The aftermath of Surgery

I had the opportunity to say Fuck You directly to cancer, and I took it by the balls. I’m not tooting my own horn here (although I love to do that and my friends find it really annoying, but they still love me), but it takes a certain kind of strength to be willing to remove your breasts, nipple and all, to throw away the chance to breast feed my future children, to risk having men turn me away because they think I’m some sad sick girl, people I thought would support me through anything we’re talking behind my back saying I was doing the surgery for attention, that nothing was wrong and I didn’t need the surgery. Well guess what, not the damn case. I had a great friggen rack, I mean for the breasts I had pre surgery, I really wasn’t doing bad for myself. Why on earth would I give up great breasts for my current ones, just for attention? You have to be a major hypochondriac to do something this drastic and major. See the picture below for proof, it was taken the night before my surgery.

Surgery happened and I was discharged after 2 nights in the foothills and back to home I went. It wasn’t easy getting in and out of bed, not to mention being a woman, having to use the restroom was hard enough because of the drains coming out of my sides. Every time I moved my arms I would get searing burning pain that would last for hours. Only ice packs would minimize the pain, but I was on Gabapentin, Toradol, Tramadol, Percocet…aka a whole bunch of heavy-duty narcotics. I was high as a kite 99% of the time for about 3 weeks straight until I got my drains completely removed. Which brings me to my next point.

My drains being removed was seriously almost orgasmic, any woman who has a double mastectomy will agree with me on this point. It can be painful but I personally would way rather have them removed over and over again than ever have them put back in. On top of this you get to swear these sexy as fk bra’s…and all the drugs that make it impossible for you to goto the bathroom so you look 6 months preggo…sexiest time of my life people. Damnnnnn girl you fine…. not.

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Once the drains were out, I had to wait about a week to have the bandages removed and any stitches that hadn’t dissolved.

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You can see in the picture above there was still a lot of fluid building up under my right implant, that’s why they’re isn’t much of crease under the implant because of the swelling.

Now I haven’t told many people but at my last follow-up, we confirmed 3 masses in my chest. There is one large mass under my left implant and in my armpit. Its pushing my implant forward which you’ll see in my below photo. I have a second mass above my right implant near my sternum and third mass in between both implants near the bottom of my right implant/chest area. With that being said I do have another surgery planned, I just don’t know enough details to fill you in but I will once I know the scoop.

img_2464So there you have it guys, my boobs out there for the world to see. Nipple free and all!

Catch ya on the next post!

 

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Support all the way from Australia

Mum, thank you for you ever calming presence and your unconditional love and support all the way from the other side of world. You and Papa Bear have really been a rock and a saving grace for me these last 11.5 years and I don’t think I would have made it this far without having you two in my life. I love you both so much!

Baby sissy Kye. Thanks to your hubby Brendan ( I adore him) for reading you the questions while you did your video. He’s so sweet! Thanks for being such a huge part of my life and such a big support system for me, I know I can always count on you no matter the time of day for a good vent session and some quality sister time. I’ve literally watched your grow from a teen girl to a beautiful woman and a married one at that! So blessed to have you in my life and to have you’re support through all of this. Love you loads!

 

Interview with my sister Julie

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1. How do you know me?

My name is Julie Ruest, I am Hayley’s older sister.

2 What were your thoughts when you first heard of my BRCA gene mutation diagnosis?

JULIE:I was in NC when I got the news, I knew she was being tested but I wasn’t expecting her test results to be positive. I felt helpless for her and I was terrified. I didn’t know how to help her through, My heart broke.

3. How did you feel when I told you I was going ahead with a Bilateral Mastectomy with reconstruction?

JULIE: I felt relieved, I was hoping she would make that decision. I can’t imagine how terrifying that would be, especially in her mid twenties. She’s a fighter.

4. Do you know anyone else with the BRCA gene mutation or who has had a double mastectomy?

JULIE:Hayley’s twin, our sister Jesse also tested positive.

5. If there was anything about my decision you would have changed what would that be?

JULIE: I can’t say I truly understand because I don’t. I’m also not sure what Hayley’s true feelings are about this whole thing, however; with what she has displayed I can’t say I would change anything. She has taken cancer by the balls and said no! I would hope she is getting the support she needs, if not I guess I would change that she would seek more counseling if that is what she needed?

6. Now that I have had the surgery, how do you feel knowing I’m having complications and will undergo another surgery?

JULIE: My heart is aching for her, I wish she could just catch a break. I don’t know if she can see the strain it has put on all aspects of her life. She has down days and when she does it’s noticeable.

7. Is there anything you don’t understand regarding the diagnosis?

JULIE: Hayley has been very clear on the risks of going ahead with the surgery and the risks of not going ahead with it. I am sure there is still lots I don’t understand, we just haven’t crossed those bridges. I

8. Do you think the health systems provide enough awareness and preventative measures for Breast and Ovarian Cancer?

JULIE: I don’t think they do, I had never even heard of the BRCA cancer gene until Hayley’s aunt passed away. The problem is, you cannot be tested unless your parent has tested positive. This all came about because Hayley’s aunt passed away, my sisters are lucky they got the chance to catch it in time. They had to lose an aunt for that to happen. Something needs to change. This should be available to everyone.

9. Would you have done anything different then my choice?

JULIE: Absolutely not! That’s a no brainer to me. I cannot express how courageous I think Hayley is. I can’t say I would have been as proactive. I was unbelievably terrified for my sister, for her wellbeing and her mental health and she just took it in grace and dignity and moved forward.

10. Any comments, opinions or advice you would like to give to family and friends about being affected by someone with the BRCA gene?

JULIE: My sister is my hero. To all the ladies out there going through this, you are heroes among heroes! You are beautiful! Don’t stop fighting for your health, you have that right and remember, not everyone has the chance to say no to cancer!

11. Any comments or advice for me?

JULIE: Hayley Dawn, you are wise beyond your years! Stay strong and battle back, you got this girl! We are behind you and love you!

A Fundraiser from a very special young man.

I am really blessed to have such a big family. And with having so many siblings, comes many nieces and nephews. One nephew of mine, decided instead of a big birthday party, he wanted to raise money for Breast Cancer in honour of my twin and myself. They raised money, had donated jerseys with the Breast Cancer Ribbon and he brought a community together, to celebrate and support his two Aunties and other family members who have survived, battled and succumbed to Cancer.

I can never thank him enough for his selflessness and his ability to see past his wants and needs, and do something so beautiful and courageous for us. Cooper, you’re my hero and I know you’re going to do amazing things in this world.

Please watch the video below and share. It doesn’t take much to show your support and raise awareness.

Much love,

Birdy

Interview – with my Sister Laurie

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1. How do you know me?
I am your older sister.

2. What were your thoughts when you first heard of my BRCA gene mutation diagnosis?
Absolutely devastated. Heart broken to say the least. I was terrified.

3. How did you feel when I told you I was going ahead with a Bilateral Mastectomy with reconstruction? Relief.

4. Do you know anyone else with the BRCA gene mutation or who has had a double mastectomy?
Yes.

5. If there was anything about my decision you would have changed what would that be?
I would have adjusted the names on your list of support people.

6. Now that I have had the surgery, how do you feel knowing I’m having complications and will undergo another surgery?
I think it’s awful you have to undergo another procedure and deal with more physical and emotional pain. However, I am truly humbled by your momentum, strength and spirit.

7. Is there anything you don’t understand regarding the diagnosis?
I don’t think so.

8. Do you think the health systems provide enough awareness and preventative measures for Breast and Ovarian Cancer?
No. I didn’t know anything about it until you were diagnosed, other than that Angelina Jolie had the procedure.

9. Would you have done anything different then my choice?
Big FAT no.

10. Any comments, opinions or advice you would like to give to family and friends about being affected by someone with the BRCA gene?
There is no way to know how a woman feels after being diagnosed. I can’t imagine the fear. The only advice to give would be to be there for them physically and emotionally. Educate yourself and support them with all your means possible…before, during and most certainly afterwards. Just because the surgery is complete does not mean the battle is over, There is a physical change to the woman’s body that may be hard to accept and love. Show your love and acceptance.

11. Any comments or advice for me?
Advice:
Share your feelings with your support system and let them know what they can do to be of better support to you.
Comments:
Here’s a biggie. Medical insurance. I’m pissed that any woman who tests positive for the BRCA gene will have an extremely difficult time qualifying for medical insurance – even if they have undergone preventative medical procedures. I order to ensure they have, and will be able to afford  adequate medical insurance, they  must be insured prior to their diagnoses and keep it, or good luck finding another insurance company willing to cover you without paying outrageous premiums. It’s bull shit!!!

Lastly, I wanted to share the toast I wrote to Hayley at her farewell boobies party:

So the purpose of gathering here today it’s to celebrate a new beginning for Hayley. We are not here to feel sorrow for her, but rather to give her our love and support for the brave journey she’s about to begin.

The decision to undergo the surgery was not an easy one for Hayley to make. Hayley does not look at this as a loss, but rather as a gift. Hayley feels so blessed to have the chance to stare breast cancer in the face and give it the big old “F U”, and she’s doing it with grace and style in honour of women near and dear to her heart who did not have the same opportunity ~ some of whom are only with us today in spirit.

I have learned so much from watching Hayley go through the process. I’m proud, I’m afraid, I’m sad and I’m happy. I am so grateful.

Hayley, you are an inspiration to everyone here today and everyone you know. Big boobs, small boobs, fake boobs, no boobs. Boobs don’t make the woman, the woman makes the boobs.

Hayley, My sweet sister. You are so wise beyond your years…
Every time I find myself feeling sad for you, I hear your words echo in my ears…”My Loss will be my greatest gain”. Thank you.

To one of the most bravest women I know… My baby sister Hayley.

Love your big sister and friend,
Laurie xoxo.

Surgery Day

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First and foremost, these photos are awful. I look like an overweight little boy. But for some reason, my body does not respond well to morphine and with that being said, you get photo number 3.  Photo 2 are my drains the same day of surgery. I have some awesome scars from those bad boys.

My double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction was on May 2, 2016. So many things were running through my head leading up to this day. I second guessed myself and then I would be fine and knew I was making the right decision. But then I would go back to wondering why I was going forward with it.

I had support from so many people, including my family and my closest friends. But I had other people who weren’t so supportive and who didn’t think I was doing my surgery for the right reasons. All I have to say to those people is; Screw you. You have no idea what it is like to make this kind of decision and the last thing I wanted from it was special attention.

Anyways, the day of the surgery I had to fast for 12 hours before I got to the hospital and this didn’t sit well with me. I need my caffeine in the morning and I need to eat within 1 hour of being awake or I turn into a complete hangry asshole. No joke, I am not a nice person. The nice thing was, even though my ex and I had split up, he still took 10 days off work to take care of me, and that meant from the minute we got home from my Boob-voyage party to the last day home then he had to go back to work. He stayed up late with me, we vegged on snacks until 11:45pm with me till I could no longer eat/drink anything.

So, we get to the Foothills hospital for my 5:30am check in and we sat there and waited through the processing before I was taken to some random wing where I had to change into scrubs and am told to use the restroom before surgery. We and I mean he, updated our families with what was going on and what stage we were at before I was officially under the knife. It seemed like I was waiting for eternity. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I felt alone in my decision and that I needed to face it alone. But sure enough after not too long of a wait, I get taken into another waiting room and I am given a number. It was a strange feeling, I felt odd being referred to as a number and not my name. This was their “process” before your Oncologist and your anesthesiologist come and talk to you before they knock yo ass out!

Once I had spoken with them both, it literally seemed like forever until they took me back to the next room to get my first level of sedation. I could hear the clock ticking, it sounded so loud. I remember their being this really obnoxious older woman sitting behind me and i was having a hard time not telling her to be quiet and wait like the rest of us. It’s not like her complaining was going to speed up her process and put her in front of everyone else about to be put under. She was giving me anxiety and i was starting to get extremely frustrated.

We move into yet another pre surgical waiting room where I am given a bed and I am hooked up to an IV that would calm my nerves. I only waited in there for 20ish minutes before my oncologist and his team came out to come and get me. I said my goodbyes and away I went.

I got into the room and was put on this bed that had to arm components. It literally looked like a giant crossed. I got strapped down to it and was speaking to my surgeon and then poof, out like a light.

I remember waking from surgery and feeling everything. It was a pain I couldn’t even fathom. It felt like there was a 200 lb person crushing my chest and nothing was helping. I started to sob uncontrollably and then they moved me from my surgical bed into my over night bed in my room, and I let out a blood curdling scream. I remember the pain to this day. It literally felt like i was being stabbed a thousand times over and someone was pouring acid in the wounds.

For some reason beyond my understanding, the anesthesiologist was under the impression i was allergic to perocete. I literally had to beg for hard drugs. I asked for Torodal and Percoete. I needed something strong and fast because morphine makes me vomit and did nothing for the pain. They finally brought me Percoete, tramadol and torodal all at once. I had two pills and an IV drip. FInally i had relief, but of course as soon as your pain starts to dimenish they want you up and trying to use the bathroom.

So after what seemed like 20 minutes of trying to get out of bed, my nurse helps me to the restroom and sits me down on the biggest toilet I have ever seen. She left me alone for privacy and that’s the last thing I remember. Apparently mt heart rate dropped so low from the extreme pain I was in, my heart couldn’t take it. She came in to check on me and I was nearly unconscious about the fall face and chest first onto the floor. My face was white as a ghost and my lips had turned blue. She hit the emergency call button and asked for help. I just remember her getting me back to bed and later on telling me I scared her.

I don’t remember much else from my first night in the hospital so I will leave this here and go into further detail of my interesting room mate, her whole clan of a family that stayed in my room and my release after 3 days, in another post!

This is probably the most boring blog of them all.

Stay tuned and as always,

Much love,

Birdy