By: D. Lauren York
I’ve been known by many other names though; “Mom, Wife, Teacher, Coach, Instructor, & Friend,” but this past year I earned a title I’m pretty proud of.
P R E V I V OR.
I documented my journey from learning of my mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, my sister AND my positive BRCA gene results, surgeries, recoveries, and everything in between.
I found that when I was diagnosed and given my options for my preventative surgeries, support and guidance was limited. A community of women talking about this was hard to find. I was seeking advice and opinions from other women who were faced with the same mountains to climb. And that’s when I found
“B R E A S T I E S. Women from all over taking the brave action to remove what we had always defined as our “rights into woman hood.”
I documents my struggle with mental health, body insecurities, and juggling mommying, wifying, and healing all at once.
In a time where I felt like fear would consume me, I was filled with the peace knowing that I had control over my breast cancer fate.
Here are a few memorable posts that documented milestones in my journey.
Follow along at @thefearlesslyfitmom and find out how I went on my journey to FIND my Fearless and become UnBRCAble.
Today marks one month….
One month until I embark on a journey I wasn’t really planning on taking.
Often times we dream up plans for the future… plans to accomplish great things, make wonderful memories, avoid heart ache, regret, or even plans to just live a life to be proud of!
In one month I’ll be taking the first step towards making a plan for my future that doesn’t involve the uncertainties of life altering and the forever life changing diagnosis of breast cancer.
Hearing the news of being positive for the BRCA1 gene, one would think that devastation and disappointment would immediately follow.
For me, I took the news with a clear vision and with gratitude. It was news that gave me power and control. News that would allow me to make a choice to be the healthiest, happiest version of myself for my family.
The last several months were filled with appointments, testing, bloodwork, mammograms, MRIs, and lots and lots of decisions.
So for those of you who have followed my health and fitness journey as it related to weight loss, pregnancy, postpartum, and setting new goals for working out-
I now invite you on a new journey.
A journey I’ve never been on.
A journey I have no idea what to except.
A journey with lots of physical changes.
A journey consisting of healing.
A journey towards becoming a #previvor.
I’ll share what I can, when I can, and when I feel comfortable sharing. I know it’ll be ugly and painful at times. I don’t expect it to be pretty. I’m certain it will be uncomfortable. But I’ll be documenting my very honest and real approach as I discover life after a double mastectomy and reconstruction and how my obsession with health and fitness, self-love, and woman empowerment fits into the mix.
We just about hit the 24 hour mark and
“Hakuna Ma TaTas”.?
waiting in the waiting room to be called back and prepped was surprisingly easy. I was calm and at peace.
Once they called me back- in true Lauren fashion, I cracked a few awkward jokes and changed into the beloved booty-showing gown. Oh and those sexy socks and OR cap. I literally returned to my pre-op nurse and said “ohhhhh hey!!! This is exactly how envisioned me looking….. sexxxxxxxy!”
Once they called Michael and my dad back it got more real. Doctor after doctor came and asked me questions and I felt “go time” coming.
It happened quickly. They filled my IV with the happy juice and told me to give my final kisses. I cried.
As quickly as I faded off to sleep was as quickly as a woke up… except 6 hours later.
I woke up with a heavy chest and puked my brains out. Doctors said it went well but took longer than expected.
Once I got into my room, panic set in. I was in excruciating pain and truly couldn’t get a handle as to what just happened.
Michael was a saint. By my side, my voice, and was there to tell me “you look so beautiful and you’re doing such a great job.”
My nurse… an angel! Myra was unbelievably wonderful. I told her I was in pain, cracked jokes, and then told her to lie to me and tell me I’m pretty. She helped me adjust immensely!
I was discharged fairly quickly. 8:00am they told me I could go home. The nurses and hubby and my sister helped me get dressed and I had one request…. I don’t want to see my chest- I’m not ready yet.
Now we’re home. Trying to keep me comfortable and taking it one moment at a time.
Update- Day_____: what day is it!?
Last 24 hours were tough. Pain and vomiting came over me most of the day and panic set it.
Honestly, I think I was discharged too soon. I went in for surgery Monday afternoon at 2pm, out at 8pm, home Tuesday morning by 8am.
Also, I do not, do not, do not like my pain meds or muscle relaxers! I didn’t like the way they made me feel or the side effects. So, I’m currently just taking my antibiotics and Tylenol. I finally feel clear headed and less foggy.
I’m still eating bland because I’m having a hard time with nausea.
My swelling in my hands and feet have gone down and I no longer have the numbing feeling.
The dreaded drains aren’t as bad as I thought. The 4 drains will remain in until June 24th. Reason being, when your body goes through a traumatic surgery and when you remove tissue, your body’s instinct is to fill the space with blood and fluid to repair itself. But our goal is to keep it dry and allow the alloderm to take to my blood supply. Michael has been a saint: emptying them, tracking the blood, and keeping them attached to my clothing and not hanging.
My doctor’s visit went well. My incisions look good and they are happy with phase one!
As for me, I am grateful for my fitness level before I underwent surgery. I have needed my core muscles and leg strength to sit up and maneuver without using my upper body. I also have become excited in finding new places to walk to in the house and finding new areas to sit. Any variation in sitting positions are welcomed! I am limited to “dinosaur arms” so Michael has been helping me use the bathroom, brushing my teeth, washing my face, and with eating and drinking.
Tomorrow I get to shower! I still haven’t seen myself and tomorrow may be the day… if I’m ready.
Thank you all for giving me messages and comments to read when I wake up from my little cat naps!
7 days… we made it 7 days.
I was truly hopeful I was on the upside.
I was feeling optimistic that the worst was behind me.
But… in full disclosure…
Last night was terrible.
The burning, itching, tightness, and pulling got the best of me last night. Finding comfortable positions are becoming harder and harder.
I have been fighting an overwhelming panicking feeling.
I’ve had unbelievable grace-filled help.
Friends who have scratched my head, pulled back my hair, wiped tears, & helped me use the bathroom.
A mom who has fed me, watched guilty pleasure trash TV, and has showered me.
Friends and family who have cared for and entertained our kiddos.
In laws who have fed us, picked up the slack, and have loved on our furry baby.
I’ve had a hubby who hasn’t left my side and with such patience and grace served me around the clock.
We finally “LOOKED”. I sobbed. And Michael later sent me this:
“The pain will subside. The scars will heal. My love for you will never fail! You have been and always will be the most beautiful girl in the world to me. It may be hard for you to see yourself as you tell me but please make no mistake about it, NOTHING about you has changed to me. Your smile is still infectious. Your laugh continues to be contagious. The touch of your hand is therapeutic. In your eyes I’ve finally found a place to rest. Your looks don’t matter to me at all..those things do. I will always and forever love YOU!”
So in this pain- in this discomfort- in this season…
[and I’ll be extra grateful when we hit the milestone of drains being removed.]
In this post of “things I’m celebrating”:
– Clean pathology. My breast tissue was sent off after surgery and all tissue came back cancer free.
– I’m pooping regularly. TMI I know, but for the first 5 days, and overdosing on stool softeners… it’s was kinda a sh*t show.?
– Antibiotics are officially done.
– I’m caught up on all trashy tv seasons and episodes! ??♀️
– Dr said I am healing beautifully! She is really impressed with her work. And my nips look great… they have zero feeling… but look great.
– Drains are scheduled to come out in SIX days. ( Dear God make those days fly).
– My family and friends meals and treats have given me life. Jelly Belly Jelly Beans sounds like a good idea #feedmeandhelpmeheal @michael_york_realtor ??♀️??
I gained 60 x 2….
CCs that is.
First inflation…. no words other than… strange.
I have no other words that come to mind.
Dr used a magnet to find the “site”.
Put in a needle.
And then used a monster “turkey baster” looking thing to fill-er- up.
Luckily, I came equipped with my very best friend. We locked eyes, held hands tightly, and I didn’t stop staring until it was done.
(Side note- we brunched and downed mimosas before my appointment. #necessities ?)
Oh, and I became drenched in sweat.
Like the flood gates opened and I was profusely pouring. BFF was wiping sweat behind my knee caps. Ripples formed on my forehead, down my back, and at every girl’s embarrassing mustache line. I was, as the dr stated, “radiating heat.”
At first, I didn’t feel much except slight pressure. But by the end of the day I became “sore” and deep breaths were slightly painful.
I have little -itty -bittys starting to form and the funny thing… I look kinda like I did before this whole thing started!
In two weeks we go back for another 60ccs!
Here’s to my first inflation day!
Only 8 or so more.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dread today’s scheduled expander inflation since my last appointment two weeks ago.
But, much like everything during recovery so far; I survived, it wasn’t too bad… just uncomfortable.
To my surprise, we jumped to 90cc during today’s inflation. I instantly felt tight and uncomfortable…. but I did it.
Now, it’s big comfy blanket and couch for a bit.
Its been roughly 5 weeks, 37 days to be exact, since surgery. I felt almost back to 100% (just a little deformed and scarred in the “ninny region”) but it’s the first time in a while where I’m “laid up” and letting my body fully recover again.
Post mastectomy goal:
p e r k y
[Just kidding, but not really.]
Post mastectomy goal:
Love my body
Post mastectomy goal:
BREAST CANCER FREE
I remember feeling so self-conscious about the chest-tical region. I mean… drawing any attention to yourself is awkward but to there… after “losing it all” made me cringe.
But with celebrating this #brcajourney , I can’t neglect to celebrate the “ni-nies’” journey.
Two babies were fed.
And boy did I lose.
I sagged and I dragged.
And after surgery I became devastated seeing my body without them.
After each inflation I’ve spent time getting use to what’s starting to transform my body.
And whether the goal is perky or not… confidence will be gained no matter what. Confidence in the decision I made.
Confidence in the body I’m learning to love. And confidence that I will forever be breast cancer free.
Celebrating #previvorday2019 by recovering in bed after my exchange surgery >>> [expanders ?? implants].
I’ve had a lot of BRCA babes reach out to me to ask how I’ve been healing.
“Healing” is a funny word.
I’ve technically been taking the steps towards healing even before I went under the knife.
But how do you measure healing?
Resuming all “normal” activities?
With an almost 6 month healing milestone, I thought I’d be all “back to normal.”
And the funny thing is… I have healed beautifully according to doctors.
I’ve started recognizing my body again and feeling less disconnected. Not to mention sweating and working out again has helped me tremendously.
But it’s the healing inside; mentally and emotionally, that has taken me for a loop.
I’ve been telling family and friends that something just felt off, that I didn’t feel right, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I was feeling irritable, like I was crawling out of my skin, and couldn’t escape my mind. Everything seemed to exhaust me and the thought of activities I use to love filled me with complete dread.
Scars have closed and things have settled but I couldn’t shake the funk inside I’ve been battling.
Scars healing are visible.
But mental healing isn’t.
So… how have I been healing?
Day by day. ?