They’re All Gonna Laugh At You

Last week, I met with my surgeon again. The one who put me back together. He is amazing, he really is. But this time, I struggled through the appointment listening to his criticism of my body (or what he made of it) and felt more and more self-conscious throughout the appointment. We even had guests this time (and PICTURES!!!!!!!). Two blonde twenty-somethings that were there to scribe. Of course, having two additional people in the room while I was completely (COMPLETELY!) naked was not really at the top of my list of fun things to do for the day. For the record, I would have prepped (cough, cough…. sorry ’bout that) a little better if I would have KNOWN we were going to take allllll the clothes off 😭. And show alllll the people. 😩🙀. But wait. There’s more.

Not only was I to stand in a 10 x 10 room with three other people while I was NAKED, but we were also going to point out every. Single. Flaw. There was good reason, I guess, but I wasn’t really feeling super awesome about it.

My doctor found a few areas he would like to “fix”. Previously, he has operated on my tummy, breasts and arm pit (where the lymph nodes were removed). This next surgery, he plans to work on my sides and left breast, do a procedure on my back (probably the most excited about that one), create nipple projection and inject my scars. I have developed hypertrophic scar tissue, which appears bright red and rope-like. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

The side effects of chemo and radiation still linger. I’ve had a couple of bad ear infections (my immunity is still very compromised), but I’m finding more energy every day. I still don’t remember most of the details of last year, but that’s alright. It wasn’t a great year anyway.

INDY benefit.

Bald
Bald and no boobs

Stamina

Life. Is. Happening.

School has started for the kids (and me), and this always means schedules fill up and winter is on its way. I hate winter. It means less time outside, dirty cars, boots, snow pants, heavy winter coats and all things freezing cold. I can’t walk in the woods or bike on the roads and there are times it just hurts to be outside. Plans are often cancelled or postponed, I have to worry about driving and my daughter driving….. I really hate winter.

These past few weeks I’ve been finding more energy for things like distance running and weightlifting. My knees are holding up fine and I’m able to hit 4-6 miles at the 9 minute mile. It’s a way slower pace than I used to run, but I’ll take it. It feels so good to run past the hump, which for me is about 2 miles, and continue without issue. My lungs seem to be adapting to training and my muscle tone is sloooooowly starting to change.

This week I have a few appointments. One is a consultation for the next surgery as well as a check up for my surgical sites. Essentially my surgeon will squeeze and rub, pull and push and make sure I’m healing symmetrically. From there we decide if he will modify any of the reconstruction. Unfortunately, I develop excess scar tissue anytime I have surgery, so we would run the risk of making that worse if modifications are decided.

So far, I’m totally ok with how I look with clothes on, but struggle to look any other time. My scars are still very red and angry, as it’s only been 3 months since Humpty Dumpty was put back together again. It seems like a lifetime ago!

Next step will be tattoos!

Another Day, Another Cancer

About 7 years ago, I had baby boy Beckham.  Pregnancies were overall pretty easy for me EXCEPT for the lack of activity.  I was able to exercise and run during my last two, but didn’t have nearly the stamina that I was used to.  At my six week check-up, I wanted to get the ok to start training for a specific race that was coming up.  While I was at my check-up, I was going to have a few moles removed from my scalp, as they had become very vascular and annoying during pregnancy.  My doctor obliged.  Brad was waiting in the reception area with a one year old and a 6 week old, with no idea of what was going on in my appointment other than a check up.  My doctor numbed the places on my scalp and easily removed the disgusting looking brown knobs and placed a few sutures for easy healing.
There was one mole that he couldn’t reach in the position that he was in.  It was summertime, and I had worn flip flops to the appointment, so had kicked them off and was barefooted.  As he rounded that end of the exam table, he stopped and pointed to an area on the bottom of my foot.  It was a birthmark that I had always had.  It was flat and looked much like a splotch of brown paint.  He began to ask a few questions.  How long had it been there?  Has it changed?  That sort of thing.  Dr. let me know he would be removing it today.  Mind you, it was about the size of a nickle at least, and it meant he would be cutting into the bottom of my foot.  I’ll tell you a little something.  I’ve had natural childbirths.  I do not use anesthetic for dental procedures.  I elect for no anesthetic for many medical procedures and I can tolerate pain better than the average person.  I am no wuss.  However.  There is nothing like the sting and burn and absolute PAIN of anesthetic into the bottom of your foot.  For ease of access, I had been on my stomach and the doctor warned me and apologized ahead of time, but it was a great big ouch.
Mr. Doctor Mole Remover was no longer my friend as he proceeded to take the circumference of a quarter out of the bottom of my foot, just near the arch, and all the way to the muscle underneath.  He stitched me up and let me know he would give me my results ASAP.  I tried to walk out to Brad.  At this point, I was numb, so didn’t feel anything but pressure, but I had ripped out all of my sutures as soon as I stood up.  It was bad, bad, bad and a very difficult time as a stay-at-home Mom to two kiddos under 2.  For the next few days, A had to go to daycare as I couldn’t walk around and I had to take care of my infant.  In about that same amount of time, I had gotten an alert in my online charting system that I had received a message.  When I opened it up, it was a booklet on “How To Deal With Your Recent Melanoma Diagnosis” and then my lab results.  Super-duper not cool and also, WHAT?  I was 30 or so at that time, and isn’t melanoma for people that sit in the sun too long?  And how could I have it on the BOTTOM OF MY FOOT?  The sun doesn’t even touch that area!   What exactly does that mean?  Will I have to have treatments and such?  If I ignore it all, what will happen? Well, it seems that when he removed the melanoma, pathology had revealed that he removed all of it.  They recommended that I go back and have MORE of my foot removed, as that is standard after melanoma, but I was not having it.  I had that race to train for (insert heavy eye roll here).
Last week, I had my first skin check in years to check for suspicious lesions.  None were found, but while I like to keep life interesting, my dermatologist wanted me to get a few x-rays of my chest as some of the symptoms I was having (persistent cough, lack of lung capacity, saturation were lower than normal, I was having difficulty running, etc.) were pointing to potentially serious issues, especially because breast cancer’s twin sister is lung cancer.  Also, she wanted these x-rays today.  Like, now.  So, I did.
I was at work when I got the phone call with my results.  Mind you, I hadn’t told anyone.  Not a single soul.  I was scared.  I knew what that phone call meant.  Luckily it was during a quick break in students and I could step into a semi-private area.  My heart was not prepared to take any more bad news.  I already knew what that phone call felt like.  Twice.
The kind woman on the other line was introducing herself and letting me know the results were in I really couldn’t hear a damn thing she was saying.  But I did hear two words very clearly.  Not cancer.  HOWEVER, it is something.  We have a couple of options.  Likely pulmonary toxicity.  I guess it’s really common for chemo/radiation patients to suffer from this.  To me, it feels like asthma.  I have a few more appointments coming up to figure out exactly what it is and how to treat it.