Forever On Hold

Breast cancer is overwhelming. There are so many issues I’m thinking about right now:

  • Insurance.Yesterday I spent an agonizing amount of time on the phone with GWU hospital, my insurance company, and my
    Frustration.
    This isn't me, but I probably looked like this yesterday.

    oncologist’s office trying to get rid of a $1,000 bill for an MRI that should have been pre-certified. I realize this should be a minor worry in my life right now, especially because we got final path reports and I am THRILLED to have finally confirmed that my cancer was Stage I. But I can’t help feelings of anger that dealing with insurance companies is almost a full-time job and no one can give me straight answers to my questions.

  • Fertility (and insurance). I have decided to go ahead with embryo freezing, along with my boyfriend who I lovingly referred to the other day as my “frozen-baby daddy”. The decision was tough – this is a complicated process that requires a lot of doctor visits, drugs, injections, a minor operation, etc, but the decision feels good because it gives me the best probability of having my own children in the future. I didn’t want to go through chemo, become infertile, look back and say “Why the hell didn’t I freeze my eggs?” Still, the process is already causing me stress and it hasn’t even started. I couldn’t get a straight answer from my insurance company as to whether they cover retrieval and IVF, so I’m applying for financial aid from Sharing Hope for Women program. I also just went off my birth control last month as advised by my radiologist, and I’ve been spotting for the past two days, but as it’s been a bajillion years since I’ve had a period while not on birth control, I have no idea if this is a period or not. Why is it important? Because if it is my period, I gotta get a jump on this egg retrieval process ASAP. TOO FAST, TOO FURIOUS.
  • The skin on my breasts. There are spots on both my breasts that the plastic surgeon “doesn’t like”. I don’t like it either. One very large spot under my nipple on my left breast was turning black and is now a weird brown, and there was a big blister that popped to the right of it. My incision (which is along the bottom fold of my breast) is also iffy. I am terrified of getting necrosis and needing revision surgeries and, if worse comes to worst, losing my expander. On the right side, the problem isn’t as bad but there are some very small areas of imperfection. Come on, skin, pull through!
Does this swirling tornado of crap that comes along with a breast cancer
diagnosis ever die down? It doesn’t help that today is the first day in a long time that I’ve been alone. Both my parents, who have been amazing and taking care of me since my surgery, are working today. My boyfriend is back in DC, also working. And I am all by my lonesome, with my armageddon-worthy thoughts (well… and my JP drains, which feel like my new best buds). 
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Back at home and it…

feels so good. By home, I mean I am at my parents’ house in Philadelphia for two weeks to recover in comfort before I have to return to DC for some follow ups. Thank goodness for teaching hospitals that have spring break – because my doctors will be off, it means I get some much needed time away from the hospital and I get to be in a big, light-filled house with my parents, who are wonderful cooks, instead of in my teeny little apartment in DC with an endless supply of frozen pizza. It’s the small things in life, I tell ya.

Today I am one week post mastectomy and I feel great. As I posted yesterday, the doctor relayed the verbal path report she got from the pathologist, which showed all negative sentinel nodes. They are still waiting for something called an IHC report, which, in rare cases, shows some cancerous cells and can cause them to go back over the other tests they’ve done more carefully, but the surgeon assured me this was only in rare cases. So, as I said, I feel great with all the news we’ve been receiving and with my recovery.

In case you want to see what hot post-mastectomy wear looks like, here’s a pic of me (no face included) wearing my compression bra with the post-mastectomy drains pinned to it. Don’t look if you’re squeamish – the drains are filled with red fluid and I’ve got bruises on my lower belly from the heparin (blood thinner) injections they did at the hospital.