From pillows to robes, from BOOBtastic brunch to BOOBtastic photos. Only 36 hours to go!

 

 

 
 

Chad and I at BOOBtastic brunch- showing off one droopy boob and the perfectly round FOOB!

 

My current fixation:

With only 36 hours to go, I’m getting nervous. A week ago, I was fine but now I am really nervous. It seriously doesn’t help that Georgetown has been calling me about 5 times a day (literally) but I have been putting all of my nervousness and energy into some pretty strange fixations. The first was on…PILLOWS. I have been told by about a zillion people that I need about a million different types of pillows to help me get comfortable once I am home from the hospital. I received a really long email from a woman who recently had a similar surgery listing wedge pillows and “husband” pillows and things I have just never heard of. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond the other day and just roamed the pillow section, got too stressed out and just left without ANY pillows. I went back this afternoon and almost did the same damn thing. Fortunately, I was able to at least get myself to buy the wedge pillow and if I need something else, which I am sure I will, I will just have to ask someone to run out and get it. Not the end of the world. But now that I have at that the wedge pillow I have moved on to a new fixation….ROBES.

This fixation came from my spending the better part of my morning doing my pre op at the hospital, which consisted of:

  1. paying a large portion of my bill (yeahhhh they are letting me pay in installments!)
  2. taking lots and lots of blood
  3. showing me where to physically go on Wednesday
  4. going through what meds I can and can’t take on Wednesday
  5. more general stuff like what to pack etc.

So, when they talked to me about what to pack, they mentioned that I needed to bring a robe and slippers. Now, I am OVERLY prepared in my opinion but for some odd reason it totally slipped my mind that I needed slippers and a robe. I actually live in slipper socks and would LIKE to assume that slipper socks will do but you never know and I don’t actually own real slippers… and the only robe I own is a really old white one with makeup stains all over it so we all know that that will NOT work. According to my dear friend A, (that will have to suffice for privacy reasons) I am milking this whole thing for a new wardrobe but I keep telling her (and Chad of course) that I want to be comfortable. So yes, I have bought two new juicy velour sweat suits, silky pajamas from VS (that is too help me get in and out of bed) and now a really nice robe…but the stress was so not worth the robe. I had to go to the mall during prime Christmas shopping and finding a non-white robe was ridiculously hard (it needed to be white for reasons I will leave off this blog).

I ended up having to go to three different department stores and that was seriously the last thing I wanted to do tonight. At least I found something but I am sure tomorrow there will be some new fixation…or maybe it will be back to pillows.

Oh poor fellow who will be laughing at me over drinks tonight:

I was definitely an advocate for my own health today…and a worried, crazy patient …but I’m allowed. I will play the card, “I’m having major surgery Wednesday so deal with it.

When I was at Georgetown this morning in this pre-op appointment I noticed THREE, not two, but THREE surgeons’ names on my charge reports. Well, for all of you reading this: I researched for YEARS doctors that I wanted to have surgery with and it came down to TWO.  I picked and approved TWO SURGEONS: Shawna Willey- breast surgery and Scott Spear- plastic surgery.

While Dr. Spear did say a fellow would assist him with the surgery he guaranteed me HE would be doing 95% of the surgery so to my surprise did I see this third unknown name on this charge report. So, what did I do? I marched my little ass and my (currently) small boobs right over to their office and demanded to meet this new doctor. Neurotic? Maybe. But totally understandable, in my opinion. As I waited, behind the counter actually, I was able to see Dr. Spear which is a huge task, and he once again assured me this was just a formality, but I did get to meet, and shake hands with this mysterious fellow. To my surprise, he looked about 12. I shouldn’t talk because I am told I look quite young myself but I did ask him if he had been in one of these types of surgeries before and he seemed somewhat surprised that I was questioning his credentials. While I wasn’t necessarily questioning them, I was just curious. He did say he was present for one last week, which did make me a little more at ease. So, that’s my crazy, demanding, funny story…for today. I am sure there will be many more to come but bottom line is, I was my own advocate so…young fellow who will probably never ready this (but if you do) feel free to laugh over a drink at my expense. I am still glad I demanded to meet you. I should have met you before today if you ask me and had I met you Wednesday I would have been flipping my shit. Maybe THIS is why I am having crazy fixations on pillows and robes!

Now to the fun stuff: BOOBtastic Brunch!

 

 
 

Boobcakes from Red Velvet

 

Months ago I knew I wanted to celebrate this surgery in style. Celebrate you say?! Well, I wanted to at least give a proper farewell to the tata’s, kinda like an “out with the old, in with the new” party. Initially we were going to do a big bash at the house since we love to host a good party, but this all just sprung up on us so fast. So, in honor of the “girls” I had a much more intimate affair with some very close friends of mine this past Sunday. I cannot thank all of you enough for coming and for your continued support. It means so much to me to be able to share this time with everyone and to be able to not only laugh about it but to cry about it also. And what good spirits that guys were as well! And of course my dear husband!!!!! He provided the boob-cupcakes, and he and my friends provided the love and support.

Love you all!

Im a lucky lady...XOXO

The following photos are from my BOOBtastic brunch. Chad was extremely proud of these cupcakes, made by Red Velvet Cupcakery. Chad can tell the story much better than I can

and of course the men love the boobs

but when he spoke to the cake decorator, he almost had her rolling on the floor with laughter. The red boobs are the droppy, small boobs that have the breast cancer symbols around them and the “foobs” are the bigger, perfectly round breasts that are cancer free. It was a very cute concept that I never would have thought of on my own. Chad did a fabulous job and the laughter, jokes and smiles were just what I needed days before the surgery. Whoever said laughter was the best medicine was so on the nail.


Sexy BOOBtastic photos

On another blog somewhere out in BRCA land there is a checklist of things to do before a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. Boob party was on there….and boob photos is there somewhere. So, what the hell right?

Last week I had the honor, and pleasure, to spend some with Amy and Srinu Regeti of Regeti Photography who were able to take some amazing of me to remember what the old girls look, so I will remember years from now long after the surgery. They were the photographers who did my engagement and wedding photos so naturally when I thought I’d want some boob shots I called them immediately.

To be completely honest, when Chad and I were driving to their studio (at 9am might I add) the last thing I was feeling was remotely sexy and somewhat regretting paying for these pictures that I have no idea WHAT I am going to do with but it was one of the BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE! To all the women out there reading this: I think every woman should have a sexy lingerie shoot once in there lives and here is why:

I have honestly never felt so beautiful in my life…not even on my wedding day. I cannot completely explain it and maybe it has a lot to do with my surgery on Wednesday but I have never looked at the female body as art… and I do now. I feel like their photographs of me were total artwork and if I could I would enlarge them and put them all over my house (again, I will not do this as people who came over would probably be totally creep’d out but this is how amazing I feel about them)

Amy and Srinu, thank you so much for being so amazing at what you do, for making me feel so good about myself, and for making me feel so amazing about what I am doing, and capturing me in that moment.  I will cherish those photos forever and hope that other BRCA+ women find photographers such as you to do just the same for them.

 

One last lament:

 

I really cannot believe my surgery is on Wednesday. I have come so far to get here and with so much support radiating from so many different places. I don’t know what I would have done without it and owe you all so much. For that I really cannot thank you enough. You really don’t know how much a single comment, message, or even a post on Facebook means to me. So many of you have touched my life and given me so much strength.

I will see you all on a much better side of things. A much brighter, hopefully cancer-free side of things. Until then…

Much love,

Allison

Kissing cancer goodbye!

Without you all, I wouldn't be myself

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Holy shit! One week and counting…

7days and counting

Wow. So all this boob talk is really about to come to an
end…hopefully. I spoke to a friend earlier this evening and she asked me if I thought I would still worry at all after this surgery. My simply reply was “no. This door will close.” I can not explain to you how excited and relieved I am that my surgery is finally only a week away. Holy shit! It’s really only one week away!
Honestly, I do feel really good about it. The only time I feel nervous is when someone ASKS if I’m nervous. It also seems like every grandmother-ish aged
person I know feels the need to tell me about their friend who had a
complication (that doesn’t help either). Other than that….I’m doing fabulous. I know I am in such good hands and what helps is talking about how young and healthy I am and how perky my new boobs are going to look =)

Finals appointments with my docs

I had my finals appointments with my plastic surgeon and breast surgeon a couple weeks ago. I was actually running late for work so I just met with the NP in Dr. Spears’ office. Ironically when they opened my folder there I was, naked boob photo and all lol…totally not artistic or anything and just not something I expected to see. They took these photos when I had seen Dr. Spear the first time and will take them right before and after my surgery. I guess I never have seen raw photos of my breasts and of course these are not artistic photos or anything…and certainly not good lighting…wow what a RUDE awakening of what the girls look like. …I left there thinking to myself that they really look tiny in print and while I have chosen my
size, (and am finally happy and content with it) I probably could have gone bigger tehehehe. Maybe on the next go-around.

Dr’sWilley’s appointment was a little more intense. I send a lot of time with her assistant as well. They went through what the whole day would would like like for me from check in to discharge which was nice. They also asked me to participate in some studies and walked through the surgery again.

I cannot explain to you how excited I am that I am doing the one step surgery. I will have zero
scaring on my nipple and only have scaring underneath my breast which is so minimal and virtually will only be seen my me (and maybe my hubby). No S crap or anything that you hear about from the women doing the expanders…everything is done underneath the skin which is esthetically the most pleasing which is just awesome. I am so thankful Dr. Spear and Willey agreed to do this particular surgery for me and that I was the ideal candidate.

Oh work…oh glory day

I finally asked for the time off of work. Whoohooo. You might be saying to yourself that I am crazy but I really did put this off until the last moment possible. Actually, I just did this this past
friday so now I feel pretty ready for is all to go down. I still haven’t told them why I took so much time off before the holidays but they didn’t ask since it is my vacation time and I didn’t feel the need to tell them why, so….I didn’t.

People keep asking me why I am not doing short-term disability….or why I haven’t come right out and told my company about the surgery since I am so open about BRCA and about the PBM in general. I guess I can’t really explain it but when it comes to being a young woman and trying to move up in my career, I don’t really want to let anything stand in my way. I have the vacation time and feel that I should use it and only place on doing short-term disability if there are complications (ie. when I dont have vacation time anymore) and if I am asked WHY I am taking time I most certainly will explain it but just don’t feel the need to go out of my way to tell anyone. Secretive? No…just not giving out unsolicited information.

Gearing up for the big day. My list of to-dos:

I am a check-list type of person and right now I feel like most of my things are either holidays related or work related. Since my surgery will make me homebound for Christmas I feel like I am making my husband do 110 things for christmas this year…or at least I have 110 things I WANT to do for Christmas this year. I want to go to see the tree in front of the white house. It’s kind of a tradition but I wanted to add getting drinks at the williard and/ice skating in the park. I have my heart set on going to zoolights and also going to the botanical gardens for the train exhibit.

In terms of work stuff…well, you can imagine I have too much to do.

For the surgery, I had/have some fun things going on. This Sunday I have my BOOB-TASTIC BRUNCH! I am very lucky to have a wonderful group of friends that want to celebrate my tits with a proper sendoff and organizing an actual party was just too stressful so we are doing a brunch. I also had a sexy booby photo shoot this past weekend and I have to say, I have never felt so beautiful in my entire life. So, I think I am doing all the things necessary to say goodbye to the girls with honor.

I have also been busy signing waivers as I am donating my non-cancerous tissue for research, buying juicy velour zipup sweatsuits so i look cute when I leave the hospital and have zip-up things to wear for 3+ weeks and still need to buy lots of pillows (so I hear). All in all, I still have a lot to do….but I feel the love and support pouring in from all directions and feel so loved and thankful for everyone in my life.

I cannot believe this day has almost arrived. Thank you all for your continued support and for your kind words. I will post one more blog prior to my surgery (on my boobtastic brunch and day with the regetis) and then have chad update everyone post surgery)

XOXO
Allison

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Conversations with my Mimi

My Mimi- preface

Some of the hardest parts of being BRCA positive is discussing your decision with loved ones. For me,the anticipation of discussing my decision to have a PBM with my beloved grandmother was stressful and a little scary.

Now for those of you who know me well, you have probably met my Mimi and have most certainly heard me on the phone with her. She is my 83 year old, 4’11, red headed (white now), feisty Southern grandmother who I am so fortunate to have such an amazing relationship with. We talk nearly every day and I am so thankful she is in my life.

Generations of difference; Does it matter?

I was truly dreading having a conversation with my grandmother about my decision to have a mastectomy. I had actually planned on NOT telling her because, why worry an 83-year old woman? But it is my surgery that is prohibiting me from visiting her for thanksgiving and I was not going to lie to her about the reason I couldn’t go. So, I had to tell her and I am SO glad I did.

I guess I was so worried about telling her because I just didn’t think she would understand. Unaware of the data and science behind all of this, and with so many generations between us, I thought she would be upset at me…or mad even.

I was so off…

Loving my Mimi

Mimi was already aware I was BRCA+ so I don’t know why I was so worried about telling my Mimi. She is a very modern grandmother and in her words:

“It can be exhausting being so modern.”

I did get her “seal of approval” and she even told me  that she was proud of me for facing my fears and reality. Who wouldn’t LOVE to hear that!!!

She did make me swear I did not have cancer and asked this same question 2 or 3 times, for clarification. She then told me she was proud of me but secretly had concerns about how my breasts would look. (She didn’t tell me this until days later). She didn’t want to frighten me, she said, and I guess she was talking to one of her friends at bridge who said my breasts would look better than before! My Mimi liked this and continues to be very supportive.

I hope everyone going through what I am is as lucky to have someone in their life like my Mimi =)


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Why can’t we get a break

Yet again:

On the verge of my own surgery, my father went under the knife this past week:

“Why the #@!% can’t our family get a break”- a close family member said

My fathers surgery was to remove a tumor. He was diagnosed just several weeks ago with cancer. Still in a bit of shock because it is heart disease that runs on that side of the family, not cancer, I just honestly never thought I would have to hear those words again…that another parent of mine has cancer.
While dads surgery went well and he is finally coming home from the hospital today, what will happen in the next several months, or years, are still unknown but we are VERY positive. However, what this means for my family and for my own health…I will just have to take one step at a time.
Confirming my decision:

My surgery in just 8 weeks away and while I am still thrilled about my decision, I am getting nervous and even had thoughts of postponing until “a better time.” It’s funny, there is no perfect time to take off work and have this type of surgery, but selfishly, I could NOT imagine waiting another year…and talking about all of this for another year. However, the thoughts were in my mind.
But after all of the things going on with my family, this only confirms my decision even more. My husband even said:
“For anyone who didn’t understand or appreciate your decision, this validates it that much more”
Still the fear:

The cancer that runs in my family seems to be relentless, now on both sides. I can only do so much to prevent myself from ever actually carrying this awful disease myself but what is so scary is that I only have the ability to do so much. I try to push out of my mind that I could go through all of these surgeries and still be diagnosed with this disease…but nothing is guaranteed.

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CONFIRMED: DEC 15, 2010

And the date is confirmed….
December 15 has a lot of memories. After this year it will be the anniversary of my mastectomy WITH reconstruction. Prior to this year, it has been ingrained as the date of my mothers birth. To me, this is just pure irony. Honestly, the only thing that could be more ironic would be if the surgery date was scheduled for June 8- the anniversary of my mothers death but I don’t think I could even handle that one. My mother has been gone for so long now that it is not that I have forgotten her birthday it’s just that the date didn’t really come to mind.

I knew I was going to have to have my surgery around that time period because of my vacation schedule and to be quite frank, I really wanted the 17th which is a Friday. I actually could have had the 17th but it was my husband who convinced me the 15th was better. By doing it on the Wednesday I would be able to have both of my doctors check me out. If I did it on the Friday, neither of them would be there over the weekend to check on me and he didn’t seem to think that was okay. So, the 15th it was. It wasn’t until I got home that I was like, “wow….happy birthday, mom.”

In her honor

I have grown up always saying to myself, “my mom would be proud,” and while I think she would think this just plain sucks (that I have to go through this, I mean), I know she would be proud of me. So, with that said, why not honor her on her birthday?! It’s not like I can take her out to lunch, or go shopping with her….but what I can do is go through this surgery and say:

“Thank you mom. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t know that I carry this mutation and because I you, I am able to save my life. Happy birthday. I will always love you. XOXO”

I don’t know… I don’t think that’s such a bad birthday gift in her memory. =)

So excited!

I am still 3 plus months away and I am in my excited phase. Not too many questions have come up but as we move closer I know more things will come across my mind and I will need to schedule additional appointments, etc. For now, I am just for happy with my team (Dr. Spear-PS, Dr. Willey-BS, and the Georgetown team). I am so happy I will be 15minutes from home surrounded by friends and family and that I get to have the one-step that I so wanted to have.

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Alphabet Soup

ALL THE LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET…ONE BY ONE

We’ve already established that I have small breasts. I’m not ashamed. It’s just a fact now. I’ve also come to learn that MOST women, at some time in their lives have worn the wrong bra size…in my case, I have literally gone through what I feel like is Allison version of Alphabet Soup for Boobs. Any-hoo…It has NEVER come to my realization that I am an A-cup, small B, but not an A, until good ‘ole Dr. Spear basically diagnosed with small breasts lol.

Again, never thought I was an A…just a very small B and I get a lovely letter in the mail for Dr. Spear’s and it reads:

“On examination, you have small breasts, probably A-cup….”

My husband has a hoot with this because I maybe read it out loud like 100 times and walked around the house saying, “seriously? Wait, what?” He even put it up on Facebook that I was “diagnosed” with small boobs. (You should have seen those comments).  But then of course I started to freak out, partly in a joking fashioning but then in a much more seriously way. I told Dr. Spear I was a small B and that I wanted to be maybe be a full B or would possibly consider even a small C. Well, this all changes if I am not a B and am actually an A cup. I don’t want to look like a crazy person, I just wanted to go up like 1/2 a cup size.

Seriously, the hours after receiving this letter were very tormenting to me. I need to go back and speak to Dr. Spear and make sure I don’t come out of surgery looking like some type of prostitute with big tata’s. Ah, another new fear to think about. =*(

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And the answer is….

My Georgetown appointment

So it has been awhile since my last post. These last couple of weeks have been insane with my finals- yes finance is finally over and I am officially one year into my MBA- and I helped spearhead a massive campaign to pass a national hereditary breast and ovarian cancer week (HBOC). To say the least, time has been a little tight but I have lots to share and have made some final decisions and feel like a cloud has been lifted off of my shoulders!

My husband and I met with Dr. Scott Spear, chief of plastic surgery at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC, yesterday. Now, for those of you reading this that are not familiar with the DC area, I live about 15 minutes from here so in terms of convenience, you can’t get much better than that. Dr. Spear has an amazing reputation with the local FORCE group and as a nationally recognized researcher and plastic surgeon. With all that being said, he doesn’t typically do the one-step, or direct-to-implant, surgery that I mentioned in a previous post is the only thing I am really considering.

Now, I have done a LOT of research and I am much more educated than the typical young woman (and older one at that) that walks in Scott Spear’s office and he could tell. The nurse spoke with us first, and started off by telling me what an implant was and all the basic stuff and I just kinda let her to not be rude but when my husband mentioned that we had talked to Dr. Andy Salzberg in NY (Spear and Salzberg are colleagues and have written papers together but somewhat competitive in a sense) he had a totally different type of conversation with us.

So why doesn’t he do the direct-to-implant more often?

Everyone will tell you, “Don’t go to a doctor that doesn’t specialize in this kind of thing” and I 100% agree with them. However, I trust Dr. Spear. I also trust Dr. Salzberg and he TOLD me that Spear could do the surgery and use to do them all the time. So, being as nosey as I am, I asked Spear why he doesn’t do more of them. He said that as a plastic surgeon, you are a perfectionist and that you always want to go back and fix something- with the one-step you can’t. In his mind, he doesn’t want his name on something that isn’t perfect. I totally get that, and I respect it. However, the rate of a second surgery is about 10-20%. With expanders I would be coming in every 2 weeks for about 6 months and then need an outpatient procedure. I my mind, even if I have to have a second surgery, I like the odds of the one-step way better.

The appointment itself

So I totally thought they were going to take out a magic marker and draw on my chest- I think I saw a movie from the 80s where they actually did this lol. Well, no he did not write on me but he did try to guess the weight of each boob which was quite amusing. He also called me conservative when I got to look at different breast sizes. This was the oddest thing because here I am standing half naked with a nurse, a doctor and Chad all staring at me saying, “Well, what size?” For some reason I thought I would be fully clothes in an office somewhere making this decision. I chose the one, just SLIGHTLY bigger than I am, 375 cc I think it is. He laughed and said not even to bring the 400 over (a full C) because I would have a heart attach. My poor husband. This was the only fun he had the whole appointment. I thought Chad might be a little more vocal about the size and such but initially I thought the 375 was too big and that’s when he said something. I was putting the thing on my chest so it looked gigantic. When I put it on my stomach it looked pretty damn good.

Still want to be me

I have heard some women say, “If I have to go through all of this, I want the best breasts in the world.” They go much bigger, or much smaller, etc. For me, I just want to be healthy and look a tad bit better than I do but I still want to look like myself. I don’t want there to be a noticeable difference (just maybe in a low cut shirt or something haha). What I told Spear is that I also don’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe! (Have you seen my dress closet!?) However, on that note, since the appointment I have been wondering what the 400 would have looked like…wonder if I would have liked it or if I would have fallen over and fainted lol.

Funny thing- they said that some people chicken out on sizes at the end or they get bold and excited so he ordered me the 350, 375, and 400 which will all be there the day of surgery. Just in case.

And the answer is…

WE LOVED DR. SPEAR!!!!

I have spoken to a lot of women and a lot of plastic surgeons. Some have found Spear to be a little cocky but I found him have the perfect amount of confidence. I also thought he was different from most plastic surgeons I have met. He was slightly older and an academic, a researcher. That has been a large focus of his time and practice and I highly commend him for that. Many plastic surgeons have this swagger about them, “I’m young. I’m good. I charge a ton of money. Trust me.” It was not like that with Spear. I will feel very safe in his hands and want him to be my surgeon.

I have yet to meet with the breast surgeon and need to make sure that she is willing to do the one-step as well (but seeing as she is the Chief of Breast Surgery I am pretty sure it will be fine) so unless I don’t like her- MY SURGERY WILL BE DONE THIS DECEMBER AT GEORGETOWN!!!!!

Relief

I am just so excited- I can’t tell you how good it feels to have this decision made. I don’t need to travel. I can be home in my own bed, with my friends and family around. This will be so much easier on my husband and I just ADORE the plastic surgeon. I couldn’t ask for more.

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