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October Surgeries/ No Need for Awareness, It's Reality!

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mavericksmom
mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193

Nothing says "fall" like October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, unless, like me, you are having surgery for breast cancer! Those like myself, know all too well about breast cancer! I am definitely not looking forward to endless public service announcements and commercials about breast cancer!

This is my third time with a breast cancer diagnosis and will be my fourth surgery for breast cancer.

2003, IDC with two lumpectomies, 24 lymph nodes removed, chemo, radiation

2019, ILC, same breast, mastectomy, with DIEP reconstruction and 6 months of Letrozole ***Requested bi-lateral mastectomy but was refused!

October 2022, high-grade DCIS with microinvasion, mastectomy, SNB

Wondering if I am the only one, or is there anyone else out there who will have surgery in October?



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  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    Apparently I am the only one on this message board having surgery in October. I am bumping it up to the top,but if it sinks to the bottom again, I will let it go.

  • maggiehopley
    maggiehopley Member Posts: 113
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    So sorry no one has joined you in this group. The boards have been very quiet lately. Please continue to post and let us know how your surgery goes. I will be thinking about you!

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    Thanks maggie! I will let you know how things go for me. I don't mind at all that no one posted here, I guess there are no other October surgeries lined up, or at least no one who wants to talk about it. That is fine with me. I am at a good place now. Surgery doesn't seem as far away and I am focusing on being on the other side of surgery.

    It is so hard to try to prepare for the pain I know is coming. I do fear the tissue expander and implant.

    I am also having a hard time at work. Physically, I am having an increasingly difficult time of things. I stand most of the day. I imagine this surgery will take a toll on me too. I may end up retiring earlier than planned.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
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    Mavericksmom - I'm sure others will join in at some point. However, please continue to post in the September thread where you've contributed and been helpful to myself and others. I'd love to know how things are going for you while you are in recovery.

    I was nervous about the TE's and implants, but it really wasn't bad at all. I had no issues with the fills and no issues when they did my exchange except being dx'd with a reoccurrence. Had it not been because of rads and another health issue, I would've kept my implants or had them replaced with smaller ones. This is a bit comical...When I met my PS to discuss surgery, I made it very clear that I wanted to be as close to my natural size as possible, 38 C/D. I did not take into consideration perkiness, lol. I was huge and all that weight on my chest was no fun, not to mention, the shoulder problems I ended up with thanks to that weight. I wish I would've thought about it a bit more, but in all honesty, I only had a weekend to decide what surgery I was doing, so I really didn't have the time to think about it.

    What day is surgery?


  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    Bumping upnow that it IS October!

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    mavericksmom- we’ll no surgery for me in Oct. was hoping it would happen at the end of Oct. Dr said 3-6 week after chemo so they took the full 6 weeks. So the week before thanksgiving for me. Ready to get it out of me. I wouldn’t mine listening to you and learning what I need to from you. You doing a mastectomy or lumpectomy? I am doing a lumpectomy with a reduction and lift.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    Hi, glad you posted on here! Sorry you have such a long wait! I am having a mastectomy with tissue expander. Later I will have a second surgery to switch out the expander for an implant. I opted for that because this is the third time I have had breast cancer! I wanted to do allI can to prevent getting it again!

    The main thing is to have a skilled breast team whom you have confidence in! Both of my first two times with breast cancer I had some good and some bad experiences. I was treated at two different hospitals, the first a large local hospital and the second time a cancer hospital with a huge reputation in Philadelphia. This time I am back at the local hospital but with completely different doctors. I think this time should be much better, I picked my new breast surgeon before my diagnosis! I will let you know!

    Waiting IS without a doubt the hardest part of treatments




  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    I am so sorry to hear this is your third time. That really sucks and scary, Mastectomy seem really scary to me but I understand you not wanting it to came back. My breast surgeon has done a surgical biopsy for me 2 1/2 years ago for a Intraductal papilloma. So she had been watching me every 6 months. When this came up and being diagnosed in April. I don’t like everything about my team but I think they are taking good care of me. I guess time will tell. I do have a 2 lung nodules that they say to watch but part of me wishes they would do a biopsy on but that seems scary also. Mentally this has been the hardest for me. I don’t want to make the wrong decisions.

    When is your surgery do you have to wait to much longer

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    My surgery is next Wednesday. When I say bad and good both times I mean:

    First time (2003) at local hospital: Good= great breast surgeon, good medical oncologist, good nursing care, kind, compassionate radiation technicians. Bad=horrible radiation oncologist. I was severely burned during my radiation treatments, also horrible radiation nurse!.

    Second time (2019) at a well-known cancer hospital in Philadelphia: Good= Great Plastic Surgeon, awesome radiologist, who read all my films and did my biopsy, also the second-floor nurses were exceptional! Best nurses ever!!!! Bad= Breast surgeon refused to remove both breasts, even though my mother, 2/3 sisters and cousin on mom's side all had breast cancer and it was my second time with new cancer, and after 8 1/2 hours of surgery, (mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction) they put me in a room with a roommate who was in the process of being diagnosed with pneumococcal pneumonia! This was at a cancer hospital that was next to regular hospital! The cancer hospital didn't have an ER, but the one next door had one. The patient in my room, while she did have breast cancer, she wasn't hospitalized for any cancer treatment and should have been in the other hospital, not the cancer hospital! I was so groggy after surgery and wondered why the nurses were frantically asking me if I had vaccines for pneumonia! I did, my husband did too, but other potential visitors did not, so in the 5 days stay, only my husband was there to visit me. I told my daughter not to come see me; I didn't want my roommate passing on her pneumonia to others! Suffice to say, she was the "roommate from hell" not just because of having pneumonia, but she was loud and always had 3-4 visitors! Yep, no way was I going back to the "well known" hospital!

    I am sure everything won't be 100% great this go around, but I am back at my local hospital where I feel more comfortable and have truly amazing surgeons! All of their staff in their offices, nurses, receptionists, office staff, PA's, etc., have all be incredibly helpful and compassionate. The staff at this hospital's breast center are exceptional too! So far, I have no complaints and I really don't expect things to be different for the surgery.

    My biggest concern is getting billed more than expected. Someone from billing is supposed to call me this week to let me know what my financial responsibilities will be. I stopped trying to get answers out of my insurance company because every time I call them, I speak with someone different and get different answers. From now on I am just dealing with the doctor offices & hospital! I don't know how anyone deals with insurance companies!

    I had a lumpectomy the first time, needed a second for clean margins, but neither was horrible to go through. The lymph node removal hurt, but they removed 24 nodes. That was 20 years ago, and things have improved greatly since then! Also, I did not get a recurrence. In 2003 I had IDC, in 2019 I had ILC. So, the lumpectomy did what it was supposed to. I don't regret having the lumpectomies done at all!

    Hope this helps and clarifies!

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    I am so glad your surgery is coming up soon. I guess you know how to prepare for it or maybe you can never be fully prepared.

    That’s a lot of good and bad to go through. I debated a lot over lumpectomy or mastectomy. I lost my mom to breast cancer 15 years ago and I was 14 when she diagnosed and 29 when she pass away. I decided I didn’t want to go through the reconstruction and wanted to keep my breasts. I would have thought the same as you and do a double mastectomy the second time. I thought that was always a choice cause if I did the mastectomy I would do a double. Didn’t think a dr could refuse that.
    Radiation I haven’t started thinking about that yet. I guess I should but taking one step at a time.

    Yeah insurance can be tricky. I am hoping they will call me about that also. Since I am getting a reduction and a lift they will still pay for all that. The Dr. Office has been good about getting the approval on things for everything else. So hopefully they will work out.

    Trying to think of how to prepare for Lumpectomy and a reduction. I am not going to know what size I am going to be when I come out. So bra that I have now won’t work. Maybe buy a couple different sizes.

    Thanks for all the info it does help.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    I am so very sorry to read about your mother! You are right when you say we can never fully prepare for surgery. Most of us with breast cancer feel very normal pre surgery. I know I was feeling more fit than I have since my last surgery, 3 and a half years ago. How can anyone prepare for pain and the change when going into surgery feeling so well? Preparing for me has more to do with getting things done around my house and at work that I know I won't be able to do after surgery. I know reaching for things high up will be out of the question for a number of weeks, as will lifting, driving etc.

    I do believe much of the "bad" that happened to me in prior experiences are not the norm. I have two sisters who went through radiation and did well.

    As for the doctor who refused to allow me to have both breasts removed, I wrote the hospital a letter asking them to reconsider their policy of not removing a healthy breast. I can understand that philosophy for someone with a first-time small cancer, and no other high-risk factors, however, even then, a better approach is discussion. I was denied that. I was still in shock at being diagnosed after all those years (15 1/2) and felt my voice was silenced. They sent me a certified letter saying a response will come within 30 days, It normally takes 7 days, but due to the content of my letter, it will take longer. My letter was very professional, not at all nasty or mad, and I sincerely hope they rethink their policy, so it doesn't happen to anyone else. I let them know all the people who are affected NOW because of that policy, and it includes about 25 special education students who will be without support in their classrooms!

    I really have a good feeling about my surgeons, the hospital and the staff, this time around. I hope for the best! I did think about the procedures I will have and I made the decision to have the mastectomy with tissue expander, which my doctors recommended. Key word, "recommended." I still haven't processed the changes that will happen to my body, I'm not even going to try to do that. I will deal with that after the fact. Have a great day!

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    You seem to have a really good attitude about what your doing. I need to get to that point. I still go over things in my mind to make sure I am making to right decision. I know that’s the hardest part about the long wait. Hopefully I will get there soon. Maybe I can go away for a week during my 6 week wait. Hope your day is going well.

  • kksmom3
    kksmom3 Member Posts: 101
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    I had my surgery on October 1, 2018. I had put it off for an extra week due to some work scheduling. In hindsight, I sure wish my lumpectomy would have been any other day! Ha! I went in the hospital at O dark hundred, came out in the afternoon, and the entire cancer hospital had gone pink, pink ribbons ad nauseam, even the lightbulbs were pink! My husband took me out to lunch, I also didn't know that that day was the annual breast cancer awareness walk. Half the restaurant was wearing their walk shirts! I could NOT get away from it! It was a nightmare! It was honestly traumatic enough to have this disease, but then to be reminded of it at literally every turn was awful. Nobody gets it either. I am all for money being raised, but I loathe the pink ribbon stuff. Also, if women out there find it comforting and love it, like my SIL, then more power to them! Unfortunately, it's a trigger for me. I want nothing to do with it. I don't get why some women love it, but that's just me! How about we save the prostate? Save the balls? Yeah, that doesn't happen!

    I feel like this kind of thing could only happen to me!

    Best of luck to you, mavericksmom. I will hope and pray this 3d diagnosis stays stage 0 and that your surgery goes well.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    kksmom3, I totally understand how you feel about breast cancer awareness month! I always want to avoid it at all cost! Pink is definitely not my favorite color! It doesn't bother me as much as it used to, I guess because I have had 20 years of dealing with breast cancer. What I really hate are the TV commercials! They have women on who say "such and such hospital had a plan just for me..." I feel like saying "honey, they have a plan for your type of cancer, it isn't tailored to you!" I have heard breast cancer referred to as a "cookbook cancer" and it is.

    My surgeon this time is the only surgeon who ever asked me about myself, my feelings. The other two were all about the cancer. I know at one point during a joint meeting with both my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon when I was diagnosed in Dec 2018, I wished I could just take off my breasts, put them on the table and tell the doctors to call me when they are finished talking! I felt like they talked to each other, or to my husband, (which infuriated me) and ignored me as if I was "the little woman" back in the 1950's! I wouldn't go back to that hospital for anything!

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    I feel the same way. I always thought it was me. When my mom was alive we did the race for a cure every year and the big pink hoopla, I think we felt we were doing something. Then when it became stage 4 to her bones it didn’t feel so helpful. So now it’s just a reminder of losing my mom to this dreaded disease and unfortunately this year I have it.

    Mavericksmom- I am glad you really like you breast surgeon this time. I don’t have that great relationship with mine but I am ready for this to come out and don’t want to change.

    Have a great day!

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    marge, I understand! It took me three diagnoses to find doctors I felt good about! I had a similar experience in 2018/2019 when I was diagnosed with ILC. When I was refused a bilateral mastectomy people asked me why I didn't go elsewhere for a second opinion. Easy to say, not so easy to do, because you just want the cancer out! Sometimes one can like their doctors, but things still don't go as well as hoped for. I am all for making a plan and sticking to it! I would do the same as you if I were in your shoes!

    I have a co-worker who lost his beautiful 16 yr old daughter to leukemia this past February. In my area, no matter what TV station I go on, inevitably a commercial comes on about St. Jude's Children's hospital. I absolutely,100% support that cause, no child should have to go through cancer, but since the passing of his daughter, all I think about is "why couldn't she be saved and how difficult seeing one of these commercials must be for his family being constantly reminded of their loss!"

    For many years after my 2003 IDC cancer, I carried such anger with me always. I was mad at the world, some of it very justified, some due to feelings I couldn't understand. After about 5 years of anger, it hit me one day that the anger was consuming me and causing me to miss out on joy and happiness and I simply let it go! I don't know how I did that, but it just happened, instantly. I think sometimes we just have to let go of our anger, but it isn't easy to do, nor can it be "planned." I am not sure any of us can just make ourselves let go, but I think we get to a point of acceptance of what is out of our control and that makes it possible to let go. Again, I don't think it is something we can make happen. I am no psychologist, but I imagine it is a process, and not a "set amount of time" for any of us.

    You have a double whammy, feelings of loss of your mother and feelings of getting the "beast" too! It is cliche, but time does not take away the pain or anger, but it does make it easier to deal with. I miss my sister who passed away after so many years of intense battles with breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and MDS. She suffered so much. I guess I am sensitive to the phrase "battling cancer" too, since in my mind, it isn't as much a battle as it is enduring what our minds and sometimes our bodies, can't control. We are thrust into a world of the unknown. I do feel my sister is helping me and guiding me through my breast cancer treatments. I KNOW she is with me because I can feel her presence!

    The second time I had cancer I was angry about being refused a bilateral mastectomy and the uncertainty of who I would see for follow up visits. I never knew if I would see the doctor or a PA or NP or even if it would be the same PA/NP. Also, the fact that I had a healing issue due to prior radiation didn't help either. But the anger didn't last more than a few months.

    This time I hope I don't have any anger, although I am sure I won't be 100% happy with everything, mostly because I like to be in control of my life and I feel as soon as they put that hospital bracelet on, it takes away all of my control and I am at the mercy of "strangers." Hopefully very dedicated and skilled strangers, doctors, nurses, technicians etc.

    My philosophy is that we all go through rough times in our lives, things we can't control, but two things I always know to be true is that things could always be worse and there are so many people in the world who have it worse. We aren't perfect, all we can do is try the best we can!


  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    Wow you gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for being open with me. I don’t feel as much alone and your right there are other people going through ruff stuff in this world. I am sorry to hear about your sister. It is hard to see a love one going through this. I always new what it was like to watch a love one go through this. I now know what it feels like on the other side too. I don’t like that my children now know the thoughts that I had when my mom was sick. Can’t get away from hard things in life.

    Hope you had a good day!! Last chemo for me tomorrow. Yay!!!


  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    marge, your children are not going to go through what you did because you are going to be alive for a long, long time!

    My children have seen me go through this three times. The first time was admittedly the hardest on them, but unlike you, I was the first in my family to be diagnosed. My kids were in college at the time. The second time worried them, but they saw me get through it. Now they both have young families to keep them busy. My 9 year old granddaughter said “ Grammy, I heard you have breast cancer. Are you going to die? “ I said, “ I certainly hope not! My doctor is doing surgery so I can live a very long time.”

    The mental part of breast cancer is like a roller coaster, but there is light and life at the end of the tunnel! You will get through this

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    Thanks a lot for you kind words. I really appreciate it. Your right the mental aspect I think has been the hardest on me. My kids watch grandma go through this so I am sure that they have some memories of her being sick. Your sweet little granddaughter how nice of her to be so concern. I got my first grandson this year. I have my biopsy on Friday and he was born on Saturday and Tuesday I got the results that I had cancer. Happy time with the sad but I have a lot of good distractions.

    Six weeks till surgery for me and six days for you. I am sure your ready. What are things your getting done. I am going to plan a trip. The ocean here I comes. The Dr. Said I can did something and I should get away.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    Congratulations on your new grandson! So exciting! I don’t know about you but I always knew I would love my grandchildren but what I never could imagine was just how much I would love them! I understand the bitter sweet about the birth and Dx so close together. My two grandkids who live close to me don’t know about my cancer because they are young and my daughter will tell them “Grammy has a big boo-boo” when they FaceTime me after my surgery. They give me so much joy!

    Sounds sooo great for you to go to the shore! Are you on east or west coast? I love walking on the beach, watching and listening to the waves is so relaxing! Enjoy! Soak in the sun, and sights for me too! I am mostly ready. I have a lot to do this weekend, cleaning, wash, grocery shopping, and completing disability forms for work. I am glad because I am fine mentally as long as I don’t have a lot of time to think about things! Oh, and I have an appointment with my hairdresser on Saturday! I want to go into this with a good self image, no gray hairs, and I believe a little pampering is defin order, LOL!

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    Thanks, being Grandma or GIGi (which I am going to try to get him to call me). We will see what he decides. Has been so amazing. I hold him and the love is something almost like when I had mine kids but I don’t have to do all the work. I also look at him and know I need to fight. I want to be around when he gets married and be a great grandma. I also have another grandchild on the way due in 6 months.

    I love being on the ocean. It’s where I find myself. I live on the west coast in Arizona but I think I am going to fly to Miami and get on a cruise ship. I am going to call in the morning if all the price stay the same I we’ll book it. Where do you like to spend time on the ocean

    Good idea on pampering your self and it is well deserved. I don't have hair or enough hair yet but starting to grow back. So maybe a massage a few day before surgery for me. Do you do meal prep for a couple weeks. I have 4 kids but 3 are married and my youngest is 16. So my husband and him can do a lot on there own mostly easy pizza and eating out. Lol



  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    Marge, I love that you will be called "Gigi!" Also very cool that you are going on a cruise! I live on east coast, so we go to the Jersey Shore, or Maryland, or outer banks of NC. I love Maine too, but they don't really have sandy beaches, more rocks. That's ok with me as I am way past the days of wearing a bathing suit! I like to walk along the beach. I love the Chesapeake Bay too!

    Right now my destination of choice is Nebraska, because that is where my son and family are. We haven't seen them in three years due to Covid! We were thinking of flying there this summer, but then I got the Dx so we are putting it off until 2023.

    I hope your hair grows back like mine did in 2003. It was baby soft, dark and super curly. My oncologist told me to enjoy it while it lasted because it wouldn't stay that way, so I did! He was right, it became more "normal hair" again, but that was just fine with me, and it was a nice "gift" to have it so soft for that short while!


  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    I haven’t been to any of the eastern ocean. Sounds nice. I do want to make it to Maine sometime. I was telling my husband this summer when it was really hot here in AZ that we need to summer in Maine. Lol

    I am so sorry it’s been 3 year since you been able to see your son and family. That has to be really difficult. When your feeling better that sounds like a good plan to go for a nice long visit.

    I got my cruise all set up. I am so excited ready to let all my worries sail away.

    My hair is coming back and it is really soft. I been taking picture with my grandson and our heads together to see who’s growing faster but mine is soft like his. My isn’t curly or dark either unless the curls come later but i have always had blonde hair.

    I hope you have got some prepping and resting in today.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
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    Mavericksmom- just popping in as I know your surgery is approaching this week, right?

    Marge - enjoy that cruise!


  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    marge, awesome that you booked your cruise!!! Woohoo!!! Enjoy!!! Honestly the three years without seeing my son and family haven't been as bad as I would have thought, due to Face Time. We will definitely see them in person in 2023! They had a new home built, have been in it a year and I can't wait to see it! Of course, the best part of seeing them again will be real hugs, not cyber ones!

    serendipity, thanks for popping in! Yes, this week, on Wednesday. I am trying to focus on next week, when the surgery will be over with. I am keeping busy and I know it will all go well this time. Best of all, I will be rid of this breast cancer!


  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
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    Mavericksmom - that's the attitude! The worst part for me was always the anxiety leading up to the surgery. You've already been through it and you are going to do great!! In case we don't "talk before then, I'm sending positive vibes your way for everything to go well during surgery and a speedy recovery. <3

  • margecandoit
    margecandoit Member Posts: 149
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    mavericksmom - How are you doing today? It is getting close. I hope your weekend went well. I started packing for my cruise it's been a good distraction. It's nice to think of something other then cancer treatment. So now my brain goes between preparing for surgery and preparing for my cruise. I hope you enjoyed your haircut this weekend and came out feeling and looking Beautiful.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,193
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    serendipity and marge, thanks so much for your support! I decided to work a half day tomorrow instead of all day because I wanted to be home when they call to tell me what time to be at the hospital. Also I have some last minute wash and odds and ends that I want to do.

    Surprisingly I feel ready for this! I had some emotional moments in the past few weeks, but now that it’s less than two days away, I am feeling very certain that all will go very well!

    I will post again as soon as I feel up to it. Thanks again for all the support!

  • bestpommom
    bestpommom Member Posts: 1
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    I too am having surgery this month (10/20). It’s something I’m really anxious about but just want to get over with asap I was diagnosed just over a month ago and the wait is causing me a lot of anxiety. I’m doing reconstruction at the same time so that’s why it’s taken longer. I’ve been told I will be doing 16 rounds of radiation after I’ve healed up


  • maggiehopley
    maggiehopley Member Posts: 113
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    mavericksmom- good luck tomorrow; I hope you have a successful surgery and a smooth recovery