When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, 2010, I started a blog called Stronger Sarah–This Princess Has a Pea. Here is the most recent post from that blog. Also, feel free to visit strongersarah.com to read more about that journey.
Just the Facts: A year ago today I was diagnosed with Invasive Mammary Carcinoma — a “pea” was found. Ironically, I had one of the last visits I’ll need with my plastic surgeon this week. In the course of a year, I’ve discovered I had breast cancer, had a bilateral mastectomy and had two follow-up surgeries to reconstruct my breasts. This journey really has no end, but, thankfully, I am through the rough part. My health is now excellent and on top of that, I’m pretty much looking myself. This year hasn’t been easy but it’s over, and I’m ready to focus on other things!
Details: On February 12, 2010, I answered my cell phone to hear a radiologist’s voice. I knew that since the doctor was calling (not a nurse), this was bad news. He proceeded to tell me that the biopsy I had two days prior had revealed Invasive Mammary Carcinoma. Life changed instantly as I realized what might happen as well as what would have to happen.
Later I would learn that I had not one, but two tumors. They both turned out to be sort of small, each slightly larger than a pea. My choices for treatment were really not too difficult to make. In order to be most aggressive in this fight, I needed to have both breasts removed. Thankfully, I found a wonderful breast surgeon and an equally incredible plastic surgeon. I had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on April 6, 2010. That was the day I conquered the cancer!
Following the surgery, we learned that my lymph nodes were cancer-free and that the margins from surgery were clear. My cancer had apparently been confined to the breast tissue, which was now gone. Later a special diagnostic test was performed on the tumors and it revealed that the cancer would not respond particularly well to chemotherapy, but would be responsive to hormone therapy. We rejoiced at that news! No chemo, although five years on the drug, Tamoxifen, was essential.
Through the summer I went through the strange process of tissue expansion in anticipation of a second surgery to place silicone breast implants. I am thankful such procedures exist, but it was both exciting and highly annoying. On August 31, 2010, the tissue expanders that had been placed at the time of the mastectomy were replaced with silicone implants.
Life with implants is somewhat strange too, but so much better than expanders. At first, I was very pleased with the outcome of the exchange surgery. Then, something went wrong. The internal sutures on the left side did not hold as my plastic surgeon had planned, and the left implant shifted. It was not good. So on December 27, 2010, I had that fixed.
I am technically still recovering from that surgery. It has been about 6 and 1/2 weeks. My plastic surgeon says that 8 weeks is the absolute longest it should take for the implants and sutures to be “set”. I am taking every precaution to make sure that things don’t shift again. For this period, being “careful” has meant among other things: no kettlebell training nor any form of weight training, no heavy exercise, no lifting anything heavier than a milk jug, and sleeping in a recliner with pillows propped all around me for support to avoid any shifting. Yes, I have been sleeping a recliner for almost 7 weeks. (And will continue for another week.) This is that important!
I see my oncologist every three months. I will be doing that for another 2 years, then less often. I go back to my breast surgeon for one more follow-up with him in a few months. And I still have a few things for the plastic surgeon to finish up, though overall we are generally pleased with the outcome of this last surgery. As far as we know (and we certainly HOPE) there should be no more breast reconstruction surgery. Just a few finishing touches. Those will be completed later in 2011, probably.
Sometimes I still can’t believe all this has happened. Aside from some symptoms from the Tamoxifen, I feel great. It’s weird to think that I am a breast cancer survivor. But I am! And as predicted, I am certainly STRONGER now!
What’s coming up: Some more healing, physically and mentally. More doctor visits. More plastic surgery. But the worst is definitely over.
Prayer Requests: A year later, I am cancer-free and strong. Please thank God with me!! The blessings I have received through this trial far outweigh the difficulties I have had to endure. It’s okay to pray that the cancer stays away, too.
This blog: Given that this journey is winding down in a big way, the blog is too. I can’t tell you how much the support from friends here has meant to me. But it is time to move on. I’ll only update this blog a couple more times, probably. It will have to be something huge to do so, and I’m hoping that there really isn’t anything else huge that happens. However, I’m leaving the blog here, in case there is someone who might want to learn about my journey. Unfortunately, breast cancer is running rampant, and we will all know someone who will be diagnosed with it at some time. I don’t know if reading about my journey would help someone else facing a similar path, but it will be here, just in case.
Thank you for reading and commenting over the last year. I pray that everyone who has reached out to me in any way would receive tenfold blessings in return.
Wishing good health and happiness to all!