I’ll have the B cup in cancer-free, please.

Dr. Woods filled my tissue expanders yesterday for the last time.

To a size DD.

Kidding!  But I have noticed several of you looking at me recently with raised eyebrows :)

The expanders are hard, oddly shaped and overfilled.  I won’t miss them!  My permanent implants will be 325 cc’s.  Dr. Barber removed 300 grams of tissue on each side back in September.

I won’t see Dr. Woods again until my exchange surgery, which is scheduled for June 7.  No overnight stay and only two small drains (compared to the 4 larger ones I had after the mastectomy).  I should be able to drive after 48 hrs and return to normal activity after a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I go back to Emory for my 3-month check-up next week.  I’m quite nervous about that, so I’m grateful to have my kids’ Zumba classes at the YMCA scheduled, plus a weekend full of Easter festivities.

Thank you for checking in!
Nicole

Cue the fireworks

Today was my 30th and final radiation treatment.

Thank you, Erica, Debbie and Melissa.
Best of luck, brave souls who have come and gone through the waiting room.

Good riddance, gowns that have been a wardrobe staple for the past 11 months.

Happy 2013, friends and family.

Now sending all of my healing vibes to Oregon,
Nicole

23 down, 7 to go

Cancer didn’t hurt a bit, but treatment has given me all sorts of maladies.

My upper arm and axilla (fancy name for armpit) have mostly been numb since surgery.  Now, I feel burned.

My left shoulder, where the radiation beam exits, looks like it’s never seen sunscreen.  My chest is covered with brown spots, too, and the skin under my left breast looks charred.  I have a knot in my throat from the treatment to the lymph nodes above my clavicle, near my lower neck.

Left shoulder after 28 radiation treatmentsI’ve also lost some range of motion in my arm and the swelling is worse.

My plastic surgeon, dermatologist and physical therapist will have their work cut out for them after all of this!

Last week, we agreed with Dr. Torres to continue radiation through the full 6 weeks.   Tomorrow, I make up for Christmas Day by getting treated twice – at 9am and again at 3pm.  Next week, I get New Year’s Day off, but will have 2 treatments on New Year’s Eve.

But, Friday, January 4?  Done!

In the meantime, I practically have bangs!

Hair 4 months after last Taxol treatmentThank you for checking in,
Nicole

Holiday Wishes


Our holiday card this year:Holiday Card 2012I love it because it’s all about family and love and support and fun and the outdoors.
The very things that are important to us no matter what is going on,
and exactly what we wish for our family and friends.

I did consider sending this one, though:

Cancer Holiday Card

What’s In Your Wallet?

To make check-in easier, radiation oncology patients at Emory have a card to scan when we arrive each day for treatment.

Funnier, though, is the “Device Identification Card” that I also carry in my wallet.  It says that my tissue expanders “may be detected by security screening devices.”  Thankfully, I didn’t have any trouble at the airport going to and from Virginia!

RadiationRadiation pillow
My first treatment was yesterday.  4o-minute drive each way, and I was there for an hour (subsequent treatments should be quicker).  A foam pillow that was shaped at my simulation appointment helps with positioning.  It hangs on a wall waiting for me.

I check in, undress from the waist up, put in my Pandora request and lay on my pillow with my left arm in an awkward position above my head.  Once a week I’ll get x-rays first, also for positioning.  Actual treatment is less than 10 minutes – they “turn the beam on” and, for me, it moves to 3 different angles.

I’ll do this every day at 11am, except Saturdays, Sundays, and Christmas Day, at least through December.  Wednesdays, I’ll also meet with Dr. Torres and she’ll check my skin.

Happy to be on a bike againThanksgiving
Last week was all about family.

Thank you to those who treated us to good food, our favorite outdoor activities and, as always, lots of love.  Several of our cousins made special trips to see us and we loved it!  Our thoughts continue to be with other family members who are facing extraordinary challenges.

Also, thank you to my sister-n-law for hosting a birthday celebration for me, and to all of our friends and family for the tremendous support the past year.  I’m happy to be 42!

Nicole