Jun 19, 2016

My Mastectomy

It's a strange thing to be writing about, something I certainly never thought I'd be writing my personal experiences about, but one thing I have learned recently is that life can throw you curve-balls and you just have to try and deal with them the best you can!

I have just come home from hospital, where they removed my left breast and my lymph nodes. Basically they test your first lymph node during your operation and if it tests positive they take all of them out. They told me there were signs of cancer in the first node so they went ahead and removed all of them, which I ad consented to before I went in.

The day after surgery
The main thing I was scared about was having anesthetic, I've never had general anesthetic before and as my Mum is allergic to it I was really worried. Honestly if I could have had local anasthetic and stayed awake for it I would have opted for that, I was terrified. That part was okay though! The anesthetist was lovely, he put me at ease straight away and after he put the mask over my face with the sleepy gas, I was out of it. I must have woken up slowly because I remember having a little dream and then a nurse putting my glasses on. I felt really nauseous so she gave me an anti nausea drug that worked straight away, thankfully.

Walking out of hospital, complete with my bag
 holding my drain 'blood bag', breast pillow and flowers
After that it was back to the ward and everyone kept telling me how well the operation went. That my 'wound' was really neat and that the surgeons did a great job which was very reassuring. Unfortunately I'm allergic to opiate based drugs, they make me go off the chart weird and also because I'm really small they knock me right out. When I had Matilda and had morphine the morphine made me cry for about 3 hours because I could hardly open my eyes or lift my arms up, I couldn't even hold her it was a nightmare.

The nurses were really good and offered me lots of other pain options, all of which were oxycodone or other narcotics that I was too scared to take in case I had the same reaction, so I was taking one panadol every 6 hours and the next day I took some codeine. So I was in quite a bit of pain which was annoying but as I felt pretty good mentally, I didn't want to take anything that would make me feel knocked out or weird.

I had two drains, one in the chest wall and one under the arm which is quite uncomfortable. They're also quite un-nerving to see all this blood coming out of you through huge tubes into bags!

Overall it's not a hugely painful operation though, it's just uncomfortable and you can't really lift your arm up properly, so the first few days you're limited to what you can do.

Just some of the stunning flowers I came home to.
Craig was with me the whole day before and after the operation and my parents, the children and my sister all came to visit me the next day and sat with me for hours which was lovely.

I am home now though and it's amazing how much better I feel each day. The human body is so good at healing itself. It's a horrible feeling when you can't physically do things for yourself. I had to get my sister to brush my hair yesterday but then today I was able to have a shower and wash it myself. I think it's important to just let people help when you need it though.

The kids were really excited to see me and they've both been very careful with me, only hugging me on the right side and being very gentle. They seem to be handling it very well, only slighty weirded out by the 'blood bags' as they call the drains and mainly enjoying the fact I've let them have extra treats and even a few takeaways.

It's crazy how fast everything has happened, how quickly your life can change. When I initially had the talk with the Doctor about my surgery options they said I could have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. They explained that having a lumpectomy and radiation is basically the same as having as mastectomy but that you obvious can save the breast. My lump was only small so it was easy enough just to have that removed. But in my previous ultrasound, a small 1 cm separate lump had been detected. It had fluid in it so they thought it was either a cyst or another fibroadenoma. I had a second core biopsy done on this one just to be sure what it was before the operation and it turned out it had traces of cancer in it and the Doctor advised I go for the mastectomy.

I had been considering having the mastectomy anyway, I figured that it was a better way to ensure the cancer was completely gone and also decrease the amount of radiation I would have to have. It would have been 6 weeks of radiation every single day (M-F) and now I think I just have to have it around the armpit. So it made sense and I'm actually glad I did it.

Also the first time they measured the second tumour, it measured 1 cm, which was a few weeks before we found out that one was cancerous. In that time, I started a high alkaline diet and have been eating a tonne of cancer fighting foods every days, as well as practising the law of attraction and reducing all the stress in my life. On the second ultrasound, a couple of days before my operation it only measured 7mm, it may just be a coincidence but I definitely think I'm doing something right and that my positivity and energy, really is working!

Having one boob will take some getting used to. It's weird, of course it is. But I honestly only care about being healthy. The Doctors have said I can have reconstruction surgery whenever I want, so it's nice to know that option is there but right now I'm just focusing on being as healthy as I can be and the last thing on my mind would be having another operation. I don't know if I will ever be ready to do it but yeah, it's nice to know the option is there. Especially knowing how amazing the surgeons are and the care is at the Royal Brisbane, I honestly feel so lucky and so grateful in the way I have been treated here. 

When I found out I was having a mastectomy my first thoughts were 'that's okay' and the reason for that is about a year ago, I saw an album somewhere on social media of all these women who had had mastectomies, some single, some double. The album was a really beautiful set of black and white photography of women and their scars and also women and their tattoos, covering their scars.

That was my first thought, of all these beautiful women that were healthy again, rocking their scars and their amazing tattoos. Which is why I love sharing my story and my experiences, one day someone may stumble across my blog and take something really positive from it. I'm all about women empowering women, just like all these women who are giving me strength and empowerment at the moment, and there's a lot.

So now, before the next part of the journey (follow up treatment..like the possibility of chemo and radiation and other things I don't really want to think about right now) I am focusing on getting better, getting my arm moving again, spending time with my kids, my partner, my friends and doing lots of yoga and meditation. I actually feel the calmest I've felt in a long time and also the most overwhelmed with love and support.

My sister has set up a go fund me account, for me. It's something I was really dubious about and pretty scared of. Some of my other friends also encouraged me to do it too.

I don't really feel right about it but as you can imagine in any family, when one person no longer has an income things can be tough. I usually work part time as an Editor for a lifestyle magazine and although my employers have been really great and very understanding, I have now run out of holiday and sick pay. I will still need a bit more time off work and I have some follow up treatment and lots more hospital appointments to go to.

The other issue is, I have no bras. I didn't even think about this until I got home. The only thing I have to comfortably accommodate my current body situation are button up flannelette pyjamas! It seems that when I had two boobs I favoured all things strapless and low cut.

Although I am not embarrassed by how it now looks in the chest area, I don't want to draw any extra attention to it and would ideally like to wear a lot more high necked clothing and get a couple of good bras that helps alleviate the wonkiness in an un-obvious and flattering way!

I have received so many messages, every day since I did my first blog post, with people asking me if they can help. People really want to help but sometimes it can be difficult for me to ask. Especially, after being a single mum for so long and always being the one to do everything and be in control, it's scary to reach out.

But for those of you who would like to do something, donating a small amount of money would be really appreciated. I have put the link at the bottom of this page. Please please please don't feel like you have to.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me with the kids, come over and talked to me, supported me, sent flowers or sent me lovely messages on facebook and to all the people I found out today that have been praying for me! It honestly means the world, knowing that you guys have my back too, it only gives me more strength and positivity.



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