Monday, January 24, 2011

The most important right - LIFE!

Today is the annual March for Life against the atrocity of abortion. I've never been able to attend the March in Washington DC, but my heart is close to those that are attending.

There are very few things in life more precious than life. Without life the planet would be empty. Those that argue for abortion say that the already born lives are worth more than unborn lives. They also quibble about when the Constitutional right to life begins. They label pro-lifers as extremists, religious fanatics, and cold-hearted toward women. They claim that science backs their stance that until birth, an unborn child is not a child at all, but simply an extension of the woman's body. It saddens me to hear women give this last explanation if they have already carried a child to term.

If you've ever been pregnant (or been around a pregnant woman) I don't understand how you can say the infant in her womb is just an extension of her body. By 15-20 weeks almost all women have felt their infant move within them. You also know, if you've been pregnant or around a pregnant woman, that these infant movements are definitely *not* initiated by the mother. Especially later into the pregnancy, these movements aren't even very appreciated by the mother as internal organs begin getting pinched, poked, kicked, sat upon, etc. The infant in the womb is most definitely a separate human with a mind, body, & soul of its own.

Science differentiates sub-species and variants of the smallest life-forms (bacteria, viruses, etc). It baffles me how this same 'group' can deny that upon conception, a new life begins. As soon as the egg is fertilized, there are dynamic changes within the woman's body. Chromosomes are paired and unique to this individual (or individuals in the case of identical twins - even they have some regions of their DNA that are variable sometimes) and completely separate from the mother. The gender of this baby is already established although definitely not visible. Shortly after conception, the embryo (or pre-embryo as some like to call it) begins its own metabolism. The embryo begins dividing, growing, and travelling down the fallopian tubes into the uterus. Once implanted the embryo begins to develop its protective placenta and amniotic sac. The unborn baby will reside in the mothers uterus for approximately 9 months. Although entirely dependant on the mother for nutrients and other metabolic necessities, the unborn baby's internal organs are fully functional from as early as 10 weeks. The unborn baby is genetically different from both mother & father. The unborn baby is capable of movement, reactions, 'breathing' (amniotic fluid), metabolism, & even thought. How can the term 'life' be given to bacteria, viruses (they don't even metabolize on their own), and other single celled organisms, but not to an exquitely created multi-celled unborn baby?

Historically, MLK, Rosa Parks, etc fought for civil rights for minorities (particularly African Americans). Prior to the civil rights movement, African Americans were thought to lack feeling, intelligence, and the ability to live on their own (just to name a few). In other words, they were classified as less than human. Civil rights leaders fought to dispel these myths. They were met with hostility and fuzzy science. They were persecuted and ostracized from society. They were labeled as extremists. They were slaughtered. However, they were allowed the fundamental right to life and grow and therefore they were capable of defending themselves and speaking out for themselves. The unborn are denied that most fundamental right, so we pro-lifers must take up their cause. MLK's relative, Avelda King is an advocate for both civil rights for minorities AND for the right to life for the unborn. She has pointed out that the number of minorities aborted is absurdly high. Minorities are coerced and told by society that they are incapable of controlling their bodies (ie avoiding sex & pregnancy in the first place) and that they are incapable of handling their own lives and those of their children. That is patently false.

I know there are many pro-aborts out there who claim to be 'personally pro-life' but feel its not their 'place' to tell another woman what to do with her body. On one hand, I agree. I'm not presuming (nor are any of the pro-lifers) to tell women what to do with their bodies. Instead, I'm asking women (and men) to be responsible for their actions. Contrary to popular belief, sex (protected, safe, or not) is scientifically documented to result in pregnancy. That's the purpose of sex (just look at the animal kingdom). Therefore, if men & women were responsible with their bodies and actions, abortion would not be necessary. Now, I know some out there are thinking, but what about rape, incest, pre-natal diagnosises that are incompatible with life? My answer is that even in these cases, the unborn baby did nothing wrong to deserve a death sentence. No, in rape & incest, it is definitely not the mother's fault she conceived. However, it is also not the fault of her unborn child. Regardless of the fact that 1/2 of that baby's genes came from the rapist father, the other 1/2 are fully from the mother. That is *her* flesh and blood. The child did not ask to be conceived just as the mother did not ask to be raped. However, the woman should not simply snuff out the child's life. That's two wrongs (rape & murder) not equalling a right. As for incompatible with life pre-natal diagnosises, well, they're wrong a good portion of time - in other words, both mother & baby are fine. Plus, again, the child did not ask to be conceived, nor if asked would it chose to die. Sure, some out there are thinking, but if the child is going to suffer and die upon birth (if the diagnosis is correct), why not just 'end' its misery? Well, my great-grandmother is 95. She's going to die soon (probably). She has arthritis something awful as well as osteoporosis and some dementia. She even sometimes says, "I don't know why God hasn't called me home." However, it would not be right for me to snuff out her life. As a matter of fact, I would be prosecuted in a court of law for hastening her death.

As a society, nowdays people are outraged at animal shelters that euthanize unwanted animals. However, society turns a blind eye to killing the unborn. Sure, the unwanted (and sometimes ill, maimed, etc) animals are already 'alive' and independent. Sure they're cute and cuddly. However, they are *animals*. I love my animals (I have quite a menagerie), don't get me wrong. However, if I must chose between a human life and an animal life, the human will win *EVERY* time. That's because humans operate on a higher plane than animals. We rationalize and control our own destinies (whether for good or bad is up to us).

So please, join me in praying for hearts to change. Let the most innocent of us - the unborn - have the right to life. End the atrocity called abortion. Whether you're Catholic (& should definitely be pro-life) or aethist, matters not. All that matters is that unborn human babies are given the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest - beyond the womb!

Monday, January 17, 2011


As I was sitting in the waiting room of my new plastic surgeon, I caught myself thinking about vanity. I've never really considered that I was vain. However, sitting there looking at the other patients coming & going in the plastic surgeon's office, wondering why they were there, and then wondering if they were wondering the same thing made me say to myself, "OK, I have to admit that I'm a bit vain at times." Sometimes its not the 'typical' vanity of wanting to look sexy or whatever. Its more the vanity of being the strong, well-put-together, self-assured, and take-me-as-I-am woman.

I guess, pride & vanity go into the first. My pride & vanity won't let me admit to failure or weakness. I think that's one reason I don't cry or share much emotionally. I'm afraid that if I do, whoever is around will discount me as weak.

I do enjoy being at least averagely built and looking. I don't think I'm drop dead gorgeous or even classically pretty. I'm not exotic or arresting, but I'm interesting to look at and put together well enough to be able to flaunt it. That is vanity to me.

Again, pride & vanity go into my presentation of myself as self-assured. To most outsiders, I probably appear to be very self-confident and self-assured. However, if most people were party to the thoughts in my head, they'd know a very different side of me. I almost constantly question whether I'm doing the right thing, saying the right things, looking the right way, etc. I analyze conversations I had months ago. I berate myself for saying something off-the-wall or for not expressing my true feelings. However, I keep that inside because I don't want to be misunderstood or appear less than self-assured.

The take-me-as-I-am side of me is the side that until recently didn't care whether I wore make-up or not. I was the girl who wore whatever was comfortable with no real question as to whether it was truly fashionable. I was comfortable enough with my body that any thought of doing anything to alter it (like plastic surgery or dieting) was not even on my radar.

Now I suddenly find myself searching for a plastic surgeon who can hopefully restore me to a reasonable facsimile of my pre-breast cancer self. I find myself searching for on-line photos of reconstructions like mine. I find myself analyzing other women's breasts and judging whether they're real or fake. Then I have to remind myself that mine will always be fake too. I also have to refrain from labeling these women (and a surprising number of men). I know that they could be like me, faced with the unappealing prospect of living life as less than themselves without the skill of a surgeon like Dr. S. However, I almost want to proclaim to everyone in the office that I had breast cancer & I'm not just getting a boob job for the heck of it. It shouldn't matter, but I've always prided myself as being natural in my appearance. Now I am definitely artificial.

Plus, I think in my mind I have a stigma attached to getting a boob job. It just seems frivolous to suffer as much pain as that just to have perky, larger, etc breasts. I must admit that any cosmetic surgery seems to me a bit frivolous and *way* too painful to be worth it. I don't mean that women shouldn't make themselves happy by fixing and/or improving what they want. I just never really thought it was necessary or anything I'd even vaguely consider - visiting a plastic surgeon. At MD Anderson, it wasn't such a shocking thing because all the patients there were like me - facing cancer and live irrevocably changed by the treatment of that cancer. However, visiting a thriving cosmetic plastic surgeon's office made me think about the cosmetic side of the business.

The outcome of my meeting with the Dr. S was successful. I have my reconstruction scheduled for Feb 17th! I chose that date because it'll be exactly a year 2 days post-surgery since I had my mastectomy. I'm so excited! I can't wait to get these coconuts off my chest. Her surgical plan is awesome! I think she'll do a great job. It'll also be awesome to be only 45 minutes to an hour from home for a surgery!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I thought of something the other day. Cancer sucks. Everyone - even those who haven't ever had it or had a close family member with it (are there such lucky people?) knows that. Some of us unlucky ones are genetically predisposed to getting stricken with this calamity. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it but wait or take drastic measures (prophylactic surgeries, prophylactic drugs, etc). Many of us make extremely difficult decisions regarding our risk of contracting this serious disease, some even before a diagnosis is made. Then there are other people who seem to do almost everything they can *to contract* this disease. They smoke, they take medications known to cause or increase risk of cancer, they use chewing tobacco or snuff/dip, etc. At this moment in my life, I'm have a really difficult time feeling compassion for these people who are consciously putting their momentary pleasure over their life-long health.

I'm not the healthiest individual in the world, so I'm not trying to cast stones from a glass house. I could eat more healthy, exercise more regularly, etc. However, in the big scheme of things, baring my cancer, I don't have any of the vices known to cause/increase risk of cancer nor have I taken drugs known to cause/increase risk of cancer (with the possible exception of my chemotherapy). I've also had to make the difficult decision to have healthy (for the most part) parts of my body removed - one cancer-free breast, two cancer-free ovaries & tubes, and one cancer-free uterus. According to my research and breast oncologist from MD Anderson, nothing but my genetics & bad luck caused my breast cancer to appear as early as it did.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that anyone who does the above actions deserves cancer or is any less unlucky than I was to get cancer. What I'm saying is that I don't understand *why* they put themselves at this increased risk seemingly on purpose. Something I understand even less is that the theoretically well-meaning organizations promote some of the drugs/actions known to increase risk of/cause certain cancers. Then you have parents who instead of researching themselves, follow the advice of these organizations for their unwitting children.

Lately even the CDC has gotten into the act by recommending all school-aged children (about 9 years old & up), get the Human papilloma virus vaccine. They're touting it as the vaccine against cervical cancer. However, the truth of the matter is that the disease it prevents is a sexually transmitted disease - genital warts - that can increase risk of cervical cancer. Not to mention that the vaccine itself has been shown to *kill* those that receive it. The best way to prevent getting cervical cancer caused by the STD herpes is to keep your pants on until you're married. Of course, no one makes any money or fame with that suggestion.

Another organization that is *not* practicing what they preach is Planned Parenthood ( I already disrespect PP due to their abortion stance). Many organizations, including American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, and other breast cancer prevention groups, donate money to PP in the interest of doing breast cancer screening. However, two of the biggest money-makers and most frequently used services of PP - birth control drugs & abortion - have been found to *increase* the risk of breast cancer. So, if these organizations were truly interested in preventing breast cancer, they'd decrease their promotion of these things and offer instead training/classes in NFP and contacts for adoption. However, these options aren't going to generate money or fame either. So they'll keep to the easy alternatives - drugs & death.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Worst news, bad news, better news, & best news...

I got a return call from Houston yesterday on the almost constant sharp shooting pains in my chest. The worst news is that these pains are most likely permanent. According to the physicians assistant, nerve damage from the mastectomy is the cause. Her explanation was that the nerves were damaged & as they try to grow back or get to normal they are 'set' on sending pain signals even when no pain causing stimulus is present. She said that some people have decent luck with massaging the area myself to try to 'reset' the nerves.

Another question I had asked her was about the almost constant soreness in my ribs, especially when I take a deep breath. The bad news is that for some reason I've got inflammation in the cartilage and lining of my ribs. She said I could try ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories. She said I could also use a warm compress, but to be very careful not to burn my unfeeling skin. Eventually it'll go away.

She also told me that expanders are just uncomfortable. My comment was, "This goes *WAY* beyond discomfort." Expanders are well known for being ugly & painful. The better news is that the 'real' implants look AND feel much better. Some of the issues will never go away, but will get better. I'll never really feel or look like I did before, but it will get better.

The best news she gave me was about finding a surgeon to do my exchange. She said that any board certified plastic surgeon should be more than able to do the exchange. I outlined the 2 results I know of & have seen from the doctor at the Sholar Center in Evansville. I voiced that I was fairly certain that if she could satisfy the 2 women I know who used her for their reconstruction, she should be able to make me happy. The PA said it sounded like it would indeed work. I asked her several questions about the procedure, but most of the answers she gave vary from doctor to doctor. My plan is to go into my consultation January 14th (after my oncology check-up that same day) with all my paper work filled out (downloaded from their website) and a written list of what I want to acheive with my reconstruction. If her ideas don't mesh with mine, I will have absolutely NO problem going somewhere else. Of course, it'll be the best if she works for me since she's only 45 minutes away from my house!

Here's hoping!

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!