Thursday, September 29, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

If you don’t know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month you must live in a closet and have someone slip you skinny meals under the door.  Every magazine I’ve read in the last two weeks has articles about breast cancer. How to figure out if you have it, what the risks are, whose had it and how they’re doing.  Commercials on the radio about the Making Strides against breast cancer walk in Boston this weekend. Even the discount kids  site – Zulily – today had kids shirts with the pink ribbon!  I’m happy that it gets lots of attention and I absolutely hope they find a cure – especially since my daughter will be high risk for breast cancer. Next year I’ll be walking and collecting money for research.
But this year I’d like to read a magazine for entertainment and not have it remind me that cancer is growing in my right breast! I think about it enough, I don’t need reminders.

Cassidy is going through an adjustment period with the move to the toddler room at school and the transition to one nap a day. She’s doing great and learning new things but she’s also tired and cranky. Frustrated that she’s talking but we don’t understand her. And the more tired she is the naughtier she is and the more she wants mommy to cuddle with her.  So the further disruption of mommy not being able to pick her up is bad timing. I’m sure we’ll manage but it’s one more thing I’m worrying about.

We don't know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Counting down

We love counting down to vacations at our house. I think Bill and I counted down to our honeymoon for months.  We'd email each other things like "2 months, 15 days until our vacation".  Then when we were on our honeymoon (and every vacation since then) we say to each other "Happy 2nd (or 3rd, 4th etc) day of vacation!"!  I think, most humans enjoy a happy countdown. Unfortunately you count down to bad things too and that's what I'm driving myself crazy with lately.
  • 12 days until surgery
  • 12 more days of picking up and squeezing this beautiful lady 
  • 8 days until pre-op appointments
  • 6 more days until we go to the Big E
  • 1 more weekend of happy/healthy normal Sheryl
  • 12 more hours until the knot in my stomach gets a little bigger (happens every day now)
I feel like I should be doing something.  But I don't know what the something is. Sitting around crying is not for me. I've thought about a support group but my life is so busy already - I don't want to take a second away from my life outside work for that. I guess I'll just continue on with business as usual. Work, exercise, errands, spending time with Cassidy, Bill and Jake and whoever else. 

And maybe figure out something BIG and GOOD to start counting down to. Right before all this boob lump stuff started I'd told a few friends that for my 40th birthday I wanted a weekend in the sun. Since Bill is allergic to that fiery ball in the sky (his words, not mine) I'm relying on friends to come with me. I don't care if I have no money and have to charge it (this is SHOCKING coming from me) but I am celebrating that birthday just how I want.  I think this week I'll start researching sunny destinations!  Get your passports ready girls :-)

Friday, September 23, 2011

I love my fridays off

Another long weekend for me haha
Since my diagnosis I haven't worked much on a Friday beyond occasionally checking my blackberry. It's really nice. Today Cassidy and I had a long lunch with a good friend. Then we took Jake to the vet for nail trimming.

Jake is loving our new screen door because he can lay down and look outside. The ultimate in lazy.
And yet, he's not too lazy when he's home alone, as this turned out to be the second day in a row he got diapers out of the garbage and shredded them all over Cassidy's room!  That's always nice to come home to.  I can never be mad at him though. The epilepsy medication made him do it :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finally – Information

Well, it took seven phone calls and messages but I finally have information about appointments, forms etc.  My surgery is at Faulkner hospital in Jamaica Plain.  It’s in the afternoon (boo – not eating makes for a crabby Sheryl!). I have pre-op appointments earlier in the same week as my surgery and the form for my HR department is just waiting a signature and should be in the mail to me soon.
Also, the genetic counselor called with my results and I was negative for the BRCA gene. Which is great news for me and all those girls related to me J
I did some reading about choosing to do a bilateral mastectomy and not too many women regret doing it but quite a few regret not doing it due to having to get MRI’s and mammograms every 6 months to check the natural breast plus issues with symmetry. No matter what it’s a stinky situation and decision.
In the meantime I'm just waiting to have surgery. Which is not a fun thing to be waiting for and dreading all the time but I'm trudging along.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Go Patriots!

I went to my first Patriots game last night! And what a great game! Bill and I had so much fun and it was worth every penny!
We had a nice day Saturday also at Bill's company picnic.
I love weekends like that!  Happy memories to carry me through the work week.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I am not a patient person.
I am not good at waiting.
I recognize and acknowledge my faults. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want  to know what time I’m having surgery on the 7th so I can tell my sister what time to watch Cassidy. And where I’m having surgery (Brigham & Womens or Faulkner)?  When and where is my pre-operative appointment that they mentioned to me on the 6th (“oh we’ll call you back with a date”). Have they filled out my FMLA paperwork so I can get that to HR?

Why won’t anyone call me back when I leave messages on all the phone #’s that go right to voice mail? If I did that at work I wouldn’t have a job (ok, that’s not true but I have a unique work situation where I could probably smoke crack at lunch and not get fired).

I’m getting frustrated and none of this gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling about my surgery and treatment. My mom has been telling people that Dana Farber was so organized and that impressed me because I’m so organized.  Well, that ship has sailed.

Maybe they’re used to dealing with older women who don’t need to set up a babysitter and aren’t busy at work with meetings that its difficult to cancel.  This is really  stressing me out!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grammi & Grampi's cottage

My nephews have always called my parents camp their "cottage" so that's what we'll call it for Cassidy too. And that's where we were this past weekend - me, Cass & Jake anyway. Cassidy went on her first boat ride and attempted to eat an ear of corn. Nice weekend!

my parents have never heard of sunscreen!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Growing up

Last week daycare informed us that Cassidy would be moving to the Toddler room. It was good timing as her current teacher was leaving the center so transition to a new teacher would’ve happened either way. This week was transition week. Tuesday she did great. Played with the bigger kids, napped on a mat (instead of in a crib – I was pretty proud of my girl).  Tuesday night she was pretty tired from going from two naps to one – that’s a big change for her. But it wasn’t a bath night so she went to bed around 6:50pm.

Since she did so well on Tuesday, she spent most of Wednesday in her new classroom. Wednesday didn’t go so well. She was already tired from Tuesday and Bill had to wake her up to bring her to school. She sucked her thumb on the way to school (a sign that she’s tired). She tripped on the chair at lunch and cut her nose so I got an incident report when I picked her up. And while I was getting her lunch box she fell again and they were icing her eye when I got to her classroom! And only one nap. Which lasted only one hour! Traffic on the way home, crying Cass in the backseat, mommy signing songs “If your happy and you know it clap your hands” – there was no clapping from the backseat!   5:50pm, get in the door and get her dinner STAT.  Except she doesn’t want dinner. She’s throwing forks and food and screaming and crying and OMG where is Bill?  I take her out of the highchair and clean up a little. Hold her on my lap, rock, sing more songs, offer crackers, pretzels, milk. More screaming & crying. I say “Do you want to go upstairs?”  The crying stops. I ran upstairs, pulled off her jeans, determine that her diaper was dry enough, put on elastic waist pants & dropped her in the crib.
Where she stuck her thumb in her mouth and curled up – at 6:08pm. And slept until 7ish Thursday morning.
My poor girl, growing up is hard on both of us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Awhile back my wise husband stated that once things got scheduled and set up - that having an end in sight would make things easier. I hesitate to use the phrase, something to look forward to, but in a way the end of this is something to look forward to. Lots of things will be different and between now and then will be a roller coaster ride of emotions. In the not too distant future, it will be over.

Today the plastic surgeon's office called with the first date that both the breast surgeon and plastic surgeon were available - so I took it. Then I printed off some MS Outlook calendars (Cancer Calendar) and penciled in some milestones.

October 7th - surgery
2 months of every other week tissue expander fill up's (like hitting the gas station!)
Expander's swapped for implants around January
New nipples in the April time frame

October 7th seems both far away and not far away enough. I don't think any date could be far enough away for my taste. Guess I'm not doing so great accepting this today.

This girl makes me feel better!

Monday, September 5, 2011

York Wild Animal Kingdom

It must be our new thing to go to Maine on Labor Day weekend because as we sat in traffic right off the exit of the Maine Turnpike I remembered the traffic from last year, labor day weekend, on our way to Ogunquit. Luckily this year we were going to York which wasn't so far.

We had a good time, we petted goats and made "ah ah ah" sounds at monkeys. Cassidy doesn't do the ooh ooh only the ah ah.  Cassidy tried, and almost succeeded, to get in the pen with the deer.  They were friendly.

She loved the Merry go Round. She was all smiles and laughing, until it moved!  Then she wanted mommy to hold her so the horse is going up & down and shes clutching my neck instead of holding the horse. She didn't cry at all - just didn't know what to make of it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2nd opinion at Dana Farber

It's been a long day. We left home at 10:45 and got back at 6pm!  But we got lots accomplished. and I think I feel better about everything. or better than I did. I think, it's okay to hate what has to happen but accepting more that it HAS to happen and it'll be okay in the end. A new me! I'm still planning to cry like a baby the day of surgery though.

So the DF surgeon was really nice.  No changes in the pathology results or treatment plan. Not that I really expected there to be. I have decided to have both breasts removed - regardless of BRCA gene testing and she played devil's advocate on that topic. Really wants me to think about it and even is going to call me next week to discuss it more after I've thought about it more.  I think, it's hard to verbalize a reason of why I want to do both breasts. The doctors says it doesn't impact survivor rate.  well, I've never thought I wouldn't survive so that isn't one of my reasons.  Maybe I'm vain but, I want two of the same boob. I don't want one natural and one implant. I don't see how I could be happy with that. I think, like anything, I'd end up preferring one over the other. Also as a good friend of mine said this week - a daily reminder of what I lost. But I'll continue to think about it for her and to prepare for our discussion next week.

The plastic surgeon was awesome.  She confirmed that I don't have enough tummy fat but did it in a way that made me feel good (hey, my tummy isn't fat!). Since I had pretty much figured that out myself I was already leaning towards the regular implant route and that is what she recommended but with a great addition. Alloderm is some cadaver part that they use to add to the muscle pocket for the tissue expander.  What it does is create a bigger pocket during the 1st surgery so you wake up with a bigger breast. Which also reduces the amount of time it takes to stretch the pectoral muscle. 
I tried to find a good web link on this but all I could find was Alloderm used with no tissue expander's. I would have a combination of traditional implant and alloderm so I would still have to do tissue expanders, it just reduces the amount of time it takes.
And for anyone curious, no, I will not be getting D-cup boobs (sorry Bill!) I asked for the same size I have now. Some of the plastic surgery decisions don't have to be made now, like saline vs silicone and nipples (permanently ON nipples... not sure I want that...). I feel good about that. It's a little easier to break it into smaller decisions and that is what the plastic surgeon did for me.

So I'm definitely getting treatment at Dana Farber. They were so organized. While we were there, they got me an appointment, on the spot, with the genetic counselor so my blood is already in process to be tested for the BRCA gene. I should get the results of that in 2 to 3 weeks. In the meantime, they sent us home with books and pamphlets to read. And they will figure out a date for surgery which they said would be in four to six weeks. 

I'm sure I'm missing info but it's been a long day and I'm going to crash on the couch. AFTER I share these  pictures of Cassidy from this morning (we had the nicest morning taking walks, reading books and trying to pull down the gazebo - well, that last one was just Cass)

taken with Hipstamatic iphone app.
makes 70's photos. I should learn how to zoom.