Sunday, September 30, 2012

Last week

This last week I've been at home and it's been great to be here. I miss having my mom around to take care of me and to talk to but it's good for my healing to get around by myself. George leaves everything I might need on the counter so I don't have to reach up (I'm not allowed to/I physically can't yet raise my arms above shoulder level) and I do my stretches and breathing.

I got two drains out on Monday which was great. I can't wait to get these other 2 out. They're annoying. I think I'll get another one out this week and then hopefully the last one out the week after. I also went to the breast surgeon and got the pathology report back. It's not totally good news. During the surgery they took out a couple lymph nodes and do a 20 minute test on them and if any are positive they take out the whole bunch of them. During the 20 minute test, 2 tested positive and then on the in the whole bunch 5/18 were positive for cancer.

Obviously that's not the news I wanted to wake up and hear and then especially having 5 positive for cancer. It's scary as hell that this has been living in my body for YEARS and I had no idea. The good thing is that it's out. The bad part is that it means that I also will have to have radiation.

I think I've probably cried 10/12 days since September 18 (including September 18th...nothing like a good cry as you're saying bye to your family). I googled "crying after mastectomy" because I thought maybe because I no longer had breasts I was missing some sort of hormone that was making me sad. The only thing I could find was that people usually cry because they don't have breasts. That's not my problem. I think reality is finally starting to hit. I have cancer. It sucks and its really, really scary. Now that the real work is being done its hard to pretend that I don't have it. The good thing is I'm able to get myself together pretty quickly. I'm not walking around the house crying all day. Usually its a few tears here or there for many different reasons and then I'm over it. I say the words "I have cancer" all the time but sometimes the weight of those words catches me off guard. I think I wouldn't be normal if they didn't.

This week I have to have a bone scan and ct scan on Tuesday and then I meet my new oncologist on Wednesday and will hopefully get more information about when chemo starts and what kind of drugs I'll take, ect. They have class to explain everything about chemo at the oncologist so I'll learn a lot more then. Can you believe they have a class for chemo? Right now I think I'll start chemo the last week of October (that will be 6 weeks from surgery). Chemo is 4-6 months, I go once every 2 or 3 weeks, and then I get a month off then I start radiation which is everyday Monday-Friday for 4-6 weeks. Then I'll be DONE! I'm hoping by my 30th birthday (next November) it will be all over. Maybe I should hope I'll be done by our vacation next September.

Thanks again for every one's support. Seriously every card or gift I get I tear up because the support I feel is overwhelming to me (maybe I'll blame that for all the tears the last 2 weeks!). I hate, hate, hate that I'm going through this. But it's so much easier when you feel like people really care.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2 months

It's been 2 whole months since my diagnosis. I can't believe it's been that long and it feels like forever ago. I'm feeling better and better everyday although the mornings are a little tough to get me going. I've been sleeping pretty good and I'm only taking Tylenol as needed and my antibiotic. Tomorrow I go back to the plastic surgeon where I'm hoping to get most of my FOUR drains out. They're very annoying!

I thought I'd share some pictures from the last week. This is the shirt that I wore to my surgery. I thought it was very appropriate, even though I wore it for about 10 minutes at the hospital!
This is the gift basket that I got from the hospital and The IIIB's Foundation. If you feel like you want to do something for me/ in honor of me, please consider donating money to their organization. They are based in Leesburg, VA and help put these baskets together when women have mastectomy's. It has a TON of goodies in it!
Probably the cutest bouquet of flowers I have EVER gotten/seen in my life. Man does work know me well or what! I LOVED these flowers. So unique and original. I got a couple of beautiful bouquets in addition to this. I love having fresh flowers around. Also, I got a gift certificate for pajamas. Best gift idea EVER!!
This is my being real moment. This is what my stomach looks like with the drains laying on them. Its gross. I look like alien babies are trying to escape from my stomach and their arms are hanging out. I really, really, really hope I get them out tomorrow!
This is my breathing tube that we have named Maxine (thanks to Christen). The hard part, besides actually getting to the 2500 mark, is to remember you have suck in and now blow out. I know it helps prevent pneumonia and keeps your lungs working while you're more sedentary but that's about all I know about it.
Lastly, I saw this on pinterest a lot, mostly in tattoo form, but its really helped me a lot lately.
Anchors are of course a symbol of stability, safety and strength and it was something that I really needed to find the last couple weeks before surgery. I found a great print on etsy that used the Bible verse from Hebrews 6:19: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. I'm not super religious but sometimes when things happen greater than your understanding you have to cling to something. This is what I've clung to. On Monday, when Kelly took me to the Cathedral in DC, I looked under the alter and saw an anchor there. Its times like that that give you your biggest hope. When the symbols match up and maybe someone or something bigger than you or your understanding is really there.
Also, I got to see Mackenzie today. It was fantastic! She looked a foot taller and was just amazing. I'm still 100% glad that I've spent the last week at my parents house and have been away from her but I'm ready to go home tomorrow and play mom again. Even though I can't hold her for another 5ish weeks, I can still let her sit on my lap and I can still hug her and kiss her and love her. I'm so excited!

Friday, September 21, 2012


Today is day 3 post-surgery. I'm doing okay for 3 days after I think. Finally showered today (well my mom gave me a shower...I just sat there) and I'm walking a little more and using my breathing machine. I get very sore if I sit for awhile and then try to move. I'm guessing that's normal.

Monday we spent the day running errands, Mackenzie and I got pedicures then my friend Kelly took me to the cathedral in DC and to Chop't. It was such a great day. I got a lot of good crying out at the Cathedral. I lit candles and said everything to God that I could think of.

On Tuesday I woke up to see Mackenzie leave for school. I knew I'd be too much of a mess to take her with George so I said bye at home. It was really hard. I knew it would be the last time I would see her for awhile and how much I'd miss her. I cried so much when I was saying bye. I'm sure she was so confused.

We got to the hospital around 10 and checked in and went back to my pre-op room. I changed into my gown and socks and answered a lot of questions then had my iv started. I had a beautiful gift basket and a pink rose delivered from the hospital. Around 12 I went to nuclear medicine to have dye injected for my sentinel node dissection. The blue dye helps the doctor find the lymph nodes to remove.

That procedure took about 5 minutes. It wasn't too painful just very strange. When I got back to my room we waiting for the doctors to come in and mark me. My plastic surgeon marked me with purple marker like a football field. My surgeon came in and talked to us for awhile then the anesthesia nurse came in. When she came in I knew it was time to get going. I was asked a few more questions and then they gave me versaid. I started crying again because I was so scared. I kissed my mom and George and they rolled me down the hall. I remember them moving me to the operating table and talking to me a lot but I can't remember what they were saying.

I woke up to the plastic surgeon talking but I was so groggy I have no idea what he was saying. They moved me to the recovery room and it felt like it took a long time to get awake from the anesthesia. I remember the nurse was talking to another patient about how part of the recovery room closes at 9 and I kept thinking why are they so concerned...9 is 3 hours away. I asked what time it was and the nurse told me it was 845pm. I got really worried that something bad happened because it was almost 3 hours past when surgery should have ended.

I finally made it up to my room around 930pm where my mom and George met me. I woke up so thirsty from surgery and all they would give me in the recovery room was ice chips so I couldn't wait to drink something real. I had 2 glasses of water then I got to have some grape juice. BEST juice I've ever had. In the future I'll NEVER have surgery that late again. Its so hard to spend the night trying to recover from surgery. Apparently they didn't actually start surgery until 2 and they stopped anesthesia around 8pm. Way too late.

The bad news is they found cancer in 2 lymph nodes. I'm not sure how many they took out...that will be in the final pathology report. So there will be chemo for sure. I was expecting chemo anyway but I'm pretty surprised the cancer was in my lymph nodes.

I think I was a little naive at how hard recovery would be. I knew I wouldn't be perfect the day after surgery but I'm surprised at how sore I am. I stopped taking Percocet on Thursday and switched to Tylenol. Percocet makes me feel a little groggy. At the hospital they give you a button to push to administer your own pain meds (dilatid) and that didn't really work that well for me. It is very short lasting since you can push the button every 6 minutes but I kept forgetting to push it so I would wake up so sore. I was happy to switch to Percocet at 8am but then all the doctors, nurses, physical therapists came in and it was hard to pay attention to all of them. I must have looked like a mess!

I'm so thankful I'm able to stay at my parents house because I have no idea how I would be recovering at home. I miss my home and Mackenzie and George but its easier to not have the mom guilt of Mackenzie wanting me to pick her up and hold her. My moms being my nurse and making me do things that I don't want to do but that are essential to my recovery. I could sleep all day but I need to get up and move so that I get range of motion back in my arms...eventually. I'm so glad the first step of this process is finally over and I can get over the anxiety it was bringing me.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Oh man. What a wonderful vacation! I am SO glad I choose (with the blessing of my doctors) to go on vacation before I have the mastectomies (that's not the right word but I don't care...its mine and I do what I want!). We had wonderful weather (with the exception of after we got there Saturday and early Sunday). This year we wanted to try new things and see new places and we did that. We crossed a couple of things off of our OBX bucket list (George STILL has not climbed Jockeys Ridge...maybe next year).

I finally got to see the wild horses. They weren't gallivanting on the beach at sun rise like the pictures show but we saw 26 of them (and a mule who has a harem of mares even though he can't breed with them!). Mackenzie LOVED it! She screamed when she first saw them! I hope she remembers it. If not...I'm totally willing to do it again!

We also made our yearly trip to the aquarium which we do on the rainy day. She loves to see the fish and the sharks but still isn't interested in trying to touch a sting ray. We went to a presentation on snakes and George and I touched it but our girly girl wouldn't. After the aquarium on Sunday we drove down to Rodanthe. I've always wanted to see it (obviously because of the movie) and we found the house it was filmed at...and that's about all that's there. Very quiet little towns surrounded by water. What a way to live.

But mostly, we swam, played in the sand, ate and slept. I don't understand how at home I can't go to bed before 11 (well I could but I don't) and on vacation I was in bed by 9:30 most nights. The house we rented was huge and while Mackenzie could have had her own room we decided to have her in our room because our room had 2 full beds. And then we played musical beds. Some nights I slept in her bed with her, some nights she slept in our bed with George and I slept in her bed alone. And every combination in between. I loved it. If it was healthy for her to sleep with us every night I would probably do it.

My mom and I had an awesome night at the beach one night. It was sunset and even though the sun sets in the west it still looks awesome on the water. My mom wrote I HATE CANCER really big in the sand. Well as you can see the first time she got to c-a-n-c-e before the water took it away.

She moved away from the water and wrote it again. I wrote cancer with a line through it. We watched as the waves slowly started to take what I wrote away as if it could take the pain and fear with it. I wish it could. When we were ready to go my mom started to walk through what she wrote and I told her she had to STOMP out the cancer. So we did. We stomped all over it. Even after you couldn't read it we stomped.

Coming back was bittersweet. I had an awesome vacation with the people that I love most but now I have to face the scariest thing I've ever done. I keep saying "I don't want to do this (have surgery)" because I'm SO scared but I know I have to. The alternative is even scarier. I can't even think about it without starting to panic. I'm not sure why. I guess it the "time travel" of anesthesia. So out of control and unaware. Maybe that's a good thing.

I'm going to try to enjoy my last couple days before my new reality starts. I see a pedicure in my very near future (thanks to Ivy Nails for a gift certificate for a free one) and spending as much time with my baby girl as possible. I'm going to miss her a lot next week.

If you get a chance between now and Tuesday I need a couple specific prayers/thoughts. I really, really, really  need some peace. I'm SO sure of my decision to have this bilateral mastectomy but I don't know how I'm going to get to the operating room without actually having a panic attack. I also really, really, really  need for this cancer to not be in my lymph nodes. I am praying its just the 2-3 cm cluster they originally saw and felt and that's it. I'm so thankful to have such amazing support in my life. I need it to get through this.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Heaven on Earth

It's almost beach time and I just cannot stand it! The 1.5 days that stand in my way from the ocean are 1.5 days too many! This year going to the beach means so much more than just a vacation. For me and my family its time to clear our heads and re-center ourselves for a new life coming our way. 3 days after we return our world will be turned upside down for the next couple months. I'll have to remember that I have cancer again.

I say "I have cancer", "did you hear that I have breast cancer", "I'm having a bilateral mastectomy", ect so many times per day and per week without thinking about it but its like a nightmare. It doesn't seem like reality. I am really waiting to wake up on July 11th, go to my physical and get a clean bill of health. After our vacation the reality will have to set in. I'm going to have to face life as a cancer patient and survivor. I won't just be Kyle anymore. I'll be Kyle Denny, breast cancer survivor. I hate it.

I think we have decided on the wait and see method in terms of more children. Since we did not get the abundance of volunteers to be a surrogate we were expecting (shocker!), we are thinking maybe we should just see if that's whats in the cards for us. I feel like I need to be clear that there's no moral or ethical dilemma. I am all for freezing eggs & embryos, IVF, ect and I think that people should use the technology that is there. But we just don't think its the right decision for us. My biggest fear, of course, is that I will regret this decision in 5 years if I am unable to get pregnant. But like I said, we really feel strongly that if this is meant to be, it will be.

My appointment at the fertility doctor last Thursday for blood draw and ultrasound was pretty eye opening. You know people are going through these things (infertility & cancer) but until you see the amount of people in the doctors office, you really don't know. It felt like a factory to me. One by one we were called, had our blood drawn and then got an ultrasound. At least 20 of us while I was there. What a big business. And what a big business for insurance to not really want to cover.

I've also decided to switch oncologists. Her whole office is just terrible and its not worth being miserable for the next however many years over. I put on Facebook today "the best part about having cancer (only good part?) is that you stop giving a shit about what people think and say how you REALLY feel". For some reason switching doctors, hair stylists, anything really was so intimidating to me. Seriously...I couldn't tell my hair stylist she cost too much and I was going to switch stylists. I just never went back. Even though I really liked that salon. But this is different. I need an oncologist, or any type of doctor really, to treat me like a HUMAN. I am a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend, ect FIRST before I am breast cancer patient and that's how I would like to be treated.

Christy gave me a book called Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips and one of Kris Carr's tips is to put people in charge of things. The number one thing was google. Google is my best friend on most days. I google EVERYTHING. But not cancer. Not different types, not outcomes, not doctors. I have banned myself after many tear filled nights of what ifs. So I've put Laurie and Christen in charge of google for me. Be prepared to be assigned something in the near future everyone else!

Lastly, I just wanted to kind of clear the air. Sometimes I feel like everyone thinks I'm using humor to deflect how sad I am. I'm not. When you say "how are you today" and I say "great", I mean it. If I say "eh you know", I mean it. When I'm telling you for the first time I have breast cancer and I say "isn't it so ridiculous" and laugh, that's how I really feel. I don't always laugh about having cancer, sometimes I'm so sad about it its overwhelming, but usually, I don't think about it. In spite of what cancer is trying to do, I have a great life and I love every minute of it. Kris Carr said in her book, her friends had to point out to her that every time she sent an update she capitalized cancer. Her friends felt like that gave it some sort of power over her. I feel the same way. I call cancer "it" a lot or an array of colorful cuss words that seem appropriate. 

But starting as early as we can get there on Saturday, I will be standing at my Heaven on Earth (aka the beach) and I plan to get in as many one on one's with God as possible. I need to see sunrises and sunsets and the stillness that the ocean can bring. Something about the sounds and the waves brings me clarity and happiness. 

PS. Reason #1292 why we don't do home improvement projects: you build a new desk (super easy), you no longer have internet or phone. Oops!!