Today’s update may not be your cup of tea because I plan on being a little more graphic as I explain the next steps in my reconstructive surgery so if you don’t want to know the details then feel free to pass on this post. I do, however, highly recommend that you read through anyway in the event that you or a loved one you know is ever diagnosed with breast cancer. This disease is monstrous, can catch you off guard and wreak havoc in your life. The more you know about how it affects the person fighting it, the better off you all are.
This week I went in for my pre op appointment with my plastic surgeon in preparation for surgery #2.
This next surgery will involve removing the expanders that were placed under my skin following the bilateral mastectomy in order to stretch the skin and prepare it for implants at a later date. I’m beyond ready to have the expanders removed as they’ve been a constant source of discomfort, numbness, tingling, tenderness and even some pain as the ports used to fill them with saline press up against the skin.
The surgeon will start by creating two small incisions on the underside of each breast. He’ll drain the saline from the expanders, roll them up and remove them from my body. He will immediately put the silicone-gel implants in and close the incisions. Again, I will not be allowed to move my arms at all for at least 10 days and for another three weeks after that I won’t be permitted to lay on my side as healing continues. This will be the easiest and least painful part of this entire reconstructive process.
About three to four months following recovery from surgery #2, the third and hopefully final surgery will take place. Here’s the part that gets graphic for which I never went into great detail in any of my posts due to the personal nature. It’s also taken some time for me to wrap my brain around it.
Surgery #3 involves nipple reconstruction and 3D nipple tattooing. In my case, my surgeon advised against doing a nipple-sparing mastectomy due to the location of one of the tumors and the strong possibility of cancer cells being in or around the nipple area. I didn’t want to take any chances so agreed to have the nipples removed. You can imagine what this does to a woman’s self-image, wondering if men will still find her attractive, not knowing how they will react or if they will be disgusted with her body. I’ve been truly lucky to have two very close male friends who’ve continually reminded me that I’m still the same beautiful person inside and out. It’s everything I’ve needed to hear that most are afraid to talk about but both of these men are a godsend in my life and I’m so grateful for their love and support. My self esteem would be in the tank if it weren’t for them. For more information on nipple reconstruction and/or 3D tattooing I highly recommend the site BreastCancer.org.
Through this whole process I’ve come to see life through a different lens – one of hope, of knowing that God gave me this situation and is using me as a tool to reach other women who’ve either been affected by breast cancer or possibly haven’t taken the proper preventative healthcare measures such as yearly mammograms starting at the age of 40, and self-exams. My personal feeling is that MRIs should be done INSTEAD of mammograms as in my case the mammogram never even picked up the 11mm tumor in my left breast. I can’t imagine if my doctor hadn’t sent me for that MRI what would have been the outcome if I’d decided to do a lumpectomy or a single mastectomy. Scary!
Having become outspoken about my plight with breast cancer, I’ve been touched by other people affected by this deadly disease. I’ve heard so many stories that remind me that mine pales in comparison to what other women have dealt with. There are so many women who’ve had a much tougher battle than mine and that has never escaped me. I consider myself lucky to have such an amazing doctor that found both breast cancers early on and that she was able to remove everything.
Shortly after I received my diagnosis, my former client and friend, country singer Ryan Weaver, reached out to me with such care and concern. As we talked about my situation, he offered support and friendship, food, assistance, basically anything I needed. Following an Instagram post I made about my previous work with him, he made his own post.
Ryan’s incredibly kind words prompted many of his 86K plus followers to follow me and offer their prayers and support. One in particular, Concore Entertainment singer John Preston, reached out to me to offer support but also to discuss the possibility of working together. At the time I was only a month out from learning about my cancer and not in a place to think about work so I thanked him profusely and told him we’d talk again in the future. John continued to reach out to check on my progress, to see if I needed anything, to let me know he was praying for me, and to assure me that he was still there waiting. About a month ago he messaged me again to let me know he had a very special project that had just come about that he wanted to bring me in on as a co-producer with him and the record label CEO. This is what I called a “God moment”.
John mentioned that he’s working on a compilation album with his record label which had already been approved by the CEO. He explained that he knew I’d have a personal interest because of my breast cancer fight. Then he went on to tell me that his best friend and guitarists’ wife has stage 4 breast cancer and is in a fight for her life, and that another artist (and Marine he served with) was facing the same battle against breast cancer with his wife. I immediately knew this was something I wanted to work on. How could I not? This was a God moment – or in John’s words, “God Magik”.
We’re in the process of pitching the project to different artists we feel would be ideal for the album but we’ve already got some extremely talented people lined up for recording. My dream collaboration would be with Christian rock band Switchfoot and/or its lead singer Jon Foreman as the band has gotten me through so many challenging times in my life. In addition, the keyboardist has dealt with his own cancer battle when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer a few years ago. Thank the good Lord he was able to have the tumor removed and is in full remission. So, if anyone out there has a connection to Switchfoot, help a sister out! 😉
Through this album we hope to bring awareness to the monstrous disease of breast cancer, working in collaboration with a yet to be determined charity organization to which we will donate a portion of the proceeds to help in the fight. If you have any connections to a specific charity or have one to recommend, I’m all ears.
A little background on John Preston
Preston has gained much notoriety as a Marine and firefighter, for hiking from Palo Alto, California to the USS Midway in San Diego to help raise awareness for post-traumatic stress and how it affects combat Veterans and First Responders. See the trailer for his movie “Carry the Weight” below.
While this project is in the beginning stages, it’s already lit a fire under me. God Magik fills me with so much hope and purpose. I can’t thank John enough for coming into my life and bringing me such an incredible opportunity. I’ll continue to provide updates on my health and on this project. We’ll be running a couple of different fundraisers to raise money for the marketing of this album to be released by Sony Distribution and for our chosen charity. It is my hope and goal to make this album #1 on the charts. One. Numero Uno. Boom!
Thanks again to everyone who’s continued to give me support with either your love, prayers, financial support, gifts or simply being there to listen. My heart is filled with so much love knowing you’re out there thinking of me.
Until next time,