Carie’s Story

Site created on December 2, 2018

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Journal entry by Carie Kapellusch

Well, for those following along with my on-going health journey...
I had my first chemo treatment a little over a year ago. Fast forward and I’ve experienced; 8 rounds dose-dense chemo, double mastectomy with additional removal of 9 lymph nodes and expanders put in, complication of cellulitis and redo of left expander (8 DAYS in the hospital), 25 rounds of radiation resulting in 2nd degree burns, day after radiation completed I had my ovaries/Fallopian tubes removed, began oral chemo that causes fairly severe joint and muscle pain, and then there’s chemo-brain and all the delightful surprises that crop up randomly as side effects of treatment...ex., severe carpal tunnel from chemo-induced nerve damage.
My stubborn/genius self thought I’d jump right back into my pre-cancer life.  No one prepares you for “survivorship”.  It sucks. I spent last year in the proverbial trenches, to poke my head up and realize that the battle is never ending!

I’ve had the most incredible support system throughout, and this mega-sucks for them too!!  I’m always tired and repeating myself and in some form of survival-mode with varying degrees of success.  For some reason I thought I’d be immune to this part of the struggle, turns out I’m not any more immune to this struggle as I was to the cancer!

I returned to work teaching at UTA & TCU this fall (so a double overload).  Both of my department chairs are the most incredibly supportive women that have done everything possible to make my transition smoother.

Unfortunately my blood counts haven’t rebounded as fast as I’d like and I’m facing another couple of major surgeries.  So this Tuesday I hustle to finalize my semester grades as I head into major reconstruction surgery on Dec. 11th.  The surgeon will use my own thigh tissue to build what will eventually be, as close to normal breasts as currently possible.  This is a 6+ hour surgery with 4 surgical cites and a mandatory 2 day (possible ICU) hospital stay.  A full 6 weeks of very restricted duty follows.  Because I refuse to add yet another separate surgery, I lucked into my plastic surgeon being a board certified hand surgeon.  Therefore he will also do my carpal tunnel repair at the same time.  Total bummer is that it is my dominant hand, so recovery is long and I have to be very careful.

Sometimes fate, God, universe, luck, or whatever, steps in and “saves you”.  I’ve been ignoring my family (and doctors) to slow down and practice better self care.  My work angels stepped in to do for me what I was clearly incapable and unwilling to do...take a break!

Therefore, I will be taking sick leave from UTA next semester to focus on healing...mind, body, and spirit.  Thank you to Charla, Dustin, and Paula specifically for my intervention.  
Please send healing thoughts and prayers as you’re able.  This will be a tough experience, but at least I’m now moving from the removing to the building and repairing phase.
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