Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer Blog

From breastfeeding to being diagnosed with breast cancer and then back to breastfeeding. This is an account of my experiences.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


It's interesting how cancer really changes your perspective on things.  Every new bump or pain or odd change in your body makes you think of cancer.  If you thought nothing bad was ever going to happen to you, but then it did, it's like a rude awakening.

Since my cancer experience, I've had a few "scares."  Times when something wasn't just right and my mind jumped right to cancer.  Even if I had reason to believe that it was probably not cancer, somewhere in my mind I entertained the idea of cancer.

In these instances I've even had biopsies and that made it even more real, like a repeat performance:   waiting for results, considering the what ifs...  It is not a happy place.  But as the optimist I am, I would brush off the what if's and try to go on with my life.  After cancer, I just know too much.  I have had friends die.  It's hard to forget what I know and to not be concerned.

In one instance, I even needed surgery and general anesthesia again.  I really had thought I could make it more than five years, maybe even most of a lifetime without surgery again.  A hoarseness had become apparent with my voice.  After many months of wondering if the hoarseness was here to stay and required a doctor visit, I finally consulted my doctor and also a specialist.  In the video of my throat, I was shown a small bump in my false vocal chords.  The doctor did not know what it was, but recommended it come out and soon.  She did not want me having this bump grow and obstruct my breathing.

After consulting another specialist and confirming that the unknown bump needed to come out, I reluctantly scheduled surgery...and left my nursing toddler again.

The bump still baffled the doctor even after it was out.  It wasn't until the pathology came back that it showed it was a xanthogranuloma. While these are benign growths that can occur in the body, the throat is a very odd place for them.          

In the end, I did not have cervical cancer, or throat cancer, or even skin cancer.  When I finally received the phone calls, the biopsies were always not cancer.  I could leave the waiting place and go back to living life, just a bit more of my innocence lost.

Friday, February 10, 2012

5 Years!

I'm thrilled to make it to five years since being diagnosed with breast cancer.  I have three amazing children and a still wonderful husband.  Hitting two years and planning a pregnancy was pretty special, but five years tops it.  In addition I will celebrate my 40th birthday later this year and I am excited about making it to that milestone as well.  

Life is good all around.  Around here we still know how to have fun and exercise.  I even teach hoop fitness classes once a week.  Staying connected with women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer has been nice for me too.  I stay connected on-line and meet newly diagnosed women locally as well.  Volunteering my time supporting and providing information to breastfeeding mothers still is good too.  I wasn't sure at one point if it would be too hard for me, but I'm glad I stuck with it and am thrilled to be a breastfeeding mother again.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bras and the Quest for Symmetry

I often wonder if bra shopping will ever be the same.

After my first surgery, I noticed my breast was a bit smaller than the other.  It wasn't very noticeable in clothes and I didn't worry about it.

Then I had my second surgery and now I had one natural breast with a nipple and one breast mound.  I found that a padded bra felt more comfortable for me.  It hid any imperfections of my surgery and my one nipple.

The next bra scenario happened when I was pregnant.  All of the pregnancy hormones were headed to my one breast and it grew and grew.  The other did not.  I finally sought out a local mastectomy boutique to see what my options were.  They fitted me with a padded mastectomy bra and sold me a mini prosthesis.  It was actually more of an enhancement designed to give someone with breasts a little boost.

Finally I am even bigger, full of milk on one side, and nursing.  My bra options seem to dwindle even further.  I would like a nursing bra, but I also like the pocket on the mastectomy bras for my "enhancement."  I see what the mastectomy boutique has to offer.  We find a couple stretchy bras that will work for nursing and have a pocket.  In addition, I find some of my old nursing bras and sew in a pocket on the one side.  These options seem to work well.

As the years pass, I wonder if I can just shop in a regular store.  I know what seems to work and what doesn't.  I find a great fit and figure I can cut near the lining seam a touch to allow me to slip in my prosthesis.

As my mini enhancement prosthesis starts to degrade and lose it's firmness, I head back to the mastectomy shop.  Initially I was very much turned off by the full prosthesis.  I went through reconstruction and have a bit of a cleavage, I don't want to hide all that with a prosthesis and a full bra. But I was curious about other options.  I was happy to find a small prosthesis that is not a full one, and it has a small nipple.  I was so tickled to try it on with my bra and shirt and notice through my shirt that I have two nipples again.  My brain sees two and feels symmetrical again.  What amazes me most is that they look identical.

At some point I may consider more surgery to even things up.  I will have to wait until I am done nursing and my natural breast gets back to it's final size.  I still am not thrilled with the idea of a artificial implant inside my body.  And even less thrilled that I may need to replace it in my lifetime.  Right now, I keep the prosthesis in my bra for a couple days at a time and just put the bra on and off.  I do wear a different enhancement in my swim suit which is a mastectomy suit.  But I am comfortable around my family with nothing and in my nightshirt.