Sunday, October 5, 2014

Double Mastectomy

Thursday 25th September, 2014.... A date I will never forget, this is the day I had my preventative double mastectomy.

I was nervous when I entered the hospital but on the way there I felt a sense of calm, I wondered to myself how many other people were today in the same position as me, or some not so fortunate that were having to have a mastectomy because they have breast cancer. I looked at the drivers of the cars, watched as they passed me by, thinking to myself I wonder what you have to deal with today?
It was really strange knowing that I was getting driven to hospital by my partner to have my breasts removed.

Once we got there we signed myself in, ran through some paperwork with a lady who confirmed on more then one occassion what I was in for today. Yes I know why I am here and yes I agree, three or four times later the paperwork was complete and we were sent to the waiting room. Where not long after I was called up and taken to my room, what would be home for the next week or so.
I was given some special bodywash to wash the area to be operated on with, again... As I wash my breast with this bodywash I thought to myself who else is doing this today?

I then put on my gown and compression stockings and await the visit of my plastic surgeon and anaesthetist, one step closer after there visits were over. I thought I would be really nervous at this point but instead I was admiring my good view out my window and enjoying my time with my partner.
In came the orderly and disassembled my bed and before you know it I was being wheeled away, a few tears fell from my eyes as I waved goodbye to my love and he waved back with a grin.

However many hours later there I was, back in my room and greeted by the smiley face that saw me off. It was a lovely feeling knowing that it ran as smoothly as possible and that my body didn't let me down while I was under the general anaesthetic.
From there I don't remember much, well apart from eating icy poles, plenty of icy poles. 
I had some visitors the first night and also a morphine injection in my tummy, which explains my lack of memory.

The next day Friday 26th was bright pink lipstick day, a day to support a cause for people just like me! My sister and Mum bought in some bright pink lipstick and we had our photo taken.
While in the hospital and I had my family visit, which got me through. I was learning how to deal with a whole range of new emotions and thoughts that I never knew existed and never knew that I would think of. I was very emotional a few of those days, I have never experienced anything like it, yes I felt a lot of heartbreak when my Mum was diagnosed but this was different emotion, not as gut wrenching and painful but different nonetheless.

My Mum stayed in hospital with me on the Saturday night and that was the best nights sleep I had. I have never experienced not being able to sleep so for me this was one of the hardest things. Mum and I watched a movie then dozed off, didn't get up to much for obvious reasons but knowing Mum was there with me made me feel so much better and very content. 
Cam visited me at the hospital and helped with one the three room moves, which having to move rooms three times was strange but I enjoyed the walking. He went back to work on the Monday so had to head back to Launceston on the Sunday. Being away from him was another part that for me was really hard, I am not used to it and I needed his reassurance and comfort but we survived. 
A selfie a day keeps them blues away :)

I received a lovely care package from my lifelong best friend, it was so thoughtfully put together and I was overwhelmed with all the goodies and effort that had been put into it. Then to top it off the most lovely sentiment in the front a book that she had also sent me. It bought tears to my eyes but not only mine, to my nurses and my Mums. I loved showing it off to everyone :)

I got to go home to my sisters house on the Tuesday where I stayed a little while to be near I case of something happening, as I am two and half hours away if it did. 

Thats a story for another day :)

Eloise xoxo

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sentinel Node Biopsy

On Thursday, 11th September I had my sentinel node biopsy. This is how the day panned out.. Up at 6.30am to get in breakfast before my fasting started at 7.30am, I stayed at my sisters the night before with my partner, in hindsight I would have stayed at a lovely accomodation making the most of a night together where I could give and receive as many snuggles as I wanted, it's the little things like that that nobody tells you about, but to me they are big things because I love snuggles with Cam, they make me feel calm and so loved. 

I got up to a house full of sleeping people, unable to find milk for my cup of tea. After some getting annoyed at not being able to find milk I settled for toast and water. Really now I look at it and who cares that I couldn't find the milk, I was acting like it was going to be my last cup of tea ever, although it could have been because we all know risky general anaesthetics are.. But realistically I was over reacting, assuming because of my nerves. We had to be at the first hospital at 8.05am, which we made it just in time. I drove as I thought well it will be my last drive until I feel better and who knows when that will be and I loooove driving, so jumped at the chance.

We raced inside because it was very chilly out. The hospital is in Lenah Valley in Hobart, beautiful place. Once inside I went to the first counter to check in, the lady directed us in the right direction where we sat for a moment until Cam noticed infact we were in the wrong direction, so off we went to the right direction where I checked in and the receptionist was lovely. We waited for a little then the Doctor came out and called me through, she started explaining the first stage of the procedure which was to inject radioactive dye into my breasts then that will move through my lymph nodes and to show where they are, to inject the dye into my breasts they were to use two needles in each breast (four all up). I went and got into the gown then the Doctor sent Cam through to have a chat with me while I waited for the next stage. Cam sat in the waiting room for the injection part as he doesn't like seeing me in pain, it makes him sick. I thought it was because he was afraid of needles, but that's not the case. 

I went through to the next room where the Doctor asked if I wanted my hand held for the needles, I took her offer up and met a lovely girl, before she left she complimented my name and then told me she too is called Eloise. Another lady came in to "stretch" my skin into whichever way the Doctor requested. After a four injections I was grateful for it to be over and I was told I was very calm and didn't squirm. I thought to myself by being any other way it would only make it harder, so of course I would be well behaved haha, I got a "gold star" all around, which was a nice thing to be told. Afterwards Cam came back into the room and watched as they took short movies of the dye moving through my breasts, then we went for a fifteen minute walk why it flowed through some kore then back to the waiting room for a wait and back in for some more photos. Once the films were printed off we went to the next hospital.

I checked in at about 11.30am and had a super long wait ahead of us, I got put under GA at I think about 5.30. Cam stayed with me the whole time while waiting in the hospital room, which may I add I had to myself and it had the most gorgeous view. I remember Dr. Bowtie appearing behind me saying "hello stranger" and asking after my Mum. Then another wait while the nurses got ready for my procedure. Finally I got taken through and the anaesthetist put me off to sleep, I woke up and they told me I had taken a while to come around and was blue, strange thing to tell me I said ohh ok, blue, right. First thing I did was look up at the time and take the offer up of a lemonade icy pole! 

The orderly wheeled me back to my room where I was greeted with Cams big smiley face, it was lovely. I went home from hospital the next morning, then we came home from Hobart this morning. It is nice to be in my own environment but was lovely having a sleepover with my Mum and sister too. I am on the road to recovery before the big one, which is approaching really fast. This is painful, I expected it to be.. But I think just how more painful the next one is going to be, but I have decided to rake it day by day and I will take the same approach next time around.

xoxo eloise 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Introducing Emiliana Fleur

I have just realised I haven't introduced my niece Emiliana

Anzacs with a twist - Lola Berry

Here are the cookies I baked today, they are so yummy and easy to make!

Today was lovely, so lovely I had to share

I had a really lovely day today, I love it when you finish off a day and feel like you have achieved so much and made the most of your day. I woke up at about 7.30am, seems to be getting earlier and earlier on weekends, not sure why! I jumped online and paid a couple of bills, cleaned up my email inbox (oh the relief), searched for the best price around town for a hot stone massage, which I have booked in just waiting for confirmation. 
Then I phoned my Mum and we chatted for an hour, very rarely do I use the home phone and I very rarely speak on the phone to Mum, usually by text messages or when I see her of the weekends. It was lovely and I knew my day had started off right. I did my online grocery order, ready for collection tomorrow after work - I love online ordering, it saves so much of my time! I also did a meal plan for the upcoming week and I will stick to it as the groceries were based around that! Using up bits and pieces in our cupboard is how the dinner decisions were made.
I did two loads of washing, hung them out, bought them in, folded and put away - the fun stuff eh! A little bit of ironing, baked some cookies, had a friend visit, did some weeding, Cam mowed the lawns and also washed two of the cars. I changed the bedding, made a delicious roast for dinner and then had a bath. 

That was my productive day and I loooooved it, I love home time especially when spent with my lover. And then to top it all off Cam made my day even more delightful by picking a flower from our garden and putting it in a vase for me, so very sweet.
Flower from Cam
I received these cute pillow cases for my birthday from my sisters, the other side to the heart says 'forever', so sweet, I adore them!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

my new boobs. the good boobs - brca1

I think of my breasts as 'naughty', I feel like they can turn bad at any time, whenever it suits them.. they can pull all the strings and navigate where my life goes and how my life unfolds. I do definitely not let them pull all the strings, hence my preventive mastectomy. But that's how it feels to me to have the brca1 gene, that's the only way really that I can explain it to someone who hasn't felt what it feels like to be told "you are positive to brca1".

Personally I think they need to use another word because from then on the word positive doesn't feel that positive to me, it has a whole new meaning. I know in there term that it was used it makes sense but.. it just doesn't seem fitting. And one piece of feedback to give would be that and also 'what to do next' once you are told you are a carrier.

Cam and I have had a lot to think about aside from the mastectomy, which procedure to have (instant implants or gradual build up to implants) but MY main priority is conceiving children. Something I have been ready for, for a long while now and something we are both now ready to experience. Luckily we have the same feelings about how we want to conceive, with me having brca1 and all.. I do not want to pass it on to my child, I want this gene to stop at ME, so to do that we will conceive a baby through IVF. We have had our first appointment, which was exciting, it was a while ago now but our next appointment is in November in the midst of all the challenges that we will be facing we will be able to look forward to getting the ball rolling with starting that process and I could not be more excited, I am assuming Cam is too - he isn't a big talker, not like me.. who tells everything I am feeling. This is my number one drive, deal with the yucky and move on to enjoy and experience to lovely things in life. Bring on 2015, I cannot wait to experience pregnancy with my lover and Mama by my side.

So many people have had their opinions about us conceiving through IVF, why would we when we can conceive naturally etc etc, why are we so worried about this gene? It doesn't do anything to you until one day it does.. ? There is the answer I do not want to wait for the one day, the what if or the maybe, that's why I am acting on the now. If I can prevent our child from having to deal with these tough decisions like I am, then why wouldn't I? And when people have their opinions, which I know they are entitled to have.. I remind myself of this.

eight weeks and two days.

In eight weeks and two days I am having a preventative mastectomy.
That wasn't hard to write but it was scary receiving the phone call today with the date, the appointments I need to have beforehand and the fact that it is happening. I am 100% positive that I want to take this course of action, don't get me wrong, I am not at all doubting my decision because this is what I want to do for the best interest of myself, my future and just everything, there are no reasons to me as to why I would't do it.. But... it is still scary nonetheless.

People ask me if I am scared, nervous, excited etc.. For real? All of the above, all of the feelings that you can feel, I feel. I have been open about my whole experience so far and I feel that I will continue to be. I love to talk and to me that is how I work through feeling all of those things. I feel like I have support, maybe not enough encouragement but you can't have it all right?

I feel like it's not a big deal, but it is.. Does that make sense? I don't want it to be but well really it is a massive life changing thing that I am CHOOSING to do. I am worried about the outcome - will my breasts look "normal"? (what is normal anyway), will my nipples dies?, what will happen if my boyfriend runs away because it all gets too much?. I think these are thoughts that most people going through this might have, I don't really know actually, I am just guessing.

Lead up appointments to the big day start with my annual MRI and ultrasound, that being next Wednesday along with another chat with my plastic surgeon. I had a few questions spring to mind in the last few weeks that I would like to discuss with him. I have asked my sister to come along as she is really good at staying focused, where at times I get overwhelmed and turn my ears, eyes and mind OFF.

On the 29th August I go to my final appointment with my breast surgeon before the big appointment, this will be to sign off the paperwork, have a few more things explained to me and to learn about what a 'sentinel node biopsy' consists of. On the 11th September I will go in to have the biopsy done, they advised that I take a week off for this, as to why I am unsure but will soon find out. Then in the meantime I have to make sure to go to my Doctor and get a new referral to my breast surgeon because it runs out just before my surgery. Then 25th September will be here before I know it and the big journey will begin..

Initially I am having 6 weeks off work, after that I will see how I go. I really don't appreciate being asked how long, what time frame etc, because guess what I do not know, I have never had this done before! It depends on a lot of things but mainly myself.. I don't know how I am going to feel, so that cannot be answered and why should it matter anyway? I will take as long as I want and as long as I need.

I have a lot of thoughts going through my mind, it really gets so tiring. Not just thoughts about this, I do have a lot going on and I allowed to feel how I am feeling at the moment, when I feel like this I try my hardest to remind myself of the above, its my mantra at the moment.