Pump Pump Pump it Up

 After meeting with my radiation oncologist on Monday, I received my radiation timeline and it looks like I will be starting targeted radiation therapy the week of June 1st. With that being said, it is time to hunker down and stretch the skin and muscle of these teenie tittie tatas before radiation begins so I can get the max amount of stretch (Go Big or Go Home right!) and work towards “throw some D’s on this Bish”. Radiation “uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells” (American Cancer Society). Once someone begins radiation, one of the most common side effects are skin damage. I mean to put it in Meghan terms, radiation is literally x ray beams slicing through your body to kill any lingering “bad boy” cancer cells if any even still exist. However ,those lovely high tech, targeted beams can’t tell good cells from bad cells… therefore they all get zapped! They say the damage that the radiation will cause may tighten or thicken the skin around my breast creating a leather-like texture, therefore all expanding must be completed prior to my being burnt by beams.

What does this “pump up” I speak of entail? So I am exactly 4 weeks out from my bilateral mactectomies (non nipple sparring) and finally beginning to be releived of pain. Actually its kinda funny because the  mastectomy pain itself is nothing, its these dang expanders causing all the drama! Prior to my first expansion, I was actually done taking pain medications and doing more  around the house and things, which is GREAT! Now folks,  before you all get all up in arms I admit… I am probably the worst patient in the world (I blame it on me being a therapist), however at 4 weeks I do still have lifting precautions <10 lbs and NO pectorial movements or stregthening due to risk of tearing or rupture.

Anyways, so I was brought into my plastic surgeons office 1 week earlier than he initially made my appointment just because of my time restraints for radiation. Just call me that annoying pest of a patient that calls and calls and calls until they give me the appointment that I want… but hey, thats why they love me;) (squeaky wheel gets the grease right?) Therefore, I began expansion at exactly 2 weeks out from surgery.

**Sidenote: My doctor explained that he does not begin expansion until the patient is pain free.  At two weeks I stopped all pain medications and only had slight tenderness under my breasts where the two drains were inserted thats why I started expansion so soon.

Due to my post-op limitations and precautions following my titty chopping procedure, my hot red head mother dearest had so graciously stayed with John and I about 3 weeks after surgery.  I honestly would not have been able to make it through these weeks without her help! It was very convenient because I am not allowed to drive therefore she was able to take me to appointments, take care of Izzy, and keep my house nice and tidy.  I definitely owe her BIG TIME!

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So pumping up… each expander fill is performed in my plastic surgeons office. It is an in and out sterile procedure that probably take max about 10 mins. My first fill, I didn’t really know what to expect. As the nurse walked me down the hall to the “Land of the Unknown”, this one room stood out because it had big lights above the bed, and multiple bags of saline and tubing hanging from above. Because I have no filter… I blurted out “omg thats a scary room!” To which the nurses response was, “thats where you’re heading!” Say whatttttt!!!! In my head my little Lizzie Mcguire type character was saying “hold up! Im here for a titty fill, not some Edward Scissorhands type shiz!”

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After the initial shock of my new “comfy cozy” environment, my mom and I did what any normal mother/daughter would do in this situation…Duh! Take a selfie;) and multiple snapchats (follow me at franzm) ! If my surgeon had cameras in there he’d think i’m more nuts than I already am!

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I was instructed to gown up. By now, I know what that means like i’m a surgeon getting ready for brain surgery… It’s all routine! I took my clothes off from waist up and donned (OT word) my gown opening in the front for easy access of course;). I sat on the “scary table” as so many different scenarios ran through my mind. My heartbeat became more erratic… Then entered Dr. Michael White, the “titty guru”, and “Picasso of Boobies”, okay I may have named him those… But at the end of this long journey he did promise me one thing… A gorgeous set of boobies!

He greeted me with a friendly smile, he could tell I was nervous. My red chest hives couldn’t have given that one away could it?! In a matter of seconds he was straight to work. I was instructed to lie down on the table as he and his assistant both grabbed a syringe connected to a bag of saline with a needle on the end. He cleaned my breasts, marked where the expander ports were (this is sort of a tiny plastic coffee can lid that allows the needle to enter and exit easily), and then stabbed me not once but twice with about a two inch needle! Okay, i’m being dramatic (surprise, surprise) the good news is my breasts are still so numb from the mastectomies chopping all my nerve endings that I didn’t even feel a pinch as the needles were inserted into my breasts!

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After 1st expansion of 75 cc– Total 175cc (100 cc out of surgery)

They began pumping. Slowly they together filled the expanders by pushing on the syringe and my boobies began to rise! At first I didnt really feel anything. Then my chest started to feel a little bit heavy. Then that heaviness turned to tightness. To me, I would compare the feeling to someone stacking bricks on your chest then a boa constricture capturing a small bunny and wrapping around and around so tight that it constricts its airways and breaks all its bones until it dies… So basically, its not that bad;)

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My doctor goes by the motto “no need to cause pain”, so I was instructed to tell him once the tightness became uncomfortable. 2 weeks after my mastectomies, I tolerated a 75cc fill! We were off to a good start.

Since my radiation is scheduled to begin in only a few weeks, weekly expansion fills were now on my timeline. The next week I tolerated another 75 cc yippee! However this time along with the heaviness and chest tightness, I felt back pain! I was still laying on the table when I said “owww my back!” My mom and I walked out of the office and my back pain was getting worse. I got into the car and felt my first spasm. I took some ibuprofen and my mom drove us home. We were about 2 minutes into the drive that I was in full our hysterics. The pain was severe almost like one of my vertebrae were out of place and every time I breathed it was severe pain. Not to mention it felt like my mom was playing frogger with pot holes. Except everytime she saw a pothole instead of missing it, she would hit it full force. Damn you potholes!!!!

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After 2nd expansion of 75cc (Total:250 cc)

I made my mom push on my back where I felt it spasming and simply felt like poopoo💩. We finally got home, and I immediately headed for the warm bath tub. Still crying due to pain, this was the first time I thought to myself “why the hell am I doing this, are boobs worth this much pain?” Hells YES it is!!

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Now, due to all of my allergies, I don’t have prescription pain medications that I am able to use for instances that I feel that I am on the brink of dying. So, seconds from having my mom bring me to the hospital, I told her to call Reiki Bob!

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Oh Yea, Izzy LOVES reiki too!

Reiki Bob is a volunteer at Allegheny General Hospital who I met during my chemo treatments. Bob aka “Reiki Bob” is a reiki master who volunteers his time in the cancer center and throughout the acute care setting to share his gift and to simply  help others! He is truly gifted and his energy healing is one of the most special I have ever come across!

Sidenote: We also have a bizarre connection to Reiki Bob. When I first met him my first day of chemo, he came up to me in his red volunteer jacket hoping to spread some knowledge and share his gift of reiki. He began to talk and got side tracked (which Bob typicaly does 😉 and he began telling us the story of his grand daughters wedding and the toast he gave but he forgot her new married last name and simply ended the speech without the big formal announcement of the newly married couple! Turns out Bobs grand daughter, Sasha was the photographer who volunteered her services to me for my wedding! Such a small, magical world we live in! (Check out Sasha Danielle Photography because she’s phenomenal!)

Anyways, Bob got my moms SOS message and arrived at my house as soon as he could! He began performing reiki and I immediately felt tingles as his healing energy relaxed my pissed off spasming muscles. In time, he was able to relax me to the point that I was nearly pain-free! Absolutely amazing! Oh did I mention, NO PAIN PILLS?! He then decided to try some hypnotherapy on me where he basically hypnotized me to block out the pain… And it freakin worked! I was pain free and could lift my arms clear above my head, simply fascinating! (Full reiki post to come…)

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After 3rd expansion of 60 cc (Total: 310cc)

My 3rd expander fill was yesterday and my dad was in town so he agreed to drive me. My dad is a little more anxious around all the medical stuff and is like any other good dad that hates to see his daughter in pain, thus sent me into Dr. Whites office solo. By now I feel like a complete professional as I walk right in, strip my clothes, and await Dr. Whites arrival.

This time my anxiety was geared more towards the expansion causing me back pain. Dr. White arrived and I explained the horrible spasms I had  following my last fill. He asked what I used to elimate my discomfort and I explained the benefits of reiki. So, i’ve come to the conclusion that many people don’t really “believe” that different alternative medical practices have true benefit… However I am living proof that this stuff works… So, I will keep Reiki Bob on speed dial and all to myself!

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They cleaned my skin and the needles were inserted. This time, Dr. White had a younger male resident to assist him. Sometimes I feel more awkward when I have doctors or nurses especially males who are moreso around my age examining me or what not, however after my tits being chopped off and me becomming in essence an utterless cow, I am more comfortable than I ever though I would be. If I lived in New Orleans, I may just take it upon myself to make everyday Marti Gras… Because I just want to show these “girls” to everyone! I mean, come on how often to you come across a woman so open and eager to teach everyone about mastectomies?! Maybe thats my purpose in life! Instead of the Naked Cowboy in NYC, I may just become Pittsburghs Booby Princess who prances around showing off my mastectomy “cuts” (because I will never refer to them as scars because that is simply too permanent!)

Anyways, back to the story here. So, they started filling and at first I was shocked because I really wasn’t feeling anything. Then came the heaviness… Then the tightness. Dr. White stopped filling this time at 60cc. Although I was a little disappointed because my goal has always been to have crazy huge titty tatas… I was so thankful cause maybe I wouldnt feel the pain?

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Duh duh dunn*

The nurse took my bandages off and cleaned up my “cuts” and this time sent me home without new bandages! It has been exactly a month since my mastectomies and finally it was time for me to face reality. You would think it would be crazy heart wrenching to look down and not see my perky pink nipples, however although asthetically pleasing, I love having no nipples! No need for a bra, no hypersensitivity… Cheers to the no nipple commitee! (Upcoming blog post To be cont.)

I walked into the waiting room to meet my dad and it was back. The tooth ache in my back that refuses to let me win! I instantly texted Reiki Bob and set up a home visit for later in the night. A warm bath, massage with Doterra Pepermint oil,reiki, and hypnosis later… I was back to a pain free me! Now lets just hope this lasts.

So, PLAN: my plastic surgeon feels only one more expander fill is possible, so appointment is set for next week. Being that radiation starts June 1st, John and I have decided it is the perfect time to get away, relax, and escape (temporarily) from this breast cancer nightmare… AND my dad has very generously purchased us a 6 day cruise to celebrate out 6 month late honeymoon! To say we are farrrrrr overdue is an understatement. Although I still have many restrictions and wont be able to do excursions or anything too physical, getting away together is going to be amazing!

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When life gives you lemons, either put them in your shirt for BIGGER boobs… or make lemonade, you decide*

Until next post, xoxo

Meg

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Back the F*** Up.

Throughout my journey and since my original diagnosis in October 2015, I have come across many family members, friends, and even strangers who have made me aware of some sort of study, holistic treatment, or story about someone they knew or have heard of that “this or that” worked to magically “heal” someone of Cancer.  Though I am so so thankful for my amazing support system and absolutely wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, I must take this time to very kindly say, please…BACK THE FUCK UP!

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Okay, okay, let me explain my rage. Beginning my breast cancer journey at the age of 26 years young… I received the news and was extremely upset like anyone naturally would be. I’ve been through a windy road these past couple months and naturally I have had my own ups and downs. However, NEVER EVER EVER did I feel that my life was over, nor acted like I was “dying”, because NEWS FLASH, I am NOT!  Let me break this down for you so we are all on the same page here.

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Cancer. Why the fuck is that word so hard to say? Even to this day, when I come into situations that I am forced to actually say, “I have breast cancer” the words roll off my tongue in a very “awkward” and sort of unsettling way, but why? I’ll tell you why, because our society has made it that way!  Why do WE make “cancer” this big scary disease? Why is it that as soon as someone is diagnosed with “cancer” is it like a death sentence? Or better yet, why does society gauge or rate “cancers” like one is worse than the other?

(ATTENTION: THIS IS MY OPINION AND MY OPINION ONLY)

In my eyes, CANCER is just a diagnosis.  It is exactly like the diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease in the fact that it effects your mortality. According to the World Health Organization,  cardiovascular diseases killed 17.5 million people in 2012, that is 3 in every 10 deaths. NOT CANCER… Heart disease! Guess what, many of my own family members have heart diseases or at very high risk for heart disease due to other conditions that make the pre-disposed. So, WHY when I was diagnosed with cancer did people find it okay to shove information, treatments, and studies down my throat when someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes for instance is “normal”  in our world and not “a big deal”.  Why do people think I am going to die, or I have to now “be strong and fight” because I have cancer?

Your probably thinking what is this girl talking about.  Okay, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and CHOSE to go through traditional treatment of chemotherapy. I made the decision to treat my condition through the use of doctors and tests that have been scientifically proven to have some sort of effect to lengthen my life.  That is the “goal” once you are diagnosed with any condition in actuality unless for religious reasons you don’t believe in modern medicine or something.  Can you BELIEVE, I had close FAMILY members and friends angry with me for doing what our “society” encourages to be the right thing to do when treating a medical condition?!

This is what people don’t get…You can’t take CANCER away. “Fixing” the problem is hard, but the end goal is simply just not to die. In our modern world today THERE IS NOT going to be a magical cure because Cancer treatments and fundraising makes way too much money for our selfish society to give up! Can you please explain to me why our society thinks it is okay to make billions of dollars on a simple medical condition… on Cancer?  Why not support a race for coronary artery disease or COPD… BECAUSE IT DOESNT HAVE AS MUCH “SUPPORT” AS THE ALL MIGHTY CANCER!

Even before I was diagnosed, just from having friends or family who have fought their battles with cancer, whenever I see a special colored “ribbon” for whichever specific cancer it represents, I often found myself spending the extra money and wearing it in celebration or in memory of that loved one. To tell you the truth, every time I see a fucking little pink ribbon, I want to actually wrap it around my throat! The way I see it is that these ribbons, colors, and symbols our culture has drilled into our brains, have  normalized the fact that this condition still exists in our world today. How pathetic is it that in the year 2016 despite our ability to send a person to walk on the damn moon we cannot “cure” multiple diseases?

Cancer literally makes a killing! Do you know how much money a year CANCER makes?  As per Google, “In 2012, the reported spending on cancer treatment was 124.6 billion dollars”. (I’m allowed to use google considering I am not in school anymore— HELLS YES its a reliable resource in my eyes!). ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I didn’t stutter with that number either… we are talking BILLIONS of dollars, on what?

33As a patient with cancer these numbers obviously piss me off, but reality is that this is the world that we live in today. Money makes the world go round. Although many of us don’t want to admit it, it is entirely true. I am simply a number, a statistic, just another young woman with breast cancer in the grand scheme of things. Truthfully, that is NOT okay in my eyes! Actually I am Meghan Elizabeth (Franz) Koziel, a 26 yer old Occupational Therapist by day and damn Super Hero by night! I am not “cancer” and “cancer” is not me!

Lets talk about the many “life changes” people forced upon me once I was diagnosed because this has a direct effect with MONEY!

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Organic diet. Now, I can tell you from experience that organic foods are 100x better than the processed crap that are covering our food stores from floor to ceiling… however did you know that organic foods are sometimes DOUBLE the cost of our “normal” foods that are actually pumped with GMOs and pesticides which are proven carcinogens.  Did you know that other countries actually BAND some additives and preservatives that we Americans intake on the daily? We are literally placing these cancer causing foods into our own mouths because… its cheaper. Our government is making it legal for cancer causing chemicals be ingested by infants, children, teens, and adults of all ages… Could it be so every tomorrow a new person is getting sick and needs medicines and treatments in order to “live?”

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“The cancer must be in your water!” Sad, but possibly true… how pathetic is it that looking at my situation and both myself and my puppy being diagnosed with cancer at the same time I was actually encouraged to contact the water company to examine the local risk of ingesting toxins from my water! Good ole H2O! Pocahontas was able to drink out of a running fucking river with fish and raccoon poo floating downstream, and was never known to have “cancer”, but in 2016 I PAY for “filtered” running water and your telling me we haven’t found a way for it to be the purest damn water ever known to man?  Okay, well then I’ll PAY MORE MONEY to drink bottled water! WRONG!! The plastic that the bottle is made of and that the water sits in on the shelves for who knows how long is also cancer causing and can make you die!

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Oils, teas, and plants Oh My! The day I received my biopsy results that I had breast cancer, my family immediately made an order for CBD (aka hemp oil), I was given an aroma therapy diffuser, and gifts of teas and Himalayan salts were the norm. Although to me, these gifts have been very comforting and relaxing and in my mind using these things in conjunction with modern medicine does no harm at all! I actually find the relaxation benefits of many of these things to be highly beneficial mentally, however… THERE IS NO PUBLISHED LITERATURE THAT ANY OF THIS HAS A DIRECT EFFECT ON “CURING” CANCER! I support the more holistic lifestyle and utilizing these things even daily to promote healthy living, but newsflash THIS STUFF IS NOT GOING TO CURE ME!

This seems to be the truth as I investigate more and more. Cancer represents big money to the pharmaceutical companies and the health industry alone. Now I am not going to be a crazy advocate and grab my posters and megaphone to stand and strike on the street corner, but it is the scariest of thoughts! These companies and sadly some “non profits” supporting different diagnoses have been also found to not use majority of the funds for good use and to directly benefit patients. Many of them simply do NOT have a vested interest in prevention, therefore there will not be a definitive CURE anytime soon. In my case, I was genetically predisposed to breast cancer… Basically I pulled the short stick and the only thing to do is what science has proven to expand my life which is chemo, surgery, and radiation.

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If I took every single persons recommendation for treatment approaches, I would probably look like Bob Marley and smoke as much if not more plants than even he could ever imagine. I would live in some foreign land slightly similar to Loompaland eating only organic worms and bugs like Simba from lion king and perhaps the mysterious cocoa bean, raw and organic of course for dessert. I would rub oils and salves over every orfice of my body, and walk miles upon miles to bath/ drink only water from the Fountain of Youth. I would sleep in a cave filled with Hymalyan salt walls and have absolutely no electronics in case they send off harmful rays that will evntually kill me. Any flower I come across, I would ever so carefully dig it up to protect the root because duh thats the “healthiest part”, and gather random leaves just so I can Drink cup after cup of tea because my body will need this in order to live. Oh, and Dont forget my fruit and veggie, antioxidant rich diet! I will never ever kill an animal for food because that is simply “inhumane” and I will just hope and pray that the circle of life continues to monitor the animal population because I cannot assist in using them for food or items to live off of. The only electronic appliance I shall own is a juicer because basically I will be on a liquid diet and if I dont drink a quart or carrot, beet, and grape juice daily… I am sure to just die!

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Do you see how fucking ridiculous this all sounds?! This is what my life has been since I was diagnosed. Do people attack you with these sorts of treatments when your diagnosed with asthma? Oh I am sure they do for coronary artery disease, right? What makes it right just because I have breast cancer (let me mind you once again, it is just any other medical condition) for people to clobber me with these alternative treatments that may have worked for one or two random people across the universe but do not have substantial evidence to be more of a cure than ignoring that I have cancer all together. Nobody can tell me that I am going to die any sooner than you are just becuse I have the almighty “cancer”! Truth is, people wake up in the morning and die driving on their way to work… Did the oil or tea help to keep them alive?

What I want you to take out of reading this post is this. If a friend, family member, or aquaintance is diagnosed with cancer or any disease for that matter, be supportive. Instead of sending crazy ailments that “are sure to cure them”, send them inspirational quotes or a card that is so funny they cant help but laugh! Make them smile with mail and small gifts to brighten their day. Buy them one of those huge lollipops or a pack of bubble tape and have a contest who can blow the biggest bubble because its fun!  Make them gifts, homemade gifts are the greatest! From kniting them a blanket or hat when going through treatment to buying them comfy soft socks to keep their toesys warm, these are the things that make a huge difference! Sure, Hymalyan salt lamp, oils ,lotions, and teas are wonderful gifts… But do not expect them to use them every second of every day!

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The best gifts i’ve received along this journey had NOTHING to do with my cancer at all! Recieving a box full of letters from long lost friends with a sprinkle of glitter is sure to brighten anyones day. Im pretty sure I had a smile as wide as a Chesser Cat and may have shed tears of joy because of how it brought back so many memories! Jewlery and accessories or a new pair of pink sparkly heels literally made my day when I was down in the dumps, bald, and going through chemo. A “box of sunshine” after a surgery filled with anything and everything yellow! From a comfy blanket to chapstick! So thoughtful and amazing! Cards with words of encourgement and quotes make you know that people are thinking of you. Useful things like pajamas, lotion for chemo skin, or post-op drain holders are one less thing the “patient” has to buy. Even cookbooks are interesting and come in handy! And you can never go wrong with making frozen meals or better yet having a random pizza delivered to someone when their so busy with treatments or surgeries it’s such a wonderful idea because it is one less thing that person has to think about on a busy day.

The most cost efficient gift of them all…CALL them! Do not be the person that is there when the worst hits, but non-existant on any other day. After the initial month or two pass and someone is in the middle of treatments or surgery, go make a surprise visit, i’m telling you it will make their day! Even something as small as a text message or as personal as a handwritten letter through snail mail… These are the true “cures” to disease. Life is about taking risks… Do NOT ever force someone into a bubble and make them feel like they have to hide because at any minute death could be knocking at the door, because in reality it already is!

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On my very first doctors appointment with my AMAZING oncologist Dr. Jane Raymond, she said something to my mom and I that stuck. She said, “Beating Cancer is 80% mental, 20% physical”.  She encouraged me to get back to work and my normal everyday life because I AM NOT DEAD! I AM NOT DYING… I still have a long, sparkly, adventurous life to live!

My philosophy on life is that with love and laughter brings life! So focus more on making amazing memories, not losing out on the very precious minutes we have on this earth for he said/ she said type ailments. If you want to eat a damn Big Mac, you should eat a damn Big Mac and super size the shit! If you want to drink a Dr. Pepper at dinner, honey… drink that damn Dr. Pepper! When someone is sick, brighten their day with small  acts of love and kindness without focusing cherished time on ailments that have no scientific proof of curing anyone more than that of a smile.

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In college I created the mission to change the world one smile at a time. Literally all you have to do is smile at someone to change their entire day. So lets get our pearly whites ready.. hit up your local dentist, and make someone feel better by simply smiling! Now that my friends is proven to work miracles!

 

XOXO Meg

 

Tata to the Ta Ta’s

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Today is one week post my double mastectomy! Here is my story of this life changing event on April 11,2016.

The day had finally arrived, my last day of work until after my “booby break”. This day actually ended up being on Saturday so I was able to take off on Thursday for Izzys first chemo… blog post to come. After work, I rushed home to get the final prep stuff accomplished. Knowing i’d sort of be out of commision for a while, I made sure that my house was near spotless, clothes were adapted, and bags were packed, just in case I’d have to stay a few extra days in the hospital for any reason.

I received the call from the hospital that Friday evening and was instructed to be at the hospital at 5:30 am on Monday, the day of surgery. What in the world! Side note: How do these doctors have a life if they’re preparing surgeries so early in the morning! I mean, there is a lot of waiting around and prep work that goes into it, but still… really 5:30 am! Oh well, I guess having the earlier time is better than a later time when you have all day to be anxious and your stomach doing tumble-saults because of the stress of the unknown. They explained that this would be a one stay stay after surgery and to plan accordingly. This was mind blowing to me! Basically, they are amputating my tits off of my chest and about 12 hours later, see ya… don’t let the door kick you in the ass? How am I ever going to be ready in 1 day to go home!

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Anxiety aside…In hopes of keeping my spirits high, I decided to only go about this life changing event in Meghan fashion… of course why would’t I have a “Ta ta to the Tata’s” party! My sister made a sparkly banner, I made a bunch of party foods, bought pink and black balloons and decor… oh yeah and made booby desserts obvi…it was a wonderful day! Although I really truly missed having many of my friends there to celebrate, with distance and time I understand that people can’t simply stop their lives for me… but I had a wonderful group of friends and family able to celebrate my new boobies and ultimately the end being finally in reach of this cancer chapter.

The next morning, alarms began going off at 4:15 am. My entourage included my mom, dad, little sister Jill, John, Cindy my cousin, and John’s mom, as they all planned to spend the day in the hospital as I got my boobs lopped off! Okay, I’ll be a little bit more sensitive… “as I had my bilateral mastectomies with exploration of lymph nodes and reconstruction involving placement of expanders”. Truthfully, I was not nervous hardly at all! I was more excited to get bigger boobies out of the deal! I was instructed that the surgery would take from 6 to 8 hours, so of course being under anesthesia for that long makes anyone nervous. I mean, I really hope I have a cooler death than something going wrong in surgery for breast cancer, GAWD that would be really anti-climatic!

They called my name, and the nurse walked me back rather quickly to start all the pre-op tasks, I hardly sat with my family at all! First I was weighed, and yes I cursed at the scale because I have in deed gained weight through this whole ordeal which I’m frankly pissed off at…ugh but thats life right now. Then the nurse gave me a cup with a locked lid that I was instructed to pee in for a pregnancy test. This makes me chuckle overtime because it is close to impossible for me to get pregnant during chem–from having an IUD placed, having my eggs removed during fertility treatments, being placed on a medication that “protects my ovaries” and tricks my body into a “temporary menopause”, OH YA, and having the libido of a slug… I am pretty sure unless I am the Mother Mary I am not pregnant. After awkwardly carrying my pee cup into the hallway and handing it to the nurse, I was instructed to remove all my jewelry and clothes and place a hospital gown and slipper socks on as I waited for the next instructions.

The older nurse returned and started the slew of questions as she slowly and painfully inputted my info into their new EPIC system. Im pretty sure I chose the absolute WORST time to get diagnosed with cancer because it was in perfect timing with them learning this new system, and truthfully it is completely obnoxious. I guess it is better than being cavemen and handwriting documentation though, welcome to the modern times AGH! Anyways back to the story… so the nurse got to my allergy section and I requested the anesthesiologist be paged and my information from my last surgery be pulled to help in finding a pain medication for post-op that I will be able to use without having an allergic reaction, YEAH wishful thinking.

She attempted to get my IV placed and instead of using my nice plump vein in my forearm… to the hand she decides to stab! And YES!!! stabbing is exactly what she decided to do. Oh that and moving the needle every which way to try to get the tiniest vein that obviously didn’t want a damn needle puncturing through it. You guessed it, “You’re a bad stick”— Gawd I hate when nurses say that! I always want to look at them and say, “well, your a bad nurse!” I bit my tongue though and waited for the anesthesiologist to place my IV.

She sent back my whole family, which I was so thankful because normally they only allow two people in the pre-op waiting rooms. The anthesiologist and her assistant came into the room as they began questioning me about my prior surgeries and pain medicines I could tolerate as well as allergic reactions. We ended up agreeing that a paraspinal epidural would be the safest route so that I would have some sort of relief post op.

In brief, I am allergic to all Opiate based pain medications. My last leg surgery about a year ago, I had an anaphylactic allergic reaction to Fentanyl. In the past I’ve also had reactions to Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Morphine. The anesthesiologist decided that while I would be intubated during the surgery they would trial my reaction to Dilaudid even though it is an opiate based pain medication. In her explanation, this would be safest because basically there isn’t any other way to know if i’m allergic other than trial and error. At least if i’m already intubated, that would be best case scenario if I were to present with symptoms of difficulty breathing .

As they had me sign a ton of papers and releases, then came the talk… Basically, the risks of anesthesia are scratchy throat, heart attack, confusion, stroke, waking during the procedure, death… lets add growing a tail and perhaps a third eye for heaven sake! So after scaring you half to death because they have to legally… ready ready, they follow up with my favorite phase, “but you should have nothing to worry about”. Thank you Mr. Doctor… So, I may die or become a T-Rex… oh or come out just fine– breath in, breath out… okay I’m ready for you to cut me open!

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But seriously, after I literally signed aware my life, it was truly the first time I started to get those belly butterflies. I looked up at my dad and he was sucking on his upper lip on the verge of crying, my moms rosey red cheeks and blotchy chest was beginning to form, and then the anesthesiologist says, “Okay were going to take you then for your epidural placement, you can say your goodbyes”. GOODBYES!!!! In that moment it hit me! I am about to be put to sleep for 6+ hours, they are placing an epidural which can paralyze me, they are resecting axillary lymph nodes which may give me lymphedema, and removing my beloved titty tats that make me a woman! Wahhhhhh

So, I began to cry. Then everyone else began to cry. They all lined up and after taking farewell selfies with everyone, I gave kisses and hugs, exchanges “I love you’s”, and was off being wheeled down the hall through multiple rooms and freezing cold temperatures to the OR.

I took a few deep breaths and pulled myself together. I met a few more anesthesiologists, residents, and nurses as they placed my IV, stuck oxygen up my nose and connected me to the heart and oxygen monitors. I have definitely mentioned this before, but when I was first diagnosed it was a little bit awkward to take off my shirt or have the doctors touch my boobies on command. When the (rather attractive) resident asked to mark by breast, you would think I was at Marti Gras… except I did;t get any beads:( Truly, it is nothing for me to show my boobs, however being polite, he marked it quickly then gave me a blanket to drape across me to remain a little bit decent. It hit me, that would be the very last time I ever flash my own titty ta ta’s!

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It was time to place the epidural. I was asked to sit on the edge of the bed and relax my arms and drop my shoulders down. The main anesthesiologist came over to my right arm and I remember her telling me that she would be giving me a medication to calm my nerves. I recall her pushing the medication through my IV… then off to dreamland I went I guess…

Literally the next thing I remember is waking up with a nurse at my side and wondering if they performed my surgery yet. As my eyes were still a little blurry and my head was waking up out of a fog, I found myself scanning the room for some sort of sign. I focused in on the clock as it read 2:30. It took me a little while, but I managed to do the math in my head… my surgery was scheduled for 7:30, 1,2,3,4… 7 hours, my surgery had to be done!

The nurse noticed I was waking up and came over to introduce herself. In that moment I realized my throat and mouth were so dry I sort of resembled the zombie man from Hocus Pocus. I got the words out, “may I have an ice chip” as she laughed and said she would be right back with one. My lips were so abnormally dry, and my body was so heavy. A part of me wanted to fall back to sleep, but I was too intrigued to find out if I actually survived my surgery!

The nurse came back and I slurped down my single ice chip that I was allowed. They don’t typically give you liquids right away because anesthesia sometimes provokes nausea or vomitting. They explained to me that they were going to give me a medication called Tramadol to keep my pain at a minimum. The nurse pushed it through my IV and a few minutes later I felt an itch. A few more seconds when by, and my skin got hot. I looked down and started noticing the little red blotches climbing up my arms.

The nurse got my anesthesiologist and my chest began to tighten. Literally it was like a replay of my leg surgery last April. They called the respiratory therapist, got me an EPI treatment and talked me through deep breathing techniques. As they placed a face mask for oxygen on my face and tears rolled down my face, I began to panic. I started yelling to my nurse that my ear was bleeding because I felt a cold wetness pouring out of my head! Thats it, I was dying… I knew I was hemorrhaging and about to see the golden gates! Just kidding, the nurse reached out for my ear and responded “honey its only your tears, you are going to be just fine, now breath”. I closed my eyes and tried to go to my happy place in order to let the medicine reverse the drug reaction. The eery question remained in the back of my mind, what in the world are they going to do for my pain?!

My little reaction after surgery pushed me back about an hour from being taken to my room, seeing my family, as well as investigating my new scars. They rolled me through the hospital which to me felt like a labyrinth and all I could focus on was the fact that I had to pee! They got me to my room and I immediately spotted my dad in the hallway! Once our eyes met I could feel his sort of instant relief that I survived this awful surgery as I shouted “DAD”!

They manipulated the stretcher into the room and with help, they sat me up on the edge of the bed. It was in that moment that my Occupational Therapist brain turned on and I said to myself, “sit up for a second or two, and take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth just in case my blood pressure drops”. With the nurses help, she stood me up and my legs were literally like jello. With my IV, nurse and dad all following me, they guided me into the tiny bathroom and of course the lowest toilet known to man— Duh why would’t they put those in a hospital! In about a millisecond, ahhhhh…I think you can use your imagination about how absolutely amazing it felt to empty my bladder!

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I finished up and realized just how difficult this whole recovery is going to be. Although the nurse reached for the toilet paper, my occupational therapist self and Miss Independent grabbed the toilet paper and attempted my own peri hygiene. Wow, this is going to suck I said as all the muscles in my shoulder and across my chest pulled.  I stood from the toilet, looked back into the “hat” or container measuring my urine, and OMG… “my pee is BLUE”!  Of course my next statement was “I’m turning into a Smurf!”  This was the ongoing joke, each time after I peed I would look at the color… basically the dye they injected into me for my lymph node mapping changed my urine color temporarily… but YES, I took a pic because it was AMAZING to me:)

They walked me back to the bed inside the room as I gained a tiny bit of my balance but still remained far from my functional baseline with ambulation (see, I told you I am a therapist) ;). The nurse explained that despite my minor rash observed while I was under anesthesia to the Diludid, the team has decided to set up my PCA pump (patient-controlled analgesia pump) aka little button for pain medicine that any normal person would love and push every second that little light flashes green. However in my case, I was healthy afraid that I would have another allergic reaction!

As my lines were organized and I was coming back to the real world from outer space or “land of anesthesia”, my family started trickling in. Minutes turned into hours and after my nurse, a student nurse, and a nurse who was orienting to the oncology floor all did their own assessments, I began to feel more myself. My first question, “why do I only have two drains when typically they place four”? Turns out my doctor told John that due to my smaller stature, two drains were more appropriate. “Why don’t I see ace bandages or blood all over my chest”? Okay this wasn’t Dawn of the Dead, the surgeon told John “my surgery went very well”. “Im really hungry can I eat?” The nurse said you are on clear liquids would you like jello? My response HELLA NO… and a couple minutes later I ordered a chicken gyro;) and finally…”Are they really gone?” I looked down my shirt… and yup, they were gone.

It was a very almost awkward sort of feeling. I didn’t know if my family be offended if I started checking things out under my shirt. My little sister and dad had already stepped out of the room because they “didn’t want to see me in pain”, but when is it time to take a peak? Would I start crying or be fearful of my new chest? Is there a way for me to look without my family seeing my initial reaction?

Turns out my drain was leaking and my gown was covered in bloody fluid-like soiledness, oh ya the nurse noticed immediately so she has to change my gown! She began to unsnap the sleeves and in that moment it hit me, would these cuts now define who I am?

All theatrics aside, It was not scary at all. My family saw my chest the same time I did and i’m not sure if they were significantly shocked, but my boobs weren’t just chopped off by Edward Scissorhands. I wasn’t a freaky octopus woman with drain-like tenticles hanging out of my sides. I was still me! Okay, my breast were smaller but the expanders sort of gave me slight bump like boobs and the scars were so minimal they simply looked like Nelly came off the cover of Nellyville and ever so carefully placed two band aids where my nipples used to be. It was in that first look that I knew, I am going to be just fine.

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In typical Franz Girl Fashion, obviously I had to take a selfie. My mom handed me my phone and as the nurses cleaned my gown and bedding I asked my cousin Cindy to take a picture of me. After she took the photo, the weirdest feeling overcame me that it was almost normal to be shirtless. I mean, it is breasts and nipples that society makes out to be sexual for a woman to show. Guys don’t wear shirts and its okay for them to walk around in public, to me… I have nothing anymore so why would it be weird to not have a gown on in front of my family?It was so natural and sort of invigorating to be topless!

Later in the night I decided to post the picture of me smiling my normal smile, shining from my inner sparkle, and broadcasting to the world my new scars that Cancer again had left behind. After almost a 6 month battle, it may look like Cancer took my hair, took my beauty, made me lose then gain weight, made my dark circles resemble a raccoon, and now result in losing my breasts… however deep down inside, I am still 26 year old ME!

I’m not sure that I actually thought about society’s reaction versus the feelings friends and family may feel after seeing the “new”, post mastectomy “me”. When you first google “mastectomies” horror photos of Frankenstein like surgeries show up… but I’m just me smiling in a hospital bed. I AM STILL ME! Never did I think it would be “liked” and “shared” thousands of times and the eyes of people all over the world! Gosh social media is amazing!

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I ended up staying in the hospital for 2 nights and on Wednesday morning I sort of forced my discharge home. I was never alone throughout my stay my amazing husband John never left my side. My sister Jill and cousin Cindy were the best little nurses aides from emptying my drains to “cupping” my booty for a controlled decent onto the extremely low toilet they truly were the biggest help!

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My dad was there to give me hugs and comfort me after my surgery but tends to get a little overwhelmed in the hospital setting so was more often found “roaming” the halls than at my bedside. After I was comfortable and in my bed, he left the hospital and then returned to say goodbye the following morning before driving back to work for a lecture.  He would NEVER leave empty handed… and of course we received a VERY generous edible arrangement at my bedside later that day!

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My mom, my rock was there to ask questions, update social media, and come up with all sorts of creative details that I still wonder if they actually happened haha!  She brought a smile to my face when she opened up the blanket I brought to the hospital because she was cold and found two of my eyelashes attached!  She shared her amount of tears however always remained strong in front of me and that was so so so much appreciated!

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HOSPITAL FOOD: Chicken or Fried Rat? You decide…

My in laws and brother, Davey were there every minute they could be. No belly went hungry as they were so generous to make sure we all were full on yummy food aka NOT hospital food or questionable fried rat aka “chicken parm” but thats for another story. Finally, BFF Greg! I don;t have too many friends here in Pittsburgh but one of Johns best friends Greg came back into his life over a year ago now and we all actually have become inseparable. That night, BFF Greg showed up with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and even came the next day after work to simply hang out, laugh, and make the time in the hospital a little bit brighter.

I also have to give one more shout out to my best friend Dustin. Even being across the country in Seattle, he made his presence known by secretly having pizza’s delivered late at night for us all to enjoy which truly was so thoughtful and absolutely perfect after the long draining days of being in the hospital.  Im totally stealing this idea the next time someone I know is in the hospital… it was TOTALLY the perfect surprise!

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AND…Reiki Bob. I met Bob as he volunteers for AGH as a reiki master emitting positive healing energies onto willing patients. Bob provided me two amazing healing sessions while in the hospital and I cannot even describe how thankful I am to have him as a mentor! So thank you for supporting me and loving me along this journey, I literally would NOT have been able to come out smiling as much as I do without you!

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Finally, the LOVE of my life and husband John. This picture literally describes our relationship perfectly. From the first day I met you, you have kept your promise to always take care of me.  Throughout this journey, you have 100% been by my side and ever since we left that alter, you have loved me and cherished me in sickness and in health… i don’t know what I would do without you! ❤

ANYWAYS… This is a Meghan involved event here, so of course it wasn’t going to go flawlessly without some sort of drama. After the first night on the PCA pump… itching became my new hobby. Cindy had a new job to literally wipe my whole body from head to toe down with a cool wet wash cloth just to eliminate some of the discomfort. My night nurse was amazing! She attended to my medication schedule and used problem solving to come up with a “pill cocktail” that would work for me! Finally I requested the same mixture of Benadryl, Ultram and Flexural be used being that it provided me relief last year with my leg surgery. The next morning, the doctors trailed the concoction and it appeared to be working. Only problem, I had to have my epidural removed before going home.

Literally Tuesday morning came around and my new “older” nurse came on and immediately I knew we were not going to get along. I am pretty good at “reading” people and sort of get funky feelings when people are “funky” individuals. Well, this un-named nurse didn’t even flash a smirk the entire shift— definitely a South Pole Elf for all you “Elf” fans. After waiting almost 8 hours to see the so called “pain team” and to receive a Benedryl alternative to relieve my itching… MEGHAN came out!

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Now, those of you that know me personally… you know that there is sweet and innocent Meghan who would give the shirt off her back to anyone in need… she farts roses and shits glitter because she truly believes she is a princess at heart, and then there is the “don’t FUCK with me because I will slit your throat” Meghan who doesn’t give a damn and if you piss her off she will make your life a living HELL. Well, Jill and Cindy left to go home and take a shower Tuesday afternoon and I talked over my EXTREME anger regarding this “nurse” not getting me the appropriate medication from 7 am it now being past 3pm. In the next second, I was out of bed, gown wide open advertising my new boyish looking chopped up chest, and darting to the center nurses station DEMANDING proper care!

Now I won’t go into details but I will say I made my point known and the “un-named nurse” is very lucky she “left her shift” before I was able to ream her a new one! Lets just say I was then introduced to the director of the hospital and all steps were taken to ensure that I was appropriately taken care of. As for nurse no-name, your should be FIRED, “Bye Felicia”.

Okay so back to the story here. So, after many allergic reactions to Dilaudid ( yes, I do have a true allergy to this medication and will not be able to receive it any longer), after waiting numerous hours for the “pain team” to come up with an alternative plan that never actually was devised, and finally giving up and realizing that literally there are no pain medications that I am going to be able to take without having an allergic reaction, my family and I decided I would be more comfortable being in pain at my own house versus the loud, irritating, hospital. By lunchtime Wednesday afternoon, I was on my way home!

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All in all, the procedure itself was not “that bad” in fact, I feel that my leg surgery was MUCH more painful. Although I did have an epidural during this surgery and the whole front of my chest was numb, all in all I felt that the pain was tolerable. Yes, there was pain and I do have limited mobility of my arms temporarily, but with Tylenol and a muscle relaxer it is manageable. I describe the pain as more of a chest tightness or muscle soreness in my axilla or armpit region. Praise JESUS for the “axillapilla’s” my dad bought me with my BFFL bag (found on Amazon) all my positioning needs have been met!

Psychosocially, it is all quite shocking. I do feel less feminine but I keep saying to myself… this too is only temporary. My surgeon said my “breasts came off easily” because I don’t have too much fat on my chest and depending on my biopsies.. I shall have a great outcome! Truthfully I cant wait until my plastic surgeon removes my drains and begins my booby plumping process.. DD’s here we come!

To me, this surgery is bringing me one step closer to the end of this exhausting journey. I keep visualizing in a couple months my hair will be long like Rapunzel, my boobs will be plump like Jessica Rabbit, my bubble butt will return to its normal plump state, and I will return to being an upgraded blonde haired, sexy, ME! Mark my word that one day, really soon… I will look into the mirror and finally recognize the girl staring back at me… Soon enough, I will see a new and improved, much stronger and defined, cancer-free…ME!

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XOXO Meg

Blonde and Beautiful


I met a patient today who was blind. Unable to see even shadows, this man primarily utilized his other senses to compensate from his lack of vision. He was a very kind man and had many stories to tell about his pets, his family, and even about his blindness.

Towards the end of my occupational therapy session with this admirable man, he looked up at myself and the physical therapist who was also in the room and said, “I can tell im in the room with two beautiful blonde ladies”. Coincidently he was close to accurate despite being completely blind. The physical therapist I was working with indeed was blonde, and my whole life I was blonde, however since my chemo ended and as my hair is growing back to be a much darker color than Ive ever had… This comment made me slightly uncomfortable.

Im pretty sure this is like the fourth blog post about my hair, and you may be completely fed up with me rambling about how much I miss what I used to look like… But I would be absolutely lying if I were to say that looks dont matter. Truth is, my long haired, thin, bubble butt self was attractive in my eyes. I never exactly had significant body image issues before. Of course I saw my flaws… I knew I should work out more and eat healthier, dont we all know that! What I didnt know and what I wanted to believe was that the person I am on the inside refected on my outside… But what the hell does that even mean?!

The dang truth is, you cannot be truly happy until you are happy with yourself. I am not happy with how I look therefore I have been more sappy and sad. I completely understand now why some girls are so hard on themselves when it comes to looks. Although I have friends and family who tell me im beautiful regularly… Newsflash, I kind of want to punch you in the cooter!

Its very difficult being a girl! You know whats even more difficult, having 1 sister who is a model, and another sister who can literally pull off any style so whether her hair is long like rapunzel or a short shaved bob, she still comes off as the artsy beauty she is in everyday life. It has been sooooo difficult to look in the mirror and see this new, temporary me, or take pictures with my sisters or beautiful cousins when they all are so stunning and I feel fat, bald, and ugly.


Okay okay, cancer isnt all that bad. (What did she just say?!) I mean, Cancer does bring us a few blessings. For six months now, I have NOT had a period! Can we all praise Jesus for this one! Im pretty sure bleeding for almost a week straight from our most cherished whoohas is frankly torture in itself, then you add shoving a wad of compressed tissue (aka a tampon because pads are simply raunch) up your coochie and thats supposed to be a party?! Um no! Its frankly evil! So thank you Cancer for temporarily taking that away…


Did you know I didnt have to shave for about 5 months! Yes, its true… My naked mole rat self was silky smooth for months and I absolutely LOVED it! I didnt have to waste time or razors shaving my legs, the all so cherished parts, and going through womens 2nd torture… Waxing those damn eye brows! Although I did have to spend the time to draw them on everyday, and I will admit that there may have been days that I was rushing and possibly drew crooked brows or a shape that made it seem I had a permanent resting bitch face, however I sort of enjoy getting the perfect shape vs. broadcasting my busted natural brows for the world to see.


Oh and I get a fresh start. Okay, I really have mixed feelings about this one… But by shaving my head, I 1. Was able to try a new hair style ever though I hate it, 2. I am able to cut my time getting ready in the morning to like 15 mins from the 45 mins I used to spend on hair and makeup, and 3. All the years of damage I put my hair through with bleach and Highlights I am finally able to start new! Even my eyelashes are growing in new! However, I refuse to not wear my falsies… Because their fabulous DUH!

But, how could this man that was blind say that the two of us were beautiful? Even more specific, blonde and beautiful? Does being blonde make you beautiful? Okay okay… Do blondes really have more fun? (i added that last question obvi… But really!)

Brunettes, red heads, and dark haired beauties… Im sorry to tell you but I realy miss being a blonde:(! No offense… But in my case, I think my blonde hair image I created for myself gave me the spunk and ability to feel sexy and beautiful. Now that my hair is coming in darker, I cant help but feel bland.

But ultimately… What is beautiful?

In this moment, I learned a lesson that ive been fighting this entire Cancer experience. Some people do see beauty from the inside out. This man who couldnt see anything past the impression he devised after what he heard and felt emotionally through my session. He was able to say that I was a beautiful person, not by what he saw (and especially today because I was lazy and didnt put makeup on) but off of the way I am as a person! Why cant I see that when I look in the mirror (wah))


The truth is, I look in the mirror and I am discusted. (Do not contact me and tell me im beautiful because i already warned you about the crotch shots I will be giving out!) My face is so much rounder, my hair is short and dark, my natural bows are haggered, my skin color has changed and my dark circles are more prominant than ever, oh ya…and my once flat tummy and cute tush is now jiggly and frankly repulsive… However, with a little bit of makeup, a cute wig, and more and more shopping sprees(sorry John!),I have learned to feel pretty again!


I tell myself this is only temporary, and Hells… I can promise you this IS temporary! Heck, next Monday is the start of having my new Barbie parts ive always wanted… Oh ya and being Cancer Free I guess thats the most important part right;) Although I hate how I look naturally, I am so so so blessed that there are so many creative people in the world inventing beauty techniques that indeed make you feel beautiful! They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and I cannot agree more! I may not see myself as beautiful now… But watch out, because Meghan is coming back full out Barbie… Blonde hair, pink heels, plastic parts, oh ya and I will still be sparkling on!
Xoxo Meg

 

PS: Thanks to Shofilms… here is a video of me taking control and shaving my head before Cancer took it from me!

When Sparkle Begins to Fade…You MUST Sparkle On!

  
One week until my double mastectomies and I think my sparkle is just starting to fade. Call it anxiety, call it depression… I dont know what it is, but im beginning to feel defeated! Literally after this weekend trying to clean my house perfectly, make adaptations to clothes so I maintain some sort of independence (gotta use my OT skills here people…), juggling work with Izzys appointments and him starting chemo on Thursday, i’ve just about had enough.  I want to have an amazing “last weekend” before my surgery then I realized I said I would work Saturday… FAIL!   On Sunday I am planning a “Ta Ta to the Tata’s” party — (thanks Bean for the name) where I hope to see some friends and just relax! After my complete FAIL yesterday at adding simple zippers to some t-shirts, I felt absolutely defeated. I went to bed really early so I could wake up for work with a smile on my face… But then my anxiety kicked in. 

So, this whole cancer nonsense may have turned me into a hyperchondriac, but 2 days ago the upper part of my chest near my collar bone I noticed hurt like a bruise under my skin. Now let me mind you, my 85lb puppy who thinks hes the size of a tea cup poodle has pounced on my head and body a few times this past week… But of course my first instinct is to feel for lumps and bumps. No sign of enlarged lymph nodes or anything… But it freaked me out.

Today after a longgg day of work, I of course was messing with the spot and decided to call my oncologist… Not that they’ll do anything because my surgery is literally next Monday and everything is coming out, but still. Turns out my oncologist is on vacation to Costa Rico (lucky lady!) and her nurse wasn’t very concerned that it could be anything.

Over concerned me still wasn’t satisfied so I went to the Health Center at work. Turns out the amazingly kind and compassionate nurse working is also a Cancer Survivor and patient of my oncologist! What a small world! She felt the spot, which by this point i’m just in tears because i’m so overwhelmed… And felt nothing! She reassured me that this is what cancer survivors do. Every lump, bump, or pain is cancer. She said one thing to me that stuck as she was handing me tissues and calling my nurse to let her know she didnt feel anything… “You have to stay positive”.

Positivity literally has carried me through this entire Cancer filled journey, and I cannot give up now! After crying all the way home, I opened the door to a beautifully clenaned house because my husband is amazing! As I sat on the couch, Mr. Izzy Monster jumped on my lap, cuddled up in a ball and just laid his head down. John of course came over and hugged me reassuring me that everything is going to be fine, and I start balling again. This time, Izzy decided to lick my entire face and tears away! In that moment, I realized how pointless tears like these really are!

  
John went to class and I walked into the kitchen to find a little pillow I bought this weekend as a “just because” type purchase. In this instant I decided I MUST Sparkle On! Enough of the tears, enough getting overwhelmed… I have to make it through a couple more months to close the book on this chapter of my life forever! There is absolutely No reason to give up now when the end is soooo close! The next couple weeks are going to suck… And I cant promise that there wont be anymore tears… But I absolutely promise to Sparkle On*

  
Xoxo Meg

Bye Bye Boobies

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Finally I am done with chemo! Yipppeeeee! I cannot even describe the feeling! It may possibly be one of the best days of my life… And then I wait. After meeting with my fabulous  oncologist Dr. Raymond, off to the next doctor… My surgical oncologist Dr. Cowher. (And yes for all you Pittsburgh fans, he is Bill Cowhers nephew!!!)

So, obviously after finding out from Dr. Raymond that I was indeed done with chemo, she told me to call Dr. Cowhers office to set up my next appointment and essentially transition me to the next level of care. I wasn’t even out of the parking garage and I was already on the phone with his office. Come on, im my defense… Who wants to wait! Im ready to get this shizzz done with!

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I got a hold of the receptionist and explained I was to make an appointment to decide my surgical approach. She placed me on hold and said he had a 4:00 appointment that day! Literally, I was like… Its destiny! John had just gotten out of work for my appointment with Dr. Raymond and wanted to shower before my next appointment ao my mom, John and I drove 30 mins home for John to take a 5 minute shower, then drive 30 minutes back to the hospital.

John finished his shower and I eagerly rushed everyone out to the car! I literaly couldnt wait to get details… The whole “what is next” was within an arms reach. We got in the car and I was just about to put the car in drive when my phone rang… A “412” number, so I answered!

“Hello Meghan this is Dr. Cowher, we have a little bit of a mix up”. Basically he couldnt see me for the appointment I scheduled because he wanted to review my MRI before talking about options, so I was connected and scheduled my MRI for the following day. Oh darn, more waiting…

My moms plan was to stay until I met the surgery and knew the next step… So she was also then able to take me to my MRI because John is back to work and on a job that he cant really take days off. The morning of my MRI, my mom, Johns cousin Jen and I decided to go antique shopping to pass some time. We ate at an adorable little 50s themed diner, then off to the hospital we were.

We got to the hospital about an hour early, but they we so gracious to let me register as soon as I got there and took me back for my test without too much of a wait. After weaving our way through the construction filled hallways of Allegheny General Hospital, I removed all my jewlery, had an IV placed (for the contrast), and was told to basically strip and put the gown with the opening facing frontward.

Side thought: you know, when I first started this journey, I was always a little awkward and nervous about showing my boobs to doctors, and even more weirded out with family in the room. Heck, now a days its like im at Marti Gras! Where are my beads?! Oh, and just wait until after my surgery!!! Boob selfies all day long;)

Anyways… Back to the story. So breast MRIs, what do they do. Basically they put a foam boob hole thing on the table and you lay on your stomach. There is this “supposibly” comfy head pillow to rest your forehead on and its soooo embarrassing because after the about 20 min test, my head always seems to be dented and bright red! I look like I got bopped in the forehead by something! After 20 mins of booming and clanking (i swear theres no point of the damn ear plugs because really I still came out with a headache)… They make an announcement that the contrast was going to be administered and to hold super still.

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Contrast: it is ran through the IV they place before the test. So NO you do not swallow large abouts of stuff for a breast MRI. Once the contrast is administered though you CANNOT press the “emergency I need out” button or else they have to reschedule the whole test! So naturally, thats the point I had severe hot flashes, felt nauseous, and was fearful of fainting… But thats besides the point.

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A few days later I was scheduled to see Dr. Cowher. My mom and I arrived early just to sit around an hour waiting for the “man of the hour”– literally! Things running through my mind… 1. Has my tumor shrunk and did the chemo work 2. Has my cancer spread 3. When do I get my new tits!

My appointment was scheduled for 2:00 and John didnt get out for work till 3:00 so, we were planning on simply filling him in. However, with fate by our side, he got out a little early and was close enough to the hospital that after a 30 minute walk across the bridge, carrying his lunch box, and spped walking in steel toed boots… His sweaty, hot, steamy (not in a sexy way this time babe:) arrived just as Dr. Cowher entered the room.

My appointment in a nutshell. I am NOT a good candidate for lumpectomy because I was found with a rare genetic mutation PALB2 which gives me a 30% chance of getting cancer in my other breast (um no thank you get ready to chop them both off). My tumor has responded to chemo even though I couldnt make it through the suggested amount of treatments however on xray there is still signs of tumor or it could be scar tissue but they dont know until they perform surgery.

So, mastectomies are truly the best option for me. Those of you that know me are going to laugh because all through college Ive always joked how ONE DAY I would be getting free boobs! My dad even made a bet with me in college if I made deans list every semester in college he would pay for them… turns out I didn’t make the Deans List bet, so heck I just had to get cancer! (kidding kidding… its called humor people!)

The complicated part of my surgery is the fact that I initially tested positive on my first biopsy with cancer in one little lymph node. Heres the tough part about these little pains in the butts… there is no way to know truly how many have cancer cells in them without surgery. RISKS: The biggest and probably the most common is lymphedema. Now this is not going to be a statement from the OT in me… but it will be from the 26 year old girl that I am. I absolutely refuse to start mutating into an elephant armed individual! The issue is, any surgery close to the arm pit where these little guys reside is high risk for lymphedema. OH! For those of you that don’t know what lymphedema is… here is a picture:

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My experiences working with patients with lymphedema include pain, swelling, and funky skin coloring and textures… it doesn’t help that right know the standard care is radiation to play clean up making sure those little devil cancer cells don’t spread. Briefly I’ll explain to you what im doing because it’s a little complicated.

Allegheny General Health Network is working with a research company called Alliance whom is running a research study on women with breast cancer and positive tested lymph nodes. Basically for those that chose to be in the study there are two treatment methods. 1: the standard method that has been used for years now which includes removal of all lymph nodes once one tests positive. 2.: is the “new” trial method involving testing the lymph nodes once im in surgery and ONLY take our the lymph nodes that test positive therefore leaving the remaining lymph nodes in hopes to decrease the risk of lymphedema. There is about 3,000 participants in the study and literally they will flip a coin once I am in surgery to chose my plan.

Those of you who know me personally know that I will do anything and everything to help someone else. Heck, I started this blog and have shared all the good and bad, the highs and the lows of my life since being diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve done a lot of research in college and was THRILLED when Dr. Cowher said I could be a participant! All in all, what ever is meant to me will happen. If it all turns out how I want it to… they will cut me open and only find scar tissue as the lump and non cancerous lymph nodes, place my new (bigger) boobies and call it a day. However, if they do find some cancer still inside of me… I have full trust in my medical team to make the best possible decisions for me and the rest I leave in Gods hands.

So NEXT STEP:

1. April 11th: double mastectomy with lymph node resection and placement of expanders

2. Approximately six weeks of healing

3. Honeymoon this summer

4. Back to working at a job I love and spreading my story of how I KICKED CANCERS ASS!

XOXO Meg