Interview – with my Sister Laurie

laurie-i

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

surgery-day

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

 

 

Why I am blogging

The whole purpose of my blog is to bring awareness to the BRCA Gene mutation and to give you an insight into my life. Things haven’t been easy for me, even before my diagnosis, but I wanted to give people a deeper look into my life and my struggles. For those who know me, they will tell you I may be outgoing but I am a very “tough” person on the exterior. Only people closest to me know that I am overly sensitive and tend to put on a bravado persona than actually show my true emotions.

So on here, it’s going to be laid out for everyone to see. My day-to-day struggles, my worries, my fears, my hopes and my dreams. The good the bad and the ugly. Its going to be real and honest. I am a firm believer in say what you mean and mean what you say. It doesn’t matter if it upsets, it’s My truth, and to me when you say your truth, it might not be for everyone, but you can’t get knocked for saying your truth.

You’ll see those closest to me go deep and get raw with their emotions, I will vent on here and express frustrations, even if it has nothing to do with my surgery and constant struggles. This is an online diary of my life. Its going to be a wild ride, some may get offended and others may cry. My intentions with this is to just simply express myself in a healthy way and I won’t apologize for speaking my truth.

I hope my blog encourages others to be more proactive with their health and proactive with their lives in general, because life is not roses, you are in control of your destiny. So why wait? Why not make a change now? Because that’s what I am doing and I can only hope you will do the same.

I am keeping this one short and sweet!

Thanks for the love and support,

Much love,

Birdy