Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Houston bound again...

I just got the return call from Houston scheduling my appointment for Sept 12 with a Dr. Chang. I've sent messages to Dr. L & Dr. K for check-ups as well. That way we'll get more doctors for our time.

Now the issue is figuring out the most cost effective way to travel. Flights on Expedia range from about $375 per person round-trip plus car rental and hotel. Driving takes 19 hours or so & at least $300 of gas plus hotel, not to mention that we don't have a reliable vehicle to drive 900 miles.

If anyone has any bright ideas, PLEASE let me know! :-)

Trade Tears for Fears or Are They One & the Same?

It seems like all I ever do is whine lately. I apologize for that. The sad fact is that I actually do feel worse now than I did 2 years ago pregnant & doing chemo. Back then I at least had the comfort of knowing this phase was transitory & at the end (well, middle of chemo) I would have a beautiful baby girl to cuddle. I was also not stretched so thin between work, home, & health -- nor were my chest muscles stretched so thin. I'm still waiting to hear from MD Anderson about getting a consultation with a plastic surgeon there. The pain and strain continues to build.

Yesterday was a horrible day for me. I spent almost a solid 4 hours crying. I wasn't just crying to myself -- no I had to go & cry in front of the receptionists at the doctor's office, random people at the doctor's office, my direct supervisor, my co-workers, my husband, AND my mom all at different times. For the record: I DO NOT CRY. If I'm crying then the world as I know it has come crashing down upon me. To the outside observer it seems like a simple mistake or a casual dismissal. However, to me it is the straw that broke the camel's back.

My tears yesterday were of pain, frustration, disappointment, fear, stress, and exhaustion. One of the biggest factors is fear though. Almost all the other reasons I cry are based on fear. I'm afraid that I'm just going in circles (frustration). I'm afraid that I'm not taking the right steps (disappointment). I'm afraid that I am not fulfilling all my obligations (stress). I'm afraid that I'm going to miss something (exhaustion). I'm afraid that I'm just going to have to continue living this way. I'm just afraid period. I give myself all the same platitudes & inspirational sayings that frequent Hallmark cards & motivational posters. However, at this point I can't convince myself to believe. I've become jaded and cynical.

Today I resolved to do better. My nails (fingers & toes) are a day-glo bright pink. I'm wearing peep-toe heels (so show off my day-glo bright pink nails). I'm wearing a bright pink shirt. I've plastered a smile in my mind. So far it seems to be working, but I can feel the fear still lurking in the background. I'm trying to be confident that the day-glo bright pink is enough armour to stave off the guerrilla warfare of fear. Mostly, I'm trying to be confident that His invisible shield surrounds me and comforts me. Good luck & God bless!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Congregations vs. Cancer

Text in black is a direct cut & paste from the official bulletin insert for this program.
Text in green is my commentary, addition, and personal thoughts/opinions.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, churches in the Tri-State (IN, KY, IL) will participate in Congregations vs. Cancer Sunday  (the brain-child of a behind-the-scenes member of News25). On that day, we will pray for a cure for cancer and collect a special offering to go 100% towards research through the American Cancer Society. If you are not local to my Tri-State (IN, KY, IL), then your ACS branch will most likely not have a clue about this program. Therefore, you could also set aside a donation to give to a local cancer victim, local cancer program, or medical facility of your choice. I'm not 100% confident of the ACS's purity on life issues and funding to propose they should be the only benefactors of these donations. Please join us for this special day in which our church will move forward in faith and hope toward a cure.  Give in memory of someone you know who has lost a battle with cancer, give in honor of someone who is now fighting cancer or give so no one will hear the words “You have cancer” ever again.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…” – 2 Corinthians 4:18
The American Cancer Society is involved in finding cures and has been since 1946. In that time, it has devoted around $4 billion toward research.  It has made many breakthroughs in the fight against cancer through detection (mammograms, PSA tests), identification (finding links to smoking and lung cancer, and discovering some cancer-causing genes) and treatment. A significant portion of typical donations to the ACS go to fund various other aspects of the organization and NOT toward research. Most cancer awareness organizations (Susan G. Komen in particular) use the moneies raised to pay office help, advertising fees, etc. I advise that you thoroughly research whichever organization you intend to gift with your hard-earned money BEFORE handing over a check.
Above all, prayers are absolutely necessary for those stricken with this horrible disease. It is only with God's help and judicious acceptance of assistance from family, friends, neighbors, & even strangers that ANY cancer victim makes it through day-by-day. Be sure to keep these unknown victims in your heart, soul, & mind as you pray. There are a LOT of us out in the world rubbing shoulders with 'normal' people daily. We appear 'normal' for the most part, but inside we have been irrevocably changed and may even suffer physically from this horrible disease. Please don't abandon your prayers for us when we appear 'normal', for often-times nothing could be further from the truth. Every night I (& many other cancer victims) pray in thanksgiving for the caring souls who support us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Thank you & God bless!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

To foob or not to foob... That is the question

Well, it looks like surgery is in my future again. There are a few hurdles to cross first: my insurance no longer covers Dr W, so approval could be difficult; I have to decide if the risks are out-weighed by the benefits; and I need to decide to go smaller or to forgo the foobs altogether.

Dr W is writing a letter to Humana to convince them the surgery is necessary. My insurance dropped ALL U of L doctors because they objected to getting less than 1/2 the $$ their counter-parts at UK & Vanderbilt got. I don't think Humana can refuse the surgery as long as he uses the appropriate medical code due to the laws protecting cancer patients.

Dr W is not sure that the surgery will help the pain. It could, but he's never had a patient with this kind of issue. Smaller implants will weigh less, therefore maybe pull my muscles less. If we also drop the projection, the weight will be closer to my chest. That can help since it's easier to carry any weight closer to the body. Buying bras could also be much easier -- 32DD or 32E bras are really hard to find. Another surgery carries risks of infection, capsular contracture, loss of circulation, etc. Smaller implants may also not look right since my natural breast were this size, my nipples are positioned for this size breast, there will be excess skin, as I gain weight the foobs will not balance with the rest of my body.

Theoretically not having foobs at all would be the most assured solution. :-/ I'm just afraid that the lack will be bad for my psyche. I'm also afraid I'll look really weird. The way my body is designed, I think my chest is pretty concave. That concavity would create an obvious void under clothes. While I know my womanhood is not centered on my breasts, they are a normal part of feeling like a woman. The absence of any tissue on my chest would be a constant reminder of what I lost & my body's betrayal. The foobs are a constant reminder too, but at least it's only visible by me -- not the whole world. However, in some ways I am tempted to go this route because this pain is almost unbearable & it seems that no one knows what to do to fix it. There's even a chance that the absence of implants will eliminate the pain either. I'm also unsure whether it would be reversible. In other words, I'm unsure that once I eliminate the implants, but decide I cannot live that way, I can get new implants. I don't know what they would do with the excess skin (including my nipples). I have a lot of thinking, praying, & research to do.

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!