An explanation...

Why Foob? I had a double mastectomy, and at the time, the plastic surgeon put "expanders" under the muscles in my chest. Every 2-3 weeks, they were filled with more saline, in preparation for my reconstructive surgery. They were very full and hard. Uncomfortable. One time, one of my sons gave me a hug and then said "Your foobs are hard!" Hee, hee, hee! My kids have this endearing habit of combining words. So, "Foobs" are fake boobs. Which I will still have, even after the reconstruction.

Foob Babe - that would be me!
"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next." ~Mignon McLaughlin


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Here's My Port

Last week I had my last surgery on my reconstructed chest. I also had my port taken out. When I talked to the nurse about taking the port out, I asked him if I could keep it and take it home. He looked at me like I was crazy, and then said, "I guess, if you want to you can." I told him I wanted to photograph it and blog about it and he just laughed! So, they cleaned it all up, put it in a cup with alcohol, and sent it home. I forgot about it for about a week, then asked Rick where is was - it was still in the cup. When I opened lid, the smell of alcohol just about sent me over the edge - that smell has way too many memories for me! Anyway, I here are the pictures of the port if you are interested in what it is. It's metal, so a little bit heavy. They sew it to a muscle and then, because it stays in there so long (in my case, over a year), stuff grows around it. I couldn't figure out why it hurt so bad after the port was taken out. It still is very sore. My doctor told me how he had to basically dig it out. Ouch!! No wonder it's sore.

I think it's funny how it's shaped like a heart. It's all metal except that little circle in the middle. That's where the nurse would stick the needle to give me chemo, take my blood, give me other medicines, or access for an IV for surgery.

See those 3 little nobs on the top? The nurse would feel through my skin for those three little nobs, and then, when she found them, she'd stick the needle in the middle. You'd think it would be easy, but it's pretty tough to find those sometimes.

It's not very big, right? I was so happy that I had a port. Because I had lymph nodes taken from my left side, there can be no sticks on that arm. So, they had to use either a port, or my right arm. For some unknown reason, the veins in my right arm SUCK! No one can find them. It took them 8 tries - 8 TRIES - to find a vein for my mastectomy surgery (before I had a port). They finally, after torturing me by jabbing a huge needle into my arm, hand, wrist, etc., decided to put me to sleep before they finally put an IV in. From then on, I was able to have my port accessed for any surgeries or tests I had to have.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Unfortunately, this isn't a joke - it's real...

I am FURIOUS!!! I just watched a report on Fox news this morning about the "new government taskforce guidelines" for breast care. Here are the new guidelines:

1. Mammograms are NOT needed for healthy 40-49 year olds of average risk.
2. Women, ages 50-74, should get screened every 2 years, not annually.
3. Mammograms NOT needed for women ages 75 and up
4. Doctors should no longer teach breast self-exam

Can you believe this? Here is what the report said.

Alisyn, the reporter, interviewed Dr. Cynara Coomer, a surgeon and Professor of Cancer Surgery at Mt. Sinai. Dr. Coomer called this "a step backward". She said it was "very coincidental timing" and "motivation is about saving costs as opposed to worrying about over-diagnosing/treating women." She continued, "...shouldn't be worrying about saving money at the expense of women." She said that 40% of her practice is women under 50.

A few of the things they discussed...

Less testing translates to less treatment = some cancers will streak by.
For every 7-10 women who are being over-treated (mammograms), we are saving 1 woman's life - that's worth it. (I personally think it's worth it - what about you?)
Women who have breast cancer under the age of 50 tend to have much more aggressive tumors - the years are going to make a difference for these women.

Dr. Coomer said "This is rationing, and we need to be very concerned about it." "The 'Public Option' [in the new healthcare plan] will be using these federal guidelines as opposed to using the guidelines from the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society in not going along with these guidelines, and we can only hope that the private insurance companies don't follow suit."

Wow. I immediately emailed the newsroom - I want my voice heard. I don't know that my emailing Alisyn will make any difference at all, but I CANNOT be silent on this matter. Here is my email to Fox:

"Alisyn -

I just watched your report on the new government guidelines on breast cancer screening and I am FURIOUS!
I cannot believe that the guidelines that have been set by the American Cancer Society are being challenged - who better to set guidelines like these - the cancer society or government bureaucrats who know nothing about cancer?! These new guidelines are a joke -
NO mammograms needed for ages 40-49?! So, the women who are in their 40s don't really need screening, even though 100s of 1000s of women in that ages group are diagnosed every year?!
Mammograms for ages 50-74 only EVERY OTHER year?! Personally, 1 year for my cancer is a big deal, since mine was a fast growing cancer.
Mammograms NOT NEEDED for women over age 74 - ok. What?! So, only women between 50 and 74 even matter to the government?!
This one really confuses me: doctors should no longer teach breast self-exam? I don't understand - why? Maybe because during your self exam you might find something and then have to get a mammogram? Whatever. What they should really say is only women between the ages of 50 and 74 should do self exams - we don't want anyone else - younger or older women - finding anything that will make it so that we have to take care of them.

I'm 43 years old. The ONLY way my aggresive breast cancer was found was through a mammogram. If they wouldn't have found it last year, I've been assured that by the time I could actually feel the tumors, it would have been about 4-5 years later, and I would have been so far advanced, they wouldn't have been able to save me. And according to these guidelines, I shouldn't even do self exams, so if I followed those guidelines, I wouldn't have found the lumps - I just would have died.

My mammogram - that I got at age 42 - saved my life. SAVED MY LIFE - a life that, according to the government, doesn't really matter. I was low risk - I had no risk factors.

HOW DARE THEY?! How dare they make a decision like this that will affect so many womens' lives. I'm willing to bet that not one of the people on that task force has ever been touched by breast cancer, because if anyone had, they would be fighting like crazy to keep the American Cancer Society's guidelines. And when I say 'touched by breast cancer', I don't mean just women who have had it, I'm talking about their families and friends. They are changing not only the lives of 1000s of women, but their families' lives as well - my breast cancer had an impact on me, my husband, my 4 sons, my parents, my sister, my boss, my friends, my neighbors, etc.

Anyone who has even one active brain cell in their head should FIGHT LIKE HELL to get this changed. They should fight like hell to oppose the government health care plan too - this is only the first of many terrible things that will happen if we let this plan take hold."

I really hope that anyone who reads this post will forward the information on to all of the women they know - and try to get the word out about this.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Reconstructive Surgery

Today is the 2nd day of my recovery from my last surgery. This time we just tried to fix the look of the reconstruction. The right side was more rounded on top and a little higher, so the left side needed to be lifted a little bit. The doctor cut open the breast and took the implant out - then he sutured the muscle underneath, which lifted the breast - then he put the implant back in. I can tell that the top is rounded now - like the right side. The only thing that doesn't look great is that the nipple is now much more lopsided that before. I was hoping that by lifting the breast, the nipples would match up, but it doesn't look like that happened. Bummer. Plus, the suture line is really deep - so it looks kind of weird. I know I shouldn't judge for a long time - there's swelling and the breast will relax at some point, so I need to just mellow out for awhile. The doctor also took my port out (right side, above the breast). I'm really happy about that, but the pain is super bad right now. I don't know why it's hurting so much. In fact, both surgery sites are killing me. I'm sure it will gradually get feeling better, but right now it's awful. I'm taking Percocet - which does help with the pain, but makes me itch all over.

I'm glad it's over - I'm ready to be done with this whole thing. Even if the breasts don't look exactly like I want them to, I'm done. I just have to have the tattooing done. I'm hoping that everything will be over by the end of the year.

Gotta go lie down now...

Friday, November 6, 2009

A New Group of Women...

Last Tuesday I went to the support group at the cancer center for the first time. I'm not sure why I haven't taken advantage of this before now. It's weird, really, that I've waited until right after my last treatment to start going. Hmmm. Well, I had a good time, met lots of wonderful women who are in all stages of their cancer journeys - from diagnosis to several year survivors. In a way it was hard, because it's always hard to hear about other people who have been touched by this terrible disease. Especially those who are on their second round with cancer. This is a scary thing to me. I don't ever want to have to do this whole thing again - and yet, that thought is always in the back of my mind.

One of the women in the group brought a gift for everyone. Her dentist bought, and had sent to her, several copies of a book she read in his office. I wish I had my copy here with me (I'm on vacation and the book is at home) - it's an inspirational book with lots of wonderful pictures, stories, and quotes. It was a beautiful gesture - this giving of something that touched her. I'm so glad I got a copy. I plan on sharing things from the book with you, my dear followers of this blog.

Shelly - the social worker at the cancer center - is the one who hosts this support group, and I'm really glad I met her. Early on in my chemo, she introduced herself to me and encouraged me to write about my cancer journey. It was about 2 week later that I started this blog. It has been a wonderful, therapeutic thing - writing.

I'm really glad I met all of these wonderful women. I pray that God will bless every one of them in their struggles to overcome the beast.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Celebration Time...

Today was my LAST treatment at the cancer center. I finished chemo in February, but have had to keep going back every three weeks since then to get treatments of Herceptin. After having my blood work done, and everything measured... weight, blood pressure, etc.... my doctor came in the room with a big grin on his face. He was so excited that this was the end. He examined me, and asked if there had been any changes in the last 3 months since I'd seen him. I told him that my back has been hurting - same place every time - and it was bothering me and had me worried. He ordered a bone scan to check things out. I'll have that in a few weeks. He also said that I needed to go see a skin doctor, because several moles on my back have him concerned. So we set up both of those appointments.

I went into the chemo room, and the nurses hooked up the Herceptin drip to my IV. It took about an hour. I looked up and watched as the IV drip slowed down and then as the last drop fell. I just started bawling - I was very emotional for some reason. Then, tears were streaming as the nurse Maryann, pulled my IV out of my chest for the last time. I just can't describe the feelings that I had. It was such a sense of accomplishment, and relief. And I'm kind of sad to not be a regular and see all those wonderful nurses, but I'll live without it.

It's such an incredible day! I wanted to celebrate, but there was no one to celebrate with, so I took myself out to lunch at the Paradise Cafe - I had a yummy veggie salad, with cranberries and feta cheese.

I've been waiting to say this for 15 months...

Life is sweet! :-)