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So I realize how long it’s been since I’ve posted here. Many things, so many things, have changed. There have been tough times and incredibly wonderful times. Now I’m settling in.

This won’t be long…just a short run down since, um, 3 years ago. I think I last wrote when I was still having complications with my surgery. I have since had a couple of additional surgeries. The bottom line is my abdominal muscle will always be “detached” and weaker. However, I have never been more strong. My breasts actually look better than the real ones ever did and I feel better than I ever have…even in my younger years. I’ve said it before, I’m scarred but who isn’t? I no longer differentiate between those scars or any others on my body, with the exception of one. The damn scar on my shin from a missed box jump is worse than any other one on my body. I am, admittedly, self conscious about that one.

Let’s see…I was also married when I last wrote. That changed on Christmas Day 2011 when my ex walked out. I did the typical tailspin for a while and now realize that was the best, and I mean absolute best, thing he ever did for me. I have grown as an independent woman and have learned to accept myself for who I am, which happens to be a damn strong, intelligent, loving, beautiful human being. I love me and I love my family.

Another update…my son and I moved to Frisco, Texas. I left behind a few very, very dear friends who I really don’t want to be away from. There’s also the network of friends who you know are always going to be around somewhere at any given time. Moving is scary and, holy crap, is it stressful. But things are falling into place. The house actually feels more like a home now that things are unpacked and finding the way into the proper places. My son is playing hockey and the best part is that I’m 20 minutes from my aunt and 20 minutes from my cousin. I get to see them all the time now and I love it.

Oh yeah, all the reconstructions? That’s all done. The fat grafting, implants, more fat grafting…no more. Not because I can’t handle it anymore, I simply don’t need it. Now my scars are faded, and did I mention that my breasts look better than they ever did before? I think so, but it bears repeating ūüėČ I’m fit and started training for triathlons. I simply feel great about myself. Now, I’m normal, so it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s really pretty damn good.

Looking back, I wrote about a really jacked up experience. What I went through, and chose to write about, was definitely raw. I was in the emotional and physical trenches. It feels weird to read some of what I’ve written. Some is embarrassing and I have felt tempted to remove it or close the blog. But then I think of the other women who are facing the choice I had to face and I feel like this might be helpful in some way. So I’m swallowing the pride and leaving it all out there.

In the end, full circle doesn’t really describe my journey. I haven’t stopped where I began. I’m in a completely different place; someplace so much more positive and peaceful than the starting point. I’m grateful for the important people in my life who have helped me get here because it didn’t happen all by itself. But it happened.

 

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Thinking back, I find it hard to believe it’s been almost 2 years since my last surgery. Really. I was going over it in my head. How did the time go so quickly? So many things have changed in the last few years, aside from the obvious tragic losses. I moved to New England and got to meet wonderful people. I got to visit Boston frequently and learned to love certain things about that city. I thoroughly enjoyed taking my aunt through Boston and showing her the sights. My husband and I learned valuable life lessons in that move, things that make us stronger as a couple, better parents and things that made us grow in our professions. That being said, we realized it wasn’t the best place for us and came back home…to Michigan…another thing I can’t believe. Michigan has become my home.

Coming home was like taking a deep breath. I had already started trying to lose weight and had lost about 30 pounds. After moving home I continued losing weight and started working out really hard. I have gained so much strength. A year ago, if I were sitting on the floor, I would have to have help getting up. There was no way I could do one pushup….on my knees. Now I’m doing turkish getups (youtube it) with kettlebells. I’m doing planks WITH added challenges. I can see my muscles. I can feel my muscles. I have lost 50 pounds. I’m setting goals for myself again, goals I thought would be impossible forever. Oh, if you could see the smile on my face. Speaking of smiles, here’s something else that makes me smile….my new tattoo. The pink ribbon represents breast cancer and the teal represents ovarian cancer. Because I feel freed from cancer by learning about my mutation and taking the steps I felt were right for me, I wanted the breaking chain in the tattoo, with the word Previvor. I think that says it all.

                                    

Here’s the thing. My abdomen is still not healed. Something is wrong. I have that unsightly bulge above my incision on the left, which is really not the biggest deal. The problem is that my abdominal muscles on the left may be atrophied and have lost nerve connection. The weakness leads to an imbalance when I workout and, while I have gained strength, I am still hindered by this issue. So we are going back to surgery. My surgeon is going to take a look at my abdomen and see if it can be fixed. I’ve said if it looks like the chances are very high for a good outcome, go for it. On the other hand, if it looks like nothing can be done or the chances for a good outcome are slim, just leave it as is. I will have to figure out a way to strengthen the muscles around the defect. As far as the bulge goes, I think that’s a bit of the mesh from my last surgery that may be bunched up. You can almost feel it if you push on it. Yeah, I know, yuk. Then there’s the boob issue. The whole boob¬†aesthetics isn’t huge with me. I’m not beyond wanting to look good, but I don’t need perfect boobs. However, when you’ve had your boobs completely removed and rebuilt out of belly fat, wanting them to look normal is sort of…..normal. There was always a little divot in the cleavage area on both sides. Now the boobs have sort of settled and I’ve lost weight so it’s much more pronounced. You can see my ribs¬†¬†instead of cleavage. Yeah, yuk #2. Sorry folks. This blog is about the ugly, and beautiful, truth of my personal BRCA fallout.

So the plan is to, first, look at my abdomen and hope for an easy fix. Second, liposuction to harvest fat. People, let me tell you, this is a completely mixed bag. Lipo sounds great, but that shit hurts. Yes, it’s coming from areas that are more than willing to donate, but this is going to be the most painful part. See, there’s not much sensation in my breasts or in the superficial area of my abdomen so I don’t anticipate a lot of discomfort there…..hopefully. Then the harvested fat will be injected into the emptier areas of my breasts. We’ve decided to forgo an implant and use my own fat to make the breasts as full as possible. My surgeon says I don’t have much fat to give. Picture me doing a cross between (or both at the same time) a maniacal, sarcastic laugh and Katherine Heigl’s dumb little happy dance in the Ugly Truth. Yeah, yuk #3.

Today I donated the first of two units of blood to have on reserve for surgery. If you’ve read back in my blog, you know I don’t bounce back from surgery very well. During the first, the surgeon in Texas couldn’t get my bleeding to stop and I had to have a transfusion afterward. I had less bleeding in the second surgery, but still needed a transfusion afterward. And the third surgery may have been the worst. Even though I was given fresh frozen plasma during surgery to prevent a need for transfusion later, I still had a syncopal episode (passed out) in the bathroom…thank goodness the nurses were there to catch me before I hit the floor. I went home, spiked a fever the next day and ended up admitted to the hospital for about a week with, you guessed it, another transfusion. Now I’m banking my own blood, just in case. I have to give another unit next week. I’m NOT thrilled about doing that. They used a freakin’ 16 gauge needle! Totally unnecessary. My blood was flowing. They could get the full unit from me in less than 10 minutes with a 20 gauge…okay maybe an 18. The next couple of weeks are going to be tough. I just want to get this over with. At least I have a visit with my aunt and cousin in Texas in a week. That’s going to be so awesome, and it’ll help keep my mind off the surgery.

This is my journey and it’s not over. I have a lot of living to do and, thanks to learning about my genetic mutation, I’m going to live it without the fear of getting breast or ovarian cancer. I’m headed into the 4th surgery, but I’m headed in stronger than I have been in years. Those goals that I thought would be impossible forever? They may not ALL happen, but they’re all goals instead of just wishes. My family and I are back home and surrounded by people, even some from a distance, who make our lives better every day, people who motivate me, love me, encourage me and support me. I’m in a good place in my mind and in my soul…and in Michigan.