I’m Back..

Hello World,

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It’s been quite sometime since you last heard from me, it’s actually almost been one whole year. Where does time go? I stopped blogging my journey because I thought, if I stopped, I could simply forget the cancer days. I just wanted to move on. That is so much easier said then done.

October may be just another month to you, but to me its filled with a lot of pain. Not only is it Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s also the month I was diagnosed almost 2 years ago. Yes, that’s right, this month is 2 years since I found out the worst news of my life, “You Have Cancer”. I still think of that day often, and to be honest, it still hurts. It hurts really bad. Knowing what I had to go through and what I continue to go through is hard. I live in a constant fear that it may return. It causes so much anxiety. The return of cancer scares the hell out of me.

So what have I been up to since you last heard from me since the end of 2016? Well for one, I returned to work in January, and since then I have been full time, and even got a promotion in April. I also got married to the man of my dreams at the end of June, and went on an awesome honey moon to Puerto Rico. Now currently, I am taking a class to get my CPC certification with the hopes of one day working from home. I am setting goals, and finally able to reach them. So many great things have happened in 2017.

I am so thankful to get this far, and to be in remission. But to be honest, being in remission is not easy. To me, being in remission is almost harder then actually having cancer. People expect you to just move on and it’s just not that easy. I live in a constant fear that the cancer may return. Being young when I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, increases my chances even more of it returning. I have learned that it’s okay to be scared, and it’s okay to have fears. But how do I deal with these fears? I simply put my trust in God. I can’t predict what my future holds, only God can. I can only trust that he will heal me and whatever I may go through, I will overcome.

The past month, I have been going back and forth on this decision of changing my oncologist. For one, I didn’t feel like I was a patient to her, I felt more like a number. And another concern was the distance. I didn’t like traveling an hour away, it’s such a hassle. So I decided to transfer to the Loyola near me, which is  only 10 minutes from my work. I get to meet my new oncologist this month. I am anxious, but excited to get a second opinion on my treatment plan. I will try to keep updating the blog more for those who read it!

Until then Love one another, help those to rise to higher levels.

With Love,

Heather

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Surgery

As many of you know, I had surgery on 11/22/16 for my breast reconstruction. This was something I really wanted since I was originally diagnosed, but I have to admit, it has been so hard the past two weeks. I don’t know what I actually expected, but it was not this. I arrived at the hospital at 5:30AM. I was filled with nerves, but there was no turning back. I sat in pre-op, and decided no for the nerve block. By the time surgery actually started I think it was 8-9:00AM (it took forever), 7.5 hours later, I woke up and everything hurt. I was given morphine to control the pain, but my body/face was so badly swollen. I became really nauseous from  the anastasia so I kept vomiting. The first night was rough. The next day was better. I was determined to get home before Thanksgiving, so I did whatever it took. Literally. I forced myself to walk around, and to do things on my own. I wouldn’t even push my button for medicine. LOL I was desperate, I hate the hospital. Because I was doing so well, I was released the next day! I was actually shocked, because most people that have the surgery I did, spend at least 3 nights.

Being at home felt so much better, but the pain was awful. I was given Norco, so I had to take them every 3-4 hours. I took my bandage off 2 days after surgery and it was a scary site. I had 4 drains, 2 on each side. Luckily, I had one drain removed a week after surgery. I am now able to shower, and do things by myself. I still can’t lift my arms, and my back in very swollen. If I knew the surgery would be like this, I don’t think I would have done it. I get so bitter sometimes thinking about how much time I have wasted away from my family just so I could get better. But I’m also so thankful for being here. I know things will get better. I have an appointment in a few days, Im hoping all my drains will be removed.

 

One Year

 

Today, October 16th, marks one year of being diagnosed. It’s crazy to think 365 days have passed. I’ve been to the doctor more  this year, then I have my entire life. I’ve had over 98 appointments in the past year, and I still have many more to go. Over the past year, i’ve been through what seems like Hell. I had 16 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, a blood clot in my heart, 34 rounds of radiation and coming up i’ll be having my reconstruction. With everything I have been through, I am so thankful to just be here! Over the past year I have been surrounded by so many people who love me. So many people supported me. Even people I don’t know, came in my life, and made me feel loved. Thank you to everyone who was here, my family, friends, the church, just everyone! I was nervous about today. I  didn’t want it to be filled with sadness. I usually try my best to pretend like this never happened, because it still hurts.

Out of  all the days the Walk of Strides to support Breast Cancer was, it just so happened to be on my one year of diagnosis. I decided instead of sitting at home thinking about last year, that I would take part in the walk. Doug and I got ready, and headed to Valpo..On our way, I kept telling him to turn around (I was freaking myself out) but I’m so HAPPY we went. There were so many people walking!!! I felt powerful. Those 3 miles seemed like nothing.

 

Hair Growth

Hi guys!

 

It’s been a while since I have updated you all. I’ve been so busy with work lately I haven’t had time to fill you in. My hair has been growing like crazy! Looking back at pictures to where I am now makes me so happy. I found this quote and it really fits into my life the past year. ” Everything heals. Your body heals. Your heart heals. The mind heals. Wounds heal. The body repairs itself. Your happiness is always going to come back. Bad times don’t last”. I remember losing my hair was devastating, and at that time, I couldn’t imagine getting to where I am now. I never imagined things would get better but they did.

Its been almost 7 months since my last chemo! Where does time go?

My hair is so wavy/curly!! I can’t really style it yet, but I love it<3 I just started using Curly Wurly by Lush (shampoo) and I’m obsessed!!

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Some more good news, while I was doing chemo, I had a horrible rash, literally ALL OVER! and now my face/back is finally clearing up, so I’m excited.

I’ve also lost all my chemo weight!! almost 30 pounds gone, I still can’t believe steroids can do that to you, but I’m thankful the weight is gone= ]

Surgery Set!

This officially will be my last blog post being published to Facebook.  I’ve shared my journey for those who were interested but I’m ready to move on and want things to be more private. So going forward, only updates will be made  on the blog page.

My first appointment was with the plastic surgeon Dr.Vandervender. The last time I met him back in March, I have to admit, I was so disappointed. He just wasn’t someone I instantly connected with. His personality seemed BLAH, but today was different! He came in with all smiles, and said how great I looked. (which I was surprised he remembered me). He also noticed my weight loss, so that was nice! I liked him better today. We discussed what kind of surgery I would be having, and even got it scheduled. I was completely shocked that it’s so soon, since I was told it probably wouldn’t be until 2017! !  I could have done it in October, but I am not allowed to travel on an airplane and I have to go to my moms wedding in November so that date did not work.

With that being said, I have everything scheduled for November 22nd. I have to be there at 5:30AM and surgery time is about 6 hours. I will be having skin from my back removed, (known as Latissimus Dorsi Flap) and I’ll be having expanders in to get me to the desired size I want. I haven’t completely decided on the size, but i’m thinking a full C. Once I reach my desired size, I will have my last surgery which will just be removing of expanders to place the implant. I’m nervous but this is officially the last BIG thing to happen. All this is finally ending, and I’m ready to move on= ] Before surgery I will have to go in for blood test, and my evaluation. I didn’t really discuss recovery time, but from what he said last time was around 12 weeks. I’m hoping to only take a couple weeks off and go back to work once my drains are removed. For the mastectomy I had about 4 drains, this time I’ll have more= / (not looking forward to those) but it’ll be worth it.

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My last appointment today was meeting with my therapist Dr.Hunter. I haven’t seen her for 3.5 months but I had to see her today since Friday is her last day at Loyola. I’m sad that I’ll never see her again, since she was such a big part of my life this past year! But she was offered a AMAZING job, and I couldn’t  be anymore happier for her. She has gotten me through some of the worst days, and always made me laugh! I’ll miss her so much.

 

 

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Follow up

 

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This morning I had a couple appointments for follow up. I first met with Dr.Lo who is my oncologist. I haven’t seen her for 8 weeks, so we had a lot of catching up to do. We discussed what the best survival rates would be, which mean I need to stay on a daily pill, and monthly injection for 10 years. I brought up my concerns about the monthly injection and asked if there was anything else I can do. The injection causes shortness of breath, and heaviness the day after I get it every single time! Dr.Lo said thats something I will need to deal with, and advised the pain can be caused from surgery/radiation. This was my first injection I had without my port so I want to see if that plays any role in it. I also brought up having more kids in my future. I have done a ton of research and a lot of people who try to conceive stop there medication, and once they have a baby, they get back on. Although Dr. Lo wants me on it for 10 years, she didn’t turn my idea away, so that kind of made me happy. Dr.Lo ordered a bone density test, and blood work for my vitamin D, she said the chemo can cause changes, and wants to make sure everything is okay. The best news from Dr.Lo was I can finally STOP taking my daily shots of lovenox (blood thinners). I have been on blood thinners since 2/16/16 and I’m so glad not to poke myself in the belly anymore. I have bruises all over! I asked Dr. Lo if I will be getting any scans to see if the cancer comes back, and she said no. I was actually surprised and it scared me a little bit. But she explained they don’t do scans because studies show scans vs finding it yourself is the same. Dr.Lo reminds me to check myself, which I already do. I would say I’m a pro at that now. I won’t see Dr.Lo until end of November! Its crazy, but its a good thing!

I then met with Dr.Vaince (my breast surgeon). She examined me and said everything is looking great. She is happy with my progress. She is referring me to see the plastic surgeon, I haven’t got my schedule but I should be seeing him with in a week or two. The next time I see Dr.Vaince won’t be until February 2017!!!! Which is also good news, but I’ll still miss her, she is too sweet!

 

Port Removal!

I’ve been anxiously waiting for today to have my port(Central IV line attached to my artery) removed. A couple of weeks ago, I went in for an MRI of my heart to see if the blood clot was still there. The results came back negative, so that was a huge relief. My blood work also came back great.So we scheduled my port to be removed for today,August 4th! I have been so nervous though.

I have this huge fear of being put under anesthesia, I just don’t like that I don’t have control. Dr. Vaince said I would be put under a twilight medicine, so I wasn’t full put out but it sure felt like it! I had to fast the night before which was hard because I was starving this morning! We got to Loyola outpatient center at 9:45AM, I went and did my labs, then was put in a room right away where they took my vitals. I then met with the anesthesiologist and Dr.Vaince(breast surgeon). Around 11:45AM, I was brought back to the operating room. I really don’t remember anything! When I woke up, I was still pretty out of it, but I was discharged pretty fast. I have a big bandage over the area, that I can’t remove until Saturday, and I’m a little sore. I have some meds to take the next couple of days, other than that I feel great! On 8/22/16 I meet Dr. Lo, and Dr.Vaince again so i’m not really sure whats to come next. I will keep you all updated!

The Lord is my strength and my shield,in Him my heart trusts. Psalm 28:7

 

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This is what the port looks like