Time

I do believe that when we face challenges in life that are far beyond our own power, it’s an opportunity to build on our faith, inner strength, and courage. I’ve learned that how we face challenges plays a big role in the outcome of them. I look at these photos and think, How quickly time can change. I went from being a gym rat, to a hospital rat in the matter of months..

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Lucky #7

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In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.

Times like these are when I need to remind myself how blessed I am. Blessed for all the love, positivity, and support. But times like these I also am reminded of the hell I’ve been going through, the hell my body has been put through, and the nightmare I’ve been living.. A friend sent me a quote stating “I admire people who chose to shine even after all the storms they’ve been through.” To be honest, this past “storm” is one I won’t be able to shine through for a long long while..

August 11th was my 1st emergency surgery. My last blog explained how The doctor tried to save my expander from the infection that spread through my body by opening me back up, washing me out, and deflating my expander. 50/50 chance she said it would work. And of course my luck, it did not work. This past Thursday I stayed at a friends. I went upstairs to wash up and get ready for bed. After washing my face, I looked down saying to myself “god Allie you’re such a mess!” As my shirt was filled with water from washing my face. I then glanced back again and realized, that’s NOT water. I slowly and hesitantly lifted up my shirt in the mirror, crossing my fingers it wasn’t what I thought it was. I looked up to see my incision opened back up, pouring out fluids. My expander was obviously infected AGAIN. This time, it was so infected that it broke open my stitches from my last surgery, and reopened my incisions. I knew what this meant.. ANOTHER surgery.. Story of my life. I put cotton balls on my wounds, and wrapped myself with Saran Wrap until the morning so nothing leaked out onto my shirt or sheets.

Friday morning, I wake up to see everything leaking through the cotton balls, and slowly making it’s way out of the Saran Wrap. Pissed off as hell, I call my doctor, just knowing what he’d already say. Just so happens, he was on vacation but was nice enough to call me back. He told me to get to Hackensack hospital, and he will have one of his doctors waiting for me there, and they will admit me. Justin was working, so In a panic, I get my shit together, and wait for my brother to take me to the hospital. As soon as I get to the hospital, the new doctor was already there waiting for me. They quickly admitted me, and had me wait in my own nice private room in the ER, until my room upstairs was ready.

Thank god for my port in my chest. The best decision was to get it. Instead of getting an IV in my arm, hand or wrist, they access my port and put the IV in there. It’s the same port where they take blood from, and give me my toxic chemo through. One quick prick to my chest, and my IV is started! First thing they did was put me on one of their strongest antibiotics to try and help the infection. About 10min into the antibiotics I look at my brother laughing and say “Matty Bear, my butt itches!” Both of us laughing he responds “your so stupid, you probably forgot to wipe!” Of course that would be his smart ass response. As we’re laughing, I start to get hot and a little more itchier.. I looked at him again, this time a little more seriously and said “ummm lift up the back of my shirt, whats my back look like?” He lifted it up, and low and behold my entire body was broken out in hives. I started itching and freaking out while pressing the nurses button. It felt like fire ants were crawling all over me and attacking me, that’s how bad it was. After about 10min of pressing the nurses button and no one coming, my brother runs into the hall to find all the nurses in a circle bull shitting, having a conversation. “Uhhhh nurse! My sisters having an allergic reaction!” At that point I hear feet running, and all the nurses running into the room quickly flushing my IV and pumping me with some strong ass benedryl. One doctor says “stop itching!” I looked at her like, bitch I’ve been ringing this bell for 10min.. you break out in hives all over your body and bald head, and you try not to itch! As the meds go through my IV, I start to dose off. At that point, I’m not even going to lie.. It was so bad, i couldn’t breathe, I felt like I was dying. I was preparing for the worst.. In and out of my drugged up stooper, I finally start to feel a little better. I couldn’t help but laugh and say to myself “only you Allie, only you.”

Finally, after the nightmare, I go up to my own room, where justin was waiting for me. When I say own room, I’d rather be back down in the ER. I had Chatty Cathy as my damn room mate. Nice lady, but was obviously there for days, and needed a shower. Bad. Anyways, The infectious disease doctor came into see me and told me there has been a bacteria growing in my body which was causing the infection, and causing it to get worse. He said he will take more tests during surgery Saturday am, but won’t find the results out till Tuesday. My surgery was scheduled for 7am the next morning. Joy. My 7th surgery in 10 months. Lucky #7 I kept telling myself.

Those of you who’ve stayed in hospitals, know you can’t sleep. Every 20min they’re waking you up to take your vitals, see if you peed and how much, if you pooped, give you meds, do this, do that. It’s so annoying, and all you want to do is sleep! But then again, that was impossible with Chatty Cathy snoring away, or complaining about something. At that point, I just had to get out of my bed and roam the halls. While walking the halls of the hospital, I pass a small chapel. I couldn’t help but just stand there and stare, wondering if I should go in. I walked passed a couple times before finally making my way into the chapel. It’s hard to pray to god, when I’m not really sure if I believe in him. After all, I am in this situation. So I decided to pray to my loved ones in heaven. Ive never prayed in my life, and I prayed so hard.. I prayed for this to be over, for my body to be rid of cancer, to be rid of these toxins that have been pumped through my veins for 3 months straight, and to rid my body from these infections.. I’m not really sure how much more of all of this I can take before I completely break down and give up..

Saturday morning I wake up to them rolling me down to the surgery room. My IV was already hooked up through my port, so I don’t remember much. The anesthesiologist rolled me onto the surgical table, and that was the last thing I remember. “Allison, surgery is over” I hear in a soft voice. There’s nothing worse than waking up from surgery groggy as hell.. But to be woken up groggy as hell, and to wake up to being called Allison.. I wanted to scream. Everyone knows only my mother calls me Allison when she’s mad at me. Surgery was over about 10am, and they rolled me back up to my room. Where of course, justin was waiting for me. Looking down through my gown, all I could see were bandages, and another lovely drain coming out of my side. I wanted out. I wanted to go home and be in my own house, with my own bed, my own shower, my husband and my pup. Of course, I had to stay a few more nights so they could monitor the infection. I haven’t been sleeping much anyways. I keep having nightmares and flashbacks of my double mastectomy. I keep looking back and remembering being alone on that stretcher, crying as I go into a major surgery that I knew would change my life forever..

After a nightmare of a day, it slowly, but finally came to an end. Sunday morning I wake up to one of my doctors removing my bandages. I didn’t want to look because I didn’t know what to expect. I start to glance down, and as I do, the tears start forming in my eyes. It’s nothing like I ever pictured, and nothing like I could ever have imagined. My whole left breast, everything was gone. It now looks like a cereal bowl. My breast is completely sunken in. No expander, no muscle, no breast tissue. Meanwhile, my right breast is now up to a size D from all the fills. They didn’t do both breasts because they said the right one was fine and they didn’t want to compromise that side. It’s one thing if this was just a few weeks. Nope. It will look like this for at least 3-6 months, until my body is completely healed, and until the chemo is completely out of my system. Which also means an 8th surgery to look forward too..

This entire process I’ve been so strong. I’ve been a role model to most, and a hero to some. This 7th surgery, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. That smile on my face I always have, is gone. Whatever little confidence I had left, is completely gone. I look at myself in the mirror, with my bald head and sunken in cried out eyes, and can’t help but feel any other way. I’m to the point where I’m so tired. Tired of the surgeries, tired of being strong, tired of being sick. Everything that can possibly go wrong, has gone wrong. I don’t want to be seen looking like this. I used to get stares because of my looks, my beautiful huge implants, my body.. Now I get stares because I’m bald, scrawny, and now only have one breast at 28 years young. Yes, it’s temporary.. But it’s taken it’s toll on me. All I’ve been doing is breaking down and crying. I honestly feel bad for myself at this point.

BUT- There’s a small little part of me that keeps saying “Allie, man up. Your parents didn’t give you the middle name Faith for nothing.” Truth is, that’s the only thing keeping me semi together right now. I have to have faith that things will get better. After everything I have been through, I think i deserve some kind of good faith coming my way.. I’ll continue to pray to my loved ones watching down on me, in hopes that it will somehow bring me a miracle. And all I can do is ask everyone that has supported me thus far, to please continue your prayers In hopes that this nightmare will soon be over with..

Prepare for the worst

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They say “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst”.

When having cancer, you’re not really sure what to expect, not really sure what complications you may face. When going through chemo, it’s the same thing. I’m always hoping for the best, but preparing myself for the worst. I can honestly say this had been the WORST most miserable few weeks of my life.

In my last blog I talked about the excruciating pain I was in. From then on, it only got worse. I figured it was just from my white blood cell shot, so I sucked it up and tried not to complain about the pain. In my weird head, I thought by calling the doctor, I’d be bothering him and he’d just tell me to take my pain pills. I’ve been so sick the past few weeks, I honestly didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed, let alone get in the car and drive an hour and a half to the doctor. I was cooped up in the house by myself every day, for about 2 weeks straight until justin gets home from work around 8pm. By the end of that 2 weeks, I didn’t care about how much pain I was in, I NEEDED to get out of the house. I had a bright idea. Let me put some makeup on, and get dressed in normal clothes, and go out with some friends (no drinking of course). My best friends and support took me out, hoping it would take my mind off the pain, and take my mind off of my shitty few weeks. I kept thinking to myself “how am I even standing right now?” The pain was unbearable, but I pushed through it, and had a great night. The picture I posted on this blog, the first one is of me being out this past weekend, and the second is of me getting ready for surgery. So much for pushing through that pain right? Landed me right in the hospital!

That night we got home, and I couldn’t have been more excited to be back in my cozy bed. It’s been tough sleeping. I have to sleep sitting up, and I can’t lay on my sides due to the pain and swelling. Justin and I have been together 9 years, and there hasn’t been a night that we don’t cuddle while we sleep. Everyone knows I’m like a leach, and love to snuggle. That is up until recently.. I sleep sitting up, so there’s no way to cuddle or be close. I sit there like a Moran, trying to sleep and trying to at least hold hands. That’s as much cuddling as it can get. Well that night, I said “you know what, screw it. Let me try n lay on my side so we can try to cuddle.” It hurt so bad, but i must have been so exhausted, I just fell asleep. Bad idea… I woke up to the worst pain of my life, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move.. It felt like an elephant was sitting on me, Crushing my lungs n chest. I look down, and there was blood and fluid everywhere. As I started to freak out, I slowly lifted up my shirt… Looking down, i freak out even more with tears flowing down my face. My incision from my double mastectomy broke open on my left breast from all the pressure, and everything was flowing out.

In a severe panic, and the look on Justin’s face, we both knew this was NOT good. So now, I have the infection on my right side from where the drains were, and I now have a split open breast on my left. I didn’t have a fever, but my body was so hot and sweaty, I had to change my clothes. Normally when that happens, it means you have an infection. Hysterical crying from the pain and blood, I pulled myself together and quickly texted my doctor and called the emergency line.. No answer from either. In a panic, justin and I quickly get ready and start our drive to Hackensack Hospital. That’s when the doctor called.. He had the nerve to tell us, to clean it, cover it and come in first thing Monday morning. Are you kidding me?! All that pain I was in, all the fluids coming out of me, and he wanted me to wait till Monday?! He just didn’t want to do the surgery on a weekend, on his day off. Whatever- what’s one more day, right? I’ve been in this much pain for weeks, my tough ass can stick it out.

Nervous as hell, not knowing what to expect, we arrive at the hospital at 9:00 Monday morning. My doctor wasn’t there, but his daughter is also a surgeon. She brings me in the room, takes a look at my breasts, and just stares with a look of “oh shit on her face.” That’s when I knew, there’s a big problem. She says to me “You need emergency surgery. You have 2 options. You can get admitted, wait for the next opening for the O.R. which won’t be till midnight, or we can schedule your surgery right now for 3:30″. My eyes start to fill up with water, as the tears slowly come down my face. “I don’t want another surgery. I’m over this already!” At that point and time, I was ready to say fuck it, walk out, and give up. But I had no choice. I need to get better, and this was the only option. 3:30 surgery it was. That gave me enough time to prepare myself for the worst.

Why the emergency surgery you ask? My infection where the drains were, never healed. Chemo makes everything harder to heal because my immune system is so down. The infection ended up traveling, making it’s way into my expanders in my breast, and getting severely infected. The plan of attack was to open me up, deflate my expander, clean out any possible infection, stitch up my newly open wound, an put ANOTHER drain in me to drain out all the fluids that made my breast swell up into a freaking cantaloupe. For some reason, she only wanted to operate on one side at a time. I’m guessing because I’m on chemo, and she didn’t want to have me opened up that long. So as of now, I only have one drain.

After we decided about surgery, I had to go get my blood work, and make sure my blood cell counts were ok. After the results came back, this was the FIRST time, my blood count was not good. Which means my infection was only getting worse. Since i have my port in my chest, I was so happy I didn’t have to get an IV, because I was able to get the anesthesia through my port. It was a quick easy process. He numbed my port, and just stuck the needle right through. Starting to tingle, and get slowly numb, I drift off into dream land. What felt like 2sec later I hear “ok Allie, you’re awake, don’t freak out.” In my head I’m like, “why the hell would I freak out? It’s over finally!” HA- I slowly open my eyes to see them still working on me, with a tube in the freaking doctors hand! I was awake while they were still working on me! Everyone’s worst fear and nightmare is being put to sleep, and waking up during surgery. Trying my hardest not to freak out, I feel myself slowly drifting back off into lala land. Thank The Lord for those straps on my legs and arms, because I would have fled that room like I was running from the cops! Finally, a little while later, I woke up in recovery. Still out of it, still in pain, but NOTHING like before. I look down, see my breasts deflated, and the drain coming out of my side. Anndddd we are now back to square one with reconstruction.

The doctor explained to me, this is only a 50/50 chance that this will work. So we are not positive if the infection is gone, and not sure if the expanders will be able to be saved. For now, I’ll be monitored and make sure the infection doesn’t continue to spread through my body. If so, I’ll need ANOTHER surgery, and have the expanders completely removed, wait till I’m fully healed, and then try the process again. The doctor also told me, there was only a 3-5% chance that this could happen to someone, with the expanders getting so infected like this. And of course, the luck of the lil jew.. It happens to me.

So, moral of the story is.. I can not always be so tough and brave.. If something is bothering me, and doesn’t feel and look right.. It’s ok to complain, and it’s ok to call the doctor. After all, I do have cancer, and I am on chemo. This could probably have been all prevented if I wasn’t such a strong little bitch. But shit happens, and all that matters now is that I try and continue to heel and get better.

Everyone that had me in their thoughts and prayers through all of this.. Thank you so much, it’s so much appreciated. And thank you so much for everyone that reached out to me via text, Facebook, or email to make sure everything ok. Those of you who didn’t, I now know who truly cares. All I ask is for you to continue to pray for my health and recovery ❤️

Stay Strong

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Stay positive. Stay fighting. Stay brave. Stay ambitious. Stay focused. Stay strong. …Mentality is everything.

Easier said than done. It’s easy reading these quotes, easy acting like I’m ok, easy to say I’m strong.. I am strong, but I’m tired. And you know what the worst part about being “strong” is? No one asks if you’re ok..

This last round of chemo.. Oh my god is all I can say.. I’ve never in my life experienced pain like this before. It feels like I had my double mastectomy all over again, but 10x worse. I’m back to not being able to getting out of bed by myself, it hurts to walk, talk, cough. It even hurts to lay down. I’m so drugged up, I feel like I’m on Pluto.

A week before I got chemo, I had to go to the doctor AGAIN because of my infection where my drain was placed. The chemo makes the infection harder to heal, which makes it keep coming back. While I was visiting the doctor, he decided to fill my expanders in my breasts also. Usually we wait a month in between each fill, this time it was only 2 weeks. The expanders are 2 little pockets in each breast with ports in them.. He sticks a needle in each one, and pumps them both up with 50cc of saline solution to stretch the skin. I don’t feel a thing, because I no longer have feeling in my breasts.. BUT I do feel the pressure, and I do feel them expanding. I look down, and holy shit! My boobs are looking semi normal!!

The day after chemo, I always have to go back to the doctor for a shot. It’s called Neulasta. It’s a shot to boost my white blood cells, to help fight off infection since my immune system is so down. One major side effect of the medicine is bone pain. I get horrible pains into legs where it hurts to walk, and excruciating pains in my sternum. Which is why my chest hurts so bad now. Imagine getting your breasts filled a few days before chemo, having all that pressure and pain, then the sternum pain on top of it. It’s honestly a feeling I can’t describe because it hurts so bad.

Lately people have been asking me why I’ve been down, or sad lately.. It’s ok to be vulnerable once in a while.. It’s been OVER a year. I found the lump in my breast in February, they monitored it for months, and had my first surgery in October. It’s A LOT to handle. Some days I’ll just sit here and cry, and think about all that I have gone through already.. I look back at my double mastectomy and say to my self “holy shit, I can not believe I did that, or got through that”. Although now, I feel like I’m reliving that with the pain I’m experiencing. Do I want to give up sometimes? Do I think about giving up? Absolutely. But I can’t, and I won’t.

Why else am I sad?? My last doctors appt my doctor discussed removing my ovaries again. When carrying the gene (which I do) you have up to an 80% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Being 28 years old, that’s one hell of a chance! This may be one of the hardest decisions I will ever have to make. It’s not fair that I should be having to make these decisions at such a young age. Ovaries out, means no kids.. We had a chance to freeze my eggs before chemo, but it was just too much with my surgeries, and it wouldn’t have worked out. Now being on chemo, my eggs are probably damaged. The medicine I’ll be on is at least 5 years, and I’m not allowed to get pregnant on it. Sooooo, that’s a very long time to stress over of the cancer is going to come back and attack my ovaries. Sometimes I think to myself that it’s ok if I don’t have a child of my own.. But then I see cute pregnant girls, and families with their kids.. And then I look at the relationship I have with my parents.. I want that, I look up to them and have a special bond with them. It’s just a hard stressful decision that I’ll really never know what the right choice may be..

When I sit here and cry, or want to give up.. I read my texts, and emails. I get so many positive messages from friends, loved ones, and people I don’t even know.. It brightens my day a little and makes my heart smile. There are some people that chose to walk out of my life, and not be here for me when I needed them the most.. And then there’s people that stuck by my side no matter what, holding my hand through this shit journey. I will forever be grateful for those of you in my life who chose to stand by me no matter what the situation may be. It’s nice to know that there are still some good, loyal people in this world.