Lori Mould's everyday life!

I am… January 28, 2017

First off, I want start by saying how blessed I am! I am alive! I am working through this process! I am a survivor! I am a daughter, sister, mom, grandma, and friend! I am strong! I am a warrior! I am an educator! I am doing okay!

But I am also many other things…I am sad. I am grieving. I am worried. I am concerned. I am angry. I am in my head too much. I am human.

Here’s some truth for you…I miss my boob! I miss feeling whole! I miss the feeling of being sexy or desired. Yes, I guess I have bought into the societal BS that surrounds body image and it sucks! I want to be stronger for myself and others going through this process…but truth be told, I am struggling. I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror…I know that it’s still fresh and raw and that it will take some time…it will come!

…I know that I am strong and that I will work through this. I know that losing my boob has saved my life. I just need to allow myself the time to heal, to be angry, to be sad, to be strong, to grieve at my own pace and time, to adjust to the newer version of me!! I need to stand tall in front of that mirror and truly assess myself…What do I want from life? What are my values? What are my strengths? What will this lesson teach me? What will I allow myself to learn? I’ve been given another chance at life…What will I do with it?

I am not looking for sympathy, just understanding. I do not want pity, just compassion. I do not have all of the answers, but will work hard to find those answers if it will help myself and others…those with cancer, survivors, and/or their family and friends.

I want to enlighten and educate others as I, too, am learning. I want to help others with a new diagnosis and survivors know they are not alone during this journey. I want to be raw and truthful because cancer and dealing with it is raw and scary.

I value all of the people in my life! My family and friends have offered so much support, understanding, prayers, love, continued encouragement, education through stories of their own journey with this disease, and I have to mention love again. The outpouring from each of you has been empowering and I am/will be forever grateful. There truly are no words to describe how all of you have made me feel.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I would also love to hear your story.

 

Beside myself… January 26, 2017

On Tuesday, I learned that my cancer was a bit more involved than they first thought. The tumor was actually 1.7 cm and not the 1.2 cm/.9cm which I was told by two different doctors, respectfully. It was an invasive lobular carcinoma, SBR grade 2, and ductal carcinoma in situ with estrogen positive receptors. I know that I made the right decision to have the mastectomy versus the lumpectomy.

It seems that there is so much waiting associated with this disease! I learned that somehow my Oncotype DX test was not submitted the day of my surgery. This test takes about two weeks to do its thing…here’s some information about the test and why it is important:

“The genomic test will analyze a sample of the cancer tumor to see how active certain genes are. The activity level of these genes affects the behavior of the cancer, including how likely it is to grow and spread. Genomic tests are used to help make decisions about whether more treatments after surgery would be beneficial.

The Oncotype DX genomic test analyzes the activity of 21 genes that can influence how likely a cancer is to grow and respond to treatment.

Looking at these 21 genes can provide specific information on:

  • the likelihood that the breast cancer will return
  • whether you’re likely to benefit from chemotherapy if you’re being treated for early-stage invasive breast cancer
  • whether you’re likely to benefit from radiation therapy if you’re being treated for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

So, the Oncotype DX test is both a prognostic test, since it provides more information about how likely (or unlikely) the breast cancer is to come back, and a predictive test, since it predicts the likelihood of benefit from chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatment. Studies have shown that Oncotype DX is useful for both purposes.” (http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/oncotype_dx)

I have been so excited that I did not have to partake in chemo and radiation!! And now, I do not know if that is true. The percentages that come back from this test may change this scenario… I do not want chemo and/or radiation but if they come back high then I may have to opt for them because I do not want to have to go through this allover again!!

Did you know that approximately 70% of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive? This means that these women’s cancers feed on the hormone estrogen and the estrogen blockers decrease the hormone in the bloodstream. Because my cancer was positive for estrogen receptors, I have to start taking an estrogen blocker every day for the next five years. I was informed on Tuesday that I will have to wait to start my estrogen blocker because they do not want the drug in my system if I have to start chemo and/or radiation.

In a interesting twist, I still have my ovaries (which produce estrogen, even post menopause) so I was told that I may need to have them removed. It seems that there is a correlation between breast cancer and ovarian cancer and they seem to go hand-in-hand.  I will be visiting with the GYN at Roswell to discuss this at length.

Cancer is like an onion with so many layers and so much to learn that it is certainly overwhelming!!

 

 

Meltdown January 15, 2017

I’ve been working really hard at my recovery since my mastectomy on Tuesday. It is interesting that the pain from the surgery has not been too bad. However, the emotional roller coaster is real!!

Cancer and its aftereffects are horrible. I am fortunate that my breast cancer was found early but when it came time to look at myself in the mirror for the first time, well it was devastating! I cried when I saw my disfigured breast area. It was nothing like I thought it would look like…here I am looking at my normal breast and looking at something out of a horror movie.

Today, I was trying on clothes so that I could go to church. It was a struggle! It seemed like everything that I thought would look good actually seemed to accentuate my missing boob and the grenade drain . Maybe it would not have been so bad but I have a fairly large boob so I felt that my normal boob stuck out like a sore thumb. I had a meltdown…I sobbed like a baby. Tears and snot flowing down my face as I tried to come to terms with the revelation that this is my new normal for quite awhile and that I actually do care about my body image more than I ever realized. I looked so lopsided…like a woman on one side and a eight year old girl on the other!

I posted earlier about the “Three B’s” and I have always prided myself on not buying into the societal BS surrounding what I “should” look like to meet the ‘norm.’  But I am finding out that I’m afraid to venture out into the real world because I feel that people will be staring at me because I am suddenly different.

I am struggling with the fact that I have three large social functions coming up this weekend. As of right now, I cannot use a prosthesis breast form because my wound has not recovered enough and I have not been prescribed one at this time. I am already trying to decide what I will wear so that I will feel comfortable surrounded by people who knew me before my surgery. It is crazy because I find myself trying to make sure whatever I wear will also make them feel comfortable being around me! How crazy is that??

The grieving process is real and painful! I have said that cancer will not define me but it does until I can come to grips with the changes and the loss. I am truly struggling with this thought process. I am someone who is really social and I just want to hide right now. This will pass…I know that it will. I have to remember that I can have down days, sad days, angry days, bad days, and that I have to grieve the loss of part of me. I have to remember that I have to be able to allow myself the latitude to experience all of these feelings and not feel guilty for feeling them.

 

The Three “B’s” January 5, 2017

Last week I had my appointment with the plastic sturgeon who is going to do my reconstruction, etc. after my mastectomy. I have been doing my due diligence in my research regarding breast cancer and all of the options that there are for all of us traveling down this path. Trust me when I tell you that I have done my research.

I went into this appointment armed with what I want to have happen to my body…at least I wanted to have some control over something body-related since I heard the dreaded, “I hate to tell you this…but you have cancer” sentence. I have hated the loss of control that I have felt since Thanksgiving. I wanted to be as pro-active in my treatment and recovery plan as possible.

I’m sitting in the waiting room and I just cannot help but wonder about everyone who is sitting around me. I found myself saying a prayer for them and their families because I know what they are going through, and it’s a struggle. A struggle to find answers, a struggle to have answers to the questions asked by those around us, a struggle to make sense of what my body will look like after this surgery is done, a struggle to understand why my body did not fight off this tumor, a struggle with my self-esteem, a struggle to know what the future holds, a struggle to face and be strong for those that I love when I just want to cry, a struggle to know what to tell my co-workers, a struggle for so many various reasons, a struggle to understand why every time I walk through these doors my blood pressure raises above normal (the nurse called it Roswell syndrome), just a struggle… It is important to say that I have an amazing support system who help make that struggle more manageable!

I’m sitting in this cold office, in my gown that opens in the front, waiting and waiting. The doctor and nurse come in to discuss the plan of attack. I told him all about my research and how I want to proceed with my reconstruction and recovery. And once again, I have done a ton of research because I like being informed and knowing what my options are going to be. The look on his face was troubling to me and then he proceeded to tell me detailed reasons why “my options” for reconstruction would not work right now.

Have I said lately how much I HATE cancer!!

He told me that my best option would be to have the spacers put in for implants instead of doing the TRAM or DIEP flap which would use my own tissue and fat to construct my new boob. I explained to him that I do NOT want to face the possibility of having a rejection issue with the implants. I have had rejection problems with cadaver bones after my second neck surgery.  I  want the nipple sparring procedure done because I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be happy with my own body image. He told me that my body mass index (BMI) is too high and he is worried about complications with preforming either of the flap reconstruction surgeries and possibly the nipple sparring too. So in essence, I weigh too much to have the surgery that I want to feel my best about my body!

This was devastating news because nowhere during my research did it say anything about BMI and/or weight being a consideration for these procedures. The research told me that there could be immediate reconstruction after the mastectomy but I guess that is not necessarily the case. He told me that I would have to loss about 70 lbs….this means that I will only have one boob for quite awhile!!

I am having such a hard time wrapping my head around this new development. We live in a society that focuses on what I call the three “B’s.” Beauty, Body, and Boobs. Our society often times forgets about the most important “B,” Brains!  I know that I do not need  my boobs to live. I am beyond thankful that the cancer was discovered early. So don’t get me wrong, I am blessed. I am just worried about how others will perceive me and let’s be honest…I worry about how I will perceive myself. I am not sure how I will feel the first time I have to look at myself in the mirror and see only one boob.

It is time to start breaking down these body image barriers for the health and safety of everyone who is struggling with these barriers. It is time to stop banning and removing pictures of women who have decided to “expose themselves” to the world on FB so others will have a better understanding of breast cancer and what happens to our bodies after the surgeries.

The key for me is to educate men and women across this country, and the world for that matter, about the importance of self-exams, mammograms, and breast care in general. We cannot effectively education the masses when society, directly and/or indirectly, puts such stigmas on what we should look like, and that anything other than ‘perfection’ is outside the norm. As I stated earlier, we can live without our boobs!! However, it is dealing with the backlash from those in our society that can often times create a pressure cooker due to fear driven by a body image culture!

At the end of the day, I will live my life!! I will see my granddaughters grow up, I will be able to love, laugh, and travel, I will finish my degree and get my dream job, I will continue to help others in need, I will continue to use my experiences to teach,  I will be able to check more things off my Bucket List, I will continue to make mistakes and grow from them, I will learn to live without a boob until I lose the weight, I will be healthier because of this cancer, I will live life to the fullest, I will…the list goes on and on!

I want my experiences with this disease to help others make the decision to get a mammogram and do self-exams, no matter if you are a man or woman, to make sure that people know that you do not need to feel something in order to have something wrong, to make the decision that fear will not rule your life,  to take this opportunity to educate, educate, and educate some more, AND to work on breaking down the societal culture regarding our bodies and what they should look like!!

Please schedule your mammogram today…if you have dense breast tissue, please opt for a 3D mammogram. My doctor said they would not have found my tumor without the 3D procedure!

Strive to be your own best advocate when it comes to your health, stick to your plan even if it means not getting the immediate results that you desire, follow your gut as it is usually right, and love yourself no matter what society says about you!!

This cancer will NOT define me…I will define it! #CancerSucks