Posts tagged #DIEP

Cancer is offensive

If you find offense in this how can I possibly accept myself

If you find offense in this how can I possibly accept myself

I could start with I am sorry you are offended but fuck that! Sorry NOT sorry as the youth of today says. I had a picture flagged and removed from Facebook that should not have, it is within the guidelines. But someone found it offensive calling it nudity. It was a reconstructed breast which is FAKE with a prosthetic nipple FAKE again. I try to figure out who would report it and my first thought is someone who has never had cancer or any illness effect them so deeply. So let's start there shall we?

 

You know what is offensive? Being told you have a choice of having your breast amputated or a lumpectomy that may "deform your breast" that is exactly the words I heard. You have to choose one and which ever you do will change your body and mind for life and you have no choice but to pick one. No one explains how destroyed you will be over this in the end you just have to do it. Offended?? Having plastic tubes come out of you to release fluid from your body that is offensive, humiliating and inhuman. Naked at every appointment having every doctor and nurse look and feel your once private breasts, that is what nudity is now! The fact every woman I talk to spends at some point time crying in the shower because of how cancer destroyed their body as imperfect as it was, is totally offensive. 

I am the one that should be offended

I am the one that should be offended

 

I am offended that my "boob job" did not work and I had to have a 10 hour surgery to get some sort of breasts. Now I know now I did not have to have reconstruction but at the time I thought I would "offend" people without breasts and I did not have the courage to go flat. But that is a different blog post. I am offended that because I did not see these options on other woman I had no idea what  I could do. I am extremely offended that I had to have my nipples removed which I never knew would make me feel so blank. That my body is covered ins scars that remind me daily I had CANCER.

Offended that I am a rag doll now sewn together   

Offended that I am a rag doll now sewn together

 

Offensive is having your body radiated to make scars, cancer, pain all dissipate just a little but never terminate it completely. I am so offended that I lay naked on a table while a machine burns my skin, I lay there alone because it is too dangerous for others to be there with me. As they close the metal door I am scared and naked in all senses of the word.  Or the people that lose their hair because of chemo as they on the bathroom floor vomiting from the drugs being pumped in them. That is offensive!

Two days after surgery and radiation, this is offensive to me!

Two days after surgery and radiation, this is offensive to me!

 

Cancer offends us every time we have a scan and we wait anxiously for results that will change our life. I am offended because I know that the answer could mean death which scares me to my core or paranoia which makes me mildly embarrassed.  Cancer is offending me and my friends every time someone is DX metastatic or dies. Why isn't this the most offensive? I am extremely offended that society does not seem to want to acknowledge this and would rather paint a pink world for us to look at where everyone survives and gets a boob job. I am offended that they took my color pink and made it about cancer, a color is not a disease. 

Cancer killed this beautiful friend, that is where people should be offended. 

Cancer killed this beautiful friend, that is where people should be offended. 

I am so offended that people do not take the the time to understand that mastectomy pictures, nipple tattoo, nipple prosthetic on a fake breast are healing. When we see the image we see our self then we realize we are not alone.  In that image we are all the same. We see that we can get to the next step that the surgical glue goes away and somewhere in there we are still us, a new creation yet the same. Looking at these takes the scary out just a little helping us prepare for what we need to do next. 

I am saddened and offended that I now have fake nipple and breasts both with no feeling

I am saddened and offended that I now have fake nipple and breasts both with no feeling

 

If you had cancer and these offend you than couldn't you just move on? Just like we all handle cancer treatment different we need to respect how we heal from it. Maybe you are offended about the doctor dancing through her mastectomy did it occur to you to find out why she needed that? That person sobbing every day does she offend you? It is how she is healing because her personal life is a mess on top of cancer. That girl that wore 6 inch stilettos through her surgeries and treatments-that gave her the courage to stand tall during it and not let her family see her fall. And those images that you find offensive and consider them nudity.......they are helping people survive an incredibly debilitating disease. By calling them offensive you are saying that they are and only hurting them more. Was that your mission?  If we do not accept these images how can we accept ourselves and move pass what is happening to our bodies?

I really thought we were pass this but apparently not. My 15 year old son does not like when I post the images because well he is 15 and is worried that someone may hurt my feelings. But he respects them and knows they help a lot of people. My 13 year old is proud that we all have the courage to post them because he sees strength. Neither see sex or nudity or are offended. I leave you with this if two  teenage boys can respect and see the truth in them why can't others? 

Laughing is not offensive but sitting there with tubes, amputated breasts and the fear they did not get all the cancer is by far offensive   

Laughing is not offensive but sitting there with tubes, amputated breasts and the fear they did not get all the cancer is by far offensive

 

 

 

 

It's my boobs and I will cry if I want to...I will laugh too!

Nipple courtesy of  Pink Perfect

Nipple courtesy of Pink Perfect

.Damn things change fast with breast cancer. My body in the past two and half years has seen some crazy shit. I have been sliced and diced like mango (I like that fruit and I am a vegetarian so I won't use meat). When I was first diagnosis I did the whole "take them off" "get rid of them" "they are trying to kill me I don't want them". I thought that was the easy part, you know because the cancer was there so why not just get rid of what is hurting you. Then after the breasts settle :) and you start to adjust so does your mind. And the games begin.

It happened fast for me I think because it was in the summer. You know you wear less clothes. I saw this body change so quick my mind didn't have time to catch up. My chest didn't fit into my clothes and that was hard plus with implants and the fills the change kept happening. Then the weight gain after the hysterectomy. I couldn't stop crying. I felt deflated-who was this scared person with misshapen breasts weighing 25 more pounds? It was a hard year and I could not see how I was going to get out of it. Then the implants shifted into my armpits-not at all the look I wanted back to surgery. The DIEP was hard, painful and really changed my body but I felt a little like me in a weird way. Like I took two from cancer back and said "fuck you" this is me! That was when my mind started to get it, like it was connecting.

So two and half years later I sit here. I am sewn like a patchwork doll, not nearly as fit as I was before cancer not even close, losing weight a little every week but feeling a little more like me. Cancer is a dirty bastard and I know I will never go back to my entire whole self, cancer took a lot of my confidence. I walked for the past months with my shoulders rolled in, slowly I am rolling them back. You may not have realized you were doing this but one day I did and I am blaming cancer, the bastard gets blamed for everything.  I am dealing with the weight gain and learning to accept this challenge but know that because of everything I have been through it will take time. My breasts are now me, ALL me and that makes me happy. Happy they are me not that I have them let's be clear there. This was not a "gift", I hate that shit. I do not want a gift from cancer nothing actually if anything I want to give it away.

The scars are just that- a reminder of who I am. I need to stop looking at them as pain but as strength and smile at the fact that they are more than a line across my chest and stomach. That a scar doesn't make me ugly or imperfect or weak. That a scar does the opposite is shows beauty and strength. As far as perfection goes screw that no one is perfect and I wasn't before so why the hell would I be now.  I will tell you one thing, cancer changed a lot of things but it didn't make me perfect.

Yes I cry still in front of the mirror, at the doctors,  when I realize I have no feeling or when I am mad at this fucking disease but I laugh too. A LOT! Not because I am alive and beat cancer and all that crap but because I am Ann Marie fucking Giannino-Otis and I laughed before cancer so why the hell should I stop now. The tiara looks best with a smile anyway.

Was it worth it?

I get asked that question daily. Really no, none of this was worth it, it all sucked. But inquiring minds want to know so let's dish about my reconstruction. I am not going to blog about the suck ass part, you know lymphedema, exhaustion, can't move your arm, elephant on your chest all that crap- this will be just recon. I won't rehash the bullshit of "oh my god you are getting a FREE boob job", "finally getting the boobs you wanted", "are you going bigger", "no more saggy boobs" because I will just get angry and no one likes angry AM. Plus we all know that is utter nonsense. See a boob job is a choice we did not choose this and it comes at us full force. Recon from breast cancer is different they scrap you to 1% of breast tissue, rads and chemo effect how that implant sits too. Your body is going through a trauma and trying to adjust. Now add your mind set or your mind wrapped in cancer, completely different than a boob job.

The you have cancer comment happens then almost immediately after it is the "do you know a plastic surgeon?" I think our issue starts there. Why do we push right to recon? Our body is about to go into major overhaul adding this element is something I think is more pushed by society. Think about it, the first and most important is to remove the cancer. Just that surgery is intense and takes a toll on our body. The drains, the removal of the breast, the exhaustion and the mental part. Add a foreign object and what the actual f$^k just happened. Then there is chemo and rads making it all a big ass mess. Recon should come later but it does not. In retro spec I would have gone flat and fabulous to heal mentally and physically then done recon. I am not anti recon only on Brideplasty that show pisses me off.

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The recon started right at mastectomy with expanders was difficult. They felt like a squeaky toy inserted in my body. Then with the fills, ugh.  I felt nausea set in and pain like a hard work out, do able but with everything else it sucked. There is a metal piece that they use to find the part for the needle to inject the saline in, seriously read that again that is in our body!  I set off the metal detector at an SU football game and had to explain to the security guards, they were freaked out I was amused. The expanders were a bitch-uncomfortable and odd. Just didn't know what to make of them. I think watching your body change before your eyes is a mind screw too. Cancer messes with you on the inside but you can not see it this you watched literally. Looking back I know I joked about it but I  think it was hard to watch yourself change like that.

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Then you have the implant itself. Hard, unmovable, lifeless thing inserted into your body. CRAZY! Now do not get me wrong it works for some, not for me. I hated them. Zipping up a dress they didn't move and that got me for some reason made it so sad to me. Granted they shifted into my arm pits, not a good look. This and infection is common because of the above reasons chemo, rads, and scarping to 1% of breast tissue. I remember when I went into the plastics office the first time and asked for a tram surgery he laughed at me, rude! I weighed 107 pounds and was fit and healthy he told he couldn't find anything to make even one breast from that is why I went with implants first. It was such an alien invasion for me but everyone kept telling me how great they looked I didn't see it nor did I feel it.


I went in to have my scars that were HUGE keloids and very painful looked at and the PA said first we need to figure out what to do about the shifting. UGH another surgery. I asked about the DIEP because now thank you cancer you dirty devil it gave me 27 pounds and I could. I was warned of the surgery but knew what it was because I had done my research and talk to many who had it. I was mentally prepared, I really believe that is why I did so well this time. My head was ready for a 10 hour surgery, 3 days in ICU, 3 days in the hospital, 3 weeks resting, months recovering, and  another surgery to follow. Do not be fooled by the tummy tuck bull shit this is not what this operation is about so do not go in thinking that. I felt like using part of me was like taking two back from cancer, hahaha I was a thief in the night and was going to get myself back. Dumb to some but to me I needed this.

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Then came the revisions. ALL of my friends told me the lipo was the worse part. See with this surgery you get what someone (who the hell was it I would like to know) dubbed "dog ears" on your hips. Its from crap settling after and you need adjusting. So every time my doctor would try to explain but Ann Marie you are having.... I would reply I know the lipo is the worse. He gave up and I went in a dumb ass. This surgery kicked my ass. He removed ALL my scars, YAHOOOO and we will watch and ride them like crazy. He made my breasts the size I wanted, I always knew he went bigger the DIEP so he had something to work with. He did good but he basically did another mastectomy. OPPS I should have listened.


After reading all that do you think recon is easy? NO! Was it worth it? I won't answer that. It is what it is. It is what I had to do to feel a little like me after cancer. It is not what I wanted no matter how many times before cancer I joked about perky boobs I would never to plastic surgery as want ever. Recon SUCKS but like anything it should be your choice. Do you have to have this no way. Flat and fabulous is just that but like recon not for everyone. I think the best thing is to talk to as many people as you can and listen to their experience and remember it is just that theirs you are different than them and will handle this your way. For now my size is comfortable, they feel comfortable and I am in a good spot. When I am dressed that is don't get me started on the scars, OY this post is long enough. Did anyone make it to the end? My tiara got dusty just writing it!

  This is what my breasts have been through in 2 years, this is a lot of trauma for a person's body.

 

Take a good look

A friend recently posted asking when was the last time you took a good look at your scars. I thought about that question all week. I look at them daily. Mostly to figure out how I can make sense of them, how to accept them. I stare and wonder if looking is the way push through the pain of how they look. I know all the posts about scars make us stronger, they are the story, or my favorite "a scar just means you were stronger than what tried to hurt you". But honestly those words are mute when you stand naked.

I can start with the mastectomy ones that remind me of cancer. The fear that cancer brought in my life and left me with a mark to show it had been there. I can move on to the scar that was left by a lump I found a few months after that my doctor removed in her office "just to be safe" another reminder that cancer was lurking and could be back. Or the burn mark that I got from cooking because I have no feeling in my chest any more which resulted in 2nd degree burn humorous in a warped way until I undress and look at the wound it left. My worse are the drain marks-painful from the keloids, extreme pain but the reminder of the awful drains is almost worse. The DIEP left the most pronounced scaring ever. Deep, bright, thick, painful marks across my breasts and belly leaving me looking like a rag doll. The images make them almost look good so in a way they help more then the mirror.

 Alive but sew together to stay that way.

Someone once said to me "You are married why do you care about the scars". I think about that comment when my husband and I on the rare occasion are intimate and I wear a tank top because I am embarrassed of the scars not wanting him to touch them. Or when I go to change at the YMCA and run into a private area so no one sees what a mess I am. Or worse when I have to stand in front of a mirror naked and wonder how I got in that body. Scars are hard to look at think about when you are in line at the store and you see someone burned or scared you have to look away because you want to star but that would be rude. That is how I feel 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Add the eructating pain that keeps me up because of my keloids and you have an entire other element. Do not tell me this is purely cosmetic this is so much more than that.  

Downer post for sure but as I go in for phase 2 which I know will addresses some of the scaring I can't help but focus on them which results in pain. And as they say "pain is meant to be felt". Breast cancer results in the amputation of our breasts by no means is an easy thing to deal with. Processing it, accepting it and pushing through takes years. It is easy to walk around covered up you may even forget for a moment but with my scars I can not. I feel them through clothes, they are bothered by certain tops that rub against them, hell I can't even wear certain underwear because of the my stomach. So yes the cleavage looks great, but the size is too big and the scars are too deep. You can have the cleavage.

I didn't ask for this road I am just navigating my way down it through the bumps. I am figuring out which shoes to wear and how to walk because trust me when I say this changed my confidence level. Adjusting to the new takes time.   I just hope I have enough shoes to get me through this because it requires a lot of attitude!

Posted on September 11, 2014 .

Don't you get sick of talking about breast cancer?

The other day someone asked me if I get sick of talking about breast cancer and while she is just 14 I really have thought that was an intense question (she didn't mean it that way). I think people who do not have cancer or any lasting illness do not fully understand just how sick of it we are. Just cause you can't see what we are dealing with you expect us to be over this when our reality can not bring us away from it.  Yes, I do get sick of talking about breast cancer for sure. I get sick of dealing with it every frigging day!  I want to forget it ever happened to me but that can not happen for many reasons. I have tried very hard to remove my family and friends from my every day talkings of my cancer life sorry if it filters in but this is my reality now. They are probably reading this thinking BULLSHIT but really you have no idea how much more I want to say. This is what I wake up and deal with every single day, that is when I sleep. I think for them because I am not recovering in a hospital from a surgery or bald from chemo or dealing with burns from radiation they think "well she is all done". Such is not the case.

The scars are so painful it hurts me physically on a daily basis. That being said I now have Phase II of my DIEP coming up where my doctor will address this, he is going to literally cut the two scars off and make just one in hopes that will ease just a little of the pain and scaring of the keloid.  He will adjust the new foobs and help with the nice side fat I have from my tummy scar. I keloid on the side making a constant muffin top and I have fluid built up, nothing a little lipo cant help. FACT- I never asked for this cancer gave it to me. When I look in the mirror naked (which is rare I prefer the neck up) I see nothing but a breast cancer scared women. Yes I am sick of talking about breast cancer but how can I stop when this is what I see daily.

I can not sleep at night because my body is aching from my lymphedema and cording and numbness and weird pains in my breast  that were not there before. The tingling that is in my hands and feet that make them feel like they are asleep and hurt like pins and needles keep me from getting a good nights sleep. My joints ache and I can not get comfortable at all because of my chest being well in pain.  Yes I am sick of talking about breast cancer but how can I stop when I can not even get sleep because of it.

Doctor, doctor, doctor! See as much as I want to get cancer out of my life I have a doctor appointment every other month if not monthly. Then there is scans and blood work in addition to the doctor visits. While you know it will be ok (please breast gods let me get a pass) you just get sick to your stomach every single one. Enter scananiexty which builds really all week. You are poked and jabbed and scanned and felt up more than you ever thought possible. You sit and wait in doctor offices waiting to hear "no evidence of disease" and you breath a sigh of relief until the next time. Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer but my doctor appointments make it impossible to avoid.

I have made some of my best friends because of stupid dumb breast cancer. We have formed this bond that is unbreakable. We relay on each other to lift us up to lean on and to commiserate with. We watch as some have been taken away from this disgusting disease. We are then filled with grief mixed with guilt and heart break and a touch of relief that it wasn't us which just adds even more to our survivor guilt. I am completely sick of this cancer world but know that this is my bizarre world that I hate yet love but will not leave because my family is here and they know just how I feel. Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer but I will never leave them because I need their support as much as they need me.

Breast cancer never just ends it really does not. Each day does get a little better. We find ourselves as first the newly diagnosed trying to find our way through this and understand all the lingo and the grasp what the hell is about to happen. We start making connections and figure out which we fit into and who will help us the most. We then ease into the surgery and  treatment part where we need the guidance and tips of those who have been there. They help us more than our doctors (even though we do love our docs). We form more bonds and find ways to laugh at our nails falling off and drains hanging from our body because these amazing people have been there. Then we start to be the ones who really are just trying to adjust to the new normal, the ones living the post traumatic stress of the after math of cancer. The "WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK JUST HAPPENED?" because I am still processing the last two years!  Cancer puts you on a full force roller coaster and sends you off on a hell ride leaving you dazed and confused from it all. The after math isn't just about your body adjusting it is about your mind healing as well. The emotional scars do not seem to ever really go away or maybe I am still at the healing phase so the jury is still out on this part. Soon we become the veterans the ones who have been through it all and we want to help those in all stages of this roller coaster ride. Yes, I am sick of talking about breast cancer but shit my head is still on this ride!

So there you have it -sick of talking about it but will not, can not, and won't stop. I wonder if this will help those without cancer to understand why we can't stop. We want to but can't. Here is the thing. Those "cancer free" moments-you know when you are out to dinner with you friends, on a walk, sitting and just relaxing, listening to your kids fight, or maybe exercising whatever that is- that moment when for even a second you do not think, talk breath or FEEL cancer. ATTACK it. Embrace it and be cancer free, cause let's face it that is a state of mind not medical term. Shine that tiara and truth be told through all this talk, pain, treatment and surgery are NOT cancer.