Wednesday, October 19, 2011


So I mentioned in my previous blog that the good doctor who broke the news to me said a few choice stupid things when giving me the "not sure what it is but we recommend another needle biopsy" news. Now, I do not wanna be too hard on this guy because the first time I was diagnosed he happened to be the one who called me and was very supportive. He was also the one who very kindly and with respect performed my first needle biopsy. But we all have our days and I can only imagine in such a profession it is never easy to give anyone "possible bad news". But that day he was in rather rare form. I have blogged here mostly about my invisible illness and of course he could not resist telling me that "I looked great" after he mentioned the autoimmune diseases I have on my chart. I cannot fault him for this. Like I said before, I just genuinely thank people and get over it now. After all, who wants to "look" sick, right? So I let that slide. Then he mentioned Venus Williams as if I should be happy to share her disease diagnosis as one of my own. Again, poor man was grasping at straws as he was about to tell me I may have cancer again. But then...."Needle biopsies are not so bad." This is where he should have quit while he was ahead. Of course there is me, standing there, speechless, shaking and without one ounce of wit in me at that moment for if I had I can guarantee you it would have gone down something like "Oh, so you have had one? In your breasts? You were a woman before you had a sex change into a man?" or "You have had other areas?" Now to be fair, maybe he had "in other areas" but what a stupid thing to say to a woman. All I managed was an "uh-huh." Now..having had a needle biopsy previously to that I can say that no, they are "not that bad" compared to a lot of other stuff. And I have had a LOT of other stuff. But they are not that fun, either. And some of us, I am one of them, do not respond too well to the good numbing stuff they give you. Thankfully, I purposely requested another doctor at the radiology staff to do my needle biopsy this time who put the clip in the morning of my first surgery. Ladies, pay attention to this as it can make a difference. Write down who does what. Guess what-this guy was better, made no silly comments, and I had a lot less pain and bruising. He was just damned good. I am glad I remembered him. 

Moving on....what to wear. For the past three days I have spent a lot of time online doing research, in chat rooms, message boards and emails with those going through my situation on just what the heck to expect clothing-wise after this big procedure. At first it seemed I would have to hunt down light weight button or snap up tops (uh...not easy to find by the way unless you want fancy blouses and plaid shirts) but thankfully, not so. Turns out there is a store right near me that measures, finds special camisoles with drain pockets and even fights your insurance company (as these items are not cheap..and which reminds me...need a new t-shirt..."Cancer Not Only Sucks, But It Makes You Go Broke")  so you can wear them under whatever zip up and button up things you already have. I am kind of picky about clothes, so the thought of having to buy ultra-dork looking stuff I would wear when I was 95 years old was not gonna settle well with me. So I am happy there are solutions out there. However, there are not enough of them. I am thinking...maybe some day I will design stuff much cooler and nicer than what is available right now, at better prices, for women undergoing breast cancer surgery and treatment. Who knows!

In conclusion to tonight's little blog I have to tell you what is getting me through this tough time. I have received a lot of heart warming comments about how brave I am and what a great attitude I have about this whole thing not just here in the comment section but in my email boxes. First I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. But the truth is, I could not do it without the support of my husband, mother, father, family, friends, FB friends, work friends, my sweet little dog (who was a gift from friends during my radiation therapy in 2010) etc. Everyone has been amazing. I know that there are many, many people out there without the kind of support I have and I am saying prayers for them every day. But even I have my bad days. I have had days where I am so terrified of this surgery and the recovery and how it will (and yes, it will) flare up my autoimmune problems I am just depressed. I am angry because it will take so much time away from my life, which has already been quite limited the past four years. That I will miss pay and work time in my studio. I saw this disease take my Nana's life as she suffered through treatment and I have always loved and honored the pink. But beside my incredible loving support system...there are three things that help. One is serious, the next is helpful when I can remember to do it and the last one is true but humorous. 

The serious one first. This is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Not. By. A. Long. Shot. Those of you who know me..know. So I have a lot of perspective some may not be able to have, and that is ok. But that does not mean it is not still an important fight. By all means, it is. And some day, when I have the mental strength, I will blog about that so again, I can reach out and help others because it is so near, dear and close to my heart. 

Secondly, staying, as often as I possibly can, in the present moment. Do I think about what they might find in the nodes from time to time, allowing my mind to wander into a sea of outcomes? Sure. But as each day goes by, I find myself doing it less and less. Grant it, my ability to focus and concentrate is worse than usual. Autoimmune patients like myself have a constant brain-fog going on as it is but lately this really takes the cake (putting the dish soap in the fridge, blanking out at work, stuff like that). But today I felt a bit more normal. Maybe it helped that I got the very uncomfortable MRI behind me yesterday and spent a lot of time with my Mom, which I needed. Focusing on work this morning also helped, even though I drove my poor co-worker crazy toward the end there =). But I came home and really enjoyed an hour long walk and several sit downs in various parks to take in a beautiful early fall evening. I think knowing that for several weeks I would not be able to do these things made me appreciate it more. Every day will not be like this, but I was thankful today was a better day. Who knows about tomorrow-it is not worth focusing on. The saying "all we have is the present" is not only true, but comforting.  

And lastly...chocolate. No idea in hell what I would do without a few Dove chocolates in my desk drawer or the box my husband picked out especially for me...See's Dark Chocolate number one favorite candy of all time. Or the gluten free Belgium chocolate pudding I scored at Trader Joe's this evening. Small doses, of course. My stomach is rather picky and as I head toward surgery day I will have to really make my diet bland for weeks to come to handle the medication and antibiotics I will be needing to take. But seriously...chocolate. Best invention of all time. 

Anyone have any tips on post-surgical clothing? 

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