I got discharged from the hospital on Wednesday with a heavy dose of steroids in hand…but it was so good to be home!!! However, something was off, just different. Emotionally, I just couldn’t be around people. There were times I would just hide out in my room, not wanting to come out and face others. I felt down and sad and almost empty…it was incredibly strange. Looking back on it, I think it was almost like I had PTSD or something.
That Thursday, we hit the ground running.
First up was our appointment with the original breast surgeon we had seen months prior. It was and still is all a blur!!! I just cried the whole time I sat there trying to keep all of the information straight. We decided on a double mastectomy and she had said we could do nipple sparing and save my nipples if I wanted. But other than that, there wasn’t a lot of direction for the plan. She offered several different options but didn’t give us a clear vision on what we should do.
I remember leaving there so confused and in a complete daze.
She had said we could do surgery in just a couple of weeks. This was October and in my head I had always planned for the end of the year. But with everything that had taken place from my hospital stay, we were on a new path and it was all coming VERY quickly.
Friday was the PET scan.
And I was seriously crumbling. It’s like everything from the last few weeks was coming to head. I just cried nonstop. There were so many decisions to make and so much information coming our way that I just didn’t know what to do. That PET scan was harder than the first. My anxiety and fear was through the roof! In the same room I had been in months before, I drank the radioactive liquid and waited for my insides to light up. When it was time, I literally tried crawling out of the machine! It took several times before the tech was able to get me to relax and get the scan done. I had taken the anti-anxiety meds but they apparently weren’t enough this go ‘round.
On a good note, the scan came back with great results! The large tumor was down to 1.3cm which was a HUGE difference! And the lymphs were undetectable! The chemo did it’s job!!! As awful as the last months had been, the plan was working!
We met with a new Breast Surgeon for a second opinion
And we really liked her! She was very direct! They did an ultrasound and pulled up all of my images and had a specific plan she recommended. Her confidence in her treatment plan made us feel pretty great. She suggested mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy, expanders placed under the muscle then finish out chemo and then radiation. 3-6 months later, I would have an exchange done where they would take out the tissue expanders to be replaced with implants. She pulled up my MRI results from when we first had them done and showed us the tumor and where everything was…it was the first time we had seen all of that and it was pretty eye opening.
She was very detailed and had a definitive plan! It made us very confident in what was to come.
PLUS, she said I was absolutely NOT a candidate for nipple sparing. Since my tumor crawled up toward the nipple area, it would be pretty risky to keep it. This was drastically different from the first opinion we had! Not only that, but she wouldn’t touch me until I had been off of steroids for a certain amount of time. Again, VERY different from our original plan.
Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to meet with physicians and tried to finalize all upcoming treatment dates. I remember how amazing it felt to not be on chemo during that time. It was nice to feel somewhat NORMAL…sure I wasn’t the same person I was before diagnosis (I was weak and tired) BUT I wasn’t sick! I didn’t have mouth sores and I wasn’t having to miss kids activities. It would be short lived since I had to do more chemo post surgery, but it felt great while it lasted!
One of the key appointments I had to have was with a Plastic Surgeon.
When you pick a Breast Surgeon, it’s a packaged deal with your Plastic Surgeon. They work very closely together so the Breast Surgeon gives you a couple of names and that’s that. You don’t get to interview dozens to make your choice…it’s one or two and you’re done. I scheduled to meet with two…one connected to the original Breast Surgeon and one connected to the second opinion. I went to the first appointment but after some issues in the office and waiting room, I just didn’t feel at peace. I had been praying for guidance so that I would know which Breast Surgeon to go to. My friend and I left with the assurance that this that was the sign I had been needing!
Let me tell you, I was totally freaked out on meeting with a Plastic Surgeon to begin with! I had not ever really envisioned myself in one of their offices so this was a rough one for me. I was struggling with the notion that I was going to take something foreign out of my body and put something foreign back into my body, so I needed someone who was going to help me with that mental aspect.
Of course I didn’t go to these alone, I had two of my closest friends by my side.
And the most logical thing to do was to stop by and get a glass of wine before the appointment, right? So that’s exactly what we did 😉 It was good to just BE for a little bit! Once at the appointment, I had one friend asking questions while the other took copious notes. I mean WHO KNEW there were so many decisions going into this stuff? The surgeon was GREAT though! He was very thorough and explained every detail of what the surgery would entail.
And then they had to take my before pics.
I went into a room with a female who took pics from all different angles…I knew I would be thankful at some point, but in that moment I was terrified. It was heartbreaking to be there and I was devastated that I was on that track.
Lastly, I had to meet with a Pulmonologist to make sure my lungs were strong enough to get me through surgery.
We devised a plan to wean off of the steroids sooner than planned since I was doing so well. That was a HUGE and welcomed victory!!!
10/09/2018 “This past week has been so good, just because it has been somewhat normal, as if that’s even a thing anymore. Today marks day 29 with NO chemo and I can’t even say how good it feels. I know it’s short lived-I know after surgery I have to go back to it but for now, it feels pretty great!
Yesterday was pretty awesome, I worked out for the first time in WEEKS! I didn’t go hard, I didn’t push myself, but I showed up and moved. I have a few weeks of before surgery so if I can build back just a LITTLE strength, I know it will help. The kids had the day off from school so we went to the zoo and it was just pure joy. I mean I was with 3 kids so of course there were moments! But as a whole it was great. Watching everything through Kolbi’s eyes was just blissful and was like time stood still. Then seeing Kallie and Ky get excited with her and show her things was just pure joy for my soul.
I still feel a bit (or A LOT) lost and confused about my role right now, not sure what I’m supposed to be doing or where this journey is leading me. It’s unsettling but these good days sure help!”*
10/10/2018 “Philippians 4:19 was a reminder taht God will ALWAYS meet our needs. We may not have or get our ‘wants’ but our needs will always be taken care of. It just takes trusting in Him enough to not try and control it all. Pretty great reminder as I walk this journey. There are LOTS of wants. I mean I want to keep my boobs, to feel attractive, to feel good, to have hair…the list goes on. But He WILL take care of my needs and those of my family. Pretty great lesson to learn to let go of control. I mean it could have been less significant than cancer to help me get there but apparently this is something I needed to learn!!!”*
10/15/2018 “In such a strange season right now. Physically I feel good FINALLY with zero problems! But I have absolutely NO motivation for anything and feel so utterly lost. I feel like I don’t know my purpose right now and what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s just so strange for me because I’ve been so motivated and on fire with crazy drive for so many years.
It’s frustrating and defeating!
My friend had a good thought when I shared this with her…maybe my purpose is to dig deeper into my relationship with God. Maybe my time should be spent in the word and growing there. It makes sense especially because of times like this I struggle even feeling close to God and knowing how/what to pray! Just seriously a weird place to be-a strange season for me. I’m trying to have faith that the answers will come and I will have this burning desire and fire in me re-lit.”*
We decided to go with our second opinion Breast Surgeon and her Plastic Surgeon…I was finally CONFIDENT in our decision.
Surgery was a week away at this point and the clock was ticking…
*excerpts from my personal journal
As a wife and mama of 3, health and wellness is Natalie’s passion and she loves being able to help others through this platform. Natalie has been in the industry for more than 10 years with experience as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and fat loss expert. Her certifications include CPT through the Cooper Institute, AFAA, Power Pilates, CrossFit and several other formats including her nutritional consultant certification through Metabolic Effect.
Natalie loves to share her knowledge and experience with others to help them find a long term and sustainable solution for the fat loss lifestyle. It’s a true gateway into FINDING A BALANCED LIFE…Natalie’s focus is to help women find their perfect fat loss solution through personal metabolism strategies and mindset makeovers. She is the creator of the online course, “Fat Loss Project” where hundreds of women have found that solution.
Natalie also helps breast cancer survivors love their new perfectly imperfect strength through food freedom and strategic movement. Contact her for one on one coaching opportunities.