If You Want to Help

I have 2 weeks until my mastectomy. I’m really anxious but Xanax is helping with the nerves. So many of you have reached out to ask if there’s anything you can do for me during this time. I’m so lucky and thankful to have such a vast support system. I have a great job and grateful to have awesome insurance, so I’m blessed to be able to say that surgery is being covered and something I won’t have to go broke to have. Not to mention plenty of time off to recover post-surgery.

The idea of asking for help is foreign to me. I’ve been pretty independent my entire life and I don’t like to be the person who needs help. Instead, I have always liked to be the person that people come to to ask for help and want to be someone that can be counted on.

But throughout this process, I’ve tried to be better at accepting help because this is not something a person should do on their own. I don’t really need anything, but if there’s anything you want to do for me during this time, this is it:

  1. Send me a greeting card. I love cards and seeing my name written on colorful envelopes. I got some cards right before the last surgery and I had them around my room while I was recovering. If you send me a card, I’ll put it around my room. I’m going to be in the hospital for about 5 days so having encouraging words and pictures will make me happy. (If you need my address, message me and I’ll send it privately).
  2. Come see me. Speaking of the hospital, I check in around 5am on Monday, December 9 to St. David’s near the UT campus. The surgery will last about 9 hours. Then I should be in the hospital until December 14. If you have time, I’d love visitors. You can drop by just to say hi.  All I ask is that you text me to make sure I’m well enough for visitors. I hate being cooped up and seeing familiar faces will make me happy. Or you can see me at my apartment after I check out. I’ll be at my place until Dec. 17.
  3. A long recovery. I plan to leave for SA December 17 and stay with my parents for most of my recovery. If you are in SA, then you can stop their home to see me. Again, all I ask is that you text to make sure I’m up for company. I’m going to be heavily medicated, so I need a lot of time to relax and heal, but part of this process is also being surrounded by love and positivity. So bring that with you! I’ll be in SA until the end of January so you have plenty of time to come by.
  4. I don’t expect anything in your card. I know it’s the holidays so you have your own needs and family to be mindful of. But if you wish to do anything, a gift card would be nice. I’ll need lots of food and supplies post-surgery. It can be for HEB, Target, Central Market, Amazon, etc. I need protein to help my body heal so I plan to consume a lot of shakes, bars, yogurt and collagen peptides to help with the process. I also need to eat very healthy and need fresh fruits, veggies and will be drinking lots of water. But I also wouldn’t turn away Chipotle, Tiff’s Treats or chocolate cake 😉
  5. Post something for me on social media. On Sunday, Dec. 8, if you want, put a post on social media and tag me in it so I can see it before I go into surgery. (You know how much I love my Insta stories!) It can be a picture of us together, a meme, funny gif or a positive quote. Anything to make me smile. Please add the hashtag #YougotthisJess – this has been my mantra during my journey.
  6. Stay in touch. I got misty eyed the other night realizing I’m going to be away from Austin, my friends, my job and my life for almost 2 months. I look forward to spending time with my family and my nephew Jacob is so excited to take care of me. But I love my life and I’m not going to be able to do the things I normally do. Even after I’m cleared by my doctor to resume normal activities, it’s going to be a long time before I feel like me again. So send me messages and stay in touch while I’m cooped up. I hope it’s really REALLY cold this winter so everyone is cooped up with me 🙂

I have a long road ahead of me after surgery and recovery. I wish I could fast forward that part but this process requires time and healing. Please know how blessed I am to have you on my side in the months ahead.

Love, Jess

Stronger Now Than When You Started

Thanks for coming back for another post. It’s November 18 and I’m 3 weeks away from my next surgery. Not going to lie – the nerves are really starting to kick in. I created this blog because it’s a way to help me deal with my decision and talk about it. I wanted to be honest and open about what I’m going through, both physically and emotionally. And I’m scared and very nervous.

One other thing has helped me through this process is going to SoulCycle. Everyone knows how much I love it. It’s not just a workout – it pushes me and makes me feel good mentally. Feel strong. One of my favorite instructors is Rachel and something she tells us in class when she wants us to take up the resistance is “You’re stronger now than when you started.” And those words really resonate with me. I’ve already had one surgery, so it’s made me stronger and I can get through the next one.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not scared. I am. The last 2 weeks my nerves have been really high and I have butterflies in my tummy. A lot of my friends are confused about why I’m having another surgery. The thing is most surgeries are not a “one and done” situation. They are complicated and require time, especially in my case. Many of you have asked what exactly is going to happen. I know there was some confusion because everyone thinks I already had the mastectomy in July yet I was back at work so quickly. But no, I have not had it yet – that was a cakewalk compared to what I have up ahead. So I wanted to use this post to tell y’all about my surgery plan.

My plastic surgeon drew this up to give me a visual of my surgery plan.

#1 Breast reduction – well, this part is over. The surgery lasted 2.5 hours and I was out of work for 2 weeks. Thankfully, it all went very well. This was done because my breasts were so pendulous and large. They wanted to basically resize me and set me up for a successful and “easier” mastectomy. I was prescribed Oxy and Vicodin, but it wasn’t necessary since I wasn’t in a lot of pain. And the most painful thing about this surgery was that I was so itchy, which was normal. Ironically, my back was in a lot of pain. I think having to readjust from carrying a lot to carrying much less confused my body and threw me off balance. But I bounced back pretty quickly and started feeling a lot like myself by September. And I definitely enjoy my new, smaller size.

#2 – Double mastectomy and breast reconstruction (December 9) – I will have two doctors and their teams working on me for this surgery – a breast surgeon and a plastic surgeon. The breast surgeon will be performing a mastectomy on both breasts, removing all the breast tissue and saving my skin. The plastic surgeon will be performing a procedure called DIEP flap. An incision will be made across my stomach and fat tissue will be removed then transferred to my breasts.

Surgery #2 – the easiest way to describe this surgery is the “Empty and Fill.” My breast tissue is being removed and replaced by using fat tissue from my stomach.

This surgery is very complicated and invasive. I plan to be out of work for at least 6 weeks. I know a few women who’ve had this done and they all tell me the first few weeks are going to be very tough. Recovery will be hard because I have to take it easy and slow. This is the part of the process I’m scared about. Not going to lie – there have been a few times where I’m so close to picking the phone to call my doctors and tell them I’ve changed my mind. But then I think about one day finding out I have cancer and how I would have regretted not taking action when I could have.

#3 – Clean up (TBD) – I’m not sure when I will have this but it should be fairly straightforward. The surgeon is going to make sure any incisions, scars and flaws are cleaned up.

So, this is what’s coming up for me. I try to keep doing everything I’ve been doing: my job, going to work out, hanging out with my friends, etc. Anything to keep me busy and occupied. But this is always at the back of my mind, especially when I look at my calendar and see that the day is looming. I’m terrified. My hands shake a lot. And I cry. I cry at least once a day.

If you have time, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Send me positive vibes. And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to send me a text just to say hi. It’s nice to have such an awesome support system and I couldn’t do this without you.

I Ain’t Sorry

Hi friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written a new post. So many of y’all have sent me texts asking what’s going on and how I’m doing. I feel great! Work is keeping me busy and I traveled a bit this fall. I’m starting to feel like my old self – only better! Been going to workouts at SoulCycle and my yoga is improving.

I’ve also been having a lot of fun. Going out with my friends, having dinners, celebrating birthdays and engagements. Life goes on. It was a stressful and sad time in August dealing with the loss of my grandma. I miss her everyday. She loved me and the only thing she ever wanted for me was to be happy. And I am. I’m very happy! By doing this, I’m honoring her wishes.

So yes, I know I’ve been going out a lot. I know you’ve seen my posts on social media of me tailgating, out on Rainey, enjoying Sunday Funday (oh I love Sunday Funday!) I’m going to be cooped up for over a month during my recovery this winter so I wanted to do these things while I can. In fact, I’m doing a lot of things I’ve never been able to. Many of my friends are happy for me and celebrating all the new experiences I get to have. One of those new things, which I realize is a little materialistic, is clothes. Yes, CLOTHES!

Rompers and halters and bras…oh my!

This is so different from the me starting at the age of 20.

Everything fits now! Oh y’all have no idea how good that feels! My whole life I hated shopping because nothing ever fit me well and it made me feel fat (I hate that word but that’s how I felt). I had to wear big tops to fit my chest, creating a curtain around my waist that made me look bigger than I was. I had to make sure anything I wore could be worn with a bra and try to conceal my bra straps. And strapless bras…they were a lie!! Forget anything that was a one-piece…pfffft.

But that all changed back in July. While I was recovering from the breast reduction, I would go with my family to the mall to get steps in since it was so hot outside and my doctor encouraged walking. We went into Express and I saw this beautiful jumpsuit on display so my mom told me to try it on. I did. It fit. And I burst into tears!

My family snapped this photo of me to capture my expression. I cried hysterically after being able to successfully fit into a jumpsuit for the first time ever. I was so happy.

I bring all this up because I recently posted a pic that probably raised a few eyebrows. It was my official last night out because I have to start getting ready for the next surgery on December 9. I was wearing this…

My dad wasn’t too happy with this. He said he’d get me a needle and thread to fix my top, which had a “rip” in it. lol

I bought this back in early September but I’ve been nervous to actually wear it. Because it’s not me. I’ve never been able to wear something like this. I know that it’s very revealing. I know how I looked and what I was showing. I know this is not standard Jessica tops or t-shirts. If you had an issue with me showing off, all I can say is…

Y’all don’t understand the frustrations I’ve had my entire life. Picture me shopping at a store. Going through the racks. Seeing endless things that I couldn’t wear because they didn’t fit me. Or maybe it did “fit” but I was spilling out or squeezed in like a sausage. Halter tops, rompers, cute sports bras, spaghetti straps, strapless tops, jumpsuits, criss-cross backs, deep V necklaces, etc. Picture me shopping online And having to check the measurements. Buying something thinking it’ll work for me. Then it arrives, I try it on, it doesn’t go past the shoulders and I have to return it. That’s been the story of my life with clothes since I was in high school.

This is what I looked like trying on clothes for 18 years.

I’ve made a huge decision and going through painful surgeries to save my life. If you’d like, I can show you the scars are still healing. Just shoot me a text, I’m serious. I think it’s perfectly okay for me to embrace this and enjoy some of the perks. (Lol, you get it?) I’m going to be singing a much different song in a few months when I have a large incision across my stomach. I’ve kept myself pretty covered up for a majority of my life. So is it wrong that I’m celebrating my new body? I’m sorry I’m not sorry. I have no idea what my body is going to look like after I have the mastectomy and reconstruction. So I’m living it up right now while I can.

The Hardest Part About Recovery

Thanks for stopping by for another post. Today is August 30 and a little over 6 weeks post-surgery. Everyone keeps checking in on me and asks how I’m doing. I really appreciate it when someone reaches out to ask how I am. I’m doing very well. Still not 100%: I get tired easily and I’m feeling sluggish. I got winded the other day grocery shopping. But it’s a process. I’m an active person and this is weird for me. I got cleared by my doctor to start resuming normal activities. I’m back taking classes at SoulCycle and lifting weights. I plan to start practicing yoga again very soon.

A common question people keep asking after surgery is “What’s been the hardest thing?” To be honest, surgery was a breeze and I feel almost guilty for saying that. Recovery was smooth and I feel like I’m bragging for saying that. But I know I put a lot of work leading up to it: eating healthy, cutting out sugar/alcohol and working out up to 6 times a week. I also know I’m very fortunate to have a strong support system. My manager and my team told me to not dare check email and not worry about work. I was able to take it easy thanks to my parents and sister. For 2 weeks I enjoyed recovery, not working, being babied and focusing on me because I don’t do that everyday. I also know the next surgery is not going to be easy. It’s much more invasive and will be a 4-6 week recovery. So I enjoyed it while I could.

The hardest thing about recovery was something I did not see coming. It was the death of my grandmother, Mary Palacios. I was so focused on me that I almost detached myself from the real world. My grandma was one of the reasons why I decided to have genetic testing and get this surgery. She had breast cancer twice and beat it both times. She had one of her breasts removed in order to save her life but didn’t have it reconstructed. That gene, along with her big heart, is something that was passed along to me. And I’d take that trade-off any day to have experienced the love of such a wonderful woman.

I’ve always had a special connection with my grandmother. I was attached to her side growing up.

I was at home on August 4 when there was a knock on my door around 9:30pm. I was stunned to see my 7-year-old nephew there. My sister had driven from San Antonio because she didn’t want to tell me the news over the phone. My grandma wasn’t doing well and hadn’t been eating. She was barely holding on. “I think she’s waiting to see us,” Mel said. Caught off guard and shaking, I packed food for Finn and we left in a hurry. I thought I had no time and just wanted to get there fast. We made it by 11:15pm then went straight to her house. My grandma lay in bed. She was sleeping and her breathing would stop once in a while. I went over to touch her face and hold her hand. I was preparing myself to say good-bye to my last grandparent. I stayed at her side until 1am.

The next day, I wanted to get back to Austin. I had no medicine, no clothes and my breasts were red and itchy, which the doctor said was normal because they were healing. I forgot the topical ointment and was flared up. I had only been back at work for a few days and knew once she was gone I was going to be away again so I wanted to close out some tasks. I went back to her home one last time. I was so sore because I had to lean over her bed to hug or kiss her and this was pretty painful. I leaned in and whispered in her ear, “I love you so much. You taught me well. I’ll be okay. Go be with Grandpa.” I was planning to come back on Thursday but I knew that was the last time I’d see her alive.

I was right. My grandmother passed away on Wednesday, August 7, exactly 3 weeks after my surgery.

My grandmother was the best person I knew. It’s because of her I cared about my education and left home at 18 to pursue a college degree. I think my grandma saw some potential in me and she encouraged it. When I was 3, she signed me up for this pre-school prep program called AVANCE. We went to classes together and she worked on her GED while I learned to read. That program set up a foundation and love of learning that put me on a strong path up to earning my master’s degree.

My grandmother encouraged education. She was at all my big graduations. I loved wearing that paper cap and crossing that stage with her to get my first diploma when I was 4 years-old.

During the funeral, one of the most difficult things was not being able to get a real hug. I kept having to put up my hands to shield myself so people wouldn’t hug me too hard. Can you imagine going through the loss of a loved one, receiving condolences and not even be able to get a hug of comfort? I wrote a eulogy because I wanted to pay tribute to her and tell people about this wonderful and selfless woman I was lucky to love. I kept it together most of the time but I broke down the moment I walked up to her casket to say my last good-bye. The last time I’d ever see or touch her face. The last time I’d ever get to say I love you.

She had severe dementia and the last time I saw her she didn’t even recognize me. After my grandpa died last year, her health rapidly declined and I feel like I slowly lost her until she faded into a shadow of her former self. I wish I had the chance to talk to her and tell her about my surgery. I know that had she been her healthy self she would’ve been supportive, babying me and coming over to my parents home to check on me. I saw what she went through with cancer and she would’ve been proud of me for taking action.

The world without her already feels different. A few days after her funeral I was at the mall and I heard this little girl calling out excitedly, “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!” I realized I was never going to call out to my grandma ever again and tears fell fast and unexpectedly. My grandma was gone.

My grandma wouldn’t want me to be sad or grieve. I have so many wonderful memories to carry me on and she prepared me for this. She told me when it was her time she wanted me to rejoice and to have faith that we’d see each other again one day. And to live my life and be happy. I have an angel looking over me as I go forward and get ready to face this next challenge. My grandmother once said to me, “One day it will be my time and I’ll be gone from this Earth. But just because I’m gone doesn’t mean I will ever leave you.

I feel her presence and know she’ll be at my side every step of the way.

Round 1: Done!

It’s Wednesday, July 31, 2019. Two weeks after my surgery and it’s my first day going back to work! I’m excited and ready. I’m very fortunate because I love my job and many people would dread a day like this. But not me – I’ve been looking forward to it.

First, I know some of y’all are probably thinking “Back to work? Already?” But yes, already. The first operation that was done was the breast reduction. So this was the “easier” surgery of the treatment plan my surgeons recommended. This is why my insurance didn’t originally approve the claim because it was considered cosmetic. But because I’m so (eh hem) “blessed” they had to reduce and go small first in order to save my skin and nipples. In total, I’m having 3 surgeries and now 1 is done. I’ll tell you more about what’s ahead in another post.

Surgery Day, July 17: Here’s What Happened

I had to be at the hospital at 5am. My parents and sister were with me. This was the part I was dreading the most…the actual surgery. It was my first one ever and I wasn’t even thinking about recovery. But it was seriously the easiest part. As soon as I arrived, they took me to a room to prep me, started giving me drugs and I met with the anesthesiologist (Jim) who explained to me what he was going to do. Then my surgeon, Dr. Fisher, came in to check in on me, asked what size I decided on and started marking me up. The sweetest nurse, Kacey, came in to tell my family they were taking me away. That’s when I got scared and started to cry a little bit. My family kissed me and I was wheeled off to the OR. It was surreal having the POV of being in the bed and seeing the halls go past me. My only experience with surgeries has been on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Kacey was reassuring and said, “You’re going to be fine, Jessica. You’re in great hands.” Those two little sentences were so comforting and made me feel better (for about 30 seconds). Then I was in the OR and I remember looking around thinking, “Well this is a pretty room” because it had wood paneling and not steel like on TV. Then I saw Jim walking toward me and that’s the last thing I remember. Literally 2 seconds later someone was rousing me saying, “Wake up, Jessica. It’s over.”

Me after surgery: “It’s over? Is it really over?”

It honestly felt like I closed my eyes and the surgery was over but it was actually close to 2.5 hours. It felt like no time had lapsed – I didn’t even do the countdown from 10! Jim put on the mask and I woke up to Glenn, the recovery nurse. He fed me ice chips and called my sister to give her updates. I was in recovery for almost 2 hours but it was very hazy. My blood pressure was high and they wanted it to come down before they returned me to my room. I remember it being hard to breathe because I was so tired and Glenn saying, “Deep breaths, Jessica. Don’t you want to go home?” Thank God for all that yoga. Finally, my BP was down and they took me back at 12pm. I saw my dad first taking pictures and my mom waiting at my door. I could barely talk but I asked them if they ate breakfast because I still couldn’t believe almost 5 hours had passed. They could’ve had lunch at that point.

My mom talking to me and making sure I was okay

Dr. Fisher came in to see how I was doing and said I handled surgery “like a champ.” I didn’t even need drains because they said I didn’t have excess body fluids. And she said they removed *1 lb* from each breast – yikes! I was released from the hospital around 2pm. The ride home felt like forever (longer than surgery) and every little bump or dip was torture. My dad drove with the hazard lights on since we were going so slow. The second I got in my bed, every emotion suddenly hit me. I was happy, sad, scared, hurting, thankful, relieved – so I cried. My first real cry in months. Then I took a looooooong nap.

By the evening, I was walking around and feeling loads better. I had some friends come by and they were surprised to see me up and about. Walking is the only thing I can really do and my doctor encouraged it since lying around too much would cause other problems. I received so many calls, texts, messages, cards, food and well wishes from everyone. On Friday I felt well enough to go to the movies to see “The Lion King.” (By the way, a real-life looking Simba crying over Mufasa is a gazillion times worse than a cartoon Simba.)

Really, really blessed ❤ Thank you everyone!

I was bandaged and in a surgical bra and scared to touch or even look at my breasts. Mostly I didn’t want to mess up the stitches but partly because it was VERY obvious I was now on the small-side. I didn’t know how I was going to react. Would I be sad? Depressed? Scared? Angry? Hate my body and realize this was a huge mistake? I was told to take a shower on Friday and nervous it was going to hurt. They instructed me to stand backsides to the shower head and let the water fall over me. Okay, this was it. The big reveal. I stepped into the shower, looked down to see the gauze wash away and….

My sister snapped this photo of my reaction when I saw my new boobies for the first time. I was laughing hysterically. I went from a 36DDD to a D cup size.

Day by day I was getting stronger. We left for San Antonio on Saturday and I was so happy to be going home. Over the next 10 days, I watched a lot of Netflix, HBO and Hulu. Finished “Orange is the New Black,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Queer Eye, “When They See Us,” and “Big Little Lies” – you know typical viewing that’s part of the liberal agenda. I ate a lot of Mexican food. Was visited by family and friends. Cuddled with Finn, who was simply amazing and the sweetest thing ever. I saw a completely different side of him as he was so aware of what I was going through. He was less hyper and more cooperative than I’ve ever seen him.

And of course, my amazing parents and sister Melissa. I couldn’t have gotten through those 2 weeks without them. They spoiled me, catered to my every need, helped me shower, fed me, dressed me, made sure I took my medicine, etc. And, of course, they took care of Finn since I couldn’t. I love them so much and I’m so thankful for them. And thank you to the Soliz family for your wonderful gift. We all benefited from it!

I still have loads to talk about but I’ll save that for another post. Right now, just wanted to let everyone know I’m doing great and in a really great place. I’m so incredibly blessed to have you in my life. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Love, Jessica

It’s Happening!

Yes, it happened! I have a letter in my hands from my insurance that gives me all the approvals I need to move forward so I can have my surgery.

So now, I can finally address the question that everyone has been asking me: “What the hell happened?”

Back to April 10, my planned surgery day. I thought that everything was in order and only had to worry having a successful operation. Little did I know that behind the scenes, there was a struggle between the insurance company and my surgeons. It’s so complicated and so many events unfolded following the cancellation but here is the short version: The insurance company didn’t believe that it was “medically necessary” to save my skin and nipples. In order to have an optimal outcome and allow me to retain some version of myself, my surgeons needed to perform a breast reduction before they performed a mastectomy. My surgeon and her staff worked as hard as they could to convince insurance that this was the best procedure for me. They fought and pushed back as much as possible on my behalf and I’m so thankful for that. We were all confident the claim would be approved.

But the insurance rep….a MAN…yes, a MAN!!!….said the reduction would not be covered. It also stated that reconstruction would only be approved if I had a total mastectomy. As in both breasts had to be ENTIRELY removed.

You just want to chop off my boobs?

There is no reason to cut off an entire breast for no reason. If I absolutely needed to, if I had cancer and it was so far progressed that saving my skin was no longer an option, then yes, I would absolutely remove my breasts. It’s difficult enough to make the decision to have this surgery in order to save my life. To know that I will have a hard, long recovery. Know that my body will never look the same. But to cut off a body part and part of my identity like it’s nothing? To take my womanhood as if I have no emotional or physical connection? That’s just cruel and pointless. There is NO benefit to doing something like this. It won’t even save money. If insurance is willing to pay for reconstruction, they should be willing to pay for a breast reduction in order to save my skin/nipples. Maybe it’s not medically necessary for my physical health, but it’s absolutely 100% necessary for my mental health.

I know it’s not the same thing but with everything happening in regard to women’s reproductive rights and the government limiting what women can do with their bodies, I can identify. It really pisses me off that a man that has never consulted me, never examined me and never even met me thinks HE knows what is better for me than ME. A man who read my insurance claim, and didn’t even read it correctly, thinks HE knows better than the two female surgeons who I’ve been working with for months.

Actress Busy Phillips opened up about an abortion she had and gave a quote that really resonated me with and my situation: “Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. Nobody else, nobody,”

I’m incredibly lucky to work for a company that values mental health and well-being. I can’t imagine the trauma of looking down at my chest and seeing nothing there. I’ve heard of women suffering from PTSD after having mastectomies and seeing flat chests. Why would you do that to a woman for no reason? Being back in that cloud of uncertainty, of not having peace of mind, I started suffering from anxiety again. I was taking Xanax. I had several panic attacks, including one the day after my surgery was cancelled. I hadn’t had one in months. I can’t live my life waiting for cancer to happen.

I can’t even begin to tell you how distraught I was. I had spent so much time mentally and physically preparing for that surgery. I had a plan and to have that ripped away from me just about broke me. I don’t think I’ve cried so hard in my entire life. I’ve never felt so scared and uncertain. I hated being back in the dark cloud and as though my body was my worst enemy coming to get me.

When word got around my office of what happened to me, people, especially the women, were livid. They were concerned about what other women’s healthcare treatments wouldn’t be covered or subjected to all this justification. The leadership went above and beyond to make sure the surgery was approved in the manner that my doctors ensured me was the best way forward. It took some time to happen, but I got approval on Friday. I was ecstatic. I felt like I could breathe again. I know how lucky I am and I’m so grateful to the people at my company for making this happen. And the silver lining of this is my experience has helped to ensure that no other woman at my company will have to go through such an ordeal. It makes the suffering worth it to help pave the way for others.

If there’s anything I learned from this situation, it’s this – We are in DESPERATE need of healthcare reform.

  1. Health shouldn’t be a profit. It’s sad that it’s a business. My life shouldn’t be something you see in only dollar signs. I had the best time trying to explain to my UK friends why this happened.
  2. It shouldn’t matter where we work and we should all have the same type of access to healthcare. I’m lucky I have such a supportive company. But I spoke to so many friends who said, “Wow, if that were my job, they wouldn’t give a shit.”
  3. Let women and their doctors decide what’s best for them. Trust them.
  4. And finally, I have a lot of bad-ass friends who all had my back and were ready to start fundraising if I had to pay out of pocket so I could have the surgery. Thank you all so much! I’m glad it didn’t come to that because coverage can’t wait. And there are sadly a lot of women out there who lack good insurance and resources so they need that help more than I do.

And to answer the question I also get asked a lot – yes, there will be another Booby Shower! 🙂

To Be Continued…

I had a setback on April 10. I don’t know entirely what happened and, even if I did, I’m reluctant to share those details as I work to get this matter resolved. But my surgery yesterday did not happen. Bottom line, it had to do with insurance.

Since I decided I was ready for this operation, I’ve taken necessary steps to deal with the emotional and physical effects. I’ve been seeing a therapist as I care deeply about my mental well-being. I hired a nutritionist to help me have a healthy diet and worked out regularly to care for my physical side. My loved ones all played a big part, too. My parents carved time out of their lives to be here with me. My sister took time off work. I had countless gifts and cards sent to me by friends. I purchased prescriptions, comfy clothes, a special bra and other important items to help during my recovery. My niece and nephews sent cards and a gift with their mom the day I was supposed to have my surgery.

My niece and I are so close. I know how much she wanted to be there with me.

I was at the hospital hooked up to an IV getting drugs and had an Oxycodone to help me calm down. I was getting prepped and chatting with my friendly nurse Erica. Then my doctor walked in and let me know surgery was canceled. I know how hard she and her staff worked to advocate for me and I’m so grateful for that. I trust her completely and know she has my back. I cannot tell you how devastated I was. The nurse came back in to take out my IV and I was crying and talking to a friend on the phone to tell them what happened. The nurse actually started tearing up listening to my conversation.

A pretty close depiction of my reaction to the cancellation

Here’s something to know about my genetic mutation: I have an 80% chance of getting breast cancer in my lifetime. I have to lose my breasts to save my life while trying to maintain some of my identity as a woman. Since I had BRCA, I’ve suffered from severe anxiety, depression and panic attacks. To say that I am too young or that anyone knows what’s best for me is bullshit. My aunt had breast cancer at 39. I am 38. I’ve had at least three girlfriends from college diagnosed with breast cancer and one pass from leukemia in the last 5 years. Yesterday, I thought that dark cloud that has been looming over my head would finally go away. Now, it’s back and bigger than ever.

Time is precious. I want to be proactive and stay ahead of this. I don’t know how long an appeal will take but I’m working on it. I have 100% faith and confidence in both of my surgeons. I trust that what they recommend for my procedure is the best method according to standard of care and my long-term outcome. I’m very lucky to work for a company that values the mental health and well-being of its employees. I have no doubt that I have their support as I work towards an appeal.

This is a minor setback. As devastated and disappointed as I am, I believe that everything happens for a reason. There’s some higher being looking over me that intervened and protected me from something. What? I don’t know. But yesterday was not the time for my surgery. My journey is to be continued. My surgery is going to happen and I’ll do whatever it takes.