My name is April Bhattacharya and I’ve created this blog to keep family and friends updated with my journey. I hope that others out there that are facing these same decisions find my blog encouraging and informative.
After losing multiple women in my family, including my mother, to breast cancer, I chose to have genetic testing. I found out in March 2010 that I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. This does not mean it causes breast or ovarian cancer, but it leads to an increased risk for its development. I have an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 40% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. The general population’s lifetime risk for breast cancer is about 12% and less than 2% for ovarian cancer.
After doing much research, discussing things with my husband, talking with doctors and genetic counselors, I came to the conclusion that a prophylactic (preventative) bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and reconstruction would be my personal best decision. By having this surgery I reduce my risk of getting breast cancer by 90%. I have also taken on a vegan diet. At 23 years old, I am empowered to take steps to prevent breast and/or ovarian cancer from taking my life early. I am grateful to be a woman with options that could change the future of my family.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Thank you to everyone who leaves comments on my blog, sends emails, calls, texts and visits me. I couldn't do this without all of that support. It's very encouraging and I need that : ) Thank you for all of the prayers! And thanks again for the friends and family that have brought me and Sameer food...and continue to! Wow, what a huge help that has been. I couldn't feel more loved by you all. Thank you so much.
I'm still having some trouble sleeping and can't seem to get the night sweats to stop. I have my 2nd expansion tomorrow so I'm going to ask the physician assistant about it.
Since yesterday I stopped taking the motrin and I'm down to a quarter of the heavy pain killer every 24 hours. It definitely hurts and I'm really uncomfortable but I'm glad to be getting off all the meds. I still feel a little anxious, but I'm glad the worse of the withdrawals are over. I will take motrin for my expansion tomorrow and probably need it for a couple days after.
It crazy how the smallest things you do almost everyday can be SO painful. Like if I cough or even worse if I sneeze it hurts so bad! When I was at the hospital after my surgery, the doctors said I could hug a pillow into my chest to help relieve the pain while I sneeze. At that time I could barely move, so I thought that was just crazy haha but I've been trying to do that now. Or I just gentle press my hand in the middle of my chest. But it's still painful. Oh and laughing. Wow! That hurts. But I do it all the time : ) When me and Sameer watched the Shrek movies I thought I was going to die from the pain while laughing hahaha And now I've started watching the Bachelor...lame...I know...but I've been in my house with minimal human contact since December and the show sucked me into its crazy dumbness! But man do I laugh while watching it!!
I can't open our fridge because it's so sucked tight when closed, it's hard to lift the toilet lid and flush, can't open bottles, or pick up a full plate/bowl of food. These are some of things Sameer does for me all day : ) He is my arms! I'm gradually getting strength back, but I'm still on the weight restrictions of not lifting/pushing/pulling/etc. anything over 5 lbs. for 3 more weeks. My arms are sooo tiny since I have very little muscle left! But I'll get them back quick in a few weeks : ) I'm so thankful I haven't lost any weight during this whole time...if anything I've probably gained a few pounds haha I've been eating really good. I have the hugest appetite. Which is great because I have to eat more protein than normal to help my muscles and body heal. I've started using my step stool that I get into our bed with for a little exercise time. I can't do it too long because my chest starts to hurt and I can't move my arms too much...but just stepping up and down on the bottom step a few times feels great for my legs!
When I was planning what date would be best for my surgery I immediately thought winter! I was thinking what a great time to hide out, sit at home and watch movies, it's nasty cold, my chest would be covered with hoodies/scarves, etc. Plus it was the best time for Sameer to have some time off to take care of me. But I have to say, for anyone considering a PBM and reconstruction...do it in the warmer weather!! Not only will the warm sunshine lift your spirits way higher than these gloomy days of winter, you won't get cold! Being cold is the 2nd most painful thing other than sneezing. Your body shakes and trembles deep down in your chest and it hurts so bad. It's hard to layer clothing because in this beginning part I can only get button ups and zip-up hoodies on. And then when I layer I continue tremble or begin to feel trapped in my clothes and start sweating while still cold! I would never build a fire in the house because that might make me sneeze. So its hard finding the right heater setting and amount of clothes. If it was spring, summer or fall I would be enjoying a daily walk outside for exercise and happiness. Right now I'm feeling some cabin fever.
Cabin fever (also known as House Syndrome) is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in, in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period (as in a simple country vacation cottage during a long rain or snow). Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow or dark.