I haven’t blogged in a while, but I was recently inspired to start again. One inspiration was from an unexpected source that I’ll write about later. The other was from a woman who found my blog and wanted to ask me about being pregnant after a mastectomy, because she was going through the same thing. So – what’s new since I last wrote? Well, the new things in my life are probably the same reasons I haven’t had the energy to update in a while. Basically all of the things they say are the biggest life stressors happened at the same time – new baby, new city, new job! Even though it was crazy chaotic – all of the new things in our life are super exciting and incredible.
The most incredible is our baby girl, Gabriela (but we all call her Gabi)! Gabi girl is the light of our lives and is now 8 months old. For my loyal readers, you know about the challenges we went through to have a baby – from infertility/IVF treatments to my miscarriage. I can tell you for sure, that for anyone struggling through these issues, none of it matters once you’re holding your baby in your arms. My infertility and miscarriage journey was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, much harder for me than anything related to the mastectomy or BRCA. Please don’t give up hope, our rainbow baby is proof that miracles can happen (also big shoutout to science).
We moved to San Diego, to be closer to family, and we’re so happy we did. It’s awesome having so much family finally in the same city. I also started a great new job! So, lots of big changes, but all of them so good. Look out for upcoming posts about that mystery inspiration I mentioned, the third trimester of pregnancy after a mastectomy, medical debt, preeclampsia, and being a new mom after a mastectomy. Definitely some hard hitting topics, but I promise to bring the laughs along with the tears. xoxo.
I can’t believe it was a year ago that I had my post-mastectomy reconstruction surgery! After the complications I had after my mastectomy (aka boob hole drama), it’s a miracle the surgery went as well as it did, and that I didn’t need to have an additional surgery. As happy as I was, I was constantly worried that I wouldn’t heal properly, or that the necrosis/boob hole would happen again.
But now, it’s been a year, and my “foobs” feel like my own. Sometimes, I only remember these are “foobs” when they’re sore before it rains, kind of like Karen from Mean Girls. I can lie on my stomach with no pain, stretch my arms all over the place with no problem, and had my first year without a mammogram since 2008. I still have clinical breast exams, yearly appointments with my reconstructive surgeon, and yearly ultrasounds with my breast surgeon (plus all the other non-breast cancer related fun BRCA screenings) – but I no longer have to sit in a waiting room worrying after they ask me to do another mammogram because of a suspicious image.
I’m really happy that I did what was best for me and went forward with these crazy surgeries to reduce my breast cancer risk, even though looking back, doing it while in nursing school was kind of insane. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends, and community. Special shoutout to my amazing hubby who has always been so supportive and such a great caregiver, my family, and all my nursing school homies who took shifts at our house during this whole process – taking care of me, even helping me shower, and of course binge-watch reality tv with me. I love you all!
One year ago, today, I had a prophylactic double mastectomy to get rid of my ridiculously high breast cancer risk (about 87%
A year after my mastectomy, I look back, and realize how crazy it was to do all of this during nursing school, but somehow everything worked out (even with my boob hole complication).
It makes me emotional to think of all I went through in the past year with my 3 surgeries, tissue expander nightmare, and completing nursing school. But for me, it was all totally worth it, because for the first time since I found out I was BRCA 2+ I don’t have the stress of my breast cancer risk looming over me. My ticking time bomb breasts have been replaced with my silicone foobs (fake boobs), which feel like my own breasts now. There’s no way I could have pulled it off without my support team. I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate all the friends who took shifts to come take care of me, delivered meals, sent care packages, and made sure I had everything I needed during recovery. My mom was such a huge help and support for Adam and me, and Adam is the best husband/caregiver anyone could ever ask for.
Thanks to everyone for their support through this journey. I’m still updating the site to provide more resources for those searching for information about preventing cancer and managing these types of surgeries.
Finally, I am happy to announce that starting next week, I will be an oncology nurse! I am so thankful to work with oncology patients in the field of nursing that I’m so passionate about.
Quick but exciting milestone post!
1. I graduated nursing school!! Just one more exam to get me the two letters I want most, RN 🙂 No pressure. In all seriousness, I am pretty proud of myself for finishing school on time and not missing class/clinicals throughout my surgeries.
2. Adam and I went to Disneyland to celebrate! This was especially exciting because for a long time after my mastectomy, I couldn’t go into crowds and I definitely would not have been able to go on any rides. It was a really fun day!
Like I said in my last post, things have been super busy this quarter in school and I haven’t been able to blog as much as I want to. But luckily my schedule will clear up more starting next week! In the meantime, I wanted to celebrate some of the little things. They may seem little, but are actually pretty awesome milestones for me.
- Hung out (literally) all day without wearing a bra. After having to wear surgical/sports bras 24/7 for 6 months, this feels amazzzzzing
- Stopped having to take Aleve every 12 hours! Now I only take it when I have clinical shifts
- Prepping for our first vacation in forevz. Even though it’s just a short jaunt to Colorado, we are really looking forward to some much deserved rest & relaxation
- Finishing up my preceptorship in Labor & Delivery. At first, I was worried about being able to do so many 12 hour shifts after surgery, so it feels great to have accomplished it
- Been going to cardio pop/Zumba classes multiple times a week. It feels great to be back dancing!
I had a follow-up appointment with my reconstructive surgeon today and it went really well! Everything looks good and I don’t have another appointment for 6 months, and then I only see her annually. This is a huge relief since I’ve had some appointments that were supposed to be routine but turned out scary. Interestingly, when I asked her how to prevent capsular contracture – in addition to moving around/massaging the implants, routine dental care is one of the most important aspects. I never realized that before, good thing I have a dental appointment tomorrow 🙂
In other news, I’m finishing up my 300 hour preceptorship in Labor & Delivery. 4 more weeks left and then the hubby and I FINALLY get to take a much needed vacation to Colorado to just relax. In the meantime, tons of school stuff to catch up pn before the quarter ends in a month!
In celebration of my appointment and one of my favorite moments from last night’s Oscars, everything is awesome!!
I have so many to-do lists, that I decided to take a minute to write out an accomplishment list instead. Here’s what I accomplished this week.
- Went to Zumba for the first time since before my prophylactic mastectomy (I’m sore but I survived)
- Worked my first 3 days in a row of 12+ hour shifts (I’m tired but I survived)
- Hit my 2 month since exchange surgery mark (I can go swimming and take a bath now)
- The UCLA Oncology Nursing Club that I co-founded had its first event with City of Hope, and it went really well!
- For the first time, I chose to watch PBS instead of Bravo. I feel super mature now. Atul Gawande is one of the only people that could do that. Everyone should watch it, it’s really important.
This may look like a pretty boring picture, but for me, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for 6 months – our bed without a giant pregnancy pillow and underarm pillows. I’ve had to sleep on my back since my mastectomy in August. Since I’m a side sleeper, the only way to ensure I slept on my back was with a pregnancy pillow. The pillows were incredibly helpful and I’d recommend them to anyone having a mastectomy, but they are also HUGE and took up so much room on the bed, my poor hubby barely had any room.
Last week marked 6 weeks since my exchange/reconstruction surgery, which means I can finally ditch the pregnancy pillow and sleep on my side! It also means I get to sleep without a sports/surgical bra and I can now wear a normal bra during the day. At first, I had to get used to sleeping on my side because it felt different than it did before (you can feel the implant when you’re on your side). But after about 5 minutes, I was sound asleep. It’s so nice to be able to cuddle with my hubby and not have this giant freaking pillow in the way. The funny thing is, I end up waking up on my back a lot now – I guess I got used to it over the past 6 months. But being able to sleep on my side and without a surgical bra feels amazing. Another great step to feeling back to normal!
I’m super tired so this will be a short and sweet post. Despite having 2 exams tomorrow, plus the doctor’s appointment where my tissue damage outcome is finally revealed – it was a great day. Here’s why 🙂
- My alma mater, USF, wrote a great article about my BRCA journey. Check it out here.
- I had my first maternity rotation today and it was awesome. Also, it’s a big accomplishment to make it through my first 12 hour shift since my mastectomy 7 weeks ago.
- I got to devour eat delish Mexican food and laugh a ton w my friends after clinicals today
- During my maternity shift, I got to hold a newborn baby, which kind of made me forget about all the stressful stuff going on right now 🙂
Now it’s time to cram in a bit more studying before tomorrow. I’ll update tomorrow about how my Dr’s appt went!