… the cancer has officially shrunk (shrank?).
You heard it, SHRUNK (OR SHRANK). Long story short, the lymph nodes are normal size now, less than 1 cm, which indicates they are (most likely) cancer free. I had one major tumor with two multifocal tumors. Welp, those multifocal tumors are no longer visible and the span of cancer (was about 3 inches) has decreased by about 50% with no skin or nip having cancer in it. This is great news. Did I think the cancer would be 100% gone, meh, maybe 5% of me? As long as it shrunk by 1% I didn’t care, that means it hasn’t spread. My breast surgeon, Dr. Heerdt, actually called me at 7:45 pm the day before we were leaving for the Cancerlorette party. I was relieved for a few reasons. While I wouldn’t have cared, I just didn’t want to get a call from anyyyyyyyoneeeeee from MSK on vacation, just no one. She was happy with the results, so was I.
On Tuesday, May 16th, Ed and I took the train in to visit with the plastic surgeon. We were running a little bit late so we started to POWER WALK. Aye carumba. We walk in and I am given an iPad to answer some questions. These questions include, “do you think your breasts will look the same after surgery?” … “do you think you will feel good naked after surgery?”. What the hell are these questions? I was just filling it out, rolling my eyes and shaking my head next to my dad. They called me in about 45 minutes later. I went in the room, removed everything from the waist up, put my gown on, sat down and waited. The nurse then came in. Her name was Brownwynne, interesting name right? She also looked a lot like me (when I had hair). She was sooo nice, as many of them are. She explained everything in detail. She showed me the expanders that will be placed under my chest muscle. I started to cry at this point. “Are you ok?” … “yes, I am fine, I’m just 28 and this is crazy” … “I get it, you want a hug?” and she got up and gave me a good hug. We then moved forward on to pictures of the doctors work. Ya know what, these boobs look goooooood. They’ll be perky ya’ll. The doctor then came in. He was nice. He drew out every surgical option, since there are a few; taking fat from your stomach or butt, taking muscle from you back or implants. He reviewed them all even though he already could tell the implants were my only option since I don’t have enough fat. He squeezed my stomach and said, “well no, there just isn’t enough here” , I said, “SAY THAT AGAIN”. He did. BAHA. I said I will have to tell my boyfriend that. He laughed. I’m a funny person sometimes. We talked for about 20 minutes and that was that. I will be getting my breast tissue removed by the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon will come in and place the expanders and drains. Yes, there will be drains. There will be two on each side. They will be stitched into my incisions and will drain fluid that collects. I will have to empty them twice a day, morning and evening, and measure them each time. They will be in for a week or two, one side might come out sooner than the other. They will be removed when less than 30 ml accumulates in 24 hours (that’s about a shot worth). It’s gonna suck, its gonna be uncomfortable, it’s gonna, it’s just gonna suck, that’s all I can really say about it. I remember helping mom with it, it really wasn’t that gross or anything, however I wasn’t the one with the drains in so, I am now on the other side.
After the appointment, I had “before” pictures taken of my breasts, that was fun. Ed and I then left, I had pre-op tests about two hours later so we got some food on the streets. Falafels, yum. We walked through Central Park. We then walked back and I had an echo, talked to the NP, reviewed everything and we were out. Took a walk back to the train station. It was not a terribly hot day but it was warm. About 30 minutes into our walk, I had to rip my wig off. It took me about 5 minutes to finally grow the courage to take it off and put my Rutgers hat on. It was funny. Dad said no one noticed, everyone’s too self involved! I got home and an hour later met up with Rebeka and Mel for sushi. Yum. We sat outside, it was a beautiful night.
The next day, work, then movies with dad and Nate, we saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2, meh, wait until it comes out On Demand. Thursday the 18th, work, Kim was playing golf. Thursday is golf day for the Stires men. I am ok with it. Kim texted me before they started playing, “I’m gonna have to play a lot of golf before I become your personal nurse!” … “no honey, you can golf after surgery, there are plenty of people to come help me, and also, I will eventually be ok!” … “no, no, no, I will be there”. Thankful. It was nice to be home, made some chicken, potatoes and salad and relaxed and watched some Bravo. Friday the 19th, nothing special, Kim worked late, another night. On Saturday we were going to Kim’s cousins house for a BBQ with a bunch of the family. They redid their kitchen and it was time to party it up! It was great to see everyone. We left earlier than everyone, around 9:30 pm as Kim had work early and I was going into the city to meet up with some friends for a rent the runway event on Sunday. I was a little cranky as well because, yes, we were still doing the weight loss challenge and I was eating healthy, and damn, that can make you cranky sometimes (like really healthy). The next day, May 21st, I took the 9:30 am train to meet Christine and Jenn, her friend from work, for a little event at the rent the runway store in NYC. I took the train, got in a cab, made my way downtown like it was nothing. These trips into NYC for MSK have really made me feel comfortable in the city, which hey, another silver lining I guess. I thought it would make me hate the city but I am actually growing to like it a little more. We took a little test for our style, tried on a few things, talked to the RTR staff, it was fun. We then walked about five minutes to a great brunch spot. We couldn’t believe we got in right away. It was great. Jenn and I then walked back to Penn Station and waited for our trains. I was back home by 4 pm. It is pretty amazing how close we are to the city.
Monday was here, the 22nd, it was time to work… oh and then go for that mammogram and MRI that gave us that good news. It was a long day, as many of my days are, but it is ok. When I was there, I could tell someone had a mammogram where they found something suspicious. You can… oh, I can, I can tell by the way they sit, breathe and look. I guess it comes with the cancer diagnosis territory? I thought to myself, should I talk to her, should I leave her alone? I remembered when I was in the position, I wouldn’t want anyone to talk to me at that point so I didn’t. I later found out everything was ok, very relived, and 1% jealous. Sigh. At one point someone was giving me directions on where to go, my response, “I know where to go, I live here” with a smile on my face and a chuckle from the nurse. No, but I do. Tuesday, May 23rd. Work then went down to have dinner with mom and Aunt Peg before leaving for my Cancerlorette. Wednesday, May 24th, who knows what happened this day, DAY BEFORE VACAAAAA!!!
May 25th – 30th – what happens at Kay’s Cancerlorette, stays at Kay’s Cancerlorette!! I can sum it up for you; Tito’s vodka, Jameson, sun, pool, bathing suits, pizza, sushi, dancing and me giving a speech on a microphone to an entire bar filled with probably 50 people that went something like this, “hi everyone, my name is Caitlin, I am on my Cancerlorette right now, yup, I am 28 years old and I have breast cancer. I am BRCA2+ and I found my cancer myself, so don’t forget to feel your boobs! I will be having mine taken off next week so we are celebrating, I mean don’t I have great boobs!?”. From what I am told (and what I remember), the bar went silent and everyone was listening, it was kind of empowering. After that, a woman came up to me who had cancer, another woman came up to me who had cancer and was BRCA2+ and had her boobs removed with implants (and she let me feel them) and they felt good, another person came up to me wanting to buy me a drink. It was pretty crazy and it was a great night and a great vacation. My girlfriends really made it special for me, buying water bottles saying “Kay’s Baes” each with our names on them, surprising me with bottles of champagne at the pool (THANKS PAT), wearing all black when I wore a brighter color to feel special, they REALLY surprised me and did a lot (especially when we all had delayed or cancelled flights on the way home, ugh).
Ok, let’s get real.
This is it. While on the plane flying home, I felt like I was flying towards the end. I had been looking forward to this Cancerlorette for weeks, it really took my mind off my surgery and I am so happy it happened. I cried on the plane about 5 times because I really felt like, welp, I am flying home to have my breasts removed.
What am I scared of? Hmm, first thing that comes to mind, losing Kim. I know I won’t lose him (as tears swell up in my eyes). What if I do? For some reason I have been saying DUMB things to him like, “will you leave me?” … “will you cheat on me?” … “but I won’t have boobs”. I am joking and dead serious all at the same time. His responses, “no” … “I am not the cheating type” … “I’m too lazy”. I guess those are the best responses I could get. This is going to be HARD. Honestly, he’s a boob guy. My best asset(s) are my boobs (definitely ain’t my personality). What will be my new best asset? Nah not my ass, I have nice legs but eh, I do have pretty blue eyes but them eye lashes haven’t come back yet, my hair, oh yeah I am bald. This is my life. It’s scary.
I am pissed off.
- I am really pissed off I am going to lose my breasts.
- I am pissed off Kim has a girlfriend who is losing her breasts.
- I am pissed off my friends have to deal with this.
- I am pissed off my family has to feel this pain.
- I am pissed off.
I am thankful.
- I am really thankful they even have reconstruction.
- I am thankful Kim is my boyfriend.
- I am thankful I have the friends I have.
- I am thankful I can communicate with you all and hopefully help someone.
- I am thankful.
I am sad.
- I am really sad that I have been dealt this hand.
- I am really sad Kim has been dealt this hand.
- I am really sad at 28 years old, I need to deal with this.
- I am really sad that I am really sad.
- I am sad.
I am scared.
- I am scared of not calculating my drainage correctly.
- I am scared of something going wrong in surgery.
- I am scared of being utterly disappointed in my new breasts.
- I am scared of infection.
- I am scared.
I am fearful.
- I am fearful that my relationship will change.
I feel happy about how deep my relationship with Kim has gotten. I NEVER (NNNNEEEEEVVVVVEEEERRRRR) thought I would have something like this. However, it’s scary being so dependent on someone. I have faith we will be ok, but if I said I didn’t have thoughts that this will change everything about my life, I would be lying. Thankfully, Kim is Kim, and he says everything will be ok, so ya know what? Everything will be ok.
My friends have started a meal train for Kim and I. He is back in the swing of work, working 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week. I won’t be able to lift over 5-10 pounds for 6 weeks (holy shit). Sign up below if you have time, if not, I STILL LOVE YOU AND AM VERY THANKFUL!
Ok then, June 7th it is. Talk soon.