For those of you who are reading about this fabulous journey for the first time, you can start from the start here. But here’s a quick recap just in case. I have a fairly rare (but not rare enough) genetic mutation called BRCA1 that significantly increases my chances of getting breast, ovarian, peritoneal, and colon CANCER. BLERG! Because getting cancer really sucks, I’ve decided to, as an incredibly large number of women with this mutation also decide to do, have preventative surgeries to exponentially decrease my chances of getting cancer. I have already had a full hysterectomy, which blasted those conniving ovaries to bits. (Guys, I talk about hysterectomies waaaay too much for a 36 year old. Sorry.)
So, now that I don’t feel like my ovaries are a ticking time bomb, I can move on to the the other part. In June of this year I’ll be having a prophylactic (that’s a high falutin’ term that means ‘preventative’) bilatereal (double) mastectomy (PBM) with immediate reconstruction.
Before I go into all the details I just want to address a few things:
First off, this is an intense procedure. I’m essentially having a voluntary amputation. It sounds incredibly scary and…well, it is. It’s terribly scary. Josh and I have not taken this decision lightly. But my risk of getting breast cancer is so much higher than the general population that it doesn’t make sense for me to not get the surgery. Chances are, I’d end up getting a mastectomy someday anyway, but with the added bonus of chemo. (Tell her what she’s won Carl!) No thanks!! I know that a lot of you probably fall in the ‘why not just wait and see’ category. And that’s a totally valid decision; many women opt for monitoring. But I don’t want to have mammograms and MRIs every 6 months and I don’t want the stress of waiting for my results. I also don’t ever want cancer; even with the advances in medicine these days it’s not as simple as just having a few rounds of chemo and being done with it. The ladies in my BRCA facebook group who were diagnosed with cancer, because they did not have the luxury of prevention, consistently and aggressively admonish the rest of us to do all we can to prevent. Cancer is a beast and getting it is not an option for me.
Josh and I don’t make decisions based on fear. Yes, this is scary; no, I will not let fear direct my steps. We are led by peace and logic and the Holy Spirit.
And friends, I believe in miracles and the power of prayer. I love Jesus. I know that God’s plans for me are for abundant life. And I don’t believe that any of what I’m doing takes away from God’s ability to show up in my life in incredible and miraculous ways. God is right here beside me in all of this, leading me with peace, calming my anxiety, reminding me of his promises. But I refuse to believe that I have no responsibility in what happens to me in my life. I believe that we are called to ‘tend our fields’. We can’t sit on our hands and hope for a harvest when we haven’t done the work that we CAN do. We get up and prepare the soil, plant our crops, pull the weeds, tend the fields and praise God for the miracle of sunshine and rain. And if we CAN’T do the work we pray that God will provide what we need. God has provided me with excellent doctors who are incredibly skilled in microsurgery, He’s providing us with the finances to pay for the surgery, He’s led me to some pretty incredible friends who are praying for me and going out of their way to help me, and he’s definitely had a hand in my marrying the most incredible man alive. Having these surgeries is me doing the work that I CAN do; the rest is up to God and I have faith that he won’t fail me.
So here we are. The date is set. I’ll be having a double mastectomy with immediate DIEP Flap reconstruction this summer.
What’s DIEP Flap? I’m so glad you asked!
DIEP stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator. (There I go using them college words again). My doctors will use skin and fat from my stomach to reconstruct natural looking and feeling breasts. Microsurgery will be used to connect blood vessels and Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am! I’ll be good as new…sort of. Josh and I will be traveling to a Plastic Surgery center in San Antonio, Texas called PRMA to have the procedure done. We chose PRMA because they are one of the leading breast reconstruction practices in the world. They have performed over 8,500 breast reconstructions, including over 7,000 microsurgical flap procedures. Basically, they’re the business at this business. And my business deserves the best. If you’d like to learn more about PRMA or the different forms of reconstruction you can check that out HERE.
Here’s the details:
We have to be in San Antonio 4 days prior to surgery for a consult. We will drive to Waco the day before the consult so we can hang with Chip and JoJo and hopefully eat at their new restaurant. (Eeeeeeek!).
The next day we will be in San Antonio for the consult and then Josh and I will have 3 free days to explore the city before surgery. We’re making the best of a sucky situation and will be making a vacation of it.
I’ll be in the hospital for 3 days after surgery and then we will move to a rental house for around 10 days until my drains can come out and I’ve had a post-op appointment.
Then we’ll head home for the remainder of my recovery and hopefully lots of people will send me cheesecake and funny mastectomy joke messages.
1) If you will keep us in prayer during the month of June, that would be incredible. I would be lying if I said that I was 100% hunky dory with all of this. It’s scary; the surgery is looooong and I’ll forever be changed afterward. Our entire family will be effected by this and some days I still question whether this is the right thing to do. But then I think about my boys and how I want to see them grow up and how I want to be around to love on my grand babies and all of a sudden I’m cool like Tone-loc.
2) Because we’ll be in San Antonio for so long we are trying to be as frugal as possible. If any of our friends live in the area and can house us for the first 4 nights before surgery we would be incredibly grateful. We know that’s a lot ask, so no pressure.
3) If anyone knows of a good, affordable place to stay in San Antonio please let us know. We’ll need first floor (me and stairs will not be friends at this point in time), free WIFI (Josh will need to work remotely while he moonlights as my man servant) preferably with a kitchen and a comfortable recliner (I’ll have to sleep sitting up for a while).
4) If any of our Texas friends would like to come see us while we are there please let us know! We could meet up with you before the surgery, you could sit with Josh for a little bit during the surgery (it’s 6-12 hours) and keep him company, or just come for a visit while I’m recovering (apparently I’m really funny when I’m all drugged up and I have absolutely no shame so…).
5) If it’s on your heart please check up on Josh during this time. He’ll be on his own caring for me and that’s a lot to put on one person. I can be really demanding and high maintenance. I also won’t be able to wash my own hair for a while, so I’ll probably be grumpy…poor guy.
We love you friends; it would be so much harder going through this without your support. Thanks again for reading, and praying, and caring for our little family. We are beyond blessed.