Monday, September 24, 2012

WHAT I DID ON MY CATSTIR VACATION


CATSTIR [kat - stur] noun: Code word for the other "C" word that rhymes with "dancer"

What Breast Cancer Taught Me


Read, research, google, as much as you can stomach and then STOP. You will know when you've had enough.

I will recommend one book because it was recommended to me, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book.

It's a really BIG book. Even if you don't open it, holding it, or simply owning it, will make you feel better. It has more information then you'll ever need. It covers all the different types of cancer and treatments available.

Go for several opinions. Some will be recommended to you by doctors or friends. Some will whimsically cross your path. See as many as you can stomach and then STOP. You will know when you've heard enough.

You might encounter a lot of EGO. You do NOT have to put up with it. You have the right to have a doctor who is compassionate, patient, and informative. Someone who will take time to sit with you, look you in the eyes, and answer your questions.

Don't worry about who's the best. Trust your gut. You will know when you're in good hands.

The final decision on how you treat your cancer is yours and yours alone to make. NOT your doctors, or your husbands, or your family and friends. You will know, when, what, where, and how, to treat your cancer. Trust your inner guidance/wisdom. It will not fail you.

People who love you, and people who don't, will say stupid things to you about your cancer. The stuff they say will piss you off. Write it down. Crumble it up. Shake your fist at it. Toss it away. Burn it. Save it. Do what your pain tells you to do. The point is, get it out of your system. Don't wallow in it. Don't feed into it. Don't hold it against them. They can't help themselves. They are scared to death. This could happen to them.

Try not to panic and rush into a decision. But if you do, forgive yourself. Cancer is scary stuff.


Go to breastcancer.org. Join the DISCUSSION groups for support, information, opinions, rants, tears, and laughter. This is your new FACEBOOK.

Most of us will be facing surgery. If this is you, make sure you know who will be doing the surgery. THIS IS IMPORTANT especially if you're going to big, teaching hospital. Ask your doctor point blank,"will you and you alone be doing my surgery?" If he/she says, "I'll be there for the important parts," are you comfortable with that?

I realize doctors need to learn but do you want them to learn on you? If that feels comfortable to you then go with it. If it doesn't, don't do it. Do NOT let someone talk you into it ESPECIALLY if they have a vested interest in it. For example, breast doctor recommends plastic surgeon because they work on the same days.

Do NOT rely on "TOP DOCTOR" or any published reports claiming to know who is the BEST of the BEST.  Do not be impressed by a title that immediately follow a doctors name. For example, "Head Plastic Surgeon at ..." or "Head Breast Surgeon at ..." This does not guarantee you a successful outcome.

OKAY... time to talk about immediate reconstruction.


Prior to my Bilateral Mastectomy, I attended a tea party between good friends and several of the guests questioned my decision to have immediate reconstruction. One of them had a medical background. I was probably a bit defensive at that point because I had already made up my mind.

Following your diagnosis you will be given information about reconstruction and somewhere along the line you might find yourself marching to the immediate reconstruction beat, thinking I can take care of all of this in one procedure.

You can, but you don't have to. There are a lot of options regarding reconstructions and they vary in complexity. Sadly, complications are not uncommon. The process, even at best, is mentally and physically challenging. Give yourself time to digest and prepare for it.

I had a doctor say to me, "Cancer should be your main concern."

I bought that hook line and sinker. Still do. But that doesn't mean it should be your ONLY concern. Your reconstruction decisions deserves just as much attention as your cancer decisions.

Once you decide on your course of treatment, your doctors, and your hospital, you will feel calmer. You are brave. You are doing everything in your power to heal yourself.

I am one of the luck ones. My cancer treatment ended with my choice to have a bilateral mastectomy. I have never regretted this decision. But it's my reconstruction decisions that have tormented me.



Post Surgery Updates:

I am home. I am in more pain then I expected but one part vicodin mixed with one part valium is a decent cocktail.

I was lucky enough to get an experienced oncology nurse who got the IV in my foot in one try. This is always the most stressful part for me. Apparently, my feet have poor veins and due to the risk of lymphedema from having lymph nodes removed from both sides, all blood draws and IV's must be from the foot. This request will freak out even an experienced nurse. But not nurse Nancy. She looked me right in the eyes, smiled and said "point you toes and don't move." I closed my eyes, Mark held me tight, and in it went.

The surgery went well (?). It lasted 4 hours. I have 2 drains, 2 slings of alloderm and a multitude of sutures. My ribs are doing most of the anchoring so I'm having a hard time breathing comfortably or doing anything comfortably other than pointing my toes.

Because not everyone can stomach the SHOW part of my SHOW and TELL catstir adventures. I'll link the photo's instead of posting them.


I don't know what that "pinch" is on my right noob. I'll find out more when I see my doctor on Monday. I'm not crazy about the shape but I'm going to try really hard not to complain. Right now I need to focus on healing - visualize my body accepting the alloderm and the new implants. 

Please know that your generosity continues to uplift and heal me. Thank you for your love, prayers, healing light and energy.


          COMING SOON...


A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PREPARING FOR SURGERY 

Monkey DO, Monkey LEARN, Monkey pass it FORWARD


xo, MOnKeYMe

33 comments:

  1. Shannon, you have been through so much and I know you will prevail. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR! I keep saying you could go all over the world, speaking about this and helping zillions of women. I'm not a fortune teller, but I "see" you doing that sometime in the near future! Been thinking of you and sending you healing thoughts all morning....Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you Becky :) I am trying to speak without bitterness, but the bitch in me prevails more often than not

      Delete
  2. I think of you undergoing surgery as I write this and I send you all the best thoughts. May it all go wonderfully Shannon. I love that you have the generosity and spirit to write what may give others courage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and how are you Myrna, I'm so behind. The surgery is behind me now. I was so worried I wasn't going to make it through. Crazy silly stuff but its just too many too close together. thank you for reaching out! xoxo

      Delete
  3. You're right -- you're strong and will prevail! All your knowledge has been so hard won but that's what makes it so valuable.

    P.S. Have you considered hiring a lawyer re the initial botched reconstruction surgery?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hear, hear! All rise to the wisdom of the Green Monkey! She knows well of what she speaks! Thank you for sharing the gift of YOU with us while you take the very brave step of correcting your recon. You are a very strong woman. Many hugs and blessings to you Shannon! Look forward to hearing from you on BCO when you are back home.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are all things you'd rather not know, but since you do it's generous of you to share them. And to be open and blunt about it, of course. Still sending positive vibes your way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well sweetie, I think you've done a hellova job dealing with ALL OF IT! And I know you will wind up with the most awesome pair of tits that could ever be created by humans! I absolutely love your Catstir photos. Would be a great book (which I'm sure you are already considering). And the Monkey DO Monkey Learn photo????? I just about woke the neighbors laughing. Your humor is catching. Although my recovering and healing is not physical, it is still painful. I am learning from you :)

    Blessings and Hugs. And DAMN STRAIGHT, you will prevail!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love your attitude !! Anyone can sit there and tell you all kinds of crap but it's you that has to deal with it, not them...

    ~hugs and best wishes~
    liz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you :) the positive comments keep me motivated

      Delete
  8. YOU are strong. My thoughts are with you... (((HUGS)))

    ReplyDelete
  9. You're one tough broad, aren't you? You've really been through the wringer, but not only are you still finding humor in the situation, you're generously sharing your experiences with others. And in the process, probably saving us from some of the hurdles you've had to jump. I hope today's surgery will be your last for a long, long time. Best wishes and hugs. (Even tough broads need hugs.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, thats EXACTLY what my father used to say :))))))) thank you!

      Delete
  10. My heart goes out to you. Such strength, such an ability to share. I am so impressed, you are one of God's Angels here on earth. Blessing and good wishes be with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you Yolanda! I'm chugging along :)

      Delete
  11. Monkey--I LOVE the fact that you have been through this hell and now you are reaching back and helping others who have to go through it. Your spirit shines through here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bossy, I'm still adjusting to the fact that your name is NOT Betty! thanks for reading whoever you are :))))))))

      Delete
  12. Good stuff honey, now keep breathing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Point toes, flex foot, rotate ankle. Breathe. Thats enough for today.


    xoxoxo

    MG

    ReplyDelete
  14. Your strength and journey have inspired me :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and your humor, your take on the world, keeps me smiling

      Delete
  15. Shannon I will say this again... thank you for sharing.

    With love
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Chris, we both need to heal! LOVE back at you, and wrapped around you!

      Delete
  16. I don't know what to say, but want ro be sure that you know that I care deeply about how you feel. I am so very impressed by you. You go, Monkey!
    ~Silver

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I care deeply about you too Silver guy! I carry you with me everywhere ~

      Delete
  17. You are one brave monkey! I hope I never said anything to make you mad! Love you Miss Shannon!

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ohhhhhhh Miss Claudia! you always make me feel better xoxoxo

      Delete
  18. Shannon,

    You have been my one ray of hope through my journey. I wish you speedy healing. I will always read your blogs as sometimes they make me laugh (normally).

    Your sister in the "C" world. Gigi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you Gigi! It's hard to find things to laugh about but then again, there are those other times when I can't help but laugh at myself. keeping you in my thoughts, surrounding you with love. xoMOnkeyME

      Delete
  19. MOnkey I have a friend at work whose sister is newly diagnosed and I'm going to recommend your blog -especially this one. Thank you for the practical, specific advice. That's Gold.
    I again agree with Silverguy----I'm very impressed by you. & I Believe in the Power of Monkeys
    xoxoxooxox
    Love, DB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love you DB... thanks for sticking with me through all this physical and emotional bullshit.

      Delete
  20. Greenmonkey,, so happy you are getting closer to what you want. You have come a long way. Thank you for sharing the horrible as well as the good! Much love.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing
greenmonkeytales@live.com

Shannon E. Kennedy

***

Photo by Joan Harrison