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Previvor’s Guilt

Previvors are, as defined by FORCE, “individuals who are survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor. The term specifically applies to the portion of our community that has its own unique needs and concerns separate from the general population, but different from those already diagnosed with cancer.”

I am a previvor.

While that term hasn’t ever felt exactly right, by definition, I fit. You know how there’s a thing called survivor’s guilt? I have previvor’s guilt. I got a choice in the matter. I got to choose to have my mastectomy. My salpingectomy. These were choices I had. I didn’t face life or death in order to make these decisions.

I don’t feel brave, or strong, honestly, but I recognize that I made some drastic (to some) decisions. I feel like I made the best choice for my situation and family. My breasties that are battling stage IV metastatic breast cancer are strong and brave and so powerful. My fellow previvor’s are strong and brave. They’ve gone through so much. It’s weird. I don’t feel like I’ve suffered enough to be considered a previvor. All of this, of course, is my own issue. My own feelings of inadequacy.

Today is National Previvor Day. To my fellow previvors I applaud you and honor your strength and bravery. For making the choice.

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Today I started listing some clothes on Poshmark. I have so many things that I’m not wearing, or that don’t fit, or just aren’t ME anymore. Also, who is ME March 11, 2019? That’s a hella good question! I can tell you physical descriptors-platinum bob, green eyes, size 9 shoe, size 29 pant. I could tell you how much I weigh but none of those things define me.

In listing these clothes I came across a photo from almost exactly 3 years ago and I truly and honestly barely recognized myself.

The craziest part is while I’m about 30 lbs lighter in this picture, I remember the same uncomfortableness that I have now. That there were parts that still needed to shrink to fit into this mold. I’m glad there are so many body positivity movements right now, that this topic is being talked about instead of ignored and swept under the rug. (Or carpet as Kyle from RHoBH would say.)

I’m learning to love and appreciate the new body I’ve been given…I gotta admit my new belly button is CUTE. I’m also trying to get into the strong mindset. To get back to the girl that worked out because she *liked* it not just because she wanted a calorie deficit. The one that could just run 6-8 miles and be cool. I don’t think I have the desire to run a half marathon ever again but a 10K would be cool.

Believe That i know that my body has been through some SHiT the past 365 days. My mental state as well. And I’m not mad at myself for gaining weight nor will I be punishing myself. I’m going to continue the #LowCarbLife That I’ve been doing for the past week, and slowly start exercising again. I guess I should put to use that treadmill and elliptical in the garage, eh??

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Almost six months ago I had my mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction. Directly after surgery I felt invincible, strong. Like a badass warrior with a flat tummy. Our family celebrated being done with surgery with a cruise to the Bahamas. It was our kids’ main Christmas present. This meant the first time donning a swimsuit since before my surgeries.

Initially, I wasn’t worried a bit. I mean I had just had my surgeries and my tummy was so flat. I should feel rocking in my bikini. My boobs are pretty perfect, especially after having four kids, and being in my *gasp* late 30s. Shopping for them was fun! I found a killer deal at Walmart of all places on a super on trend bikini and felt pretty good in it. Until it was actually time to wear it.

The familiar self doubt and self loathing creeped in. Ugh the bottoms cut into my hip. My thighs are so wiggly. I internally celebrated every other woman in her swimsuit for enjoying her vacay, or seeming to give no Fs about anything but that pineapple drank.

It’s funny how it’s never enough. My brain is wired to think I’m not good enough. I worried that people were thinking that I had just had a tummy tuck and were judging me that way. Who cares if they were, right? I enjoyed the trip with my little (big) family immensely. Seeing the joy on their faces as we fed pigs on Treasure Island, and discovering Moana shells while snorkeling are precious memories that I’ve stored away.

How can I rewire my brain to love my body? To not look at the flaws as bright flashing neon lights saying I’m not enough? How can I teach emilia to give no Fs and enjoy herself?

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It’s Thanksgiving day. A day where all of the United States of America reflect on things that they’re thankful for. We eat too much, spend all day in the kitchen preparing and then all night doing the dishes. This year, we are doing something a little different. Not terribly different. We just didn’t succumb to the social pressure to eat turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, etc. We are making a homemade lasagna and eating chick fil a nuggets. 
We are still doing the whole reflecting thing though. I personally have so so so much to be thankful for. My health. My mobility. The fact that I’ve reduced my risk of genetic cancer by SO much. The fact that I was able to make an informed choice. Nobody had even heard of the ‘breast cancer gene’ 10 years ago. At least not as much as know about it now. Angelina’s mastectomy was in 2013! She was honestly the first I’d heard of this gene. I am grateful for knowledge. I’m grateful for doctors and researchers who are doing more good. I’m insanely grateful for my babies and my husband. For the care that they all provided while I was out of commission. For the grace they gave me and continue to give. I’m grateful for my home and for the fact that I have a home to go back to after Michael. I’m grateful for my friends that rallied when I needed them. For friends that faced fears to take care of me when I was recovering. For friends that challenge me and encourage me. I’m grateful for my job and work fam. 
It’s a great year to be grateful. What are you grateful for?

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2 Months & Another Year Older

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. It sounds so old. It doesn’t feel that way though. I feel like I’m still a young, hip person. I mean, until I spent the day doing laundry, cleaning my bedroom and grocery shopping. I decided to start my 35th trip around the sun with a completely clean bedroom. After my surgery I kinda just didn’t care. I was trying to get better. I watched a LOT of housewives, and spent so much time in bed. It wasn’t HORRID but it wasn’t good either. Now it’s good. It feels like the serene escape I need. I am going to work on finishing up the bedding and decor this week. I’m still loving my bamboo sheets. They’re so great and such an affordable option for king bedding. They’ve only gotten softer with use and washing. I’ll probably buy another set of sheets so they’re constantly on rotation. I’m not terribly inspired though for further bedding though. Anyway, a bedroom decor post is not what I was planning on with this post but I’m excited to get my bedroom finally finished. And to be a grownup. 
Last Sunday was TWO MONTHS post op. In some ways it feels like my surgery was so so so recent and yet in others it feels a lifetime ago. I feel like I blinked and it was over. Maybe I blocked out the recovery part? Or maybe I’m delusional. I definitely remember the infection, dealing with my drain and all of that. I think it’s probably good to forget the recovery part? I mean I’m heading back to New Orleans next month for the rest of the surgery, Phase 2. 
Many people are curious about what exactly Phase 2 consists of. In order to tell you about P2 I’ll have to give you a rough overview of P1. During the initial reconstruction they basically just had to take my belly fat, whatever was available (ended up being something like 700 cc/each) and put it inside the breast cavities. There was a lot more involved, micro surgeries and transplanting arteries and veins and all the things but it was less about perfecting the breasts, just getting them to be there. They said it’s easier to reduce than increase size so I was totally ok with the bigger breasts…for now. Phase 2 will be a reduction, scar revision, and liposuction with fat grafting. Luckily I didn’t have any necrosis or anything weird. The amount that transferred pretty much stuck. I do have about a grape sized hematoma in righty but it’s getting smaller every single day. I’m also having my fallopian tubes removed by a gyn/onc. I don’t want to go into surgical menopause. I’ll have the rest of my lady parts removed when I’m closer to 40. I mean, I’m pretty damned close now, but 5 years is a while!!
I’m so grateful to a group of doctor wives spouses for sending $$ for meals while I’m gone. My kids will LOVE the chick fil a and Zoey’s! My bestie has created a meal train and I’m forever grateful to those that will feed my family while I’m recovering. I am hopeful that my recovery this time will be even better than the first. That I’m back to normal quickly! That I don’t have drains for more than a week. That my boobs look perfect, ha! (Not that they’ve ever looked perfect but heyyyyyy, best plastic surgeons in the world can hook a sis up!) 
Birthdays are weird as an adult. I mean, there isn’t the anticipation that there was when you’re a kid. Instead of anticipation its more excitement for a new year. For all of the new possibilities, it’s like a new start. Fresh. I’m grateful for the opportunity to look forward and start fresh every year. 35 is going to be DOPE! I keep saying that, but I truly believe it.