Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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I called Bay Health and spoke to the women who referred me to the plastic surgeon I have now. I told her the new surgeons office was charging me co pays and that I didn’t think I should have to pay because its post op. She said, “You are seeing a new surgeon but let me call the office and see what I can do.” She would see if they would waive the fee for me.  I said, “Thank you that would be great.” She told me if I didn’t hear from her in a couple of days I should give her a call back. The last thing I needed was more bills so I was hopeful that she could take care of this for me. Even though I was insured through my husband’s company, I still had hospital bills after the insurance paid a percentage. I had been out of work because of the cancer and with the relapse I would not be able to return to work. I had applied for disability when I was diagnosed in December of two thousand and thirteen. I was denied twice and I had to obtain a lawyer to help me get a court date so a judge could hear my case and make a decision. With the recurrence of cancer I did not think I had to wait months for a hearing.  I had contacted my lawyer and made her aware of my recurrence. When there was nothing she could do I took matters into my own hands. I emailed a letter about my situation to our senator for our county. I received a response and he had someone contact me who sent me out a form so that I could get my hearing moved up. All I had to do was fill out the form and get a letter from my doctor stating that my cancer had spread and I would be getting more treatment. I did this right away and faxed it off to the number that was on the form. It was about a month later when I heard that based on the relapse my disability was approved. My lawyer had called to tell me the news and then I received a letter in the mail. I had asked my lawyer when I would start getting my payment. She told me she did not know how long it would take social security to process it. He guess was 3 months. I was so happy. I did not understand why I did not get it with my first cancer diagnosis but I would be getting now. Having this money would allow me to pay bills. I would no longer have to worry about not working for income.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

plastic surgeon discussion

My PhotoI went home that afternoon to discuss the new surgeon’s practices and procedures with my husband. I told him the surgeon and staff was nice and caring but, I had felt uneasy about the way he filled my implant. I also told my husband the surgeon said no more fills where necessary.  I love my husband and I value his opinion.  I asked him what he thought because people just have a way of looking at things from a different perspective. He didn’t think I should worry and that the other surgeon was just overly cautious. He said, “Didn’t other women get their reconstruction from him and were happy.” I said, “Yes he came highly recommended.” My husband said, “This is your first appointment give him a chance.” He said, “Maybe next time it will be better.” I said, “It better be.”  My husband then said, “You should be happy about not getting any more fills, don’t they hurt anyway?” I said, “Yes but I just don’t understand why the other surgeon wanted to over expand to 640 and this one said he doesn’t need to.”  My husband said, “We are just lucky that you could get another surgeon to take over for the other one and finish what he had started.” I said, “This is true.” I went on to tell him I was going to have to give Bay Health a call about the copay I was charged. I told him with the other surgeon I had no copay because it was post operation.  Even though I have a new plastic surgeon, it should still be the same. He agreed with me. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Plastic Surgeon appointment

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Today I will be meeting with my new plastic surgeon. His office is about the same distance away but in a different direction of my previous plastic surgeon. I walked in the office and signed my name in. The nurse gave me a bunch of forms to fill out. There office had received all my records from the other plastic surgeon. They did charge me my co pay which I later dispute with Bay Health. The nurse who called me back was very nice. She had a pleasant personality. She went over with me where I am with my reconstruction. She told me the doctor will be right in. I was greeted by a tall athletic looking man with sandy blonde hair. I would say he is about ten years older than me. He was quite attractive. I think I remember hearing about his reputation from other women as being very handsome. I see know what they meant. He told me he had looked at all of my records.” I will be taking over for your other plastic surgeon and finish your reconstruction”, he said.  He asked me to take of my shirt so that he could take a look at my implant and tissue ex-pander. He said that my tissue ex pander looked good but he would fill it just a little more. I told him the other surgeon was going to fill it to 640 which is the same size the other one was over expanded to. This surgeon than said, “I don’t need to over fill it by that much.” He then told me to lie back and he would go ahead and fill it now. The nurse then took a swab and cleaned my skin where my right breast used to be.  She then took out a magnet and lined it up with the metal that is under my skin. She then marks the spot where the needle will go in. The surgeon then injected some saline in to expand my skin. Right away I said, “You do this different than the other surgeon did.” The nurse asked how. I said, “The nurse would line up the magnet with the metal and mark the spot with a magic marker. “The nurse would then lay the chair back flat and I would wait for the surgeon to come in.”  “She then would put a bib on my tissue ex-pander with a hole in it to the ex-pander could be accessed.” I then said the surgeon would clean the area with iodine real well as the nurse filled a syringe with the saline. I told them the syringe he used at a tube connected to the end of it.  My new surgeon then said, “He must have used a butterfly needle.” The nurse just gave me this puzzled look. My new surgeon said, “This is how we fill your ex-pander here. He told me to come back in about a week so he could check the ex-pander. He also said that he was aware that I had a biopsy done and we would not be able to replace the ex-pander with an implant if I have to get more treatment. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

swelling from lymphadema

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I am three months into my second chemo treatment and aside from the fatigue; I am not feeling too bad. I have been getting pain in my arm that has the lymphedema in it.  I have been wearing my compression sleeve and using my compression machine for the swelling I have. I have difficulty with using this arm and hand for tasks. I sometimes cannot wear my wedding ring on my left hand ring finger because of the swelling.  One day I had my wedding ring on and could not get it off. I had to wait for the swelling to go down. I wear my ring around my neck now to avoid this. I also take a medication that causes swelling in both my hands and feet. I use this medication to treat my syncope. I was diagnosed with syncope back in two thousand and eight. This was the same time I was diagnosed with the gastro paresis.  Syncope is when your blood pressure drops and you pass out. I discussed how I was diagnosed with syncope in an earlier post. Since my double mastectomy and the lymphedema, I have had to buy bigger shirts. I used to be in a small now I wear medium and even large depending on the cut. When I had my left arm in the mummy bandage I had to cut holes in two of my shirt sleeves in order for them to fit.  My implant and tissue expander are positioned differently as well which makes me need bigger size shirts. I have been wearing a large size in sports bras.  I guess once I get my other implant I can go bra shopping. I will have to get resized to find out what size cup I will need. I have not decided on whether or not I will be getting nipples tattooed onto my implants. Some women choose not to and some do. The nipple tattooing is something that my plastic surgeon does not do. I am not at this point yet so I have a lot of time to decide what I will do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


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Since it has been hot this summer, I have been eating watermelon as well as eating the popsicles. They both really cool me off. I have been trying to eat better since my diagnosis. My husband and I grow a garden every summer. We have grown fresh peppers hot and sweet. We have also grown cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and herbs. If a recipe calls for basil or rosemary I just go out to my garden and pick what I need. We have not grown any fruit so I just go to the local farmers market and get berries and bananas.  I make smoothies with the fruit and veggies often. I have bought Kale at the market which I add to my smoothies. My husband and I like caesar salads we eat them with our dinner often. We did not grow green beans or carrots so I get them from the grocery store. I use garlic in most of my cooking. People who eat about a clove of garlic a day are less likely to develop various kinds of cancer. According to Everyday Health these cancers include the digestive organs like esophagus, stomach, and colon. Berries are another cancer fighting fruit that contain powerful antioxidants. The compounds in these berries can help keep cancer cells from growing or spreading. According to Every Day Health tomatoes may help protect men from prostate cancer.Tomatoes contain an effective antioxidant called lycopene. Your body absorbs lycopene better when it is in the form of sauce. Further reading of Everyday Health goes on to talk about the benefits from the antioxidants from green tea. The antioxidants in green or black tea are called catechins.  The catechins keep free radicals from damaging cells.  The article goes on to say that the catechins can shrink tumors and reduce tumor cell growth. Some studies have linked drinking tea to a lower risk of cancer.  I have been drinking green tea with honey and lemon for years in the mornings with my breakfast. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, eating whole grains can lower your risk of cancer.  A large study proved that people who ate more whole grains might be at a lower risk for getting colorectal cancer. These whole grains would include oatmeal, barely, brown rice, and whole wheat bread and pasta.  Another cancer fighting agent I started using in my food is called Turmeric. Turmeric a spice known in India can be used to flavor foods. This orange colored spice contains curcumin. The American Cancer Society states that the ingredient has been known to slow the spread of cancer and shrink tumors in some animals. I like the taste of turmeric and I use it as a spice for meats. Another good source of antioxidants is beta-carotene and lutein. You can find these in vegetables like spinach and lettuce. They can also be found in vegetables that you cook like collard greens, mustard greens, and kale.  This next fruit I eat on occasion but I actually drink the liquid form more often. Wine which is good for your heart comes from grapes and both contain an antioxidant called resveratrol. The skin of the grapes is rich in 
resveratrol. The National Cancer Institute reports that resveratrol is useful in keeping cancer from beginning or spreading. Studies have shown that it limits the growth of many kinds of cancer cells.  Moderate amount of red wine have been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer for men. Eating a diet rich in these foods is good for your overall health but has shown to be useful in the prevention and spreading of cancer.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

chemo and menopause

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I have been feeling very tired from the chemo. I have been getting hot flashes throughout the day and I have been moody at times. If I could only take those hormones to help with my menopause symptoms, I could get some relief. My doctor said, “I could not take them.” I did some research online and found out that hormone therapy can be linked to an increase in breast cancer in women. I did not know this. According to the Breast Cancer Organization there are two main types of hormone replacement therapy. One contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The other hormone replacement therapy contains estrogen only.  The Breast Cancer Organization states that a combination of the hormonal replacement therapy increases breast cancer by about seventy five percent. This is when it is only used for a short period of time. The estrogen only therapy causes breast cancer but only when used for more than ten years.  They go on to say that if you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer or have tested positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 you should not use this therapy. The Breast Cancer Organization goes on to say that HRT can cause hormone-receptor positive cancers to develop and grow.  If you have menopausal side effects and had a personal history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about other non-hormonal options. Menopausal symptoms can be relieved with dietary changes, exercise, acupuncture or meditation.  I keep a portable fan handy for my hot flashes. I also wear light clothing. I do eat Popsicles to help cool my body temperature. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

February oncology visit post surgery

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It has been two weeks since the surgery. I had some follow up appointments with other doctors about my health. My appointment with the oncologist is going to be in a few days. Until then I get a break to rest and catch up on things around the house before starting another treatment.  At my visit my oncologist told me I would be getting two more chemo therapy medications. He wanted me to be put on the schedule for next week to start chemo therapy for 6 treatments.  So, here I go once again with chemo.  With this round of chemo, this will make my tenth different kind of chemo I have been on in my lifetime. I have not been healthy ever since I had my first chemo back in nineteen ninety four. My doctor also wants me to go back to speak to the radiation doctor. He wants me to get radiation as part of this cancer treatment. The only problem with this is, I had radiation in the past and a person can only get so much radiation without risk of complications. I had to miss my support group meeting the week I was getting chemo. The chemo was given to me the same way it was the first time I had it. The only difference with this round was I did not have to take the steroids beforehand. I would also be getting the Nuelasta shot twenty four hours after as well.  The first chemo treatment is usually the longest. If the room is full with lots of other people getting treated it can slow thing up as well.  I was hoping that when next week came around I would feel well enough to go to my support group to give them an update about my surgery and treatment.