We got to Houston on Thursday for my reconstructive procedure. It was about a 2 1/2 hour surgery, but they used local anesthesia so I was awake the whole time. It was crazy. They also allowed Josh to stay back there while they did the surgery, so it was really cool for him to watch. Music was playing and Josh, Dr. Villa, Alisha and I just chatted the entire time. That was surreal to just be having normal conversations and to know they were cutting on me--ahh!!! I only looked one time, but it made my stomach churn. If anyone has ever questioned what the human body can do and how amazingly intricate God created us, just watch a surgery- Incredible!
Psalm 139: 13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Here is a picture during surgery. Even Dr. Babiera stuck her head in to say hello!
Most of you know how much we love Dr. Villa and Alisha, so you know we enjoyed our time visiting with them during my surgery. We laughed at our conversations...we rabbit trailed from conversation to conversation. We discussed music, our families, education, our homes, and even our faith. I learned that Dr. Villa and Alisha are both believers- Praise the Lord. So wonderful to know that those who have played such a huge part in my healing process recognize that God is the ultimate healer. It is starting to hit me that they soon will not be a part of my life anymore, with these last few nips and tucks being completed. I keep reminding myself that is a good thing, but I will miss them!
So, after my surgery Thursday, we headed to the "Stanfill Suites" and went to bed early. Friday was an INCREDIBLE day. We did not leave their house until supper time. That means our day consisted of resting and getting some work done from home. Not to mention that they have the hunting channel for Josh and Style network for me:) We always enjoy good food. Pappasito's and Pappadeaux's...yum:)
So, after my surgery on Friday, I was told to not do any extensive activity (boo for my type of exercise) and I have to sleep on my back. I can't put any kind of pressure on my chest. This was hard for me when I had my mastectomy and is still hard for me now. I am a stomach sleeper, and I have just now been able to comfortably lay on my stomach, but back to the back I go. So, I was intent on making sure I was sleeping on my back. Well, I woke up Saturday morning and went into the bathroom and saw I had blood on my shirt. I kept telling myself ,"Don't panic, don't panic!" This led to a phone call to MDA and sending pictures in to the on-call plastic surgeon. Thankfully everything was ok, but it gave me a little scare. So, needless to say, I have moved to the couch since Friday night to better ensure that I will not roll over on my stomach!!!
We had a great day Saturday, as my mom drove in. We shopped a little, saw a movie and went to church on Saturday night. Such a plus of living in a big city! Since we had my scans Sunday morning, we didn't have to miss church because of Saturday night church being available. Ms. Tammy joined us and it is always a blast spending time with her. Then, Sunday we went to MDA for my scans. I got my blood taken, then had to drink a lovely barium mixture, got my IV for the scan, then had the scan. We had to wait until Monday morning for the results.Took about 4 hours for it all, and then we met my sweet breast cancer survivor friend, Irena for lunch. Always great to catch up with her and she is doing wonderfully:)
After my IV placement waiting for my scan
Drinking my lovely barium mixture
We had a great night Sunday night eating and visiting with the Stanfills and watching a funny movie. Time always goes by so fast when we're there. It truly is our home away from home. Saturday and Sunday night I got SO little sleep. The uncomfortableness of sleeping on my back, sleeping on the couch, and my anxiety apparently was not a good combination!
So, we walked into my doctor's appointment and my nurse small talks for a while. Then finally tells us the scans look good to Dr. Litton's eye. She left and we waited for about 20 minutes for Dr. Litton to come in. I was so overwhelmed and flooded with emotions: That God has saved me from death. That he would give us a child someday. That He would bring me to this day. It is just more than my little mind can comprehend. So, Dr. Litton came in and basically said everything looked good to her eye, but we would wait for the official radiology report, which came in yesterday- CLEAR! We spent the majority of our appointment talking about starting a family. She recommended for us to make an appointment with my OB doctor to discuss growing our family. She also gave recommendations as far as prenatals and things of that nature. Our visit was really very short and I won't see her again for 6 months, YES 6 months! Now, I will see her every 6 months until I reach the 5 year marker. My appointment is already on my schedule in February...WOW WOW!
"Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men."
Here a picture after we heard the unofficial news of my scans- CLEAR!
So, what does this clear scan mean for Aly and Josh? It means another bit of peace of mind. More proof that God healed me and will continue to show that. No cancer in my body. The possibility of children. "Symptoms" I've had being something other than cancer. RELIEF.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was scary because it was stage 3 and very aggressive. I was diagnosed with a form of cancer called "triple negative," which means that my cancer had no hormone receptors. Obviously no one wants to have breast cancer, but you really don't want to be "triple negative." It is not only more aggressive, but you are not a candidate for hormone therapy after breast cancer treatment. Most breast cancer survivors take a "chemo pill", typically tamoxifen, after breast cancer treatment. It blocks certain hormones that could aid in producing breast cancer. It lowers the breast cancer recurrence rate significantly. Most breast cancer survivors are prescribed this or something like this for 5 years post diagnosis. Well, in my case since I was triple negative, I am not a candidate for tamoxifen. So, I take nothing, except my vitamins and supplements (which I am in a way happy about because I like to be as natural as possible). Anyways, it can be scary for a survivor knowing you aren't on tamoxifen, but if I hadn't been triple negative, they would have suggested that I be on tamoxifen for 5 years. So, the possibility of a baby would be 5 years post diagnosis, while being triple negative allows me to try after 2 years.
Soooo, the moral of the story is that God has taken a devastating diagnosis and turned it in to something beautiful. He knows my heart for children and knew what it would take- a "triple negative" diagnosis. I've said that since the beginning- that one of the reasons I was "triple negative" was that I wouldn't be recommended to take anything after cancer treatment, which would in essence be natural health and the hope of children. God ALWAYS has a reason for allowing things. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle with the severity of my diagnosis...why it had to be so grim...but I KNOW God knows why and he continues to give me insight and understanding.
So, I go back to Houston next week to my reconstructive doctor, Dr. Villa, to have a follow up after my procedure. I am getting in the swing of things at work and working on my dissertation. Please pray that my follow up appointment goes great!
As I've told you before, the first 2 years are very important for triple negative cancer, and then it moves to 5 years. I will reach 2 years in October, and then I need you all to KEEP praying until I reach 5 years in 2016. Also, please pray for my blood pressure to lower. It was abnormally high at my appointment on Monday and it was high this week when I checked it at the gym. I'm sure it is stress-related, but please pray it lowers. I will update once we get back from Houston next week.
Thank you for holding my hand through this roller-coaster ride. I've slept the best I've slept in 2 years the last few nights- even on the couch and on my back. I think it has a lot to do with relief. I know RELIEF!!! I love you all!
Eternally grateful for each of you,