Monday, February 27, 2017


At this point, I'm only posting once a year which is good because that means that things are going well! It's been 5 whole years since the day I chose to remove my cancer risks. I find myself now though unsure about several things.

First, I don't know what to call myself. Yes, I went into the process preventatively. During the last month, it became no longer just a prevention as 3 lumps were found. Those lumps were benign--not cancerous. The tissue that was examined afterward had hyperplasia--overgrowth of abnormal cells which is the precursor to cancerous cells. So what am I? Am I a survivor? Am I a previvor? Am I just like Angelina Jolie (which is how Mitch describes it to anyone who's first encountering my experience)? My experience was hard, but it is nothing compared to those that have to go through this plus chemo or radiation. I don't want to diminish their journey by putting myself into the same category of survivor as them.

I'm working on one more class to get another educational license and the professor required something to be done this week on Wednesday night. While my anniversary is officially today, Mitch and I decided to go out on Wednesday because there's apparently an amazing restaurant that's only open on Wednesday. This professor, odd enough, did not appreciate the idea that my assignment would be turned in a day before it is due. How do I explain to a professor who I have never met in person, as the course is entirely online, the reason why he should accept my homework on Tuesday night so that I can enjoy dinner with my husband on Wednesday? Do I just tell him it's an anniversary dinner? Why do I feel like I cannot call myself a survivor? I ended up telling him that we are celebrating being cancer free for 5 years, but that slight change in words is what I still feel like I need to do.

Second, I am unsure about my future plans. I know that all of my doctors have encouraged me to move on to step 2b, which is removal of my ovaries. Not to be confused with the educational jargon 2b, 3b, 3d. But this medical step 2b scares the crap out of me. I don't want to be 34 and in chemical menopause. I completed step 2a which was to remove my fallopian tubes. We figured that we were done having children anyway so this felt like a no brainer. Permanent family planning and reduction of cancer risk in a perfect combination. However having that surgery combined with the fat grafting 3 times in a short period of time wreaked some havoc on my body. The antibiotics during surgery and if strength is judged by cost, the ones I was on for weeks following must have been really strong, it all wiped out any good bacteria I had in going and left me ripe for other issues. From having thyroid issues to then being told I have an autoimmune disease to then being told I'm close to adrenal failure, my body went through a ton of things in a very short time span.

I have worked very hard over the last two years to change a number of things in my lifestyle to fix these issues realizing now that naturopathic medicines can do some amazing things. I went from losing my hair so badly that I was told I had alopecia to just a few weeks ago a blood test showing that I had no antibodies showing any evidence of autoimmune disease anymore. All of this work and the balancing of different hormones and getting systems working within my body wasn't easy and I'm not ready to have to try it again. I want some time enjoying feeling good.

So I'm not sure if I'm ever going to do step 2b. Right now, I'm hopeful that the healthier lifestyle will help protect me. I don't know if I can fall back on this forever. If science would go ahead find a decent screener for ovarian cancer, that would help me out. But as of now, I would need to be already needing surgery for something else first and we could get a two for one deal out of getting my ovaries removed before I will seriously commit to it.

Finally, I'm not sure how long my reconstruction will last.  I'm having some complications with one side. Capsular contracture--scar tissue, has started to form. It caused a bit of a panic earlier this year when I saw and felt what I thought was a lump. All imaging shows that it is just scar tissue and that I'm safe. The scar tissue is forming around the implant and may over time squeeze the implant into a distorted shape. There is a bit of pain involved with it, but it's not bad and I didn't even associate it with what's happening until the doctor pointed it out.  Sometimes it's a deep ache, sometimes it's an itch that can't be scratched. Right now, everything is within the realm of what is considered normal but if more starts to happen, I may need to remove and try another form of reconstruction or go with nothing at all which is actually a possibility that is on my radar now. I would love to see Green Bay get access to a couple good micro-surgeons to have a few more options. Please get working on that, Aurora!

Part of what has made this harder for me, has been that I can no longer see my favorite two doctors--Dr. Colette and Dr. J. Our insurance changed--again and they are no longer options. I'm working with someone new who seems very knowledgable and nice in his own regard. But he has big shoes to fill. Dr. Colette is my hero and every chance I get I try to encourage my daughters to consider being a doctors to help others the way she helped me. Right now they are more interested in being pop singers than anything else, but maybe someday they'll be ready to look for a backup plan.

That's it for now. Hopefully it will be another year or more before I post again!

1 comment:

  1. Renee- You are an amazing woman! I am sorry I missed this by a few days. Frankly I think you can call yourself anything you want. Perhaps you didn't survive Cancer but you still are a survivor. You survived many life changing decisions, you survived many surgeries and many side effects. You are brave and awesome. While your girls might currently look to be pop stars, I am certain as they grow they will know that they have the best role model as a Mom. No matter what they do they will help others just like you do! Love you, Molly