Friday, July 29, 2011

I Don't Have Breast Cancer!!!

This has been an interesting week.  I had my appointment with the Rheumatologist about my autoimmune disorder today.  He was soooo supportive of my decision on the mastectomy.  I really think he is one of the most attentive doctors I've ever had.  I waited over an hour to see him, but it was worth it!  He listened, and considered, and chatted, and gave excellent explanations behind every answer he gave to my questions. I wish he was my everything doctor! 

Sounds like I'm good to go on silicone.  He said there was no scientific evidence to support silicone causing or having negative impact on autoimmune disorders, and his opinion is I should weigh the other pros and cons to come to a decision I'll be happy with.  He's also not concerned about my condition causing poor healing or other complications. 

I left that appointment feeling good about my decision again.  He said at one point, "considering the huge risk you're facing, I really think you're doing the right thing" and I said "ya, I really think I may be saving my life". and He said "definitely, very well could be". I felt more confident about the surgery than I have yet!

Then the next day I went to get some lab work done, and my surgeons office called to tell me they had completed my FMLA paperwork and I could come get it.  So after my blood draw I went across the street to the surgeons office and asked for my paperwork, and the receptionist said "Oh yes, this must be for you!" then she looked at it odd, and said "whats your name?"  I told her, and she kind of shrugged, and "Hmm okay, ya this is it" and handed it to me.

I really wasn't prepared for what the surgeons office had written on the paperwork. 

Diagnosis:  Breast Cancer.

My eyes tingled a little and my throat started to close off, I turned and walked out of the office.  As I started driving back to work it really hit me, somewhat fiercely.. " I DON'T have breast cancer!!!!"  And I was lost again, what am I doing??  This is soooo drastic, It's a possibility I might not even get cancer!  might.... maybe? small chance... 

So I turned in my paperwork to my supervisor and HR, I was thinking I had already talked to them both and they didn't say anything like "OMG Amanda you have breast cancer?!?!"  So I didn't even think about it until I was leaving HR and I realized I had talked to her about my autoimmune thing but I didn't think I had talked to her about my Genetic mutation.

I stopped in to see my cousin (who I work with) a couple offices down, and told her what my concern was, I don't want to mislead people into thinking I do have breast cancer, but I'm assuming this is standard for the surgeon to write for these purposes, but I felt so bad, and I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me, thinking I had cancer.  So she talked me through it (she's really great), and I turned around, went back into the HR office and  pointed to the my paperwork "I need you to know, I DON'T have breast cancer, I have a genetic mutation that gives me an 84% risk of getting breast cancer, and based on family history, probably in next few years, I just don't want you thinking I have breast cancer right now"  To which she responded with sympathy and compassion and asked me questions about the procedure, out of curiosity (that she quickly followed by saying I didn't have to answer, but I did).  We ended by joking about how I was a little bummed that I couldn't get giant boobs out of the deal.  She assured me that no one else would see the actual paperwork and I didn't have to tell anyone anything I didn't want to. She's good at that HR stuff.

I then made sure my supervisor knew as well, I DON'T have breast cancer!!  He understood, and It was a relief to know he actually hadn't thought I did because as soon as he saw the paperwork, he remembered me talking to him about the gene and the risk a few weeks ago.  It was nice to know that he knew I DON'T have breast cancer, but he still insisted (with some sincerity) that if there is anything I need or anything they could do to help, just to reach out. Plus, I'm much more comfortable knowing that my work knows and we're going to figure out how to cover everything while I'm gone.  I had really dreaded telling them.

Those were some dark moments for me between the time I picked up that paperwork and when I went back to clarify my situation with them. But again, at the end of the day, I'm doing the right thing. 

That's right - I DON'T have breast cancer, and I'm going to do what I need to in order to prevent it!

(and I'll just keep telling myself that...)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A New Found Appreciation

Interesting how the thought of losing something can make you appreciate it more.  Now that surgery to remove my breasts is looming, I'm finding myself appreciating them more and more each day. 

I think it has easily been 6-7 years since I went anywhere in public (other than swimming) without a bra.  In fact for the past year I've been wearing a Victoria's Secret "Miraculous" bra.  (which IS Miraculous).

There is a little bit of story to the "Miraculous" bra.   -  Except when pregnant (or afterwards trying to lose the 50+ pounds I gained each time) I've been fairly thin, and while I've always felt I had decent sized breasts, they weren't something I could flaunt around my cleavage in a low cut shirt.  They just didn't work that way.  All my bras successfully lifted and separated, and if wearing anything that wasn't a bra that provided support it did so through smooshing.

So I went out one night with a coworker and some of her lady friends, and I actually am quite sure that at least 2 of them had "enhanced boobs".  So they're wearing cute low cut things and flaunting their cleavage, and I tried to squish mine up a bit and well.... it just didn't work.  From some point that night, I just desperately wanted "cleavage".  So then the Victoria's Secret commercial came on and I just had to try it  I forked out the cash for it... and it worked.  The Miraculous bra easily took me from my natural B/C (not so full) size to a D+  looking like I'm going to bust out of my shirt!  and honestly - I LOVE it.  I really don't notice any different kind of attention.  That's not what it's about.  I just really feel there is no mistaking my femininity when I'm wearing that bra.  And having been so thin and hipless so long, I enjoy feeling confident that my form is more feminine. Even more so that I've gained a little weight now actually have a butt and hips to accompany them.

Anyway.  So yes.  I haven't gone bra-less for some time, certainly not since I was pregnant with my younger daughter.  And I'm serious - not even to the gas station to buy a last minute gallon of milk (unless it was winter and I had some reason to be completely concealed in an over sized coat or sweatshirt).  I guess I had some concern about their position.. having breast fed 2 children I felt maybe they were a bit saggy.

So recently I've spent alot of time looking at them.  It started because I was doing the visual exam, seeing how they look, do they look normal, making sure theres no weird dimpling or color changing skin.  Then additionally having seen alot of the before and after mastectomy/reconstruction pictures, I've been looking at alot of boobs!!  So just in my day to day activities,  I've also started noticing other women's boobs, what size they are, what shape they are.  LOTS of women walk around without bras!!!

So the other day I got home and changed out of my miraculous bra into just a tank top, then threw on a thin t-shirt over it since we had my sister in-laws coming over.  It was just too hot for my bra, particularly the Miraculous bra.  It's a 100 degrees out,  and after working all day, the last thing I want to do is sit around with sweaty boobs.  So when my sister in-law asked me to go to the store with her, I checked myself out in the mirror and said "think I'm okay going without a bra?" to which she said "ya" (of course!! she's not wearing a bra either!!!)  So off I go to the store bra-less !  And yes, I did feel a little self conscious, but when I was there, I kept looking around and noticing other women and their boobs, and realized even bra-less my boobs area actually pretty okay looking.

I went to the gas station last night without a bra.  Today I went to the car wash without a bra.  I feel great.  I'm probably still going to wear my bra to work.  In fact, I still can't imagine not doing so.  But the point is I'm really liking my boobs right now. 

I kind of wish I could just resent them for what they're putting me through....  instead I find myself enjoying them, admiring them, hoping my new boobs will come close to looking this good.  I'm not fooling myself.  I originally had some hope of getting them to be the size they are in the Miraculous bra, but I've pretty much been assured that is not going to happen.  I know I'm not "getting a boob job"    It's not like with this surgery I'm going to go in to the hospital and come out with beautiful new breasts.  It's something else entirely.  I'm not sure I'm ready to use the words that will adequately describe what they will be (or won't be).

For the next 72 days, I'll just love my breasts for what they are.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Swinging back the other way!

So right now I'm feeling good about my decision again.  I kind of feel like a swinging pendulum (on a clock).  Its not that I feel completely different on either side.  I still have the same thoughts and concerns, it's just a matter of which are stronger feelings at any given point in time.

I added a countdown clock to the blog.  I was feeling like October 4th is really close, but really to see when I added the countdown it's still 80 days away, made me feel a little better!!  Plus when I called to ask the plastic surgeons office a question, I told the lady on the phone who I was and she said, "oh yes, you're the one scheduled way out there".... yes I guess I am? I also got a call from the pre-op scheduler saying it's too early to actually schedule the hospital pre-op appointments so she'll be calling me back in a few weeks.

I also got a call from the breast surgeon on Wednesday.  I really love that she calls me directly and speaks to me personally rather than having a nurse or assistant call.  She was just wanting me schedule my MRI for September instead of July so that it is closer to the time of surgery.  She indicated that this way if the MRI was completely clear she'd be okay with not doing the sentinel node biopsy if I didn't want to.  I've already decided to go ahead and do it though, so that doesn't really make a difference.  But this will also provide an opportunity to meet with her again a week prior to surgery to review the MRI results and ask any other questions I have.  I feel like I should have a lot of questions still, but I don't really know what they are.  I'm kind of feeling like between my appointment with her the last week of September and my pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon September 19th, I should have all my questions answered. 

The breast surgeon also offered to fill out my FMLA paperwork if I got the recommendation for recovery time from the plastic surgeon.  They're going to recommend up to 6 weeks.  I hope to get that all filled out and submitted by the end of this month, so we can start planning at work what they're going to do while I'm gone.  I'm hoping we can get my recently "reduced" employee to come in at least on a temporary basis since she's already trained (and I really wish she still worked with us anyway).  On a monthly delivery system like we have that means they'll basically have to go through one full cycle, prepare and start the next and be prepared for the third before I get back, if I'm gone for the full 6 weeks.  I'm fairly confident though that If we set things In place like I would recommend they would be okay.  Plus this should be around the time of a new software implementation that should (in theory) make some of that easier.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Have a Date

I heard back from the plastic surgeons office on Friday regarding a date for the surgery.  She said the two surgeons communicated back and forth and came up with the date of October 4th.  I was told to look at things over the weekend and then confirm on Monday.  No real reason that won't work, so I'll be confirming on Monday.  Tuesday October 4th! 

Honestly, I'm a little freaked out now.  I don't know if it's that I was thinking about it a little less for the last week or two, or if it's that having a date makes it more real.  That is probably it.  Having a date set means there are people actually making preparations to do this (other than me).  That does make it real.

I'm having a hard time sleeping because I'm debating with myself again.  Am I taking too drastic a step?  No, I don't want to take my chances!  Did I pick a plastic surgeon too quickly?  He was highly recommended and seemed straight forward and honest.  Could I get a difference answer from a different surgeon?  Probably, but would they be just telling me what I want to hear?   Maybe, you just don't know!  I'm a crazy person.  At least I'm not having these debates out loud in the middle of the grocery store.