Thanks for the patience while I re-did the Funky Genes site… and everyone who emailed me while the site was down for info. The question I was asked most while the site was down was for the mastectomy checklist! It’s right here on the new site.
I’ll be back blogging about adventures in BRCA land soon, but first – wanted to do a “beta test” that I learned about from one of my fave shows, Silicon Valley. Please check out the new site and comment or email me if you catch any bugs or have any suggestions for new content/changes. Hope you all enjoy!
I’m in the process of updating my site, should be up and running soon! If you have any BRCA or mastectomy related questions in the meantime, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last summer, I let you know that I was becoming an Oncology Nurse. I started in August, and was on the solid tumor oncology floor for 6 months. I learned a lot and had experiences with patients that I’ll always remember, but I realized that working in oncology was too close to home for me. My BRCA mutation and family history of cancer was what originally drew me to oncology, but working in it in real life, especially the end of life process, was emotionally difficult. Luckily, I worked in an environment where I felt comfortable enough to share my concerns with my managers, who were very supportive. I was very open with them during the interview process about my BRCA mutation and family history, and they totally understood why I was having a difficult time.
I got extremely lucky to be able to transfer within the same hospital to my other nursing passion, and become a Perinatal Nurse. I’m now working in the Postpartum unit and I’ll eventually cross-train in Labor & Delivery. I feel like I’ve found my calling in nursing. I love all of the patient education in perinatal nursing, and being a part of such an important milestone in my patients’ lives. I’m still going to be very involved with cancer prevention and my work in the BRCA community, and I’ll keep you all posted on my ongoing BRCA journey.
I just realized I forgot to post an update about my second skin excision. I got the same great pathology results from excision numero dos – both were pre-melanoma and had not mutated into skin cancer yet. I feel very lucky and happy to have a great medical team and supportive hubby who reminds me to get skin checks.
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!
The mole excision that I had went well – the pathology results came back and it was pre-melanoma. This is great news because it means I caught it early, and that it isn’t skin cancer! I have one more excision next week, so hopefully I get the same good pathology results from that one. I’ll keep everyone posted!
When I last wrote, I was waiting for the pathology results from the two skin biopsies I had because of 2 suspicious looking moles (I have an increased risk for melanoma because of my BRCA2 mutation and my mom’s history of melanoma). The results came back and both moles were severely atypical/pre-melanoma. I was very relieved they weren’t melanoma, but a bit surprised that both of them were pre-melanoma. My dermatologist explained they would both have to be excised (removed) in two separate procedures.
I had the first excision this morning, which was the site on my left hip. When the surgeon showed me the area he was going to remove – it was a bigger are than I had expected – but he explained that if the pathology comes back as melanoma (which is very unlikely) – they will have excised enough that I don’t have to get anything additional removed. That was a relief to me! Also, I made sure antibiotics were being prescribed (they were) because my breast surgeon had told me any time I have any procedure – even a dental procedure – I need to be on antibiotics. After a mastectomy, the highest reason for capsular contracture is infection.
The surgeon put on some relaxing music and began numbing me with burning needles aka lidocaine – if any of you have experienced the burn of lidocaine, you understand what I’m talking about. The actual excision wasn’t bad bc of the magic numbing lidocaine – but it did feel really strange to feel the pressure and pulling of all the stitches – but not be in pain. I actually felt a bit queasy because of how odd the sensation was.
He finished up and Adam (right by my side as always – best hubby ever) took a picture to show me, and I was really impressed with how good it looked. This mole was right below a huge ass star tattoo that I have (yay first year of college on Haight St in San Francisco), and I was thinking a huge corner chunk of the star would be gone, but the surgeon removed it in a way that now it just kinda looks like one of the edges is crooked – or as Adam says, “looks like a star fish.” I have a bunch of stitches – 2 layers of them – but it is the internal kind so it doesn’t look bad at all. I’m actually really lucky that the mole was below the tattoo so I was able to see it. So if you have tattoos, make sure to take a close look for moles underneath and get annual skin checks at the dermatologist.
It’s gonna be sore while I’m healing since it is in a spot that moves a lot whenever I move up and down – so I’m taking it easy per the doctor’s orders, and switching off between binge watching Dash Dolls while taking pain killers. Adam’s literally a saint for enduring hours of this show.
I’ll keep everyone posted about the pathology results and when I get the next site removed. Here are pictures of the before and after, so click if you wanna see! The pic on the left is the marker site of what they were going to remove (the red stuff is iodine, not blood) and the right is the final result w my starfish 🙂