You are probably thinking…another BLOG. You are incorrect, this BLOG is about BREAST CANCER AWARENESS UNDER THE AGE OF 40 and advocating for yourself to get a baseline mammogram. If you are over the age of 40, please get a mammogram.
My whole breast cancer diagnosis is somewhat surreal and I still cannot believe that I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36 with no signs or symptoms. Breast cancer does not run in my family. The reason that I had my first baseline mammogramwas because a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. I thought to myself, I should probably get my baseline mammogram to check things out on my own.
My husband was going to be out of town on Saturday, January 12, 2017, so I thought, that sounds like a great day to get a mammogram! I scheduled my appointment online and that was that, so I thought…. I needed to get my gynocologist to sign off on the papers for my scheduled mammogram. I spoke with the Nurse Practitioner and she asked, “Have you noticed any lumps or changes in your breasts.” and my answer was “NO.” She also asked, “Does breast cancer run in your family.” and my answer was “NO.” The Nurse Practitioner said that the Gyncologist doesn’t usually recommend a patient getting a mammogram unless they have answered yes to the questions that she had asked me.
One post surgery must-have that I definitely recommend is a set of walkie talkies. They definitely came in handy between the caregiver and me. It was much easier to use than a cell phone and required a lot less effort. I carried the walkie talkie with me throughout the house. Having it near my bedside when I was napping or sleeping made me feel comfortable that I was always able to contact my caregiver if I needed anything.
I could have not lived without my shower belt post surgery! I wore my shower belt in the shower to hold my drains which is what it is intended for. I also wore my shower belt under my clothes. The shower belt is adjustable and was comfortable to wear around my waist. My caregiver pinned my drains to the shower belt so that the drains did not hang.
If you know of someone going through surgery, it is always thoughtful to not only think about the person having surgery, but to also think about their caregivers. Caregivers need support too.
Recently, my friend had surgery and I made a basket with goodies for her caregivers to enjoy while they waited for her surgery to be finished. My mom’s friends made a basket with goodies on the day of my surgery for my family and came to the hospital to give it to them, so I wanted to make sure that I did the same for someone else. The basket was a simple gesture that I know was greatly appreciated by the caregivers.
I have been pretty busy the past few weeks traveling and going to chemotherapy treatments. Overall, I have been feeling fine, but my main symptom from chemotherapy is FATIGUE. This letter is told through pictures….
June 14th: My sister-in-law and me at my oncologist appointment. We celebrated Flag Day and Boy George’s Birthday!
June 16th – 18th: Tom and I went to Iowa to celebrate Grandma Mary’s life. She was an amazing lady and she will be missed dearly.
I met some of my mother-in-law’s friends that read my blog. It was really nice to meet them and I appreciate their support. They made me feel like a local celebrity.
You will need assistance from your caregiver when showering post surgery. It will be difficult for you to wash your hair (if you have not had chemotherapy) and your body due to lack of movement of your arms. I suggest using Dove body wash, My doctor recommended body wash that was gentle on the skin and odorless. A small sponge was used when washing my body. My doctor suggested dabbing and not rubbing on the tender areas of my body when using the sponge. I was also told to not face the shower faucet. I purchased a detachable shower head. It was nice to have a flexible shower head when washing. I also purchased a shower seat to sit on while showering. The handles on the shower seat served multiple purposes, I used them to hold onto, place a dry washcloth there incase water got in my eyes, or to hold my drains if I wasn’t wearing my shower belt. (I will be writing a post about the shower belt soon.) I was weak after surgery and standing would have been difficult for me. I also sat on the shower chair in my bedroom when my caregiver dried my hair. My robe also had pockets, so I put my drains in those if I was not wearing my shower belt.
With any type of breast surgery, the drains will need tending to. The drains will need to be stripped and emptied about 3 times a day, especially right after surgery. Before you are released from the hospital, the nurse will show your caregiver the proper way to strip and empty the drains. It is recommended to use alcohol pads when stripping the drains. My caregiver used these alcohol pads to help push the fluid out, starting from the top. After the drains are emptied and the amount is recorded, the drains are placed in the scrub pockets. My caregiver safety pinned the tubes to the scrub pockets so that were secure and would not get caught on anything.
The quote above explained how I felt about my drains. Every time I went to the plastic surgeon for check-ups, I would show him my drain chart knowing that my fluid levels were too high. I had drains for 3-4 weeks and boy was I happy when they were removed! 🙂 The Anchor – Edition 8 was dedicated to the removal of my last drain and crush the cup!