I Needed To Get Something Off My Chest

January 24, 2017

 

 

Here we go. 

 

I wouldn't call myself a private person. I write about what I eat, I tweet about crazy things my mom says or what beers I'm drinking, I post pictures with my friends on Facebook, I Snapchat everything. But I've never shared anything  like this. 

 

In today's public world, it's pretty easy to notice when someone has made any life changes- especially physically.  So at some point soon you might notice a shiny new set of cans on me and wonder where they came from.  And you might have noticed I haven't raved about many new food places to try, checked in to many high ABV beers on Untappd, or given any food tours. I want to explain in my own words. That's what this is about. On the same space where I talk about my Chinatown food tours, tacos, and gravy fries, I am going to talk about my breast cancer.

 

 

This is what I wrote but never posted in early December:

 

 

In the Summer of 2015 I found out I have a genetic mutation (like Angelina), that greatly increases my risk for breast cancer. I was put on a stressful, expensive, and time consuming monitoring plan that included regular MRIs, ultrasounds, and mammograms, and at one point- a biopsy that came back benign. 

 

Then in November I had another biopsy and it did not come back benign. Despite all the mental preparation for that result, it was a shock. I really didn't think it would ever happen to me, even knowing that it was statistically more likely to than not. Because of this (small) cancerous tumor and the presence of the mutation, I will be having surgery before Christmas. It's all rather horrifying, to put it mildly. I will miss the girls, they have served me well. Recovery will deeply suck, though I intend to return to work mid January. What will follow will depend on the post surgery pathology, but will include reconstruction and will likely include chemotherapy. Also horrifying.

 

I have been supported by my amazing family and friends, and a very very top notch medical team at Jefferson Hospital. Perspective, appreciation, and planning and an occasional xanex have helped me keep my head on somewhat straight. I have communicated this news with a lot of the important people in my life, though if I missed you, I am sorry for the oversight, these are hard conversations to have. I realize this is a public space and anyone, including food lovers I've never met or exes I haven't spoken to in years (hey there, boys), can now know about this intimate and terrifying time in my life.  This is my choice simply because it is empowering for me to thoughtfully weave my own words as the words out there explaining this detour, without any obscure insinuations to leave people purposely guessing. I am an independent and opinionated human that is better at having fun than most people and who now happens to have a hard year ahead of her. And that's how you can think of me. And maybe I can even help someone else feel they can be strong when adversity hits. 

 

Now is not the time to be a creepy lurker of my personal life, if you are reading this you cared enough to click through, at least let me know you know! If you are inclined, you can reach out/send love/your savings account/ or just ask me anything, above all, remember that I want to maintain as much normalcy and humor as possible.

 

Here are my updated thoughts one month after my surgery:

 

One month ago, December 19, 2016, I was parading around the pre surgical room with my backless gown purposely untied giving everyone in the room a show. Then I sent a sassy picture to my sister while in my wheelchair, kissed my parents goodbye, cried when I got wheeled out and knew they weren't looking, got an IV of fun stuff in my arm (though it took 4 attempts), and the next thing I knew I was awake and and asking the nurse if it would be funny to pretend to not wake up when my parents came to see me for the first time (she clearly instructed me that was not a great joke).

The week and a half that followed was filled with extreme physical pain, there is no denying that. I recovered in NY with my family by my side and was lucky enough to have many visitors helping me pass the time once I was ready. All of the positive messages, the check ins, and the packages and treats helped so much with my recovery. Thank you. I feel so lucky to have the support that I do from so many people it brings me to tears thinking about it.
 

My surgeons are so far happy with the results. The cancers were very small (I like to call them my "toomtooms" because its cuter) and had not spread to the lymph nodes.  My scars look amazing instead of horrifying, I can't even believe how minimal they are and my physical therapist is happy with the improvements in my range of motion.


By December 27th I was able to put makeup on and look human and on January 6 I was able to wash my own hair! On Tuesday (1/10)  I returned to work feeling confident that I was strong enough and ready for it.  3 weeks post op I am riding that PATCO daily and presenting in front of future business owners and nobody would know I just had a major surgery!   The office has been very understanding and I am really happy I was able to find this job and do good work with clients. I see a lot of opportunity for me to grow professionally and they are receptive to my ideas. So far so good. After every hard appointment I've cheered myself up with a good meal. I've even made it out to Bob and Barbara's and played with goats at the Farm Show.

 

I finally just had my oncology planning appointment. I had been really nervous for this appointment. Chemo is scary, but my oncologist is confident. The game plan now is that even though the removed tumors were quite tiny, this type of cancer requires an aggressive form of chemotherapy to be safe, due to the nature of this "triple negative" cancer. This will begin mid February and will be a minimum of 4 treatments, potentially 8.  There is really no way of predicting how I will feel through chemo. Hoping for the most minimum side effects possible and that I can work as much as possible.
 

In preparation for surgery I did a little memorializing photoshoot the week before with Chris String.

 

 

 

 

I have also been documenting this multi year journey through photos and Snapchat with attempts at nerve-calming humor.

 

 

 

Food posts and tours to resume when I am in the mood. I have since made a round up of some of the top things (products, services, organization tips) that have been helpful for me through this but this is NOT going to be a cancer blog. I love food, I don't love cancer.

 

Hakuna ma tatas and Breast Wishes,

 

Jamie

 

 

 

 

 

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