Thursday, October 20, 2011

#42 Done and Dusted

Finally it is all finished! My breast reconstruction is complete after having my final tattoo session yesterday!

Pictures of my Tattoo below, look if you dare!

Ha Gotcha! 
This is my way of ending the whole process & showing my support to all Breast Cancer survivors & those who didn't make it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

#41 Love my Life

Thursday was the 1st anniversary of my surgery! I cannot believe how much better I have been feeling lately! My stomach is feeling stronger & other than that pesky bulge, I feel like I can do so much more now. I am starting yoga this week which should help further my recovery!
With one more tattoo appointment left this coming week everything will be complete & I can head forward & get on with life!
I will never forget what I've been through, my scar's won't let me, but I am so grateful that it is all over!

Life is for the living & I love my life! xoxo

Friday, September 23, 2011

#40 Nips are getting Tatts

Well, finally the day has arrived! I went off to the Plastic Surgeon for my tattoo session for my nipples.

I arrived a bit early & found the tattooist waiting & ready to go! That's a first, my bum didn't even hit the seat of the waiting room!

With top stripped off & laying on the bed, Meagan began by discussing the colour outcome I would like. Once that decision was made she began by testing with the machine if I had feeling in the area. It seemed I didn't when she tested one area on one side. But Oh Lordy Lord, did I have feeling when she really started tattooing! Especially on my left side, it was very painful. It took about a minute to do one then the same for the other side, I looked down to see my nipples covered in colour & I'm thinking this is alright the pain for that amount of time was no problem. Then Meagan tells me she will be doing that about 6 - 8 more times each side! Crap!

No really, it wasn't that bad, & all in all was completed in about 20 minutes. I was given my care instructions & had some ointment put on them before I left. The colour was a very strong pink/red which Meagan assures me will settle down to look more natural in a couple of weeks.Emptying my wallet at the door before leaving, I made my next appointment for my perfecting session where she will correct the colour & make sure all the colour is even & PERFECT I guess.

I left thinking I should learn this trade, 20 minutes work for the dollars paid, I am definitely in the wrong business!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

#39 Father's Day

I know, two blogs in one day! What the hell am I thinking?

I'm thinking about Dad!

Sitting here watching a movie about loosing someone, and tomorrow is Father's Day! Naturally I'm crying because no one else is here & I can! I know my family will be feeling the same & so will so many other's who have lost their father!

I hope you are happy where ever you are Dad & it is like you imagined it would be! God Bless, I love you & will be thinking of you tomorrow as I do everyday xoxo

Friday, September 2, 2011

#38 Not so bad

Well my birthday has been & gone! I survived, who'd of thought!
I did start the party early with a girly lunch the weekend before & had a fabulous time! It was a rowdy affair, with lovely food & lots of wine.... Hubby kept us fed all afternoon all we had to do was a double clap & he was at our beck & call. :-)
We started with cold canapes, moving onto brucetta, beef stuffed cucumbers & a hot chicken dish (Cath made) finishing the savory food with a warm duck salad, deli sh! Cheese cake to finish!
The girls where a hoot & I thank them all for sharing the day with me!

Beef cucumbers
The late stayers (it got a bit chilly)

I cannot post any more pictures as it may incriminate some! :-)

My actual birthday was a slow start. I felt a bit flat until I went to lunch with a girl friend! We had a lovely time & did a bit of window shopping also...
That night we had a visit from the Birthday fairy's & drank wine & ate cake! It was a lovely day & birthweek!

My birthday fairy's
Cake time!

I wanted to thank everyone for celebrating & for those who couldn't be with me, for the calls, cards & well wishes xoxo

Thanks to you Gavy for making it such a special day! xo

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#37 Birthday Eve

mmm what can I say as I sit here at my computer, on the eve of my 45th Birthday reading posts on Facebook when up pops some posts from this time last year! "Can't wait for the Valentino Exhibition tomorrow"! Oh yeah that just brought it all back............. The phone call from my Doctor & all that followed! I have a terrible sinking feeling, that is making me feel sick! Yes I know things are getting better all the time, but 12 months down & things are still very raw.
Tomorrow is my birthday & I'm not really sure how I feel about it! Certainly not happy & excited as I would usually be. I had a wonderful celebration on Saturday with my girlfriends (which I will blog about at a later date) & to all of them I am so grateful that we celebrated on another day! Tomorrow will be low key as far as I'm concerned & I'm sure the first anniversary will be the hardest! I know that I should be happy & celebrating that the cancer is gone, but it has been such an emotional journey that's not yet over!

Thanks for listening xo

Saturday, July 16, 2011

#36 One year on

It isn't quiet a year, but we are nearly there! I have always loved birthdays as I mentioned in my very first post. But this year I'm feeling different! I know that the cancer has left my body & that my recovery from surgery is moving forward all the time, but the memory of my birthday last year is etched in my mind!

I had been thinking about having a big party to celebrate life, but as I get closer to the event I'm feeling immense sadness which I cannot explain. What I think I  really want to do now is spend some time with my girlfriends, have a few drinks & just laugh & gossip the afternoon away.

Most people see me & think I'm over the surgery & am looking well  but what they don't realise is that I am covered in scars! Some physical, but mostly emotional......... I know time will heal the physical scars, but I'm not sure how long it will take to heal from the emotional side of this disease. Of course life continues as it does, even after the death of someone we love. We must get on with it, but I often reflect on my life now.
Where I've been, where I am now & where I'm going.................Family & friends are the absolutely only thing that matters in my life now!

A recent pic with my gorgeous girlfriends who spent my last birthday with me! Missing a couple though!

I don't know what the future will bring, I'm hoping travel & lots of fun with family & friends, but I surely know the love of my family has kept me going & will continue to, the rest I'll have to keep you posted on.

Monday, June 6, 2011

#35 It's Nothing

Well thought I better just let everyone know how I went with my Ultra sound last week! I guess I have given it away in the title of this blog post........

Findings: region of concern failed to reveal any underlying hernia, mass or collection. Okay so what the fuck is it then?? No one seems to be able to answer that question.

On the upside I am feeling so much better this week since I have stopped most of my physio exercises  (not all) but the ones that seem to aggravate my abdomen. So onward & upward I go towards recovery!

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#34 The Great Escape

The Great Belly Button Escape is on! After yet another visit to my doctor it seems further tests are needed! The escaping belly button, is getting worse. My specialist said it was a pre hernia and that I had to keep an eye on it & try to strengthen the muscle area. So back to the Rehab Physio I tootled........ they gave me some more exercises & changed some of the ones I was already doing (*cough* not doing as it hurt too much.)  I then spent the next several days doing the said exercises, until I could barely walk. Doing anything that everyone does in their day to day lives was proving very uncomfortable. So after discussing this with hubby, I decided to stop the exercises from the physio again and see if it improved.

Well it did, but I think the damage may have been done! Now not only did I have a bulge in my abdomen, but it had grown. So today I went back to my GP (who is so good & thorough) she is sending me off for another Ultra sound as she believes it is now a hernia! Tomorrow after work I am having the Ultra sound and hope to get some sort of result. Yikes! Hoping for something that can be resolved.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#33 Mother's Day Classic.......

Well it's only been 2.5 weeks since my nipples were created, but it feels like so much longer. After having the procedure, I was told not do exercise other than an easy walk. I had signed up to do the "Mothers Day Classic" two days after my procedure, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to walk it or not. "The Mother's Day Classic" is an event you can run or walk 8km to raise money for Breast Cancer Research.  So I'm sure you can all understand that I was passionate about doing this. So when mother's day came along I dragged the boys off into South Bank Brisbane for the event! It was an early start and a bit fresh to say the least, but a lovely morning with the sun shining. I felt like I could manage the walk, so we went ahead and did the 8km. There were so many people there dressed up in various costumes as well as just team T-shirts like we had. It was a very up beat event.  Afterward, we had a lovely brunch at South Bank before heading home! I had a great Mother's Day!
My three boys & I before the event!

We even got on the Today show with this shot! :-)

At the finish line!

That evening I managed to get water under my dressings and had to head into the hospital the next day to have them re dressed. This gave me an opportunity to see what they were looking like. They looked surprisingly good. I was very bruised but otherwise all looked good.

A week later I had the dressings removed, finally, and was given some spongy things to put over my nips so they don't get squashed. These I have to wear for about 4 weeks. They are horrible as they leave indents on my breasts (Flaps) and show through my clothing. So at the moment I am being very selective about what I wear. It's a pain in the arse, but will be over with soon. Tattooing will happen in a couple of months.

All in all the nipples look pretty real, but I will definitely look "excited to see you" on a permanent basis! Could be embarrassing.....................

Friday, May 6, 2011

#32 Nips

Well it has finally happened!
I tripped off to see my plastic fantastic yesterday, where I sat in his waiting room for what seemed like hours. I always seem to be waiting in Doctor's rooms these days. Fortunately I had Kerri Sackville's book "When my husband does the dishes" to keep me occupied.  I was sitting there laughing to myself and hubby would keep asking what was so funny! My response annoyed him "secret woman's business"! But I digress... Just buy the book and you will know what I mean!

I watched an array of people coming out of his room with noses covered in bandages, arms in slings, leaving me wondering if I was in the correct place to have new nipples made! Finally my name was called and in I went to a familiar room where I had to strip off my top half & hop on the bed. There were two nurses there, the lovely Laura who has been at most of my appointment & another. I was given some local anesthetic to numb my breasts and then a sheet with a hole in it was put over my breast as they prepared me for the procedure. As he began I could feel him cutting into me (Not in a painful way) just the pressure it was weird, then came the stitching. They chattered amongst themselves (the nurses & Dr) throughout most of the procedure asking me the occasional question. I asked about the tattooing that would come after my nipples have healed and the Dr asked if i wanted to meet the lady who does it, as she was around at the time. So in comes this lovely woman, who asks if I mind her being there during my procedure. Which I didn't at all. She had never seen the procedure done, even though she does the tattooing, which I thought was interesting.
We chattered while the Dr did the second nipple. She was telling me how she has tattooed flowers on some women, she said she should learn how to do other tattoo's in case someone wanted something different. I think by the look on my face she realised that wasn't going to be me, she laughed and said she could just do a nipple... Phew!!

When he the plastic surgeon had finished I was allowed to look at my lovely new nipples with a mirror before they applied the dressings. Not really sure what I thought, everyone was saying what a wonderful job he had done, all I could think of was wow, all those stitches and blood....and these little nobs! I hope they look better next week when the dressings come off!

I had a list of do's and don't s given to me & away I went. I  needed a wine tonight!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

#31 Lumps and bumps................

Visited my GP three times in the last two months.  Not because I was ill, I have just had other business to attend to. Yes, even after all the cancer crap, other stuff is still going on!

Haemochromatosis, for instance, I have to keep a check of my Iron levels, making sure they do not get too high. Pap smear, still have to go there as well, luckily we can still locate my Vjayjay...not that it's moved :-)  Then there is the bulge! Somewhere between my stomach scar and my Vjayjay (I love that word).  The appearance of this bulge had my GP thinking it may have been a hernia.  She had sent me off for an Ultra Sound, which found nothing. Personally I think it may be my old belly button trying to escape! She said that things internally will have been moved around a bit & she won't always know where things are anymore!!  So I need to speak with my surgeon about the bulge.

Talking with her, we discussed my surgery, I told her that if I had known exactly what I would go through in the short term I may have chosen another form of reconstruction. She agreed that knowing what can happen and what can get moved around internally, she probably would not go through with this surgery herself! She would have had the mastectomy & then had implants at a later stage!


I'm not saying that this surgery was the wrong thing to do, and certainly in the long term I'm sure I will look back and wonder what was I banging on about! Anyone looking at having this procedure should just go in with their eyes open, knowing that muscle is taken from you and will never be replaced. 12 months is a long recovery and I didn't realise how long that would seem, or how frustrating it would be. I have met a woman who is four years post surgery and she is very happy with everything.

So onward I go, about to have new nipples and tattooing. I've secretly always wanted a tattoo. I look forward to my future. I just hope my old belly button doesn't pop out. Having two would just be embarrassing! :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#30 Belly Buttons, Vajayjay's & bikini lines.....

Now I don't want my blogs to get all too serious & boring even if we are dealing with a serious issue. I have had a lot of laughs with my husband, sisters & friends over this time, and I'm going to share some of those with you now. Firstly though I need to give you the Wikipedia description of my surgery so you can properly understand what I have had done, & why I have no muscle strength in my abdomen area.

Wikipedia definition;
A TRAM flap is a surgical procedure, most commonly employed for breast reconstruction. TRAM flap stands for Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous flap. In this procedure, the breast with cancer is surgically removed, and a portion of the abdomen tissue group, including skin, adipose tissues, minor muscles and connective tissues, is taken from the patient's abdomen and transplanted onto the breast site. This procedure is preferred by some breast cancer patients because it combines a mastectomy with a abdominoplasty, and allow the breast to be reconstructed with one's own tissues instead of a foreign implant. It is contraindicated for patients who need abdominal strength, since the muscle removal weakens the abdomen.

Apparently my doctor's forgot to mention (or I didn't hear) they were taking muscles from my abdomen & obviously being able to get out of bed, or out of a chair wasn't something I needed to do anymore!! Of course I could, and perhaps should, have googled the operation I was having. But then I probably wouldn't have gone ahead with it, which is why I didn't (Google) at the time. I just needed to know the bare minimum so as to get through each stage as it happened.

Now that I have some muscles missing from my abdomen, there are a lot of things I cannot do & some that I will never be able to do again (or so they tell me), like sit ups for instance. I will never be able to do them again. Sit ups were something I've never been able to do, so you can understand how devastated I was about that :-) When I go the the hair Salon having my hair washed is lovely until the I have to get up from the chair, I scared the shit out of my hairdresser the first time when I fell sideways off the chair as she was raising it. Then there is swimming in our pool, I can't lift my feet off the bottom to swim as I feel like my stomach will split open, so I just stand around in the pool like a Nana. Getting out of bed involves a battle roll across the bed until my feet or some other part of me hit the ground. This part of the recovery I wasn't prepared for & I'm finding very frustrating. However I continue to go to Physio and do my Core work & feel a little improvement as time goes on.

There was a lot I hadn't taken in when the doctor's were speaking to me, and I believe this is common for cancer patients. For instance, no one told me I would loose my belly button and have it replace with a fake!  Hubby tells me, that I was advised about this. I don't remember and was shocked when I realised I had a new one. When my dressings were removed and I got to see the final outcome of the surgery, I realised a lot of things had been moved around. My real belly button was now tucked neatly somewhere closer to my Vajayjay than it should ever be, and as they have tucked it in they also pulled up my bikini line so high Hubby now asks when I'm getting my chest waxed!

A few days after surgery,whileI was in hospital, I finally got to see my new breasts! What a shock!! I screamed to my sister to come have a look (as she was visiting at the time) because I thought they had placed one of my new breasts in the center of my chest! WTF?? My lovely sister (looking very worried I might add) said "No it's not, it's all fine." (I found out later that she was actually worried about it too). However all of this was just swelling and in fact the surgeon has done an excellent job with the reconstruction. Even putting on deodorant can be a bit hit & miss as I have no feeling under one arm pit, and am never sure if I have hit the mark or not. Just waiting for someone to let me know!

So off to the Physio I head again with my pretend belly button & freshly waxed chest to continue my journey through this god awful disease, but with a smile and a sense of humor. God I love life!

Monday, April 25, 2011

#29 How Dense are you?

In a previous blog I have mentioned that I had very dense breast tissue. This was the major factor in having to have bilateral mastectomy when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I have recently been pointed towards a Ted Lecture regarding this issue! Please take the time to watch this lecture; 

Mammogram technology is currently the major breast cancer diagnostic tool in Australia & America. Mammogram is a very important tool to uncover change in many women's breast, however if you have very dense breast tissue mammogram is unlikely to uncover tumors at an early stage. This is crucial for survival.

How do you know if you have dense breast tissue? If you don't, and most of us wouldn't know, ask your doctor and read your mammography report. Dense breast tissue is a stronger risk factor than having a mother or sister with Breast Cancer. Even though this lecture is out of the US, I had a call from a Brisbane Breast Cancer nurse recently who had just gotten back from a conference that talked about the relationship between breast density and breast cancer. So it looks as if Australia is catching up on this issue.

If you notice a change in your breast INSIST on additional imaging not just mammogram! Ultra sound & MRI can assist in finding tumors (It probably saved my life), until a new imaging such as Deborah Rhodes MBI technology becomes available.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#28 Grief

Well I have been told time & time again how well I'm doing, coping with my cancer & surgery! My decision to have my breasts removed was something that HAD to be done! A certain amount of disconnect was involved where you just get on with it! I've had people tell me that they couldn't have done it! I disagree, because until you are faced with your mortality you don't really know how you will react.

My husband has just been away for a month, which was quite difficult for me. We have been married for almost 22 years & don't spend a lot of time apart. So on his return I have turned to mush! I feel like all the strength I have had through my surgery & recovery has vanished.

Last night after an intimate moment with my husband, I felt immense grief. Like when I'd lost my father, but this time it was for the loss of my breasts......... I never expected to feel like that! I cannot explain it other than I sobbed with absolute grief for hours! I am blessed to have a man in my life that loves me totally & that my absence of nipples doesn't matter to him. Nor should it, but I have lost my usual self confidence.  I suspect these feelings will continue, but hope that I can regain my usual confidence & strength. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells right now.

Having just received a bunch of brochures about my Cancer recently "How are you travelling?" I guess I'm not travelling as well as I thought I was!

I'm sure these feelings are common for anyone who has felt lose of any sort, I would love you to share how you have coped with this. Once again I want to thank all the people who have been very supportive through all I am going through. (because I suspect it is not over yet!)

All comments welcome.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nips r getting bigger!!

Well big news today! But you'll have to wait for the story to unfold............. (don't worry not long)

I had my appointment with my plastic surgeon yesterday! It had been three months since I last saw him so I wasn't sure what to expect. A girl friend from Melbourne was visiting and came along with me to my appointment. I had a 1200 appointment, then a Physio appointment at the same hospital at 2pm. I had planned to take my girl friend to my favorite restaurant  (5th Element) in South Bank for lunch in between. As the saying goes "Best laid plans" didn't quiet work out! We waited for the specialist for an hour & a half giving me only half an hour before my physio. Luckily the appointment didn't take too long. He was really happy with my recovery & all the wounds etc..

He wanted to discuss the next part of my progress which was Nipples! I have been thinking about getting my nipples for a while now and really didn't want to go there. I think after the surgery I had had, I didn't want to go back to hospital and go under anesthetic again so soon after the last surgery.  I have also met a few women who have had the same surgery and were way further along than me, but still didn't have their nipples. This made me think that maybe it wasn't necessary. My surgeon was very positive about the procedure and assured me that I did not have to go under a general anesthetic again if I didn't want to. He would do the procedure in his rooms with a local anesthetic and it would only take an hour. Wow!!

It took me about a minute to agree (not really but it kind of felt like it) The icing on the cake was that it wouldn't cost a cent out of pocket! ??? I wasn't sure I believed him after the cost of the original surgery, but he assured me it would not cost us anything. Tick!!  So yes it looks like I am going to get my nipples after all!

Don't ask me how ( I do know, but it's hard to explain without a diagram, so the explanation is not going to happen at this stage ) Maybe after the procedure! I will have dressing on for a week, then nipple covers to wear for about 2 weeks so as not to flatten the new ones. Then Tattooing!! But that's a whole other blog.

Woo Hoo! I didn't think I would be excited but I am. Hubby is away for the month so I can't even share it with him. :-( It is scheduled in about 7 weeks. You'll all know about it then. As a lovely blogger I follow  would tweet Squeeeeeeeeeee............(You know who you are Jayne xo)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

#26 DAD

I am finding it difficult to catch up on my blogs, I really want to blog about what has just happened in my family rather than filling you in on what has happened over the past couple of months. So here goes!

While I was away on holidays early January, my dad was due to have a hip replacement which is all very standard. In fact the operation went very well and a couple of days later he was up and walking around the hospital doing physio and getting along just fine.

Unfortunately he developed an infection for which the doctors could not find the source. They started treating him with antibiotics & found he had extensive pneumonia. This progressively got worse & finally my eldest sister (a nurse) flew to Victoria to see what was happening. The next day my other sister (Kim who had come & looked after me when I had my op) called and told me she had just had a panicked call from mum saying dad has had a bad turn. She suggested I head down to see him! So in a panic I packed some clothes, not knowing how long I would be there for & booked a 0500 flight the next morning.

When I arrived at the hospital Tuesday morning dad was on oxygen with a mask that covered his whole face. I made a comment about not wanting to miss the party, he laughed & had a joke back at me. These were the last words I would be having with my dad! Ever!

By the afternoon, he had been intubated & sedated. Therefore unable to communicate with any of us. Over the next two days we sat by his bedside throughout the day watching him deteriorate. Going back to my sisters each night (she lived about an hour & a half away from the hospital) Mum & my eldest sister were staying with friends near the hospital.

On Thursday evening when we were all planning on leaving the hospital the nurses suggested we stay & speak with the doctor. He advised us that he may not last the night! His kidney's had failed & so had his liver by this stage! Kim & I sat with him all night, Karen took mum to a motel for a couple of hours to try & get some sleep & one of my dad's brother's who had come to see him that day, decided to stay also. We sat with dad getting my uncle to tell us stories of them growing up!

It was a long night, mum came back about 1am and we all just sat with him until the end 0650 Friday morning! I will never forget sitting with him right until the end holding his hand & talking to him.

We were all devastated, especially mum! To her it was so unexpected they had been married for 54 years!
I am so grateful that the family had been together only a month earlier & that dad had been so happy at that time. I will miss him always.........................

Rest well dad, I love you xoxo
With my younges & my mum at Dad's wake........

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#25 Tamworth

Well I'm sorry for being so tardy with my blogging. I'll try & give you all an accurate update of my progress!

So much has happened & it all feels like it was so long ago! I went back to work as you all know after my surgery & was doing short shifts up until Christmas. Each week I was feeling stronger & not so tired afterwards. Christmas party's were starting to happen & I was feeling well enough to attend my previous works dinner late November & then a couple of weeks later my current works party! All was going quiet well. I have previously mentioned that I had a family party to attend in Tamworth the week before Christmas & was very excited to see all my family after all I had been through.

This weekend started to look like it was never going to happen. There had been a lot of flooding around the country especially in NSW leading up to this & getting to Tamworth was looking to be a challenge for all the family, as we were coming from different States. Dad was due to have a hip replacement Op in January & his cardiologist wanted him to have a pacemaker before this surgery. Mum & Dad were not sure they were going to make the party (Dad's 80th & my brother's 50th combined) as they thought the pacemaker surgery was going to be around the same time. My eldest sister had a death in the extended family (her brother in law) & the funeral was still to be scheduled. My surgery was the least of every ones worries. Things were not looking good!

We were all due to arrive in Tamworth on the Friday for dinner & it wasn't until Wednesday night that I received a call from mum saying they would be there as the surgery was scheduled after the weekend & my sister could also attend as the funeral  was also to be after the weekend! Yay, finally it was all falling into place.

Finally we were heading off, after several detours due to flooding we managed to get to Tamworth 10 hours later just in time for dinner. We were the last to arrive! It was so amazing walking into the pub & seeing all my family. I felt very emotional after all I had been through!

The weekend was so lovely & the party on Saturday night was fantastic! My brother (A chef) made a surfboard sushi platter, that Dad thought was just for him. Photo's to follow :-)
We spent Sunday doing Christmas presents & final goodbyes as everyone had a long trip home. Little did we know it would be the last time we would all be together!

Dad enjoying his Sushi
The whole family together (minus one nephew)