FAIR WARNING…I am going to be sharing some not so appealing images. So if it bothers you, PLEASE know that it’s coming. I went back and forth on if I should share this or not…and in the end decided I wanted to. My reasoning behind doing this series is to create awareness…we don’t know what we don’t know. The mastectomy is one of the ugliest parts of this journey…there’s no “saving the tatas” or anything cute about it. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s ugly. Here we go…
10/21/208 “ Friday I went to all of my pre-op appointments and it was complete overload..AGAIN! Learning about my limitations, the 4 drains I ’ll have in, not being able to shower, and just the fact that my body will FOREVER be changed. I will never look in the mirror and see what I do today—ever again. It’s just so weird and unsettling to think about.
I ’m so anxious inside…and nervous…sad…scared.
I broke down on Friday but today has been all bout holding it together. Being around the kids makes me have to be strong, and also serves as a good distraction! If they knew what I truly felt inside, they’d be anxious as well. I just can’t do that to them or anyone around me.”*
As crummy as that day was from that journal entry, the Sunday prior was amazing! There was a fundraising event that a good friend of mine did for our family and it was just incredible. The love and support that our town showed us was once again just breathtaking. I won’t ever forget driving up to the venue…in my car by myself and seeing ALL of the people that were there in honor of our family was CRAZY.
I sat in my car and just cried looking at it all.
There were vendors and signs and food and so many people!!!! My friend Jenny held a Yoga practice and it was the most beautiful experience. I don’t ever want to forget the feelings I had and the moments I experienced in that hour. Laying on my back, seeing the branches of a tree against the crisp blue sky as a cool breeze would whisper on my face. ‘I Can Only Imagine’ was playing and it was the most peaceful and gratitude filled moment I had experienced. It was an incredible event that left me in grateful tears!!!!
Monday, October 23 was the day I went in for my double mastectomy.
This was the day that would forever change my body. It was an incredibly emotional day for me!! Losing a part of my femininity was not easy. I was grateful that they had served their purpose, I mean they DID nurse 3 amazing kiddos. But still, it was very hard on me mentally. I was told to take pictures before (something so against my norm, lol!), so I did. Just as a reminder of who and what I once was.
At the hospital was Kaleb, my mom, my dad, my mother in law and of course friends who were always there to support me. As usual, I cried as I kissed my husband goodbye and they wheeled me back to the OR.
When I woke up, I asked for every person to come back to recovery to see me…and I just hugged them and wept. It was such a sad day for me. Good because the cancer was literally being cut from my body, but mournful for the femininity being stripped away from me in one instant.
This is one reason why the whole ‘save the tatas’ type of campaigns aren’t really cute. Because there’s no saving them when you have cancer…they are taken from you and your body is forever changed.
I spent 2 nights in the hospital on LOTS of pain meds. It was incredibly uncomfortable and you don’t realize the muscles that you use to do something as simple as sitting up. One of the worst parts were the drains. Have you ever seen them or know what they are? They are awful! There are 4 tubes coming out of your body that lead into these bulb like contraptions. They are there to drain the extra fluid out of your body. So it’s pretty disgusting…blood, fluid and particles. You have to ‘strip the drains’ a few times a day.
Let me tell you, when your husband has to look at that be the one instructed on how to do it…THAT is commitment.
I felt as if every bit of intimacy we had ever had together was gone in that moment. He tried to just do what the nurse said, but I was mortified. He had to look at my completely botched chest with blood flowing out and old it together while he listened to them on what to do…no couple should ever have to do that.
It was a pretty rough few weeks…
“Recovery wasn’t fun AT ALL! I hated looking at myself. 4 drains hanging out of me with Frankenstein looking chest, no hair, and couldn’t move my arms. It’s devastating to my confidence level to say the least. I saw my Plastic Surgeon one week out and got the first set of drains removed. The second set was out the following week. I had to have people drive me because I had NO range of motion—so annoying and uncomfortable.
The first time I went for a fill (where they put the fluid into the tissue expanders) it was 100ccs and it was AWFUL! It felt like my chest was going to explode and it was so tight. At the next appointment I expressed how miserable it was so I got to start doing 50ccs which was WAY better! I stopped at 350 with the hopes that the final implants would be around 300 at most.”*
And the whole shower thing?
Yeah, I couldn’t take it! I finally wrapped myself in saran wrap and got under the water, lol! It was all I could do to try to feel sane again, so it had to happen!
“I was scared crazy and sad and mad and ALL the emotions possible leading into the surgery BUT it happened and was successful. After meeting with our oncologist we learned that 15 or so lymph nodes were removed from the left side and 4 from the right. She told us that the Red Devil chemo did not kill the cancer cells though…they did not see dead cells or tissue. My oncologist was worried that there could be microscopic disease in my body and wanted to make sure to be aggressive and go after it.
That was a HUGE blow.
Totally not the news we expected so it caught us off guard for sure. She said that I would do 4 rounds of a chemo called Taxotere. I would go every 3 weeks followed by 6 months of chemo pills called Xeloda. My exchange surgery would be 3-6 months post radiation. So basically I was lookin gat 9 more months of chemo then a month and a half of radiation.
I mean more than a YEAR before this would all be behind us. Pretty disappointing for sure”*
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.