A tough decision… but who needs breasts?

556963777To follow on from last weeks post… I have more news but it’s still filled with ‘ifs and maybes’. That uncertainty which I know and hate.

To help with uncertainty I’ve made a decision for myself. After a long hard think about it and discussions with the family… I’ve decided to have a mastectomy (left breast) next Wednesday regardless of the ‘new lump’ cancer status. That was a pretty hard decision to make but once I made it I felt relieved. Who wants to live the rest of their life with lumpy boobs and potential tumours that grow with the speed of light? I’ve had up to 15 cysts in each breast from the age of 17 which makes self-lump detection impossible. The breast screen didn’t pick up the tumour last October and it grew rapidly over 3 months to golf ball size. How could I ever relax?

The ‘new’ lump is growing dramatically and feels very much like the ‘old’ one. Hard, irregular, immobile and sore. The old tumour is also growing. There is a race going on and I feel like a lump factory! The surgeon is pretty certain that the new lump is malignant and she would be doing a mastectomy anyhow if that’s the case.

Here are the bullet points again:

  • I will have a full reconstruction during the surgery providing the tumours aren’t bigger than 5cm and haven’t spread into the chest wall. If this is the case, I will need radiotherapy and they will put a balloon (!) in there to hold the space and the reconstruction will be done after treatment finishes. Colin said he is going to chase me around with a pin.
  • I probably won’t have my current chemo again but may need to go back on the old one (TBC)
  • I may need all of the lymph nodes removed because they look ‘suspicious’ but they will test them while I’m under anaesthetic and decide then
  • Surgery is next Wednesday the 10th of Sep but I have no notification yet so I don’t know times. I’m not even really certain which hospital I will be in
  • I need to see a plastic surgeon but I have no notification yet so I don’t know times (!)
  • It’s all being done in such a rush the doctors are in a spin. They had a meeting yesterday to discuss my situation which they said is very complex. Well yeah… I am not a simple person. Even my breasts are complicated ha ha.
  • I don’t have to have the core biopsies tomorrow. YAY!!!!!! I have a very busy weekend so I can party on.

I feel peaceful and happy with my decision. Many of my friends have offered to donate their breasts as they feel they are too well endowed. I have such generous friends. I wonder what they would do if I said ‘yes please’ with a serious face. I may take all donations and make a collage out of them. Ew!!

I don’t know how they will do the reconstruction but I’ll find out soon. I hope they collect bits of fat from hips, thighs and buttocks. The balloon sounds interesting but I’m worried about what colour it is. You know how important that is to me.

Arty news

Luther College artist in residence project. 'Noahs ark'

Luther College artist in residence project. ‘Noahs ark’

Last week I was approached by a book publisher to illustrate a children’s book. I’ve now signed the contract so that means I’d better do it!!

I’ve got my Artist in Residence position at Luther College with my artwork to complete, classes to teach and I have several commissioned jobs waiting to be done.

Like so often in life, a door closed and another one has opened. I think I’m officially an artist. Wow that sounds weird. I don’t even think my art is good but I enjoy doing it and others seem to like it. I have sold more than 60 pieces of artwork since March this year along with products and prints. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I’m loving the expression and creativity it releases in me without the need for concentration or stress. It’s just as well because concentration really isn’t happening in this little brain lately. At least I have a break from chemo and will be able to construct a sentence without the need for charades when I can’t find the words.

I’ve been sharing my story with the kids at Luther College and how getting cancer has opened a whole new world for me and that with bad things there is always good if you look for them. To prove it, I’ve told them how I can draw my eyebrows on differently every day and wear different wigs. They give me that ‘gee you’re a weird person’ look that teenagers do.

I’ve had so many opportunities and wonderful experiences as a result of spending time on my art that I can only see it as a blessing. I am SO not returning to my previous work. I now declare that my geek days are over:)

If I get more details about my surgery I’ll post them before next week, especially if I find out the balloon colour as I know you’re all dying to know.

Purple would be nice yes?

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4 comments

  1. Hi Jenny, my girlfriend had a double mastectomy last year and has not looked back, she is so happy now and not worried all the time. She actually had to wait a certain time for a reconstruction and you would not know. You will be fine and you have a beautiful family and friends to support you, all the best and take care xx

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  2. What a decision you have had to make but how brave you are for doing so. How lucky you are to have such a supportive family and so many wonderful friends behind you during every step of this journey. I hope to process is smooth sailing and things just work out the best they can for you and your family. All my love, support and prayers xx

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  3. Dear Jenny, Colin and co,

    We will be with you all the way next Wednesday and know in our heart of hearts that you will have a positive result. No more superlatives except that our admiration for your courage and determined approach is beyond words and don’t be cross that we need to let you know that! Love across the miles, Jan and Tom

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