Friday, September 20, 2013

Torture Expansion, I mean Tissue Expansion, is complete

I explained a little bit in prior posts about reconstruction after a mastectomy. But here's a quick recap... all of the breast tissue was removed during the surgery, then temporary implants were placed behind my pectoral muscles, and I'll get a final set of implants (still behind the pec muscles) in about six months.

The temporary implants are called "tissue expanders" because they start small and are slowly filled with saline via a port over several weeks to stretch out the pectoral muscles to hold a final implant later.

For you visual learners, here is what that looks like... 
From John's Hopkins

So for the past several weeks I've been seeing my plastic surgeon for "expansions" or "fills" of my tissue expanders. We had to complete all my fills pretty quickly because no more fills can occur during or after radiation.

Remember how I said the tissue expanders are behind the pectoral muscles? Yeah, so that means the tissue expansion process hurts like b*tch. Like seriously, I thought I had a high pain tolerance until this. For several days after each expansion any movement I make that engages my pectoral muscles hurts like crazy. Just when I'd start to feel almost better, I'd get another expansion.

This week I had my final fill, and I'm so glad to be done because this one hurt the most. It's been three days since the fill and it still hurts to take a deep breath. Oh and my back hurts a lot too because those muscles are trying compensate for the strain on the pecs. Wonderful.

This would all be manageable, but I have a 16 pound baby to pick up and carry around! It's not that I can't pick her up, it's just that each time I do I feel a lot of pain. She's so cute though, it makes up for it.
Hi Elise!
Sorry if this was a whiny post, but I'm just sick of being in pain, and I'm sick of people saying "at least you get a free boob job." Believe me, if boob jobs were this painful, no one would get them.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

160 Days

For 160 days I had cancer.

Actually, I now know that I probably had cancer for less days than that. But for 160 days I believed I had cancer. I was diagnosed on March 1 and got the news of the complete pathological response on August 8.

160 days is 40 days x 4. In the Bible a 40-something time period (days/years) is a period of testing or trial that ends with a period of restoration or renewal. For Noah it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, and Jesus was seen on the earth for 40 days after His crucifixion.

I'm not saying I'm Jesus or Moses. But it's pretty awesome to think about how the biggest trial/testing of my life lasted 40 days, 4 times over. God has been faithful and now I should be in the time of renewal and restoration.

I wish I could say that I'm now 100% resting with the peace of God that I'm cancer free. But I can't. It's hard to switch my mind from being a warrior to a survivor when I was a warrior for 160 days and now only a survivor for 30 days.

My 160 day trial built my faith more than I could have ever imagined. I trust God with my life and I trust Him with my death. I know my friends and prayer partners have seen their faith built up by how amazingly God answered so many of our prayers, both little and big. It's truly incredible to see.

But despite the faith and trust that I've built, I still get scared. I don't think I'd be human if I didn't. Every little ache or pain brings up a fear that it could be metastasis. So far each pain has come and gone, but I live in fear that one won't.

So if you think of me, will you please say a prayer for me? One prayer that I'll remember that God is faithful, that I am a survivor, and I don't have to worry. And a second prayer for my continued health; That I've kicked cancer's butt once and forever. Amen.