But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as Eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Well, I didn't get back to my blog as quickly as I had planned.  It turned out to be a very busy week.  It started out with going for my six month check-up on Monday with my surgeon (Dr. Zusan), who did the double masectomy.  She will check me for 3 years- every six months- to feel for any lumps or evidence of any return of the cancer.  This was my first six month check-up and all is well!  Yay!!!  If all goes well for the first 3 years, then she will check me once a year.  She said the first 3 years are seen as the most likely for a reoccurence.  That, however, does not erase the fact that cancer can return at any time....even 10 years down the road.  And even if it returns somewhere else in your body....bones, liver, brain, or lungs....they can tell if it is the breast cancer cells and it would be considered a breast cancer metastasis.
No doctor has actually told me I'm cancer free or in remission.  I guess I could have asked, but I just assume I am, since she said she got it all at the time of surgery.  I am what is called NED...no evidence of disease.  But neither of my doctors (surgeon or chemo dr.) have actually declared that I'm cancer free.  At this point, I just assume I am!
Now, I am not sure from what date they begin counting how many years you are a survivor.  I even asked her and am not sure I got the answer.  She just said she would see me every six months for 3 years.  So, in talking with others and researching I have found that some count from their diagnosis...some count from their surgery...and some count from the end of their treatments.  So, if I count from my diagnosis date, then my date would be April 7.  And when you think of it, I still was surviving cancer from that date on...even through all of the treatments and surgeries.  So, I have decided to choose April 7 as my Cancerversary.  Yay....getting close to a year of survival!  My sister is two years!  Awesome!!!

Dr. Zusan advised me to massage my implants.  I have "heard" of that and tried to research it on the internet and discussed it with other survivors who also have implants.  It's frustrating because my plastic surgeon has not once told me to massage them!  I will be asking him about that when I go see him next week.  It's been a month since I've seen him and while my implants have dropped some, I am still not satisfied.  I am still extremely tight....not as soft as I thought I'd be.  And there are some areas that don't look all that good.  For one thing one is still higher and larger than the other.  I will be discussing this with him.  Plus, the fact that I lost one nipple...I don't know whether to have another surgery to fix that or just let it go.  A part of me wants to fix it....another part of me wants to forget it and go with one nipple.  Who is going to see it anyway?

I think maybe I expected too much.  I do know he told me from the get-go that they would not be perfect...they were fake...and would not be like my natural ones.  But then they show you photos of some really "nice jobs" and I don't look anything like those pictures!  Maybe I'm just not used to breasts that don't droop...lol!  Maybe once the areolas are tattooed they will look more natural. 

I did a search online to see "other pictures" and found a bunch that I looked through and realized that I actually looked BETTER than a lot of them!  So, now I'm thinking I'm being "too picky" maybe.  Hey, those things cost my insurance company a lot of money...I want them to get their money's worth...lol!  I look great in my clothes.  I like being smaller than I was.  Who is going to SEE them anyway?  So, I could live with these just as they are.  I just want to make sure there is no more he can do to make them look better.  I think I've come to the conclusion that they only show the BEST "jobs" on your first appointment.  lol!  If this is the way they end up, I'm still satisfied.  I don't regret having the reconstruction.  When I was trying to make the decision, I thought I'd be fine without the reconstruction.  But, after looking at some of these pictures, I definately feel better about getting the reconstruction.  If you are interested in seeing the pictures I've been looking at, you can find pages and pages of them here....(warning: nudity...I'll show other people nude, just not me...lol!http://www.smartplasticsurgery.com/reconstruction/photos.html

I think I am just finding it hard to get used to my "new foobs".  They seem so foreign to me and I think part of that is because they are so tight.  My surgeon said they are too tight and that's why she said I need to massage them.  She says they need to move around.  I'm actually finding that the massaging is helping.  It also may help move them where they need to be in the "pocket", so that I don't have such a indented gully under my arm.  I have some dimples that he may choose to fill in with fat grafting.  I will know more next week after going to him again.  They did say it can take 5 months to drop where they are suppose to be and it's only been a little over 2 months, so I guess I need to learn patience.   I think once they loosen up, they may not feel so foreign to me.  Right now I can feel like I've got a bra on even when I don't, so it's a constant reminder that they are "fake".   I look forward to the day when I don't even "think" about them!  Like I said, I like them smaller and I look good in my clothes and the important part is that the cancer is gone!  So, I need to stay focused on that and stop being so vain..lol!  I really am NOT a vain person.  I think it's just hard not to worry about how you look when you have actually had a part of your body removed.  Some people have compared it to having a "boob job...an enhancement".   But, it is NOT the same!  My breasts were NOT enhanced!  They were removedNOT the same thing!  To be honest, I would have never gone to a plastic surgeon....never considered it in my life!  I did not do this to enhance my body.  I did it to save my life without the constant reminder of cancer when I looked in the mirror! 

I'm sure I'll get used to them and learn to think of them as "my own".  And I hope one day I'll be able to have a day without cancer even entering my mind.  But, I'll be honest....there is not one day that goes by that I don't think of cancer.  It just becomes a part of your life, even after the treatments are done and even if you have a good prognosis.  There are never any guarantees that it won't come back.  I am constantly reminded of this when I meet someone or hear about someone fighting it "again".  I've even known people who have beat it for 10 years or more and then it returns to another part of their body.  So, I know the possiblity is always there.  Even after treatments and surgeries are over, the cancer is still in your mind.  There are still the constant doctor check-ups with the surgeon and  oncologist to check for re-occurence.  There are still constant blood draws to check for re-occurence.  It is still a part of your life.  And I am one of the fortunate ones who caught it early and did not have it metastasize.  Metastasis, or metastatic disease (sometimes abbreviated mets), is the spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part).  But, I still have to wonder....is this what I'll die from....whether it is 20 years or more....is this how I'll die?

I'm not trying to be negative or morbid...just "real".  In talking with other cancer survivors, I have realized we all have these thoughts and once you have cancer, it becomes a part of your life.  I still hate the fact that I had cancer in my body at all!  I hate that I have friends who are fighting it and some who are really struggling.  I'm 59 years old, married, a grandma.....I have most of my life behind me.  But, my heart goes out to the younger women I have met who have been diagnosed with this disease.  It seems so unfair that they have to worry about a disease that can alter their bodies and take their life early.  But, we have to stay positive.  We have to treasure every day that we are cancer-free!  We have to hold onto hope that one day there will be a cure!  I do know...if it comes back again...I'll fight hard again!!!! 

In the midst of all of this, I have good news!  My friend, Linda, went for her mammogram the same day I went for my check-up...same doctor....so we went up together and of course followed up with lunch!  She got a phone call the next day that they saw something "suspicious" and wanted her to come back for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.  So, we went back up on Thursday and after another mammogram, they determined it was nothing to worry about and she didn't even have to have the ultrasound done.  Yay....good news!!!  And I'm so proud of Linda for getting her annual mammogram!  Early detection can save your life! 

We also met my "cancer sisters" for lunch on Thursday...(Carin and Amy).  We met at a restaurant that was new to me and Linda...Stir Crazy....an Asian restaurant.  It was a fun and cool restaurant and the food was good.  We got a "make your own" Stir Fry.  They give you a wrought iron holder with two bowls sitting in it and you go up to a bar and choose what vegetables you want in your stir fry. Then you choose what sauce you want and then take it over to the cook.

Then you wait there at the counter while you watch him cook your food, complete with flames that will singe your hair if you lean in too far!  It doesn't take much to entertain me.  lol!

Like I said...it was fun and a new adventure for me and Linda!  We told Carin and Amy that we were discovering all kinds of new eating places hanging with them!  :=)  We had a great time eating and learning more about each other and sharing secrets!  :=)

I will see Carin and Amy again this week because it is time for our monthly Support Group dinner this Thursday.  This is only my second time to go and I'm looking forward to going again and getting to know everyone a little better.  I think there were 15 of us there the last time.  I'm so glad Carin and Amy invited me to go!  It gives me a place to be with others who are going through the same experiences and understand any of those feelings we may have and you find out that you're pretty normal with your thoughts.  I'm not fearful, but even though others see my cancer journey as "over", cancer still remains a part of my life.  So, this group understands that and we are all there for each other to listen and lend support, no matter what stage we are at.  Not that my family and friends aren't there for me....but someone who has walked this walk can understand exactly what you are experiencing.

I postponed my MRI on my spine and my Bone Density Test last week so that I could go to Linda's second mammogram with her.  She has been with me through my whole journey and I want to be there for her any time she needs me too.  Even though many call-backs on mammograms turn out to be "nothing", it is still nerve-racking to go through it and have the "what if" thoughts.  My tests weren't of an urgent nature, so I postponed them for this Friday.  No big deal!

I thought I'd show you my hair!  This is how much I have since my chemo ended last June 22....let's see, that's a little over 7 months of growth! 

Front view....

Side View (I'm not fond of my profile...lol...but, it's me!)

Top View

Back view...look, I got those chemo curls/waves!!!!!  I wish I could keep them, but my hair is normally totally STRAIGHT, so I'm sure once I begin cutting it, they will dissappear!  :=(  I'm thinking of keeping my hair short.  As a matter of fact, I'm thinking I need to get it trimmed already!  And I haven't decided whether to color it or not yet.  Decisions, decisions...lol!

And I got another manicure and decided to try the French Tips this time.  I'm all new to this manicure stuff...lol....this is only the second one I've had.  I never had nails long enough before because I bit them my whole life, clear down to the skin!  I no longer bite them (so proud of myself for kicking that habit!).  My nails grew so long and so hard while I was on chemo!  Then a few months after my chemo ended they became a mess.  They became really soft that they would literally just tear...they weren't even strong enough to say they broke.  They haven't grown nearly as long as they did on chemo, but definately long enough for a manicure.  Actually, this is a good length...I can still type with them at this length!  :=)

Lookie, lookie Linda!  I'm still not biting them!  :=)

Monday night was Mine and Larry's 40th wedding anniversary!  Forty years married to the same man (or woman)...can you imagine!  :=)  I told him he has already taken my youth, so he's stuck with me...lol!  He had told me to be home from Greenwood that day in time for him to take me out to eat.  I eat a lot, don't I?  :=)  So, he got home and cleaned up and we headed out to a local restaurant.  I had no idea where we were going, but as soon as he turned on one road I knew it was either Ryan's or Cracker Barrel.  It was Cracker Barrel.  Not particular a romantic place, but hey, we both like it!  As soon as we entered the front door I saw our grandchild, Jenna, standing there and then realized that he had invited our kids and grandkids there too.  I loved that, as it's hard to get everyone together like that and he pulled it off and surprised me!

Aren't we cute?  LOL!

We had a nice time with the whole family there!  Jen's in-laws even joined us...that was nice!  Then at one point the waitress came up behind me and had a surprise from me from Larry!

Yeah, he can be a sweetie sometimes!  :=)  I guess I'll keep him...lol!

Last time I posted, I had shared photos from my trip to Lexington, KY, and promised to share pictures from my trip to Nashville, TN.  So here they are!

We stayed at the Gaylord.  This place is fantastic!  This is not outside...this is inside the Hotel!  It's just beautiful there!

This is what we did during the day.  Remember, we were there for training for our Thirty-One business!  We are on a great team with a great leader, Lynn!

Me and Lynn!  The first time Lynn met me, I was bald and had not had my surgery yet...it was a week before my surgery!  I was happy to show her I had survived it and had hair again!  :=)

This was me and Lynn back in July!  Wow, what a difference, huh?

A group picture of the team members who were there.  This is a great bunch of women and it was fun to be with them again and get to know them a little better.  Many of them are Directors and I came home motivated to work really hard to become a Director myself!  I was on track to be a Director right before I got sick and then I just wasn't able to do my business.  But I kept it "alive" and now I'm ready to work really hard to get it back where it was and promote!  I have made a goal to become Director before our Conference in August!

We went here for an appetizer late our first night there.  I just had to take a picture for my brother, who is a BIG Jack Daniel collector!  There were restaurants and shops all over inside of the Hotel!  This hotel is massive....like a town under one roof!

Me and Ami....make note of our glasses that our water came in at the Jack Daniels restaurant....

Me on a boat ride.  There is actually a 15 minute boat ride you can take inside the hotel and it was interesting, as they told the history of building the hotel and pointed out the different trees, etc.

Ok, here I am getting into their awesome hot tub!  It was actually outside and oh so steamy!  This is a new swimsuit I picked up....only found one store that had them out already and they only had 3 or 4 to select from.  It definately shows how much weight I lost.  Not bragging....just happy about it!  I guess I can get used to this new body...lol!

This was the most bubbly and steamy hot tub I've ever been in!  It was awesome and felt so good!

Ami in the hot tub....look at those bubbles!

Enjoying a strawberry margarita our last night there... at a Mexican Restaurant.  Hey, we didn't have to drive home...lol...just had to find the elevator!  :=)   I rarely, next to never, drink, but ocassionally will have strawberry margarita or a Pina Colada.  I'm such a party animal!  LOL!

The greenery and flowers are just beautiful!  Palm trees, Magnolia trees, Banana Trees, and this tree that has a flower that actually looks like a bird!  Our bellhop took these pictures for me while Amy was going after the car.

Me and my bellhop photographer.  Oswald came to America from Haiti a few years ago.  I asked him what brought him here and he said his wife.  lol!  I'm always curious what brings people to America and it seems "love" brought him all the way to Tennessee!  He said he had no idea where he was going until he got there!  I love meeting people and talking with them.  He was a sweetheart to take some pics for me while we waited on Amy to get the car so we could head home!

On the road again.....heading home!  After a week away from home, I was ready.  I had a great time, but was totally exhausted!  It took me 3 days to rest up...lol!

Until next time....live your life to the fullest....make each day count....let your loved ones know how much you love them...life is too short to waste!  And, get your mammograms!!!!

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