Hi friends! What a crazy few days. If you follow me on Instagram (@HollyHollisStars) then you already know that the results from my scans were good this week! (PTL!!!) I had a multitude of tests and appointments over the course of a couple of days….so I’ll do my best to give you the run down for those wanting to know. I’ll also answer some of the most common questions I’ve been getting lately.
Question: How do you stay so positive all of the time?
Answer: A’hem. Well, I don’t. I am human. BUT- I definitely try to be as positive as I can…while still allowing myself to feel upset if that’s what I need to feel in that moment. Need to cry in an Uber? No problem! Been there, done that. However, prayer and my faith in God has become so important during this process. Regardless of what the outcome is, I know God has a plan. Sometimes it’s just hard to let go and realize that I don’t have control over certain things…..like the outcome of my scans for example.
SO, the results from this appointment were good! My liver is clear and for now, the doctor does not think that the strange stringy things near my trachea are cancer. WHEW. For the sake of brevity (and considering I don’t want to sit behind my iPad for another hour) I’ll stick to the Q&A Format…..and I’ll try to keep it in some sort of logical order.
Question: When will you have another MRI of your abdomen to check your liver?
Answer: As of right now, not until January of 2021!
Question: (somehow I still get asked this quite a bit) Are you in remission?
Answer: Remission isn’t a thing until you have been “NED” or “NEAD” (No evidence of disease) for 5 years.
Question: Do you have any tips or tricks for the day of your scans?
Answer: Yes! (This doesn’t apply for a PET)- but if you can, go to the gym beforehand (definitely clear that with your doctor first). I went to Orange Theory before these scans and I felt so much better. Speaking of exercise, the picture below is on the white board in my doctor’s office and I’m sure I’ve posted it before- but it’s worth revisiting. My oncologist’s “keys for success” are 1) exercise 2) keep alcohol intake low and 3) maintain a healthy weight. Those are things we should all be doing regardless. Another tip for scans, ask the x-ray tech to play your favorite music (right now I always listen to Lizzo during my scans) 🙂 Also- bring a pair of earplugs or ask them for a pair because the MRI machine is LOUD. You can wear earplugs and listen to music at the same time (and I can still hear the verbal commands to hold my breath, etc.). The day of any scan, DON’T WEAR CLOTHES WITH METAL- because then you’ll just have to change. I wear leggings, a sports bra, t-shirt, etc. It just makes life easier. Wear socks- it is usually cold in the exam rooms.
Anyway, here’s a quick summary of what my medical oncologist told me about the scan results (2 videos below)- If you want to know the full deets be sure to watch the second video.
After I saw my medical oncologist, I went to see my plastic surgeon to have a follow up appointment re: my breast reconstruction surgery. I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my surgeries so I’ll try to answer a few now 🙂
Question: After my double mastectomy will I be “boob-less”?
Answer: No. Some people will have reconstruction right away (not an option for me since I needed radiation which shrinks your skin). So, after the Double Mastectomy they put in tissue expanders which are basically empty sacks (place holders)- and they slowly fill those with saline over 3-4 appointments to stretch the skin so you can have reconstructive surgery later.
Question: Do you have to lose your nipples?
Answer: Personally I was ready for them to take anything and everything that was involved in the plot to kill me. My boobs were public enemy #1 as far as I was concerned. But, to answer the question- a lot of times they can do nipple sparring surgery. My doctors kept some of my nipple skin just because I needed it (not a lot of skin to go around with a small person and an aggressive surgery- my tumor was large). Sometimes they do need to take the nipples (I’ve heard) because of the location of the tumor. I’ve also heard a lot of women tell me that they didn’t want to keep their nipples. It’s a personal choice.
Question: Are they building you new bionic nipples? Like a prosthetic?
Answer: HA. Not in my case. There is an option for the surgeon to pucker the skin to create a nipple then you can get a tattoo on top of that. The problem with that option is that you’re always, “cold” so to speak. I didn’t go for that option because fashion was a higher priority for me. I mean, who doesn’t love a backless gown or sundress? 😉
Question: Do you loose sensation?
Answer: Yes, but it’s not really a big deal to me…..I think it’s a small price to pay to be alive. Remember- if you’ve had breast cancer ….YOUR BOOBS ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU OR HAVE TRIED TO KILL YOU at some point. Having your own body part try to take you down is rude and inappropriate if you ask me. Boobs- you can go ahead and exit stage left, thank you very much.
Below are a couple of pics and videos I look while I waited for my surgeon. One of these days a doctor is going to walk in on me making these videos….oh well! They’ll get over it.
Pictured below, me feeling like the Mayor of Titty City. (Soooooo much boob talk over the last 18 months). Full disclosure, I was very uncomfortable and shy about my breasts before this process. Good grief, being photographed topless in the surgeon’ s office for the first time was not fun. But like anything, you get used to it and learn to find the humor in the situation.
So- there you have it. All that worrying and things seem to be fine for now 🙂 I suppose that’s where the title of this blog came from. Sometimes hindsight IS 2020. Think about it, we’ve all been in relationships that weren’t right for us (I like to call that “the lost years” in my case). But, when you find the right person, things just make sense. Right? Similarly, I feel that way (even now) about my diagnosis. Without this obstacle in my life, so many wonderful things wouldn’t have happened. For example, when I came home from my scans- I had an amazing group of girls that were waiting to celebrate with me. Almost all of them I’ve become close with post-diagnosis. What an incredible blessing to have so many strong women in my life supporting me. I can’t help but feel grateful that God put these ladies in my life. Suffice it to say, we celebrated properly and danced like no one was watching (technically, we were the only ones left in the restaurant so no one was watching….but you get the idea) 😉 Here are some pictures and videos from our “Clean-Scan Celebration” last night. It was exactly what I needed. I feel like I can exhale a little.
As always, thank you for the prayers, love, and support. I’ll keep you posted.
-Holly Hollis Stars-