Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I get by with a little help from my friends...

Happy Hump Day!

Today is T-minus 12 days til the Great Lady Lumps Chop Chop. There's a ton of things I have to get in order, plus a slew of doctor's appointments. Yesterday I saw the director of the Adult Congenital Heart program at Cooper, today I meet with the plastic surgeon to sign the consents for her portion of the surgery, and tomorrow is chemo.

It's funny to type this out (and I'm certain equally funny to read), but I've been going to second base with myself any chance I get. In privacy, of course, and away from windows.  I've been staring at them too, fixated on the thoracotomy scar that goes halfway across my right breast and has been there since I was 6 months old.  I don't want to forget what they look or feel like. I'm not sure if that's weird. Probably, because let's face it, I'm the epitome of weird.


Minus the little speed bump in my left breast, they've served me well, and I'll miss them. But out with the old and in with the new. 

Before I could go forward with the surgery, I had to give them the proper sendoff. A bon voyage, ta ta to the ta-ta's, bye-bye boobies, if you will.

My early twenties was a bit rocky for me (as it is for just about everyone), and I went through tough times, resulting in my not treating friends the way they should be. Those who had once been so important weren't a part of my life for a few years, and I am constantly reminded how lucky I am that they made their way back in (you bitches know who you are). I'm not sure where I'd be without them.

Brie took it upon herself to plan a Bye-Bye Boobies party, and saw to it that I had a fun night and was spoiled rotten. And, I was spoiled rotten and had a fabulous time with the girls! Both attached and unattached to me! 

Orange or raspberry sherbert + Korbel = Pinterest WIN

The AMAZING Boobie Cake made by the super talented Angela (top left)

No party is complete without pink boobie balloons hanging from the ceiling.

Fabiana got me this kick ass shirt!

Tasted just as amazing as it looks!

Bridget made pink boob cookies with chocolate nipples!

Who needs a surgeon?

You motorboatin' son of a bitch!

These girls are my heart. 

It was one of those moments where I had to step back and take it all in, grateful for all the love and support coming from those whose love and support mean the most. 

Linking up with Shanna and Liz

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Should I stay or should I go?

Happy Hump Day!!!!!

I, like anyone else with internet access, use The Googles for everything. Google is my spell check, my Encyclopedia Britannica, my useless fact checker, I use it to diagnose myself (why yes, that eye twitch MUST be from a brain tumor!), to learn song lyrics (at the top the stairs there is, in fact, darkness; not horses as I once believed), and I use it to cyber stalk ex-boyfriends check up on old friends.

I never thought at the ripe old age of 33, I'd be typing 'nipple-sparing mastectomy' into the Google search bar. That was a new one, even for me. Yet there I was researching and reading up on saving my nipples, something I recently learned is an option when having a mastectomy.

To save the nipples, or not save the nipples? That is the question.

Four weeks ago, Steve and I met with the oncology breast surgeon. Armed with a brand new pink notebook covered in glitter (because it's much easier to stay organized with sparkles), I wrote down a ton of questions. It never fails, whenever Steve comes with me to any doctor, we end up waiting at least two hours. He gets restless and starts to pace and complain, which results in my snarky "welcome to my life."

Yeah, I'm a bitch, yet somehow he still loves me. I must be doing something right (I was going to make a comment on what I'm doing right, but I'm not sure if my dad reads this).

Coming both professionally and as a patient from the pediatric world, I've grown accustom to having to push for things and advocating for myself in the adult world of medicine. I was ready to go and spew off each question I had one by one, and Dr. TM (that's Tits McGee) addressed all my concerns before I had a chance. I'm not sure why I was quite so surprised, as I have heard nothing but praise from both her colleagues and former patients.

When this post goes live, I'll be at Cooper Hospital armed with my pink glittery notebook, once again sitting down with Dr. TM to ask a million questions, make decisions (save the nipples?), and sign consents. Shit is getting real.

Once I have a better understanding of what exactly I can expect, I'll post the details. Til then, your guess is as good as mine.

Love you all!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm finished, I'm getting you off my chest...

When someone asks me to name a woman I find beautiful, Scarlett Johansson always comes to mind. She has delicate porcelain skin, full lips, curves for days, a low raspy voice, and large round breasts.

I am scheduled for the double mastectomy on Monday, December 1st. Seeing it written down in my planner makes it so much more… REAL. Now that I have the date, I've been cognizant of all the breasts around me, wondering what my reconstructed set will look like. I feel like a pimply faced, hormones raging 14 year old boy, staring at ALL THE BREASTS, trying to see if I can figure out the naturals from the fakes. 

Aside from being able to joke that I'm catching glimpses at everyone's hooties for research purposes, the complexity of the procedure itself frightens me. I'll be under about 6-8 hours, which I think may be longer than any of my open-heart surgeries (is that right mom?). Yes, I have a team of experts on my side who have assured me the benefits far outweigh the risks, but it's still a loooong time to be in a drug-induced slumber. 

The day before, November 30th, will be the 27th anniversary since my last open-heart surgery. I remember that day vividly, I remember the point where Mom and Dad couldn't come any further, I turned back to look at them and wave. I remember being brave, not being scared, and only crying when the anesthesiologist had to remove my hot pink nail polish.

27 years later,  I'd still throw a hissy fit if the anesthesiologist took off my hot pink nail polish. But this time around, I don't feel like the brave girl I once was. I'm scared. I think I liked it better when Mom and Dad signed the consents, asked questions, and made the decisions.  

Cutting off my breasts sounds so… barbaric. No, the good doctor will not be doing the ole' chop chop with a machete, but it's still a horrifying concept. Almost demeaning. As I said before, I'll be losing another part of my femininity, one year and 4 days after I already lost such a big part. These babies earned me thousands in tips over the years (I'm quite certain it wasn't my bartending skills!), and gotten me out of numerous tickets. I may have spent my teen years willing them to grow (I am the only woman in my family who isn't at least a D cup… blasphemy!), but now I'm pretty attached to them. 

That said, there's a 1.5 cm x 0.9 cm mass in there slowly trying to kill me. Breasts, be gone! 

I'm confident in this decision, but I'm nervous, and rightfully so. I'd like to think that if my Mom-Mom were still here she'd say, "MarlaJan, Shayna Punim, cut those fuckers off!" 

I have one more appointment tomorrow with the oncology breast surgeon to go over everything, tie up loose ends (do your boobs hang low? do they wobble to and fro? can you tie em in a knot, can you tie em in a bow?), and to sign new consents. She's also having me meet with the anesthesia team due to my cardiac history. Next week I meet with the plastic surgeon, the adult congenital heart specialist, and I have my chemo. Busy busy.

That's all I got. I know, lame post, but I wanted to check in because I suck at the blogging thing anymore.

Love you all

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

I made up my mind when I was a young girl; I've been given this one world, I won't worry it away...

Oh, hello there. Were you searching your local grocery store for my face on a milk carton, or frantically looking on one of those "Have You Seen Me?" ads? Humor me and say you were.

I'm sorry, but this never gets old for me. 

A lot of you reached out wondering if I've had my surgery or if I was having a bad lupus flare, and thankfully neither of those things has happened; I needed to unplug for awhile and clear my head. I wasn't overwhelmed with having a mastectomy until I made it "public" and blogged about it, then all of a sudden I was all HOLYSHITTHISISHAPPENING.

A few weeks ago I was going through my planner, and it dawned on me it's been one year since I first saw McDicky. You can read all about that first encounter here. The day McDicky and I met, he said to give him one year to make me feel better, and two to get me in remission.

As I sat there reminiscing him saying he didn't care if I thought he was a dick (hence, McDicky), I realized I feel better. This is the best I've looked and felt in three years. That damn McDicky was right!

So instead of moping in bed watching bad TV as I had been the few previous days, I decided to get off my ass and enjoy this time. Because, who really knows how long it will last?

And that's what I've been doing- enjoying the beautiful fall weather, dancing on top of bars, Friend's Dinner, tailgating for an Eagles game, and spending as much time out of the house as I can. Cause Lord knows once I have the mastectomy, it's going to be a looooooooong, painful winter, on the couch watching bad TV.

Moping with Princess Matzo Ball

Wings and pumpkin beer with my hunky guy

Friend's Dinner

The Girls 


Dressed up for a family wedding at the place Steve & I got married!
The guy in the top right is Sean, the bartender at our wedding almost 7 years ago!

My best friend's husband was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. It's been nothing short of devastating, as Genesis and Jason have two beautiful children and more loving family and friends than any two people I know. I can't explain how helpless I feel as the life of my best friend and the man she loves crumbles around them. There are no words. But over these few months, I've watched Genesis take on these burdens with the power of a super hero. She holds it together better than anyone I've ever seen, for the sake of her family, for her children, for Jason. Because that's what you do when life deals you one hell of a shitty hand. 
Last Friday we went to the Beef and Beer of all Beef and Beers. The event put together was incredible, and I'm convinced Kisha and Tiffany need to start an event planning business. Hundreds of people, so many that have never even met Genesis and Jay, but came to support their beautiful family. It was amazing to look around and see so many there for two of the most important people in my world. The reality is their journey with ALS is not going to get easier, unfortunately, quite the opposite. But in those few hours, I hope both Genesis and Jason know that they will never be going through this alone.
I love you both <3

And that's where I've been, making the best of the worst. Because what else is there to do? More to come.

Love you all <3

linking up with my gal Joey

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