Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Most people know that October is breast cancer awareness month. 
And I believe that most of you know that I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage one, invasive, estrogen + cancer on November 22, 2011. 
I am going to share with you something very personal. Most women struggle with making this decision when they are diagnosed with breast cancer and their doctors tell them that it would be in their best interest to have a mastectomy or in my case a double mastectomy. 
What they won't tell you is WHY YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY AND those benefits are. 
What I would like to focus on now is why I chose to not have reconstructive surgery done.
This was the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make in my life!
At the time of my initial diagnosis, I thought stage one breast cancer. No big deal. After I had the biopsy and the MRI, my doctor told me that she would recommend that I have a double mastectomy along with removing my ovaries. She told me not to make my decision based on my emotions, but to think about what I would or would not regret doing ten, fifteen, or twenty years in the future.
I decided to take this advice to heart and apply it to other areas of my life. My last appointment before committing to surgery was with a plastic surgeon. My doctor explained ALL of the wonderful benefits of transflap surgery. My breasts would be reconstructed using my belly fat. It sounded exciting and scary at the same time.
I met with the plastic surgeon and he determined that I did not have enough belly fat to replace my breasts and suggested, or should I say insisted that silicon implants would be the best way to go. He didn't want to discuss with me the downside to silicon implants. I had not heard anything good about them. I suggested using saline and told me that silicon would give me a more natural look and feel. He showed me pictures and let me handle one too. I was not convinced.He kept telling me that I would look and feel like a woman again.
After I finished my normal evening routine, I decided to get on the internet and research the long-term satisfaction rate of women who had undergone reconstructive surgery using silicon implants. I spent 5 long, very emotional hours researching this subject.
The conclusion that I arrived at was: 93% of the women surveyed wished that they had not had the surgery 10 years later and 50% had had complications, some of them major during the first 5 years.
December 16th of this year will mark my 2 year anniversary of having my double mastectomy. January 11, 2014 will mark my 2nd anniversary as a survivor.
Here is a list of the benefits that I have experienced from NOT HAVING reconstructive surgery:
1. Not having reconstructive surgery is A LOT cheaper. Reconstructive surgery IS expensive. Depending on where you live it can cost up to sixteen thousand dollars WITHOUT medical insurance. Since most insurance companies cover the cost for breast cancer patients, they pay eighty per cent of the bill leaving the patient to pay twenty percent. Twenty percent of sixteen thousand dollars is A LOT of money! The cost of my prostheses and 3 bras was less than $700. After my insurance paid their portion of the bill, my cost was $97.30.
2. Reconstructive surgery IS NOT medically necessary. You can live a very healthy life without breasts.
3. There are fewer complications from NOT HAVING reconstructive surgery done. There ARE MORE complications with having reconstructive surgery done. Up to fifty percent of the women who have had reconstructive surgery done suffer major complications during the first five years. Most of these include infections or the implant rupturing. (I know I have already said this, but it bears repeating.)
4. It takes less time to recover from. Without reconstructive surgery, the recovery time is six to eight weeks. (I completely recovered in nine weeks.) With reconstructive surgery, it could take six months or longer.
5. I have A LOT more options when it comes to picking out a Halloween costume. Last year was THE BEST Halloween I had had in several years. I felt like a kid again.

6. Sleeping is A LOT more comfortable. You know how good it feels to take your bra off before you go to bed, but YOU CAN NOT IMAGINE HOW GREAT it feels to removed your breasts! (I was fitted with my prostheses on March 1, 2012.)
7. People now make eye contact with me. I can count on one hand the number of people that I know personally that KNOW what color my eyes are. Nobody stares at my chest any more and it feels wonderful!
8. Shopping for clothes is A LOT more fun! (With breasts, although I wore a size 10, my shoulders were a size 6. So if I found a blouse or dress that fit me in the shoulders, it was usually too small for my breasts. If it fit my breasts, it was usually too big in the shoulders.)
10. I am now a lean, mean, hula hooping machine! (I was pretty good before I had surgery, but I am unstoppable now! There is NOTHING to get in the way!)

I could go on, but I think you've got a good idea of the benefits. If you need more convincing, feel free to contact me. I LOVE to talk on the phone and this is a subject that I am very passionate about.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mammograms: Are they really necessary?

I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage one, invasive, estrogen receptor + breast cancer on November 22, 2011. 7 separate cancer cells were found. Only one of them was larger than a millimeter in diameter. I was fortunate to be in the 50% of the population where my cancer had not spread and I did not need to have chemo or radiation.

I had a double mastectomy, both of my ovaries and 6 lymph nodes removed from under my left arm on December 16, 2011.

I had my first base-line mammogram when I was 37. My ob-gyn ordered it and told me that if it was necessary, I should also have an ultrasound assist. Because I had large, dense breasts and I was pre-menopausal. I NEEDED an ultrasound assist.

I continued having annual mammograms until I was 43. My ob-gyn retired and because I had had a very trusting relationship with him, I made the decision to NOT GO to his partner that he left his practice to. I did not like his partner and I had no desire to drive the long distance to the hospital that he was affiliated with.

I also had no desire to find a new ob-gyn, but I KNEW that if and when it would become necessary, I would choose the Dr that one of my neighbors had recommended. This Dr had his office closer to where I live and I have had a positive experience with the hospital that he is affiliated with.

On October 19, 2011, I discovered an indentation under the nipple on my left breast and just to the right of it, I found a small lump. I called this new Dr to schedule an appointment 2 days later. I asked his receptionist if he was taking any new patients, she told me that he wasn't until after the first of the year. I "explained my situation." She put me on hold for about 10 minutes. (It felt like A LOT LONGER than that.) She told me that he could see me 1 week later.

It didn't surprise me that after my appointment with him that he ordered me to have a mammogram within the coming week. I asked him why I couldn't skip the mammogram and just have an ultrasound since I ALWAYS NEEDED to have on with my prior mammograms. He told me that the mammography tech would make that decision.

I had the mammogram 6 days later. Once again, I wasn't surprised that I needed an ultrasound.

After I had the ultrasound, the technician did not release me right away. She wanted to consult with the head of the radiology department first. She came back a few minutes later WITH him. He decided to take 4 more pictures.

I already shared the final outcome at the beginning of this blog. I can't help but wonder if the mammograms contributed to my cancer. Please read the following article and let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why Not?

It is the beginning of a new year and for most of us, that means making New Years Resolutions in January and most likely breaking them within a month.

Now that it is the 2nd day of February, I would like to ask, how are you doing with KEEPING your New Years Resolutions? Have you broken them yet or are you on your way to keeping them? 

For many years, I did not make any resolutions. This year, I decided to make 3. I decided to make them simple and achievable. I took a few steps towards making a commitment. I wrote them down on a 3 x 5 card that I have taped to the top of my desk where I can see them every day while I am working. 

The title of this blog is, "Why not? Most business owners especially those that are involved with networking companies always ask their perspective business partners to answer the question, "WHAT IS YOUR WHY?" Why do you want to be your own boss? Why do you want to earn LOTS OF MONEY? Why do you want to quit your day job? The answers to these questions are supposed to get you thinking on an emotional level WHY you will stay motivated and do whatever it takes to succeed. 

The answers to these questions don't always serve the purpose that they are intended. I believe because most people don't know how to make a commitment and keep it when the going gets tough. The best definition of the word commitment that I have come across is:

"There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when its convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results." Anonymous.

This is where my favorite quote and philosophy comes into play. "By small and simple means GREAT THINGS are brought to pass." It is in doing small and simple things EVERYDAY that GREAT THINGS WILL BE brought to pass.

This leads me to the question and title of this blog: Why not? Have you noticed that when a small child asks 'WHY," he isn't allowed to do something, he usually follows it up with the question, "Why not?" He wants to know WHY he shouldn't do something,  not why he should. I think most of us would be much more motivated to keeping our commitments if we followed the same process of thinking as a small child.

When Thomas Edison was asked how he felt about failing to invent the light bulb over 200 times, he replied, "I did not fail at inventing the light bulb over 200 times. I succeeded at finding 200 ways not to invent the light bulb." Success or failure is all about what it means to you as an individual.

So here is my question, Why shouldn't you succeed at keeping your resolutions this year? Do you need some motivation? If you want to lose 50 pounds this year, why shouldn't you? Why not look incredible and be healthy? Do you want to earn an extra $10,000 this year? Why not take the steps necessary to achieve that? Think about what it would mean in the terms of freedom.

If you are looking for a fun and simple way to achieve your goals and keep your resolutions, why not make this the year to do it?