Millie Malignancy UPDATE
This post is for anyone who is curious about my cancer diagnosis, but also to anyone who is battling next to me, who has battled before or who may battle in the future. We are entitled to all of our feelings and we are in this together. Cancer Sucks.
MRI came back with two more suspicious areas in the other (right) breast and two suspicious lymph nodes (one on each side). We won't know what they are, severity or stage until they do the biopsies. The biopsies will be performed during surgery that is scheduled for June 17th. I have a genetic mutation CHEK2 which is common and it is of low aggression. It is NOT something my sister tested positive for, but 50/50 chance for women. Chemo will be determined by testing lymph nodes so we won't know if I need Chemo until I wake from surgery. I am meeting with Oncologist to start on tamoxifen prior to surgery to be safe as it will be 10 weeks from diagnosis to surgery. The full treatment schedule will be determined post surgery with all biopsy results.
Due to MRI results and having a genetic mutation, we decided to do a double mastectomy. The option of lumpectomy went out the window when we saw suspicious spots on right side as well, with the mutation flaring fears of recurrence.
It was difficult to decide which reconstruction option was best for me, but the breast cancer survivor's community and my cancer care team helped provide knowledge with no judgement. Sometimes I just wanted them to tell ME what to do. They shouldn't and didn't, but it seemed easier than trusting yourself to know medically what's best. All options are absolutely a personal choice and no two situations are the same. Ultimately it came down to risk v. reward. I didn't want anything foreign in my body, but I also knew the other options were multiple surgeries with longer recovery times and higher risks of complications. I went with Direct-to-Implants but lets clear the plastic surgery air- DTI reconstruction is NOT the same as augmentation. As soon as I started googling, I realized that. Who needs nipples? Definitely not Millie. Sparing of skin/nipples will be determined in surgery based on a number of factors. Also, all options would be better if I weighed 110 lbs. This just in- I do not weigh 110 lbs. Millie hates curves.
In a nutshell, we won't have true answers until surgery. It could all be totally fine. It could be worse than originally thought. It could have spread, it might not have spread. The unknown is the fiery hell. Ultimately I expect the worst and hope for the best. I am not attached to any outcome because I can't be. I'll just be over here nesting and planning my pre/post chemo haircuts just in case.
Welp. What a crazy experience this has been so far. A blend of WTAF and Grateful AF moments that leave me dancing the cha cha with Millie. She's leading, obviously, but not forever.
One, Two, Cha Cha Cha.
There have been so many moments where the news drops like a stone in my body. I feel like I'm in a tunnel and everything falls away. I hear only a few words and then I go completely numb. I am not new to that feeling, I have felt that with acute grief. When it's been weeks on end with consistent hits, it somehow sends your body into a tailspin of exhaustion. These cancer fighters are badass warriors in the midst of mental warfare. I truly had no idea. And then to watch Dane have the same reaction is jarring to say the least. We see world like we are in a spaceship and have just entered hyperspace. We are stuck to our seats staring out as the world as it flies by. I have heard once we are through surgery with answers, everything will come back into focus. I cannot wait for that.
This is my 10th attempt at an update and the 6th HOUR I have spent typing this post. I haven't gotten up at all this time. Usually my attempts end with me under the covers ugly crying, or rewriting the post one million times and then just walk away in a catatonic state. There are no "right" words and I'm constantly analyzing. "Eloquent" isn't a thing these days. Either is a "complete thought." It's just a matter of forcing words through my mind's eye and out to my fingertips. I have already rewritten these paragraphs about a hundred times but I must push through- keeeep goooing! That reminds me. Thank you for being gentle with me as I navigate.
Ok. Let me say right here that I miss cigs more than I care to say, but have to say because it has really been one of the hardest things to let go of. It was my vise, my bad-news-bestie. Take the ta-tas but not my ciggies and friendship (if you know, you know). I can't inhale anything, including marijuana which I don't smoke but would smoke if that meant I could inhale. I can't even get a hit of second hand smoke, so it's a no-go on deliberately stopping next to a smoker and deeply inhaling the leftover carcinogens. I have considered just huffing the butts, but I have SOME dignity...
Well, after admitting all of THAT, probably not as much dignity as I thought. I will sing sad songs and mourn your loss, you dirty scoundrel.
In case I'm not clear, smoking sucks.
In the words of Vivian, "They runs our lives and takes our money. No".
Lessons to Learn:
Ultimately Millie is only a part of me. It has played a big part the last few months and may for a few more, but there is so much personal growth happening too. There has been so much love and even more self reflection. I have spent a lot of days with my closest having important conversations. I have taken a lot of walks with inspirational podcasts and my crazy pups. I have had lots of long winded dinners, cleaning sprees and solo sessions playing Wilder. I have been busy celebrating my sonny boy and am so proud of him I could burst. I have also spent time in my fox hole with all the feelings, which I honor and am facing with therapy. And even in my planning for the unknown, like Chemo, I find solace in preparing. I feel like I'm nesting but instead of having a baby, I'll have implants and possible hair loss. Definitely not as cuddly OR as cute.
Here are a few life hacks I've learned over the last few weeks. Take it or leave it, I'd love your recommendations in the comments if you have any!
-A Million Little Things show on ABC
It's funny and serious, sometimes overly dramatic but relevant. It touches on the cancer journey, the suicide journey and has all the feels.
-Making the Breast of it podcast
Hilarious and courageous podcast of two women diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Both still kicking ass 4 years post diagnosis and they keep me informed and laughing.
This isn't for increasing heart rate as much as it is for calming the spirit. Take the dogs, or don't. Just breathe in and out to a podcast or a good playlist. It has helped bring me back into my body when my mind is spiraling out of control.
After being poked, prodded and mentally gyrated, the LAST thing you will want to do is cook. I guess I should say, the last thing you have mental space for is any decision about food and/or ingredients. With Grubhub you can get healthy meals delivered and support local business. Also you can have anything, like SUSHI! I have never craved sushi more than I have since my diagnosis. I have no idea why, but I am cool with it.
Let your foodie flag fly!
-Know your People
If there is ever a time you'll know who your people are, it's when you're at your most vulnerable. The naysaying, negative and/or hypercritical people who have been in your life for any reason/season have to go. They can call you selfish, self absorbed or even act like your journey is trivial. Let em go. This may mean a few trips to the fox hole while you sort through the guilt, but it's worth it. For me, guilt comes from trying to control my insecurity. We are ALL worthy of love and a lot of it.
Also, You will probably get too exhausted to respond to all of your tribe all of the time with updates. I know I do. All of it is too much. A perfect example is how badly I wanted to write this post, was in a great mental place to do so and thought it would be done in10 minutes. I am now totally on edge, starting to recoil and have changed the time from minutes to now 6 hours. It's totally ok. Your people understand.
Lastly to my TRIBE- your healing contributions of love and your gentleness with me will see me through this. I am truly overwhelmed by your love. Thank you for ALWAYS showing up.
Here is a pic of me in my fox hole🦊
PS Grammar Nazi Beware! After 6 hours I have no F's left to give for punctuation. I also bolded and italicized at my leisure. Please leave your thoughts and criticisms on a postit in your local trashcan.