10 Things I Have Learned: Issue #2

1. When you get diagnosed with cancer, a lot of people are going to treat you differently. When you see them, they avoid you, can’t make eye contact…or they might even cry. There is a tragic overtone to the conversation. Like someone has died. Or is going to die. Ugh. I mean, I get it. People are freaked out, scared it might happen to them, or don’t know what to say. But it is super weird. Thankfully, there are also people who treat you normally.

2. {This might be TMI for some} When you get a mastectomy, you leave the hospital with 2-4 drains coming out of your body. Eww, right? I am not looking forward to this part. From what I have read, the drains will stay in for weeks and are not fun.

3. I have had a couple friends who have been sick with cancer or other serious illnesses, and they agree that you really do look at everything differently when diagnosed. Silver lining, I guess. I have already begun to feel a deep appreciation for the little things that we sometimes take for granted in life.

4. You really have to be your own advocate when you are a cancer patient. You have to speak up for yourself, educate yourself and double check everything to make sure there are no errors in your reports and paperwork. No one else is going to do this for you. I met two women in the waiting room at MDA who had recently been diagnosed. Neither woman knew what kind of cancer they had, or had even seen their pathology reports. This blew my mind.

5. In 1998, the Women’s Health & Cancer Act was signed by President Bill Clinton. The act requires that health insurance companies and plans pay for breast reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. So thankful for this.

6. If you are getting reconstructive surgery, you have tons of options and choices to make. Nipple sparing, skin sparing, implants, flaps, expanders, skin graphs…the list goes on. It’s a bit overwhelming and took me awhile to fully understand which choice would be best for me.

7. And speaking of nipples (sorry), there is this guy named Vinnie who does amazing 3-D nipple tattoos for women who have been through breast cancer. He is very famous…MD Anderson told me about him and I had already read about him. He’s an artist and changes women’s lives.

8. People say that the first couple of weeks after diagnosis are the hardest. I think I agree. I have turned a little corner and having a plan in place does make me feel better.

9. I get why people say blogging is cathartic. It helps sort out what you are feeling. Also, from a practical standpoint, its a great way to update people who care about you.

10. I’ve changed my stance on this post a bit. While research is definitely important, scouring the internet and reading different people’s stories over and over has not been good for me lately. You read about every worst case scenario, and it just heightens anxiety. I am trying to show some restraint here. It’s not easy, but I am trying.

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2 thoughts on “10 Things I Have Learned: Issue #2

  1. Hi! You have been such a superstar this past month! You are well educated, have a great plan in place and now can focus on getting ready. I agree with #10…might be better to log off, and stop the research and give yourself a little break. Have an awesome trip to Disney this weekend. LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

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