Author: Nique

Back to the Real World

Getting home after the mastectomy was surreal.  I knew what I had just gone through, but when you are dressed and entering reality, no one on the outside knows what you have just been through.  It opened my heart to those struggling with amputees.  Here I had lost a breast, that no one could witness unless I exposed myself.  My brothers and sisters in the military, veterans, incidents, accidents that can affect us and there is a loss of a limb, hearing, eyesight, it gave me such a different perspective and empathy for what they have and are going through.  Here I was worried about my breast.  Some of the friends I found on my journey have much more loss than I.  Alex Minsky who is a Veteran of the USMC, and Bob Dobson of the USMC, both below the knee amputees that have given back so much to others.  My long lost high school friend, Randall Brooks who lost his eye as a child, seriously…it’s just a breast.  So why does it hurt so bad? I had homecare services for dressing changes, monitoring pain, infection and the drains.  The first time I had to change the bandage myself I asked my friend Amy to come over and help me. I couldn’t look at it alone. David, my homecare nurse had changed it already, but I just couldn’t look....

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Barbara stayed with me that night in the hospital.  She made sure that I had appropriate pain management and that emotionally I was intact.  I didn’t think I needed anybody, but it was so nice to have her there.  It takes sometime to fathom what you have just gone through. Dr. Iglehart and Dr. Hergreuter came to do rounds in the morning and I was able to go home. “Home”, that was scary. Back into the real world.  A woman came in to do Reiki on me before I left, and it was comforting.  Soon after that, Barbara took me home to reality.  Now that the mastectomy was completed, the assumption was that I was cancer free. I had a left mastectomy. They had to remove the whole breast. I forget some of the exact details because I didn’t journal throughout this time.  They were able to save the implant, which had been a significant part of the surgery.  I was actually working as a home care nurse. My immediate colleagues were so kind and compassionate, but corporate didn’t care.  I had not been working for the company for a year yet, only ten months, so I had to get back to work in thirty days or I would have been terminated.  I was already struggling to save my home in Connecticut.  My dad put so much of his...

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Post Mastectomy

I woke up in my hospital room after the surgery. I was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Ma. The team consisted of Dr. Dirk Iglehart, my medical oncologist and Dr. Charles Hergreuter, my plastic surgeon. My friend Barbara was there in my room. Deborah had left as I recall, and my mom and my sister-in-law Helen were on their way to my room. Barbara was staying the night with me, because you know those retired nurses, you can’t keep them away. Barbara told me that Dr. Iglehart had been in to see me, but I was not alert yet. Then Dr. Hergrueter came in. He asked to see if I was alright, and I said to him, “Doc what’s the word for the day”; he smiled and stated “Perky”. Barabara, Doc and I all laughed. I wasn’t ready by any means to even begin to consider what I just had gone through. I knew I was in a johnny, I had two drains filled with blood hanging from under the bandages and support bra that I woke up with. I felt so bad for my mom. She was 82 years young at the time, she lost my father in 2008, and my oldest brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer three months before my diagnosis. My mom couldn’t deal with the possible loss of her oldest and youngest...

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After all the test and appointments were finalized , I had to prepare for my mastectomy.  I believe that so many do not understand the emotional impact that this has on oneself.  Heck, even my son, who at the time was 20 years old said, “Mom, what do you care it’s not like you have any game at your age.”  Well, he sure did stop the tears for a minute as I laughed and was so taken aback by those words;  “No game.” Maybe it would have been easier if I was married and in a beautiful, loving relationship, but I was alone. With all my insecurities about me as a woman, now this…I’m sorry, but whether we as women want to admit it or not, first impression is your outward appearance.  Now my insecurities that drove me to get breast implants years ago, were now going to be taken away.  As I think about it today, I rationalize, that maybe this was a way for me to learn to love me from the inside out.  Dr. Harris, my radiation oncologist, stated that I was fortunate that I had implants, because of the location of the nodule I wouldn’t have found it for some time. Four weeks to prepare for a mastectomy. There was no counseling, no support groups, or at least I didn’t go hunting them down because...

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Currently I am 46 years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time at 43 years old. Some of it was my own foolishness, as I had a lump for some time…..years. It didn’t hurt, it moved around, it was only the size of a pea, and was hard as a rock. Over time it started to change in shape, not the nodule, but the skin around it. I showed it to one of my colleagues, as I am a nurse, and she told me to get it checked out immediately. Living in a new state, I never bothered to get a new doctor, so I had to start from square one. My first doctors visit with Dr. Chatterjee turned from a “get to know you visit”, to ; “You can’t leave my office until I have all these tests set up for you.”  I actually kind of laughed inside because I lived with it for so long, it didn’t hurt and I didn’t feel sick. The mammogram came back suspicious, which turned into a biopsy, in which turned into results of both invasive and noninvasive cancer. With the help of my friend Barbara, I found a young women’s program at Dana Faber Cancer Institute in Boston, Ma and the team accepted my case. Oh I can remember all of this like it was yesterday. It felt...

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