Pathology came back & i'm cancer free!!
This is why we did it.
This is why I have endured pain and discomfort.
This is what every woman in my family would pray to hear - breast cancer free!
After surgery, my breast surgeon sent off ALL of the breast tissue gathered from surgery and the pathologists literally comb through it and test it all for cancer. I'm clear - I'm healthy and we now know that this was worth it.
Short term pain for the long term gain.
Both drains have been removed and I'm home free!
As of last Thursday, both drains have been removed and I can now resume learning my body's own limitations all over again.
This last week was tough. Since I can do most things on my own now, excluding lifting heaving things and making the bed, I wore myself out and then in turn had to keep my drain in for a full week longer than originally expected.
It was a catch 22 - I felt better so I did more (like generally moving about, folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, and combing my hair), but by doing more my body fought back by creating more drainage...leaving me with the second drain for 18 days. Talk about mental torture. I knew I did this to myself - so with Tim's forceful encouragement I was put on bedrest for 36 hours in hopes to get the drains out - IT WORKED! If only I had done that the week before.
I drove for the first time on Friday. I drove to get a mani/pedi and then when I got home I napped for 4 hours. It really is hard work with limited mobility and really stressful when an unexpected bump can lead to excruciating pain exploding through my chest. Generally I am pain free these days, with a few exceptions.
One of those exceptions is SNEEZING. [I should tell you that while writing this post, I have sneezed 3 times. Seasonal allergies and boob surgery do not go well together.]
There have been only a few times during this process where I thought I was legitimately going to die, and every one of those times has been right before I sneeze. I see the light flash before my eyes. I feel the explosion in my chest. I picture my incisions opening up and the implants just popping out. [I am aware that it impossible for them to pop out...but after a sneeze...it can seem like a reality.]
We finished a 1,000 piece monet puzzle.
Somehow we lost 4 pieces, so my dreams of framing our masterpiece were dashed by our carelessness when transporting the puzzle from the living room to the dining room.
WHAT FREEDOM LOOKS LIKE:
I have managed to get out of the house and do a few things: go to the movies, go to lunch with a friend from out of town, tailgate at the Energy game (and by tailgate I mean sit in a chair and drink Sprite), and my dear friend Lauren even took me shopping at Target. It's the little things that bring the most joy - making my own cup of coffee, folding laundry, and having the freedom to drive (even though the whole experience is terrifying and uncomfortable).
Even with all the little joys, last week was probably the toughest week emotionally. Lots of things converged at the same time: my period, a sad book about a 30 year old woman with lung cancer, and a general sense of awareness of what I have actually done to/for myself.
I might have mentioned before that I am in a BRCA 1 & 2 group on facebook. These women have been such a great support system by answering questions and giving encouragement when needed. Last week, a member of our group shared the story of the horribly rude things family members have said to her after explaining what prophylactic steps she would be taking to ensure beating breast and ovarian cancer. I couldn't believe it. (But I can...because sometimes people suck for no reason.) This makes me so thankful for all of the support I have received, but also I grieve for her pain and her loss when trying to deal with a close family member who is so against the process.
I realize some people might not get it - the need to control your own fate. What do you do with that knowledge once you have it? There are a lot of genetic tests out there that can be done to give warning of what might be your medical future. I chose to take my high risk of estrogen based cancers and turn it into a high probability of survival.
One of the group members, in response to this dear woman who has had her heart broken by cruel words, posted a quote from one of my favorite Disney movies - Brave. I think this is going to be the core concept of my previvor tattoo (more on that later).
so, what's next?
What's next you ask?
I have follow ups with all of my doctors. I get cleared to return to work. And then we wait. I wait a month until I can steam & sauna. I wait 8 weeks until I can work out. I wait 2 months before we talk about getting bigger boobs (this will consist of liposuction and fat grafting...sounds fun). We wait a few months before nipple reconstruction. And, hopefully, in a years time, when I walk past a mirror naked I will no longer see my marred and scarred body, but a feminine physique that is strong, beautiful, and cancer free.
Christina Mallory Chicoraske - a 30 year old, 4th generation Okie, diagnosed BRCA2+ and undergoing a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. This is the tale of my journey with hopes to inform and encourage other young women searching for answers after a BRCA1/2 gene mutation discovery.