A Bra of a Different Color

Since my double mastectomy, at the beginning of January, it is safe to say I am getting use to my new self.  These things on my chest have a name FOOBS, fake-boobs.  Prior to my diagnosis, I had breast augmentation in 2007 and so, decided on reconstruction. During my mastectomy, expanders were put in.  Expanders help, with stretching  the breast skin and muscles and making it “look like” you have breasts.  Your cosmetic surgeon injects a salt-water solution, over a period of time, to expand the devices, until you reach your desired size.  Ultimately, a second surgery is scheduled to replace the expanders with silicone implants.  Expanders feel NOTHING like breast implants, they are uncomfortable and hard and look funny.  Because of the location of my tumor, my nipples were spared. My incsicion/scar site is under my Foobs, through the original incision, made during my 2007 breast augmentation. It is now a longer scar but I really don’t care.  On top of not feeling like me, I have begun chemo treatment and my cosmetic surgeon and I decided to halt filling the expanders any further until after I was finished with chemo.  This has left me will smaller Foobs, for now, and me just not feeling whole or pretty or normal.  And while my Foobs do not define me, I am still a women, I still want to look and feel good, I still want to just be ME!

I am blessed to be a part of a tight knit and exclusive community called The Disney Parks Moms Panel and the 2012 class of Panelist gifted my a gift certificate to AnaOno.  Dana Donofree, is a breast cancer survivor and fashionista, who decided to take a stylish stance and created and designed a lingerie and loungwear boutique specifically catering to the Pink warriors and surviors living with the beauty scars of Breast Cancer.

The naming of her line is pure genius, dANA dONOfree, very catchey and spot on.  The  AnaOno line simg_9893peaks of beauty through its colors, comfort and thoughtfulness created in every design.  It is clear to see, Dana has thought of every kind of women, at every stage and age of her breast cancer life. From the warrior to the survivor, the young and the mature, the double and single mastectomies, to the lumpectiomies and those who have decided on no reconstruction; care has been take in each piece to make US feel beautiful.  Her collection is not limited to bras.  Most bras comes with matching undies because we as women love a good matching bra and undie set.  Her loungwear is truly desinged for those undergoing breast surgery recovery and their need to feel beautiful and functional and her apparel screams out her passion in fighting the good fight.  Plus, AnaOno contributes 10% of its profits to Jill’s Wish, a non-profit which aides in financial assistance for those going through Breast Cancer.

For me, I was looking for a bra, which was of course beautiful but most importantly did not sit on my incisions, as they healed.  My chest area had changed drastically, it was wider from swelling and from the desin of the expanders.  Sports bras could be worn, but I am not working out. I could go without a bra, but what if I wear a thinner shirt?  And dear LORD above, I can’t even fathom wearing an undwire bra, OUCH!!!!  I deserved to wear something to make me feel like a women and feel comfortable in.

I was instantly drawn to the Pocketed Plunge Wirefree Bra, in the MAKEMERRY collection and ordered a size Medium, in black and blush.  The bra came packaged in an ADORBS little bag.  Unfortunaley, I sized wrong, needless to say, much has changed with my body.   Amy and Dana, quickly and effortlessly made an exchange for a large to be sent.  The material is a beautiful soft knit and the plunging neckline gives it a little sexy appeal.  I, espcially, love the wide-band back closure. It is  adjustable with four hook options and fits well below my incision/scar line.  The convertible shoulder straps are adjustable and convenient, depending on what style shirt you are wearing. Another great design bonus is how low it sits under your underarms.  I had 15 lymph nodes removed, on my right sidimg_9894e, and I am still swollen and still have pain.  This bra sits low enough to not irritate that area for me.  For women using light breast forms or just wanting a little padding and more shape, this bra comes with pockets (pads were included).  It is truly a bra designed for multiple fashion options and I highly recomennd it as a MUST-HAVE.  Truthfully, I have worn it everyday and now want to try the Rachel Wirefree Bra, every girl loves a little lace.
Dana has brought beauty to a beast of a disease and I am excited to see her fashion creations heal so many women.  Just recently her collection ROCKED the catwalk of New York Fashion Week with 16 brave real, everyday breast cancer warriors.  I can’t lie when I say I WISH I was walking that stage, as Sia says in her song Stamina, “I’m free to be the GREASTEST, I’M ALIVE!” And with Dana’s vision and talent and designs, so many will gain the strenght to lift their heads a little higher and walk that walk.

“Our collections are made for women with one breast, two breasts, no breasts or new breasts.”   ~Dana Donofree

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Fast-Forward to Now

Much has happened since my diagnosis with Breast Cancer and with the help of CaringBridge.org, I am able to keep my family and friends updated with my ups and downs through treatment.  My sister, Kelly, started my journal for me on Friday January 6th, the day of my double mastectomy, as a central stop for all to see my progress.  From there I ran, or rather crept (no running yet), with the opportunity to journal.  Below are some excerpts from my journal entriesimg_9576, and for those who are going through or have loved ones going through a medical situation, I highly recommend CaringBridge.org as an outlet.  It has made my life easier because I am able to let everyone, as a whole, know who? what? when? where? and how? I am in my journey.

Update 1
Journal entry by Kelly  — 1/6/2017

Hey All, its Chris.

Amy’s sister Kelly started up this page for us to use as a means of mass communication to keep everyone updated as much as we can. First part of the surgery is complete. We just met with the breast surgeon and everything went well. No complications. We are now on to phase 2 with the plastic surgeon to begin the reconstruction process. Surgery should be over by in the next couple hours and on to recovery.

 

 

The Cancer Marathon (I hate marathons!)
Journal entry by Amy Mullins — 1/10/2017

While my emotional marathon began back at the end of October, my physical race began this past Friday January 6th. And while the pain at times takes my breathe away and make me cry, and the exhaustion can bring me to my knees, the OVERWHELMING outreach of acquaintances, friends, my Disney family, and my family have kept me on my feet moving forward. The next leg of the race are the results and what my treatment will be. Lymph nodes were removed and are being tested along with the tumor, we should hear back any day now. My hope is I go straight to hormonal therapy but what will be, will be.

Thank you all for the kind texts and messages I am receiving daily. I read them all and while I may not have responded back, PLEASE, know they mean ever so much. Walt Disney once said, “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” Well so have I. I am a fighter for a reason, it must be a path that was predestined for me and this time I plan on putting this cancer in its place and making it across that finish line.

 

No Radiation!! And GO STEELERS!!!
Journal entry by Amy Mullins — 1/22/2017

Last Thursday some good news came my way.

First, during the time of surgery, my breast surgeon removed 15 lymph nodes because she truly thought, just by sight, ALL 15 contained cancer. Thankfully, she was wrong and only 2 had cancer in them. Either way, the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist would have recommended me going back into surgery to remove more lymph nodes had my breast surgeon not done so in the initial surgery.

Second, during a meeting of my medical team, while it was determined I would be going through chemo (we are still waiting on the oncotype test) I was borderline for the possibility of radiation. They decided to bring on three radiation oncologists to discuss my case and ALL 3 felt I would not need radiation. I was very happy to hear this.

We will take the miracles and small wins. This Tuesday I am going for a full body and bone scan just for peace of mind for the doctors and myself. They do not feel it as spread but we will go ahead and just rule it out 100%.

Thank you to all for your prayers and support, I can’t imagine going it alone. Now let’s hope the Steelers beat the Patriots!!!

 

Round 1!!!! of a 4 Round Fight!!!!
Journal entry by Amy Mullins — 2/3/2017

Hi All,

This morning at 9am I reported to my first battle with Chemo. I can not say enough about the nurses at Fair Oaks INOVA Cancer Center, they made today feel more like a social event than a chemo event. I am sure I was a breathe of fresh air because I was younger and they were my age, so I chatted the majority of the time while they filled me with steroids, Benadryl, Taxotere and Cytoxan. The procedure finished around 1:30, easy-peasy lemon-squeezie.

I, also, met with the Lead Nurse Navigator, for the Fair Oaks branch, of a HUGE non-profit organization called Life With Cancer, which works with all INOVA hospitals. They offer an incredible array of services to those fighting the Fight and their families. I took this opportunity to network the non-profit organization Kelly, Chris, Angela and I are creating (news will follow about this as soon as all the paperwork is filed). She was incredibly thrilled with the organization and what it will offer and as soon as we are ready to roll she wants more information to present to Life With Cancer. I am so amazingly excited for this adventure and helping so many in such a small slumbering way.

How do I feel? GREAT, and very talkative but that’s the steroids speaking. Monday will be when the Chemo fatigue kicks in but for now, I don’t feel like I had anything done. Tomorrow, I am going to have my hair cut to a pixie cut length, think Charlize Theron. It will make the physical part of the hair falling out easier and less sensitive. I should expect to start seeing hair loss around day-13ish. My White Blood Cell count will be its lowest around day-10 to day-15, so no sickies at my house or near me, Stay Far, Far, Away in Another Galaxy. In 19 days I AM GOING TO WALT DISNEY WORLD!!!!! I am sure many of you are NOT surprised by this magical news this is the third year of tradition of some incredible women who I love dearly and while I may not be able to do much, being around them will heal me in so many ways*o*

And I truly can not thank you enough for the outpouring of prayers, gifts and those who are helping with dinners. I continue to be blessed by this diagnosis. I see how so much good is out there, we ALL need to remember this. While there is so MUCH gloom and doom surrounding us, take a moment and open your eyes and see ALL the Good. It truly far out ways the bad and only YOU can choose to decide what you WANT to see. Be kind to one another.

Thank You Kindly and Much, Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust and a whole lot of Jesus.

 

 

Feel free to follow along ,via my journal entries, through CaringBridge.org and stay tuned, I see a non-profit in my future and some blogs about Where did my eyebrows and eyelashes go???? Oh wait! I had chemo;)

The Ocean

Since beginning my blog and Jumping Into the Deep End of the Pool, a whole new journey appeared as I surfaced. No longer did I find myself, trying to get to the other side of just a pool, or even a lake, to follow a whole new dream but instead a vast ocean appeared. Questions: Why? How do I do this? Am I being punished? I am tired of fighting of being strong? What is my path now? What is my future?

Breast Cancer is an ugly creature that came with a vengeance into my life this past October. While I discovered the lump in August, I ignored its attack, until my mother and best friend insisted I go. After two months of torturous news and waiting I am currently diagnosed with Grade 2, Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my right breast. Because of the location of my tumor (the 10 o’clock position), the amount of breast tissue (I do not have much), my implants and the size of the tumor (at the moment it is being measured at 2.2cm but could be bigger, surgery will let us know); we have decided on a double mastectomy. The surgery  will further determine if I am Stage 3 (passed into the lymph nodes) and they will do further tests on the tumor to determine the recurrence of cancer and this will decided if I will have further treatment such as chemo and/or radiation. Because my cancer is hormone based I will be on hormone therapy for many years to help prevent any further breast cancer.

But I digress. While I could take the diagnosis, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of loneliness I feel. As I look upon the horizon of this HUGE ocean, I realize I am in the safety of a lifeboat. This lifeboats does represent those who are close to me and love me and while I know they are there I still am alone and lost. For the first time, in a very long time, I don’t know what to do and where to go and who to be. What was once so clear now seems so uncertain. And at times a glimmer will appear in the distance of this vast body of water.  An idea for a possible non-profit? Staying on my original path? A whole new world? I just don’t know and I just feel lost. As I keep moving in the safety my of lifeboat, all I can do is keep praying for guidance and strength. While I know I will conquer this odyssey, I also know I have many possible quests to overcome. And so the journey begins.

Jumping Into the Deep End of the Pool

deep-end

When I was a ballet instructor, I would always tell my students, what do you have to lose? Just jump into the deep end of the pool and start swimming, whether you doggy paddle or full out swim you’ll get there. There will be times you have to tread water but ultimately, its not how fast you move but the fact that you just keep swimming.  I know, weird, you would think I would come up with a dancing a metaphor but…

So, now it is my turn to jump in, to take a risk.  And as I think back to my own advice I gave my students and my children, I realize they are scared because I am scared. What if I fail, what if I can’t handle it, is change good for my family, will I be taking away from my family, what if I am not successful, am I to old or what if I just truly suck!

Opportunities to change your life, or make your dreams come true can come at the most inopportune moments.  And taking this BIG jump into an abyss of water, where you can’t see the bottom or the other side is frightful. But if I don’t follow my own advice then I have already drowned before I even jumped so here I go.  Ready! Set! JUMP!!!!