Thursday, December 17, 2009

12/5/2009: Porn Star Nipples

"Wow, those are like porn star nipples."

My fat grafting and nipple reconstruction was on November, 19, 2009 at Georgetown University Hospital and took about an hour. I woke up from surgery with VERY sore legs. This is where they did liposuction and removed fat to transplant to my breast. I wasn't able to see what they had done to my nipples because I had these cones on to protect them. I felt like Madonna. I, of course, was in normal silly mode and making jokes about the situation and being able to poke people's eyes out with my massive nipples.

It was my boyfriend, Matt's, birthday the day of surgery and waiting in the car I had a cake, candles and plates. Despite the circumstances, my parents and I lit three candles representing past, present and future and sang happy birthday to him in the emergency parking garage. People must have thought we were crazy, but I didn't care -- we needed to celebrate.

I spent the weekend at my parents recovering and nursing my legs that were black and blue from the back of my knees to my hips. I knew it would end up being my legs that would cause the most issues. It was difficult to sleep on my side or even sit for a long period of time because I was so bruised. On day three I was allowed to remove my cones. My nipples were HUGE. My surgeon tried to warn me that they would be big because your body will reabsorb 50 percent of transferred tissue. It was difficult to get used to, since I have been without nipples for a year and a half, but slowly I started to like them. Once I had my stitches removed two weeks later they shrunk and softened.

I now have an appointment on December 28, 2009 to have color matching done for my tattooing. Everything is skin-tone right now, so I am going back to my original plastic surgeon, Dr. Wendy Gottlieb, to have my color(s) selected and then will have that done in February or March 2010 as the nipples need time to heal. I am looking forward to having everything done and being back to "normal." (Whatever that means.)

My friends who have seen my new nipples think they are porn star worthy since they are quite "perky" still. I am told that they will soften more over time, but they will stay pretty alert. I think I can deal with that ...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12/15/2009: A Night to Remember

“Remember taking the Neulasta shots after chemotherapy and how badly your joints ached? I think that was the worse part for me.”

“For me it was the pain of my hair falling out – no one told me it would HURT.”

It’s interesting how life let’s you go in different directions, but occasionally it will tug you back and force you to reflect on past experiences. This week our Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team was honored with a dinner at CafĂ© Atlantico in D.C. We were ranked number three for fundraising for the month of October due to my friends and family aggressive fundraising over the last year. I was truly honored and grateful. Joining me at the dinner was my girlfriend Sarah.

The evening honored the top teams, which meant I was surrounded with fellow survivors of all ages and life experiences – but all amazing women with heroic stories. There were also national and international representatives from Susan G. Koman there and a young woman who works for the company that does all the advertising/registration for Race for the Cure in D.C.

The two women from Susan G. Komen were intrigued with my story and asked me many questions about my experience, specifically focusing on how young I am. Sarah spent some time retelling the hilarious and ironic stories that surrounded my journey – falling down the stairs at work, having her feel my expanders in the handicapped stall at work, getting hit by a car in the Harris Teeter parking lot, dropping my congratulations cake at my last chemotherapy treatment, and so on.

One woman I met, I instantly gravitated toward. Our timeframe for diagnosis and treatment was similar and I could tell that she, much like me, was still struggling psychologically. I explained that a lot of the events that transpired I couldn’t remember. She said there isn’t one moment that she forgets.

“But is there a day that goes by that you don’t think about it?” she asked.
I stopped for a moment as my throat and jaw gripped tightly … “No. I think about it every day,” I responded with a broken voice.
“Me too,” she said. “I can’t wait until I can go a whole day and feel normal again.”

I dropped Sarah off after an enlightening and emotionally evening. I called my mom (still my rock) and recounted the events of the evening. The tears streamed down my face as I told her about the friends and family members who attended the event and how they shared how difficult it was to watch a loved one fight through cancer – the feeling of helplessness. I continue to remind myself that this didn’t just happen to me, it happened to US. My story was not just my own, but one that was shared over and over again by friends and family. I hope that as I continue to heal and become stronger that my story will continue to help others.

Monday, November 16, 2009

11/16/2009: Eiffel in love with Paris

“Who just picks up and decides to go to Paris?” asked Meghan and Jorie.
“I guess I do,” I responded with a sly shrug.

There are a number of experiences in our lives that feed our soul. These experiences or moments can be counted on one hand and will forever be imprinted on our memory. Paris marked one of those moments for me.

All my life I have dreamt of visiting Paris. I even took five years of French in school learning about the language and culture. Yet I was always waiting for the right time, or for my finances to be in order, or to have a significant other to share the experience … until I finally woke up one day and thought to myself, what am I waiting for? I deserve this. I have the time, the money and friends who would go with me.

As fate would have it, one of my closest girlfriends, Sarah, needed to escape town just as badly as I did. So we literally booked a trip and took off to Paris on an adventure.

In the midst of lighting a candle for my grandmother in the Sacre Coeur, standing in amazement in front of Notre-Dame, speaking my rusty French with some amazing people I met, riding a statue of a lion at Luxembourg, walking dwarfed in the hall of mirrors in the Chateau de Versailles and sipping cappuccinos in Montmartre with my incredible friend, Sarah, I realized how badly I needed this vacation.

I had taken my summer off from surgery and I thought that would be enough time to give me the psychological and physical break I desperately needed -- but I was wrong. Paris was certainly a welcomed diversion from my surgery this Thursday, but it does not change the fact that I am scared to death. Not just scared of surgery -- it’s much more complicated than that.

You see, every time I go through surgery (and this will be my tenth surgery in 23 months) I have to recover which takes weeks or months. Additionally, I have to learn to accept my deformed body all over again. I understand that I am moving toward a more “normal” state with my physical appearance, but it doesn't change the fact that it is scarring beyond the physical incisions. It is a growing process.

Life is all about learning and growing. I finally took that dream trip that fed my soul and once again I am desperately trying to learn to see myself as imperfectly perfect.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I go through surgery on Thursday morning at Georgetown University Hospital. I'm calling on angels ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10/21/2009: Saddle Bags?

*deep breath* I rolled the piece of gum in my mouth into a ball with my tongue and pressed it against the inside of my top molars. *deep breath* I walked across the room barefoot and breathed in the smell of the stinging alcohol in the antibacterial hand sanitizer. *deep breath* I reached the pastel pink wall where the sun rays danced along the scuffed surface. *deep breath* I turned my back to the wall, looked straight ahead and dropped my medical gown to my wrists. *exhale*

Dr. Nahabedian and his medical assistant Michael spoke to one another in excitement as they reviewed their “work” from my surgery in May. They have never seen an S-Gap procedure long-term and are pleased with my amazing progress. I shared with them that now that my breast has settled I have a dent that runs horizontally across the top of the left breast.

I stood in front of my surgeon and his assistant in my black and white striped panties (which have been coined my “breakout” underwear since I wear them every time I get out of the hospital). They proceeded to pinch my stomach and thighs looking for fat that they can use to transplant into the dent. It is called fat grafting. Dr. Nahabedian ran his finger in a circle around the outside of my thigh.

“You have a little saddle bag we can use.”
“Do you know how offensive that is to say to a woman?”

Dr. Nahabedian laughed and Michael looked very apologetic. (Michael takes everything super serious and doesn’t really get my sarcasm.) Dr. Nahabedian told me to think of fat grafting as a mini liposuction. I basically can choose different places on my body to have him suck out fat, like my (ahem!) saddle bags and that fat will be transferred into the dent in the breast. Amazing process! I was told that I am not allowed to lose any more weight since I am now a whopping 100 pounds. Dr. Nahabedian said he would actually love if I could gain a couple of pounds prior to surgery.

I am having surgery on November 19.

I am told that your body reabsorbs 50 percent of the fat that is transplanted, so sometimes you have to have this procedure twice. (Hopefully mine is a one-time deal.) At the same time that I have my mini liposuction/fat grafting, Dr. Nahabedian is also doing nipple reconstruction. I should get more details in the coming weeks which I will share with you all as I have every other step of the process.

My friends have asked if I am excited or nervous about the upcoming surgery and honestly, I am indifferent. After each surgery I go through a difficult phase of coming to terms with my body again and making peace with the changes – and it is emotionally and physically exhausting. I know I am moving in a positive direction, but it is still hard. The journey continues ...

9/19/2009: The Fuzz

Standing in the shower I ran my finger across the round white scar next to my left breast. My lips pursed and my forehead crinkled as I desperately searched for the memory that would reveal the reason for this scar. Where did you come from? And why do you look like a shiny pearl now that my golden tan has faded?

At gatherings with my friends we talk about how I have been feeling and my recent health. My response lately has been, “I’m great. I’m on a surgery break.” Other people who don’t know about my journey are quickly brought up to speed and are told that I am a cancer survivor. They listen to stories of my treatment and how strong I was through the process. Words like hero and brave are used to describe me. I find myself listening to the stories as though I am hearing them for the first time -- as though I am having an out of body experience. These stories no longer belong to me ...

I haven’t written in awhile because I wasn’t quite sure how to explain what I have been experiencing. There are huge gaps in the last 21 months that I don’t remember at all, or it takes time to recall the specific events that occurred. I’m not quite sure I really want to remember all of it, to be quite honest.

I know that when people experience trauma in their lives that they subconsciously can block out experiences. I don’t think I necessarily have repressed memory, but there are certainly some moments in my journey that are very fuzzy. Now, the fact that I was on really strong pain pills over the course of nine surgeries can be blamed for some of that “fuzz,” but I honestly believe it is deeper.

Now don’t start worrying, please. I have done some research and am not falling into any of the bad side effects of repressed memory, which can be anything from substance abuse and eating disorders to depression and suicide. I am very happy and am slowly coming to terms with the whirlwind of my journey. Actually, I am taking a vacation to Paris at the end of October. I am so incredibly excited. It is a destination I have wanted to go for a very long time and I deserve it.

I have come to realize that my journey is much bigger than I am. My friends and family retell my stories, because my stories were theirs, too. We all experienced my fight against cancer together. I was never alone ...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

8/27/2009: The Result

With my head against my steering wheel I listened to the sound of my tears hitting against the paper on my lap. *Pat, pat, pat*

I took another breath and no sound came out of my body as another wave of emotion rushed over me. It was as though I was screaming under water and the noise was encapsulated in each tiny bubble that rushed from my mouth up toward the surface of the water.

I crumpled the piece of paper and clutched it to my chest. I repeated the last sentence aloud three times – No evidence of metastatic disease. No evidence of metastatic disease. No evidence of metastatic disease.

I had once again threw cancer the middle finger, ran like the gingerbread man, passed “Go” and collected $200 and cheated death – my PETScan was normal. For once being normal is more than good enough for me.

I had my PETScan last Friday at Reston Hospital. It was supposed to be two weeks ago, but there were some miscommunications and approvals that needed to happen with my new health insurance. Thanks Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO for the complication! So for the last two weeks I have been unable to eat or sleep well due to my anxiety over the pending test. So, I finally had my test on Friday and it was the same routine I have gone through time and time again – fasting, IV, blood sugar check, radioactive injection, wait 45 minutes, under the machine for 25 with my arms over my head in a freezing trailer.

The test showed no cancer and no significant change from my last “clean” PETScan. It did find a new postop change in the left buttock (from my bypass and transplant surgery in May) simply indicating a new surgical site. One finding I was not expecting was that the radiation damage to my left lung has “decreased significantly since prior study.” This is the area my oncologist wanted to keep an eye on to make sure it healed properly.

Who knew my little body had so much vigor after all these months of treatment!?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

8/6/09: Practicing My Poker Face

The past few weeks it has been a challenge to keep my poker face. I notice that I am having trouble eating, sleeping and controling my emotions. Just this week I became very biting in conversations with two people close to me – annoying and confusing them. I try so hard to control what I am feeling, or express it in a coherent way, but I never seem to get it right.

I have a friend who battled testicular cancer over the past month. He is athletic, vibrant, young and successful – but not safe from cancer. I met him the night he was diagnosed and talked with him until the early hours of the morning while he suffered from insomnia leading up to the beginning of his radiation. He had surgery and three weeks of radiation and is healing beautifully. He still is baffled by the fact that he had cancer. I told him that would never go away.

Two other friends I met via my blog while going through treatment have both been diagnosed again with cancer. One friend has colorectal cancer and recently they found nodules that were abnormal. He has started chemotherapy again. And my dear girlfriend who kicked cancer’s butt and was growing out the most beautiful brunette locks found another lump. Despite aggressive chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy – residual cancer remained in her body. She will undergo radiation and then additional chemotherapy. She is one of the most amazing women I know. As I listened to her news over the phone I wrapped my other arm tightly around my heaving torso. I listened to her complain about having a new scar and not being able to wear slutty tops anymore and how she was going to be sad if she had to “shave her mullet and start from scratch.” We grasp to those things which are easiest for us to wrap our thoughts around – unfortunately this isn’t something that can be wrapped neatly with a bow placed on top. She continues to say that she has three reasons for doing all this again – her husband and two beautiful children. She is such a beautiful person.

I ache for my friends, but selfishly I fear for my own future. It is easy for me to block out pieces of the last nineteen months and blend in with all the other almost-30-somethings. You can’t see my scars and my short bob (now filled with sunkissed red highlights) does not show evidence of ever having had chemotherapy. I look normal – but I am far from it. I survived breast cancer as a 26 year old and I continue to deal with the physical and psychological scars. I am still anemic, my arm swells from lymphadema, my nails are still discolored and brittle, any injuries take SO much longer to heal, my left breast has a dent, my tastebuds are different – but I am alive and no longer look sick.

Tomorrow I will have a PETScan. It has been four months since my last one and I am extremely nervous considering the recent news of my friends. I continue to think positively, because that’s all I know how to do, but it doesn’t change the fact that the fear still exists. Just because I look healthy, doesn’t mean that this is over for me. My journey continues ...

Monday, July 6, 2009

7/6/2009: Nothing Short of Butterflies

I know I haven’t written in awhile and I am sorry for that. Several people e-mailed me concerned that something bad had happened. It didn’t – actually just the opposite!

The last eighteen months have been challenging to say the least and I continued to try to advance professionally and academically while fighting for my life. Although I was challenged in my position at Gannett the passion was missing. However, you have to remember that the week I started at Gannett I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The relationships I made there were so vital to my positive attitude and survival. When I needed to vent or cry my co-workers were there to take a walk or console me in the bathroom. That is what made it so hard to leave. In addition, I had spent 18 months emersed in the development of the video product and strategy for the company and wanted to see it through implementation.

My passion has always been in media content development and strategy. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that when one door closes a window opens. As soon as I read the job description sent to me for the Web Content Developer position at Perfect Sense Digital in Reston Town Center my heart started racing. I have told my friends and family that it feels like I am finally home. I love what I am doing, the fast pace, the people (most I worked with at AOL), and the location. I am so incredibly happy!

Around the same time I was contacted by AOL Shopping about coming back as a freelancer and blogging for their website. I write about anything I want, like brands, products, tips and tricks, trends, dating, advice – there is no limit. I have already had four of my features run on which is pretty exciting. I find that having this creative outlet has made me feel more fulfilled.

I know this may seem aggressive, but life is too short. These days I refuse to settle for anything less in my life than butterflies and my heart pumping fast.

Monday, June 1, 2009

6/01/2009: Time for a Break

“Wow I did a good job,” said Dr. Nahabedian.
“Your work doesn’t even come close to your modesty,” I reboked sarcastically.

Both Dr. Nahabedian and I broke into laughter. He began gently moving his fingers around the edges of my left breast. He was surprised by how quickly the scar was healing from the DIEP procedure and that my skin and tissue had softened considerably from the six weeks of radiation I endured last fall.

“So when are we outfitting you with some nipples?” asked my doctor.
“I need a break. I have had so much done to me and I would really like to just enjoy my summer,” I replied.
He responded with a sympathetic nod and wet eyes as he sensed the exhaustion in my response.

I proceeded to show him what had happened now that the tissue and breast has dropped into place. The new tear drop shape is completely symmetrical with the right side, although it left a bit of a dent across the top where it initially sat. My right side is definitely more round and full on top. I explained that the issue is resolved when I wear a bra and everything is pushed into place, but I want it to look better. He suggested fat grafting, but said we should wait three months to see if I drop anymore. We didn’t speak anymore about it since he could tell I was over the topic of an additional procedure for now.

He finished the appointment by taking photos of his “good job” and telling me that I could resume my normal workouts and exercises. I was ecstatic and pleased that he and I seemed to be on the same page about the break I needed so badly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

5/12/2008: DIEP Procedure

“If I am not allowed a Frappuccino I will surely die,” I said dramatically to my surgeon, Dr. Maurice Nahabedian, while I covered my face and let the warm tears of frustration run down my cheeks. “I haven’t been able to eat or drink anything for over 36 hours and I am losing it.”
Dr. Nahabedian smiled, looked at my mother and said, “Go across the street and get this girl Starbuck’s.”

I don’t think I had fully prepared myself for the severity of this surgery, nor had I realized how big of a deal it is in the medical field. My surgery is called the Superior Gluteal Artery Perforator Breast Reconstruction more commonly called the S-GAP. S-GAP reconstruction uses tissue from the top of the buttock, which contains the upper gluteal artery. During this surgery, a rounded section of skin and fat (and occasionally muscle) is removed from the top of the buttock. After being transferred to the breast, the tissue is shaped to create the breast mound and is attached to the remaining breast tissue. Using complex microsurgical techniques, the blood vessels are reconnected to existing vessels in the area. Only two surgeons on the east coast perform this type of operation, and Dr. Nahabedian is one of them. A modest man with a strong handshake and a compassionate tone to his voice – he is one of the best plastic surgeons in the United States and he is right here at Georgetown University Hospital. How lucky am I!? I know, weird thing to say coming from the girl diagnosed with cancer at the age of 27.

I was prepped for surgery by three eager medical residents who looked at me like a medical miracle. They asked me all sorts of questions, each taking notes in their notepads and studying “my case.” I felt like I was on an episode of ‘House.’ They explained that all the medical students were excited about my procedure and said, “A lot of people are going to see you naked today.” Hilarious! My assistant surgeon was named Michael Cohen and was one of the chattiest doctors I have ever met. He genuinely enjoyed talking to me and was quite concerned that I remain calm.

My surgeon met with me prior to surgery and drew out the plans with a black marker along my body. I shook from the sterile nature of the room and cold air. Cohen reassured me that it would all be OK. Dr. Nahabedian finished prepping me by drawing the blue prints along my butt. Cohen asked questions about the artery Dr. Nahabedian would be removing and what would be landmarks internally when he opened me up. I turned my head around and asked, “Will you be able to reach into the right butt cheek and pull some fat over to fluff my left cheek?” Cohen thought very seriously about the question while Dr. Nahabedian laughed knowing that I was breaking the serious tension and explained that the right side would not be touched in case it ever needs to be used in the future.

So, I was rolled into an 8-hour surgery with my surgeon, assistant surgeon, three medical residents, two anesthesiologists, oh, and just the rest of Georgetown University.
I woke up very quickly and realized I was in the ICU. My Mom was crying asking the nurse to please let her stay (which she did the entire duration of my recovery), the residents and Cohen were in my room rubbing a wand across my breast, and the only thing that hurt was the catheter which no one warned me about! There was so much activity and all I wanted was to eat and sleep -- neither happened for a long time. (I didn’t know until several days later, but Cohen slept next door that night on the ICU floor incase I needed him.) The nurses had to use this tiny machine called a Doppler Radar (I though that was only for weather!) and rub it across the new section of my breast every 15 minutes. You could hear the blood pulsing through the blood vessel they had sewn together.

Dr. Nahabedian explained to my parents after my surgery that they removed the skin, tissue, artery and fat from my left butt cheek and it took three tries to finally get the bypass created in my left breast. The arteries and blood vessels were not the same size so it took some magic from “the plastics” (Georgetown University Plastic Surgery) to make it all work. The first 48 hours are the most critical and you can usually tell whether or not the transferred area will take.

Between visits from my dad, brother, Uncle Chuck, co-workers, friends and boyfriend I was in pretty good spirits. They had to keep reminding me that it was only one to two visitors at a time. I even had an old girlfriend from high school come surprise me who works at Georgetown University Hospital as an oncologist RN. I was enveloped in love and compassion that I felt incredibly strong. My nurse Jenna even sat at the end of my bed at 3am and talked to me for hours about becoming a nurse and how she’s never seen a surgery like mine. Eileen was my other nurse who spent too much time in my room chatting about dogs, so she was moved to the other side of the floor the next day to care for another patient. She would still stop by to chat though. I believe that these young nurses truly connected with me and my journey. They saw themselves or their friends and sisters in me and it made the 1 in 8 statistic all more real. And quite frankly, I was the most fun person on the floor! One of the technicians on my floor was huge like a football player with a deep, soulful voice. His station was right outside of my tiny private room and he would sing me love songs anytime my door would open or he would bring in a tray of food. It was like something out of a movie. When I took a lap around the ICU floor (part of my physical therapy) with my friend Laurie, the technician yelled, “if you run by the pool I’ll kick you out” followed by a loud outbursts of laughs from the whole unit. I think they appreciated my spirit and survivor mentality.

Tuesday I was able to have the catheter removed which I HATED, then the physical therapist started working with me on walking and learning how to use my leg again. This was something else I had NOT prepared for in advance. I choked back tears as I reached for her hand and drug my limp leg as I tried desperately to walk again. I felt humiliated and defeated. My physical therapist was patient and my mother was strong while watching me struggle. I know it could not have been easy for her. I gritted my teeth, pulled my dark locks behind my ears, took a deep breath and pushed myself. It is going to take a hell of a lot more to keep me down.

The medical residents came by each morning at 5:30am with their notebooks to do their checkup. When Wednesday came around “the plastics” still wouldn’t let me eat or drink anything in case I had to go back into surgery quickly. I officially lost it -- I started crying. They must have notified Dr. Nahabedian, because he came in and told me that he had heard how great I was doing and that he would let me have coffee and food. Additionally, he said he heard that I was doing really well with physical therapy, even doing stairs without help, and if I chose to go home Wednesday night he would let me. I stayed until Thursday enjoying my coffee and hospital meals (with my boyfriend sneaking in some funnel cake) and made a pillow nest for the bumpy ride home.

It wasn’t until I got home to my parents that I got to really look at my incisions. I was disgusted with myself (as I always am initially) and even got close to fainting while taking my first shower. The pain goes beyond physical and challenges me psychologically. It took seven days for me to finally look at myself in the mirror and make peace with my new body. (Although now I am back to hating my hair and calling myself Keanu Reeves and pretending to dodge bullets like in the ‘Matrix.’) Despite my family and my boyfriend reassuring me that my butt doesn’t look lopsided and that the lines of my new breast incision were done so incredibly well – I needed to believe it myself.

Tomorrow I see Dr. Nahabedian for my post-op appointment where he will remove the drainage tubes from my armpit and hip that are irritating me and we will discuss my “touch-up” surgery planned for 3 months (August). He believes that he can make my breasts more symmetrical, but

I am operating on little victories for now …

Monday, April 27, 2009

4/27/2009: PETscan Results

"Jennifer, your PETscan looks amazing ..."

Over the past couple of weeks I have fought a nasty case of bronchitis, gone to several concerts and festivals, took a trip to the beach with my friend Heather, and had my pre-surgery PETscan.

My PETscan was on Friday and the following Monday after work I drove to Reston Hospital and picked up the report without telling anyone. Through the medical “mumbo jumbo” I continued to see the word “normal” repeated. The report talked about my mediport, my “collapsed implant” (which is where they removed my breast on the left side), and something about the top of my left lung. I called my Mom waking her from a nap. “Hello,” she said. “My PETscan was normal,” I said calmly. Silence fell over the phone, and then I heard sniffing. This was the first test I had received that was normal. My family was moved to tears – only this time they were joyful.

The following week I went to see my Oncologist, Dr. David Heyer, to review my PETscan results and get my mediport flushed. (Even though I am no longer receiving treatment I still have to have my port accessed and flushed once a month to avoid infection.) Dr. Heyer entered the exam room with a big smile and a sturdy hand shake. He immediately commented about how long my hair is getting and how he likes it dark.

Opening my huge medical folder he looked over my PETscan images. “Jennifer, your PETscan looks amazing,” he said. I choked on the tears and swallowed hard. He brought the images over to me and sat down. He showed me visually the different things that the report was referencing so that I could see what they were referring to on the images. “So does that mean I can get my port removed on May 4 during my reconstruction?” I asked. “It does,” said Dr. Heyer smiling. “And you know what else? I don’t need to see you back for four months.”

Dr. Heyer did point out in my images a section at the top of my left lung that lit up. Apparently, the six weeks of intense radiation has damaged the top section of my left lung. This will never go away, but should heal and eventually scar inside my body. Dr. Heyer told me to be very aware in case I get a cough or any issues breathing. He said that the intensity of the radiation was necessary and that we will just have to keep a watchful eye on the left lung as we continue with my imaging.

Dr. Heyer listened to my chest and my back focusing on my left lung and said that he believed everything sounded good. In four months we will redo the PETscan and see how it has healed.

Leaving the doctors office the nurses and administration all came out to congratulate me with hugs, kisses and huge smiles. I had forgotten that they have been fighting right along side me in this battle and were experiencing emotions similar to mine. I left the doctors office feeling as though I had been given back some of my independence – some of my freedom. I called my boyfriend and my Mom sharing the good news and my sense of renewal. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and rejoiced in the positive news. Finally!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

3/25/2009: Lady's Got Back

Standing in front of Dr. Nahabadian I removed my gown as directed exposing my beautifully reconstructed right breast and my indention with darkened skin on my left side. His eyes immediately moved to my stomach and his lips curled to one side as though he was puzzled. He rolled forward on his stool and proceeded to run his fingertips down my stomach – as though he were performing a tummy tuck. “Nope, that’s not going to work. I’d have to cut you under the belly button from hip to hip to get the amount of skin and tissue I would need,” he traced imaginary lines with his fingers across my stomach. “You are just so tiny.” He instructed me to turn around where he performed the same kneading strokes over my left shoulder blade. “There’s not enough tissue to work with here either,” he said aloud even though we both knew it would be the case since he could barely pinch any tissue. “Go ahead and pull down your pants,” he asked. With my jeans around my ankles Dr. Nahabadian grabbed at the inside of my thigh. “Eh, still not enough,” he said. I looked at him with desperate eyes. I repeated over and over in my head, “Please find something – ANYTHING to make me whole again.” His eyes squinted in deep thought as his lips tightened. “Turn around for me,” he said nodding as though he had figured out the riddle. Lifting my thong strap he squeezed two handfuls at the top of my right butt cheek. “I knew you had it hiding somewhere,” he said as he gave me a little shake. I couldn’t help but laugh.

My surgery is scheduled for May 7. The procedure takes five hours. I will then spend three days in the ICU, have to take two weeks off of work and will need to take it easy for six weeks as I recover. Ugh, another surgery – but at least this one is making me whole again. The surgery is very tricky since I am so petite and my skin has been severely compromised due to the six weeks of radiation I endured. Dr. Nahabadian will have to reconnect each of the blood vessels in order to ensure that the tissue and skin has healthy blood flow. Unfortunately, five percent of these procedures are failures and I have to understand that the new skin and tissue may not take to the damaged area.

Prior to surgery I have to have another PETscan to make sure that I am cancer-free. It is hard to believe that it has already been three months since my last one. If the scan comes back clean, then I will have my mediport removed during my May 7 surgery, which makes me ecstatic. I hate my stupid port. I also need to talk with the Infectious Disease doctors, who saw me both times in the hospital when I had infections, in order to determine which antibiotic I need to go on prior to my surgery – that way we hopefully can avoid an infection.

The purpose of this surgery is to successfully transplant my skin and tissue. I am trying to prepare myself mentally that the new tissue and skin may not initially resemble a breast. In three months I may need a “touch up” surgery in order to tweak Dr. Nahabadian’s work and make sure that I am as symmetrical as possible.

Who would have thought that my butt would make a great breast? So now what are we going to do to reconstruct my butt? Ah, the plot thickens.

To be continued ...

Monday, March 9, 2009

3/9/2009: The Specialist

“I want you to meet with Dr. Nahabedian at Georgetown University Hospital,” said my plastic surgeon, Dr. Wendy Gottlieb. I went to visit Wendy last Friday to have my stitches removed and didn’t realize that I would come out of her office with another big decision looming.

Once my stitches came out and I was bandaged back up, we chit-chatted some about my hospital stay. Wendy said that all the nurses still ask her how I am doing and were so incredibly touched by my story. She said, “You sure do make an impact on everyone you meet.” She then asked me about “this boyfriend” that all the nurses were talking about who would come to my room and curl up on my bed with me every day. “Well, I think you deserve something happy and positive after all that you have been through. Let’s get you reconstructed before the summer … or the wedding gown for that matter,” she said. I shot her a dagger-look that quickly turned to a smile.

My reconstruction is more complicated than other women, because I am very petite. There are a couple of different options: (1) latissimus dorsi myocutaneous back flap procedure which involves taking skin and tissue from my back, cutting the muscle and wrapping it through my armpit to my left breast, (2) TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous) flap procedure which takes the muscle as well as the skin and fat from the abdomen to sculpt a new breast. However, this can cause complications like abdominal weakness and future back pain because the patient is left with no abdominal muscles, or (3) a procedure that Dr. Nahabedian performs called the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perferator) flap procedure. The surgeon separates the artery and vein from the muscle in the stomach and then attaches the tissue to the breast site with sutures that are thinner than a hair. Less than one percent of women have this kind of reconstruction, but it ensures that the fresh skin/tissue has a good supply of blood, which has been an issue in my previous reconstruction.

I asked Wendy which surgery she would suggest for me. “I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last three weeks and going back and forth with the pros and cons for each. I honestly don’t know,” she responded. “I just hate to think about you having a huge scar across your back when you can hide the one on your stomach under most swimsuits.”

So, I am either going to have a large scar across my back or my stomach in order to create a new breast. The idea of having another surgery makes me ill, but to then think about another part of my body being sliced and diced makes me want to just quit all together. I want to be whole again, but this process is exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically.

I meet with Dr. Nahabedian on March 20 to determine if I am a candidate for the DIEP surgery. I have until late April or early May to weigh my options and decide what I want to do with my body. I feel like Humpty Dumpty and that it is taking all of NOVAs plastic surgeons and doctors to put me back together again.

Monday, March 2, 2009

3/2/2009: Prosthetic Shopping

Looking around the lingerie section at Nordstrom’s it didn’t take long to realize that they didn’t have any prosthesis on display. I was approached by a woman in her late thirties with long black hair that ran down her back. She had rosy cheeks and a sweet smile. She asked how she could help me. I looked around and once I realized that no one was in ear shot I responded.

"I had a mastectomy and need a prosthetic," I said in a quiet voice.

Not missing a beat she asked, “Did you have a single or double mastectomy?”

“Well, my story is complicated. I had a double, but I have one implant, so I really just need one. Do I have to buy them as a set.”

“No, not at all. You can purchase just one.“

She escorted me into the dressing room to the largest room in the back. Before going into the room she turned to me and said, “Oh, and my name is Angel.” I smiled and introduced myself. I thought to myself, what are the chances!? She ushered me into a room wallpapered in toile with luxorious seats. It was beautiful. My heart was beating fast and I wasn’t sure what to expect next.

She asked which type of prosthesis I was interested in while she listed off a few options. I shrugged and told her I had no idea since I had never done this before. She gave me a genuine smile and said, “I will bring back a few options for you to try.” Before leaving she asked if I prefered trying on the prosthetic privately, or if I wanted her help.

“At this point everyone has seen my deformed body. If you can stomach it, you are welcome to stay.”

“I understand and please know that I have been doing this for many years and have fitted many woman who have had mastectomies. I will take good care of you.”

She left and I took my clothes off. I ran my fingers along my incision and grew more anxious and nauseous. Looking at myself in the mirror was disgusting. In addition, I had huge bruises on the sides of my waist from the shots I was given while in the hospital.

Angel returned with a box and a bra. I stood infront of her with my single breast exposed and tons of scars and bruises. She never diverted her eyes from mine. She was amazing.

"I am going to guess that you are wearing a 34B … you should be in a 32C.”


“Try this on and you’ll see.”

The bra she had brought me was a full-coverage 32C and it wasn’t an ugly bra either. It had beautiful lace straps and lace across the back. I put it on and it fit like a glove. She handed me the prosthetic and showed me how to position it inside the cup of the bra. Like putting in contacts for the first time, it took a little practice. She left to find a fitted t-shirt so that I could see how it looked underneath clothing. Once I had the shirt on I began looking at myself sideways in the mirror and admiring my perfect, curvy body.

“I don’t mean to offend you, but you look so young to have battled cancer.”

“That’s beacause I am. I found my tumor when I was 25.”

Angel shook her head and said, “It makes me so angry.”

I bought two bras and my left breast prosthetic that evening from a woman named Angel who treated me with the utmost compassion and understanding.

Angel walked me down the hallway to the escalator. Once we got there the tears swelled in my eyes and my heart felt so renewed. Angel put out her hand and I wrapped my arms around her in a full embrace. “Thank you for making me whole again. You will never know what your kindness has meant to me.” I pulled away and a single tear ran down Angel’s face. I will never forget her.

Monday, February 9, 2009

2/9/2009: The Nightmares

Submerged in cool water the sheer white gown clung to my skin. My long black ringlets danced in front of my face. My ears filled with water and buzzed calmly giving silence to everything around me. I looked to the surface of the water where I saw angels and demons circling vigorously above. I released all of the air from my mouth watching the tiny bubbles dance quickly toward the light. I closed my eyes and was peaceful.

Opening my eyes I was engulfed in the darkness of my room. I waited a couple of seconds, and then gasped for air. My dreams were becoming more vivid and I knew this meant that things were about to change significantly. I noticed a severe pain in my left breast. Sitting on my bathroom floor I held my knees to my chest and rocked myself back and forth. I was dizzy and nauseous from anxiety. I knew something was wrong. How could I get sick the day before my biopsy?

Within a couple of hours I was admitted to Reston Hospital and was started on a series of antibiotics through my IV. That evening my plastic surgeon, Dr. Gottlieb came to see me. She reviewed a couple of options for surgery. It only took a couple of minutes and I told Wendy to remove my implant and not replace it. My mother looked at me wide-eyed and reiterated what the surgery meant. I nodded with a knot in my throat and said, "I know -- I will lose my breast." I asked Dr. Gottlieb to also remove the scar tissue and lymph node on my right side while she had me under anesthesia. I figured it made sense to just get it all over with at once.

The infectious disease doctors noticed a murmur in my heart beat and so following surgery I had an echogram done. I cannot even stomach explaining this test even now. It was truly excruciating since they had to rub and push against the crater that was now my left breast. The doctors were worried that the infection had moved to my heart. Luckily they reported back that my heart was "so incredibly strong." My parents burst into tears hearing the news.

My body was not so lucky though when it came to the infection. The tests found that I had a bacteria much like an intestinal infection (urinary track infection) in my breast. I asked my oncologist if this meant that I touched my vagina then my boob. He laughed and said no, but that it was good to see I hadn't lost my sense of humor. I then proceeded to tell everyone who entered my room that my vagina had made me sick. Stupid vagina! Additionally, the tests found that I had a contaminant infection in my mediport. I am now on a series of strong antibiotics for the next couple of weeks to bring my body back to life.

Dr. Gottlieb removed two areas of scar tissue from my right armpit area. I have a teeny incision about an inch long that itches like crazy! My doctors believe that the smaller piece of scar tissue is what was reported as a "questionable lymph node" on my PETscan. Both pieces of scar tissue were dissected and tested. NO CANCER WAS FOUND. I am elated. I will be tested again in a couple of months once my body has bounced back from this surgery and the inflammation has gone down. I will have check-ups every three months to ensure that I remain cancer free.

I was in the hospital four days and despite the cancer-free news, endless love and support of friends and family and the compassion of my nurses and doctors there was a looming sadness for the loss of my left breast. My last day in the hospital, Dr. Gottlieb arrived to my room to check my incisions and remove my drainage tube. She was bandaging me back up and the tears started rolling down my face. She sat on the edge of my bed. I said, "I know I am cancer-free and that I should be so happy, but I am consumed with the loss of my breast." Dr. Gottlieb said, "Jennifer, I am reconstructing one of my patients breasts this month and she is 50 – vanity is real no matter the age. It doesn't matter if you are 27 or 50 – you are a woman and you have lost something that defines you physically in that way. Don't be ashamed for feeling the way you do … you are entitled. And believe me that every woman working on this floor who has been changing your bandages, administering your medicine, or checking your vitals aches seeing what you are going through." It will be two to three months before I will have surgery to reconstruct my left breast. This will entail taking skin, tissue and muscle from my back or stomach to create a new flap for my breast and putting in a new implant. The good news is that the new skin will respond much better than the radiated skin, it will be done by swimsuit season … and I will be able to upgrade.

Leaving the hospital my nurses cried and hugged me. Many of them remember me from my other stays. Like Dr. Gottlieb had described, I saw the pain in their eyes -- they ached for me. Perhaps they were happy it wasn't them or imagined themselves or their daughters in my place. Regardless, I just hope I made an impact. Once I arrived home I unpacked my things.

Dr. Gottlieb had left two pink Victoria Secret bags in my hospital room. One bag contained prosthetic inserts for my bra. They other bag … two sets of beautiful lingerie and Godiva chocolates. As a woman, Dr. Gottlieb also understood the pain and the loss I was experiencing. She is a class act. I was moved to tears by her kindness and compassion.

Despite my pain, I am not ready to stay submerged in the cool waters of my subconscious. As long as my heart is strong, my spirit is vibrant and my vagina is kept clean, I will continue to fight. Keep circling angels and demons above the thin surface that currently separates us ... for my work here is not done.

Monday, February 2, 2009

2/2/2009: New Lump

I unbuttoned my blouse, took his hand and slipped it under my bra. I guided his fingers to the lump and said, "What the f&%k is that?" His eyes got bigger as he started pressing on the lump and pinching it between his fingers. "It feels like it is sitting on your rib. I'm going to need you to undress and put on a robe so I can examine you," said my oncologist, Dr. Heyer. He left the room and I crumbled into the chair. My jaw clenched with the onset of an anxiety attack and I could feel my heart surging out of control.

I was in the oncology office for my second to last Herceptin treatment and had not intended to talk to Dr. Heyer about my new found lump until I saw him in the hallway speaking to his assistant. I passed by making idle chit chat with the nurses and doctors. They all marveled at my thick black locks and gave me lots of loving hugs. They had all experienced my journey and were elated to see me healthy. Dr. Heyer must have noticed that I was acting different. He said, "Do you need to talk to me?" as he walked toward the conference room. I said, "Yes, but I need you to feel me up." He said, "Oh – then we'll need an exam room." (Is everyone just so used to my inappropriate comments that they just ignore them now?)

Dr. Heyer pulled my gown open and moved my implant away from the lump to ensure that it wasn't just the edge of the implant. He said, "This doesn't feel like a tumor, Jennifer. This feels like scar tissue or part of the implant. I can move it around. Talk to Wendy [my plastic surgeon] on Monday and have her look at it." He left the room and the tears ran down my face. Thank God I don't have cancer again.

Today I went to see Dr. Gottlieb (my plastic surgeon) to have my stitches removed from my left breast. I took her hand as I had Dr. Heyer's and laid it on the lump next to my right breast. She looked at me concerned. "I think we should biopsy this. With you, we'd rather be safe then sorry." I was shocked. I told her about my recent PETscan and her office called over to get the results. At the same time Dr. Gottlieb called my surgeon, Dr. Mason to get a second opinion on the biopsy.

"I have your PETscan results and I want to go over them with you. I am not good at reading these things, so I need for you not to freak out when I tell you what it says." I was numb and staring blankly at Dr. Gottlieb. Her lips were moving but all I could hear was the high-pitched horn of a truck running me over. "… newly enlarged right axillary lymph node measuring 13mm with abnormal FDG uptake with SUV of 2.6 is suspicious …" WTF was happening? I have cancer again … but on the other side??? But I did everything right, even giving up my right breast to prevent this. How did this test know that I drove an SUV? How could this happen twice to the same person???

I heard nothing else she told me besides the fact that I have to have a biopsy on Thursday morning in Arlington to test both the mystery lump (which everyone thinks is scar tissue) and now my "newly enlarged right axillary lymph node measuring 13mm." Walking alone to my car at Reston Hospital I called my mother. "I have bad news and I have bad news. The lump needs to be biopsied and I think I have cancer again." Silence. How many times must my family bend before we eventually break?

Dr. Heyer called me to review the report. I was in a meeting with my team at work and scrambled, stumbling over a chair to exit the room quickly. My voice shook on the phone with him while my throat tightened to keep me from bursting into tears. "Did you see the report? What is going on? I did everything right. How could I have cancer again? What do I do?" He waited patiently for me to get out everything that had built up for the last two hours.

He explained that he hadn't received the actual images yet (just the written report) so he doesn't exactly know what we are dealing with. He said that this lymph node had an SUV of 2.6 and my previous tumors had an SUV of 17 and 18, so this one is not 100 percent identifiable as cancer. He said it is very possible that the lymph node is simply inflamed from the surgeries I have had and that he isn't convinced that it is cancer. I told him how confused I was due to the fact that I never had cancer on my right side. He said that cancer is always a possibility for me but that he finds it highly unlikely. Even so, it needs to be tested so that we know for certain.

Thursday I will have my biopsy …

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

1/27/2009: Done

I'm done.

It's hard to believe that a year ago at the age of 26 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have had six surgeries, 18 weeks of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, four heart scans, two PETscans, intense anxiety attacks, vivid nightmares, more blood work than any one person should ever have to get done (how is there even any left?), six implants (and to think – most people are content with two), too many sleepless nights to count, pillowcases soaked with tears, moments of surreal clarity, people moving in and out of my life faster than my hair growing back in and tremendous growth work. This is a journey that shook me to the core, opened my eyes to true love and beauty and changed me forever.

This week is an important one for me. Not only does it mark my one year cancerverary, but I will have my second to last cancer treatment and a PETscan to ensure that I am still "clean" and there is no reoccurrence. (Don't think for a moment that my stomach doesn't turn when I think about the PETscan results.) If my PETscan goes well, then my next surgery will be the first week of March to have my mediport removed since my treatments will be over. I told my oncologist last week that I wanted it out as soon as possible. He responded with a huge smile and said, "You are like no other cancer patient I have ever dealt with. Usually patients want to keep it in until they have a couple of tests and get a little … further out." He said, "I am just in awe of your drive and passion for life." I smiled and said, "If cancer were my boyfriend we would have broken up a long time ago. I'm done."

The phrase "I'm done" has been used a lot in my life lately. I'm done living in the gray -- everything is now falling very clearly into blacks and whites. I described to my friends that I did a little clean sweep of my life and relationships. I took a step back and logically (yes, Steve, I can be logical) and systematically categorized things that were positives and negatives in my life. Those things that I deemed positive I will invest more time in. Those things that were negative that I cannot change, I developed a new way to approach them and those that I could change, I cut. I'm done.

I have made a decision about my reconstruction – I am taking a much needed break. Since my stint in the hospital over the holidays, I had another surgery a couple of weeks ago where my plastic surgeon swapped my implant (again!) and redid my incision since it wasn't closing properly. This means that I was also put on two more weeks of strong antibiotics since I still have an open wound which can get infected easily because of my immune system. Blah! The skin on my left side is having such a difficult time healing where it was radiated. I get my stitches out February 2 and I am praying that this time my skin will cooperate and stay closed. This year I am going to focus on getting my body healthy and giving it some time to heal. In a year, I will then finish my reconstruction and make any necessary "tweaks" to the girls at that time. I have been through so much and am exhausted on all levels. I'm done.

My healing is just beginning. I pulled my wigs out the other day and was prepared to donate them when I broke into tears clutching them to my chest – I am not ready to part with them just yet. They serve as something more than just wigs. I know it sounds ridiculous, but there are a couple of things of that nature that I still need to work through, like eating asparagus again (the smell still makes me violently ill like it did during chemotherapy). I know time heals all wounds, but this little 98 pound body is torn and tattered for fighting for an entire year. I'm done.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

1/3/2009: I'm a Survivor

I was going to write a blog entry about how my holidays sucked because I spent five days in the hospital and then a couple more at my parents house recouping from a horrible infection and yet another surgery -- until last night.

Referring to myself as a survivor and believing that I am a survivor are two totally different things. For the last several weeks (and possibly months) I have been caught up in my very own pity party instead of staying focused and continuing to fight. My priorities shifted and I wanted to pretend like none of this ever happened.

Last night I played a game called "Would You Rather … ?" (Seriously fun game!) and when my friends all responded differently then I did to a question, I immediately knew why. I was asked if I would rather die in an airplane crash or survive and eat the dead passengers. I immediately answered that I would eat the dead passengers despite my other friends agreeing that they would all rather die. My argument was that I have fought too hard and would do whatever it took to survive. (A bit of a stretch? Eh. Would I really eat a dead person? I don't know … maybe. After all, my mom insists that I look like a vampire now that my blood count is low, my skin is pale and my hair is coal black. This is just another reason why Edward Cullen and I should get married. Sorry, I digressed. Am I a little mentally unstable? Perhaps. But I found my own response quite interesting.) These last couple of days have tried me to my core and the sassy spirit I once had has returned. Cancer picked the wrong bitch.

Let me explain what happened over Christmas. I awoke Christmas morning at my parents' house in horrible pain. I figured perhaps I overdid it at Pilates or yoga that week, or that the gifts were too heavy that I carried down three flights of stairs at my condo complex. I popped two Vicodin and went into the bathroom to survey the damage. My left breast was swollen to my collarbone and was the size of a soccer ball. My skin was severely black and blue. After opening presents and eating breakfast I returned to bed and slept in to the afternoon. I couldn't even wear the outfit I brought because of the swelling. After dinner I asked my Mom to take my temperature, which registered twice at 102. I called Dr. Wendy Gottlieb (my plastic surgeon) who was on holiday in Pennsylvania. She asked a number of questions and then told me to go immediately to the ER. It only made sense that my family end our year the same way we began it … at Reston Hospital with our hearts in our throats.

The doctor in the ER examined me and quickly pointed to my belly button ring indicating that he had found the problem. (We all had a much-needed giggle.) After showering me with compliments about how beautiful my eyes are and how gorgeous he thinks I am he began running all the necessary tests – blood, urine, ultrasound, x-ray, swab of my nose and breast incision … everything but the colonoscopy. (Darn -- perhaps next time.) My blood work came back with my white cells elevated, and low iron (hence the pale skin) and potassium. The ER doctor called Dr. Gottlieb and they decided to start hitting me with the strongest antibiotics they had in hopes that the left breast would react positively. I was admitted into the hospital and told that I may lose my breast for the second time. I was seething inside, but too sick to even complain.

I spent several days bleeding out of my incision and getting pumped with antibiotics through my IV. I barely had enough energy to lift my head. Dr. Felice who is the head of the oncology practice at Reston visited me daily with magic tricks to lift my spirits. I quickly fell for him. My room was constantly occupied by friends and family … and always my Rock (Mom) who never left my side. It was that Saturday that Dr. Gottlieb called me and told me she was returning from vacation to "sort me out." Upon her arrival, she quickly examined me and determined that she needed to "go in, clean things out, and swap the implant." That night I went to bed and with plenty of Vicodin in my system had a conversation with my body, which unbeknownst to me, my mother overheard. I promised my body that I would fight hard and take good care of it if it could just kick into gear and help me out. I can only do so much from the mind, heart and soul – sometimes you need the body to play a part.

Sunday I was in surgery. A bleeder was found with a large hematoma. It was removed, cleaned up and a brand new implant was put in place. It wasn't until 48 hours later, and watching plenty of 'SpongeBob Squarepants' and 'House,' that we found out that the hematoma had group b strep inside of it. Luckily the infection had not moved to my blood stream or anywhere else in my body or breast. My parents left the room after receiving the news and cried in the hallway with my nurses. (I don't think they thought I knew.) I was finally released on 12/30 with pain pills, iron pills, a strong antibiotic – the list goes on. I spent several days at my parents house recouping. The last night I was there I awoke to our little Yorkshire terrier sleeping on my belly with her head resting in my cleavage. (It pleases me that someone is enjoying the fruits of Dr. Gottlieb's labor.)

Now, I am not out of the woods just yet. I have two weeks of strong antibiotics, four weeks of no physical activity and my blood will be tested again at the end of the month. My blood count being bad leaves me open to more infection and even the return of the big C. It is imperative that I get my body strong and back on track. I am on lots of pills (gag!) and eating tons of greens and red meat. I saw Dr. Gottlieb this past Friday and she said that my recovery is simply incredible from a cosmetic standpoint. She reminded me how bad my blood work was and that I need to fight hard now to get strong so that I don't have to lose my breast for a third time.

In my most vulnerable hour I asked my friend JB for the humor in all of this and his response just about sums it all up … "Well, here's the humor. You get laid off and then hired but then you get dumped but then you find independence but then you get cancer and lose a boob but then you get new boobs but then you get sick but soon you'll get better." Life goes on and I can only fight for a healthier and stronger new year. Just know that if we're in a plane crash and you die … I will eat you. I'm a survivor!