These Breasts

These Breasts

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Those breasts? The breasts that replaced the cancer along with the tissue from the other breast as a precaution because of the multiple cysts that were benign but that could’ve changed with time. Those bandages? The bandages currently being worn to make sure my incisions heal correctly… & yes, the scars are that long. The lumps on the left breast? It’s from the drain within my breast removing the fluids. I had four after surgery. I had minor complications with the left breast healing so it’s on a little longer than the rest. The extra fat you see near my armpits? I went smaller in breast size so I’m left with excess fat from the breasts that will require yet another procedure to remove it once I’m healed. It’s also a reminder of the breasts that gave me years of insecurity, and clearly cancer. Those implants? The implants take away the ability to ever have the opportunity to breast feed children in the future. That key hanging from my neck? One of the most beautiful gifts that I have ever received. It’s from the Giving Key’s  with the word “HOPE” in the middle. I’m supposed to “embrace the word” and “pay it forward by passing on the key to a person that needs the message more” than myself. Reconstruction surgery isn’t glamorous, and it’s far from easy. However, with this simple reminder perfectly placed near the scars and damage as I’m still healing, is the best reminder to never lose hope, and strive for a better tomorrow & the healthiest possible life.

 (The key was gifted from one of my cancer sisters, Grace) 

Initially posted this on Instagram: jessheleno

 

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Guess who’s back… back again

Guess who’s back… back again

Hello! It’s been almost a month since my last blog, not surprised. Who was the genius that thought being a full-time student, chemotherapy patient, and part-time worker, OH and now 6th grade feeder team basketball coach was a good idea? That’s right, yours truly! Let me tell you, I am exhausted. Many days last week, I was asleep for more hours than I was awake. At the end of the (very long) day, I know that all of this is worth it.

Since I am extremely busy, and tired… and mushy, I haven’t had the inspiration to write in the past few weeks. I also knew that anything I would write during those weeks would be as exciting as watching paint dry. Today is my most “normal” feeling day since last Monday’s chemotherapy so I thought I’d take advantage of this day. What’s new on my end?  I’ve been having extreme stomach/indigestion issues from chemotherapy so they decided to cut back the Taxotere (of TCHP) by a “pinch” in hopes that it would help solve some of the issues. I knew it sounded too good to be true; the only thing that changed from the new regimen was a delayed response. So my REALLY tough days landed on school days. When a classmate said “you look like you’re struggling today,” she was SPOT ON. Struggle bus city. The other change since last blog is the intensity of chemopause. Chemopause is like menopause, but for chemotherapy patients… hot flashes and all. And yes, they’re just as fun as they sound. Being a naked mole rat also makes it very confusing and difficult to stay at a normal body temperature.

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This is the chemopause DREAM. (Picture taken from Young Survival Coalition)

 

The good news from these crazy couple of months? The tumor has shrunken in size SIGNIFICANTLY. It cannot be felt by examination :] Two more rounds to go!

As promised, here are the question’s I received for the AMA:

How did you know you should go to the doctor?

  • Something in my gut (or my severe anxiety ;]) wasn’t feeling comfortable with the lump that I noticed in my breast. I did not believe my OB/GYN when she brushed the lump off like it was nothing. I wanted to shut up my anxiety. As the tests continued, I began to have a weird feeling that it was cancer.

Do you go in weekly for chemo? How many weeks do you have to do it for? When did you start?

  • I go in every three weeks. I’m convinced that it’s every three weeks because it takes that long to start feeling like “normal” again. For me personally, every round becomes more exhausting than the previous one too.  I have six rounds of chemotherapy total, and started August 1st. So come the middle of November, I will be DONE with chemotherapy :] 

What does stage 2 grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma really mean?

  • This means that I’m a lucky lady :] But really. Though the tumor is larger, 3.1 x 2.2 x 2.7 cm to be exact, it is contained within the breast. “Grade 3 cells look very different from normal cells. They grow quickly in disorganized, irregular patterns, with many dividing to make new cancer cells.” < Which means they are aggressive. I took that directly from breastcancer.org – To find out more about IDC and different breast cancers, click here.

For those of us that are limited in energy or whatever, we want to send to you the best encouragement and support. What helps you most? How can we provide it?

  • I’m a simple lady, every little comment, message, text means the world to me. I am a SUCKER for both giving and receiving cards. So I would have to say sweet words of encouragement, personal letters are my personal favorite ❤

What’s the best thing that has happened to you since your diagnosis?

  • OU GOOD QUESTION. I think one important thing for me, as someone who has always suffered with self-worth issues, is that I have come to realize how many people I have in my corner. I was blown away by everyone who came to join me for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. It brought tears to my eyes at one point. I had people join me from almost every stage of my life thus far, and that was really humbling to me ❤
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    I LOVE YOU ALL (not everyone pictured) – You all blew me away.

    What are some things that keep your mind sharp after chemotherapy?

  • GOOD QUESTION. I have no idea. I am Queen Mushy Brain. I love to read, but I need energy to read and I have been lacking that as of late. I’ve been thinking of adding podcasts back into my drives… so hopefully that? Short walks help a little too.

If any of you have ANY questions ever, never hesitate to reach out. Please ❤

This song came on in the car today and instantly brought a huge & creepy smile to my face. “Maybe you were made this way, maybe the pieces were intentionally different”

Noah Gundersen – The Difference