Category: Breasts - The Funny Thing About Cancer
OK.  Not really.  My hubby would KILL me if I posted pictures of my foobs on the internet. 

He actually explicitly told me I was not allowed to post pictures of my foobs online. 

Apparently he's noticed that I have no problem showing them to anyone that asks.  OK.  Maybe they don't ask.  Maybe I offer to show them.  But I know they WANT to ask... because why wouldn't they?!?!  Foobs are FASCINATING!  Admit it.  Right now you're thinking "I am kind of curious to see what they look like." 

No?  Oh.

Point is that I'm semi-obsessed with my foobs.

That obsession is lessening over time... very, veeerrrrrry slowly.  But, on top of that obsession, cancer also has removed any and all prudishness I might have once laid claim to.  So obsession + no modesty = lots of people seeing your foobs.

You think having a baby makes you less prudish because you have, like, 10 people in a small room staring at your vagina waiting to see what comes out?  Well wait until you get cancer and spend MONTHS whipping your boobs out for people to see.  Suddenly, boobs are no longer sexual, they're a science experiment. 

So now I like to joke that cancer has another, lesser known side effect... complete decimation of any and all semblance of modesty.  They should list that on those medical websites.  "Surgeon General's Warning: Breast Cancer causes intense desire to invite everyone (including strangers) to look at and possibly even feel your boobs."

I definitely didn't read about that in any of those flyers they leave laying around the Breast Clinic.

For those of you that know a survivor... consider yourself warned.  You might stop by for a quick visit and walk away having seen more than you ever expected!
Chemo is over.  So now what?  Surgery.

Surgery is scheduled for June 30th.

And every time I think about the surgery, I vomit in my mouth a little.  OK, I'm exagerating, but that's my way of saying I'm not very excited about it.

So here's my understanding of my surgery/reconstruction process.  On the 30th, I will have a bilateral mastectomy, which means they will remove as much breast tissue as they can, including my nipples.  That is the definition of a bilateral mastectomy.  They also have the "nipple sparing" kind, which is exactly what it sounds like, they leave you with your nipples, but I'm telling them to just take it all!  Why?  Because nipples are 100% breast tissue and I want the smallest chance possible for recurrance.

After the oncological surgeon performs the mastectomy, the plastic surgeon will come in and do his best to reconstruct my breasts.  Step one of my reconstruction will involve tissue expanders (TEs).  These are neat little balloon type things that they stick in your chest, under the pectoral muscles.  Then you go back once a week or so and they poke a needle into the TE and add saline.  The plastic surgeon likened it to "using the principles of pregnancy", meaning they use the tissue expanders to slowly expand the skin and prepare it for the implant. 

Then once my TEs have been expanded and my skin has stretched to the point where it needs to be, I'll have an exchange surgery where they will exchange the TEs for the actual implants.

THEN, if I want it, I can go back and have another surgery to create nipples, including nipple tattoos.

Super exciting, eh?  No?  Yeah, I'm not terribly excited either.

All of this will be done over the next 6 months (give or take a month or two).  While I'm excited that I'm embarking on the last major step to my cancer treatment, I'm nervous about how many surgeries I have left.  As per usual, cancer has left me with swirling emotions and lots of highs and lows.  Although right now, I'm mostly on a high.  I can't tell you how much BETTER life is when not getting chemo :)

So in just 10 days, I will be going in for about 5 hours of surgery.  Wish me luck! 

Next topics will include upcoming diet changes... it's about to get all crazy and sexy in here!  (and maybe vegan?)
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.


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 :)
OK, I know this seems an odd follow on blog to my last one.  And probably filled with more humor than you would expect... but much of this humor comes from the weeks immediately after my diagnosis.  

But as time is of the essence, I need to post this and ask for your help.

There is this amazing woman that is hoping to get a Pepsi Refresh grant for $25K for her charitable cause called The Pink Ink Project.

I've gotten to know this woman somewhat through the message boards at the Young Survivors Coalition and she is amazing.  She is a tattoo artist who feels as though her calling is to help cancer survivors get tattoos as part of their breast reconstruction.

I'm sure right now you're thinking "whaaaat?  tattoos?"

Well, if a patient needs/chooses to get a mastectomy as part of her treatment, the surgery typically involves removal of the nipples.  They do this as the nipples tend to be a "hotbed" of cancer activity and removal of the nipples greatly reduces recurrance rates. 

Basically, what women are left with after surgery is a large piece of flesh that is in the shape of a breast.  It fills out clothing nicely, but doesn't quite look  like a breast. 

It's missing that finishing touch, the nipple.

When I realized this would probably be what I would elect to do, in part because of my family history, my mother in law pointed out to me that some women choose to get things other than nipples tattooed on their breasts.  Tattoos of things that are meaningful to them, like pink ribbons, butterflies, dragonflies, or whatever.

Well... I immediately felt the need to express this to my husband.  I came up with a TON of great ideas of things I could get tattoo'd on instead of nipples.  Here is how that conversation went:

Me: How about eyes?  Would that freak you out?  Would you feel as though my breasts were staring at you?
Husband: How about nipples?
Me:  OOH!  How about spiders?  That could look cool, right?  Or paw prints?
Husband:  How about nipples?
Me:  Or I could get Blue and Magenta (Caleb's favorite cartoon characters)!  Then everyone could be entertained!
Husband: How about nipples?
Me:  You have no imagination.

OK, so I was just torturing him. 

I fully intend to attempt to return my breasts to their normal shape, size and look, including nipple tattoos.

But unfortunately, this type of tattooing isn't always covered by insurance.

Which is where the Pink Ink Project comes into play.  Renee is a tattoo artist in Florida whose dream is to provide cancer survivors with that "finishing touch" on their breast reconstruction, nipple tattoos.

She is applying for a $25K Pepsi Refresh grant in hopes to not only cover the cost of the tattoos, but also so that she can help assist cancer patients all over the country by either flying to them, or having them fly to see her for their tattoos.  She also is working on setting up a network of like-minded tattoo artists around the country to help fill this need.

In summary, I think this is a great woman with a beautiful heart who wants to help cancer survivors finish their incredible journey and get back to feeling like women again.  Please go vote for her and this cause:

You can vote daily.  I promise I won't repost this every day to remind you, but she needs as many votes as she can get as she has to be top 10 to get the grant.

As always, thank you for your support.