The three of us are all getting acquainted
Nearly two and a half weeks after my surgery, I am finally starting to feel like myself again! It’s time to update my beautiful family and friends about my recovery.
Not gonna lie, the first week brought quite some rough days in terms of pain and discomfort. Most of the pain has been on the mastectomy side, which is my right side. Specifically, the pain has been in the armpit and the arm due to the nodes that were removed. After much research pre-surgery, I did contrive a comfortable sleeping situation consisting of a large wedge pillow, topped with a giant u-shaped pregnancy/body pillow, and a big pillow under my knees. This allowed me to remain on my back comfortably. I am a side and stomach sleeper, and that won’t be happening again for a while! The funniest part of this arrangement is that Eric seems like he’s on a lower floor as we lovingly gaze up/down at each other.
My current BFF is Hilton Becker, my plastic surgeon. I have seen him every other day since my surgery as follow-ups on the girls, who are basically strangers to me now: my boob and my foob (cancer-speak for ‘fake boob’). Things are still bruised and swollen and healing, but I can see the artistry that Dr. Becker is known for and I’m excited for the final results. My left boob underwent a lift, and my right boob underwent a skin sparing mastectomy with an immediate adjustable implant. Up until today, he has been filling the implant with air to slowly allow the healing skin to stretch so it is symmetrical to my left side. We achieved that today, and on Monday the air will be replaced with saline. Here’s a photo of me after my appointment today– right foob is looking like a boob! (in a shirt, at least)
It feels so strange to have your body change this much in one day. Of course, post-surgery cancer boobs are scary to look at, and I understood that what I was seeing was not going to be the final result. Still, it was an irreversible good-bye to my old self. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be getting used to this new self. At the moment, my foob is basically at its air capacity and it feels like a balloon. Seriously. Weird.
Another weird but interesting experience I have had recently is a 10 day treatment at a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s a tube where the air is pressurized and you lie there for an hour breathing in pure oxygen. Dr. Becker sent me there to speed up the healing of my incisions, especially bringing pure oxygen to the cells of my mastectomy side skin. Here’s a photo I snapped while in there a few days ago:
When I first looked at that tube, I was worried I’d be MRI-style claustrophobic. However, I have used my time there to listen to relaxing music and do some mindfulness meditation. It has been lovely, it has helped my incision healing, and it’s helped me sleep better. The place where they have this tube is also so strange, though… it’s a location in Delray that has treatments like a cryotherapy freezer and individually tailored “IV”s people can sign up for. The staff are all ridiculously fit and attractive people with nursing degrees administering IVs, or in my case, taking my blood pressure before zipping me into the tube. Yesterday was my last treatment, but I was oddly fascinated with this place and the people who go there out of their own volition.
My focus is now on the next step. My first post-op appointment with Dr. Reddy, my oncologist, is next week. This is an important appointment as we will be deciding the specifics of the systemic (whole body) therapy I will need to keep this cancer from coming back. As I shared earlier, it looks like I can safely avoid chemo because the Mammaprint indicates no real benefit for my particular kind of cancer. While this is great news, there are still therapies I must undergo. This will most likely look like hormone receptor blocking medication I will take for the next 10 years. There are some serious side effects associated with these meds, but of course they all outweigh a cancer recurrence.
I will end this post with a big THANK YOU to the friends and family who have made us feel so loved through this process. I had flowers delivered no fewer than five times. My Henderson moms, co-workers, and friends arranged a meal train that kept us fed for TWO whole weeks; I can’t tell you how fun and delicious it was for us to hear our doorbell at 6:00 pm daily with a new delivery of awesome. Thank you so much for your generosity. I have also continued to receive thoughtful cards and gifts in the mail, from mugs, to blankets, to inspirational jewelry. I feel so undeserving, but so, so grateful. To express my gratitude, here is a cute meme for all of you. May all future lab results I take look like this: