Category Archives: Reconstruction

Pink’s Not Just for Breast Cancer Anymore, Folks!

Well, folks, it’s June 1st.  I can’t believe that yet another year is almost half over….AGAIN!  Time keeps marching on, no matter how much I just wish it would go as slow as it did when I was a kid waiting for Christmas.  Do you ever sit around and think to yourself, “What am I doing to take care of this body that I was given, so that it lasts well into my twilight years?”  Yeah, me neither.  Usually it takes something drastic for us to start paying better attention to our bodies and health – unless of course you’re one of those skinny, gym-loving, non-food addict, can-eat-anything-you-want kind of people.  But the rest of us hate those kind of people.  Not really.  We are mostly just jealous of those that it seemingly comes to so easily.  But in life, most of us learn that nothing comes easy – especially a tone, fit, healthy body.

So if you’ve followed along on my trip down cancer’s path (yeah, I used “path” because those who use “Cancer Journey” just irritate the crap out of me – not that “path” is much better), then you know that my body has been through the ringer.  Between surgeries, very little exercise, bad eating, and weight yo-yo’ing, I have been the epitome of UN-healthy.  I started looking back at the past couple of years, and WOW.   Take a look:

March 2013 – Diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer (166 lbs.)

April  2013 – Bilateral Radical Mastectomy  (166 lbs.)  

Surgery day - April 10, 2013
Surgery day – April 10, 2013

 

May 2013 – Began chemotherapy  (163 lbs.)

After 1st Chemo - May 2013
After 1st Chemo – May 2013
Fight Like a Girl photo shoot - July 2013
Fight Like a Girl photo shoot – July 2013

October 2013 – Chemotherapy ends (180 lbs.) 

Last day of Chemo - October 14, 2013
Last day of Chemo – October 14, 2013

January 2014 – Radiation begins (177 lbs.)

February 2014 – Radiation ends (186 lbs.)

Last day of Radiation - February 19, 2013
Last day of Radiation – February 19, 2013

July 2014 – First reconstruction surgery; Thyroidectomy due to Hashimoto’s AND cancerous nodule (169 lbs.)

Anniversary trip - July 2014
Anniversary trip – July 2014
Reconstruction & Thyroid surgery - July 25, 2014
Reconstruction & Thyroid surgery – July 25, 2014

September 2014 – Surgery to reverse reconstruction due to staph infection (169 lbs.)

Race For the Cure North Texas - September 2014
Race For the Cure North Texas – September 2014

**Sometime in November, the doc added a second prescription for replacement thyroid function – weight started coming off**

January 2015 – Reconstruction do-over surgery (152 lbs.)

1st Reconstruction Do-Over surgery - January 29, 2015
1st Reconstruction Do-Over surgery – January 29, 2015

April 2015 – Second Reconstruction do-over surgery (152 lbs.)

To the outside eye, after looking at all of this, one might think that I’m doing alright after losing the weight, plus some, that I gained during treatment.  But what most don’t know if that I have no upper body strength – can’t even do one pushup.  I have no stamina when exercising, which is not very often these days.  I had very little energy, despite the weight loss, and was needing to nap almost every day.  I was relying on coffee and several sodas per day to keep me awake, and it wasn’t helping.  Meanwhile, at night, I couldn’t fall asleep on my own, and was often up until 1, 2, 3 AM; sometimes I would literally stay awake the entire night – unless I took some kind of pharmaceutical to help me sleep (sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, pain pill, sedative…or a combo of these).  After surgery at the end of January I had developed some pretty bad issues with regularity, due to anesthesia along with prescription pain medications being used day after day after day.  Then after surgery at the end of April, my “issues” got SO much worse, and constipation turned into a 7-day painfest.  Nothing worked, and by then I was TRIPLING my prescription doses of drugs that were supposed to help with it.  I stopped taking pain meds and just had to deal with it.

During that time, while I was recouperating and in bed after surgery, one of my fellow breast cancer survivor warrior friends had posted a testimonial about her use of Plexus products.  While I have had numerous friends whom I have seen using it, most for weight loss, this particular friend was talking about how it had helped her sugar addiction and improved her “gut health.”  THIS was what made me start researching it.  And don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE skeptic when it comes to stuff like this – I’ve tried numerous MLMs myself, so I don’t judge for that.  But with limited success in the past personally, I had a hard time believing that this Plexus stuff would be any different, despite what so many of my friends had been reporting.  What I found was that the Plexus Slim (aka Pink Drink that everyone was talking about) was originally created for type 2 diabetics, to stabilize blood sugar.  I have been on a prescription diabetes medicine since chemo ended, because it threw me into diabetic glucose levels (the combination of steroids during treatment + the bad, carby eating that followed the steroids).  I have been wanting to get off as many of my prescriptions as possible in my quest to get healthier.  I’m not sure if I will be able to get off of thyroid function replacement meds, since mine has been removed; but I have really wanted to get off of blood sugar meds, blood pressure meds (have been on for 20 years now), and ADHD meds.  So after all of my research, I decided to give it a try, and would keep a log of my weight, blood sugar readings, and the products that I am using.  My first focus would be blood sugar, followed by losing that last twenty pounds and getting off of the blood pressure meds.  My friend sent me some samples of the Plexus Slim, and after a few days I could already tell a difference; so I ordered my first set of products and hoped for good results.

May 6, 2015 – Started Plexus Triplex for gut issues and blood sugar (154 lbs.) – waking Blood Sugar: 150

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June 1, 2015 – 28 days on Plexus Triplex, 12 days on Accelerator +, 15 days on Block (151 lbs.) – waking Blood Sugar:  117

Lunch w/the girls - May 30, 2015
Lunch w/the girls – May 30, 2015

Do you see that?  My morning blood sugar readings are down over 30 points!  I haven’t taken the prescription meds for it in over four weeks.  My junk food cravings?  Mostly GONE!  My sugar addiction/sugar cravings?  Mostly GONE!  My carb addiction/carb cravings?  Mostly GONE!  My three-a-day Coke Zero addiction/habit?  GONE!  If I try to drink a diet soda now, I can only drink about half of it.  The sleepless nights, insomnia, and inability to fall asleep without drugs?  GONE!  My lack of energy and need to nap every afternoon?  GONE!  My “issues” with regularity/constipation?  GONE!  I’m eating proteins, fruits & veggies, with very little bread, potatoes, or rice.  I make the cupcakes but only rarely EAT one;  I’m pretty much just baking them and sending them out.  My energy is up and my blood sugar is going down!  The three pound loss is just a bonus, since that was not what my beginning focus was anyway.  The way that I’m going, the 15-20 pounds that I still want to lose should be gone in no time, all while continuing to get healthy from the inside out.

The more time that I use it, the better I feel.  The better the results, the more I am glad that I took the leap to try Plexus.  So I guess that yeah, now I am going to be one of those crazy Plexus ladies – you know, we ALL know at least ONE!  But I am trying to not be the annoying crazy Plexus lady…LOL!  So if you want to know more, or try it for yourself, then please feel free to email, message, call, text, or check out the products on my website!

http://tjdoddhise.myplexusproducts.com

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Reconstruction, Health, and The End is in Sight!

Well, it really has been a minute – or more like a few – since my last post!  In February, I promised an update as well as a blog featuring my chef friend’s new spring menu – and failed on both counts!  I know, I suck.  But sometimes life just, well, is life.  And every day comes, whether we are ready for it or not, huh?  So let’s go back and do some catching up, shall we?

As my readers know, last July, I began the reconstruction journey, even after I adamantly declared that I wouldn’t do it.  Most days I regret starting the process, but it is what it is and all I can do now is look forward, rather than behind.  I had implants, very small implants, put in, just so that I wouldn’t be caved in anymore and could wear a swimsuit without embarassment – to me AND my family!  Well, unfortunately, the implant on my left side – my radiated side – developed a staff infection, and by September I was pretty sick and the plastic surgeon had to go back in and remove it.  When THOSE bandages came off, I was devestated to see that I was now even MORE caved-in than I had been before starting reconstruction.  Deeply depressed, I cried a LOT; and upon return to the plastic surgeon post-op, he promised me that he could and WOULD make it look better, that it could be done (because I seriously, at that point, had my doubts).  He said we would have to wait several months for things to heal again before we started over, but that there was an option that did not entail putting anything else foreign into my body that could be rejected again.  He told me about a procedure called “Fat Grafting.”  This is where he first goes in and liposuctions fat from whatever area of my body that I want him to (and PLENTY of people graciously offered theirs to me as well), and then in the operating room they spin the fat to separate it from liquid.  Once they do this, the liquid is discarded, and the fat is then injected into the breast area and molded into a breast.  The only catch about this, however, is that some of the fat may not stay in place and take on the blood vessels around it, but rather just dissolve back into the body; and it would take several procedures, because only so much can be transferred at one time.  So I was in – I didn’t care how many times we had to do it (or so I thought), because hell, liposuction AND build-a-boob??  Let’s do it!

My first procedure was January 29th, and I was not at ALL prepared for what I would wake up to physically – neither the severe pain nor the huge, shocking purple bruising that came with the liposuction.  The pain from THAT surgery was way worse than even the initial double mastectomy, and the recovery time was about twice as long.  He harvested fat from my belly and my sides (ie: love handles), and after the bruising went away, I WAS rather pleased with having a smaller gut, despite all of the pain it took to get it.  I was a little disappointed, as was the doctor, in the outcome once again on my left breast (if you can call it that).  He had had trouble, when injecting the fat during surgery, in getting the large scar to loosen and expand.  It had been opened and closed four or five times previously, so it is pretty tight.  Our plan was, in between that procedure and the next, for me to try a fairly new system called the Brava – a sports bra of sorts with a suction device, designed to pull the skin out naturally through suction, rather than inserting an expander under the skin (which, as a foreign object, I wasn’t willing to do).  The wait-time in between procedures had to be at least three months, the surgeon told me, so that the fat had a chance to take on blood supply.  About two months after the first fat transfer, my nurse called to tell me that my insurance wouldn’t cover the Brava system, because it is so new and considered “experimental.”  If I wanted to do it anyway, it would cost me about a thousand bucks.  Um, no thanks.  So now what???  They told me I could proceed and do the same procedure as before, and he would work on getting the scar out a little more this time.  So surgery was scheduled and I prepared for round two.

The second procedure was April 30th, and this time I was prepared for what was coming – but I really wasn’t.  This time, he said he only had a little that he could take from my belly, so I told him to take from my thighs.  Dear God.  He got most of the fat from my thighs, he later told me, and that was a whole ‘nother kind of pain.  I woke up in a compression garment that went from just above my knees all the way up to my ribs.  Whoa.  Then on top of that, my chest was tightly wrapped in ace bandage, and between the two things, I could barely breathe!  I used my cane for a couple of days due to the thigh pain when standing, sitting, walking – pretty much moving in any form or fashion!  But I’m almost three weeks out, and have been up and about for almost a week now – much sooner than after the last time.  Last time I didn’t drive until I was two weeks out; this time, I drove myself one time after about five days, but then waiting until my 1 week (and a day) follow up appointment with the plastic surgeon.  We were both a bit more hopeful this time when we unwrapped my chest, as there is definite movements outwards of the big, main scar, and the semblance of the beginnings of a tiny breast or pec even.  We are hoping that one more procedure will do the trick, two at the most – and that is a huge improvement over what he initially predicted with EIGHT procedures!  So yeah, I am finally seeing an end to this whole ordeal, and I’m looking forward to being able to wear a swimsuit this summer without too much embarrassment, as well as on our family cruise at the beginning of October.  Now I want to focus on my health, and toning up after weight loss and liposuction…and hopefully this whole cancer nightmare will be behind me forever, never to return!

bitch slap cancer