Friday, March 26, 2010
Fill 'em up!
Well, I had my last fill today. I think I'm up to 700cc's - that's almost a liter - on each side! They look *really* huge & fake like I've got melons under my skin! I guess if someone asks to see my melons, they won't be talking produce! ;-) He was also pleased with the progress of my right side tissue. I'm set to go back to work April 15th. He also acknowledged that these last couple of fills are usually the most painful. However, he as nice enough to give me some medicine for it! I don't have to go back to see him for another 2 weeks! :-)
Since Andrew is still under duress from his kidney stone, my dad & I had the day together. Its not often that we get to spend much time one-on-one. I'm a mamma's girl at this point, I guess. Anyway, we spent the whole trip talking about this & that. After my appointment we went out to eat (Olive Garden - yummy) and then to the Liquor Barn (ooh-la-la)! Then we talked the whole way back too! It was a pretty great day!
Well, going back to work April 15 seems so far away, yet its so close! The worst part about going back to work is how attached I've gotten to being w/ my kiddos so much. Its also going to be difficult just to get proficient again. My job (Forensic Biology) has people's lives in the balance, so I can't be off my game or make silly mistakes. We have a lot of redundancy and review, but we also require stringent proficiency proofs. Another down side of going back to work is that I still have some time donated from the wonderful folks that make up the State of KY - KSP. They've kept us alive during this time of strife by donating their own sick time to me once I ran out. Once I return to work, they get their time back. However, my journey will not be finished yet. In 3 more months (or so) I'll be having the 2nd surgery for my reconstruction as well as a complete hysterectomy and oophorectomy (uterus, ovaries, & fallopian tubes removed).
This last part isn't 'required' at this point, but it is a seriously good move in my opinion. Removal of these organs, while making me sterile, will also reduce my chances of getting either breast or ovarian cancer again. My grandmother died at 58 from ovarian/breast cancer. Her mother was even younger at 42. The 'rules' indicate that you should begin closer screening for these cancers about 10 years prior to your youngest relative's death. For me that would be 32. However, considering I have already had breast cancer, I'm worried I'm going to beat them at ovarian cancer as well. Those 4 years of fertility(between my current 28 and 32) are also really limited to 2 because the doctors indicate that pregnancy w/n 2 years of chemo can cause serious bleeding in the mother, miscarriage, and horrible birth defects. There's also no guarantee that my eggs survived the chemo undamaged. So for my peace of mind and health, we (Andrew & I, along w/ my doctors) have decided to get these offending organs out as soon as possible.
I would *love* to have more children (please no donations as of now though). However, I would much rather live for the ones that I already have. Ovarian cancer (OC) is *much* more difficult to detect early than breast cancer (only 20% of OC is detected early). The 10 year survival rate for OC is 39%. I got this information from the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Of course, it also indicates that the median age of getting OC is 63. However, I'm not sure how my gene mutation (BRCA1) affects that. Nor am I sure how my young age of BC affects that age either. To my logic, if I got BC early, then it only stands to reason that I'll get OC early too. So even as awful as my doctors make surgical menopause sound, I'm convinced I'm making the right decision.
Back to work... This time literally. The recovery time for both my exchange (expanders to real implants) and the hysterectomy is 6 weeks. Combining the surgeries together makes this a one time shot. However, I'm afraid that I'm not as sympathy inducing now that I'm not pregnant w/ cancer. Plus, technically once I had my breast tissue removed, I became a breast cancer survivor. Therefore, I'm unsure if people will feel the same pull to donate their hard-earned sick time to me. However, I am the bread-winner in our house-hold at the moment and I also am the one that has our health insurance. If I miss a pay-check then we have to come up w/ health (and cancer) insurance premiums out of pocket. So far, that's not happened, but with all our expenditures w/ my surgeries, chemo, trips to Houston, medications, trips to Louisville, etc our Donation/Benefit account (Thank you to everyone that contributed!!!! :-) as well as our Health account (through my insurance) is empty or very nearly. I won't have time to build up much sick time in the 2-3 months b/c I doubt I'll be physically capable for a while of extended hours (over-time). I do accumulate some sick and vacation time per month, but there are going to be some doctor visits in that 2-3 month period that I'll have to use this time.
For what its worth - this was not supposed to be a downer of a post. However, since I use my blog to express my feelings, worries, and emotions, that seems to be what's happened. I'm also not trying to drum up more donations or anything. Its just that I think a lot of people think that if you have insurance you're covered financially for something like this. That's not true. Cancer treatment is very expensive - especially if you seek out the best in the profession. Even our cancer insurance policy (American General) is doing very little to *really* allay the costs of treatment. Its not like the AFLAK commercials make it seem. Yes, they give you some money, but you wait & wait for it and it is limited in several ways. For instance, just my 1st visit to Houston for testing cost over $10,000. However, our cancer policy only paid out a very small fraction of that. My surgery cost about $64,000, but my cancer policy only pays $2000 for bilateral mastectomy (there are some other additional monies that are paid out for the hospital room, etc - however, they don't come anywhere near the true cost of the experience). Again, I'm not complaining or expecting further donations/sympathy/etc. I'm just trying to make people aware.
Even though the cancer policy isn't as easy as the commercials make it seem - it is very worthwhile. It does help to have a little bit of money come in here & there to help out. Sometimes its too little too late (ie you've already overdrawn your bank account several times paying household bills as well as medical ones), but overall, its some money that you don't have to come up w/ yourself. Our agent has been great at filing claims for us and generally doing everything but go with us! I'm also not really trying to sell cancer insurance to any one.
Well, since I'm such a Debbie-Downer, I'm going to sign off now... Have a blast!