Soft Tissue Cellulitis

Met with Dr. Hong again today and he thinks I had soft tissue cellulitis. Which is a fancy way of saying I had a bacterial skin infection. I’ll finish this 10 day course of antibiotics and see how it goes. I may need to be on meds a little longer — but we’re hopeful 10 days will be plenty.

My foob is only a tiny bit swollen and angry now. Dr. Hong said it may take a couple weeks for it to feel completely “normal” again.

I’ll take that over surgery any ‘old day.

Thank you universe for cutting me a break this time. I owe you one!

Day 5

Just a quick note to let you know I’m doing way better. I haven’t had a fever since Friday night and the foob is still responding to antibiotics!

I’ll drive down to Palo Alto to see Dr. Hong on Tuesday and we’ll make a decision on next steps.

Starting to become hopeful I won’t need surgery 🤞🏼

Thank you all for your calls, messages and texts. They mean the world to me!

Alrighty, more in a few days.

Xo

Update

We arrived at the surgicenter around noon. Dr. Hong popped out of his surgery to take a look at me. He agreed that I’d had a very good response to the antibiotics.

He said he couldn’t, in good conscience, put me under general and remove the implant without giving it a bit more time to see how it responds.

So we drove back up to the city and I’m back at the ER. I’ve asked to receive another IV shot of the antibiotics from last night (Did you hear the one about the Indian girl who waltzed back into the ER demanding what her treatment be?…..)

Anyway, I’m here and hope it’s not an uphill battle to get the shot. Dr Hong said they can call him to talk to him if it comes to that (I’m sure it will!)

Then, the plan is to stay in constant touch with Dr. Hong. If things go sideways at all, he’ll meet me at the surgicenter and remove the implant. Even over the weekend, if necessary.

I’m definitely still in pain and will stay hyper aware of my foob until this reaches a conclusion one way or the other.

But I’m super happy my health is good enough that we can give this a day or two to see if we can save the implant.

Sorry for the roller coaster ride — this is just my crazy life!

Are you there God, it’s me Andrea

I’m hesitant to post this one. It’s been a long while. I used to post about everything, then somehow it turned into just posts about the good and the bad. Not the in between. Trust me, life’s been a lot of “just the in-between” lately. Just normal life with normal issues.

I know a lot of readers out there are fellow TNBC’rs and look to my blog as a sense of hope. I hope my latest set back doesn’t deter or scare you — just shows you that everyone’s road is different — and complicated…..

Just the facts ma’am:

10 days ago I came down with a low-grade fever of unknown origin. It came complete with teeth chattering chills.  After a day and half and lots of Tylenol and rest, I seemed to be back to normal. Whether or not I was, I just went back to living life normally!

A few days later I could tell I had another low grade fever, but didn’t bother to take my temp. Just went to bed early and got rest. All seemed fine in the morning. So, on with life I went.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon my chest wall next to my right foob was incredibly painful. Trust me, I experience some level of pain and discomfort on the daily with my implants — but I’m used to it now.

This pain was different. Was real. Was intense. Was new. By evening, I could tell I had another full blown fever – but had to put Nora to bed. After she was down I hopped in the shower to warm myself up and noticed that my right foob was slightly swollen, warm to the touch (which is very unusual for reconstructed breasts — they’re normally cool and clay to the touch) and there was a visible redness along the side.

I decided I needed to see a doctor the next day. Garrett got me in at 1:30 and confirmed that something was going on – by then my right foob was visibly larger than the left. He prescribed antibiotics and said if I’m not feeling any better right away to call him and we’d take next steps. He also mentioned that some folks like to involve their plastic surgeons in discussions since an implant is such special property.

As I left G’ office I called my plastic surgeon, Roy Hong. He texted me back asking for pictures.

I obliged.

He called me 30 mins later telling me to go to the ER and have the on-call doctor call him.

After I got Nora home from school. I uber’d to the ER. After a chest X-ray and breast ultrasound, I received a high dose IV push of an antibiotic called DAPTOmycin. That medicine will cover me for 24 hours so that I can go down to Los Altos this afternoon to see my surgeon. (I also took Levofloxacin when I got home from the ER and again this morning.)

It appears that there’s fluid in the capsule surrounding my implant which is causing an infection. There’s no way to fix this issue other than complete implant removal. The pocket will remain empty as it heals for at least 3 months. If all looks good, I’ll have a spacer placed back into the pocket and we’ll start stretching the skin that will have inevitably shrunk over 3 months. It’ll take another 3 months to stretch my skin. If all looks good at that point, I’ll do a swap out of the spacer for a new gen implant and I’ll remove and replace the left implant with a matching new gen implant.

So basically, a shitty 6 months with one fake boob and one nothing, flat side.

I will say that this morning I woke up and had a good response to the antibiotics. The swelling and redness have subsided slightly, but it’s definitely not fixed altogether. Dr. Hong called me at 7am and asked how I was doing. I reported this positive news to him. He said, he’d keep an open mind and maybe my good response to the medicine could buy me a couple days to wait and see before surgery. His main concern is what happens after the antibiotics are done. Will I be up shits creek again? This came on so damn fast it’s scary. I went from normal to in the ER being tested for sepsis within one day.

I suspect he was just being kind this morning when we talked. If there’s fluid in the capsule, he’s already told me in no uncertain terms there’s no cure for it other than removal. And my U/S showed fluid.

So I mentally prepared for surgery. I’ve taken a shower, shaved my legs, put some make-up on (look good to feel good, right) and said extra long goodbyes to the kiddos.

Paul and I are off to Los Altos now. Dr. Hong is booked with pre-existing surgeries but I’ll be seeing his right hand man. I confirmed this isn’t the guys first solo surgery and that he does indeed know what he’s doing ;)!!!! Dr. Hong will be in the OR next door and will see me in-between surgeries to confirm our decision to go ahead or wait and see. (My gut is telling me, we’re a go for removal)

As fucking shitty as this is. And is much as it leaves me asking “why me?” and “I was *just* getting comfortable in this new body and getting my confidence back — why now?” I’m forcing myself to look on the bright side — I’m not being told its lymphoma of the implant, a recurrence or mets. So I’m forever grateful for that.

See you on the other side!

xoxo

Me this am, all “are you F’ing kidding me with this?”

Pic of me just now — I’m all “are you F’ing kidding me with this?” Got my post op button up on. This ain’t my first rodeo….

With You

Janet,

I spent last night with you. We had an amazing evening with Paul, Tina & Jill — by the end of it, we inevitably started to reminisce about you. A lot of tears were shed. But a lot more joy was spread.

After Tina & Jill went home, I decided to spend the rest of the night with you. I rewatched your music video and all of your med talks. To hear your voice in my ear buds was intimate, to watch your graceful body dance with such life — was a gift. It’s like you were sitting right next to me. It was comforting. Thank god for technology, right?

Today, I went back to your resting place for the first time since I shoveled dirt upon you. Today I witnessed the beautiful tradition of your memorial stone unveiling. Today I begin to say goodbye to you my friend. Today I ask for closure. Today is the day that your memory *truly* will become a blessing to me.

Tomorrow, when my tears have dried, I will continue to talk to my children about you. Tomorrow I will continue to keep your spirit alive. Tomorrow I will share with another your passion about end of life choices. Tomorrow I will continue to carry on your legacy.

You are always in my heart and never far from my thoughts. I love you very much my dear friend.

In an interview you were asked what your tombstone “dash” would stand for. The dash between your “born on” and “died on” date. And here’s what you said, “It’ll read: MIT MD Rock* ” FUCKING LOVE THAT

I know you and Harriet planned your funeral, grave and memorial stone WELL in advance. In fact, you planned your death incredibly well. I was very pleased to see that your memorial stone read exactly what you said it would in that interview. It made me smile during a selfishly shitty time.

You were ambitious in your need to curate your death early on. You did an excellent job planing for all the possibilities. But after some time, death just become death. I’m still so proud of you and in awe of you during your last weeks. 

While it may not have turned out exactly as you envisioned. I think you did an amazing job. And I know you helped so many other people along the way. Thank you for being bold, bright and fearless in the face of death.

You are a star shining bright in the sky for me. I love you very much Janet. I miss you terribly.

10.11.17

As I sit here and type this, Doris Day’s Que Sera, Sera is replaying in my head over and over. I distinctly remember my mom singing that song to me (as I do for Nora & Peter) when I was a little girl. It’s always stuck with me and I feel like it’s been my anthem for life over the past few years.

Which brings me to the point of this post. It’s hard to believe that 10.11.12 was FIVE years ago. Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.

Thankfully, I’m happy to report that my latest test results indicate that I’m still NED (no evidence of disease). Wahoo! Happy 5-year cancerversary to me!

As most of you know, making it 5 years without a recurrence or distant metastasis for a triple negative-er is a really big deal. At this point (assuming the scientific literature out there is still accurate) my rate of recurrence drops significantly. Metastasis could still rear it’s ugly head one day, but I’ve learned to embrace the Que, Sera, Sera part of life!

Does this mean that I’ll rest on my laurels and go back to “normal” life? No my friends, there is no such thing as “normal” life anymore – just the new normal – which includes exercise (ugh.), self-care (read: switching to non-toxic make-up, personal care products, laundry detergent, household cleaning items, and trying to eat “clean” while balancing ALL of that against just living my life and enjoying myself!) and continued check ups with Garrett every 3 to 4 months.

But seriously, as shitty as things have been, they’ve been equally as amazing. I wouldn’t trade a thing about the past 5 years because I’ve grown so much as a person. Of course, I wouldn’t wish cancer on anybody, but for me, it was (and is) a profound experience. I’ve met so many beautiful souls along the way. Without my community, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So I thank all of you who have been there for me and my family — holding space for us and holding us in your hearts and prayers when we needed it most. I hope to return the favor as many times over as I can.

For now though, I’ll happily continue cruisin’ along in this lane. It’s not a bad lane to be in…

xoxo,
Andrea

_F8A1234b (1)_F8A1234 (1)_F8A1270 (1)img_2255
Photo Credit: Piece of Heart Photography