When possible, a positive attitude is a contributing factor in the healing of the mind, body and spirit. I believe that devastating events like cancer have the ability to bring out the very best in us. At age 25, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. As I experienced the effects of my breast cancer diagnosis, I began to realize how strong of a woman I really was. Although cancer had taken many things from me (my hair, my breast, and in a way, my youth), I repeatedly refused to let it cripple my spirit. CancerFabulous was born. Welcome to my story.
One of the main reasons why I like to cook is because I know exactly what I am putting in my tummy. It is easier to eat clean, organic and healthy.
I created the Herb, Vegetable Quinoa Salad today, and would like to share it with you. It is packed full of healthy, raw ingredients and is simple to make. Did I mention it was delicious?
Herb, Vegetable Quinoa Salad (Vegan Friendly)
16 grape/cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 small sweet peppers chopped
1/2 an avocado cut into cubes
1/2 a cup of chopped cucumbers
3 (organic) mint leaves and three (organic) basil leaves minced
a handful of organic baby kale
1 cup of organic quinoa (measurement is before it has been cooked)
Mix all the above ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle sea salt, lots of black pepper, a bit of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and enough balsamic vinegar to taste. Mix well. Sprinkle with organic chia seeds.
You can modify this vegan recipe by adding shrimp or lean protein such as chicken.
I was scheduled to have a reconstruction revision on May 15. The exact name of this operation is a capsulectomy. The operation was cancelled and may be rescheduled for another time in the future.
Why have a Reconstruction Revision in the First Place?
As I seem to be the exception in every case, scar tissue (thought to be caused by infection) built up around my right implant and caused the breast to become significantly higher than my left breast (the opposite breast which had the cancer).
Everything was going swell. As you can see from the picture below, my plastic surgeon did an exceptional job with my reconstruction. The reconstruction helped me feel normal again. He took a scooped out concave chest along with a normal breast and created a set of beautiful, symmetrical breasts.
Reconstructed breast completed late 2010
A year and a half later after my initial reconstruction, and and my right breast has become significantly higher than the left breast.
No ones breasts are perfect. I was ready to accept mine were not and they did not need to be. In fact, I had convinced myself that they were completely symmetrically. Every time I looked into the mirror I would move my head a little to the side because that would make my breasts appear even.
I was and I am tired of surgeries and doctor appointments. So why did I choose to have another reconstruction? My plastic surgeon felt we could achieve better results. “But doctor, what happens if something goes terribly wrong and I lose both breasts?” This was my greatest concern. After all, statistics no longer really matter to me. I’ve been the exception throughout this journey. I was reassured that everything will be all right. I guess a little part of me also felt that right now would probably be a better time to have this surgery versus later.
I will keep you updated on the progress of my reconstructive journey. Thanks for following my story.
I have always admired Angeline Jolie. It was not her beauty or her movie star status that had me. It was her humanitarian work that really got me.
And now I am an even bigger fan because of her article in the New York Times.
As a BRCA1 carrier, Jolie made a recent move to have a prophylactic mastectomy.
“My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent.”
Her article has gone viral and has created a domino effect of interviews, articles, and comments. Now I include my own.
When I first read her article online, I was not sure if the author was THE “Angelina Jolie.” It is a well-written article that could have been written by any eloquent pre-vivor. However, not every pre-vivor is a celebrity. An article written by a “normal person” would never have garnered a reaction like Jolie’s has.
I am thankful that her star status has helped bring attention to some of the struggles that BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers have to face. Because, in the words of Jolie,
“Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
Not only does she highlight the options that BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers should have, but she also tells us that the results can be beautiful.
“Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.”
But the truth is that the results are not always beautiful. I am sure they are not beautiful for someone who cannot afford the surgery. And it might not be as beautiful for someone who does not have access to the best plastic surgeon in the country.
“You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts…days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.”
Can you really? Or does that have something to do with having endless resources? Perhaps recovery from surgery is a lot different for a pre-vivor than a breast cancer patient. I’m not quite sure, but I know that I definitely could not go “back to a normal life.”
Let us be realistic. Angeline Jolie has a lot more resources than the average human being has. And I am sure she has earned a lot of that. I do not question her motive. I believe her article was intended to help millions of women out there. I am sure it will.
But what happens after the publicity has died down? What will happen to the thousands of BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers that do not have endless resources? What happens to the thousands of breast cancer patients who cannot return to a normal life?
Therefore I truly believe that:
“It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.”
Oh wait… how about all those women outside the United States. God bless their poor souls.
Angelina, thank you for sharing your story with the world. Deciding to cut off seemingly healthy breasts is a difficult decision. Deciding to share it with the world is another difficult decision. Having people scrutinize your choice…another difficult decision. Thank you for opening up conversation around this important topic. I hope that this conversation continues after all the lights have dimmed. I hope that changes are put in place to help the average citizen take control of challenges that they should be able to take on.
Bottom line: Angelina Jolie did not have to share something so private. Her story has generated huge amounts of discussions. Let us use some of the lime light to bring about positive change.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
All quotes are taken from Angelina Jolie’s article in the New York Post, titled My Medical Choice.
Doctor, DO NOT CALL a Cancer Survivor to come to your office after she’s had a biopsy.
It was my second big scare since my journey down Cancer Lane. My sonographer had seen something on my ultrasound. She went from full on bubbly conversation to dead silence. She also took a really long time discussing the results with the doctor.
So I waited.
Finally she came back. This time the doctor was with her. He said they saw a lump near my scar line. He said the lump was probably scar tissue. He said we could wait and monitor or do a biopsy. There was no way in hell I was going to wait. I’d been through this all before.
And here I was again, lying on the bed waiting for a core needle biopsy.
The doctor put a rush on the results, because I am due for a capsulectomy next week. Two days later, the GP’s office called me. I can’t explain the fright, the terror, the nervousness, the uneasiness that phone call gave me. I expected the worst. I cannot imagine going through what I’ve gone through again.
I’m finally in the office with my GP, and he’s taking forever to read the notes. I finally blurt out, “Say something!”
“Your biopsy appears to be scar tissue.” Scar tissue? Oh thank the good Lord, baby Jesus! And with those words, my life was once again restored. “Yadda, yadda…” something about “blood work” and “vitamin D.” I did not care what else he had to say. I’m still cancer free!
I’ve decided, even though it might not sound like the best practice, all doctors should tell patients their results over the phone, or skype, or facetime… or whatever. Why should we have to wait to hear bad news. Give it to me now!
I’ve been so MIA on my blog, sorry to all my readers! Don’t worry there have been two reasons for my absenteeism: 1) I’ve been so pre-occupied with my personal YOLO “live my best life starting from today” campaign, and I’ve been 2) thinking about the direction of this blog. So while I may not be writing as many blog entries, Cancer Fabulous is always at the forefront of my brain.
Here’s a little peak behind the scenes into my photoshoot with Kinabalu Pink Ribbon Malaysia. They asked me to model for their advertisement posters and calendar.