Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mastectomy surgery is next week for me!

My mastectomy surgery is scheduled for May 5th, only 5 days away! I am getting a little nervous, but know that it is the right decision for me to have my breasts removed and reconstructed to reduce my 87 % lifetime chance of breast cancer down to as close to 0 % as humanly possible.  My anxious feelings are similar to the ones I had before my last surgery-will I wake up from surgery, will there be any pain or complications, when will I be back to "normal", how will this surgery negatively effect my children, husband and family and how will I be able to take care of my family, house, job etc. during my recovery? When I have these thoughts, I realize that these problems are bigger than anything I can handle on my own, so the only thing that has helped me is to pray and give over all of these fears and anxieties to God.  I know he is big enough to take care of me during this time and I am trusting and relying fully on him.

God has already given me many provisions during this process-Great surgeons with Dr. Teresa Flippo from Blumenthal Cancer Center and Dr. Robinson from CMC Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery.  They are amazing doctors and so proficient in their field.  I feel completely confident that they will take the BEST care of me.  I also have an amazing friend who just had a Bilateral Mastectomy as part of her treatment for breast cancer and she has given me a plethora of information about the surgery and recovery.  I also cant leave out my amazingly supportive husband, family and friends who have supported me every step of the way.  Without them, I do not think I could go through with this. 

What I know about the surgery so far is that it will take about 4 hours. The first two hours, Dr. Flippo will remove as much of my breast tissue as she can (there is no way to get 100 % of it).  I will keep all of skin that surrounded my breasts, but will not be able to keep my nipples.  After the breast tissue is removed, Dr. Robinson will come in and adjust (which really means lift!) my breast muscles to the appropriate spot and then insert a temporary tissue expander behind the breast muscle.  He will inflate the expander with saline as full as he can, but not too much that my incisions will not be able to heal properly.  I will have one large incision across both breasts.  I will also go home with one drain in each breast to get rid of excess fluid. I will probably have the drains for 10-14 days and then he will remove them.  During that time, I cant shower, but can take a bath.  I will also have restrictions on lifting my arms and bearing weight, but I really don't know specifics yet.  After I get my drains out, I can continue the expanding process, by going for weekly "fills" of saline into my expanders until I get to a desired size.  This seems so strange to me like I am going to fill up my car's gas tank. After the expanding process is over, I have to wait 3 months and then I will have a minor surgery to remove the temporary expanders and put in the permanent implants.  Three months after that surgery, I can have nipples reconstructed and then three months after that, I can have my nipple color tattooed on to each breast.  Still cant believe I am going to have two tattoos!

What my friend told me about the surgery is that there is very minimal pain, but a lot of pressure post surgery and then intermittent pain when moving around for a week or so.  Also, your breast area is totally numb and feels very strange.  Some of the numbness will go away with time, but I will have no feeling in either of my newly constructed breasts long term.  My friend told me that it took her about 4 weeks to adjust physically and emotionally to her "new breasts."  I am hoping that will be similar for me. 

It has been really difficult for me to find the time to write in the last two weeks with my grandmother's unexpected death, having my annual piano recital for my students, getting as much adoption work done as possible and our family just got back from our much needed family vacation to Las Vegas.  But, I plan to continue this blog during my recovery from the surgery so other and possibly my girls will be able to have this information if they face the same surgery in the future. 

Even though I am very nervous about this surgery, I know that God is going to take care of me and my family.  I wanted to end this post with a scripture verse that I have read over this week.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7

Placing all of my cares in God's capable hands,

Levacy

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tribute to my grandmother

I know my blog is meant to be about my journey with BRCA 1, but a significant occurrence happened in my life this week that I would be remiss for not including.  My grandmother, Betty Lou Grove Rudacille, died to this world and went to heaven to be with Jesus on Saturday April 19th.  I have had my grandmother, who I affectionately called, "Granny" in my life since birth.  She was there when I was born, she helped raise me along with my grandfather, Ronald, all throughout my childhood and she had helped me raise my two children, her great grandchildren. I am deeply saddened about this loss, but I am overjoyed for her, as she is now in the presence of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and is there with her husband, brother, sister, parents and other relatives and friends that she has been a part from for many years.  She lived a very gracious and full life for 80 years and everyone who knew her, loved her.  She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a sister, a daughter and a friend to many.  She and her husband had a strong connection that was evident in her death.  Her husband, Ronald, suffered a heart attack on November 20, 1997, recovered to some extent and then passed away on April 12, 1998.  Granny suffered a heart myopathy on November 17, 2010, recovered to some extent and then passed away on April 9, 2011.  You cant tell me that was just a coincidence. We eulogized my grandmother this week in the same church that she and Ronald were married.  It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.  I am missing my grandmother terribly and I know I will continue to miss her.  Gracie and Sophie are missing her terribly.  They were very close to Granny and went to her house every Friday night for the last 6 years.  During these times, she would cook them dinner, play make believe games like school and office, talk about her time as a child with her sister, AB, and would always have a special movie, puzzle or game to play.  Sophie asked me one day a few years ago, "When Granny dies Mom, where will I go on Friday nights?"  I cant believe that she is gone from this world, but I hold onto the truth that God's word says in Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." When Granny got sick in November and was in the hospital, she had a ventilator for about a week and could not talk. Being the big conversationalist that she was, she quickly demanded a pen and paper so she could write down what she wanted to say. My mother kept all of these notes that Granny wrote during that time, which mounted to about 20 pages.  I read over these pages the other day and one of the first ones I remember her writing was she wrote the word "LIVE".  At the time she wrote it, I took this as she wanted to live more here on earth and that she did not want to die.  Over the last few months, I have seen a transition with my grandmother, where before I do not think she really thought much about dying, but I saw her begin to process the reality of death and she came to some peace about it.  She always knew that she was going to heaven, but I think she was torn between living longer here on earth with her family and going to heaven to be with Jesus.  I have been studying the book of Revelation this semester with my dear Biblestudy group and one thing I learned is that living in heaven is full of more life than living here on earth will ever be.  In Psalm 23, the popular Psalm says "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters."  In Revelation 7:17 God is described again as a shepherd but this time it says "The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters."  I firmly believe with all that I am that my grandmother is more alive in death than she ever was living here on earth.  She is with her shepherd who has brought her to the living fountains of water and one day, we will be together again in heaven.