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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Breast Redo's & Nipple Tattoos!?!


I'm eager to see how much attention the title of this post will receive.  (snicker)

It is funny how having breast cancer makes it ok to talk about breasts and nipples in such a public manner.  I do think awareness is important, and since pink is not my most favorite color, I will participate in awareness by throwing out post titles that may make some do a double take.  Hee hee.

In all seriousness, I would appreciate any exposure you can give this post and my story.  It has been very concerning to me how so many people, including the medical community (especially the medical community) still do not think of breast cancer as a "young" disease.  I believe that is why I was dismissed so rudely by a surgeon when I expressed my concern for the lump I know I was feeling.  I did not fit the "typical" breast cancer patient.  I really, really want every woman to know that ANYONE can get breast cancer.  
{comforting my youngest after our "head shaving" party.  I have orange marker on my head thanks to my middle girl who wanted to "autograph" my head:) }

ANYONE.  
I  know women who have done an incredible job with eating healthy-grinding their own wheat, raising chickens for organic eggs, eating all organic, take their vitamins--and STILL GOT BREAST CANCER.

I know of women in their twenties who were marathon runners who have DIED FROM BREAST CANCER.

I know women who are so spiritual and close to God, who are FIGHTING BREAST CANCER.

ANYONE CAN GET IT.

I admit I was shocked to find out that I had it.  Our family has been on a journey of embracing a lifestyle of health, especially when it came to the foods we eat.  I am the first to admit I placed way too much faith into healthy foods and vitamins/supplements.  I still think these things are extremely important, but I do not place my faith in them anymore. 

I have been so blessed to have so many wonderful women read this blog and form such a great community around me.  I care deeply for all of you, so I'm gonna get bossy:

1. DO YOUR MONTHLY CHECKS
2. IF YOU FIND SOMETHING, GET IT CHECKED & INSIST ON FOLLOW UP.

This does not mean you need to go right to a mammogram.  An ultrasound is an easy, painless, non-radiation way to check out any type of lump or bump.  If you are told you have a cyst and there is ANY change, get rechecked.  I wish I would have.
A second opinion is always a good thing to do...another thing I wish I would have known and done.

I will get to the "Breast Redo and Nipple Tattoo" part of this in a minute, by sharing one of my journal entries from my Caring Bridge site.  

But before I do,
 Will you please, please share this post with the 
women in your life?  
Blog.   Email.   Tweet.   Facebook.   Del.icio.us.   Stumble.

If my story can help another woman realize the importance of self breast checks, and of insisting on good treatment and second opinions, it would just be THE BEST.  
Thank You!!


{**The following is an entry from my Caring Bridge journal.  If you would like detailed updates on my health, please visit my Caring Bridge site by clicking here.}

Today we met with my plastic surgeon.  It was interesting:)  It was nice to come out of an appointment feeling like we were able to talk about things that are not life and death.  Less serious, more light.  I am really excited that I do not have to go through the process of fills, (a hard implant that is used to stretch the tissue and is gradually filled each week, then replaced with a permanent implant) as they will be doing a "Veritas Collagen Matrix" type reconstruction.  It is a saline breast implant in conjunction with a soft tissue implant called Veritas Collagen Matrix.  Basically, they form a pocket in my muscle which holds the implant, but because of how the chest muscle is formed, the implant is not covered at the bottom.  They use the Collagen Matrix material to create a sling to hold the bottom of the implant, and it will also create a nice "fold" under the implant.   The collagen they use is from a cow (ew), all the cellular material is taken out of it, and it ends up taking the form of whatever tissue it is put on, which in my case is chest muscle.  It is pretty cool that my body just takes over the collagen and it will eventually turn into my own tissue.  There are no rejection issues due to the removal of all the cells.  That is the best I can do as far as explanation :) 
 My surgeon has been doing this type of reconstruction for over 5 years, and is very positive about the results.  I am limited as to how big we can go, but as doc said, our goal is not Dolly Parton.  Ha!  Although he did say if Dolly Parton is something I would like down the road, this implant will help stretch the tissue and replacing it with a larger one would be possible, just not right away.  I assured him I did not want Dolly Parton...
A month after healing, I will have a short, out- patient surgery for nipple reconstruction and when that is healed, I will get them tattooed with pigment.  Yep, I said TATTOO!!  Who woulda thunk it, huh?  I am not the tattoo type, but when I saw pics of the results, I quickly became the tattoo type!!  
Ok, moving on...



I'm starting to really appreciate this little break I have, with chemo behind me and surgery to come.  I am starting to feel more "present" with my family as my ear is healing and I am feeling stronger.  My counts were perfect on Monday, praise God!

Friday is a big day of scans.  My insurance company DID approve of the PET scan-another huge praise!  I will be getting the PET scan and another breast MRI.  I am nervous about the results.  I wish I could just switch those nerves off, I get butterflies when I think about it.  It will be nice to know just how much chemo worked and see if anything shows up with my lymph nodes or anywhere else in my body. EEK!  Darn butterflies...


More posts on my journey:
Information On My Upcoming Mastectomy
How Cancer Is Teaching Me To Dance
The Gifts Of Cancer
Thoughts While Being Scanned
"I Have Cancer"
What I Read When I Am Afraid

**If you are interested in an awareness bracelet, I had a friend who knew I only like touches of pink custom design a BEAUTIFUL bracelet just for me.  Go here for more information

***If you end up sharing or blogging about this post I would love to know about it!
****If you have your own cancer story or a loved one with a story, I would also love to know about that!  It would be so great to write a post full of links to others stories.  Please share!

19 comments:

  1. Amy, my mom had cancer & recently underwent the nipple reconstruction. She said it is amazing & that it looks real!! continued prayers for you! i have known many young women that have had breast cancer. keep putting the word out there! i will link up if I do a post on cancer. hugs, Cathy

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  2. I shared on my FB page. I began reading your blog just a couple of weeks before your diagnosis. I too have known several young women that have died of breast cancer and a dear friend was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving. You are so right, it's not just a disease for older women.

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  3. Good luck with your journey with breast cancer. I am a 3 1/2 year survior. I had the skin expanders and saline implants. I was 41 when I was diagnosed.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story with us. So glad you are doing well.

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  5. God bless you for sharing your story and your insight...Educating us all. I have 4 daughters and grand-daughters...I myself am a woman hee-hee! and we all need to know the important of self exams and to be assertive in the Dr.'s office and every visit!
    If I do a post I'll let you know.

    Cool beans about the Tattoo!
    I bet your posts title gets lots of attention.

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  6. oh.. PS...

    speaking of getting people's attention. I saw a bumper sticker that said
    SAVE THE TA-TAS... I thought it crass for my taste...but it did get the attention.
    They have merchandise, but also not in my taste. Like you I'd go with something more personal...like your bracelet.

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  7. Keeping good thoughts coming your way, and I will share your story with my friends. Enjoy these next two weeks with an eye to the preciousness of the minutes and moments. That is what Christmas season is all about!

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  8. I shared on my FB page. Your faith, positive outlook, and honest blogging has been an inspiration to me. I am praying for a continued healthy journey for you and your family.

    with love,
    Melanie

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  9. Amy--so glad to hear that your chemo break is here. Thank you for sharing your story and wanting to share it over and over. I will repost this on my FB page.
    Sarah Mast

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  10. I'm posting on my FB page! I love that you are using your circumstances to encourage and help others. Glad you have a break right now!

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  11. Hi Amy,

    I tweeted your post, great job girl! Your post increases awareness without being alarmist, love it.

    Kelly

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  12. I posted a link to this on my blog and my FB page! Thank you so much for sharing, I had a cyst 6 months ago, and got a letter to have another ultrasound about a month ago, I have totally ignored it.... I'm calling them this morning to get back in! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

    Erin

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  13. Amy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am inspired and encouraged by your powerful faith and courage. I found your wonderful blog just days before you shared that you had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I too had breast cancer -- 4 years ago. And I too am young, ate very healthy, exercised regularly, and never dreamed I would ever get cancer. Please stop by and visit my blog. It's called "A New Shade of Pink."

    Jill

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  14. It's very good to hear you're doing so well! I started reading your blog quite some time ago, and your diagnosis came as a bit of a shock because I haven't had much contact with cancer. But you've been such an inspiration, the way you handle it and have moved closer to God.
    There's a lady in South Africa who just had a masectomy. She writes for a christian magazine, and does amazing 'outreach' work in a very dangerous area of the country. If you'd like to contact her and maybe share stories, her email adress is elise@lig.co.za

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  15. I did your post as my feature friday!!!

    http://dragonflyfeathers.blogspot.com/2010/12/featuring-my-favorites-friday_10.html

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  16. You're so right. I noticed this post in my blogroll yesterday and thought.... I need to check that out. The title sold me.

    Then I got busy.

    Tonight as I checked things again I thought... I need to go read that post.

    It has been a little hard for me to follow your journey because cancer is such a fear of mine. I do think about you often and pray for you. You're so beautiful and so very brave.

    Still cancer brings me great fear.

    Something that has stuck with me about your story since the beginning is your persistence and your husbands persistence to get them to check further.

    One of my good friends goes next week to have something suspicious in her breast looked at. This same spot has give her red flags before.

    God Bless You and I will share this post!

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  17. I stumbled upon your post through Pinterest. I now follow it on Facebook. I just lost a friend 2 weeks ago to breast cancer that spread. I also have a young teenage daughter that found a lump (completely by accident after she thought she pulled a muscle exercising...she was never taught self exams at this young age). Thankfully it was a benign tumor (fibroadenoma)after several ultrasounds and follow ups at a renowned Boston hospital, but it was a rude awakening for us. You are very positive and inspirational. Keep up the good work.

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It is important for us to raise awareness and your blog is informative and inspiring. I also think it is important to mention that breast cancer is not just a woman's disease, it can also effect men. Three of my male family members have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer in some fashion one lost his life due to metastatic cancer which started in his breast. I know many of us that read your blog are female, but that means many of us have a man in our life that we love. Whether it is our husband, our father, our son or just a friend, it is important for them to know breast cancer is not gender specific.

    Thank you and God Bless!
    Tessa

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  19. Amy, If you'd like to talk to someone who has had reconstruction and the nipple tatoos, my friend Diana (she is young, too!) would be happy to give you more details, if you need them. She just completed the tatoo part. Love you, girl!

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Thank you so much for your lovely words to me! Due to the number of comments I receive, I cannot respond to all of them - but know that I read and love every word. If you have a question in need of a response, please e-mail sponsornewnostalgia@gmail.com and either Robyn or I will get back to you.