Friday, October 26, 2018

Update ~ Post Surgery

I can't believe it has already been two weeks since my double mastectomy. I wouldn't say it has been a smooth and easy recovery, but I guess it's not that horrible either. In fact, I am still seeing lots of blessings these past two weeks.

The picture I posted here with the pink ribbons are a surprise from my wonderful neighbors. I don't really know exactly who was involved, but they were not only tied to the pillars and on the mailbox of our home, they are in our entire neighborhood and streets. How amazing is that? I truly feel like I live in one of the BEST neighborhoods with the most amazing people.

I had the surgery on Wednesday, we thought I could go home in a couple of days. The next day, I was having a reaction to the anesthesia, and kept throwing up all day and night. By Friday, my right breast started bleeding inside and they had to take me back to the OR. During this procedure, my blood count dropped to 14 and I had to get two units of blood. Then, the next day, my other breast started having the same issue, and starting to swell up. This time, my doctor was able to use a needle and syringe to removed the blood without taking me back to the OR. I don't have a blood disorder or anything (not that I know of!), but the doctors were scratching their heads as to why I was having this kind of the bleeding. My suspicion is that because of throwing up so intensely for a day, put too much pressure and that caused the bleeding, but who knows. I am VERY sensitive to anesthesia and most pain meds, they always make me extremely sick and I will throw up all day. I would rather be in pain than be sick, so I don't take anything. The first couple of days after the surgery, I got Tylenol through the IV, and that is that. I am doing ok. I think some pain is expected; well, I had surgery.

My condition was stable enough that I was released on the 6th day. Driving home, I was sitting in the passenger seat and reflecting on everything that happened in the last several months, the recovery ahead of me and more surgeries to come. Also, I was a little down about how my body always seems to have some problems, is unpredictable and hard to live with. Most people get surprised if I tell them I do have blue days sometimes, because I am usually a very happy person. But, this body of mine packed with medical issues tires me out sometimes... I wish I could take a receipt and exchange it for a better one.

But then... When we turned in to our neighborhood, and saw all those pink ribbons on the trees and mailboxes on both sides of the streets and cul-de-sac my eyes starting to well up and my heart was quickly turned around to see the blessings in my life. How wonderful to have a chance to live and be a part of this world. How can I live better once I am all healed up and move on from this?

When I was asking this questions to myself, many people's faces came to my mind who have been a great example to me. During this new challenge in my life many people showed love and support for me. I think I know my answer already.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This is the morning...

This is the morning. Morning of me having a double mastectomy and saying good by to my breasts.

Since the diagnose, I have been thinking a lot of things, but for the most part I feel calm and feeling that I am making the right choice.

I wrote a good-by letter to my breasts. If you care to read, that's great, if not you can skip this part. :)

Dear Boobs,

I was such a late bloomer and I didn't start seeing you two until the middle of high school. When you ladies are finally a noticeable size and I was able to upgrade from "triangular cloth" like bra to a grown up real looking bra with lace, I was so excited. In a way, I felt like I was becoming a woman.

Many years passed and I had three babies and I was able to breast feed them all. That was such a wonderful feeling to hold my babies, looking at them and I was able to provide something nutritious for them to grow and be strong. I will always treasure those memories and I am so thankful for that. Because of that, you kind of changed in size and shape, but I was ok with that. That is the natural course of human life and I was going to grow old with you two.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That is not cool. That is like stubbing me in the back. Not cool... I know sometimes things happen and relationships change. I felt shocked and saddened, but the decision came rather quickly: I am going to say good bye to you both today; so I can be with the people who matter to me and I love the most.

I saw a t-shirt that one of my breast cancer survivor friends posted on Facebook. It said something like, "Yes, these are fake. My real ones were trying to kill me". That made me laugh, don't you think it is important to have a sense of humor; especially during hard times?

I know there is going to be a time where I will look at the scars and feel sad, but I know myself. I will get over all this.

What helps me is that I have a husband who loves me with or without scars. We have been through so much with my other medical issues, but he has unconditional love towards me like no other. I know this is one of the things that brings us closer together and makes our relationship stronger.

Thank you for all the great memories but it is time to say good-bye. I will add you to my war stories, but I am moving on with my life. My heart is filled with optimism and my eyes are fixed on happiness.



So, I took care of that. Now, let me tell you what is on my mind since my diagnosis and since this morning. I am not going to lie, I have been feeling a little bit worried, scared and all that, but you know what? More than anything, I am feeling gratitude. I don't want to sounds corny, but I feel like I am getting an early Thanksgiving.

Since the diagnosis, I am experiencing an outpouring of love and support from the people in my life. I am not going to name everyone, but you will know when you read this if I am talking about you.

Thank you so much for you, you are also Breast Cancer survivors, and you took the time to listen and talk to me. You gave me so much strength and optimism during this whole process.

Thank you so much to listening to me after the diagnosis and for crying with me. I needed that moment.

Thank you so much friends for hosting a potluck dinner night and for creating a recovery and care basket. They all came from your heart and I know they will come in handy. I know we all have something to go through, but you put them aside and came to my aid.

Thank you so much for taking me out to brunch and listening to me. Showing me love the way you always have, you are such a great friend.

Thank you so much for sewing the special camisole for post surgery and shipping them to me, especially since you are so busy with other things.

Thank you so much for going to appointments with me. I know I always say "I am fine" and am not very easy person to offer help to. But, I really loved it that you were there with me.

Thank you so much for the fun lunch outings and such thoughtful gifts. I enjoy our conversations so much. We talk about lots of things and you make me laugh a lot.

Thank you so much for the "after school snack" packages for my kids, I didn't even think about that, but they came in handy.

Thank you so much for the baked goods and nice visits.

Thank you so much for organizing meals for after surgery for my family with the neighborhood ladies. I know you are so busy, but it is amazing to see how you always manage to have time to help others in need.

Thank you friends in the neighborhood for your willingness to help. I know most of you have young families and have so much already on your plate.

Thank you my companion in my church calling. Your willingness to be flexible is helping me more than you know.

Thank you to all of you who have been texting, calling, and sending me emails. Your acts of kindness touch my heart.

Thank you for the wonderful handmade blanket, I will always cherish it.

Thank you so much to me sisters for checking up on me through text and phone calls even though you are thousands of miles away. I wish you were both here, but I am grateful for your love and the technology that allows us to communicate. Oh, and the kids LOVED the care package with all the Japanese snacks and gifts for each one of them. Love you so much!

Thank you to my children for being so kind and strong. Because of them I can be braver than I actually am.

Thank you to my husband, who is my best friend and for always being there for me. We had our 23rd anniversary and I am looking forward to many more years with you. I know when I wake up from my anesthesia, I will not look like sleeping beauty, but you will still love me the same.

There are so many small, but meaningful to me, of the Lord's tender mercies that has happened in the last few weeks. I am just so grateful that I am not going through this surgery with anger, resentment and sadness. I am feeling so much love and support from my friends and family; and that strengthens me. I am grateful that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and my needs and He will always be there when I reach out to Him.

Ok, ladies, I am be off to the hospital. Talk to you soon!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and My Story

Did you know that October is breast cancer awareness month? I knew it existed, but I didn't really know which month until a couple weeks ago.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. Yep. Dang.

I wasn't sure if I was going to share anything here, but I shared my medical stories and other things that have happened in my life with you in the past, so I decided to do this as well. For me, it is always very helpful to write what is in my mind. It is sort of therapeutic, I can organize and clear my thoughts. Also, I bet everyone's stories who went thought this is different and unique. I am hoping that what I write will raise awareness of breast cancer and help someone who reads this post.

When I heard the news, my world didn't shatter and crumble. It was rather a quiet and sinking feeling; "I. Knew. It".

After turning 40, I have been diligent about getting mammograms done annually. In January, I got my mammogram done and it was negative. Then, sometime in February, I noticed a discharge from my left side. It was a very small amount of clear liquid with a brownish tint. I thought, "ok, this is new...", I was also noticing a slight difference in texture in the area. As many of you might do, I googled. Once you do that it pulls out so many different articles, and the ones I read said, sometimes it happens. But, I decided to go to my family doctor to just check it out. He ordered me to have ultra-sound and I had it done, but they didn't really find anything. The lady who did my ultra sound was very thorough and nice. She showed me the image and explained what we are looking at. She didn't find any masses, what we saw was fibrous tissue with a bunch of "pockets". She told me to check in 6 month, but if anything changes I should go to the doctor right away. I thanked her and left the hospital, but deep inside, that result didn't sit well with me... I mean, I felt that there was something going on in my body.

Life is busy, months went by, and during that time the discharge continued. Then, one morning at the end of May, I noticed that the discharge changed in color and texture significantly. It was dark brown and thicker.

I called my doctor right away and got an appointment. When they tested the discharge, it contained blood. He referred me to a specialist in the area. I believe I had about a 2 weeks wait, until I was able to see her. I will tell you, that is the worst. I don't know about you, but I am the type that wants to know now. I don't want to wait. If there is anything wrong with my body, I want to know now and take care of it as soon as possible.

When I first met Dr. Tittensor, she listened to me, talked with me, explained what we are going to do to figure things out. Her presence and how she treated me made me feel so much better and I really felt like I can trust her. We did an ultrasound there, but still we didn't have a clear answer to what was going on. She ordered an MRI and also a biopsy to check things out. At the same time, we decided to schedule surgery to remove the bleeding duct, as well as check the area that is a different texture.

The MRI and biopsy results came back... and guess what, it was still "inconclusive"!!!! I was pretty frustrated about all this, also I kept feeling that this is not, nothing, something is going on.

I had surgery to remove the bleeding duct as we planned. During the surgery when the doctor looked at the area, she said it looked abnormal, so she took 8 samples from various areas to test them. For thoroughness sake, she also took 3 lymph nodes. The lymph nodes tested negative. It went well and I had a follow up appointment set up in 6 days. Day 5, I received a call from my doctor... she apologized for doing this over the phone. I think she wanted to give me a heads up and give me sometime to think about what I wanted to do. I do indeed have breast cancer. DCIC (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) What this means is that the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast have become cancerous, but they have not spread into the surrounding breast tissue. DCIS is considered non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. It is considered stage 0. They found cancer in 7 of the samples they took. The doctor suggested to take all of them out and I wanted to do the same. Now that I have this, the chance for me to have cancer in the other breast is 50%. I didn't even hesitate; I just decided to go for a double mastectomy in October.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my post, my initial feeling was feeling of assurance. I finally got the answer I knew all along. I am not happy that I have cancer, but isn't it better to find out as soon as possible and deal with it so I can have the best chance of survival?

I have experienced lots of emotions since then. I don't talk about this often here, but I am a Christian. Ever since I was little, I knew God is real and always there for me. I couldn't explain why, but that is something I felt. As I was praying and talking to my Heavenly Father, I was telling how frustrated I am. "REALLY?! I was born with a disorder and two other rare conditions, and I have been dealing with them all my life, you know, it isn't easy, how much more do I need to take? I thought I met my quota a looong time ago! Wasn't there any other volunteers for this challenge?" TALK. ABOUT. THE. ATTITUDE.

But, my mind quickly shifted and started seeing all the blessings I have been given through out my life and even during this discovery of breast cancer. Yes, it was frustrating how long it took for us to find out what was going on, but how quickly we were able to get things scheduled since May, and I was able to be introduced a doctor I can trust; isn't that amazing?! I am so grateful for my friends and family. I can't even begin to tell how much their kindness and support means to me. Then, my family... I always knew I have such a wonderful husband and children, but this new challenge in life made me realize how blessed I truly am. I know my husband will be there to support me 100% and my children are ready to help more around the house. They started cooking more to practice for the up coming surgeries. Their hugs are little bit tighter and longer. I wouldn't write every single one of them, but I see many of the Lord's tender mercies all along the way.

Once I was diagnosed, I feel like a door was opened to a new world. I learned so much about breast cancer in such a short period of time and started noticing more things. The word "Cancer" is so scary, but with early detection your survival rate is very high. The main reason why I decided to share my story here is that a couple of my friends who I got to know through blogging both shared their breast cancer stories in the past and made me more aware of it. One of them is Andy of A Bright Corner's story; how she found it and where it was is very similar to mine, and when it happened to me, I immediately remembered her post. I am so thankful that she shared her story and it definitely made me more alert! My hope is that by me posting about my story here, it might help someone is someway. It is our body and it is so important to listen to your gut feeling. I have been through so much testing and they all came back negative or inconclusive!! But, when you feel there is something wrong, you need to pay attention to that. Please, please and please do take good care of yourselves, ladies!

Lastly, when I was at the doctor's office, she gave me a small heart shaped pillow. Because their office was busy and delayed, she was apologizing as she handed me the pillow. I thought to myself, "is this part of the sorry gift??". NO. Remember, I was just begging to learn about different things about breast cancer. The heart shaped pillow is for her patients who had surgery to place under the armpit to give comfort while recovering. I asked her if she made it and she said one of her patients, or a volunteer made it. I was touched by a stranger's kindness and at the same time, I had an "AHA" moment. I can make this for others! Since than, I made some to donate and it has been good for me. All my life sewing has been more than just a domestic thing to do, it is how I express myself, it has helped me through my medical journey while growing up, as well as the lonely and difficult times after I moved to the United States. I love creating something fun for my loved ones. Now, as I am making those little pink heart shaped pillows, it is helping me to sooth my soul as well as give me joy that I can do something to lift others who might be going through the same thing even if it's only in a minuscule way.

I attached the pattern for you to download if you want to make some. 1 in 8 women is affected by breast cancer, you might be able to make one for your loved ones or donate to your local hospitals.

Thank you for reading this lengthy post, I appreciate it. Also, don't forget to have your check ups!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin