reconstruction

The circus they call ‘home’

Here I am mostly intact. We have moved in with Sophie and Jarrod in Glen Waverley and our dogs only fight every 3.5 seconds now so things are improving. It’s like a circus here but we don’t have to buy tickets so that makes it kind of cool.

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We have successfully settled our sold house and our purchased house at Safety Beach is ready to be demolished. We are hoping to have a little holiday in it before that happens but that depends…

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I hesitate to tell you what’s going on medically because I don’t want my breast cancer followers to lose hope for breast reconstruction. However, here is the long and short of it…

diep flap

New flat belly complete with belly button repositioning. Sutures keep going around the corner!

Here I am with a stomach wound which looks like someone took to my waist with a can opener, various scars from the tape (everywhere), bruising from various injections and lines, a right breast which has had a reduction and looking pretty fine, a left breast which is ‘mostly’ fine BUT part of the DIEP flap reconstruction has lost circulation and ‘died’. So I have a black hole the size of two 50c pieces on the inner part of my left ‘breast’. It is a big bad angry looking mamma. No photos provided. I don’t want to scare you.

10155433_10153574376714506_2489141779332434782_nOh… not to mention a 7cm scar on my arm from the incidental melanoma. 

What now? They decided that this section of the flap is definitely ‘dead’ on Monday so I need to go back into surgery to have ‘something’ done about it. The melanoma also needs to have more taken from it so they will do both at once. The surgeon will decide when and what tomorrow morning (Wednesday 23rd March 2016).

I’m off all pain killers now so I should be heading onward and upward… if only I didn’t have to go back in and get it done again. I appreciate  your prayers and concerns. Soon this will be over and we can just stop and watch the dog circus while sipping camomile tea and wondering where on Earth all those things we packed into storage for 12 months are. My car will be released from it’s holding bay where The MOTH put it so I can’t drive. Meanie. 

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It’s just a flesh wound

My guest blogger seems to have upstaged me so I’m taking over again! Thanks Sophie for your lovely contribution I love you heaps.

Today is ‘verdict day’ so it’s an odd day to update the blog but it’s a good time to share my past week and clear my mind in doing so.

T10636229_10152421456294506_7077982170405306639_nhis beast of a cancer is determined to make a fashion model out of me. Now that I am hairless, one breasted and having to carry two drainage tubes around in a floral bag the picture is perfect.  I had a few additions in hospital such as the long white socks and the bandage over the cannula. Apparently it’s all for the good.

If I could be so vain as to say my best attributes have gone, I would say it but perhaps it’s that my vices have been stripped from me and that can be a good thing. It forces me to live life for the right reasons. Besides, who needs a breast when it’s trying to kill you? Who needs hair when you have to keep washing it and cutting it. Apparently it will grow back. I already have stumpy little eye lashes and eyebrows growing.

images-1The surgery wasn’t so bad. I took panadol and off I went, showering myself the morning after surgery and feeling pretty good overall. My underarm is giving me the most grief as it has a strange crater in it. I seem to have a lot of weird sensations, including pain, under there but I guess it will subside.  I also have numbness, intermittent coldness and a feeling that a mouse is running up the inside of my arm. Maybe I should remove the cheese from my armpit (mouse… cheese… never mind).

I’m so pleased that I kept up my exercise as I am still feeling so very fit and have very little fatigue. I can’t do any for 4 weeks now so that’s disappointing but at least I have a good starting point.

They put 100 ml of saline into the expander, which isn’t anything to write home about but in 2 weeks time they will add more and keep doing that until I am ‘balanced’.  Sorry… no photos. I draw the line there and I’m sure you’re pleased about that. Sophie couldn’t wait to see the war zone but not everyone has her warped curiosity.

I had a huge room of my own in the hospital for 5 nights and the nurses were calling me the queen. Given that my arm exercises include a ‘Queen like wave’ I showed them just how right they were. Although they were all lovely and I was very well treated (apart from the food!!!) I am very happy to be at home. There’s no place like home.

I would have been home after 2 days but the drainage from the wounds was (and still is) flowing a little too much. Hopefully the drainage tubes will come out soon as I am not fond of dragging them around with me. Yesterday was my dear MOTH’s birthday and after waiting all day for the district nurse to arrive we went to the movies and out to dinner. I had my drainage tubes in a bag under my coat, my wig and makeup back on and off we went. A tiring but fun day to celebrate  his birthday and the ignorance which could be called bliss. Today is ‘verdict day’.

 Verdict day

The surgeons and doctors had a forum to discuss my ‘special case’ yesterday. They have told me on a regular basis that I am ‘unusual’. Given that the 1st tumour shrunk with the first chemo (Paclitaxol ) but the 2nd tumour grew on it. If, in fact, it WAS a tumour. Both tumours grew on the 2nd chemo (AC). I’ve no idea when the lymph glands became malignant or how many (yet). I don’t know if there is any spread or if I need more chemo and radiotherapy. Surely 6 months of chemo is enough but if it’s necessary I’ll be guided by them. I’ve no idea how they will decide which type of chemo to give me.

So today is the day the doctors will decide how to continue with treatment, given the limited options of Triple Negative Breast cancer and this will be discussed with Colin and I this afternoon. I don’t know if I should hope for chemo and radiotherapy or not. Part of me just wants to get on with my life and the other part says ‘give me what I need to get rid of this thing’. I have faith in the surgeons, although mine is away this week so I will see a registrar.

Watch this space…

Last but not least

A big thank you to everyone for your prayers, well wishes, cards, flowers etc. We both feel really blessed to have such wonderful friends and family surrounding us with love and support. I know I haven’t personally thanked people for the cards etc but I really have appreciated your sentiments. It boosts me no end. I personally want to give a big hug to the MOTH and my 3 kids for being such troupers. Shan has been in NY but has been phoning and messaging me daily. I can’t wait to see him!

 

Chirping quietly

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I’m back on my perch and chirping. I have to admit though I’m almost ready to fall in a heap. It helped a lot that the plastic surgeon gave me clear answers yesterday and I have fixed appointment times. I’ve had so many changes to the surgery situation because it is so rushed, that my head is spinning. Plus… my week is like this…

Friday: am Luther College pm Drove to the Austin hospital with Sophie to speak to plastic surgeon

Friday night: Dinner with friends and an over night stay at Heritage estate

Saturday: Breakfast at Heritage estate, drove to Frankston and back with Sophie, ran laps around the athletics track

Saturday night: Out for tea

Sunday: Surprise event for Colin with the whole family starting with an early morning (TBA)

Sunday night: Movies with my friend

Monday am: Pre-admissions appointment at Maroondah hospital.  pm: Breast nurse appt

Tuesday: AM Breast clinic  PMLymphoscintigraphy at Maroondah hospital (to check the location of lymph glands)

Wednesday 7am: Maroondah ready for surgery

 

So as you can see… there is no time to have a meltdown and I’ll just have to remain on my perch chirping:)

 

Surgery news

Sophie came with me to speak to the plastic surgeon who spent an hour with us. Sophie took notes which was very helpful and was a great emotional support as well.

Apart from the surgeon telling me I HAVE A BEAUTIFUL TUMMY (and proud) he also told me I didn’t have enough of it to create a breast. Boo to pilates!!!

The appointment was for an hour and so I won’t bore you with the gory details. I’m sure you’ve all heard enough of my breasts over the past 6 months. Here is the rundown, using Sophie’s notes.

  • It’s best to do a reconstruction with your own tissue – because your body will move and grow with you. Doesn’t have the same problems as implants. If you put on weight so do the breasts.
  • May be difficult because I don’t have much ’tissue’ (I’VE ALREADY HAD LOTS OF DONATION OFFERS THANKS!!!!)
  • He will put in tissue expander (purple balloon) to keep space open. This gives a better result in the end as the skin is ready for implant etc.
  • Tissue expander concerns – radiotherapy burns skin, can deform the breast and around the tissue expander which can cause infection.
  • He believes mastectomy is a good idea given my little lump factory situation and the fact chemo isn’t working and I can’t use other treatment options (hormones or Herceptin).
  • Tissue expander, goes in flat under the muscle and then they put more and more saline into the tissue expander port via a needle through the breast every 2-3 weeks (nice to know it’s not helium)
  • During the 3-5 months I will find more about the treatment options.
  • During radiotherapy they may need to deflate the tissue expander (remove the saline).
  • Reconstruction is not a good idea given that my cancer future is unknown. Once I’m clear of cancer it can be done. I need to grow a tummy in the meantime ha ha.
  • Plastic surgeon is at the end of the pecking order. Most important to save life and rid body of cancer.
  • Reconstruction date is dependent on further cancer treatment.

Sorry if it’s a bit of a ramble but I’m about to go out so I haven’t edited it very well. If it makes no sense just be assured I am in good hands and feeling happily overwhelmed!

Sophie will update the blog while I’m in hospital:) Now is her chance to publicly humiliate me ha ha.