May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
~ Robert Frost


Welcome to my blog. This is my story of how I faced my risk of breast cancer, the decisions I made, the support I received and my week by week recovery from surgery. I chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (March 2010). For more information on my 'Medical Team' please see tab above. I also have a wonderful circle of friends who have supported me throughout. They have provided us with lots of delicious meals and desserts. Many of those recipes are included above under "Feed the Flap" recipes. "Feed the Flap" is a term I coined when trying to increase my abdominal (fat) flap to ensure that I was a good candidate for the DIEP procedure. This was not something recommended by any medical professional, it was just something that made sense to me. I think it worked!! Feel free to join me on this journey and feel free to post comments.

Select the tabs on the left side marked Week 1, Week 2, Week 3..... to go immediately to the surgical/recovery part of this blog.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stage II Prep & Tribute to "My Medical Team"

This is me with Dr. Tobias one week pre-op for Stage II surgery at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston. He is going to 'fine-tune the canvas'. What that means is that he will smooth out the 'dog ears' or in my case 'mouse ears' from the abdominal incision. He will also lipo out about 200 cc's of fat from my hips and belly. Once he gets that he will deposit in into the spots where the breast tissue was removed above my breasts. And he will reconstruct my nipples.

As you may know, I've been on the fence about nipples. Now I am on board. I was able to look at their 'book' and saw that they looked very natural. And my goal is for my breasts to look so natural that even I will one day forget that they are not my originals. When I am done with Stage II and later Stage III, I may not have any more reminders of my surgery, but I will never forget the talented professionals who have crossed my path.

Obviously at the top of my list is Dr. Tobias. He is everything you would ever wish for in a surgeon - a perfectionist, personable, talented, committed, funny, understanding, patient AND he knows how to hire the best staff in the world. It is without a doubt that Maria was meant to be his nurse. She is incredible!! She is always available when I have questions, she's everything that Dr. Tobias is, in addition to feeling like a girlfriend. The team wouldn't be complete without Malika and Jean. They always seem happy to see me and really make my visits to their office feel like 'old home week'.

Although, he is no longer in Dr. Tobias' office, Dr. Mike Curtis was a real asset. I understand that he is now offering the DIEP in Syracuse. I will always remember how understanding and accepting he was when I was still under the effects of my morphine sensitivity and things were very crazy. If anyone reading this isn't in a position to travel to BIDMC in Boston, then I would certainly suggest meeting with Dr. Michael Curtis in Syracuse.

Stage II is still surgery, but it doesn't come with the same anxiety that Stage I brings. Of course, I am still scared about going under and coming out of anesthesia. I am praying that I don't have a phlegm or mucus issue this time. Not being able to breathe when you come out of surgery is a pretty awful feeling. Add to that the spinning sensation and the boots that put pressure on your calves. Feeling like I was on the Ninja Turtle ride at Storyland and having people grabbing/chasing me was pretty terrifying. At pre-op I met with a very understanding anesthesiology resident who told me that that really shouldn't happen again. Hopefully they will suction everything out this time. Plus I am trying NOT to catch a cold before Friday!!!

My recovery this time will be shorter, but it is still recovery. Looks like it will be a week of recovery with 2-3 weeks of no heavy lifting. I needed this reminder from Dr. Tobias since I have a tendency to try to bounce back to my normal life maybe a bit too soon. I don't want to pop any stitches.

Hopefully I will post again before Friday. It's a busy week trying to get ready for surgery.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Countdown Begins.....

Okay, so I haven't posted much about my upcoming surgery. This really surprises me. Time constraints have been a factor, like the start of a new school year, a Disney vacation, two classes I am taking, etc. But the reality is that I am not excited about this at all.

I've been squashing and denying all my fears at least until my pre-op appt, which is next week. There is really no sense in worrying about anesthesia, phlegm balls and the general risks from surgery until I have a chance to discuss my concerns with my doctors. My biggest concern is the anesthesia and making sure that I don't feel the same as I did when I came out of 14.5 hours of surgery. Truthfully, I don't think I could ever do that again!! Granted, most people don't have phlegm balls that prevent them from breathing, but that's another story. Still, it weighs heavily on my mind.

Next week I will meet with 'my team' and, I am sure, will feel more confident in my decision to move forward. It will be nice to be closer to being back to normal. And when I think about it, my goal, is for my kids to not be reminded of my surgery every time they see me. That alone will propel me forward.

I was reminded by another DIEP friend whose response to me when I said, "Three weeks from now I will be having surgery." Her response was, "Four weeks from now you will be recovering from that surgery." That really helped me to put it all in perspective. Stage II is such a small thing compared to Stage I. It is minor. BUT I feel great now and don't really want to feel like a post-surgical patient, even for a week.

In time I will wrap my mind around this procedure and get excited that I am so close to the finish line. One silver lining is that I get to visit with two DIEP friends while I am in Boston for pre-op AND I get to see my medical team again. I like that there is always a silver lining!!!
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