10 June 2008

Health Wealth #5

So, by now you know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2007. You know that it was (obviously) quite a shock, but a blow that I had to endure and fight through. You should be up to date, but if you're not, please refer back to the previous posts on this Health Wealth series.

Now for more of the story...

I’ve had surgery before, but nothing compared to this. Knowing that a part of my body would be essentially amputated and reconstructed was very scary. I was surrounded by my mum, my manager from work, who’s a role model, friend, and mentor rolled into one, lil lady, and bestie while I waited for the nurses to do their pre-surgery intake stuff. Once that was all taken care of, my mum and manager prayed over me and I was wheeled down to the OR.

Hours later, I woke up in agony, and wondered when the pain meds would actually work. Lil lady was snuck into the recovery room to see me and I stayed awake long enough to see her beautiful face and she was taken away. I really didn’t want her seeing me like that anyway as she already had a hard enough time accepting or dealing with what I was going through. I was finally taken to my room where a few close friends came to see me. I was pretty put of it and let the nurses and mum take care of me. I didn’t do well with the anesthesia and it wasn’t until almost 2:00am that I started to feel some relief. Mum stayed the night in the hospital with me to ensure that I was well taken care of; I was!

The next morning, the breast surgeon came to see me and explained that he was able to perform the surgery with the absolute best outcome and I was thrilled; that being my nipple was still in tact, which was something he couldn’t determine until the surgery was in progress. The reconstructive surgeon came in later and told me he was able to successfully begin the reconstruction; happiness continued. The pain was horrible, but I was alive and with favorable results.

Now, I’m sure there are those of you unfamiliar with breast surgeries, so I’ll explain the procedure I had done as it was not a typical mastectomy.

I received what’s called a Skin Sparing Mastectomy. This form of mastectomy is performed a few different ways, but this is how mine was done because my cancer was in two locations in my breast.

1. The underneath of my breast was cut open and lifted up.
2. The breast muscle was removed along with the breast tissue.
3. All of my breast skin and nipple remained in tact. (A typical mastectomy removes the breast skin and the nipple. Other Skin Sparing Mastectomies remove the nipple and the cancerous tissue).
4. A tissue expander was then placed under the skin with a small amount of saline to begin the process to expand the skin and make room for an implant later on.
5. A drain (typical procedure) was placed into my chest wall to remove excess fluid.
6. A bandage was wrapped around my chest to as a protective aid for the incision, the drain, and the expander.

Although I’m not in favor of “drive-thru” mastectomies (one day hospital stays), I was released from the hospital the day after my surgery because I was fearful of hospital-borne infections and I figured I’d be more comfortable at home.

As required and necessary, lymph nodes are removed and I was fortunate that only one of mine was removed the day of surgery and it was later determined to be within good margins; meaning the cancer was contained and my need for chemo and radiation was not necessary. Praise God!

I went home and began the process of healing and reconstruction.



jus butterfli said...

wow... i know this may sound redundant; but, speaking to you, i still can hardly believe you went thru all of this! you are truly strong and amazing...

i know i was going thru my own "thing" @ the time; but, i wish... well, i've already told you, so, you know.

anyway, you're my shero! :o)

peace! love!

Believer 1964 said...

Thanking God for the saving of your nipple and negative biopsy from the one lymph node. Alleluia! That's great news considering the circumstances. So grateful for small miracles.

I'm sad, and on the verge of tears. You represent every woman who we love, admire, and know. It's mind boggling to think of what a mammogram could bring about. Still, we must not forget that knowledge is power. In this case, it could save our life. Praying for you and others.

Cancer sucks! I’m just sayin’.

Wendy said...

Hey Blu,

God is good! Sorry, I had to go away and come back to you because your story reminded me so much of what my mother and I went through. By the grace of God she is also a survivor and has recovered beautifully and I did not have cancer at all ( my breast were just misbehaving as usual).Thank you for sharing this.

Blu Jewel said...

jus - i'm still coming to terms with all I've been through, but I made it through the storm and thank God for taking charge of my situation and guiding my path. Blush @ you calling me your shero!

believer - i was more than grateful for the negative bisopy and the preservance of my nipple. Having a mastectomy is hard whichever procedure you have. I'm eternally grateful to the dr. who recommended the procedure i had and for my breast surgeon to be able to perform it successfuly. Yes, cancer does suck!

wendy - *hugs* having had your mother go through it and you having your own scare must have been awful; and to read my story probably stirred up memories. However, think of how fortunate we all are in our own way for our survivorship.


Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

how have u been, i thoughyt u feel off the face of the earth, i opened my dog store