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Time for a fill, and I don’t mean my nails! 

Hello again and thank you for joining us… I’m not sure why that just popped into my head, and for some reason I think it’s from the Bob Newhart show? I don’t know, anyway… 

4 months has flown by since I had my right expander taken out because of the infection I had.  I really can’t believe it’s been 4 months! 4 months of doing nothingggg!! Seriously I have not done much at all…resting I guess you could say?  Yeah, anyone that knows me knows I don’t “rest”… but we can say that! 

So let me back up a bit.  A couple of weeks after I had my right expander taken out I saw my plastic surgeon and he suggested we start “filling up” the left expander.  At first I was like… ummm no thank you… but then he explained that since my left side had been radiated in the past with the first diagnosis, it was going to take longer to fill than my right side, so by the time my right side was to be put back in half the work would already be done.  So the vein person that I am immediately said “ummmm no thank you” and went home and bitched about how if I do that then I’m going to be lopsided and that will just be weird and I will look weird!

But… talking more about it to other people in my life, made me consider filling up the left side first, so I went back to my plastic surgeon and said “let’s do this!”  Now, I feel as though I’m an educated person, I (somehow, with my mothers help) graduated high school with 56 absences in my senior year. (Did I mention my mom is the best??) and later on decided to go to college to become a surgical technologist, yeah that’s not what I do for a living though, I did graduate and I have an associates degree and a very large student loan but who’s complaining?  As I was saying, I feel as though I’m an educated person however, sometimes I wonder about that.  Take expanders for example, do you know how the Dr would fill an expander?  Well… I didn’t!  I mean sure I knew they had to get the saline in there somehow and since I’m all stitched up…?  So when my plastic surgeon pulled out this very and I mean very long needle and went to jab me in my chest I had some reservations and started asking questions.  “What’s that?” “What are you doing with that?” “Umm where is that going?” And yet somehow my friends that have had expanders left this part out, you know who you are.  My plastic surgeon explained that there is a small “port” attached to the expanders and they stick the needle in the port and fill the expander a little at a time every couple weeks.  That’s fine, I had a port in my chest when I had chemotherapy so ok, not sure why they need that giant needle but whatever I’m not squeamish, fill’er up! I don’t mind needles, needles don’t bother me… let me rephrase, this needle bothers me!  I’ve had 2 fills, and I don’t mean my nails, (ah I had to,  my girls  think its corny when I say that) both times with the same needle and both times just as the needle pierces my skin and goes into the left side of my chest, I start to sweat.  I get clammy, I feel warm and I sweat a lot!   I asked the Dr if that was a normal reaction and he said “you are probably just nervous.” No, I don’t think so, needles don’t bother me!

After the second fill, I could really see a difference, it was kinda cool.  However, looking in the mirror, and wearing clothes was getting difficult.  Remember, at this time, I was still flat on my right side. So I stopped the “fillings” and started wearing a bra with a “chicken cutlet” on my right side. People, that’s what they call it, a chicken cutlet, it’s like an A cup. I actually think I’ve mentioned this in past blogs. 

So a full 2 1/2 months of me looking like a cyclops, and taking myself off of the lupron injections I was getting… oh did I forget to mention that? 

If the devil exists, he’s in the form of a lupron injection. Now, if you’ve been reading my blogs you already know how much I hate these injections, so no need for me to keep bitching.  But if for some odd reason you haven’t been reading… I’ll keep bitching! 

Lupron injections are the devil, for me.  Maybe there are woman out there that are getting these injections and fairing well with them.  If so, I commend you! I do not fair well on these injections. I get very depressed, very bloated, gain weight, hate life, get very aggravated, am even more of a bitch, have even less patience than I do now, get hot flashes, feel sick, cry…a lot! The list goes on. Lupron injections are meant to shut down my ovaries and stop the estrogen in my body (since my tumors are estrogen driven) and put me into menapause… at 35! 

So when Carlos and  I went to see my GYN and my Oncologist, two of my very favorite woman, to talk about keeping me on these injections, once a month for at least the next 5yrs, no one should have been surprised when I wasn’t happy about it. Hearing that this is my only option, sent me into a dark place.  So dark that when these 2 woman that I love so much, told me that if I didn’t do these injections that I would risk my cancer coming back, only the next time it would more than likely come back in an organ and then there would not be a cure.  I simply said “I’ll roll the dice.” 

You have to understand the way I see it, I have 3 children who are old enough now to see when mommy is miserable. So is it better to have me around screaming and yelling and crying and being miserable all the time on these injections or is it better to not have the injections and live my life feeling good but possibly not as long as I would had I taken the injections? This is my deliemna.  When my GYN and Oncologist left the room that day, I asked Carlos what he thought and he said “I think you should have the injections because I want you to be around for a long time.” Yeah yeah you all just sighed and thought how wonderful that was of him to say to me but cmon people what did you think he was going to say?? I’m kidding! I don’t give Carlos enough credit sometimes, that was a warm and fuzzy moment. 

I’ve talked to everyone about this dilemma, I need to hear what other people would do and to hear different opinions. So, I decided to get a “second opinion”.  Feeling like an absolute trader,  I went to Dana Farber and Carlos and I met with one of their breast Oncologist. I told you my GYN and my Oncologist are two of my very favorite woman and by far my favorite Dr’s.  I trust them, so when I went to Dana Farber I felt like I was cheating on them!  They obviously didn’t take it that way, but I still felt bad. I just wanted someone else, some other Dr to give me another option, there had to be another option!  There isn’t.  The Dr at Dana Farber told us the same thing that my 2 favorites told me, so we left and I was crushed. 

I’ve been sitting on this for months now, I’m the only person that can make this decision for me.  I was talking to my mom on the phone a few weeks ago about my dielemma and not knowing it my 10 yr old daughter was listening.  After I hung up I turned around and she was right there, she’s so quiet, Carlos and I always call her the ninja.  She asked me what I was talking to Grammy about.  I tried to explain the injections to her and how I feel when I’m on them and she cut me off and said “Well, who cares if you are miserable or if you get fat at least you will be here with us.” And that was it, my mind was made up.  Ive said before, my children saved my life, 5yrs ago, the first time I was diagnosed. If I hadn’t had to get up out of bed every day to take care of them I would have just let myself go.  My child, may have just saved my life again. 

So, I’m going to start these injections again next month and hope for the best. As for the expanders, the only real trouble I’m having with this new right one is every time I bend over to pick something up or even to bend down to kiss my kids good night in their beds, when I go to get back up I get a VERY sharp pain, a feeling like something is ripping, it’s awful, but  I’m so glad I have 2 now and can start filling up together! 

It’s been a very long year but now I’m so close, smooth sailing from here on out.  Both my expanders are in and soon will be filled, one more surgery at the end of the year to swap out the expanders for implants, and this double mastectomy crap will be behind me! 

I love this saying, I believe every word of it… 

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Phew!

Is it corny that I used a quote from Rocky Balboa?  Well, I don’t care, it was a great film… the first Rocky, I didn’t say any of the other ones were great but the first Rocky is a classic and those of you who do not know the movie, please never contact me again. 

In my last blog I had said how smoothly my double mastectomy went, there was no buts about it, everything seemed to go as planned.  Which is weird for me, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop because for me, it always does.  So why would I think this would be any different? Have you heard the saying… If you want God to laugh, make a plan.  

When I left the hospital, 2 days after my mastectomy, having expanders and 2 drains in, my right side was very swollen.  It actually looked like I still had a boob because it was that swollen.  So for two weeks, the right side was draining very dark blood and the swelling was going down a tiny bit but was still really swollen.  I went to my plastic surgeon last Monday because I noticed I was bleeding from the drain site. (The part of the drain that is in the side of my chest) it wasn’t bleeding a lot but I got nervous so I called and got right in to see my doctor.

My doctor took a look and said everything looks ok.  Still really swollen but that the swelling will come down and that the little bit of blood that was coming from my drain site was just probably because I slept on it and moved it a little but nothing to worry about. Phew!

Wednesday came around and it was time to get my pathology results from the double mastectomy.  I was nervous, but I had been waiting two weeks for these results, I needed to know if they got all the cancer out. 

My radiologist came in and said “We have good news, the mass was about the size we thought it would be, there was minimal invasive cancer this time around,  we are confident that there is no more invasive diesease.”  That was only time I was glad to see my radiologist! 

My breast surgeon came in after, checked out the goods and again, said everything looked fine.  She explained more about the cancer this time around.  Explaining that it is much different than the first time, that she doesn’t think chemotherapy will be necessary and we already knew I wouldn’t be eligible for radiation this time either.  

“So this is it, I’m done, we are confident this won’t return and it didn’t spread?” I asked.  “I’m not worried about this breast cancer, no.  It’s the first breast cancer that you had 5 years ago, that we can never be sure about, thats why you still need endocrine therapy (injections)  I really can’t ever say that you are breast cancer free.  Until you are 102 and on your death bed because you are 102, and you are saying goodbye to all your children and grandchildren… then you can say f@&k you breast cancer, I beat you” Said my breast surgeon.  This is what I try to explain to everyone that tells me “you’re done, it’s behind you now.”   I’ve survived  breast cancer twice, yes. But this is a life sentence for me. 

So, I have survived for the second time and I was ready to celebrate. Carlos and I went to lunch and then swung by the bakery on the way home where I had the girl at the counter write “Mommy’s Cancer Free” on a chocolate cake.  That was how I told my children. 

It was very long tiring day, we spent a couple hours at the hospital talking to my doctors, then went to lunch, and the bakery.  I hadn’t been out of the house, walking around so much in 2 weeks because of my surgery. When we got home Carlos took Olivia to her activities, Beth came over for a few minutes, there was just a lot of excitement going on.  I was getting tired, and I thought it was just because I had worn myself out.  When Carlos and Livvy came home, I took out the box with the cake in it.  I said “Come over here guys I want you to read something.”  Olivia, Alaina and Landon came over to the box, I opened the box, Liv and Lane read the cake and screamed “Yes!!! You don’t have cancer anymore??!!!!” It was a great moment. 

Later that night I noticed I was getting really warm, and felt crappy.  I went to sleep in the recliner and at about 3:30am I woke up freezing and my right side felt wet.  I got up out of the recliner, went into the bathroom and noticed my entire right side was covered in blood. I ran in the bedroom and woke up Carlos, we went back into the bathroom, he tried to clean me up a bit and see where the blood was coming from.  It was coming from my drain site.  At this point I think I was on the floor, I was very pale and faint, my temp was like 101.  Carlos put me in the bed and propped me up with pillows, gave me Tylenol and ibuprofen to get my fever down. Then we called the on call doctor at my plastic surgeons office, who said “This happens sometimes, I wouldn’t worry too much, if your fever gets worse then call the office in the morning and speak to your doctor or go to the ER.” OK! So, with that said, I went back to sleep.  Carlos got up around 6:30am to get ready for work and get the kids off to school.  I was in and out of it, just really tired and feeling crappy.  Carlos ended up staying home because I was really not well.  My fever went up and down all day, I was in and out of sleep all day.  Speaking was getting difficult, Carlos kept trying to give me water but I just couldn’t drink.  We ended up calling the plastic surgeons office and speaking to my dr who said I needed to get blood work done so they could see what was happening, they also called in an antibiotic in case I had an infection, told me to take it and that they would see me in the office the next day.  Carlos drove me to the lab, Beth works next door to that lab so she met us outside.  She said “I don’t understand, I saw you yesterday and you looked fine, how do you look like this right now?” I looked pretty bad, I was also in my pjs and had glasses on and no make up.  That combination right there tells you I’m close to dying if I’m out in public like that, some people can pull that look off… I can not. 

We picked up the antibiotic on the way home.  I immediately got back in bed, I was freezing and just wanted to sleep. Carlos took my temperature again and when it read 104, he said no this can’t be right and took it again. When it read 104 again he gave me Tylenol and ibuprofen and we called my plastic surgeon who then said to go directly to the ER and he would meet us there. 

My mom was here at the time, she was going to stay with the kids while we were at the ER. I don’t ever remember feeling as bad as I did that day, and I’ve had chemotherapy, and that shit is awful! I’m going to worn you first get out your kleenx….

I got out of bed, Carlos put my boots on and threw his jacket over me.  My mom came over to me, I hugged her and with tears coming down my face I whispered in her ear “Don’t let them forget me.”  Alaina had come off the bus in the middle of all of this and saw how sick I was.  I went over to her to say goodbye before I left, she was crying.  “I love you Alaina, it’s going to be ok.” Then I walked into Landon’s room where he was playing, he got up and hugged me and I said “mommy loves you little boy, remember mommy loves you.” Olivia was at her friends house so when I got in the car I texted her that I was going to the ER and that I loved her and everything would be ok.   I truly thought this was it for me, I was dying. I had double mastectomy, I had survived cancer twice including chemotherapy and radiation 5 years ago but now I was going to die because of a f@$king infection. 

We got to the ER and had a wait a few minutes but after that it was all business. Boom, boom,boom one thing after another. Vitals, IV, blood work, antibiotics and fluids, doctor after doctor after nurse after nurse.  I swear we met the entire ER.  One of the residents on my plastic surgeons team came in and said “ok, it’s going to be about another hour but we are prepping the OR for surgery.” I  just looked at Carlos like, have I been sleeping? What the hell is he talking about surgery?  The resident said “I’m sorry, did you not know? We think your hematoma is causing an infection, we need to clean it out.”  Yup I was going to die, I had it in my head that I survived the cancers, the treatments, the surgeries but now I was going to die all because of an infection. 

Obviously, I’m writing about this so I didn’t die. Phew!

I said goodbye to Carlos as they wheeled me out the doors, only slamming my stretcher into the wall once before entering the OR… Everyone was really nice though, I mean I guess you would  have to be, I was sobbing at this point. The nurses even wrapped up my arm because I was worried about the lymphedema, and didn’t know I would be going into surgery so I didn’t wrap it up first.  

When I got out of surgery, I wasn’t really all there, I know Carlos told me what happened but in the morning when I woke up I had to ask him again cause I didn’t remember.  Long story short,  they opened my right side back up, cleaned out the hematoma and found that it had gotten infected like they thought.  They also took out the expander because the fluid around it had gotten infected as well. The original plan was to put a new expander back in but when they saw how infected it got, they decided not to replace it, but just to clean me all out, stitch me back up and have me heal.  

The next day I felt so much better, physically. I still have an expander in my left side but I’m completely flat on my right side. So mentally I’m not doing that well. I know once I heal I can have surgery to get another expander put back in my right side and we can start the process of expanding but after this, I don’t know.  Do I want to attempt this again? Do I want to go through the year of reconstruction? But could I look at myself flat forever? This is all very mental for me.  I should be able to say Fuck it! I’m no less a woman without boobs. I’m alive and that’s all that matters! But I don’t think that way, I’m not wired that way. 

Does the fork reach your mouth comfortably??

It’s been almost a month since my last blog, but for good reason, I’m not your everyday blogger.  I’m sure you don’t really want to read about my day to day life, my 3 children go to school everyday, I work from home, clean the house, cook, do laundry, go grocery shopping, ya know the every day to day stuff that you all do too. In fact if it wasn’t for cancer, I wouldn’t be that interesting… well, that’s a lie, my life could actually be a Lifetime movie minus the cancer! 

So with that said let’s get into what you’re really reading this for…

On January 31st, Carlos and I got up extra early, because it was time for my surgery!  Mom and Beth got to our house before the kids got up for school, I asked Beth to French braid my hair so I wouldn’t wake up in dread locks after my mastectomy.  As you can imagine, I was a nervous wreck.  Now, I have had many surgeries and everytime I go into a surgery I get this way.  Why? Because I have 3 kids, and what if I don’t wake up from this surgery? What if something goes terribly wrong and I don’t ever wake up, this is how my mind likes to play games with me.  If fact, when I had my lumpectomy almost 5yrs ago, I was terrified I wasn’t going to make it out alive.  I wrote out my will, I wrote a letter to Beth (who is my older sister, and if you don’t already know that then you need to stop living your life and read my prior blogs) telling her all my passwords, bank account info, life insurance info, ya know the important stuff, I also wrote her some personal stuff which when I gave her this letter and told her to read if something went horribly wrong, she teared up, and wacked my arm.  She knew before reading it what it was going to say and she didn’t want to think anything bad was going to happen.  Anyway, before every surgery I have I say to her “you still have that letter right?” 

When Carlos and I got to the hospital I had to register myself, they gave Carlos a big long number which would identify my surgery on the board so he could see updates I guess?   I got changed into this really cute “Johnny” type thing and I was on a stretcher before I knew it.  I did get up twice to pee, it was taking a really long time for the nurse and my doctors to get in to see me, and I have recently discovered that when I’m nervous, I pee.  Also if I have a lot of wine to drink or if I’m cold… ok I just normally pee a lot! 


Now, remember, I was really sick a month before this surgery.  I was put on antibiotics and thought I was rid of the sickness.  Exactly 6 days before this surgery, I started getting congested again.  My son was sick, again and I just thought to myself, wtf I’m going to get sick and I won’t be able to have the mastectomy again!  Well, since I’m smarter than a fifth grader I called the cancer center imediately and got put on an antibiotic just for precaution. I’m really not smarter than a 5th grader, notice all my grammatical  errors, it just sounded good but seriously have you seen that show? Is it even on tv anymore?

So here I am on the stretcher and I’m a hot mess but things are rolling now.  The anesthesialogist has been in to put my IV in and that’s always the worst part for me, I immediately break down crying.  The nurse came in and after reading my chart had me have a nebulizer treatment just because 6 days prior to this I was congested so again precautions taken. Both my breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon had been in to talk to me and we were ready to go.  You’re waiting for the but… right? Cause if you know me by now there’s always a but…, not this time though.  That was it, I got some relaxing meds and I don’t remember a damn thing after that.  

I woke up 8 hours later, I think I remember seeing Carlos, I kinda remember being put in my room, I vomited a couple times… that’s really all I remember.  I was given a lot of meds so I wasn’t in a lot of pain.  I had 2 drains and expanders put in.  Basically they gutted out all my breast tissue and put in these expanders which if you don’t know… A tissue expander is a temporary device that is placed on the chest wall deep to the pectoralis major muscle. This may be done immediately following the mastectomy, or as a delayed procedure. The purpose of the expander is to create a soft pocket to contain the permanent implant. I was told the “expansion” can take up to 6 months, after I’m fully expanded (sounds kinda funny) then I will have another surgery to take out the expanders and put in permanent implants.  Ugh…I’m tired just thinking about it. 

I was able to leave the hospital 2 days after the surgery.  I came home and sat in a recliner, for the first few days it was hard to eat, just getting the fork up to my mouth was difficult. I had my friend come over and wash my hair the day after I got home, Carlos has had to wash my hair a couple times as well as bathe me in the shower… not that he minds, wink wink… alright I know it was corny but you knew it was coming.  My mom has been washing the dishes and doing the laundry when she comes to babysit me.  I have been in a lot of pain this past week, but I don’t like heavy pain killers so I stick to Tylenol and ibuprofen.  The constipation was horrible!  And mind you, I went into surgery telling the anesthesiologist and my breast surgeon that I wanted as little drugs as possible just because I did not want to be constipated.  They obviously didn’t care or thought I was kidding because I was constipated for 5 days… not cool! 

  It’s been a week today since surgery, mom took me to my post op appointment with my plastic surgeon and I was able to have my left drain pulled out, yes…pulled out…mom said she gulped a bit as the surgeon was pulling out the drain.  It wasn’t bad but not the most pleasant thing in the world.  The right one is still draining so we will be back next week to hopefully take the right one out. After the drain is out the expansion  process will begin! It just sounds silly. 

It’s very hard for me to let other people do things for me.  I do it all, that’s it, I don’t need help.  However, this time around, I have realized I can’t do it all, I do need help, so I’m really trying to let others help me.  My body needs to heal, bottom line.  I’m still sleeping in the recliner but I am able to get up and move around a bit more now, I still can’t lift anything, I can’t clean or cook but I have so many wonderful people in my life that have been so generous to come over, clean and cook for us.  

This is the second time in the ring with breast cancer, I knocked it down once but it stood up again.  If you know me, you know I  love a good fight, I’m very confident that when I knock it down again, it won’t be getting back up.  

Ticking time bomb

After my first lupron injection, I was a total hot mess.  I think mostly because I let my emotions take over my entire being.  There was also side effects, the second day after the injection I had a massive migraine and didn’t get out of bed until 2:30 that afternoon.  I cried for the entire month, partly because I can no longer control my emotions, partly because I’m fixated on cancer, and partly because I’m very sad for someone I care for deeply.  It was an extremely emotional month.

  To top it off, everyone in my house started getting sick.  Landon and Carlos had pneumonia, Olivia and Landon had the stomach bug and I was doing my very best to clean clean clean and try my hardest not to get sick because my surgery, the surgery that is going to get this cancer out of me, needed to happen. 

My double mastectomy was scheduled for Dec 29, and on Dec 27th I woke up with no voice, ear aches, and a congested face. I immediately called my surgeon and she explained that she couldn’t do the surgery, if I was all congested going into surgery  and they stuck a tube down my throat for this 8-10 hour surgery I would be at high risk for getting pneumonia and god knows what else.  Surgery was cancelled and I was devastated.  Now you all know how much I didn’t want this surgery in the first place but I know I need it.  I feel like a ticking time bomb, I just want it done, I want the cancer out.   I ended up seeing a doctor who prescribed meds for my ear infection and treated me for pneumonia as well.  

Ironically, December 29th came and I woke up feeling much better, I could breath, my ears were feeling better I thought WTF I could have had the surgery!! Then about an hour had gone by and I found myself on the toilet… oh no, no way this isn’t happening… and then I found myself violently vomiting into the sink.  My kids were home since they were on Christmas break, Alaina opened the bathroom door, just a crack (this is the germaphobe child) found me laying in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, and when I wouldn’t get up she covered me with a blanket and called Carlos to come home from work.  So, surgery Dec 29th was just not meant to be. 

As you can imagine, I was a wreck.  My surgery is rescheduled for Jan 31st.  See, when I was diagnosed I chose to wait to have surgery after the holidays were over.  It was my decision, and my doctors were ok with waiting the 6 weeks.  Now that I got sick and had to post pone it, I’m waiting another almost 5 weeks.  That 11 weeks total from when I was told I have breast cancer again.  I was prepared for the 6 week wait, it was my decision and I was good with it.   Tacking on another 5 weeks, is making me crazy.  Can it spread in 5 weeks? Maybe it has already spread? Did I wait too long?? This is all I’ve been thinking about since Dec 27th when I was told I couldn’t have the surgery on Dec 29th.  

I reached out to my doctors, and they did their best to console me, which I appreciate.  I still don’t feel any better about it but this is it, whatever happens, happens and I have to live with it.  

I had my second Lupron injection Jan 3rd, it was better this time, except I think I’m starting to distance myself from people, not because I’m trying to be mean but right now I’m not in a happy place, and being around people that are happy and think life is sunshine and rainbows makes me depressed.  I’m happy for them I wish I could have as much happiness right now as some of my friends and family but my situation is causeing me to be unhappy and I just can’t be around positivity and joy right now, I hope that makes sense, it sounds so much better in my head then it does on paper. 

 Since my first lupron injection, if Im not yelling at someone I crying.   I’ve been getting cold sweats during the night and hot flashes, headaches, I think I’m retaining water and I’ve noticed my stomach hurts for a few days after the injection. 

Its hard to believe but I have made peace with the fact that this is my life now, I’m not thrilled about it but this is my new normal.  Menopause at 34, on an emotional roller coaster from hell.  

If I could ask, please pray to whatever God you believe in, knock on wood, and cross your fingers and toes.  I need this cancer out, for obvious reasons besides my sanity.  I need to be healthy for January 31st so I can have the surgery.  

 

Imprisoned ovaries 

This is the outfit I wore to my oncologist visit today… 


I was very nervous about this appointment since, this morning my oncologist called me to talk.  She hadn’t looked at her schedule yet, it was early, I told her I was on her schedule for 4pm today.  She said “great, we can do your treatment when you come in.”  The “treatment” she was referring to is a lupron injection, to shut my ovaries down.  My response was “it’s just a shot right?” She said yes but that she would talk more about it when I came in.  I sent this picture to one of my friends captioned with “this is the outfit I’m going to wear to have my ovaries shut down, ya think it’s too much?” The response I got was “cute, is this to show that your ovaries are being imprisoned?”  So maybe the black strips were too much? 

When I got diagnosed with breast cancer this second time, there was talk about injections to shut down my ovaries or to get my ovaries removed and put me into menopause. I didn’t want to hear any of that.  I’m no spring chicken, but I’m only 34, Normally women don’t go into menopause until they’re 50. Now I know there are way worse things in life but this situation, the whole breast cancer for the second time is out of my control, and it’s scary. 

The reasoning behind this injection is because my breast cancer is hormonally driven, and we need to decrease the estrogen that I produce so I won’t grow tumors.  The bottom line is that I will have these injections once a month until I get my ovaries removed. 

Now let’s talk about the lupron injection shall we?  I’m good with needles, they don’t bother me. I never got numbed before a chemotherapy because it took 30minutes just to numb the area, and I didn’t want to be there any longer than I had to so, I never got the numbing cream. I’ll say it again, needles don’t bother me. So, when I walked into the cancer center today and was seated in a room, my nurse came in with numbing cream.  I didn’t think I needed it but ok I’ll be a good girl and do as I’m told.  My nurse then explained that I would be injected in my stomach… ok.  Then she went on to say that it was a rather large needle so the numbing cream is beneficial. 

My oncologist came in after my nurse applied the cream to my stomach.  We talked for a while, Carlos came with me, she was explaining stuff to him too about the surgery, about the cancer, about the side effects of menopause.  I think that’s what we talked about anyway, I was there, I was listening but at one point I just broke down crying and I really wasn’t processing much. 

When it was time for the injection, I was a mess, I was shaking, trying to hold back the tears.  My nurse had said “I’m going to give you an ice pack to put on the site where I put the numbing cream, just for a few minutes.”  I looked at Carlos like “what in the world, it’s just a shot.”  But again I did what I was told to do.  My nurse came back in the room with the injection.  She said “do you want to look? Do you not want to look?” I said “oh I’m probably gonna watch.” I watched her take the cap off the needle and said “oh my god, I shouldn’t have looked.”  I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say I’ve never seen a needle that big before and I went to school to be a surgical technologist, I’ve been in the operating room, right in the meat of surgeries and I’ve never seen a needle this big before.  1…2…3 breathe.   And there went the needle right into my stomach.  It f@&king hurt!  Now I know why they pushed the numbing cream and the ice. 

This is a list of the COMMON side effects of lupron injections… 

redness/burning/stinging/pain/bruising at the injection site,

hot flashes (flushing),

increased sweating,

night sweats,

tiredness,

headache,

upset stomach,

nausea,

diarrhea,

constipation,

stomach pain,

breast swelling or tenderness,

acne,

joint/muscle aches or pain,

trouble sleeping (insomnia),

reduced sexual interest,

vaginal discomfort/dryness/itching/discharge,

vaginal bleeding,

swelling of the ankles/feet,

increased urination at night,

dizziness,

weakness,

chills,

clammy skin,

skin redness,

itching or scaling,

depression,

increased growth of facial hair, or

memory problems.

Now I know they need to list everything possible and maybe I won’t have any of these side effects or maybe I’ll have all of them.  I don’t know, but this list makes me sick just reading it. 

On a positive note, I got two complements on my  “prison” shirt.  See the black strips weren’t too much after all! 

WHY?!

My name is Corey Alan Calligano (I know what you’re thinking, I’ll explain the name later.) I am a 34yr old, white, American female born in March. I am 5’2″ and 115lbs…on a good day.   I’m the youngest of 6, and I am a mother of 3. So why am I telling you this?  I’m telling you this because cancer does not discrimate. Cancer does not care how old you are, what nationality you are, how much you weigh or if you have people that love you. 

Before 2012, I considered myself healthy. Yeah, I had migraines, a nervous stomach and anxiety but I was healthy, right?  Breast cancer showed it’s ugly head and all of a sudden I wasn’t healthy anymore. So I went through all the treatments, I did what I was told to do by all my doctors and I became “breast cancer free.” 

The past 4 yrs I worked very hard to get “healthy” again, despite all the treatments and surgeries I went through. See, I knew I would get breast cancer again, I really did. I just figured I would die from it 20-25yrs from now.  So, 4 yrs have gone by, 4 very long years have gone by and I have breast cancer again.  I have been thinking so hard, these last few days have taken a toll on my mind, I know I can beat this again.  I just don’t want to.

I know what you’re thinking but hear me out first before you start throwing daggers. WHY? Why again? I went through hell, I did everything the doctors told me to do, I was sick, uncomfortable, moody and miserable for too long. I have finally started turning things around and BAM! Cancer again! So if I’m going to beat this again, if I’m not going to die then WHY??! 

I broke down talking to Carlos the other night after taking to my oncologist about lupron injections to shut my overies down.  This is primarily so my body won’t produce estrogen anymore.  Since being a woman is pretty much killing me! Estrogen is what’s causing tumor growth in my body, my oncologist thinks it best to shut off the estrogen for good. 

Let’s cut the tension for a minute, I’ll tell you about my name.   Corey Alan, every time I tell people that I get the same response…”Did your parents want a boy?” (If I was a boy I wouldn’t need my ovaries taken out!) My mom says if I had been a boy, my name would have been Steven. So… how did they come up with Corey Alan.  In the 80’s when I was born, there were 3 famous male Corey’s (spelled exactly the same way, mom.) Corey Hart, Corey Feildman and Corey Haim. Corey was primarily a boys name, back in the day.  My mom says “I wanted to name you Corrin, but your sister said we would just call you Corey for short anyway so…”  SO…you listened to the ten year old at the time and I got teased for most of my childhood. The running joke in my house way back when was “it’s gonna be funny when we get the call that Corey’s getting drafted.” My mom says when she took me to my first day of kindergarten the teacher was looking for a boy.   Now my parents and obviously my 10yr old sister could have stopped at Corey and given me a feminine middle name to offset the obviously male first name but no.  My uncle, my moms only sibling, his name is Alan and he is who I’m named after. I like my name now, but growing up was a different story and time is up.

Anyway, my oncologist feels that I need to have these injections once a month for however many years or have my overies taken out. This will put me into menopause at 34yrs old. That’s a whole other ball game, one I’m not ready to play. I was crying telling Carlos, I told him I was all done, I wasn’t going to have the mastectomy, I’m not gonna be gutted like a fish. I will just wait it out until I die, maybe the cancer is slow moving and I will have a couple years left to live.  I explained to him as I will explain to you now, I didn’t do this life right.  I did a lot of stupid shit when I was a teenager, I made horrible decisions as a young adult, I have a degree that I will be paying off for the rest of my life and don’t have anything to show for it. I am not a doctor, or a scientist, I’m never going to be president (although if Trump can do it…) I am not an educator, or a soildier.  What is my purpose here?  I can tell you what it is. I truly believe I was meant to be here on earth to bring Olivia, Alaina and Landon into the world and I’ve done that.  That’s it. I can no longer have any more children and I’m ok with that, my purpose here is done. 

Now with that said, I have been very depressed, moody, and unhappy since my rediagnosis.  I love my children, I want to see them grow up.  I hate the fact that I couldn’t even cuddle with my son today because I had a bone scan and was injected with radioactive dye.  Those 3 little faces are what keeps me going. I just want to know WHY??! 

Oreos and Billy Joel

I tiptoed around my children for the last 2 weeks, making sure they didn’t find out about the cancer coming back. I just wanted all of the information before I told them, in case they had questions. 

Back in 2012 this is how I told my children, now keep in mind, Olivia was 8yrs old, Alaina was 6yrs old and Landon had just turned 1yr…

I will never forget this conversation for as long as I live. I started with “Do you know what breasts are?” Silly question maybe, but this is 2012, I refer to “breasts” as something you eat off a chicken. Girls have boobs and that’s what I have told my daughters.  They both looked up at me with their big blue eyes and shook their heads no. I explained that boobs are actually called breasts and that Mommy has Breast Cancer. Now, my Olivia remembers that when she was 5 her Papa (my dad) died of cancer. My Alaina associates cancer with a pre-school teacher she had, Miss Mandy. However, at the time Miss Mandy had breast cancer, Alaina was only 3 and doesn’t really remember it. The minute I said cancer, Olivia started to cry, which made me cry, which then made Alaina cry. I tried to explain to them that I was going to be very sick for a while but that I would be better by the next year.

Fast forward to October 2016, I knew it was going to be harder this time to tell my daughters that the cancer came back. They are older now, and understand so much more than they did 4yrs ago and Landon is 5 now so I thought maybe he should know too. 

Carlos went out to get dinner for us and I sat all three kids down on the couch with me.  (This is nothing new, I sit and talk to my kids all the time.)  I started talking to them about a friend of mine having cancer for the second time. I said, “it must have been hard for her to tell her little children, do you guys remember when I told you I had breast cancer?” Olivia who is now 12 and Alaina who is 10 both said no, they didn’t remember. I told them I had to explain to them when they were little what breast are, they had a little chuckle along with “MOMMMM”. I looked at my beautiful, smart little girls and said “I have breast cancer, again.” Olivia bursted out into very loud cries followed by “I knew it! I heard you talking on the phone to Grammy, I just knew it! Are you going to die this time?!”  Alaina just sat quietly with tears running down her face and Landon had no clue, and was screaming and jumping all over the place telling me I was dying because that’s probably the only thing her heard Olivia say.  

Telling them 4yrs ago was hard, but they were little and didn’t understand so it wasn’t like they thought about it all the time.  Having told them now, it was awful!  After I calmed Olivia down and Landon stopped the craziness, I was able to talk to all of them about the cancer.  I held back the tears as much as I could but a few snuck out.  My little boy, so sweet when he wants to be, took my face in his hand, wiped away the tears coming down my cheek, looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and said “I had Oreos today at school for snack.”  The girls and I busted out laughing.  That was the best, we needed to laugh. 

I went into the bathroom to get a tissue and Alaina followed me in.  She hugged me so tightly and broke down crying, which made me cry some more.  Carlos came back and as we were eating dinner Olivia says “Cancer must really love you mom, cause it’s not letting you go.” I told her I was going to be alright, and as Billy Joel put it, only the good die young and we all know I haven’t been good for quite some time!