The Unspoken.

Most of the time when you hear the six letter word, CANCER, you think that the person is dying and that they are going to have to fight to stay alive. That fight entailing chemotherapy appointments, radiation, surgery, being really sick, losing weight, looking ill, and being tired. All of which are 100% accurate. But what you don’t think about are the unspoken obstacles the cancer patient will face. The unspoken obstacles that are just as hard.

While in the midst of cancer you are being torn apart while continuing to put yourself back together. Physically, parts of your body are being torn apart by chemo and radiation while mentally and emotionally you are putting yourself back together. I read an article recently that was sent to me by a family member, that summed it up perfectly. Yes, we need the chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation to make the cancer go away but we also need the attitude and drive to make ourselves keep going. The cancer card that we have been dealt isn’t a fair one. It steals quality time with those we love, it prevents us from working full-time and continuing our careers, it strips our bodies of nutrients, it makes you a different person. And a different person to sure as hell be proud of. I’ve said it before, “Life is hard, living is harder”. A friend of mine had quoted that once and I love it. Cancer affects so many people directly and indirectly. When it is you, you have a choice. Living is your choice. Fighting is your choice. Your attitude, your determination, and your drive is what gets you through it. It may be your husband, your kids, your dreams, your goals but whatever it is, it is your choice to push and beat cancer. You determine that in your own mind and you keep going.

I never spoke much of the ‘red devil’ (Adriamycin and Cytoxan also known as the AC combo) chemo treatments I took during the early months of this year (2021). Mainly because it kicked my ass so badly that I didn’t have the strength nor desire to talk about it more than I was living it. The drug is so powerful that they inject two massive syringes (one at a time) into your port IV over a 10 minute period. The drug is red hence the ‘red’ and it truly is the ‘devil’ or at least what you would think the ‘devil’ would be like. The evening after my first infusion I remember crawling to the bathroom and just lying beside the toilet thinking that if I threw up I’d feel so much better even though I had received anti-nausea medication at the hospital. Fortunately, I never threw up but if it would have made me feel better I would have done it 100 times. I couldn’t walk. I just wanted to lay on the floor in the fetal position and sleep. It was to painful to sleep though so instead you just lie there breathing through the pain as it cycles through your body killing what is trying to kill you. The good news is that these treatments were every other week. The experts probably decided that because they know that you, as the patient, would rather jump off a cliff instead of getting the infusions. A headache kicked in about 15 minutes after each infusion began. Let’s not forget about the day after treatment and the shot you have to get to increase your white blood cell count since the ‘red devil’ kills the good and bad cells. That shot brought on fatigue and bone pain. For me, the bone pain was in my lower back and it just hurt. Almost like back pain during childbirth.

With the ‘red devil’ comes other devilish things. These are the things many don’t talk about. Constipation. Yep, chemo makes that happen. I didn’t have a bowel movement for five days after the first ‘red devil’ treatment. You talking about pain and bloating. It was awful. I ended up reaching out to a friend that had gone through the same thing and her husband brought over a suppository that she still had in her bathroom cabinet. Thank goodness! It certainly helped matters. Then comes the dry mouth and sores, too. Fortunately, I only had a couple of sores in my mouth but a dry mouth sucks when you already aren’t wanting to eat and drinking anything is just gross. Then there are the menstrual periods that you will more likely never have again due to the type of drugs you’re getting and what they do in addition to killing cancer. I hadn’t had one since December 2018 (I got pregnant with our second child in January 2019) so I was good with that but that also meant menopausal systems would begin to kick in. So vaginal dryness, no sexual desire, hot flashes, weight gain, The things you know will happen to you as a woman but the actual timing is unknown. Menopause doesn’t just happen when you wake up one day. It happens over months and years. So as a 36 year old, wife and mother, sure, why not go through menopause while I’m trying to raise kids and enjoy the first years of my marriage. Our girls are four and almost 2. They were 3 1/2 and 11 months when my cancer diagnosis was given. They will more than likely only remember tidbits of this journey while my husband and I will remember it entirely. The tears and the unknown. The odd moments between us when the lights were dim and the kids were tucked away in bed. The moments we both asked why this was happening to us. But most importantly, we’ll remember how it brought us closer together. The trust, the compassion, gratitude and new kind of love.

The say life isn’t easy but it is totally worth it! If you are ever diagnosed with cancer put up the fight. You fight many battles in life. Some are just more difficult than others but fighting cancer is worth it. Once again, life is hard, living is harder. You got this!

All the Newness.

My JP drain tubes (from the mastectomy) were in 43 days before they came out. If you didn’t see it you should check out my Instagram page, @mbtalkspink. I had posted a REEL the day I was told they’d be coming out. I was SO happy!! I was finally going to get back to normalcy or at least some form of it. When you have the drain tubes in you’re supposed to ‘not do much’. There were days I’d sit on the couch and watch TV and do things online and my numbers would be the same as the days I’d get up do some laundry, sweep the floors and make the beds. To get the drain tubes out each drain bulb had to be 30 mls or less for two consecutive days. Well that sure wasn’t the case for me. The numbers would decrease for a few days at a time and then skyrocket again. It was so discouraging and there’s not a thing you can do to make them drain less. Just wait. For those of you that may not know what the drain bulbs are collected; it is the fluid your body is getting rid of as it heals from the mastectomy. Some women don’t have them in but a week or two. There are so many factors. Did you get reconstruction or not. Did you have a full mastectomy. Did they have to remove lymph nodes. And the list goes on and on. But finally the day came and the dang things were coming out. Call me crazy but when the nurse took the drains out I placed my hand on the top of my boob because I wanted to see how it felt as it came out. I’m a curious person what can I say. It was pretty cool but then I began to get the nauseous feeling. I stood up and had to sit right back down. Ha. Ha. Mind you I had already had one drain tube removed at a previous appointment so these were the last two drains to be taken out so I had an idea of what was gong on. Once I was feeling a bit better the nurse told me that I’d still need to take it easy for a week or so. No mowing the yard. No reaching super high. No lifting furniture. So I took it easy. Even though I was so happy to finally have the drains out it didn’t even compare to how happy I was knowing I’d get to pick up my girls. For the first time in six weeks, I picked up my girls and it was THE BEST FEELING! Seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing my oldest say ‘Mommy can hold me again!’ was the best. My youngest wouldn’t let me not hold her for days. She took ever chance she got and how could I say no to that so I held her all the time and I still am… every chance I get… both of my girls!

Life hadn’t been this normal is a long time. Finally getting to do things without feeling sick or exhausted. Being able to see an end in site of all the appointments and scans. Being able to work without any restrictions. Being able to move around without drains coming out of my body. All these things were finally behind me and I could finally see a light to a normal life again. Even though I still had radiation to go I truly felt that nothing could top chemo and surgery. Those two things together were hell. So many unknowns and so much unpredicted pain.

I had originally thought I’d go back to work mid-May but the drain tubes just didn’t want me to do that so once the drains were removed I decided to take the memorial day holiday to just be with my family and friends. I’d head back to work on June 1st. It felt so good to be back in the swing of life. Being around people on a regular basis and having adult conversation on a more consistent basis was so nice.

I began radiation on June 7th. It has been a breeze for me. Not the ocean sea breeze but a breeze with just a bit of discomfort and with a mid-day 10 minute nap for a busy body.

19 days and counting…

Yep, 19 days and counting. I have had my JP drain tubes in for 19 days. Two drains are on my left side and one on my right. They were placed there before I came out of surgery to drain the fluid as I heal from the mastectomy and let me tell you they are awful. They are actual sewn in to my sides. Initially, I had to drain them every four hours and did for the first six or seven days. I don’t recall but now it’s just a couple times a day. A couple pictures of the contraptions are below. They have pretty much kept me from doing anything. I can’t drive. Can’t walk very fast. Can’t pick up my girls. Can’t hold my girls unless I’m sitting down. I have to put them in a pouch when I shower and then can’t wear many of my own clothes because the tubes need some leverage to move around. They get sore easily since they are in my side and gravity pushes them downward. They suck. Oh yeah, and I have to keep gauzes on them so that they are somewhat protected but also to catch any fluid that may make it out of the incisions verses going into the tube. When I feel above the incision I can actually feel the tubes inside my body. That’s pretty cool.

Now let’s rewind just a bit to day eight when I met with my General Surgeon. Meeting with your GS post-op more less entails them taking a look at your incisions and drainage numbers to see how things are progressing. They also review your pathology report with you. For those of that don’t know what that is, it is a description of the tissue and cells based on microscopic evidence of what was found during surgery. For me, I certainly came into the doctors office in better spirits than when I left. For me, they weren’t able to get all of the cancer out. For me, the GS said it looked as if a salt shaker had been shaken around the lymph nodes that had been removed and microscopic cancer still remains. Certainly not the information I wanted to hear. Per the GS, he said that the radiation is expected to take care of it. Fortunately, radiation was in my treatment plan either way so that wasn’t a surprise. As my appointment ended, my GS told me that everything else looked good including my incisions. He kept saying I was every color of the rainbow. He was referencing the bruising I had which is still present today. Once he left the room I began to get dressed and began to cry. My mom walked over to me and just hugged me. Why was this happening to me. Why couldn’t they just get it out when they were in there. I had been through 16 rounds of chemo. Four of which kicked my ass. I had just had my chest opened up, my breast and 10 lymph nodes completely removed, eight lymph nodes of which had cancer and now I had just been told that there was still cancer inside of me. How was this even possible. I had thought chemo would get it all out. Other than radiation, what else can be done to get it out. More chemo? Please God, no. I was so discouraged. I came home and talked to my husband and the tears poured. I told him how it all just sucks. No one should have to go through this type of thing, this turmoil, this hurt, this pain, this anger. None of it. I recall the remainder of the weekend feeling let down. I don’t recall talking or really smiling much. Fortunately, my husband and girls had given me a night with just my mom to lounge around and relax so the three of them didn’t have to see me feel that way. I didn’t care to talk about what was going on and certainly didn’t want to think about all the ‘what if’s’ but as we all know it’s so hard not to. Each day came and went and my mind adjusted to the fact that I still had cancer inside my body. To get it out would entail more work and I was up to that challenge.

My anticipation was swirling high as the day drew closer to my first post-op appointment with my Oncologist. What was she going to say. Was the treatment plan going to change now that cancer was still inside. Good news is that once I met with her not much would change. Lots of things were added though. On May 7th, I will have yet again another Bone Scan and CT Scan to view the inside of my body. These scans will detect any cancer cells that may have spread since my last scan in October. The reason is this. Chemo was administered to me for 16 weeks to shrink the cancer that had been found. Surgery was performed to remove the tumor and infected lymph nodes. Now this is the scary part for me to digest. Chemo nor surgery suppressed the estrogen which is what has been found to feed the type of breast cancer I have, diagnosing me as ER+. The really awesome news is that my cancer is growing at a very slow rate so in my mind it hasn’t gone anywhere else in my body. On May 11th, I meet with my Radiology Oncologist for the first time. They will scan the area of which they will apply radiation and mark me for the radiation to begin. I’ll share more on that once I’ve been through it.

In the next two to four weeks, I’ll begin to take hormonal medication. Given I am ER+ (estrogen positive and at my Oncology appointment found out that I also PrG+ (progesterone positive) due to findings during surgery), all of the estrogen in my body has to be shut down. I’ll be placed into early menopause at age 36 after being administered a shot every 28 days to more less shut down my reproductive organs. Now as a women that carried two beautiful girls, pregnancy has always been so incredibly fascinating to me. My body created life. My body grew a person that will forever have an impact on me, other people, and this world. I felt them inside of me as they kicked and moved around. And now being told that the organs that made those lives will be taken out of me is really hard to come to grips with. I have no idea if Aaron and I would have ever had more children. We had never said we would but we never said we wouldn’t. If you’ve read previously blogs about my journey you know that I had a really hard time with that thought initially. But this is how I’ve started looking at it. God gave me two amazingly beautiful girls that I love more than anything in this entire world. God allowed me to grow them inside my body, he allowed me to birth them, and is now allowing me to raise them to the best of my ability. There are women I know that could never conceive. There are women I know that have been pregnant and lost their unborn child. There are women I know that carried their child, birthed their child but never took their child home due to complications. I do have cancer. I will never be pregnant again. I will never have the opportunity to birth a child again due to cancer. But God did give me two girls that I am forever grateful for. It has taken me time to get to that place and I know that shutting down my reproductive organs is necessary to keep me healthy for my husband and my girls.

Now moving on. In addition to the shot, I’ll take a daily oral medication that will lower the chances of the ER+ cells attaching to the cancer cells and helping them grow thus keeping the cancer away. I’ll also have an IV administered every six months that will help with bone health given the fact that menopause causes both health to deteriorate. Moving forward, once these drugs start to flow through my body I’ll begin to experience some of the menopause side effects including hot flashes, mood swings, and potential weight gain. So just a heads up if I come walking in and you see me sweating, pissed off and 20 pounds heavier!

I have no idea why God has placed cancer inside my life. I’m not sure what will come of this challenge he has put me up against but I do know that I’ll be better for it. I have already learned a lot about myself and my body. I have chosen to let certain things bother me because they should and to let the majority of things just roll off my back. Life isn’t easy. Life actually sucks sometimes in every way possible but what life does give us is faith, hope and love. Those three things can get you through the really bad times and when you get through those really bad times you’re smiling on the other side and grateful for all you have.

Let’s get this cancer out!

The week prior to having a major surgery involves cleaning the house from top to bottom, running errands, getting the fridge stocked full for my family because for me, I want my family to have nothing to worry about while I’m under the weather. I want to make sure all is in tip top shape and the minimal things need to be taken care of from day to day..

Up until the day before my bi-lateral mastectomy I had been pretty calm, pretty collected, and even had laughter mixed into chats with my family and friends.. I tried to keep things as normal as possible for myself.

The morning of surgery, my husband and I took the girls to school, and then headed downtown for my husband to get his second Covid shot. Who would have ever thought the morning before I was having my breast removed from my body that we’d be getting my husband vaccinated for a virus that had put the entire planet into pandemic mode. Ha.

Shortly after, we headed to the hospital, got checked in, and sat down in the waiting room. We made small talk and tried to keep the nervous feelings in a relaxed state. I would glance around the room periodically and wonder why others were there. Were they having a minor procedure or a major one. How was their health, otherwise. And did they look at me and think the same. About a hour into waiting, my name was called and back to pre-op I went while my husband sat in the waiting room until I was prepped, then he’d come back.

The medical assistant weighed me, asked my height and then had me pee in a cup. It’s so hard peeing in a cup especially after you have given birth. The aim just isn’t the same anymore. When I went into the pre-op room that had been assigned to me for the short hour or so I’d be in there, I saw the hospital gown I’d be wearing and it took me back to when I was in the same hallway just seven months earlier. Seven months prior, when I had my port put in to receive chemotherapy. I couldn’t be more grateful that those days were behind me. This gown was a bit more happy. It was navy blue and had orange and yellow flowers on it with white lines. I liked it much better than the one from seven months before. I did get the yellow socks again in case you were wondering. Ha.

A bit later, my husband walked into the room. I had already met with the nurse, who gave me an IV and ran through my medical history, my general surgeon, who stopped in to say high and mark the side of my chest that I would later receive a blue dye in and then the anesthesiologist, whom of which just ran over my allergies with me. I was so glad for my husband to be in there with me. He has a way of making things less worrisome and less stressful. A few minutes later, the nuclear medicine doctor came in. He had this little metal case kind of like you would see people in the good ol’ days carry their lunch in but the case was like half that size. He explained to me that the blue dye he was about to inject in me would identify the lymph nodes that had tried filtering the cancer from my breast. Therefore, the blue dye would identify the cancerous lymph nodes. When he opened the little metal case there was one needle in there just for me. Almost like it was a sci-fi movie and I was being injected with some mysterious drug that would transform me into a robot or something. When he injected that into my chest, it hurt. And I mean, HURT. It hurt like you would think a nuclear medicine would.; HELL, but in a few minutes it was gone.

It wasn’t much longer and it was time for me to head back to surgery so I took a deep breath, kissed my husband and off I went. It’s funny how some things you don’t recall and maybe that’s because you block them out of your memory even if they were somewhat simple. I don’t recall the bed moving out of the pre-op room and I vaguely remember it rolling into the OR. I do however, remember a girl calling my name, MaryBeth and I immediately knew who it was. A friend from years past who I had actually meet through my best friend was in that very operating room that day. She came over to me and held my hand until I was officially under. I remember feeling a bit more relaxed knowing a friend would be in there watching over me.

When I came to about five hours later I had been out of the OR for a hour or so. I saw my husband and was happy surgery was over. I don’t recall a lot between that and making it home. I do remember feeling loopy, the chatty nurse, and asking for some pain medicine so it didn’t run out on the way home. I’m certain I was loaded with pain meds but just wanted a bit more to be sure. Ha. Once I made it into my husbands truck I immediately felt like I was going to be sick so I made him ride home with the AC on full blast as I took deep breaths. I guess after I had been lying down for so long and then had the anesthesia, my body just wasn’t happy when I sat up. And yes, if you’re asking, ‘Did she go home the same day she had a mastectomy?’, the answer is, yes. It was an out-patient procedure. I was a nervous lady prior to but honestly, I’m thankful I came home. I was in my own element and had my own people.

Our girls had gone to the lake house the day of my surgery with my in-laws and were staying for the weekend so they wouldn’t have to see me in the state of pain and being uncomfortable. I’m so grateful they weren’t home. I highly recommend that if you have kids, Send them away if at all possible. You will be in no form what so ever to deal with them and you’ll need a full-time nurse (husband, wife, mom, dad, best friend, etc.) by your side. For the next week, my mom and I would be keeping alarms set on our phones for either antibiotics, tube drainage, or pain medicine reminders. We’d also sleep side by side for ten days. It was a mom/daughter slumber party. 🙂

When you have a procedure such as this done there are drainage tubes placed in the area where the surgery was performed. The tubes empty into something called a JP drain. At first, you have to drain the tubes every six hours to measure the drainage and then document it too later show the doctors the progress. The goal is for the drainage to be less than 30 ml in a 24 hour period. It takes a good 10-14 days for that to happen. And let me tell you, these drainage tubes get in the way of everything. Mind you, not only are you tender from having your breast removed but now you have tubes coming out of your sides and those incisions are even more tender. You have to be sure you don’t hit them on anything because it’ll jar them further upward. You have to make sure you don’t accidentally snag them with your hand because then it pulls on them. You have to make sure you don’t get them wet once you shower (typically five-seven days post-op). They are the worst. And if they happen to bleed, the dressings have to be changed. That a bit scary just because you’re trusting someone else that probably isn’t a medical professional, to do it.

The first three or four days are the toughest. I had to have help to sit up and lay down. When I needed to use the bathroom I couldn’t pull my pants down or up. I couldn’t pull the blankets up when I was cold and I certainly couldn’t change my own clothes. Eating was even difficult because of the arm motion. The lymph nodes and tumor were on my left side so that side has been extra tender. A wedge pillow loaned to me by a friend has been awesome. Highly recommended if you have this procedure done.

Did I mention that I wouldn’t get to see my girls once I was home. My husband was adamant about me staying away from the girls since I had the drainage tubes in. And given our girls age, it was a smart decision but certainly a hard one to stick to. About five days in, my oldest started coming to the basement before bedtime and spending some time with me which was so great. My youngest and I didn’t get to see one another for eight straight days. Tears certainly fell in those eight days. Not only was I tired of sitting around, (with some light movement a couple times a day) I was missing my girls. I could hear them upstairs playing and talking but I couldn’t see them, love on them or tend to them if they were upset. But finally, day eight rolled around and I was able to hug my youngest and it couldn’t have been a better moment. I’m not sure who was happier but I know we were both in heaven. We played, gently. We laughed, walked around and I tended to their minor needs. I had missed it all so much! Now only if earlier that day I had received good news verses not such good news.

Surgery and all that stuff.

As if just having cancer isn’t enough, there are chemo treatments, surgery, radiation and more drugs. Each cancer patient’s treatment plan is different. Sometimes you do chemo before surgery but sometimes after. You may just do radiation and have a less invasive surgery. You may never have to do surgery. It all depends on your diagnoses. For me, my treatment plan involves chemo, surgery, radiation, and hormonal drugs for years to come and in that order. But this surgery bit, that was a lot to work through. And now that I know I have the BRCA2 gene mutation, my ovaries come into play. And there isn’t one easy solution to any of the madness.

My diagnosis; Stage 3, Grade 2, ER+, Invasive Ductal Breast Carcinoma which simply means that the cancer traveled outside of the milk ducts in my breasts, where it originated from, to my lymph nodes and was growing at a 5% rate while being feed by estrogen (ER+). Being a women who has had two children, my estrogen levels have been extremely high. Funny thing about that is I have always heard that breastfeeding can decrease your chances of getting breast cancer. Well, that’s certainly not the case for me. My general surgeon told me that this cancer had probably been present for 3-5 years and when I started having children the estrogen fueled it. So I was damned if I did… and damned if I didn’t. In addition to the lymph nodes, there was tumor found by the mammogram and ultrasound both, which was a big surprise to me given it was in addition to the two swollen lymph nodes I had found myself. With all the information we had, we had a lot of thoughts to work through and decide upon.

  • Lumpectomy, remove just the lymph nodes and tumor but nothing else. Given I have the BRCA2 gene mutation that increases my chances of cancer returning in either breast.
  • Mastectomy, removal of just the one breast where the tumor is along with removing the lymph nodes but nothing else. Given I have the BRCA2 gene mutation that increases my chances of cancer returning in one breast.
  • Bi-Lateral Mastectomy, removal of both breast (but with 5% of tissue still remaining (skin and nipple)) to minimize the chances of cancer returning in both breast in addition to removing the infected lymph nodes.
  • Reconstruction, having your breasts reconstructed after the tissue is removed to look like your original boobs but with implants.
    • With implants brings other questions such as what type of implants do you want? Saline? Silicone? How large do you want them to be? Smaller than you are now or larger? If you decide to go with implants, these things called expanders are placed in your breast during your initial surgery. They are filled over a period of months with saline using a needle and once you are comfortable with the size the filling sessions will stop. Then the expanders are removed during another procedure and your implants are placed inside your breast.
  • You also have the option to just go flat. This is also called being a ‘flattie’ which entails having all of your breast tissue removed and nothing added back such as implants. Therefore, no tissue will be there to appear like breasts. I certainly flirted A LOT with this idea. I even asked if I could just have the mastectomy done and come back later to do implants if I ‘missed’ my boobs. Unfortunately, since I will be doing radiation that wasn’t an option for me. I had to make the decision to have boobs or no boobs. I flirted with the ‘flattie’ idea mainly because of all the things that could go wrong with implants such as leakage, my body rejecting the implants. Some women have stated that implants have made their overall health deteriorate over the years. And yes, that could be so. In years past, there have been cases of implants slowly leaking out into the body. Some of those cases were linked to rippled implants verses smooth and sometimes it wasn’t the implant but rather just the body not accepting them. Same goes for someone who has had a hip replacement or pacemaker procedure or any other foreign object being placed in your body. Sometimes your body just doesn’t like what you have placed inside of it. Believe me… if I had the choice to have my original breast, I would but then I would slowly begin to die from the cancer. And we ain’t doing that! Haha. And to note, a couple of positives to being a ‘flattie’ means no bras and no THO. How awesome! No bras ever! No titty hard on! What lady couldn’t get used to that!
  • And one of the last options is to do a flap procedure which is simply taking skin/fat from other areas on your body and placing it on your chest. Many have done this but it does require a longer healing period. It is also a more invasive surgery with more pain. And unfortunately, the procedure doesn’t always take and the skin/fat dies.
  • Then you have nipple sparing; leaving the nipples as they are and not removing them from the breast. Some don’t get to make this decision though. Sometimes the tumor is so close to the nipple that the nipple has to be removed. But I had the choice. I could keep them or have them removed. And if I had them removed the nipples could still be tattooed on by some amazing tattoo artists! Yeah, that’s a thing. But for me, this was hard. Really hard. As you’ve read prior, being pregnant and then having children was a dream of mine. Nursing my children was such an accomplishment and big dream of mine, too. My nipples are what gave my girls life for years. My nipples connected me to my girls in a way other things don’t and never will. My nipples are a part of me. And without them I felt I’d just have two, firm, perky, tan balls sitting on chest. Two firm, perky, tan balls with no sensation ever again due to the nerves being removed during surgery. No blood flow. So why take my nipples? At least they provide some form of normalcy when looking at them. A fun fact: Once you have a mastectomy with reconstruction you can shine a light through your new boobs and they will glow. So bizarre but somewhat humorous!

I cried about it, prayed about it, discussed it with my husband, and asked more question during doctor visits. Once we felt comfortable, we decided to go with a nipple sparing, bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction to decrease my chances of breast cancer returning. Meeting with three different plastic surgeons, reviewing their work through confidential patient photos, getting a good feel for their bedside manner, and of course their reviews online and through word of mouth, I was able to make my decision and was more than comfortable about it. I knew I would be in great hands.

Just like being diagnosed with cancer, losing your breasts is too a grieving process. I have lost my hair, lost time with my husband, children, family and friends, lost my appetite and still don’t crave some things like I did before. I lost days and nights due to the chemo side effects where I could have been playing or laughing. But what I have gained is courage, compassion, patience, faith, hope, wisdom, love, friends, deeper conversations with my husband, and yet again, a new identity. My breasts will no longer be what I was given at birth. They will be artificial. But they will be a part of the new me. The new lady that sees life differently, who has fought to be here and will soon be a survivor.