Jodie’s Update # 3

Posted in News

Here’s the weekly update all the way from Perth, on the other side of the country to where I am.  Jodie and I manage to stay in touch with each other thanks to email, text messages and of course, Facebook messages too.  Even with the time difference, we still manage to catch each other almost immediately whenever we send a message.

Jodie surprised me this week with some fantastic news.  Take a read of her blog update below….

“So something exciting happened this week… I BOUGHT A BIKE!!! 🙂

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This might mean something different to everyone, to some it means a fixie (no gears) or a mountain bike or a top of the range carbon fibre tri bike.  The bike I got is a simple bike that will get me started on my journey to becoming a fitter person.  I’m going to be riding it too and from work everyday and will be going for rides on my days off as well.  So far I love it!  It’s red (so it goes faster!), has 18 gears which I need to learn how to use and was bought for me by my amazing boyfriend Carlo.

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Speaking of Carlo, he is one of the other fabulous people that is helping row my boat.  He will do anything to help me succeed in any facet of my life, including moving across the country for my job.  So when I told him I was doing this in support of Yas, he was all for it! He even ran beside me while I was riding on my bike ride.  What more does a girl need in life?!

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We also did a big clean out of our panty and fridge on our day off and ditched the chocolate, soft drinks and unhealthy snacks.  We then went and replaced it all with delicious healthy food, some of which I’m trying for the first time and I will be sure to take pictures of for my next blog.

For me, eating healthy is probably the hardest bit of it all, but I know if it isn’t in the house then I can’t be tempted to eat it at all.  Working in a retail mall on the other hand though, means at lunch time there are tonnes of bad choices everywhere and my colleagues bring them in too.  My will power will be tested this week and I PROMISE to be 100% honest as to whether I cave in or not.

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I do have a great support system at work though with colleagues that love to stay fit doing rowing, tri’s, cycling and running.  We are even looking into fun active things we can do together such as an indoor trampoline place called Bounce Inc.   It looks like great fun and looks like it would be a killer leg work out haha!

It’s been a great week and I’m sure there are many more great things to come as I open my eyes to new food and become one of those “pesky” cyclists, I’ll keep you all posted! Xx”

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WOW!!  What a woman!  I am so super impressed with Jodie making these positive and healthy changes to her life.  She’s a truly beautiful person and regardless of how she looks now or in the future after she has achieved her goals, I know that she’s going to live a longer healthier life with her daily exercise habits and new healthy eating plans.

I love you Jodie, you are truly an inspiration.  While I sit here in Brisbane unable to train for a few more weeks yet, I can’t help but feel motivated by Jodie’s updates.  Keep going strong!!!

PS.  She’s almost convinced to do a triathlon with me next time she’s back in Brisbane.  I am so excited at the thought of racing with her side-by-side 100% of the way.

Road to Recovery – with a little speed bump!!

Posted in News

So, it’s all done and dusted!

All surgeries for the moment are finalised, finished and done!  My prophylactic bilateral mastectomy on February 28 was a complete success.  I say ‘success’ because not only did I receive confirmation just days afterwards that my breast tissue was ‘all clear’, but I have also made it through almost 2 weeks now without any breast or chest pain at all.

From the very moment I woke up, I haven’t had any feelings of pain where my breasts once were.  I will admit that there was the odd ‘nerve’ pinch pain here and there, but once the drains came out that pain subsided.  Lucky me!!

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I have had a feeling of ‘tightness’ in my chest for the past 5 days, but I was pretty sure that this would all be alleviated with a fine needle aspiration to remove the fluid that’s been building up since having the drains removed. When I had a scan of my chest area yesterday, I learnt that there is a little fluid hanging around, but the tightness is just a combination of the expander, my peck muscles and underarm numbness.  I can’t complain at all!!

A lot of people have asked me this week about the ‘bad’ times, you know the part of this process where I haven’t felt great, amazing, happy or good.  I must admit, when I was first asked the question I found it really hard to answer.  I’m typically a ‘glass half full’ girl, but I’m also very aware that life isn’t always ‘sunshine and lollipops’.

Wednesday was a rough day for me!  There I said it, I’ve had a rough day in my road to recovery.  Here’s why it was rough, and I really do need to remind you that before you continue reading, you really need to understand that what I’m sharing here is the ‘real’, the ‘honest’ and the ‘raw’ side of the whole prophylactic bilateral mastectomy process.

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My day started with a real surprise, but I’m going to come back to this shortly because what happened to me was a real shock.  It’s something I’ve never dealt with before and I really didn’t know how to respond or react when it all unfolded.  To be honest, even as I type this out, I’m not really sure whether I want to share it here….but I’m torn between being open and transparent, and the regret I might feel when people read about what I happened to me.  I’ll revisit my ‘mishap’ at the end..

Moving on from my morning shock, I had to prepare for my first ‘day out’ since surgery, which comprised of me heading to the hospital to have a scan of my chest and a needle aspiration.  In the end, as you’ve read above, I didn’t have an aspiration and I’m just dealing with the tightness in my chest.

The appointment at the hospital ran over time, so we didn’t have time for me to come home before the school pick-up run.  I had my roller, so I thought I’d be right….

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Our girls have swimming after school on a Wednesday, so I was able to hang out ‘resting’ on my little roller at the pool while they swam and I know it sounds very relaxing, I will admit that it was a little warm and my compression vest was starting to make me feel itchy.  I found myself a shady spot to try to sweat a little less, but the itchy feeling had already started and I was just hoping it wouldn’t get worse.

You’d think after such a big day that I’d be heading home right after swimming, but no, not the Griggas family.  It was time to pick up our International Students, the two lovely Japanese girls staying with us under the College Homestay program.  It’s the first time we have been involved in this and we have all been excited about it.

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Our new and temporarily larger family all headed to Woolies on the way home to pick up some supplies and to give the girls an experience wandering around the local grocery store, but it was now late in the afternoon and I was definitely starting to feel very tired. My knee was sore from rolling around on the knee-roller and while I know it’s no real ‘big world problem’, I could feel myself starting to fatigue.  I was rolling around the aisles and managed to sit down on the roller a few times just to give myself a little rest.

I did silently think that I was weak, but I quickly reminded myself of what my body had been through and instead of being cranky about feeling tired, I decided to think positively and thank my body for working so hard this past 13 days to protect me from any feeling of pain and suffering.

I realised something as I wandered around…..it dawned on me that while I’ve had it good and trouble free for almost 2 weeks, my body has been silently working hard in the background protecting me from any issues, troubles, worries or concerns.  It’s been fighting a battle without fuss, all to help me feel strong, happy and relatively trouble free after having a major surgical procedure, followed by a minor foot operation just 10 days later.

I suddenly had a new found respect for my strength!  Strength you say? Believe it or not, despite me being addicted to training, motivated by movement and a lover of everything socially associated with training on a daily basis, I’ve never really seen myself as being ‘strong’.  That is until now!

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I am strong!  There I said it and I’m not going to feel guilty or embarrassed about admitting it out loud.  I’ve always hesitated to dish out a compliment to myself, in fact, I think as a woman, we are almost taught to reject positive compliments dished out to us in life.  It’s often that we pick on the ‘bad’ things about ourselves instead of focusing on the amazing wonder that is our diverse life, but this is just silly and I’ve definitely got a new perspective on how I now see myself!  Isn’t it funny, because if you consider the way I look right now on the surface, I have probably never looked ‘worse’.  I’m bruised, swollen, I have stitches across my chest on both sides, I’m in a moonboot, rolling around on a knee roller to be mobile and I have only washed my hair once in the past 2 weeks.  To top that off, I haven’t done any exercise now for 14 days and my muscles are starting to show the impact of this, my skin is loose, it’s dry, I smell permanently under my armpits and yesterday I got my period!!  I’m bloated, moody, stinky, puffy and strangely I feel stronger and more beautiful now than I ever had in my whole life.  I can’t explain why, but I’m rolling with it.

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I’ve reflected a lot in the past couple of weeks about so many different and deep things, most importantly about body image, beauty and the true meaning of loving not only those important people in our lives, but also the art of loving yourself.

But…..with black comes white, with yin comes yang, so with strength comes weakness and here’s mine.  Remember I said that something strange happened to me on Wednesday?  I won’t lie, I’m still nervous about sharing it, but I vowed to be honest and I’ll stick to my commitment and share all of the experiences I have during this journey.

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DISCLAIMER: Before reading this next paragraph, please remind yourself of the strength that comes from complete and raw honesty….and if you’re going to ‘judge’, perhaps think twice about continuing to read on……

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I woke up yesterday and found myself in my weakest moment since having my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy…

I’ve been sleeping downstairs on the recliner, mainly because I can’t get myself upstairs with my foot and while I could crawl up, It’s challenging to get myself up the stairs with the inability to use my upper body for strength.  I’m pretty much stuck down stairs for the moment!

So here’s what I woke to….

After sleeping on and off, tossing and turning and getting up more times in the dark of the night than ever before, I found myself a little annoyed.  You see, I don’t usually get up during the night EVER!  Not to pee, not to drink, not because I’m restless and certainly not to our girls anymore, who love to sleep soundly in their own rooms nightly.

I tossed and turned and didn’t really get much sleep throughout the night. Not having much sleep didn’t bother me, but being uncomfortable, awake and having to roll myself to the loo at least 3 times during the night, all I wanted to do was get some rest.  I finally nodded off around 2:30am, dreaming soundly, of what I think was some sort of training event with some of my favourite training buddies.  It was bliss!!  These two guys were in my dream, so perhaps I can lay some of the blame on them!!

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I was dreaming about us racing, preparing for an event, taking the last toilet stop before we started the race…..then it happened!!!  I relaxed, my dream began to become my nightmare as I woke on the recliner realising that I wasn’t just taking my last pee before a big race, but I was literally pee’ing myself in real life!!!  WTF!!!  I can’t believe that I even just typed WTF, but it was such a shock to me at the time, I couldn’t believe that as a grown woman, I woke to complete wetness.  I’m not just talking about a trickle, not just a dribble, but a whole bladder full of wetness soaked through my pyjama’s, soaked through my under sheet, soaked through both of my blankets and soaked completely through to my new secondhand bargain Gumtree recliner!!!!

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Holy crap!!  That’s what I thought!!  It was around 5:30am, I picked myself up off the very smelly and wet recliner, rolled my way to the toilet, finished off what felt like a very full bladder of pee and then made my way back to the couch to somehow get all the bed linen into the laundry on my roller.

It wasn’t long before little Miss 7 woke up and made her way downstairs.  I sought her help, her refuge, her compassion, a hug, some love and we both laughed so loudly at the story.  I found comfort in sharing my secret with her, she was so supportive, helped me clean up, made me feel relaxed about the whole thing.

This is the same daughter that wants to grow up to be just like me!! Remember the blog I wrote about being ‘normal’, I wonder if she still wants to be like her mum now!!!

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We did joke about it going into the ‘family vault’, especially as I wasn’t so sure at the time that I wanted her to go to school and let her friends know that her mummy pee’d the bed…..but after a day to think about it, I feel quite comfortable about sharing my experience here in my blog.  This was Leigh’s reaction when I told him I was going to include it…..

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It’s my way of letting my friends, family and those strangers following my journey realise, even with a wonderfully positive mind and a super-strong body, no matter how much you try, it’s clearly impossible to control everything – especially a full bladder.

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Some disinfectant and a good scrub later and everything’s back to normal. My super husband was kind enough to make sure I was comfortable back in my bed/recliner after my little ‘speed bump all before he took the girls off for the morning school run.

So there!  It’s done!  It’s out there now and while I may be at risk of some friends perhaps questioning why on earth I would even put that all out there…..those that know me best will know that it’s just the way I roll.

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I just can’t help but be honest!!

Maybe you can make me feel better about ‘outing’ myself as an adult bed wetter by sharing a moment in your life where something strange or weird happened to you.  Or is it staying locked safely in your family vault?

Jodie’s Update

Posted in News

Remember my awesome cousin Jodie?  She’s the super strong and determined young woman who came up with the great idea to ‘train’ for me while I’m off my feet.  If you missed the blog about it, you can read about it all in the Jodie’s Story blog.  Jodie has sent through an update and I’d love to share it with you….

I share with you Jodie’s update…..

“This week I started my fitness challenge after pledging myself to Yasmin’s fitness regime. When I first told a few people I got “you’re mental”, “it’s not natural to work our that much”, “you’re not fit enough”.  All of these people are people that are drilling holes on my boat, so I chose to ignore them.  Then I have the amazing people in my life that said things like “that’s brave”, “good on you” and “I’ll help you out along the way”.

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One of those people helping row my boat is my amazing Dad.  Most people reading this don’t know who I am.  So quickly, about 5 months ago I moved to perth from Brisbane with my boyfriend Carlo after being presented with a great work opportunity.  We left behind both of your very loving families.  My dad has came over for a 2 week visit and half way through the time when he was here, I made my commitment to Yas.

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After I told dad, he offered for me to come on his morning walks that he had been doing everyday.  So off we went!  The track we walked is gorgeous and runs down beside the swan river for kilometres.  It was a great time to spend quality time with him and also for him to share some tips as he actually has never held a drivers license and walks everywhere!  We also spent some of our quality time and went to Rottnest Island where there are no cars, which meant GRAB A BIKE!

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I myself had not been on a bike in over 15 years but got the hang quite easy.  I was super impressed with Dad who has not ridden a bike in 35 years!!!!!! Total for the day we ended up riding over 13kms and had a great time stopping to snorkel and swim in between.

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I also just got back from a work conference where we participated in some very fun physical activities.  The company I work for prides themselves on the “outdoor culture” so of course we were going to get sweaty!!  It started off as an ‘amazing race’ type journey and I had nominated myself as team leader.  I grabbed a business card and our team was off and running to find the business!  We ran for about 2kms until we got to a bike shop! How ironic considering I had just been on a bike for the first time in a long time a few days ago.  We got told to “find the boss” so we rang to him and he gave us clues. Off we rode we cycled for about 4kms before we found him and picked him up.  He gave us a direction to go in and we cycled back another 2kms, by this point my legs were killing me. We got to the beach and realised we were doing stand up paddling boarding which is awesome!!!!!  It was my first time trying it and yes I ended up in the water multiples of times.  After all the different teams finished the race we all joined together and played a few games of beach volley ball.  I had no idea how good at serving a was! 🙂  I was very happy to discover this.

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I’m now back at home in Perth and back to work, I also bought a cold home with me.  So to be 100% honest I have no worked out the last two days and I feel very guilty.  It’s starting to pass though which means I will be getting back to it very soon.  I hope everyone is enjoying following this as much as I am enjoying doing it.  Keep watching this space and watching me shrink. I promise I will.”

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Jodie xx

Isn’t she awesome?  Seriously, I’m so proud of Jodie not only for sharing her story, but for being so determined and strong, despite the challenges that she has ahead of her.

Go Jodie!!!

Week 1 – Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy – All Done!

Posted in News

It’s certainly been an eventful week!!  It’s not everyday you have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, let alone do it with a broken 5th metatarsal, which is being pinned in another surgical procedure just 10 days after the mastectomy.

You would think that this would keep us busy enough!

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BUT….if you know the Grigaliunas family, affectionally known as Team Griggas, you would almost be expecting something else.  Well, not to disappoint, there is more…..

In addition to the prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, Leigh decided it would be good idea to have our new puppy Lofty desexed, he was due, so it made sense to schedule it in.  In fact, Leigh had booked it in with the vet and sent me a calendar meeting request  for the very same day as my procedure.  When I questioned Leigh as to whether he thought it might be ‘too much’ to take on in a day, he hesitated to agree, but eventually decided that it might be best to reschedule Lofty’s appointment.  Instead of Lofty losing his balls on the same day I was losing my boobs, Leigh re-appointed the event to the Monday after my mastectomy.

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Lofty has since recovered and to my relief, Leigh saw some sense in my suggestion to move the appointment so it wasn’t on the same day as my procedure.

So with a few balls (no pun intended) all juggling in the air last week, you ‘d think we had enough on our plate.

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All I can say is that Leigh must have been caught in a moment of emotion as ‘man’s best friend’ lost his nuts.  Why you ask? Well he agreed to take on a foster dog, which he read about on Facebook via the breeder we purchased our puppy from.  Sadly, this 3 year old Labradoodle had been mistreated and needed a loving home with children to help him ‘recover’.   My heart wanted to help, but I wasn’t so sure that the timing was the best.  I was still in hospital and not really thinking about welcoming a new family member into our home. Leigh however was drawn in and had already made the decision to welcome the dog into our family, so on the Friday I came home, the plan was that Leigh would collect the foster dog, whose name I learnt was ‘Dood’, the following day.  How could he resist this face?

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Leigh and the girls made the trip to collect Dood and I slept and rested the day away, which was exactly what the doctor had ordered.

Dood came into our home and was an instant hit with Lofty, Leigh, Layla and Libby.  For me, it was more a matter of wondering how we can ‘adjust’ the name ‘Dood’ to match the pattern we use when naming our children.  Layla, Libby and Lofty all contain the letter ‘L’ and the letter ‘Y’, which are of course mine and Leigh’s first name initials, but Dood didn’t match.  There was some light hearted discussion as to how we would deal with the fact that our new family member didn’t follow the naming pattern.

So, as I sit here looking back on the week that was, I realise that it’s been an eventful one.

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For the icing on the cake, would you believe that Dood went missing today!! We think he jumped the fence to escape, the poor thing has obviously had a really rough life.  We reported it immediately to BCC, I then recorded the contact information for any shelter in the area due to open again Monday morning and finally I went straight to social media to post the missing dog on Facebook.  We printed flyers and letterbox dropped them and Leigh drove around the street, then walked Lofty to see if he could ‘sniff’ him out.  There was no success and we all started to ponder what might have happened to poor Dood.

Then it happened!  The magic of social media, which I’ve seen work in the past but never really experienced myself in this way.

A friend of mine saw my post about Dood being missing, she then shared a post with me that another friend of hers posted about a male dog being found.  While I didn’t know her ‘friend’ who had found Dood, we instantly knew the local coffee shop where Dood was photographed at and it was only about 800m up the road.  After a couple of messages between us, we were connected and Dood was once again back with us.

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What a week, what a weekend!!

Tonight as I finish this blog, I prepare to take myself upstairs to bed, but not before packing a light bag for my foot operation tomorrow morning.  While I’m certain it’s going to be a very basic ‘day procedure’, it’s always a good idea to prepare ‘just in case’.  I’d hate to be stuck in there for the night without some fresh undies, my PJ’s and my laptop of course!!

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I laughed momentarily that our life this past week would make a good soap opera script, but I will admit that I was waiting for the happy ending and found myself very relieved when it came with the return of our foster dog Dood.

I haven’t had time to think much about my recovery, I just expect that it will be a relatively simple process now.  I will admit that my chest has slowly ‘filled up’ with fluid since coming home on Friday, but I’ve just been ‘getting on with things’ and doing my best to ignore it.  There’s no sign of infection, it’s just an uncomfortable feeling in my chest and I’m now sporting a small ‘A’ cup instead of a flat chest. You can see in the image comparison below that I’m starting to fill up….

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I think I actually prefer the feeling of it being flat for the moment, so I’m really looking forward to having a needle aspiration on Wednesday to remove the excess fluid that’s building up in my chest.  It might not show very clearly in the image comparison, but my boobs haven’t been this tight and sitting this high since I was 15.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that on Wednesday, the same day as my needle aspiration, we also pick up two International Students visiting from Japan, they’re staying with us during their visit to the girls school for 2 weeks.

I guess it’s lucky we love to juggle!!

Day 7 – Home Time & Selfie Time

Posted in News

Today was the day!!  There’s nothing like meeting your doctor in the early hours of the morning and being told that you can go home.  I must have looked like a kid in a lolly shop!

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Despite still having fluid draining at a moderate rate, the risk of infection with the drains staying in longer starts to increase after day 7.  It was music to my ears, I really wanted to be home for the weekend if it was safe to do so.

All I needed to do now was have the drains removed, shower, pack up my belongings and head home.  I will admit to a tiny bit of concern with the drains being removed.  I guess with them being in there for 7 days, there was a chance that it would hurt.  In fact, almost every person I have spoken to who has had the same procedure had warned me about the drains being removed. Some women have told me that it was worse pain than the surgery, others said it was excruciating, some screamed, others cried but pretty much everyone told me it was bad!! I decided to take one last selfie with my cool looking drains, it’s a gorgeous photo I know!!

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In the end, it didn’t hurt one little bit.  In all honesty, I didn’t even feel them come out.  The drains barely left a mark on my body and I’m sure that in a few months from now I’ll struggle to see the holes left behind.  At least I’ve got two moles to remind me on my left side where the drains were!!

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Once the drains were out, it was time for a quick shower, a couple of day 7 selfies without the drain bags and that’s it, I’m released, discharged, going home – whoo hoo!

I have decided to share a collage of my body 7 days post op here in this blog.  I realise some may find the images confronting, perhaps even offensive, ugly, unattractive and disfigured.  I’d like to make it clear that they are in no way sexual or intimate, these images are simply a visual representation of my new body, a body that I’m embracing as I now navigate life without a risk of being one of the women in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

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The images make me feel proud.  I love my new body, I probably love it more than what it looked like prior to my surgery and not because I now have a flat chest with stitches for nipples and scars that will never go away, I love it because I have realised during this process that we are so much more than our bodies.

My children will never hear me complain about the way I look, nor will I spend time giving myself grief for the next 50+ years about what I don’t like about my exterior self.  We can’t really change the way we look, but we can change the attitude towards our external selves and the way we communicate it to others.

I don’t know about you, but I was always taught that “beauty is only skin deep”, how about we all start really acting that way.  I invite you to see what I look like externally now, and remind you that my beauty lies within me.

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From the front, you can see that there is some bruising around the area where my breasts were removed, this has slowly come out over the past 7 days, but it’s still very limited bruising and there’s no discomfort or pain.  The odd or bumpy shape of my skin around that area is the contour of the expanders, which are effectively empty bags awaiting fill before any reconstruction can take place.  They are hard and I mean really hard!!  If you want to touch them, just ask me, I’m not shy about it!!

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The stitches look really great, you might not be able to see it, but there’s actually invisible tape that’s been in place permanently since the surgery sitting over the scars.  I’m sure that once the tape is removed it will look a lot less red.

In the close up of my lefty below, you can see that it’s extremely neat and not as ‘sore’ looking than the full chesty selfie.

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The righty looks a little more inflamed, but I think it’s because of the extra dried blood that sits under the tape on this side.

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Both scars aren’t painful in anyway and other than an overall ‘tight’ feeling in my chest, I have no pain at all and it’s pretty much been this way since I woke up.

From the side shot below you can see that I’m flat, flat, flat!!  It really gives a good perspective of me standing side on and I feel very comfortable sharing the view, it’s very real.  I still need to wear my compression vest 24/7, so I have no idea how it all looks and feels wearing my normal clothes, but what I see when I look at this image is a mother who proactively and successfully cheated a breast cancer diagnosis.

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The view from the right is very much the same, although you can see here that there’s a bit of redness below where the drains were.  I think these were caused from the drain tubes rubbing on my skin under the vest.  To be honest, they cause me a little more itchiness and irritation than the scars from the surgery themselves.

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My final brave move for day 7 was to take a full frontal naked selfie in the mirror.  I’ve never done this before, not even prior to the surgery, but I know in years to come I will want to look back on this journey and see it all visually.

What I see here isn’t a naked body.  I see a woman who has proactively made the choice to change the patten of breast cancer diagnosis in her family.

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You won’t ever hear me say that I ‘survived’, because I didn’t.  I make no claim to being brave or strong when it comes to cancer, in fact I’m the complete opposite, I’m running from it, choosing to avoid it, cheat it, but definitely not beat it.

The word cheat officially means…avoid (something undesirable) by luck or skill.

This quote sums it up perfectly.

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Thank you for sharing my journey with me.

Gumtree Bargain….

Posted in News

Everyone loves a good bargain right?  Well I can’t help but brag about my most recent score on Gumtree!!

During my planning and preparation before my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I realised that laying flat in a bed upon returning home would be challenging.  The hospital beds are great for ensuring you can really be comfortable on any angle, however our bed at home is definitely not going to suit if I want to prop myself up.  I’ve never been a big pillow user, which is lucky because my hubby loves his pillows and is often caught spooning my extra pillow in the early hours of the morning.  I always wondered why it wasn’t me he was spooning, but apparently I get too hot and it makes him sweat more!!

I’d better stop there before it becomes a case of TMI (too much information). Hmmmm, this image makes me wonder about that excuse he’s been using all these years…….

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I knew I’d need a recliner or some sort of bed ‘propping up’ device in order to make it a smooth transition from hospital to home.

The first thing I found was this Bed Lounge, which is actually a pretty cool product.  They’re not too expensive and while they’re not the most attractive item to add to the bedroom, they would certainly do exactly what I was hoping for.

Bed Lounge

I just didn’t get that ‘must buy’ feeling from the Bed Lounge.  I started to wonder what I’d do when it comes to napping during the day.  Would I need to go upstairs to our bedroom each time I needed the nanna-nap?  I was kind of imagining myself just falling asleep randomly throughout the day, on some kind of super comfy recliner chair.

So I started to scroll through eBay and Gumtree for recliner lounge chairs. Figuring that I’d have to pay around $100 for a second hand recliner chair, I found myself just randomly visiting eBay and Gumtree whenever I remembered to do so.

I was amazed at just how many recliners there were available.  I will admit to doing some crazy kind of happy dance when I stumbled across an ad that read: “Cream leather 3 seater couch + 2 single recliners”.  The reason for the happy dance, well that’s easy!!  It was located in nearby Stafford and still available for the BARGAIN price of $50.  A Gumtree bargain!!

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Seriously!!  $50 for a 3 seater leather couch PLUS 2 x single recliners.  I bought it on the spot via email, sight unseen!!

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Thankfully we have some very kind friends loan us a trailer, so my darling husband and our very generous neighbour went and picked it up.  Let me tell you though, it was hilarious watching two grown men work out how to bring 2 recliners inside the small doorway between the garage and the house, not to mention watch as they manoeuvred one of the recliners up the stairs to our bedroom.

You see, with 2 recliners in the deal, I thought it would be worthwhile having one upstairs in our bedroom, with the other staying downstairs in the lounge room.  It makes sense right? I’m sure the boys were convinced as I stood their watching in my moon boot with no ability to help them!!

The 3 seater won’t go to waste either.  It’s already been delivered to our storage location in Greenslopes, where we have been accumulating goods for the World’s Biggest Garage Sale charity event in July this year.  We’ll sell the whole lounge suite at the fundraising event, and I’m pretty confident we’ll get the whole $50 back for it too.

World's Biggest GS_Flyer

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale event is not to be missed, so be sure to go and ‘Like’ the Facebook page now for regular updates on the event, which will be raising much needed funds in support of Smiling for Smiddy and The Mater Foundation.  These people do amazing things in the fight to find a cure for all kinds of cancer, but for me, I love supporting them because I know the funds raised via Smiling for Smiddy are helping researchers with breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.  If helping raise funds today can perhaps save our two girls from having to face the choice as to whether they remove their breasts and ovaries when they’re adults, then I’m one happy mamma.

In the mean time, you can find me resting and lounging on my two newly acquired leather recliners.  My biggest decision daily will be whether I feel like chilling out upstairs, or downstairs.

Day 6 – Post Op and it’s Date Night!!

Posted in News

This time a week ago, it was the ‘eve’ of my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. I completed my final training session at Kosama Fitness and trotted off to Thursday night ‘date night’ with my gorgeous husband.  We had our favourite Guzman Y Gomez or GYG as we regularly call it and I responsibly ordered the ‘vegetarian salad’.  It was delicious!

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We are very fortunate and thankful for our regular weekly ‘date night’ and we know how ‘lucky’ we are as a couple to have this regular time together.  Leigh’s mum comes over every week for a sleepover, it’s just wonderful.  ‘Gran’ takes care of the girls, they eat an ‘easy’ dinner, usually comprising of Baked Beans, Mac & Cheese or Homemade Nachos and both of our girls enjoy learning some wonderful things by spending quality time with their ‘Gran’.   Layla can now crotchet and I often find some beautiful drawings and sketches created under the watchful eye of Leigh’s artistic mother.

An interesting statistic to share:  Gran, Layla and Libby are all left handed.

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Leigh and I usually enjoy a training session on Thursday night before heading to dinner together.  We usually go to China Town if we are sick of GYG.

We’re very lucky!  We know!!

Tonight, on Day 6 post-op, we had date night in the hospital and GYG it was. While I love seeing the girls daily, they have had almost a week of visiting me in hospital, which means some later nights than usual, so tonight they were on ‘catch-up’ mode with their sleep.  We can always rely on Gran to have them in bed super early!!

Date night wasn’t too eventful, but the company was priceless as we spent a couple of hours just laying in bed together watching reality television, which we rarely do.  This week I’ve been regularly watching The Block and hoping that it would be on again, but it was the darn footy on Channel 9 instead.  We ended up cuddling and watching The Amazing Race, still crappy reality TV, but it wasn’t the point.  We just wanted to spend some time together and it was fantastic.

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It was also a very exciting day on the ward.  I had three very special people from Smiling for Smiddy visit me, and I also had a fellow Smiddy rider who works here at the hospital pop in.  I always feel energised and on top of the world when visitors leave, they must be leaving some pretty good vibes behind for me.  I also have myself an awesome new Smiddy long sleeve jersey to train in as winter approaches.  It’s perfect, given that I’m riding to Townsville from Brisbane in August/September in the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride and most of my training will be over the winter period.

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You can check out my supporter page here, it tells you a little about why I’m riding and of course to make things more challenging, I decide to take on the ride in the same year I have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.  I do love a challenge!!  If you feel like donating your next morning coffee towards my fundraising target, I’d be more than most appreciative.  All funds assist The Mater Foundation research team, who I’m hoping one day will find the secret to preventing breast and ovarian cancer diagnosis.  Every little bit helps!

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Later in the afternoon I went on my ‘ward walk’ and visited new friend and one of the Under the Red Dress founders Beth Whaanga.  What an inspirational and strong woman with a story to tell that’s bound to change the way we all look at beauty.  If you haven’t already visited the Under the Red Dress website to read their Vision, it’s well worth the visit to both their website and Facebook page.

Beth & Yas

While it’s too early to know whether I’ll be here for another night, I’ve had such a wonderful day, I’m well rested and while my drains might still be more full than they need to be for me to leave, I’m getting better each and every day at learning to ‘chill out’.

I even watched a ‘chick flick’ for a couple of hours today!!

I’ll finish it off with a Friday Funny, because laughter is of course one of the best kinds of medicine.  I wonder what my earlobes line up with now that I don’t have any nipples 🙂

FF_7

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.