Category: Lumpectomy - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
Blog readers, I warn you, there will probably be no rhyme or reason to my blog topics. 

This blog will be thoroughly dependant upon my moods and the things I find funny.

And today, what I find funny is the state of my boobs.  Apologies to family members that find picturing my breasts wierd.  But as this whole blog IS about breast cancer, so you better get used to it!

Anywho, back when I was at the tender age of 23 and working my first job after college, my boss introduced me to a phrase that I had never heard before. 

"Crazy Cones"

In case you weren't aware, my first job after college was at Marshall Field's (now part of Macy's).  I worked in the buying office for the junior's department of a large department store.  This translates to working with almost all women with a sprinkling of gay men.  Let's just say that when you get that many women together, lunchtime conversations revolve around things that most heterosexual men would be horrified to know their wives discuss in public.

This particular lunchtime conversation was shortly after my boss had announced she was pregnant.  I think we were discussing breast feeding versus formula.  She said she was hoping to breast feed, but that her biggest fear was ending up with "crazy cones.  You know, kind of like a lazy eye..." and she then used her fingers to indicate nipples that were pointed in totally different directions.

As a vain 23 year old that had absolutely no comprehension of pregnancy/motherhood, I was all "that really happens?!?!?!?!  I'm SOOOO not breastfeeding!"

What?!?  I was young, dumb and probably pretty obnoxious.

Fast forward to present day.  Post pregnancy but pre-surgery, my boobs weren't exactly what they used to be.  I mean had a ROCKIN rack when I was younger (and yes, I'm darn proud of it.  But no, I will not post photos).  Motherhood definitely changed that, not quite as perky as they used to be, but nothing to be ashamed of.

However, a lumpectomy has done for me what motherhood and breastfeeding combined failed to do, I now have the infamous crazy cones.

Seriously.

Here's how that realization went:  I finished surgery, finally got home after a 1.5 hour drive, went to the bathroom (because man, having an IV makes you have to pee ALL THE TIME), and was washing my hands when I looked into the mirror. 

I wasn't wearing a bra so there was nothing to hide the complete unevenness of my breasts.  One nipple was pointing forward (the one I had surgery on) and the other was like an inch lower and pointing to the left.

I laughed at the shock of it.  Not sure what I expected them to look like... I guess I just hadn't even thought much about it.

And then I laughed some more. 

My mom was like "what the heck are you laughing about?"  I walked out and pointed out that I wasn't exactly even and we chuckled some more. 

I now refer to one boob as "the perky one", which is the one that I had surgery on.  Seriously the surgeon must be a magician because if you took away the scar, my boob looks GREAT!  This breast probably comes in at a full B or a small C.

The other boob is "the not so perky one".  I think it weighs in at a full C or a small D cup and doesn't exactly point forward anymore.

Let's just say this makes shopping for bras difficult.

To be totally honest, this really doesn't bother me in the least.  Maybe it's because a mere year ago, my boobs were simply feeders for my child.  Or maybe it's because I now view my breasts as traitors (they're aiding and abetting CANCER!).  Or maybe it's because I know in a few months, I'll be getting a whole new rock star set. 

Now all I can do is think back to my old boss and her reference to "crazy cones" and chuckle.

I've also come up with some rather awful jokes that center around my boobs:

    I could be like the old sign posts you see in movies.  Just put me on a corner, write "Baton Rouge 500 miles" on one breast and "Philadelphia 200 miles" on the other and I'd probably be pretty accurate (although this might result in some car accidents).

    If I were a stripper, I'd really confuse my customers.  It's like a lazy eye, they wouldn't know which one to look at.  

OK... bad jokes I know, but they do make me laugh and laugher is the best medicine (or so they say).  If you come up with any other good ones, shoot them my way and I'll add it to the repitoire for all the doctors I have to show my boobies to in the upcoming months :)
 
On December 30th, my 4 year wedding anniversary, I got surgery for my cancer.

Let's just say this was NOT on my wishlist this year... but then again sooner is better than later with this whole cancer thing, so I was actually OK with it.

This was surgery #1 for me.  I got a lumpectomy, sentinal node biopsy and a porticath placed.  Surgery #2 will happen after baby comes and I'll get a full bilateral mastectomy (sound fun?).

Translations:
    Lumpectomy - removal of the lump (aka the cancer).
    Sentinal Node Biopsy - they inject a little radiation into the breast and the first node that radiation goes to is 
        called the "sentinal node".  They remove this and check it for cancer.
    Porticath placement - They put a port in place to use during chemo.  A port is a temporary link into a vein.  It's 
        a piece of equipment they stick under the skin that you can put a needle into for injections.  This links to a 
        vein.  The goal is to not have to use my "regular" veins during chemo.
    Bilateral Mastectomy - they remove both boobs and then give me rock star, hollywood type fake boobies.

How do I feel today?  Like I attempted to bench press a semi-truck.  And maybe that semi was carrying weight lifting equipment.  Or maybe bricks.  Point is that my chest is achy.  Not terribly painful, just achy.

What could be funny about all of this?  Well my mother and I found many things to laugh about as we were waiting for surgery.  Surgery was supposed to be at 11 (didn't get in until almost 12 or 12:15) and we were told to be there at 9 am to get all checked in and prepped.

Let's just say my mom and I had a lot of time to sit around the prep area and laugh. 

Funny Event #1:  During the check in process, before my mom was brought back to the prep area, the nurse asked "Do you have any piercings in?"  I had taken off all my jewelry so I replied "No."  She goes, "OK, so we're not going to be surprised by any during surgery in other places?"  I laughed heartily and said "No."  She chuckled and said "Well I had to ask because sometimes we girls don't want our mothers to know everything."  

Funny Event #2: my surgeon's chief resident came in to introduce himself as he would be assisting during the surgery.  He was this twenty something tall skinny indian man and neither my mother or I can remember his name.  He introduced himself, my mother instantly began interrogating him (she was a bit nervous) and he handled it beautifully and answered all of her 5 bajillion questions very adeptly. 

Then he asked if he could initial my breast. 

I burst out laughing.  I can't say I've been one of those people that has ever asked a rock star to sign her boobs... but this is the first thing that came to mind.  I obligingly pulled my gown down a few inches so he could nicely initial my breast.  My mother's mind went right into the gutter with mine (what can I say, great minds think alike) and she started teasing him that he must get to sign more boobs than a rock star.  I think we might've embarassed him a bit as he started to stutter and turned a little pink.  Maybe no one has teased him about this before?  Poor guy dealing with us to crazy ladies.

Then later the surgeon, Dr. Tuttle, came in and greeted us.  My mother's first comment was "you look so much YOUNGER than I expected".  Then proceeded to tell him he was very cute.  He also got a little flustered at that comment and my mother's reasoning was "I'm an old lady, I can say these things". 

Needless to say, after he left, we continued to giggle that these men just didn't know what to do with the likes of us.

About an hour after all of this, I finally got wheeled into the operating room.

An operating table is not unlike a lift for a car in an auto shop, it can be adjusted up and down and there are lots of people working on the "equipment" (aka me).  Seriously, I kind of felt like some type of NASCAR vehicle being moved up and down, nurses strapping equipment to me and all talking at once. 

Then they told me that they were ready to put me under and I said, "oh ok".  The anesthesiologist injected something into my IV and I felt my hand burn a bit, which she assured me was totally normal and that I would be feeling very tired soon. 

My last words before I sank into drug induced oblivion?  "Oh wow!"  Seriously... that stuff feels the same as what I imagine 10 shots of 100 proof grain alcohol taken in 5 minutes would feel like.  You go from all normal to "holy crap I think I'm gonna pass out" in about 2.5 seconds.

About 2 hours later, I groggily awoke to the feeling of being lifted onto another bed and being wheeled from the OR.  They pushed me into the recovery area and there was a nice male nurse there to care for me.  He asked me a few questions, "what day is it?  Do you remember what your procedure was?"  I told him all the details pretty coherently, if I do say so myself.  But I still just felt groggy and like I had chugged a gallon of acid.  They intubate you during surgery, which means they stick a tube down your throat, which blows and means a very sore throat.  After about 10 minutes (I was watching the clock), I started to feel OK. 

The highlight of my hour in the recovery area?  Eating ice chips and burping up this awful, plasticky, mediciney taste.  Then I got to go have tape ripped off my skin (holding the IV in place) and drive an hour and a half back to Mankato. 

My poor mother didn't have a terribly sweet patient.  I didn't want to eat (even though I hadn't eaten all day) and I just sucked on popcicles until she convinced me I should have some soup.  She was right, the soup did make me feel loads better. 

It's now 5 days later and I'm feeling pretty normal and totally off painkillers.  The porticath is the thing that bugs me the most.  It aches the most and it's like having a thick nickel stuck under your skin and makes for a not so pretty bump.  Granted it's about a centimeter below a pretty sizeable scar (like 1.5-2 inches), so I don't think my "rack" is "show worthy" quite yet.  Guess I'll have to avoid the low cut shirts for a few months ;)

In summary, surgery is NOT something I enjoy, but I did get some good laughs out of it.  My mom is pretty much a saint.  And I totally suck at being sick. 

Happy New Year!