Wednesday, May 28, 2014


As I was settling in to life post-cancer I was starting to accumulate many instances when people asked to talk to me about my experience.  This was usually because they knew someone close to them that had just been diagnosed like a friend, sister, cousin or whatever and they wanted to help them.  They wanted to do something and didn’t know what to do or where to start.  They often asked me because they knew I had just been through it.  I did my best to answer their questions and offer suggestions and advice based on my own experience.

It is so much better to talk to someone that has first-hand information rather than just reading about it in a book or online.  When I was first diagnosed I had called my friend Jenn because she had just been through the cancer ordeal.  It was probably the best info I got.  She is my college friend that was diagnosed at age 35.  By the way she has since gotten married and they have a beautiful young son!  At one time it was thought that might never be possible.

Jenn, Julie and me - Fall 2003 (before cancer)
One day in February 2009, on Family Day of all days, I got a call from our mutual friend Julie.  I just about fell over when she told me that she too had just been diagnosed with breast cancer!  Julie had just had their second child and was still breast feeding for goodness sakes!  How could all three of us at such young ages who were all healthy and active women just all of a sudden end up with breast cancer???  This was just so wrong.  She was breastfeeding and found a lump.  Can you believe that?  Wow.  I was in shock but did my best to answer her questions and told her I was just a phone call or email away for anything at any time.

I could not get over how often how this cancer monster was rearing its ugly head.  Maybe because I had gone through it myself I was more aware now than ever about it. Not a day went by that I didn’t hear the name of this monster.

Even now there are friends and family of mine that are dealing with recent diagnoses and it breaks my heart and makes me so angry.  I am sending prayers and positive vibes to everyone out there reading this that has been personally touched by cancer.  Especially to my cousin Eddie and his family and to my friend Erin and her husband Peter who is starting out on his cancer journey.  And to two other women that I just heard about in the past 24 hours! They are all on a journey that nobody wants to take with a monster that nobody wants around.

Stupid effing cancer.

The Monster - Eminem and Rhianna

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Brockville, ON - Summer 2013
Once things were healed I knew that it was all worth it.  I would do the surgery again in a second even though the pain afterwards was so excruciating.  It was a 6.5 hour surgery.  That is a long time.  Now that I had these new breasts that were definitely different than what I originally had, it was going to take some getting used to.  And some adjustments!  I know this is kind of bizarre but picture two new breasts just built.  Kind of like a sundae without the cherry on top if you know what I mean.  So I made arrangements with Dr. Surgeon to have the finishing touches done.

This next part is the most bizarre and awkward experience ever!  It is actually kind of unnerving to be writing this and know that people will be reading it.  It makes me feel somewhat awkward but at the same time it is not an everyday subject and something that others can learn from.  Women and men.  So here goes….

Let’s start with the plain old sundae which is basically the two new breasts.  Now you can choose to just leave things as is or you can choose to add some toppings.  After living with them for a while I decided to add the toppings.  The areola area was the first thing to add.  How do they do it?  Tattoos.  Yep Tattoos.  Who knew?  I certainly didn’t.  Let me tell you that it was the most bizarre experience of this entire journey I think.  There is a tattoo artist that goes to my surgeon’s office at the hospital on a regular basis to do the areola tattoo procedure for his patients.  Mike came with me for the procedure and when we saw the tattoo artist he looked just like any of the guys working in the tattoo shops downtown.  Except this was the hospital and it just seemed so out of place.  He was a super nice guy and we were made to feel very comfortable.

The first thing we had to do was choose a size.  By that I mean the size of the circle.  Was it the size of a quarter or a small plate?  He had templates with various circle sizes that he held up to my plain vanilla sundaes so that we could get a better idea.   Eventually my husband helped me choose one that was close to the size we both thought I was before.  The entire time I was trying not to break into fits of laughter.  I mean really can you imagine doing this?  Then the next thing was to pick the colour.  Was it more pink or more brown?  That took some time to determine as well.  Worse than picking out tile colour for your floor or which shade of white to put on your walls.  Finally when we had made all of our picks, the work began.
Mike & I - Paris, France - Summer 2012

As I was lying flat on my back on the examination table in the room, looking up at my husband and the tattoo guy chit-chatting about gas prices over me while he was freezing my skin and getting the colour prepped, I could not believe how bizarre this was.  I could never have imagined anything like this ever happening to me in my life!  So strange!  Although I did not really have much feeling in my new breasts, they froze me anyway just to be sure.  After the outline of the areola was done, the tattoo pigment was applied and before I knew it I was done and ready to head home.  It was quite extraordinary to have had this experience that was both incredibly weird and fascinating all at the same time.  Another artist had made his mark on my body in the process of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

A few weeks later I had one more trip back to have the nipple reconstruction done.  Dr. Surgeon just froze me again and used a needle and thread basically to pull some skin together to make a “nipple”.  Again, weird but now I was done.  The cherry was on top of the sundae.

How Bizarre - Otara Millionaires Club (OMC)

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