Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
My story started in November of 2017, when I was diagnosed with very early stage breast cancer while we lived in Philadelphia. Having been such a healthy person my whole life, this was quite a surprise. I was in denial, but also a very compliant patient. I underwent a lumpectomy on my left breast, follow by 3 weeks of radiation. I was assured that it would probably never occur again and that we had successfully eradicated it. I was given a drug to suppress estrogen, since my lesion was estrogen positive. One thing I've learned throughout this whole process is that there are literally dozens of different kinds of breast cancer, and our treatments are all pretty unique.
I also took my medication religiously and received my first clean mammogram in December of 2018. In April of 2019, I started to notice a slight pain in my left breast which I had never felt before, even after surgery. At first I thought it might just go away and could be a late side effect of radiation, but it continued to bother me each day. At this time, we had decided to move back to Indianapolis to be closer to family and were in the middle of our move. Upon consulting with my oncologist in Philly, she suggested I get connected with an oncologist in Indy right away and have another evaluation.
My oncologist in Indy seemed truly puzzled by my pain, but suggested we do an ultrasound to ensure that nothing was amiss. The ultrasound came back inconclusive, so we followed up with an MRI which located two additional very early stage cancer lesions. Surprisingly they were not identical, with one being estrogen positive and one estrogen negative. The fact that it re-occurred so quickly and that they were different were particularly alarming. I was also extremely glad that I had listened to my body and sought the evaluation. Even the oncologist and the doctor who performed the biopsy were surprised that this had not been detected on the mammogram or ultrasound.
I was quickly referred to a surgeon and told that because I already had radiation, that another treatment would be required. You can only have radiation once, and obviously it hadn't taken care of the problem for me anyway. The only other options are to do nothing, or to have a mastectomy. Doing nothing didn't sound like a good option to me. In fact, I quickly came to the decision that if we're removing one breast, we might as well remove both so I wouldn't have this worry on my shoulder going forward. I was assured that this is a common feeling for women in my position and is an option available to me.
After careful review of my options between reconstruction, implants or fat replacement, I settled on a plan to remove fat from my thighs in order to make new breasts. If all goes well, I will keep my skin and nipples, and the repositioned fat will make two nice (but smaller) breasts.
This means that my surgery on October 7th will entail 4 incisions (one on each thigh, and on on each breast)--doesn't sound like too much fun but hopefully the best in the long run. The surgery is typically 10-12 hours long as they have to reconnect the blood supplies in order to ensure that the breast skin doesn't die. Additionally, the recovery is longer than it would be for implants and take 4-6 weeks. I'm preparing myself for it :) In addition, they'll be taking a few lymph nodes to ensure that no cancer has spread beyond my milk ducts and if all goes well I should not need any further treatments. This should be curative.
I've started this site so that Mark won't have to talk to dozens of people with updates for those of you who are interested in following my progress. I so appreciate all of the love and support I've received already from family, friends and colleagues. My sister, Lori, will also help keep the site updated with my progress, so you'll see some posts from her as well.
Although I haven't been public with this on social media or anything, it doesn't need to be a secret either. I would love to see comments and well wishes. It's amazing, but so true how much that means to you when you are going through something really challenging.
In addition, I hope you all monitor your health regularly and listen to your body. It really matters!
For those that don't have our new address: 1724 Carrollton Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46202
I finally feel like I'm on the other side of this and feeling more energized. I had a great update visit with the doctor yesterday. I still move more slowly and can't sit for long periods of time, but it gets better every day. I'll have one more (hopefully only one) surgery in the spring for shaping and refining. She assured me that the recovery for that will be super easy compared to this one, and only be two weeks max. That sounds like a breeze to me now.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the flowers, cards, calls, texts, visits, e-mails, facebook messages, thoughts, prayers, support and love that you all shared. It made such a difference.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. I'm grateful for all of you.