Breast Reconstruction, Cancer Diagnosis, Medical Updates, Surgery, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Update: Prepping for the last Hoorah ~ Breast Reconstruction

OMG. It’s finally happening. After almost 2 years of cancer treatment, the finale is just around the corner. Breast reconstruction (ie – new boobs!) is scheduled for May 4th! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I am one big bag of emotions ~ overjoyed to be DONE, really DONE, with treatment (except 5-10 yrs of hormone therapy) and ecstatic to meet my new breasts. Yesterday I was driving between yoga clients and broke out into tears. I’m in awe. Wow. It’s really happening. I really did this. So proud of me!

What. A. Journey.

My thinking is also anxious ~ how will they look? How will they feel? Will I like them? What if something goes wrong? Dear God, that was a lot of potential “complications” I signed off on…including my own death!

And impatient & boob obsessed ~ are we there yet? Time for new boobs? I want them now! New boobs….pause. Come back to your breath. Inhale. Exhale…Boobs, BOOBS, boobs, NEW BOOBS!!!!

This past week, I had my pre-op visit with my plastic surgeon and underwent testing (bloodwork & EKG) to ensure this body is ready to go! We talked about the type, size, & projection of my implants. I’ve chosen to go with his recommendation of the newest round “gummy bear” implant ~ it feels the most natural, is leak-proof, and lasts the longest (20-30 years). I held one, squished it around, put it under my shirt, and tossed it up and down. Pretty nice…

The way he chooses the size is by measuring the width of my chest and then I have the option of choosing the projection ~ how far forward my boobs are (low, medium, high, ultra high). He was really into the ultra high, but after looking at photos ~ I’m going with high because they look more natural to me.

When I first met with my plastic surgeon, he handed me a pamphlet of his work and I remember one woman in particular stood out: Samantha. Samantha’s boobs are amazing. Give me Samantha’s boobs. Yes, please. Ironically, Samantha was actually the name of my alter-ego when I wore my sexy wig during chemo. Destiny? I think so.

My surgeon confirmed that mine would be similar to hers and that she is actually now a bikini model. New career in my future?

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

The surgery is much shorter (about 2 hours) and the recovery is supposed to be much easier than the last. He will go into the same scars from the mastectomy and make a smaller incision, remove the tissue expanders (SEE YA and won’t miss ya AT ALL), and replace them with the implants.

What’s super weird is that while I’m off in a deep, drug-induced sleep, he props me upright in the bed and tries on about 5 different implant sizes to see what looks best. And no, Travis can not watch this part and give the final “Ok.” Apparently that might be traumatizing for a husband.

He will then liposuction fat from my love handles and put it into my breasts for extra padding between the implant and skin ~ it also helps to shape the breasts. I have been diligently working very hard on building this fat with the help of nightly Coconut Bliss ice cream..I’ve gained 15 lbs back from my lowest weight in chemo, 108. How crazy weird is it that in less than 2 weeks, I will be wearing my muffin tops in my breasts???!!!

I try not to think about the procedure details too much…it creeps me out. Actually, it’s my thoughts that are creeping me out. The procedure doesn’t even exist yet. It definitely takes a certain type of stomach to do this work and I’m grateful for the expertise of my surgeon and his staff. And even more grateful that I get to show up, go to sleep, and wake up with new boobs.

The finals will be softer, closer together, and more natural looking than my expanders + the same anti-gravity perk. And they will not be perfectly symmetrical ~ because of radiation, the left side will always be a little higher and tighter than the right. Hopefully things will be pointed in the right direction. Or maybe I’ll end up with a set of googley eyes. We’ll see!

So now it’s my job to just let go and trust.

Getting Ready

In preparation for the surgery, I am also eating more pineapple and papaya ~ they have natural enzymes (bromelain & papain) that help the body heal faster and reduce scarring. I’ll also be taking 30c of Arnica ~ a homeopathic remedy for healing from trauma, bruising, etc. the day before surgery and for a few days after.

Other than that, my welcomed distraction has been planning our Inner Peace Retreat which is NEXT weekend in the Austin Hill Country! So the weekend before surgery will be spent doing what I love: relaxing in nature, teaching yoga, exploring inquiry, eating delish organic vegetarian meals, and connecting with an amazing community of like-minded folks. And I get to lead it with my dear friend and fellow facilitator, Susan…she’s amazing! I anticipate a lot of silliness & laughter, coupled with insightful, life-changing Mind/Body work. Still a few spots left if you want to join!

The property is Living Waters on Lake Travis ~ it’s where my husband and I were married 6 years ago. We loved it so much that just a few months after the wedding, we asked the owners if we could move there, take over, and grow it into a thriving retreat business. Which it now is! We rocked it for 4 years before returning to Dallas. The first week of May is our 10-year anniversary of being together + our wedding anniversary. So it’s safe to say this time at Living Waters is special to me in so many ways.

My mom will be coming in town for the surgery to help me (she is the best nurse ever!) and to celebrate the end of our journey. She has probably been to Dallas 6-7 times over the past year and a half. Her unwavering support, ability to anticipate my needs before I’m even aware of them, and compassionate care has helped me IMMENSELY throughout this process. It sounds cliché, but I have couldn’t have done this without her. Actually, I could have…but I would have gone completely cray cray on many more occasions. Love you, mamma.

Recovery is about 5 weeks, yet I should be driving within 3-5 days and can lift up to 15-20 lbs. I plan to take 2 weeks off of work and then play the rest of May by ear. Many women have shared with me that the pain isn’t bad at all ~ they’re off heavy pain meds within a day or so, yet I’m also well aware that the pain level from the last surgery was wayyyyy more than I expected. So I’m setting aside the time to just be…

Ok, friends ~ YOU have been with me throughout all of this! Can you believe it? It’s happening!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your continued encouragement, support, & inspiration. Send some healing vibes to me the morning of May 4th.

May the fourth be with you…NEW BOOBS!

Do you heart this blog? Well it has transformed into a book baby…join my mailing list to get the scoop about its upcoming birth into the world! #mygurucancer

Related Posts

Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie

The Future of My Boobs (FOMB)

Gratitude, Elephants, & Going Potty ~ My Experience of Breast Surgery

Self-discovery while in Recovery

Life with Tissue Expander Boobs

Breast Reconstruction, Medical Updates, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Surgery, Uncategorized, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Life with Tissue Expander Boobs

After my double mastectomy last April, I remember reading an online article about how women are now forced to live with prosthetic body parts because of breast cancer. I thought to myself, “Wow, that sounds horrible. I guess I’m really lucky that I didn’t need to go through that too.” I even felt a little shame about it, “I got off pretty easy.” I had an image of these women in my mind: they are suffering, cancer victims.

Flash forward 3 months…I had just finished radiation and was planning a month-long celebration vacation. This was the first time I was flying post-surgery so I asked my plastic surgeon if there was anything I needed to know about traveling with tissue expander boobs ~ ummmm….do they set off the security alarms? Can they blow up at a certain altitude?

He said there’s nothing to worry about and his office could give me a letter explaining that I’m in breast cancer treatment. As I read through the letter in the waiting room of his office, my heart skipped a beat:

“Bethany is undergoing breast reconstruction and currently has prosthetic devices in her chest.”

Wait a minute. Say what? Prosthetic devices?

Pointing to my tattas, I asked the assistant at the front desk, “Are these prosthetic devices?”

“Yes,” she responded.

I burst out laughing. There I was imagining these poor victimized women with their prosthetic body parts and guess what? I’m one of them!

But yet, I’m not a victim ~ it’s not so bad having temporary anti-gravity boobies (which by the way, don’t blow up on airplanes). Are they weird as hell? Yes. And with clothes on, they look like boobs with an extra perk.

So…What are Tissue Expanders?

Tissue expanders are temporary implants that replace women’s breast tissue after a double mastectomy is performed (often, and in my case – it’s done in the same surgery). The outer layer is much harder than a regular implant and there is a small round area at the top of the expander for filling. They serve 4 main purposes:

  1. It emotionally supports a woman as she gets to wake up from surgery with some sort of breasts.
  2. They stretch the skin to prepare it for the final implants/breast reconstruction surgery.
  3. They hold the skin in place as it goes through radiation, which can shrink/tighten the skin.
  4. So the woman can be overly excited to receive her final implants because gosh darn…they’re gonna be better than these!

I also think tissue expanders could use a new name. Please choose from the following:

Boobs of Steel

Fembot Tattas

Basketball Boobies

Bionic Super Hero Breasts

Boobie Fill Tuesdays ~ the Expanding Process

From A to D ~ watch my boobs (and hair) grow!

Starting one week after surgery, I visited the plastic surgeon for weekly boob fills on Tuesdays. This is another way of saying that I got to see my boobs GROW a half or full size every week!!! He places a syringe full of saline in the top of the expander (the silver part). I don’t feel any pain ~ just a little pressure ~ and then sure enough ~ bigger boobs! Yes, I did take a video (how was I his 1st patient to do that???) and no, I’m not sharing it here.

I really enjoyed experimenting with different boob sizes. The expanding process happens until you reach your desired size, which for me is a small C. Anything larger than that would look a little too porn star on my small frame. He then blows up the “used to have cancer” side to be a size larger because it will be going through radiation which shrinks the skin.

So I spent the summer of 2016 with a leftie super boob!

The Hardest Part for Me…

I had heard from most women that tissue expanders weren’t painful ~ they were weird and uncomfortable at times ~ but not painful. So I was surprised to experience some pretty intense holy shit pain during the expanding process. Like I mentioned before, the fills were not painful. It was the time between fills. Because my tissue expanders are placed underneath my pec muscles, my pecs received an intense stretch when I got a boob fill. This then put extra pressure on my rib cage and surrounding shoulder girdle muscles. During this time, I also had a rare complication called “cording” which made it difficult to fully move and stretch my left arm. The fact that I’m a tiny person may have made it more difficult too. What supported me the most is physical therapy, yoga stretching, breathing, and yes – pain medication. Once again, I was confronted with my thoughts about medicine and you know what? It helped me immensely.

Life with Tissue Expanders

After the filling process was complete, the pain disappeared. The expanders did a great job of holding the skin in place during radiation. Now I am in “the waiting game” for my final surgery which is scheduled for May 4th. My plastic surgeon tends to wait longer than usual for the final reconstruction ~ 8-12 months after radiation. Since the skin can shrink during and even months after radiation, the longer time frame gives my skin plenty of time to fully heal, which will lead to a better aesthetic outcome and a less likely chance of complications, such as rippling and capsular contracture. I figure that I’ll have these boobs the rest of my life, so what’s a few extra months?

During the waiting game, I am still living a full life. I don’t really notice them much until I look in the mirror for my nightly ritual of massaging oils & lotions onto the skin to help the healing process.

Do I regret choosing this surgery?

To be honest, I have had moments where I have questioned my surgery decision. There has been a natural grieving process for my breasts ~ they have permanently changed (and they were pretty fabulous before!). I’ve had to be gentle with myself through many tears. Sometimes I feel insecure and not “natural” or as “feminine” as I used to be ~ more on this in a separate blog post. My mind has told me “A lumpectomy would have been easier. I made the wrong decision. I won’t like my final breasts.” Yet, is that true for me?

Actually, it’s not true. A lumpectomy + radiation would have made my left breast much smaller, so I would have needed to do breast augmentation on the right side to match (this involves more scarring as my right nipple would be removed and moved up). I am also reminded that my natural breast tissue was incredibly dense and lumpy ~ it was difficult to decipher the cancer lumps vs. natural lumps. I don’t know if I’d ever have cancer again, but I was guaranteed to have lumps again which means I’d need to go through a lifetime of “find the lump/mammo/ultrasound/biopsy/wait for results.” There are many ways to spend my time and if I have the option, less time in a doctors office works for me.

So…Do I regret it?

NO. I’m happy and grateful for this path. It’s the right choice for me. Without the stress, I’m free to be completely entertained by my boobs of steel. I show them off quite frequently. In fact, I recently spent a day at the Ten Thousand Waves Spa in Santa Fe and soaked nude in the women’s natural spring hot tub. I felt free, confident, and at peace. The other 2 women in the tub left 2 minutes after I arrived, but hey ~ no need to build a stressful story around that. I had the place to myself for 2 hours!

When a woman asks me, “what do they feel like?” I usually immediately grab her hand and place it on my breast or I’ll offer to show her what they look like in the bathroom.

When someone hugs me, they often ask, “oh – am I hurting you?” Dude – I’m the one with the hard-ass, indestructible bowling ball boobs that dig into your chest when we hug…”Am I hurting you?”

PS ~ they can NOT be used as massage tools. I tried with my husband and he wasn’t into it. However, they CAN be used to hold a plate of food while watching Netflix.

They keep me in my yoga practice. Daily stretching, movement, & some strengthening is choice-less for me.

I am also free to LOVE the anti-gravity bonus…you see, I didn’t realize just how much my natural boobs yanked on my shoulders & neck until I had weightless breasts. There are tiny, strappy, tank tops and bras that I can now wear and I LOVE it! Most of the time, I don’t even need a bra (except to cover my nipples in some shirts).

They don’t move. At all. So rebounding on my trampoline doesn’t hurt anymore. I don’t need to wear 2 sports bras while running (ok, I actually don’t run…but if I did, major support was needed!). So I created this facebook video to showcase this talent…

 

Final Surgery ~ May 4th!

I am beyond stoked for my final surgery, which is coming up in less than ONE month! Time has actually flown by and I am so okay with that. I have had fun designing my final breasts with my husband ~ we googled boob images online and showed my plastic surgeon. PS – googling boobs can bring up some pretty disturbing images…

The final ones will be much softer, closer together, and more natural looking. I will actually be able to have cleavage again! I’ve longed for the day I can look down and see a butt crack on my chest again. I plan to wear a lot of slutty clothes after May ~ tube tops, backless shirts, bikinis…bring it!

I choose to focus on the bright side of this process, the cancer bonuses and what I’m learning about myself. How I’m becoming more loving, accepting, and patient with my body and mind. How I can find humor in anything. This isn’t painting an airy fairy image over everything ~ it’s actually reality. And when I’m feeling down, The Work of Byron Katie brings me back. It’s a kind universe.

Do you heart this blog? Well it has transformed into a book baby…join my mailing list to get the scoop about its upcoming birth into the world! #mygurucancer

Related Posts

Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie

The Future of My Boobs (FOMB)

Gratitude, Elephants, & Going Potty ~ My Experience of Breast Surgery

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How I Found Peace during “The Waiting Game”

 

 

Surgery, Uncategorized

Gratitude, Elephants, & Going Potty ~ my experience of breast surgery

Now that I am 6 weeks out of surgery (bilateral mastectomy), I can sum up my experience in 4 sentences:

It was easier than I thought.

It was harder than I thought.

I did it!!!!

It’s over.

It’s all true for me. And ohhhhh, am I excited to share more of my story with you. This post focuses on my experience right before surgery and while in recovery for 2 nights at the hospital – Medical City in Dallas.

The day before surgery

It’s the night before surgery, and a complete calm has washed over me. Today, I posted this on FaceBook:

BethanyWebbBeingGrateful

What I find mindblowing is not too long ago, I was absolutely terrified that I would never feel a sense of calm and acceptance around my surgery decision. Remember? Damn, I love when the mind is wrong.

It all feels so simple now. I’m ready on every possible level – mentally, physically, spiritually. I just show up and it’s a complete surrender. A sweet surrender. The FaceBook comments keep pouring in and each one tugs at my heart strings. Such a collective feeling of oneness.

Tonight, my husband, my mom, and I sat in a circle, lit a candle, and listened to a pre-surgery meditation that was gifted to me by the team at CanSurround. When it finished, we sat in silence, tears in our eyes.

I. Am. Just. So. Ready.

Surgery day

On Monday, April 18th, my alarm went off at 4:45am ~ it was pitch black and I could hear the rain pouring outside. Oddly, I felt excitement ~ it reminded me of going on road trips as a kid. My parents would wake us up at the butt crack of dawn; still half asleep and in pajamas, we’d pile into the car. I’d have a rush of “woohoo, a new adventure!” excitement and would then fall right back asleep. Yes, my parents are smart as this gave them a few hours of peaceful silence before the 3 of us started our “are we there yet? I’m bored! He’s bothering me” chanting.

And now here we are, another new adventure. My mom, Travis, and I gathered in the kitchen with our hospital bags in hand…let’s do this!

I felt this same sense of peace/adrenaline/curiosity for each moment leading up to surgery ~ I even declined the nurse’s offer to take a xanex chill pill before the procedure. “Oh yeah, I am so evolved,” I thought, “I don’t need those stinkin drugs.” (Note: future me said YES to every possible pain-killing drug after surgery). There was one exception where I lost my cool…When we first arrived, we all gathered in the pre-op room. The first nurse that walked in said, “OK, Bethany – what are you having done today?” My first reaction was, “Well, uhhh….shouldn’t YOU know that?! Why are YOU asking ME?” Panic, holy shit, they are so flipping disorganized, you have to be kidding me, how am I supposed to trust them with my body and this HUGE surgery if they don’t even know what the F I’m here for!??!!? 

Then I learned that this is standard protocol…hehehehe….They are required to ask you this question when you arrive and I would be asked the same question over and over again by each nurse, volunteer, the breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist, strangers passing by… I then laughed at my mind and realized they are doing this to be helpful, efficient, avoid mistakes, and oh goodie – I know the answer!

I am here for “a nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy. The breast surgeon will also remove the chemo port, and in the left axilla, she will perform a sentinel node biopsy, with a possible lymph node dissection. The plastic surgeon will insert tissue expanders, with a possible allograft.”

Here it is in English:

  • Nipple Sparing: I get to keep my nipples. Because the original cancer was a good distance away from my nipple, I am a candidate for nipple conservation. However, this is not a guarantee. The surgeon swipes a sample of the tissue underneath each nipple and tests it to confirm there are no microscopic cancer cells found underneath. If cancer is found, bye-bye nipples. There is also a chance the blood flow to the nipples will not work properly or the skin can die.
  • Bilateral Mastectomy: the removal of all breast tissue (and cancer!) in both of my breasts.
  • Chemo Port: this is a medical device that was inserted during a day-surgery before I began chemotherapy in October. It’s a small plastic “plug” that goes under my skin, just above my right breast. Instead of sticking me with multiple needles each time I received chemo, the medicine was delivered directly into my bloodstream via the port. It’s completely painless and made me feel like a super hero being “charged up” with special powers each week. And I’m happy to see it go!
  • Sentinel Node Biopsy: This is a standard procedure where the sentinel nodes (the first few lymph nodes closest to the breast tumor) are identified, removed, & examined to see if any cancer is present. A dye is injected into the axilla (arm pit area) and it turns a certain color if something is cancerous. Usually 1-3 lymph nodes are removed.
  • Lymph Node Dissection: If the above procedure shows cancer, this procedure is done which involves removing additional lymph nodes and some of the surrounding tissue. I believe the typical average is 12 lymph nodes and could result in even all of them being removed depending on what the surgeon sees. (NOTE: my surgeon leans more towards the conservative side as there is a lot of recent research that confirms taking out less lymph nodes leads to less complications and radiation cleans up any remaining cancer cells).
  • Tissue Expanders: After the breast surgeon performs the above procedures, the plastic surgeon replaces the breast tissue with tissue expanders that go underneath the pectoral muscle – they are hard balloon-like temporary implants. After this surgery, they will slowly be filled with saline over 6-8 weeks to help stretch the skin and prepare the boobies for the final implant surgery. You literally get to watch your boobs grow and experiment with different boob sizes! They also hold well during radiation which can shrink the skin.
  • Allograft: If the tissue expanders do not fit securely underneath the pectoral muscle, the plastic surgeon will add extra tissue (called allograft) to help them stay in place. The tissue comes from donors which sounds creepy, but it’s so deeply cleaned & processed that there is no DNA remaining. Think of it as extra padding.

Going into surgery, I was in complete surrender to the unknown. I love that during my pre-op visits with my surgeons, I asked them what the best ways were to prepare for surgery and they said, “The best thing to prepare is your mind. Trust us. We have your best interests in mind and we want the best possible outcome for you.” So, that’s exactly what I did.

Last kiss before the operation
Last kiss before the operation

IMG_3807

I became child-like a curious. Each person who walked into the pre-op room was smiling, kind. I marveled in wonder while the plastic surgeon drew artistic lines all over my chest with a red marker. He made eye contact with me with a reassuring, “you’re ok. We’ve got this.” My breast surgeon looked so confident and well-rested as she tied her hair up in a bun. This is what they do and they do it well. I watched the fluids enter through my arm. I saw the care and concern in my husband’s and mother’s eyes. Neither wanted to leave my side. My last hug and kiss with each of them was special and intimate, not scary. I loved being wheeled around in a bed! And in a bed in an elevator! The last thing I remember is being wheeled into the operating room under these huge, beautiful lights that looked like colorful honeycombs. I said, “wow…those lights are so beautiful!” And that’s it. Goodnight.

I foundSurgeryMessageFB out later that right before I started surgery, my breast surgeon went to see my mother. She pointed out a special place to sit in the waiting room. She explained, “your daughter will be on the operating table just on the other side of this same wall. This is where you can be the closest to her.” Wow. The kindness. I also found out that my plastic surgeon wore cowboy boots with his scrubs through my surgery. Gotta love Texas.

Waking up

I woke up in the recovery room which was full of other patients. We were all separated by curtains. The first thing I remember is a huge intense, painful pressure on my chest; it felt like a giant elephant was sitting on me. I was unable to fully breathe, so I took small, shallow breaths and tried to focus on breathing in my belly. I could tell the nurse was under-staffed and whenever I could get her attention, I asked for ice chips because my mouth was insanely dry. I floated in and out of consciousness and could hear the moaning and groaning of other patients; one woman in particular, “nurse! nurse! It hurts! It hurts soooo much. Help me, please.”  Or maybe that was me? The typical amount of time in the recovery room is 1 hour and I was in there for 3 hours – I remember hearing staff members approach the nurse saying, “Bethany’s family is ready to see her now” multiple times. I could picture my mother & husband in the waiting room after 2 EXTRA hours went by saying, “Damnit! I want to see her NOW!” I smiled at the image and went back to sleep.

I awoke to being wheeled into my final recovery room ~ a private room with a beautiful view and this is where I’d stay for 2 nights. I watched my husband, mom, and mother-in-law rush in to see me. Travis reached for my hand, “hey baby, how are you…?!” I smiled and said, “Ok. It’s hard to breathe. It hurts. A lot.” And it did really fucking hurt. Way more than I thought it would, to be honest. I was given a pain pump of morphine ~ they said if I feel pain, I can pump it every 8 minutes when the green light turns on. I thought of some of the other women I talked to who had gone through this surgery, and they said that they didn’t even need the pain pump or maybe used it once. Well…I pumped that shit like it was a hand exercise. And later that evening when it still didn’t seem to relieve the pain, they asked me if I wanted a morphine boost. All of the “I’m so evolved and awesome and don’t need extra medicine” bullshit thoughts vanished and were replaced with:

YES, PLEASE. BRING IT ON. 

One unexpected & uncommon side effect of the drugs was that I was unable to pee on my own. I would try and try…I pressed on my stomach, let water run in the faucet, put my hand in hot water, my mom played waterfall noises from her iPhone, I counted tiles to distract my mind…nothing. What’s cool about modern medicine is if you can’t pee on your own – they can do it for you! I had to get catheterized 3 times…each time, they removed about a liter and a half of urine. The mild discomfort was nothing compared to the sweet Jesus relief I experienced when it was done. After the 2nd day in the hospital, I finally began to go on my own which was one of the most exciting things in the world at that time. The simple joys…If you are ever in the presence of someone who can not pee, here are 3 things not to say/do:

  1. “Just try harder.”
  2. “We really need you to be able to go to the bathroom on your own.”
  3. If I politely ask for everyone to leave the room so I can try to pee in solitude, LEAVE THE ROOM instead of standing close enough to me so that my knee is brushing the back of your thigh while you make my bed. This is especially true if we just met 30 seconds ago.

Easier than I thought

All jokes aside, the staff was amazing. And even though the pain level was so much more intense than I expected, there were so, so, so many things that were BETTER than I expected. Examples:

  • The moment I saw my new breasts. Before surgery, I dreaded this moment. I imagined it on so many occasions and was brought to tears every time – I saw me standing in the hospital mirror, seeing the first glimpse of my creepy-looking-mutilated-use-to-be-beautiful-and-never-will-be-again breasts. Then horror and regret filled my mind. Well, reality turned out to be pretty awesome. I lifted up my gown, looked in the mirror and thought, “wow – they look pretty damn good! Hey honey, did you see these?” I had adorable little A-cup breasts. The clear surgical tape was wrapped around me like a bra and I could see some swelling & discoloring from bruising, which is expected.
  • The breast surgeon’s execution was brilliant. The only incisions she made were along the outer, lower part of each breast. I believe she has magical powers; somehow, she was able to remove the chemo port by my right collar bone AND do a half lymph node dissection in my left armpit through these incisions. The scarring is healing beautifully and is barely visible now.
  • The plastic surgeon is an artist and creative genius. He was able to secure the tissue expanders without any allografting and he noticed that I already had a scar on my belly (it was from having a mole removed when I was a teenager). He threaded the tubing for the two drains to exit through this scar so that I wouldn’t have any extra scars on my body. The drains were easy to keep clean and came out in 2 weeks. It did take a little creativity on figuring out how to hide my drains when in public – a sweet fanny pack I bought in Barcelona 9 years ago did the trick.
  • I can still feel my breasts. The skin on the inner & upper breast still has sensation! It’s very common for women to completely lose all sensation of their breasts after a mastectomy because sensory nerves are removed with the breast tissue. I jokingly had asked the breast surgeon, “you mean if my breasts caught on fire, I would have no idea?” I could joke but this was something I was depressed and anxious about…sensation meant a lot to me personally and sexually with my husband. I did hear from another woman that yes, she did lose sensation but “other senses are heightened if you know what I mean…;)”
  • The food in the hospital was incredible! Assuming hospital food would suck ass, I had called the hospital to let them know I’d be bringing my own food. She asked what my dietary needs were and I explained that I eat all organic, vegetarian + fish & eggs, and no dairy, soy, sugar, or gluten. She said, “sure, no problem – our chef (what they have a chef?) is starting to lean towards using more organic ingredients these days so I’ll make sure he has plenty of items on hand during your stay with us.” For breakfasts, I ate an organic egg omelette w/fresh veggies and a side of organic fruit. Soup & salad for lunch and one dinner was organic salmon, sautéed kale, and sweet potato mash – Travis and my mom ordered a plate too and we all enjoyed it together. I felt pretty darn pampered.
  • People are so kind. I have now collected thousands of examples of this throughout the entire journey and there was never a shortage of kindness and love in this part. In fact, I think it amplified. The staff, my family, friends, all of the flowers and thoughtful messages…. everyone and everything was/is here for me.

There are so many more blessings I discovered throughout the recovery process as well as extremely tough moments of physical & emotional pain. Much more to share with you.

Right now, I’m grateful to now sit in reflection of it all.

Do you heart this blog? Well it has transformed into a book baby…join my mailing list to get the scoop about its upcoming birth into the world! #mygurucancer
Me, post-op, and on a lot of drugs!
Me, post-op, and on a lot of drugs!
Alternative/Complimentary Therapies, Medical Updates, Surgery, Uncategorized

Update: Post-Chemo & Pre-Surgery

Spring is definitely bringing a lot of change & transformation – I always love this time of year. Lots of updates…

Well, my friends, as of March 2nd ~ C-Love is officially DONE! Although overall I had a pretty darn good experience going through chemotherapy ~ it feels SO GOOD to have one big part of this treatment plan complete. If you missed my Nae Nae Bell Ring, you can check it out here.ChemoBellRing

I will write more about my time in C-Love and will also include some tips on all-natural cures for various side effects. I attribute my positive experience mainly to my mindset: I chose to gratefully receive chemo as a healing cleanse instead of fearing it as a poisonous necessary evil. And it worked. More on how I got to this genuine space of gratitude later…HINT: The Work of Byron Katie 😉

My hair is coming in much more quickly than I anticipated! It’s been extremely entertaining; it’s like all of my hair follicles became over-excited to jump start again, which produced a strange layer of fuzz on MY FACE and neck. Yep, I shaved my face on more than one occasion. It seems to have simmered down for now. My head feels like a combo of a soft bunny rabbit + baby chick and I have to say the color is leaning wayyyyyyy more towards gray than I prefer at the age of 34. I’m excited to see what it will look like when I grow up. The only place my hair has yet to return is on my thighs and hamstrings ~ WEIRD and I’ll take it!

YogaVideoScreenShotDuring the past 6 weeks, I have been slowly building my strength back, cleansing w/foods & supplements, and am still enjoying afternoon naps. Muscles have been achier – it feels like no matter which activity I do, I end up being soar from it. I had the complaining thought, “geez, my body is feeling everything” and then it dawned on me…”awesome! my body is feeling EVERYTHING!” My energy is now steadily increasing and I noticed a HUGE boost after I made the decision to do the double mastectomy. I continue to be amazed at the mind/body connection of this process.

Click here to learn more about my decision-making process for surgery. Just a few days after the post, I attended the pre-op visit and I had a feeling that I would have an even clearer answer of how to move forward after that appointment. And I was right. It felt right. Since then, I have felt so much more relief and am enjoying the process of preparing for this big event which is scheduled for THIS Monday!

It may sound strange, but doing little things – like buying post-surgical bras, frozen peas, & button-down shirts – feels like a way of emotionally processing this shift. A way to move from unease to acceptance. I even bought my current boobs a cute little lacy bra to wear for a few weeks and some funny underwear to wear during surgery. (Hey, there’s nothing wrong with making the surgeons laugh while their working on my body, right?).

Last weekend, I took my boobs on a relaxing retreat at Living Waters near Austin ~ the retreat property I use to manage and is now run by my brother and his fiancée. This turned out to be THE BEST possible way to prepare…I went on nature walks/hikes, journaled, was able to participate in a women’s yoga retreat, ate amazing meals prepared by my chef brother, and had an incredibly healing Reiki session with someone I feel a soul connection with. It. was. just. awesome. Plus the wildflowers are beyond gorgeous this time of year!

SkinnyDip

IMG_3694 (1)On the last night, Emma (my soon-to-be sister) and I decided to do a ceremonial skinny dip plunge in the lake. The water was so refreshing! Then the next day, my brother and I hiked Reimers Ranch and spontaneously decided to jump in the river with our clothes on and then lay on the warm rocks under the sun. I have a thing for water…it’s always a mental game-changer for me whether it’s an ocean, lake, bath, or shower. I left this trip feeling pure adrenaline for life and what is to come. I’m so grateful I gave this gift to myself.

I have also been exploring a really interesting inquiry – I have been questioning the thought “I am losing my breasts” using The Work and I’ve come to realize two things:

  • I am not losing MY breasts. They are not mine. I do not own them (or this body). THESE breasts are changing which makes it so much less personal. The reality is, some tissue (which I’ve never even seen before) is getting replaced. That’s it. Same skin. Same nipples. Much simpler.
  • I am GAINING my breasts. Isn’t this also happening? Even though these new breasts will have expanders and then implants, they will, in fact, be my new natural, healthy breasts.

This inquiry is leaving me with a sense of child-like curiosity as I approach surgery, recovery, and reconstruction. My mind is also looking at the reality of the procedure: I show up Monday morning and go to sleep. When I wake up, it’s done. I rest. Experience wonderful drugs. Get 24/hr care in the hospital for 2 nights (and organic meals…what?!). I then go home, chill out, see what it’s like to have T-rex arms (you’re not supposed to lift your arms for a few weeks), read, watch movies, go for walks, get waited on, and bond with my “nurse” mom and husband. My part sounds pretty easy: be present and enjoy the ride. I can do this.

The surgery starts at 7:30am on Monday, April 18th, and will last about 6 1/2 hours ~ if you’re into praying or meditation ~ I invite you to send me some love at that time!

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Surgery, Uncategorized

The Future of My Boobs (FOMB)

FOMB LogoOver the past 2 months, I have been contemplating surgery options ~ a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or double mastectomy ~ and a decision has finally arrived. I would love to tell you that all I had to do was sit quietly in meditation and watch this clear beautiful neon-sign-of-an-answer show up before my eyes.

This was so NOT the case for me.

The “peace with the unknown” I initially experienced about surgery options turned out to have a pretty quick expiration date. In fact, the whole “decision-making” process has been the most challenging, gut-wrenching, emotional part of this entire journey so far. Chemo was a freaking breeze compared to the turmoil my mind has gone through. There were times I wished I didn’t have a choice. There was even a moment I wished the cancer would show up somewhere else in my breast so I could know what to do. Why? Because I was believing the thought…

“I will make the wrong decision.”

Under the influence of this thought, I am paralyzed with fear. My mind can only see the worse case scenario of each option. It’s all shit and I’m forced to choose the lesser of two evil shits. For the 1st time, I truly feel like a victim and I am furious that I’m in this situation. I want someone/something to give me a clear answer. I worry what people will think of me if I choose this or that. I tell myself I’m a failure at being “peaceful.” I’m overcome with emotions and I tighten my body which leads to exhaustion, achier muscles, and headaches. In summary, when I believe this thought, I feel like complete, total, utter crap.

Without the thought – and it took some time get my mind here – I feel so much lighter. The pressure is lifted (literally) off my shoulders and I again, see the blessings in each option. I feel more motivated and open to learning more if needed, talking to others, sitting with myself, & enjoying my life. I feel empowered, open, free, and trusting of my own intuition and the universe.

Turn it around to: “I will make the right decision.”

Suddenly, I am reminded that each option has major bonuses. A lumpectomy is an easier surgery plus I found a plastic surgeon who can do another procedure so my boobs look similar. I get to keep my natural breasts and they’ll be smaller which is nice for my shoulders. A mastectomy gives me peace of mind that the cancer is 100% gone and there’s way less of a chance of reoccurrence. I don’t need to worry about monitoring my lumpy breasts with diagnostic tests & biopsies. My breasts will look more like they did before I began treatment and they’ll stay perky for life which is also nice for my shoulders! And looking back at my history, have I ever really made a “wrong” decision? Even the times I thought something bad was happening…it turned out to be even better than I imagined. I broke my ankle and then met my husband when he offered me a stool to sit on…we were kicked out of our apartment and ended up moving to a retreat property and creating a new business…I failed my first yoga training and then started my own private practice. The only thing that could go “wrong” is the label my mind puts on it. Also, I will make the right decision – something will feel really right at some point.

Hmmmm….feeling much better.

Here are some other stressful thoughts I have taken to inquiry:

People will judge me.

If I choose a lumpectomy, the cancer will come back.

If I choose a double, I will not like my breasts.

I should be more peaceful in this process.

I want the universe to give me a clear decision.

I am not “evolved” if I choose a double mastectomy.

I need to be at peace with my decision.

Doing The Work really helped to bring me back to the present moment and clear my mind of some major bullshit. And I noticed I still go back and forth to attaching to some of these thoughts. Here are a few other techniques that have supported me.

Clarifying My Intention

Sitting with the questions, “Why am I choosing surgery? What is its purpose? What do I want from this experience in the longterm?” helped me to clarify a clear vision to hold as I walk through different options. For me, it boils down to:

  • Cure this body of cancer cells
  • Prevent cancer cells from returning
  • Feel longterm mental peace
  • Look/feel good about my body

Gathering Information

I dove into learning as much info as I could about each option. This included asking more questions to my breast & plastic surgeon, getting a 2nd opinion for surgery and reconstruction, and talking with other women who have had each type of surgery. Some new info I learned was:

  • A much less invasive lumpectomy is an option with my 2nd opinion breast surgeon. Of course, clear margins are needed which could lead to more surgeries.
  • There is a higher risk of reoccurrence with a lumpectomy; a double mastectomy drops the reoccurrence rate from 12% to 1%. The survival rate is the same.
  • For a lumpectomy, “you get what you get” in terms how the breast looks is not true – there are plastic surgery techniques to help the breasts look even. In a separate surgery, the other breast can be reduced and lifted (which involves cutting out the nipple and moving it up). After a lumpectomy is complete, there is more monitoring of the breast tissue with frequent mammograms and ultrasounds.
  • For a single mastectomy, the plastic surgeon can make the other side match. However, over time – aging will make the real breast sag while the other remains the same.
  • For a single or double mastectomy, there are at least 2 surgeries. The 1st is when the breast tissue is removed and expanders are put in place to help stretch the skin and prepare the breasts for implants. The implants are done months after radiation and extra fat is injected between the implants and the skin for a natural look & feel. My 2nd opinion plastic surgeon offers a less invasive technique for reconstruction that includes the use of implants + liposuction. He would use fat grafting (liposuction) in more forgiving areas like “love handles” which leaves very little scarring and is an easy recovery. The 1st surgeon wanted to do implants + belly fat which involves a 3rd pretty intense surgery that cuts the stomach from hip to hip to gather belly fat to help build the breasts. After these surgeries, there are no more mammograms or ultrasounds – just the occasional chest X-ray.
  • Radiation will be recommended regardless of which surgery I choose because cancer was found in my lymph nodes.

Two things began to become clear: (1) I prefer my 2nd opinion medical team: Dr. Laidley (breast surgeon) and Dr. Antonetti (plastic surgeon) at Medical City and (2) doing a single mastectomy was not an option for me. It’s either a lumpectomy or a double.

I also have REALLY loved connecting with women who have been through this. There is an instant bond that exists with cancer patients and survivors ~ an immediate sense of connection and compassion. I also received a helpful reminder from each woman that it’s completely normal to feel everything I am feeling. Fear, worry, anxiety, doubt….these are all natural human emotions in life and in this process. I am not alone. Ever. For some of the women who chose a lumpectomy, the cancer came back and they ended up getting a mastectomy or a double. The ones who were very happy with their lumpectomy and are still cancer-free had a much smaller tumor initially with no involvement of the lymph nodes. For the double mastectomy women, most of them said the procedure was hard but not as tough as they thought it would be, and not one person regretted their decision.

Everyone I talked to reminded me that this is a personal decision; I need to do what feels right for me.

After many weeks of this information gathering phase, I started to get completely overwhelmed…I had thought that during one of the meetings, something would just click and my decision would be made. But I still felt torn. I knew it was bad when one day, my husband asked me if I wanted a salad for dinner. If so, he would go to the store and buy lettuce. I completely freaked out on him, ran into the room sobbing, “YOU make the decision! I can’t handle it!”

I had to take a break and step away from it all for a few days. Then Type A Bethany took over with…

The Good Ol’ PRO/CON List

Yep, I’m a dork and created an entire spreadsheet titled “The Future of My Boobs” which listed out the pro’s and con’s with each surgery option, along with the procedure recommended by each doctor, and additional questions/things to consider. I then scheduled a FOMB meeting with my mom and husband and we walked through everything together. At this time I was a week away from my last chemo session so chemo brain was in full effect. This process helped to better organize my thoughts and make sure I had a clear understanding of each option. Here it is in case it’s helpful for you too.

Lumpectomy Pro Con Bethany Webb Double Pro Con Bethany Webb

Trying it on & Feeling it out

I decided to “try on” my two different decisions as if I were trying on a new dress. Ok, I’m doing a lumpectomy. How does it feel? Do I notice any physical sensations? How do I feel as I imagine the next 60 years? Then I tried on the double.

This is what shocked me the most. When I try on a lumpectomy…I lose my breath and constrict my body. I feel anxious.

When I try on a double, I feel relief.

This is not what I expected to feel. I mean, after all – I ended up getting what I thought I wanted with a less invasive lumpectomy. But the truth is, it still didn’t feel right. I have what doctors call “Fibrocystic Breast Disease” which is a fancy term for “super lump boobs.” So for me, a lumpectomy feels easier this year, but harder in the long run with the constant monitoring of my breast tissue. A double feels harder now but so much better as I imagine the rest of my life.

I also noticed that when I would talk to people about it, I was looking for them to tell me it was ok to choose a double mastectomy. I mean shit, there was also that moment of hoping for more cancer to show up so I could make this decision. Instead of looking outward for that permission, I decided to give it to myself instead.

So yes, I have chosen to do a double mastectomy.

If you are surprised by my decision, so am I. If you are relieved by my decision, so am I.

Yet still…

Still I don’t know

I had felt so incredibly solid in my decision for weeks and then I found out the reconstruction process may take longer than I had originally thought – it could be NEXT spring or summer. This threw me over the edge and I began to second guess EVERYTHING. Am I making a mistake? Will I regret it? Are these just pre-surgery jitters or is my heart talking? Back to the ping-pong match of going back and forth between options. I’m not going to lie – the past few weeks have kind of sucked ass.

All I wanted was that feeling of clarity to come back and stay forever.

I discovered that I really, really, really needed to spend time with my emotions – give them the FULL expression. I’ve gone from feeling perfectly fine to sobbing within seconds. I had a hard time sleeping and would wake up in the middle of the night in tears. I felt like movement helped – longer walks, jumping on the trampoline, yoga, epson salt baths. One day, in a fit of anger, I tore up a cardboard box…I attended an incredible Somatic Movement + Sound Healing Workshop ~ I cried before, a little during, and a ton afterwards. My husband held me on many occasions and facilitated me on additional stressful thoughts. It was so clear that suffering started in my mind and then the body followed. But this awareness angered me even more – I was watching it happen and couldn’t just press the “off” button.

IMG_3636 (2)I also feel like I’ve been experiencing a natural mourning/grieving process for my breasts. They will never be the same as they once were. Well, actually – they are already not the same! But how do I know they won’t be better? The worse that can happen is my stressful story about them. I’ve spent some time drawing pictures of my old boobs too which was healing.

One day, I was journaling in nature working the thought, “I want the universe to give me a clear decision” and I was listening to Pandora. When I was in the turnarounds, I heard these lyrics:

Settle down, it will all be clear.

If you get lost, you can always be found.

Know you’re not alone.

I’m going to make this place your home.

Thank you, universe. Right now, what’s true for me is a double feels like the best decision. And I’m open to my mind changing. This Thursday, I am scheduled for a pre-op visit with the surgeons to go through the details of the operation & how to prepare for it. The surgery is scheduled for April 18th. I’ve decided to just spend my time doing things I love, be present with anything else that comes up, and see what happens.

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And maybe…just maybe…Future New Boob Bethany will go from this to this!

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Surgery

Part 2: Meeting with the Breast Surgeon for Surgery Options

FlowFocusOn January 21st, I met with Dr. Ganaraj for the 2nd time to find out what my options are for surgery after chemo. I have been in chemo for over 3 months and the latest MRI from December has shown that the tumor in my breast went from 4.2 cm to microscopic in size and the cancer in my lymph nodes has shrunken from 3.8 cm to 1.2 cm. YEAH!!!

To mentally prepare for this meeting, I have allowed myself the time to discover the benefits of all surgery options: a lumpectomy (removal of the tumor in the breast), mastectomy (removal of one breast), bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts). Although I have been able to find perks (pun intended) for all options, I had my heart set on a simple lumpectomy.

In fact, here is exactly how I wanted it to go…

Surgeon swoops in with a huge smile on her face doing a happy dance and says…“Oh wow, we are all so blown away with your progress and the cancer is almost gone! I’m 100% confident it will be gone by the time you finish chemo. For surgery, we will only need to take just a little bit out to triple check the tissue is cancer-free. You won’t even notice a difference in your breast.” Then she would lay out the timeline for the rest of treatment so I can finally make other fun “life” plans this year.

Ok, so I see I was a bit attached to this specific outcome.

While working on my previous “Part 1” blog post, I began to re-live the thoughts & emotions from the 1st meeting and started to feel uneasy about the meeting this week. I was taking the past and projecting it into the future ~ that’s what the mind does. What if the news she shares is again shocking and not what I anticipated? What if I am, again, naïve about what I think is a surgical option for me? And the biggest thought, “I won’t be able to handle what she says to me.” After taking this thought to inquiry, I decided this is how I am walking into the meeting: my job is to show up, be open, ask questions, and the next step will be shown.

Meeting with the surgeon for the 2nd time was like meeting with a different surgeon. She was full of smiles and relief. She was absolutely blown away by my progress with chemo so far ~ I have literally “made her day” and am the success story she is telling many of her other patients. Look! I got exactly what I imagined for this part!

She said that I do have all 3 surgery options, which is great news. But the lumpectomy she described is not what I imagined. She could “try” to do a lumpectomy but she would still need to take out all of the tissue that was originally affected by the cancer to make sure we get clear margins. When she held out a ruler, it looked to be the size of a tennis ball. She said that it would leave my breast with a noticeable deformity and it would not match the other breast. Radiation could also further shrink the breast. Unfortunately, my left breast is already smaller than my right one ~ damnit, universe, why didn’t you cancer up my right boobie instead? I had thought they could put a little extra “fun” in there to even them out but apparently that’s not possible ~ you just get what you get.

It’s confusing for me because according to the latest diagnostic tests, the cancer is already almost gone and it will disappear even more over the next 6 chemo sessions ~ so why take out so much tissue? She says not all cancer cells show up in tests ~ only the microscope can tell so they take out all of the tissue that was originally affected. I asked, “what’s the point of doing 5 months of intense chemo to shrink the tumor if you’re basically going to take out the same amount of tissue anyways?”

Her response: “Think of the tumor as a glass mirror. When I throw it on the ground, it shatters into pieces. This is what the chemo is doing to the tumor ~ we hope that we are getting all of the shards but they tend to spread out. You did have a few satellite nodules too. And I would be taking out less than we would have needed to in the beginning. Remember that cancer is a systemic disease, so the chemo’s main goal is to kill the cancer cells in the entire body, and because we have seen how well your tumors have responded to the chemo, this tells us it is definitely working for the rest of the body too. This is good news! When you first came in and I saw the size of these tumors, I was really, really worried. So this is just amazing to see your response.” With a lumpectomy, there is a slightly greater statistical chance the cancer could come back and/or she may not be able to get clear margins which could mean a 2nd surgery.

I understand her point of view and at the same time, I feel kind of cheated. It seems like if chemo only shrunk the tumor to half its original size, there would still be the same recommendation for surgery? And something I thought of later and will ask her…after cancer treatment when patients are in so-called “remission,” scans are done to make sure the cancer has not come back or spread to another area. When the scans are “clear,” it means there’s no cancer and everyone celebrates ~ they don’t need to take tissue out each time to determine this. So why is it different now?

So it’s not the exact news I wanted to hear and it’s also good that I do have a lot of options. She said a mastectomy is the safest option from her perspective and the plastic surgeon would make sure that the other breast looks even. The chances of cancer coming back are decreased and I wouldn’t need an annual mammogram on my left breast. I’m open to this and will meet with a plastic surgeon soon for a consultation. Some questions for him are: Over time with aging, does my right boob grow down while the other stays up? Creepy. And is it really true there’s nothing you can do to fill in the breast from a lumpectomy?

A double mastectomy is usually what women my age do ~ that way the breasts are both perky and even for life and an annual mammogram is not required. She says it does not increase the survival rate ~ it’s more of an “emotional” decision according to the doctor. I am not a candidate for using body fat to build the breasts (I don’t have enough of it!) so implants would be used.

I’ll also need surgery in my left axilla (armpit) to remove the cancerous lymph nodes and there are 2 few different options for that. One would be a separate surgery but would involve taking out less lymph nodes and the other would be done during the breast surgery and would involve taking out 10-12 (or maybe up to 35). She is open to trying the first option and if more need to be taken out, option 2. My hubby was the one who brought up doing option 1 ~ GO HIM! And GO HER for being open.

I have been taking this all in and it has been emotional. Right now I see bonuses and downsides for all 3 options and I trust at some point, something will stand out as a YES for me. It’s just so crazy I’m even thinking about this!!! It would probably be an easier decision if I didn’t care what my boobs look like or I was super old… but yes, I’ll admit it: I want the sexy bikini yogini bod back 😎. Some people may say that’s vain but that’s how I honestly feel. Since chemo started and I’ve lost weight, I’ve experienced entirely different breasts ~ they’re smaller, kind of long & stringy. It seems similar to how my girlfriends describe their post baby/nursing breasts. Perky boobs for life may not be such a bad idea…

So my next steps are:

  • Keep gathering questions for the surgeon.
  • Visit with a plastic surgeon to get a consultation, see photos, find out what reconstruction could look like.
  • Get a second opinion for doing a lumpectomy (maybe another breast surgeon feels more confident about taking out less tissue so I can keep my natural breasts without a deformity).
  • Talk with other women who have had each type of surgery.
  • Continue to take my stressful thoughts to inquiry: The doctor misled me. She shouldn’t take out so much tissue. I will make the wrong decision. 

Luckily I have plenty of time to find out what feels right for me ~ surgery will be in April (they wait 4-6 weeks after chemo so the body can build its immunity back). A few weeks after surgery, she recommends the standard treatment of 5-6 weeks of radiation (5 days per week) ~ I have thoughts about this too but right now I need to pace out my mind and take things one step at a time.

Right after our meeting, I was standing in the hallway by myself, looking out the window. It was raining heavily and then started to hail. While listening to the Rain Photosoft thumps of hail hitting the floor and metal railings, I was overcome with a comforting feeling of peace and pride. My eyes started to tear up and I just breathed it all in. Damn, even though the meeting went differently than I anticipated, I handled it so well. And I wasn’t trying to be strong, it was a natural happening. And here I am not knowing what my decision is and I’m ok with it. Ok, with not knowing. Cancer is such a great teacher of making peace with the unknown.

I realize it might be crazy to announce this information before I’ve made my decision. There’s part of me that wants to preserve it so that I don’t unintentionally invite in hundreds of other people’s opinions. With so many other opinions floating around (and there have been many throughout this whole process!), it can be hard to hear my own voice. So I want to be clear: I love you and I’m not sharing this information to get your opinion on what I should do for my body.

It can be very easy to have a clear opinion on treatment when you have never been in this situation. I know, because that use to be me. Before I experienced any of this, I would have said, “people are crazy to even consider chemo and to remove a breast or two is even crazier!” Now my mind is open and I see there is no single “right” way of dealing with cancer treatment; this experience has completely humbled me. I don’t know what’s best for anyone else, ever. Treatment is a personal decision and I’ll no longer judge how anyone else chooses their treatment plan. And I am so thankful to have the expertise of these doctors ~ with years and years of experience with cancer cells.

With that said, if you have been through this experience, I would like to hear from you. Are you happy with your surgical decision? How has your life been affected? Would you do anything differently?

I love that I have the opportunity to share a transparent, “real-time” journey of what it’s like to have cancer and be in treatment. I love that I have the courage to do this and it honestly feels so good, so healing, to be so vulnerable. And if it can help just one person find more peace in this process, it’s so worth it.

So here I am, continuing to lay it all out on the table. Moving forward, the info I share may start to get even more “TMI” (can we say, nipple talk?). What I share is my business and what you read is yours, so I’ll leave it up to you!

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