Category Archives: Breast Cancer

The hunt for a wig

I went to the wig shop the other day and tried some on. The person helping me wasn’t the normal wig expert.. it was the hairstylist that worked there. I loved her and appreciated her helping me as much as she could, and fell in love with one of the wigs, but haven’t heard from the person that runs the shop yet. I left my name and # with them too. I’m impatient and now that I have the funds to buy one, I’m frustrated. They’re closed today. So I’m researching another store. It’s frustrating that my insurance won’t pay anything toward a wig. The first place I went to was one of those hair restoration places and everything there is human hair and very expensive. Of course I won’t pay full price for one of those. Even with the cancer patient discount it was going to be $900. No way. I called another place and they actually answered the phone, are closer, and have a discount. So, off to another wig shop for me today.

I went to visit Mike again for lunch today, and was telling him how I thought obtaining a wig would be a quicker/easier process. Here I am about to have my third treatment and I don’t have a wig. I should have shopped a lot sooner, and wish I had known about my insurance not paying anything. I wouldn’t have bothered with the first place and maybe would have gone straight to the local wig shop that I’m going to visit this afternoon. More lessons learned.

I’m also cruising for a new dentist for us. We’re getting due for our cleanings. Mike & the boys already have appointments with new primary care physicians, so I’m glad we have those things established. I still need to find us a new eye doctor too. Moving and getting new healthcare providers as well as going through this cancer stuff is a lot.

I go in the morning for my labs, then see my oncologist, then get chemo, THEN see Dr. Braun again. Full day for sure, but at least the process isn’t starting at 1pm. Tomorrow I’ll be able to say I’m halfway done with chemo. w00t!

 

I love my surgeon

I went to see Dr. Braun today, and I thought I was getting my last fill up. After discussing it with him and having another 100ccs added to my expanders (now up to 670cc) his advice is to err on the side of bigger if I’m on the fence about when to stop.

Also because of how I’m shaped and how I was before surgery (which I was happy with by the way), he says I can still go bigger and it wouldn’t be too big, would be aesthetically pleasing/shaped and all that.

The tissue expanders are hard, and the implants are not. So it’s really tough to know what it’ll look like after all is said and done, but I trust his professional judgment. He said rarely has he had anyone say, “I wish I would have gone smaller.” It’s usually the opposite.

I figure with what I’ve been & still have to go through, this is one of the few perks (haha) and I get to have a say in this. I also asked about surgery, and he said surgery during Herceptin shouldn’t be an issue. I will ask my oncologist about this next week also. Since Herceptin is bio therapy, my immune system should be in good shape and not put me at the same risk for infection as when I’m on chemo.

Wow! Two updates in one day. I’m on a roll!

PS one of these days I am going to put a slide show together of my appearance evolution. Should be interesting 🙂

Blog Schmog

Already I’m slacking off on what I had planned to be a regularly updated blog. No, I’m not giving up on it. Also, I don’t want to just blog about blogging and things I intend to do then never get around to actually doing them. How lame is that?

Today I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon. I’ve been debating for 2 weeks now whether I should get one more saline fill in my tissue expanders, or stop. I think I’ve decided to go for one more. They may overshoot where I want to be a little bit, then will let the expanders and my skin rest for 3 months before surgery to swap out for permanent implants. I’m hoping I can still have surgery done while getting herceptin treatments. I’m not positive if that can happen though. Not sure what the risks would be. If I can’t get that surgery while on Herceptin, I’ll have to wait until next August or September to have that surgery! That seems so far away. 🙁 I’ll have the port in until then too though, so they may want to save the port removal and implant swap for one combined surgery.

I need to figure out a to do list for each day, hopefully involving some activity that gets me out of the house. I have better mental health when I go out of the house. Being cooped up is no good for me at all. I have to make a trip to the grocery store today. I might just make a Target trip instead because there are a couple things I need to get for the boys, and Kroger may not have them.

Update since I walked away to get ready for my outing:  I probably can skip Target and do a CVS run instead, because I found one major item on my list that I thought was missing. Yay and TTFN!

My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Since I have a family history of Breast Cancer, My mom had always told me not to take birth control pills, and to make sure I start getting mammograms at age 30. I listened to her.. avoided the pill, and got my first mammogram at 30. I didn’t go back for another one until I was 35. I’m 37 now and had forgotten last year. April 24, I went in for a mammogram. The next day, they called me and said the doc wanted to see me for another mammogram, this time with an ultrasound as well. That call startled me a bit and I got teary, but soon recovered. It was probably just tissue changes due to my monthly cycle due to start in a couple days. I went back for my 2nd mammogram + ultrasound on May 10th. They informed me it was my left breast they were focusing on. The radiologist saw calcifications that he said could be related to cancer, but not always. Recommended that I get a biopsy done to be sure, considering my family history. I wasn’t too concerned, just anxious about the procedure. My doctor was on vacation, so I had to wait for her to return in order to see the films and to refer me. Since we were planning to move to Nashville this summer anyway, and I had already established a patient record at Vanderbilt for my thyroid screenings, I asked to be sent to the Vanderbilt Breast Center. My biopsy was scheduled for May 31st, and Mike and I were impressed with the level of care at the Breast Center as we were before when I saw Dr. May for my thyroid. The procedure was painless from start to finish. I was excited that the Breast Center had a robe for me to wear instead of the usual hospital gown. Fancy! The process was as painless as biopsies can possibly be. I had been anxious for nothing and soon I was on my way home.

I got the call at work on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013. I was working on a new color client who was understanding when I took the call… the nurse was calling to ask how my biopsy site was healing up. “Great!” I said.. then she asked if it was a good time to talk about my results. “Is it good news or bad?”, I asked. “It’s complicated”, she said. I told her I’d have to call her back, after I was finished with work. Cue the nerves.. and trying to convince myself that “complicated” didn’t mean cancer, just something different than “all clear”. I finished my customers for the day and called her back.. She was so sweet when breaking the news to me. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Harley, it is bad news. It’s cancer.” Words I will never forget for the rest of my life.

The cancer I have is ER+, PR+ and HER-2+. I have opted to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I will need chemo, and will be treated with Herceptin to attack the HER-2. I will also be taking Tamoxifen for 10 years.