My breast surgeon on GMA

Check this out – my breast surgeon, Dr. Christine Teal, was on GMA this morning talking to Robin Roberts about her prophylactic double mastectomy.

http://abcnews.go.com/assets/player/walt2.6/flash/SFP_Walt_2_65.swf

It was pretty cool to see the woman who operated on me go on TV and advocate for this procedure, as controversial as it is. Dr. Teal has a family history but no BRCA gene and no cancer herself, so some might find this a bit extreme. Still, it made me feel wonderful to know my surgeon was as adamant about eradicating her own chances of breast cancer as she was about mine, and seeing what she said about the strength of us breast cancer survivors made me tear up a little.

Go Dr. Teal!

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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.

Surgery Update

My bilateral mastectomy was on Tuesday afternoon – but before I say anything about that, I just want to thank all of the wonderful people who reached out to me and expressed support on my blog. Though I don’t know you personally, it is amazing to know so many people care about me, understand my situation and my decisions, and are sending thoughts, prayers, and positivity my way.

And now – I am recovering from surgery. One reason I ultimately chose to have my surgery in DC with the surgeons Dr. Teal and Dr. Lenert from GWU is because they could fit me in so quickly. I was diagnosed on March 21st, and today, on April 8th, I am already three days out from surgery. Wow.

I am feeling good, too, and so so happy with my surgeons and team and all of the nurses and techs who took such wonderful care of me at the hospital. I was definitely anxious leading up to the surgery, but things were happening so fast and I decided to continue to work, so my mind was distracted. On Tuesday morning, I was definitely filled with trepidation. In the morning I had an injection of radioactive material into my right breast to locate my lymph nodes, and it hurt pretty bad. There were three very small needles that the doctor inserted under my skin around my nipple, and what stung was the actual stuff that they injected. Not pleasant, but it was pretty cool when the tech showed me the picture of how my lymph nodes lit up.

From there I was taken up to the pre-op ward, where I had to undress, answer a lot of questions, and meet with my surgeons and the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist asked if I wanted some “happy meds” to take my anxiety away, and boy did I! Once that started in my IV, I felt a bit lightheaded and then… blackout. I remember nothing until I woke up on my back and a guy next to me (a nurse? Surgeon? Who knows!) said, “You’re done!”

I hung out in post-op for a while with a wonderful nurse named Amelia, and my family came to visit. My brother, stepmom, dad, and boyfriend were there and it was great to be with all of them – and be on pain meds which allowed me to be happy about the whole situation.

The first thing I wanted to know out of surgery was the diagnosis on my lymph nodes. Luckily, the breast surgeon said the preliminary reports indicated they were clear of cancer. I was THRILLED to hear that, though we’re still waiting on a final pathology report. Also, I though “sentinel lymph node” meant only one, but apparently I had 8 sentinel lymph nodes and they took out all of them. Interesting.

I spent two nights in the hospital with very little sleep – a) I cannot sleep on my back and b) people are constantly coming in and out to check on me, administer antibiotics and anti-clotting medication, and give me pain meds.

And now I am in a hotel room with my parents continuing my recovery. I do feel a lot of tightness and soreness in my chest and I’m a little afraid to look at my boobs because they are so different and bruised, but other than that I feel very positive and good.

I hope that I will be able to blog throughout this situation, not just because it’s therapeutic for me, but because I want women to be able to hear what this is like.