Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #27

Beating Breast Cancer as a Thirty Something

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and have decided to blog about my journey.  If you need to catch up on my story, please check out this page for the chronological list of posts.

If you hadn’t already noticed, things have been pretty quiet around the blog this past week.  This cancer update should explain it…

As you might have noticed if you follow me on Facebook, I had my LAST DAY OF CHEMO on Monday.  It was (not surprisingly) a lot like every other chemo day, but there were definitely some tears shed.  There were so many emotions flowing – happiness at being done, disbelief that it has actually been 20 weeks, sadness for my fellow fighters who aren’t/won’t ever be done with chemo, gratitude for the staff at the cancer center – that the only way my body really knew how to sort them out was through a few tears.

last bag of chemo
        Last bag of chemo…empty!

After the nurses sent me off with a bottle of sparkling cider, some snickerdoodles, a T-shirt, and a song (“Happy last day of chemo to you!”), I was met in the parking lot by my parents and kids, flowers in hand.  They took me out to one of my favorite places for a celebratory lunch and then I headed home to rest.  Thanks to some other awesomely thoughtful people, I enjoyed some additional flowers and sweet messages.  It was a very happy day!

gifts from last day of chemo

Then night came.  And it brought my dang chemo insomnia.  It took me until after 11pm to fall asleep, then I woke up at 2am and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I ended up staying awake and looking for Prime Day deals to share with you. (Yes, those 4am Facebook posts weren’t pre-scheduled – that was me.)  Since I had such a difficult night, my usual Day 2 (when I feel like I can conquer the world) turned out to be a day of exhaustion.  I was basically a zombie.  Plus, my bubble had popped – my “Whoo Hoo, I Had My Last Chemo” bubble.  Yes, I might have had my last treatment, but I still had to go through a normal chemo week.  Bummer.

I did manage to get myself dressed and out the door to an early appointment with my occupational therapist.  As she had advertised, this was basically a 45 minute massage that is covered by insurance.  She went through several techniques to help kick start my lymphatic system before radiation.  She also had me lie on a foam roller to stretch my shoulders back.  My posture has been an issue since I was a young girl, but has definitely gotten worse since my surgery and reconstruction.  The OT says this is very typical of women who have tissue expanders; there is so much pressure pushing forward, that the shoulders roll forward in response.  The foam roller helps stretch things out and encourages my shoulders to fall back.  It feels REALLY good.  I hadn’t realized how hunched over I had become through this process.  I went out and bought my own roller that night and have enjoyed stretching things out at home.

breast cancer plastic surgeon appointment

Then Wednesday came.  I traveled to the “big city” to visit my plastic surgeon.  As you might remember, it has been over a month since I have seen my plastic surgeon because he was out of the country for most of June.  At my last appointment with him, he said that I had one, maybe two, expansions left.  So there I was, ready for my one of possibly two expansions.  When the doctor came in and started looking at my chest and incisions, he starting saying things like “what I’m hoping to do with the next FEW expansions is smooth out the bumps in this scar…”  Uh oh.  Between his schedule, my schedule, and looming radiation, we were only able to schedule that one appointment and an appointment ten days later.  Now he’s talking about a FEW more.  I mentioned this to the doctor and he came to the realization that this would, in fact, have to be my last expansion.  Honestly, it was a little bit unsettling.  We started the appointment with him talking about how nice things will look after a few more expansions, but ended by settling for the size and shape I’m at.  Don’t get me wrong, things are shaping up nicely and I am very grateful.  I mean, really, let’s take a look at how far I’ve come.

Post Mastectomy Profile One

post mastectomy profile four

The doctor and I are still very happy with how things look, and I will DEFINITELY have WAAAAAAAYYYYYYY nicer boobs than I had before cancer.

The rest of the day passed in a blur.  Since I took a muscle relaxer before my appointment, I was still recovering from my night of no sleep, AND it was Day 3 of my chemo cycle, I was a mess.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I was nauseous.  I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep, but that’s really not an option with three kids.  Eventually bedtime came and I was ready to put that day behind me.

Unfortunately, my body still hadn’t gotten the memo that I am DONE WITH CHEMO!  I was still really nauseous and fatigued on Thursday and Friday.

Luckily I started feeling better on Saturday.  We traveled to a family reunion and then came home in time for a retirement pool party.  The reason I’m mentioning the pool party is that it was a fairly significant milestone in this journey:  The first time that I put my new body in a swimming suit.  Since it’s easier to distribute an extra 30+ pounds on a six-foot frame, my pre-cancer swimming suit still fit (miracle of miracles!).  What I failed to think about before leaving for the pool was that I used this swimming suit (with a deep V) when I was basically flat chested before cancer; my cannonball boobs-to-be filled out my swimming suit a bit differently.  Haha!  As I sat by the side of the pool, drying off after swimming, I started dreaming about the shopping spree I will gift to myself when I am done with this journey and ready to outfit my new body.  I’m going to give myself some time (and a lot of grace!) to see how much of this weight comes off after treatment, but then I will be ready to embrace my new body and celebrate what it has accomplished.

So….I’m done with chemo.  I’m starting to feel better. I am EXCITED for the next few weeks with no treatments.  Yes, there will be plenty of appointments, but no more poison!  And no radiation quite yet!  What a happy few weeks it will be.  Hopefully things will pick back up around the blog.  I have a bunch of posts-in-progress that I’m excited to share with you and I still have to announce my big Facebook-related giveaway.  I think the next few weeks will be the perfect time for that.  🙂

Keep Reading —>  Weekly Update #28 {Radiation Scans, Change of Plans}



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