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!
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!”
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!
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!
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;)
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!!!!
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!!
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!
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…)
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!
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?
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!
Until next post, xoxo