Never Give Up (10/9/15)

never give up

Hi friends.. an update on where I’m at with my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. My surgery is scheduled for October 30th. I will have a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction at the same time. I’ve chosen to do a DIEP Flap reconstruction, (http://www.drgracema.com/br-diep/) which uses abdominal tissue and fat (no muscle) to rebuild the breasts instead of implants. Not everyone is a candidate for this surgery, but I had enough belly fat to donate to the cause! I knew I was saving it for something! 😉

I will be in the hospital for 4-5 days and then will be in serious recovery at home for 3-4 weeks. My family will be with me during that time (Mom, Dad, and Jay and Sofi and sister Hayley, who is a nurse!). I hope to be well on my way to a new normal by the new year.

Again, I am extraordinarily lucky that the cancer was caught in an annual mammogram. My cancer is estrogen positive, meaning I won’t have chemo before surgery. I am skipping out on radiation because I’m having a mastectomy. And I’m hopeful I will avoid chemo after surgery (but tests will be done post surgery to determine that for sure). I will take tamoxifen to further reduce my chances of recurrence.

I have an incredible team of doctors. Dr. Bill Barber is my breast surgeon. He’s an amazing man and talked to me for hours (!) about my diagnosis and treatment. He’s considered one of the best breast surgeons in the country. He’s also partnered with MD Anderson Cancer Center, which made me feel even more confident about my care. Dr. Grace Ma (a breast cancer survivor) and Dr. Sean Boutros (from Texas) are my plastic surgeons. Drs. Ma and Boutros are some of the leaders in their field when it comes to DIEP flap reconstruction (a relatively new surgery). Dr. Boutros is flying in from Texas for my operation. I feel like I’m in very good hands. Surgery will be at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

My prognosis is excellent, and I’m doing everything I can to follow the standard of care to remove the cancer and reduce my risk of recurrence. The odds are very much in my favor.

I and my family welcome any prayers and good vibes you want to send. It’s mind-blowing to be on the receiving end of all this positive energy. I am truly blessed and humbled by all the words of love and support I’ve received already and the many, many acts of kindness. My village is HUGE and wonderful.

There is a meal train set up by dear friend Kelleen: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/890e05 Every bit of help is appreciated. Jay and Sofi are doing well, and we’re facing this together as a tight-knit family unit. Feel free to continue to reach out and support Jay and Sofi too. They need it.

I got a wonderful note from a friend yesterday whose wife had been through a mastectomy the year before. He said: “To be realistic, it’s not going to be an easy journey for either of you, but take it day by day, overcome each challenge one by one, and focus on a successful outcome. Looking back on the last year, the worst part — the most stressful part — was everything leading up to the surgery. On the morning of my wife’s surgery, the surgeon said ‘I know it’s a big deal for the family, but remember that medically it is a routine procedure.’ Until then I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but i suppose it helped to bring some perspective to the rather stressful proceedings.”

Such wise words! You totally lose perspective when you find out you have cancer. I need to focus on the future.. or at least visualize it. Cancer makes you question whether you have a future and demands you live in the present and agonize over every second.. every decision. I want you all to know that I’m trying not to do that so much now that I have surgery scheduled and my tests behind me. I’m going to focus on the future, getting well, and finding a new normal.

Love you, peeps. Will keep you updated after surgery (or someone will do that in this space when I cannot!) 🙂

Remember my new mantra: I can. I will. I’m positive. I’m strong.