Thursday, January 24, 2013

98. still around

it's been ages since i posted...almost a year?

i don't anticipate posting here anymore.  i am busy with my career...nursing.  i've been nursing now for 6.5 months.  i work on a cardiology unit in a hospital.  i love it.  it's stressful as hell.  i love the patients and my nursing coworkers and the challenges of the job.  i love working as a team and helping make decisions on the care of my patients with other health care team members like doctors, surgeons, OT/PT and social work. i see new things everyday.  things i would never expect.

i've learned how to perform cool skills. i can perform and read ECGs.  i can take blood.  i still can't get a successful IV in yet, but that will come in time.  i've performed CPR and it saved the patient's life! i've had several patients turn sour on me and died within 24 hours.  i've nursed patients on their deathbeds in their final hours.  i've taken care of a patient after death and helped prepare his transport to the funeral home. it is all such a privilege.  it's all such an honour.

and i still remember that moment when i laid on a mammographic table terrified about to have my stereotactic biopsy.  i was panting with the stress of it all and i can still remember vividly when instinctively the nurse just grabbed my hand and held it and the peace and calm it brought me.  that's when i knew i wanted to truly be a nurse.  and i pray everyday i am with my patients that i can have that same impact.  and i know i do!  and it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

97. Guest Poster: San Diego Plastic Surgery Clinic

I was recently approached by the San Diego Plastic Surgery Clinic requesting to do a guest post on my blog.  I took this as a great opportunity to ask a few questions I had about exercising after have reconstruction with implants.  I was very satisfied with the response which you can read below.  It's still good to consult your own plastic surgeons to get the go ahead to exercise after your reconstructive surgery as we each have our own individual experiences.

3 Questions Answered For Those Getting Sub-Pectoral Breast Implants

Post written by Peter Samberg—a writer for Associates for Plastic Surgery, a cosmetic surgery clinic in San Diego providing a suite of procedures from breast reconstruction to face lifts.

After receiving implants under the muscle, exercise is always a concern for women. Can you exercise? Are there certain exercises to avoid? How long do I need to wait after surgery to be active? Will I have to worry about it my whole life? These are all valid questions and all questions that run through almost all the minds of those who have had implant surgery.

Implants can either be placed over or under the muscle. Where the implant is placed can alter appearance and healing. Behind the Sub-pectoral implants are also referred to as under-the-muscle implants. The muscle support can assist in the healing process of this surgery, but here are a few tips to know before you start exercising.

1. When can I start exercising?

While it differs for each patient, the pectoral muscles usually take one to two months to be fully healed. You do not want to start any rigorous exercising or weight lifting until you have fully healed. Because of placement behind the muscle, extremely strenuous exercises to the chest muscles may displace the breast implant.

Low-impact exercise, like walking or bike riding, can actually increase healing time. However, most doctors ask patients to refrain from weight lifting and push-ups for 6-8 weeks.

2. What should I avoid?

Post-surgery you want to give the pectoral muscle time to heal around the implant. You should refrain from push-ups and weight lifting until the healing is complete. Not only should you skip the free weights at the gym, be careful not to do any heaving lifting in your day-to-day activities. After the muscle has healed, you can resume lifting. Breast augmentation surgery should not affect your regular exercise habits one you are fully healed.

3. Do I have to worry about this years down the road?

After the muscle is healed, you should be good to go. However, excessive training of the pectoral muscle can lead to implant displacement. You should always be careful, but after the implants are healed you can live life normally. They will not change your strength or ability. Just be careful not to over-exert the pectoral muscle to steer clear of displacement.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

96. One year ago today...'s been 1 year since I completed my journey after having a double mastectomy and reconstruction. The day almost slipped away with out me realizing it. My mastectomy was on April 14, 2010, but reconstruction took 8 months and culminated in my final surgery December 6, 2010 and this is the day I chose to reflect upon what I went through. The day that felt I could move on with my life.

So much has happened in a year. I moved. I started school. I met tons of great new people. And I became a Nurse. I graduate in 4 months and will soon embark on a new career in the nursing profession. Life is so full of promise...not something I could say 2 years ago when my life was full of fear and anxiety over breast cancer. Fear over finding more lumps. Fear over having more biopsies. Fear of the results. Fear I wouldn't see the next 10 years. Fear that I would have to go through chemotherapy or radiation. Fear that I would leave my family behind. Fear that I would suffer the same fate as my mother.

I am so lucky, with the support of family, friends (shout out to my bestie: Elaine), organizations like Force and Bright Pink and my beloved BRCA bosom buddies like Michele, Teri, Shari, Megan, Claudia, Rebecca, and Robyn to name a few, and an outstanding Health Care Team that I was able to become empowered and take control of my future. Be in charge of my fate. Face my risk of breast cancer head on and make the empowering decision not only to have a PBM, but to share my experience and empower others along the way.

What a remarkable journey it has been. A journey that has shaped me into the person I am today. Strong. Vibrant. And full of Life! Baby, I'm a Firework!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

95. Guest Post: David Haas

Human's Power Over Cancer

Humanity has an incredible ability to persevere through hard times and unfortunate situations. This ability is enhanced when positivity is displayed through all the people that one deals with.

Cancer survivor networks have helped thousands of cancer patients understand and cope with their condition. Moreover, it surrounds patients with other people in the same situation. There are groups for different kinds of cancer, such as colon cancer, breast cancer and skin cancer. There are even groups that are specially designed for patients with a rare cancer, like mesothelioma. Here are some specific reasons why cancer survivor networks are important.

It allows patients to exchange thoughts

Cancer patients are constantly thinking about their situation and need a support group to sort all the thoughts they have. Many patients have questions that they either are scared to ask a doctor about or forget to ask a doctor during their visit. These relaxed groups help patients, and even encourage patients, to write a list of questions that they want to ask the group and group leaders.

Some common topics during a session include
life expectancy questions, tips to help recover from chemotherapy, how to stay positive during treatment, and why it is so important to stay positive during treatment.

It helps patients develop a positive outlook and sense of well-being

Having talked about their condition, many patients leave each group session feeling
positive and ready to embrace the world during their battle with cancer.

This positive outlook and sense of well-being not only helps patients mentally, but also physically. Studies show that a positive outlook helps the body to relax, allowing the immune system and other important bodily functions to operate in an efficient manner.

It allows patients in remission share their experience

Cancer survivor networks are for patients in all stages of cancer, including remission. Therefore, remission patients can share their experience to other patients who are still going through treatment or have yet to go through treatment. A remission patient's uplifting and encouraging stories can help other patients to feel empowered and less anxious about their condition.


This link connects patients with survivor networks. However, there are also online cancer survivor network programs to help patients who are confined to their house, though some people may say they are not as effective as in-person groups.

If you are going through cancer treatment, you should connect yourself to a survivor network. The friends you will meet and the information you will gain will be invaluable.

By: David Haas

Sunday, September 11, 2011

94. following up and my health

so i had my appointment with the genetics counselor a while back. here is what happened...

i found out our brca2 mutation of unknown significance had be down-graded to a status 4-5 which means through study, they consider this mutation harmless and not responsible for the cancers in my family.

this is good i suppose, but it doesn't put the puzzle pieces together for my family. it also does not qualify me for additional surveillance on top of my mastectomy.

in canada, post mastectomy follow up consists of annual clinical breast exams by my family doctor. no additional imaging. i asked about a base-line mri and they don't do that here either. should something "show up", the steps would be an ultra sound and then possible mri.

we went over my family tree again. there are still a lot of questions on my mother's father's side. this side has not been tested. there is still a lot of gaps in data but because most of the family past the 1st generation lives in holland and is not english speaking i have put all the digging around to get information on hold. it is too stressful and school takes up way too much time.

as for my health...i've been in reasonable good health through out the past 2 years and my whole ordeal. i had been eating exceptionally well and only had one cold. aside from complications that i could not really prevent (c-diff and pneumothorax post surgery in april of 2010), i was surprised to find out a few weeks ago that i had been walking around and going to school with pneumonia for the past 2-3 months!!!

i had been complaining often of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing on extremely hot and humid days and remarked to many that i thought i was developing asthma or that i was anemic. blood work came back perfect. i feel slightly embarrassed that i did not recognize that i had pneumonia as this is now the 4th time! had i known, i would have sought treatment much earlier. the only thing i think that threw me was every other time i have had pneumonia in the past, i had an aggravating cough that would keep me up all night and fever/night sweats. i had none of that with this bout.

after a 2 week round of antibiotics and a bout with a superinfection (again...but thankfully not c-diff) i think i am feeling better. i did not get a phone call from my follow-up chest x-ray so i hope that means its all clear. i am still feeling short of breath and tired but this could be because my body has been deconditioned (to cause to decline from a condition of physical fitness, as through a prolonged period) so i need to work on increasing my fitness level again.

sorry for the late response/follow-up from my last post. i do blame this on the pneumonia. it's great to have excuses. lol. my excuse now if i don't post is that semester 3 just started for nursing. i am officially half-way through the program. this semester i will get to go into the OR and witness a few surgeries. this is very exciting for me. maybe i will get to see a double mastectomy!

***stay tuned for a guest post this week from David Hass on "Human's Power Over Cancer" and how to utilize Cancer survivor networks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

93. dusty

wow. my blog is becoming like an old book on the shelf. it's been almost 2 months since i've been here. of course, i will give you the same excuse...and it is a legit one...nursing school takes up all my time.

i am currently nearing the end of semester 2...that means i am pretty much half way through the course. finals start this week and run into next week. then 2.5 blissful weeks off. i so need it. i would like to enjoy the summer before it disappears and the snow makes its appearance again.

i don't have classes tomorrow, but tomorrow is the day i meet with the new genetics counselor which will hopefully be able to determine which route i should take in regards to surveillance now that my breasts...are gone! i have read different opinions. i'm just not sure what to do. i don't think i should be doing nothing at all because as we all know, there is always residual breast tissue after mastectomy. i still have my lymph nodes...and breast cancer could still start in the arm pits, etc cuz there is tissue there too.

i will let you know how it goes. it may be a few days. hopefully i remember to post in the flurry of studying and trying to maintain my honor roll status when writing my exams. it sure is stressful. semester 2 was harder than semester 1.

if you are reading this and it is subsequently 1 month since i have posted, please send me a message.

apologies to my blogging community/brca sistas! i have no idea what is going on in your lives right now. i miss you. i hope to get caught up and connect with you over my mini summer break. you gals are in the back of my mind. i know you were rooting for me to get to this point, and yes my life has gone on. i hope not to forget about this blog though. it's just on slow motion right now while i am in school.

lots of love...and if you are someone who has just come across my page and are looking for support, please message me because i do make it a priority to help out our community:)

oh...and just found this cool link that sums up PBM nicely:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

92. boobless get-together!

this past friday a group of women decided to get together. we didn't know each other, but we shared a common bond that drew us together. our boobs...or lack there of...i prefer to call them upgrades;)

this started off so innocently enough. i had given permission to my plastic surgeon Dr. Avram to share my blog with his patients. through my blog i have been able to connect with some of these women in my area and offer them advice and reassurance through face book, emails and phone conversations. i have been able to connect some of these women with other women i have met through FORCE who are going through the same things at the same time.

a lady who i connected with through my blog - Alana, was so awesome enough to put a gathering together for us to all meet. this past Friday, 7 women (+ 1 mom) met for the first time at a restaurant. the kinship was immediate. within minutes we had connected on an intimate and personal level. we laughed and we cried. we joked around and we hugged. we shared our ups and our downs and i can say for certain that at the end of the night we all left with a glow in our hearts.

it has always been my hope all along that my blog would help to empower others along the same or similar journey as me. that hope was completely surpassed when a complete stranger who i had only met an hour before toasted me and my blog. with tears glistening in her eyes she looked into mine and struggled to stammer out the words of how much hope my blog gave her and her daughter during such a frightening time when her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer and everything was unknown.

as i recall the memory now i am overcome with happiness and joy and yes some tears, that i as a human being could offer such hope to just one family. it is almost surreal and hard to believe! surreal that 7 women were raising their glasses in honour of me! hard to believe that i, just one person, could have so much impact on other people's lives.

thank you to the wonderful women i met this weekend. i can't wait to get together again. and to the one's who couldn't make it, there will be more get togethers to come!

boobless wonders!