tubes that was left from surgery.
Here is Jonathan learning how to strip the tubes. He was a quick learner.
I was ready to go home and put my eyes on Levi!
Once home, I was able to finally look at myself fully and see the damage. I looked pretty good. It looked nothing like I had imagined it. I expected to be concaved. I’m not even flat. I have a little bit of boob. The dermal flap Dr. Paredes’ did helped a lot with that. Because they were more aggressive on the cancer side, I do have some deformity and some small indentions, but Dr. Paredes will take care of it later. Dr. Seiloff told me that he removed breast tissue from my sternum, up to my collar bone, down below some of my ribs and over to the side. After learning how much tissue was removed, I can see why there is a difference from the left and the right, and why I am so tender to the touch.
Recovery was slow, but progressive. I was amazed by how a cup of coffee was so heavy. I could move my arms pretty freely except for stretching above my head. I never once had to take narcotics for pain at home. My chest was and is still numb. I think I’ve done so well because I didn’t have expanders placed, which manipulates the muscles. I am guessing I will have more pain when I start the reconstruction.
My sister, Rachelle, came to stay with us for a week to help take care of me. My mamma came to stay the following week. It was pretty humbling to have to lean on everyone to do things for me. That’s not easy for me to do. I like to do things for myself and I am the one that takes care of everyone.
Jonathan had to give me showers for a week before I felt comfortable on my own. It brought me back to our pre-marital counseling days. I remember how we would go over scenarios about what we would do when there was a tragedy, or one of us got sick. Of course back when we were 21 and ready to get married, we never dreamed we would actually be going through some of the things we talked about. Not once, but several times in our marriage. I am extremely proud of how Jonathan has been. Not very many husbands could handle what he has had to see and do for me. He has always taken great care of me emotionally and physically, even when it wasn’t easy for him to do. I can always count on him to keep me laughing even through painful times. He’s a keeper for sure.
The worst part of the mastectomy was the drainage tubes that came out of my sides. It wasn’t painful to have them, but definitely a nuisance. I was able to have the right one removed a week after surgery and then the left one removed a few days later. Boy, did that left one hurt! You’re not numb when they remove it. I was told to take a deep breath in and then she pulled it out. Thankfully it was quick and once removed the pain was gone. But for those two brief seconds, whoa! I am hoping I won’t have to have them after reconstruction surgery.
Levi wasn’t sure what to do with me. He knew that he had to be careful, but still wanted to snuggle with his Mommy. (He is a huge snuggle bug!) This is how we compromised.
I have to mention the pillow in the above picture. My friend Julie made it for me and I loved it! It was the best thing ever! The way it is shaped is perfect for a mastectomy. It wraps around the sides and cushions your under arms, which are very tender. When I would stand up, it was nice to hold the pillow tight against me because you can feel the gravity pulling down on your boobs. I will definitely be using it after my reconstruction.
So, I finally get to share with you the best part! Are you ready? There was absolutely no cancer anywhere in the breast tissue and my lymph nodes were clear! A scar was formed where my tumor once was. My body responded 100% to the chemo! Psalms 9:1-2 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. I love how He didn’t just heal me a little bit, allowing the tumor to shrink some. No, my God completely healed me! Psalms 30: 2 O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. I believe it is His way of confirming the promises He gave to me at the beginning of this journey. That I would still be standing after this fight. Psalms 5:11-12 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor, You will surround him as with a shield.
To God be the glory!!
I have started the next chapter in my journey with radiation. It’s an easy procedure that I have to do Monday through Friday. I have completed 15 out of 33 treatments, so I should be finished by mid October. I lay on a table and have to take in deep breaths (this helps ensure that my heart doesn’t get damaged with radiation) as they give me the treatments. I get a total of 4 “zaps”, which is like getting x-rays taken. You don’t feel anything while receiving the treatments. Side affects of radiation are tiredness and skin burning at the site over time. I already have some pinkness to my skin, but hoping I will not get severely burned.
I want to give a big thank you for every prayer that has gone up on my behalf! It is an indescribable feeling to know that I have so many people that love and support me. A part of the reason I have been able to go through this journey is because of you. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
My journey has not ended yet. So, I will continue to put my whole trust in the God who knows what is around the corner, even if I can’t see it. Romans 5:1-4 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character hope.
Love you all,