I recently got news of a friend that I went to University with, was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix, which had also attached to his rectum, bladder and diaphragm. After 9 hours of surgery, he is recovering and continuing his journey and fight against this disease. Our thoughts are with him and we are positive for a swift and full recovery.
This news did remind me of how important it is to tell our stories of Cancer and how it impacts lives. I have not done an update since September 2012, but lots has happened since then, so here goes.
Since September 2012, Julie has had 3 surgeries all related to the reconstruction from the mastectomy. The first was in November of 2012, where Julie had an expander implanted. A mastectomy not only removes all the breast tissue, but also all the skin - meaning that before a permanent implant can be inserted, the skin needs to be stretched. At the same time, the plastic surgeon also applied an "Alloderm", which supports the implant and helps in healing. For the next 5 months, Julie went to the surgeons office every 2 weeks where he continually added fluid through a port - stretching the skin until it was of the size and proportion suitable for an implant.
From May to October 2013, Julie was able to get back to her Softball and trained for another half marathon in September (which she completed in 2:09 - much improved from the one after her Chemo). In October, Julie had the expander removed and a permanent implant put in. The doctors also adjusted her other breast to ensure size and shape was consistent and to ensure that there was no cancer was evident in the left breast tissue. Good news was that the breast was clean, bad news was that they could not match the size and the left breast was significantly bigger that the right reconstructed breast. Of course this surgery required drainage tubes and sleep and mobility is disturbed. On November 22, Julie once again had another surgery to correct the left breast. While it is significantly improved, we are still contemplating doing some additional tweeks.
In addition to the surgeries, Julie still goes every 6 months to see her oncologist, General Surgeon, and family doctor. This is all part of the screening process. Good news is that these will now move to annual screening as nothing of concern has come up.
Julies journey continues with a positive prognosis and we look forward to the 5 year mark (from March 1, 2012) where we can finally say we have won this battle.