Day 5 – Post Op

Posted in News

I’m really enjoying the act of writing down my thoughts and feelings each day. I find it really therapeutic and when something feels good, it’s bound to be good for you.

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What I didn’t realise when I started the whole ‘documentation’ process, is the impact that sharing my story might have on other people.  Today I received a beautiful message from a fellow Ironman finisher all the way from San Diego, California.   Not just a fellow IM finisher, but we have actually completed the same IMWA (Busselton) course and she even raced as one of the Smiling for Smiddy members in 2013, a year after I finished my second IM on the same course.  Talk about ‘a small world’!!  I learnt that she became a member of the Smiddy team at Busso after meeting Smiddy Founder Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy at Challenge Wanaka.

Ironman-Busselton-Holistic

I have no idea how she came across my blog in the first place, but our conversation today felt like we’d known each other before, it was strange how linked we were despite having never met one another.  Before our connection today, we were strangers!

Sadly, I received some bad news from my new friend.  Three weeks ago, my new friend was diagnosed with breast cancer – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC).  I was shocked!!  A strong, fit, healthy, young woman being diagnosed again!!  I say again because I continue to hear it more and more often and it’s just not fair!!  This disease does not discriminate, it doesn’t latch onto those more susceptible due to health, age or even predisposition, it’s just so cruel.

When I hear stories like this one, it encourages me to continue to share openly and honestly my little journey.

Meeting quote

I realise that making the choice to remove seemingly healthy unaffected breasts is incredibly invasive and unusual, but when I hear about confirmed cases of cancer in women ‘just like me’, it makes the choice I made sound less confronting.  My new friend too has a strong family history of women in her family being diagnosed with breast cancer, including, like me, her own mother. I pray for my new friend and send her love and strength.  I’m sure once she’s fought and won this batter, we’ll be discussing plans to race another Ironman triathlon, perhaps this time lining up at the start line at the same event in the same year this time.

BC quote

My day 5 recovery went smoothly.  I’m feeling strong, healthy, happy and ready to head home when the time is right.  The suction on my drains was turned off today, which is another step closer to a full recovery.  With the drainage almost ready to come out, I decided to snap a selfie of myself standing side-on today.  I’m really appreciating the beauty of my new body. No, I’m not talking about ‘beauty’ as defined by media, nor am I referring to public expectation of what we are taught ‘beautiful’ is.  I’m referring to the beauty inside of me, the beauty in my mind, the beauty which has strengthened my resolve to be strong mentally and physically throughout my shared journey.

Scars image

Libby commented with perfect innocence earlier this week that she thought my tummy looked like it had a baby inside of it.  I guess without the usual curve shape of my breasts, my chest now blends right into my stomach and it may give the perception that my tummy protrudes beyond my chest.

Our gorgeous girls came in again tonight and Leigh enjoyed a feast from the room service menu as the girls gobbled up jelly and ice-cream as a special treat.  It was Layla who jumped into bed with me this time and as we cuddled and snuggled, I could see that she was really enjoying the closeness we were sharing after 5 days of me not being home with them.  I could have cuddled with her all night long….

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Day 5 was another fantastic, smooth and trouble free day.  I’m grateful to have the abundance of support and care from near and afar.

Yas xxxx

Training Time

Posted in News, Video

For those that know me well, I love to train.  Whether it’s training for an up and coming triathlon, training to improve my core strength, or just training for the fun of it, I’ve always been a big fan of getting up early and doing some sort of physical activity.

I’m a member of the local Tri Alliance triathlon squad and I’ve been a member for around 5 years now.  During my time with the squad, I have competed in all distances, including my favourite long-course Ironman distance.  For those new to Ironman, it’s a 3.8km swim, 180 km cycle and 42.2km (marathon) run – all in a row!  I know, it sounds crazy, but competing in an Ironman event is one of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have in your lifetime. Seriously!!

An all time favourite photo of mine is this one of me finishing my first Ironman triathlon.  I’m literally running down the chute towards the finish line and would you believe that the professional photographers managed to snap a shot with Leigh grinning from ear to ear in the background as I finished the race. It’s a priceless moment on what was an amazing day!

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And yes….that Official Time of 10:56:55 is 10 hours, 56 mins and 55 seconds of non-stop racing.  With the right training and guidance, it’s amazing what the body and the mind can achieve.  I finished that day wishing I went harder and faster, finishing relatively ‘fresh’ if there’s such a thing after an Ironman.  It’s one of the most memorable days in both mine and Leigh’s life.

I have had a break from triathlon training, mainly due to several injuries I sustained after being involved in an accident with a car just over 12 months ago.  I almost lost my legs that day, but thanks to the quick thinking of a fellow training partner, I was able to avoid serious life changing damage.  I had 6 months of rehab followed by some shoulder surgery to correct the issues, so training for triathlon during this time took a back seat.

What I did replace it with was a core strength focus at Kosama – Fortitude Valley.  I have spent the past 6 months building up my strength following the shoulder surgery and more recently, I’ve been fine tuning my core strength in preparation for my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy surgery.  I wrote about the great advice from my surgeon in a recent blog titled: Dr’s Orders – Get as fit as you can!!

I actually trained the eve of my surgery and loved seeing the results of all the hard work we did. My trainer Benny really challenged me on the last night and had me do 3 x 15 sets of band-assisted chin-ups, but then he announced that the 4th set was to be a set of 20.  I managed to do it, but gee it took all of my mental and physical strength to get the last couple of chin-ups out.  Here’s a quick snippet of my last training session, moon boot and all!!

As I watch the footage of my last training session, it motivates me to appreciate the small steps I am now taking towards being strong again.  Today, on Day 3 of my recovery from my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy, I have done a full day of exercise and it’s been really enjoyable.  My training is VERY basic and I mean VERY VERY basic.  But do you know what?  It’s training! It’s motivating to move again and it’s a small step towards a full recovery.  In addition to 4 laps of the ward daily, I am allowed to do these 4 exercises 4 times per day.

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One of the most amazing nurses you could ever meet (seriously, she’s brilliant!!!) told me something very exciting today!!  She said, “you should be able to resume some training in about 4 weeks from now.”  WOW!  I think I told her that “I loved her” as soon as I heard this news.  4 weeks is nothing!

Keep Calm

You might think I’m mad even thinking about training on Day 3 post mastectomy, even I think it sounds a bit crazy!!  But, I have realised something new about myself during the last couple of weeks and I’d like to share it with you today.

As I started to talk to some of my friends in recent weeks about the up and coming surgery, it dawned on me that the training passion I have runs far deeper than the exercise and fitness benefits I gain from ‘working out’.  It’s more meaningful, more healthy and more motivating than any tough session I can conquer when I’m at my fittest, and more memorable than any race where I achieve my goals.

I’m addicted to training and I bounce out of bed everyday because of the amazing people I train with, the buddies that pick me up when I’m down, the mentors I admire as they push themselves (and me) beyond imposed limits and the genuine love and passion we all have for each other when we achieve those special memorable moments in our lives.

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Training may shape us physically, but training shapes us in so many more ways in which we may not initially understand.  Training with our mates shapes us emotionally, socially and mentally and it’s these moments that make for lifetime friendships and memories which are priceless.

This hug says it all I think!  It’s me with one of my favourite training buddies, who stopped during the marathon leg of her Ironman race to give me a truly memorable hug.  That’s what training time is all about!!

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Day 2 – Post Op – The Big Reveal….

Posted in News, Video

It’s now 48 hours after my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy and while I’m tender and a little slower and more steady than I usually am, I’m feeling very fortunate at how smoothly my recovery is going.

I didn’t really have any expectations prior to surgery as to how I would ‘act’ or ‘feel’ post op.  I’m the type of person that doesn’t really acknowledge the ‘bad’ things that ‘might’ go wrong until such time that they happen.  I just figured that I’d wake up, see how it all feels and then roll with whatever I had to deal with.  I tend to think this way…..

Stay positive quote

So far it’s been a dream run.  I haven’t had any pain whatsoever, although there’s definitely a little discomfort but it’s certainly not painful.  I have a feeling that some of the nursing staff think I’m a bit ‘weird’ because I’m acting very normal.

I went to bed quite late again, which is pretty normal for me but I promised myself that I would aim to ‘sleep in’.   My body clock is finding it hard to adjust, so when I woke up around the time my alarm usually goes off at 4:30am, I worked hard to go back to sleep for another hour or two.  I eventually gave up around 6:30am and started my day.

To ensure I was well rested, I even propped myself in the bed for a few nanna naps before I had a visit from Leigh and the girls.  When they arrived mid morning, Leigh went for a run at Southbank, leaving the girls with me so we could spend some time together colouring-in and drawing.  It was fun, we traced pictures from a drawing book and coloured them in together, I absolutely love the fact that the girls are so ‘normal’ throughout this whole process.

Girls Drawing

Layla, our eldest daughter wanted to see what was going on in my little ‘hospital bags’, so she popped over to check out the drains.  What I love about this photo is the innocence and the inquisitive nature of her quest for knowledge about what was ‘in’ the drains.  She didn’t hesitate to grab one of the drains to check it out for herself.  This is the same daughter who loves to be involved whenever there’s an injury in the house.  She’s also recently recorded a video of Libby having a blood test, zooming in of course on the needle to really check it out closely.  She seems to be very interested in science and the body, so she’s in her element in this pic!

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During the family visit, the Doctor popped in and was ready to remove the tape.  I wasn’t expecting this to happen today, so it was a really nice surprise. Once again, I didn’t really have any expectations, other than the fact that I would be relatively flat with a big scar across where each of my nipples once were.  I must admit though, I was very keen to check it all out.  Here’s a photo of what it looks like today….

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The girls were both interested to check it out, so when they returned to the room, they both came over to take a look for themselves.  Layla thought it looked amazing, saying something like “WOW, it’s awesome”, whereas Libby said something along the lines of “Ewww, it’s gross”.  They both even had a little poke of my chest to see what it feels like.

All in all, I’m wrapped with the way it’s all healing.

In keeping with the daily updates, I have put together a quick video update for you below, which includes a snippet of how it all looks right now.  If you can’t click the link below, you can access via You Tube here.

It’s Breast Selfie Time……

Posted in News

When I was recently at a family event, I casually asked some of my female relatives whether they would participate in a crazy thought I had.  Some of them looked at me with those same eyes that I see when I have come up with ideas they might not approve of in the past, but I continued anyway.

You see, a big part of my journey towards having a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy is documenting the process in words and in images, which naturally involves the inevitable photo of my boobies, hooters or breasts.

You what?  That’s right….selfies of my breasts.

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I know, it might seem weird, unusual and even strange that I’d willingly put my breasts out there for the haters to hate, the negative naysayers to take down and the critics to analyse every single thing ‘wrong’ with my floppy, half filled, non-perky and lacking natural youthful glow, boobies.   So what better way to make myself feel more comfortable about this than to have my sister’s and cousin’s bare their breast selfies too.  Great idea hey!!

It’s no ‘duck face sexual selfie’, nor is it a photoshopped impressive rack of beauty.  The selfie I’m talking about is the kind of ‘before’ selfie you take when you are about to undertake a drastic change.  You know, the type that we take before having our hair done at the salon?

There are always ‘rules’ with me, but they were simple;

  • no faces
  • not sexy
  • your choice about showing nipples or not

My family are amazing.  They have been incredibly supportive throughout my journey towards having a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy, so today as I head into surgery, it seems fitting that I share the beauty and diversity that is the breast selfies of my amazing family.

Now’s not the time to be shy.  To get the full impact of this image, you really do need to click on it.  Go on….do it!!

Family collage

Did you click on it?  I hope so, because it’s when you click on it that you really see the diversity in our family.

If we look beyond the nipples, the moles and the obvious differences in size and shape, we see 7 women bravely showing their bodies in a raw and beautiful way.   What you don’t see is that 6 out of the 7 women pictured from my family are statistically likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in our lifetime.

These women are my family, they have bravely stepped beyond the comfort of their clothing, beyond the support of their bra’s and they have demonstrated real strength beyond any words that I could share with you today.

I received some amazing thoughts from some of them during the breast image emailing process, which I am pleased to be able to share with you.

From my gorgeous and very pregnant (due any second now) Sister-in-law Jess:

A few weeks ago I overheard an older gentleman telling Yasmin that she can’t cut up her beautiful body simply because she feared cancer.  As with most things, she took it in her stride and kindly told him this wasn’t the case.  Even if something like this sparks because of fear, it certainly doesn’t dictate the actions being taken.  Yas is determined to be around for her family – purely out of love.  If this means sacrificing her breasts to be healthy long enough to meet her grandchildren then so be it.  It is not a fear of not being there.  It is not a fear of dying.  It is a pro active approach to enable her to live the fulfilling life she wants and has every right to live, without the constant nagging concern her bosom could be a ticking time bomb.

Fear simply does not have the substance to make this kind of decision. Her love of life and family however, give her every single kick of motivation she will ever need.

From my amazingly brave cousin Jodie, who is embarking on her own challenge during my recovery:

In my eyes I can’t even totally comprehend what Yasmin is doing, but that does not waiver my support for her for even a second.  Breasts symbolise so many things – becoming a woman when they first blossom, watching them grow when your growing a little person inside of you and being able to nurture the little people who become the biggest part of your world.  That is what is comes down to ultimately.  Family.  It’s the core that we all cling to.  It’s why I believe Yasmin is doing what she is doing, so she can experience the above plus SO more with her girls.  That is why I didn’t mind contributing, because Yasmin is my family and we ever turn our backs on one another.

From my younger cousin Kylie, who was the first to wear a bra among us, despite me being 3 years older than her.  In fact, Kylie was the reason I started wearing a bra, and at 13 years old, I still didn’t need one!!

I think all you girls r so brave and congrats looks great:-) I really can’t tell whose boobs r whose (lol) which makes me think boobs are just boobs….I love that our family is there for each other no matter what. You are amazing love u all xxx

From my cousin Rachel;

It makes me very proud to be in a family that are willing to do extraordinary things for one another.  For most of u this was a scary thing, but u did it anyway to show support to Yas during on of her most difficult journeys.  I don’t think there is a better bunch of  women out there than our family and friends.

From my youngest sister Jane:

Doing this photo with all the love and support of my family was probably the most empowering thing I have ever done, I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed of my photo instead I feel proud of it.  The purpose of the photo is to raise awareness and create thought and discussion on a topic some consider taboo and I am sure you all agree that the photo has served its purpose.

Jane also shared a very beautiful post on the Previvor Facbeook page, which I just had to share.  You will need to click on the image to read it in full.

Jane's Eords

There’s not really much more that I can say, other than Thank You.  Thank you sincerely for the love, the care and the support from each and every one of you.

I truly hope you like reading my blog as much as I love writing it.

Finally, I had a nice surprise towards the final stages of publishing this blog last night.  A very good friend of mine was up late online and we got chatting, mostly about today, what I’ll be going through and how I feel about it all.  She’s been amazingly supporting throughout this journey and she knew I was finalising this very blog, so after a couple of teaser text messages, my wonderful friend bravely sent me her own chest selfie.

I thought it looked so much like my breasts, that with her permission, I decided to have a bit of fun with it and post it as part of this blog.  Our breasts are very similar don’t you think?  I’m sure if our husbands will be able to more expertly discuss the slight variations, but in my opinion, I think we’re about the very same size and shape.

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I thank you for sharing my most brave post yet and look forward to updating you as I recover from surgery in the next 24-48 hours.

Why are you having a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy?

Posted in News

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent my time sharing stories about me, my family and my journey towards my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy surgery, scheduled for this coming Friday 28 February – that’s tomorrow!!

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As you do, I held a Boob-Voyage BBQ for friends and family.  It was held at Kalinga Park in Wooloowin on Saturday and I really enjoyed spending the afternoon with some of the most amazing people in our lives.  Dissecting the nipple off the beautiful Queen of Cakes specialty cake was strange, but interesting if that makes sense.

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So, one of the big questions I’m asked is Why?

Why? Why? Why?

Why would anyone willingly and happily without hesitation remove their breasts?

Removing my breasts via a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy was something that I started discussing about 10 years ago, long before ‘The Angelina Jolie Effect’ and back when it was probably considered quite ‘taboo’.  Angelina’s surgery journey can be read in more detail here.

Regardless of outside opinion, thoughts and feedback from the supporters and even the haters, my decision was made privately, initially by myself, then it was discussed with my supportive ‘super-husband’ and finally, with our two young girls.  We all agree it’s the next step in the process for our family.

For years I have discussed it on and off with my GP, who is about the most all-time brilliant GP anyone could ever hope to find.  Thanks Dr A!!  He has provided me with medical facts, specialist referrals, mammogram and ultrasound referral letters and pretty much anything and everything related medically to the subject.

I’ve seen specialists along the way, including a geneticist, breast surgeon, and a plastic surgeon and I’ve of course had regular screening, both mammograms and ultrasounds, not to mention the self and ‘hubby’ checking along the way.

Mammogram

When I initially explored having my breasts removed, it wasn’t long after Mum told us at the young age of just 44 that she had breast cancer.  It’s sad that I wasn’t really impacted by the news, because if I am to be completely honest, I almost expected it.

Here’s why……

I remember being very young when I first heard about breast cancer.  My beautiful maternal grandmother (Nan, pictured below), was very much another mother to me, we talked openly about one (1) of her four (4) sister’s who had died in her late 30’s of the disease.  As I grew up, breast cancer struck Nan’s remaining three (3) sister’s and she was the only female left among her siblings to not be diagnosed.   Sadly, we lost Nan to cancer when she was in her early 70’s – far too soon and so unfairly quick.  This is the last family photo we all had together, celebrating Pop’s 80th birthday.  xxxx

Nan&Family

Statistically it never looked good for the females in our family.  As I became an adult and began to look further into familial history, and the options for genetic testing including the statistics and patterns that are associated with families ‘like ours’, I knew that it was a decision I could be empowered to make.

As the oldest female in the ‘next’ generation of our family, I’m not going to sit and wait for the statistics to start working their way down the family tree.

Whether I’m ‘hit by a bus’ tomorrow or not, I don’t walk out on the street every day to the statistical chance I face with a breast cancer diagnosis in my future.

I am a triathlete and every time I ride my bike on the roads in Brisbane, I know there’s a chance I may fall, get a flat, be injured in an incident or sadly, perhaps even lose my life.   RIP to all the cyclists out there who have sadly lost their lives too soon.

TA Ghost Bike

However, I liken my final decision to have the mastectomy to choosing to ride my bike.  If I faced the same ‘high risk’ for potential death by riding my bike on the road, I honestly wouldn’t do it.  I’d jump on my wind trainer and cycle away in the safety of my garage, and some mornings when it’s time to train this is exactly what I do.  ‘High risk’ can mean anything up to an 87% chance of being diagnosed in my lifetime.

I learnt a lot during the meeting with the Geneticist.  Did you know that of women who do undergo BRCA testing, only a small percentage are found to have a mutation?  But families ‘like ours’ are still at greater-risk of cancer, the risk factors don’t go away!!

I read that when no one in the family has been found to have a detectable BRCA mutation, negative test results need to be interpreted with caution.  In this setting, a negative result may not really be negative.  This was very much news to me!  We all went into the Geneticist thinking that we would sign some forms to approve the testing procedure, little did we know that there were 30+ other genes that we could potentially opt to be tested for, some of which had high associations with links to families ‘like ours’.

A cancer predisposing mutation may still be present in the family, possibly in another gene.

It is known that mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes do not explain all hereditary patterns of breast and ovarian cancer.  A family may have a mutation in a different gene, perhaps not yet discovered or whose clinical implications are not yet fully known.  Unless there is a known mutation in the family, a negative result from BRCA testing does not exclude genetic risk for an individual.

Argh!!  For me personally, I still had no real answers as to whether to undergo the testing……

So what does this all mean?

For me, I don’t like to overcomplicate things and tend to interpret it quite simply….the genetic testing results, whether BRCA1 or 2 positive negative, didn’t provide me with a large enough ‘comfort’ that I’d be safe if I was negative.  My final decision was based on years of discussion with medical experts, hours of reading medical journals and articles, the strong family pattern which indicates my generation ‘is next’ and finally, ultimately, my young family.

My Nan shaped me greatly in life and one day I hope that I can be the grandmother that she was to me, to our beautiful family.

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Yes, I may be hit by a bus tomorrow, but it’s not likely to be in the vicinity of an 80%+ chance now is it?

My Biggest Fear…..

Posted in News

One of my biggest fears in the lead up to my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy isn’t the fear of surgery, nor is it the worry about being in hospital for 7 days, and would you believe that it’s not even the concern about the post-operative pain or even the removal of the drains which I hear is not very pleasant.

Would you believe that my biggest fear about my up and coming stay at The Mater Private Hospital is……..eating hospital food for 7 days!!

Hospital food_4

You see, I love eating really well, in fact the truth is that I just love eating!! When I eat great food it makes me feel energised, motivated, healthy, happy and on top of the world.  It also ensures that I can train consistently and keep away any sniffles and illness.

Over the years and under the fantastic guidance of Sally and her team at Apple to Zucchini, I’ve learnt to understand what makes me feel good when I eat, what foods are best to train and compete with and despite the occasional desire to eat my way through a pack of Vanilla Pod Cupcakes, I do tend to steer clear of processed and sugary foods.

Vanilla Pod

I will also admit to the odd indulgence of a Poppy Cakes signature Red Velvet cupcake, they are devine!!

Poppy cakes

During the past 8 weeks, I’ve focused strongly on eating incredibly well, but let me make it perfectly clear, I have NOT been dieting.  In fact, I don’t diet, it’s never worked for me and it’s painful, really painful especially if you love food as much as I do.   Instead, I’ve learnt to feed my body well in order for it to perform well.

My daily food consumption has included raw and fresh ingredients, a lot of homemade products, such as my daily breakfast green smoothie and delicious hummus dip plus plenty of legumes, greens, fruit and veggies, my delicious salads in a jar – mostly plant based products and for the first time in my life, I have cut out meat completely.  I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian just quite yet, nor would I say I’m 100% vegan, but my food consumption has been very much along these lines.  Why?  Because I wanted to be as ‘clean’ on the inside as possible before surgery.   I believe it will not only help me during the invasive process on my body, but it’s bound to ensure I bounce back as quickly as possible.

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I haven’t lost weight during this time, it was never my aim to do so.  I have absolutely no idea how many calories I eat per day, how much fat is in a product, nor do I know really my exact body weight, but I feel so much better – even with the odd treat along the way.  I ate a few of the delicious little nipple cakes at my Boob-Voyage over the weekend.

Nipple Cakes

I must admit though, what I once thought of as ‘treat food’, doesn’t really make me feel very well now!  When I have the desire for something special, it’s not a scoop of ice-cream, nor a chocolate biscuit, a bag of Maltesers or even a delectable gourmet cupcake.  It might sound boring, but I usually make myself a fruit smoothie, or if I’m feeling really adventurous, I’d make these no-bake cheesecake cups……they are devine!!!!

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The One Ingredient Chef website has been great to browse for great ideas on some raw and natural foods to prepare.

In addition to fearing hospital food, I fear gluten.  Our youngest daughter has Coeliac Disease, she was diagnosed almost 2 years ago and since that time, we’ve become a gluten free household.  So the thought of eating overcooked gluten filled pasta, ladened with some kind of meaty bolognaise sauce and a side serve of half cooked vegetables, served on a tray with the token juice in a sealed plastic cup is the absolute last thing I want to eat for dinner.

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I spoke with a beautiful woman late last week who has recently been through the same procedure and she told me the most amazing news…….

The Mater Private Hospital have a Room Service Menu.  I was instantly excited and had to check this out – so I immediately Googled it.

Talk about amazing!  I no longer need to pack my own fresh salads for lunch, nor do I need to ask Leigh to sneak in dinner for me.  I can pick and choose whatever I like on the menu, at any time I feel like it.

I’m pretty excited!!!

I will admit though, I’m going to find it hard to part with my breakfast smoothie, so I’m planning to smuggle in my Tri-Best blender to whip up a green smoothie for breakfast daily.

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The final staples for me will include my homemade hummus dip, some plain rice cakes and our delicious home-made (usually by little Miss 7) protein balls.  They’re all fantastically healthy snack items which will absolutely help me stay on track for a speedy recovery.

Don’t just take my word for it……the famous quote by Hippocrates says it all….

Medicine quote

Jodie’s Story

Posted in News

My gorgeous cousin Jodie is a pretty amazing young lady.  Ever since she was born, there has been a ray of light that surrounds her.  As a toddler, Jodie was cheeky, funny and a super dooper cutie and as an adult, she’s honestly still very much the same.

Jodie_Collage_1Jodie_Collage_2

Our family is very close and we always grew up visiting our Nan and Pop weekly, so it meant that as cousins, we would spend a lot of time together. Sometimes we’d complain, but it’s now we all realise how important this time with each other really was.

Cousins_2

Jodie has been incredibly supportive throughout my whole Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy decision making process.  I received an email this week from Jodie about an idea she had to help support me during the recovery.  Instead of trying to tell you Jodie’s story in my words, I invited Jodie to write a blog article for me to share on the page.  Not only has Jodie told an amazing story, she shows tremendous courage as she not only lets us into her world, but she has proudly stepped out of her comfort zone to put herself ‘out there’ for all to see.

In her own words and straight from the heart, here’s Jodie’s idea…..

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“Ever since I can remember, Yas has been the most competitive, driven, passionate person I have ever known.  She is very passionate about our family, helping people and fitness. These are things that I have always loved about her.  It didn’t matter if it was family Singstar night and her doing “power squats” to reach certain notes while screaming into the Singstar mic, competing in Tri’s all over the country and Internationally, helping raise over $20,000 for a charity in 2013 or even most recently, winning multiple games at a family baby shower, Yas does EVERYTHING to the best of her ability.  So to me it was no surprise when she decided to get a preventative double mastectomy.

To me, this is just her making the choice to live her life to the best of her ability, making sure she is there for her two gorgeous daughters and her husband for a long long time.  To someone like me who thinks logically and passionately, it’s the right decision.  You process what’s most important to you in life, factor in obstacles, find a way to remove them or change them into stepping stones and move on.  This is exactly how I see what Yas is doing and that is just my opinion and I know it will differ from person to person.

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I have many memories from when I was a child with Yas, one of my cool older cousins.  I remember things like her doing my hair and makeup for special occasions, making up dancing to songs like “Barbie Girl” with my sister and always having sleep overs!   As I got older, the focus turned to other things, Yas took me shopping for my first bra, she tried to help me get back on the rails when I was a big trouble maker kid and tried to help me manage my weight, all things that she knew I was struggling with.  When I was in my early teens I remember having a race from my family home over to our Nan and Pops home which was just under 2kms away.  As a pretty chubby kid it took me quite a while to run (pretty sure I walked ALOT of it) the 2kms, but one thing I distinctly remember was Yas coming back and encouraging me to keep going. 

I did eventually get there and I’m pretty positive I jumped straight in the pool fully clothed!  Now as a pretty put together (I like to think) 24 year old, I can reflect on things like this and see what Yas was trying to help me achieve, I just wasn’t ready at the time.  

As I was undressing to hop into the shower a few days ago I realised how uncomfortable I am starting to feel in my body.  Over two years I managed go from 110kgs down to 80kgs and now I’m back around to 95kg mark again after getting a bit comfortable and lazy in my relationship.  One thing’s for sure, I never want to be 100+kgs again.   Here I am at my biggest…..

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So I started to think about fitness and motivation and what I could do to get me going again, instantly Yas came to mind.  To me Yas is always on her game when it comes to fitness, people call her fitness crazy and obsessed, but hey, if that’s what you like then power too you!!!  Here I am at my most healthy…….

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I then realised with her upcoming mastectomy and foot surgery (yes she is doing both one after the other!) she isn’t going to be able to work out then there was the EUREKA moment. I will work out for Yas while she can’t, crazy right?!  Hell yeah it is!  But crazy is ok with me and crazy isn’t definitely ok with Yas haha. 

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So for the next 6-8 weeks I will following a similar schedule to what Yas would normally do, this involves working out about 12 times a week for around 60 – 90mins at a time and I am PUMPED!  

I have taken photos to track my progression and they were probably the hardest bit of committing to this.  But here they are and here goes nothing!!”

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 Luv Jodie xxxx

WOW, WOW, WOW!!  Seriously, Jodie’s pretty amazing hey!!!

Jodie is one of the most beautiful souls you will ever meet.  I remember at our Smiling for Smiddy Garage Sale last year, she worked an all-nighter to help with the setup, then she took herself off to work for the day and soldiered on without a blink of the eye.  She had fun doing it too, even finding time to dress up along the way….

Garage Sale

When I received Jodie’s message about her idea to follow my training schedule during my down time, I was seriously blown away.   I sent her the regime and once again, she didn’t hesitate.

I love her idea and I’m even more proud of the fact that she has courageously shared her story today.

Go Jodie!  You absolutely ROCK my world and I’m looking forward to training in spirit with you as you undertake this challenge you have set for yourself.

Here’s the schedule for anyone that wants to join Jodie:

  • Monday 6:00am & 6:00pm
  • Tuesday 5:30am & 5:30pm
  • Wednesday 5:30am & 5:30pm
  • Thursday 6:00am & 5:30pm
  • Friday 5:30am & optional 5:00pm
  • Saturday 6:30am & optional 4:30pm
  • Sunday 6:00am & rest or walk PM

Yas xxxx

Family

The Hospital Checklist

Posted in News

With just 4 days to go, it’s time to start really thinking about what I will need to take with me to hospital for my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy on Friday.

Some would have expected me to have a hospital checklist spreadsheet ready months ago, I do love to be organised.  OK, OK, I did download a document and I ‘may’ have referenced it once or twice to ensure I have everything underway….

I promise that even though this is one of my favourite quotes, I haven’t obsessed over it, as there’s really not that much to take with me.

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What I’m doing this week is really getting into the nitty gritty, so I’ve compiled a little checklist of the final items to check and organise before Friday morning. I’ve got my blue highlighter out and I’ll tick it all off ‘triathlon race day prep’ style to ensure I don’t forget anything.

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It’s pretty simple really, I don’t need to pack anything fancy, but there are some special ‘Yas’ items that make the list though. See if you can spot them below…..

  • Button up pyjamas
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, QV lotion, chap stick etc)
  • Hairbrush & hairbands
  • Moisturiser (& small makeup bag)
  • Laptop computer & charger
  • Notebook, pen, highlighter
  • Tri-best blender, blade & cups
  • Button up shirts Shorts (to wear home)
  • Shoes (to wear home)
  • Books to read
  • iPod with favourite music
  • Treasures & picture of family

There is one item on my list which I’m yet to add, I’m wishing and hoping that it’s not needed.

Let’s just say that it’s a ‘lady’ item……

I know, it’s gross that I’m even sharing this with you, but you know the deal with me, I’m an open book and this blog discusses everything!! Would you believe that I’m ‘due’ on the day of my surgery. I’ve had all kinds of visions of how one manages to ‘look after’ this area when movement of the upper limbs is limited. I guess that’s what the wonderful nursing staff are for.

To be honest, I’m hoping that my body just ‘knows’ that it’s not the right time for my little visitor and therefore it will be kind and move on from it’s regular schedule to focus on healing rather than keeping to a 28 day regime.

Moving on from that topic, especially for my male friends who read the blog……

I think I’m pretty much ready to go. I’ll pack everything into a small suitcase tomorrow and add any last minute items as the day draws near.

Suitcase

One thing I’m really grateful for is the fact that I don’t need to leave Leigh with a 10 page document on how to manage the girls in my week long absence from home.

Leigh’s always been a very hands on dad, which includes him regularly (ok, 5 days a week) getting the girls ready for school, including breakfast, school uniforms, hair and shoes. I will admit that I have given him a quick run through of the school lunch boxes and the after school activity and homework schedule, but I think they’re well and truly safe in his hands.

Leigh & Girls

Seven days without me at home, he’s got this under control…..right???

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Surgery Frequent Flyer

Posted in News

Here I sit, wondering how on earth to update my blog today.  There’s so much I want to say, so many thoughts going on in my head, it’s been a very busy few days.

I will be honest, I have another 3 or 4 blog articles which I was expecting to post before this one, but I just couldn’t resist laughing at myself a little and popping this one up first.

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For those that don’t know, I was in the emergency room this week with a suspected foot injury.  After writing my ‘Dr’s Orders: Get as fit as you can’ blog, I can just imagine Alanis Morissette’s Ironic playing in the background when you read the full details of what happened.

Basically, I was training at the gym, doing an exercise that I’ve done plenty of times before and suddenly I hear a ‘snap or crack’ and realise that it came from my foot!!  With some fantastic immediate support from my friend Mandy, who helped me remove my shoe and make my way over to the lounge seat, I was immediately fussed over by the wonderful Lexi, who has welcomed me daily at the gym for months now with her warm infectious smile.  Lexi’s one of those beautiful people you meet, and while she’s stunning on the outside, it’s her inside that makes her most beautiful.  She’s almost young enough to be my daughter and one of those young women that you hope your own daughter grows up to be.  Lexi insisted on icing my foot and had me rest for 20 mins.

I’m actually in the top photo below, which was taken just moments before I injured myself.  I’m working hard at the back in the white shirt.

Kosama Training

I had already organised a breakfast catch up with a good friend of mine, so I hobbled out of the gym insistent that I was going to be OK.  I had self diagnosed in my mind (that’s what we all do isn’t it?) that I had just hurt my foot, cracked a joint and sustained some minor injury in a ligament or something.   It wasn’t until after breakfast that I realised the pain wasn’t getting better, I was less capable of hobbling around and took myself off to the local private emergency hospital for a quick check, resulting in the ‘broken bone’ diagnosis.  A moon boot, some crutches and instructions to rest for 4-6 weeks and I was on my way.

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So, why am I here today jumping ahead of other already prepared articles? Well, it’s because I have since seen my GP, who referred me to an Orthopaedic Surgeon for further investigation of my 5th metatarsal x-ray.

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Through what is a classic ‘stars aligning’ morning. I turned up unannounced at my GP’s rooms to request a referral, to which he not only provided, but he personally called a lower limb specialist to squeeze me in and see me today!   I drove immediately to the specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon who turned out to be just exactly what I needed.

My broken 5th metatarsal is now a confirmed Jones Fracture.

OK, I’ll admit it….  A quick visit to Google last night when I was kindly informed by a friends Podiatrist husband that he suspected a Jones Fracture, saw me reading the Wikipedia page where it describes the fracture in further detail.  Take a read of the Diagnosis, Treatment and Prognisis yourself and you might get an idea of where my thoughts were heading…..especially given my x-ray image looks almost identical to the image used on this page.

So we now have a plan of action.  In addition to my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy on Feb 28, which includes 7 days in hospital, I’m now also booked in for surgery to repair my foot on Monday 10 March.

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I realise how ridiculous this might seem.  Seriously!!  Who has a mastectomy and then willingly undergoes further surgery just 10 days later?

The answer is simple…..Me!

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I’m a process oriented type of person, which you may have already gathered if you have read some of my previous blogs.

My thoughts are pretty simple…

If I’m going to be incapacitated following my mastectomy, then I may as well remain incapacitated by having my foot surgery at the same time.  The healing process can then overlap and I’ll be able to really focus on healing, resting and recovering.

To be honest, if my foot could have been operated on while I am still in hospital, then I would have absolutely gone with that.  The surgery on my foot is minor, it’s an in-and-out in a day type of surgery.

So with a mastectomy on Feb 28, recovery for 7 days in hospital and then surgery to pin my foot, I’ll be unable to use crutches, so I dare say that one of these trendy things (known as a knee scooter) might be my new mode of transport for a while.

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One thing’s for sure, I’ll be guaranteed to rest, which is surely just what the Dr will order. Rest that is until it’s time to take the girls down to the local park for some scooter racing!!

This quote sums it up perfectly.

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Dr’s Orders: Get as fit as you can!!

Posted in News

Friday saw me heading to see my breast surgeon for the last time before my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy.

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The appointment was primarily to discuss the method of the surgery, which involved confirming the decision to either keep or not keep my nipples.   If you haven’t read my previous blog, I’m NOT sparing my nipples, I want them gone, along with every little piece of breast tissue possible!

At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice for each patient.  I have learnt throughout this process that it’s quite common for women to opt and prefer to keep or ‘spare’ their nipple.  The primary reason as I understand it, is for cosmetic purposes.  OK, I’ll admit that it will look ‘weird’ and ‘different’ to not have a nipple, but for me it was never an option to keep them.  My philosophy is simple…..take it all!!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my nipples.  Don’t get me wrong, I think they look pretty ‘normal’, they aren’t small or large, they aren’t dark or light, they’re pretty standard if you ask me.  However, my nipples are very sensitive to the weather, so naturally they react and ‘present’ themselves willingly whenever they please.   For me personally, I’ve never really loved that look, except for maybe a ‘tiny little bit’ when I was in my late teens and it attracted some attention from the odd boy here and there 🙂 .

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Now that we have the nipple side of the appointment out of the way, it was time to finalise any other questions.

My only question really was related to the final 2 weeks.  I mostly wanted to know whether I should be ‘easing up’ with my training, avoiding certain exercises or sleeping and resting more between now and Feb 28th.

I waited patiently for the answer to my very simple question, which was….“Is there anything I should be avoiding physically to best prepare in the final two weeks?”

I took a deep breath and he said something like….No, there’s nothing to avoid, I want you to get as fit as you can before surgery.

I bet I smiled, I’m sure I did.  I was relieved, happy, excited and a little pumped to be honest.

I won’t lie, I have definitely repeated the words a few times (or maybe a dozen or more times) over in my head.

  • Get as fit as you can
  • Get as fit as you can
  • Get as fit as you can

There’s really no other way to interpret these 6 words.  Whoo hoo!!!

I was pumped!!  So pumped that I had a little self talk to myself on the way to the gym on Saturday for my weekly ‘favourite’ session.  Known as ‘Afterburn’, this session is seriously fun, challenging and tough all at the same time.  The team at Kosama Fitness – Fortitude Valley are simply awesome!!

My little self talk was pretty much just…..

”Work harder than ever Yas, it’s your second last Saturday session for a while”

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So train like a beast I did!!  I think I sweated more on Saturday morning than I have for a very long time.  Thanks to the amazing Niki, one of the trainers at Kosama, I have a few photo’s from Saturday to remind me of the session.

Afterburn on Saturday was tough!  It was one of those sessions with no rest, which meant we worked through all 10 stations doing 25 reps in each and ideally getting through 2 rounds in 30 mins.  I honestly can’t remember what we did for all 10 stations, but the pics helped me recall a few which included TRX chin ups, wall ball squats, box jumps, rope slams, kettle bell squat with alternate single leg back lunges and there were also burpee jump squats and I do also remember skipping with ropes, where instead of 25 reps, it was 150 skips.

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I remember getting through round 1 in 16 mins, so I grabbed a sip of water and just smashed myself for the final round.  In the end, I had around 60 seconds to spare where I pretty much just spent sitting on the floor!!

It hurt a LOT, but it was well worth it!!

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I have also met some really amazing people while training at Kosama.  It’s often the same familiar faces each week.  These are the faces that challenge and push me to work hard, make me smile when I’m trying to concentrate and they also motivate the hell out of me when I’m just not feeling it on the day.

I’m looking forward to my last 12 days of training, where I’ll probably train around 20 times in at out of the gym.  It’s just under 7% of the time I have between now and my surgery, so it might sound like a lot of hours, but it’s not a huge amount of my overall time.

What I will do though is make sure I’m giving it 100% for each and every session, following Dr’s specific instructions to ‘Get as fit as you can’.

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