My Point of Heu
April marked one year since my mastectomy... it also was a painful reminder that one year prior to that my mother lost her fight against metastatic breast cancer. Since "going public" with my story last July, I have heard the words brave, inspiring and courageous. I never thought these words would resonate with others, based simply on the fact that I was sharing my breast cancer prevention story and journey; essentially just doing what I think was the best decision for me and prolonging my life. Granted, as I continue to move forward and (hopefully) encourage both men and women to be proactive about their health and self care... some may learn something, be more aware and make conscious decisions to improve their quality of life.
Moving forward... I have encountered some really amazing people and women along this journey. Engaging with other "previvors" and hearing their stories of survival have been very rewarding and encouraging. At first, I thought I was somewhat unique and perhaps unlike anyone else out there. Then as I realized I wasn't alone it was comforting to know there were so many other women just like me.
As I prepared for my journey, I spoke with many mastectomy survivors, most of whom actually had cancer. It was rare to find someone who had done what I did prophylactic-wise. And it was also hard to find others who had the surgery and just opted to go flat without any reconstruction... fast forward and I have started to notice this "Angelina Jolie Effect" as some might call it is starting to make me feel uncomfortable.
I started following the #previvor hashtag on Instagram so I could see other courageous women similar to me around the world... there are a few that I respect and share similar stories. But each day I am reminded of these women who appear to be desperate for attention, tactless and some not even aware with the cause and just selfish. There is something going around now (as we prepare for breast cancer awareness month) called "Pinkwashing" aimed at corporate, businesses and other types of organizations that falsely showcase support of breast cancer awareness in an effort to gain attention and make a profit. Most of the time these types of pinkwashing examples are made by companies attempting to sell products to raise money for breast cancer research, when in fact they are just pocketing the cash. In general I also feel people use pinkwashing techniques to jump on the awareness bandwagon to falsely gain gratification and attention for something that makes them feel liked and popular.
Many women are posting multiple images of themselves going into surgery with tubes in and out of the body, shots in their hospital bed and staged imagery to showcase the night before or the day of surgery posts. Seriously, when I was in the hospital prepping for a major surgery I was not on my phone taking photos. My husband was with me hoping I would come out safe and wake up ok. We were not consumed with trying to showcase how dramatic the entire process was. Honestly, it was scary and I was so nervous! I do recall taking one photo the day afterwards in my recovery room with a bouquet of flowers that a friend sent to me (who lives hundreds of miles away). I simply wanted to share the photo so she could see I appreciated it.
Anyhow, I un-followed this hashtag as I see so many women who appear to be frantic, frivolous, fame-seeking and attention-seeking for all the wrong reasons. Instead I would rather be inspired, moved, motivated and informed.
These impressions from all these women has really changed my perspective on others motivations. I have had many chats online with desperate women seeking to have this surgery immediately. Most of whom don't have a clear reason to have it. If your uncle had prostate cancer, your aunt had lung cancer or your cousin had a brain tumor -- that doesn't mean you need to run out and get a mastectomy.
Talk to your doctor, assess the risk, decipher the percentage rate of chance that you could get breast cancer, have you been on a high detection plan, what have you done to bring down the risk and have you done generic testing? Additionally, ways to reduce the likelihood of cancer in your lifetime are: healthy diet, keeping your weight down, exercising regularly, feeling happy consistently, body awareness, mammograms, regular visits to the doctor, getting adequate sleep and consuming the right nutrition for your body (i.e. not eating fast food, preservatives, chemicals, candy and etc).
My main goal was to save my life, live a long life with my husband, be happy and encourage others to do the same. I refrain from making all my posts about my surgery because there really isn't anything else to say. It's done, I am healed and I don't regret it. I will continue to keep doing what I am doing and don't have any selfish reasons behind it. This is my life as I choose to live it and I hope that if I inspired or educated someone along the way, then that was all worth it.
On the eve of the day my pup will go to the vet to get her last round of shots... I am so happy and excited with enthusiasm. I am hoping that she will like walking in the park, going to the beach and swimming in the water - like me! But I am also learning a lot as I have never raised a dog before. There are some things that I was really stressed out about and wanted to share so new puppy mamas can also learn too.
1. Puppy vaginitis
Since she is a rescue and we don't know too much about her medical history or her history at all... what I do know is she was spayed at the Humane Society and then we were able to adopt her a few days later. A few weeks later so became extremely fatigued, lethargic and not her usual puppy self. We noticed a bit of a light green milky discharge from her vulva area but thought it would perhaps just clear-up. But then when her personality and energy levels plummeted I was so worried.
Upon taking her back to the humane society for a check-up they said it appeared as though so had Puppy Vaginitis. What?! The doctor said it is a result of spaying a pup before her first heat. Sometimes the vagina becomes inflamed because she did not yet go through her first heat cycle or puberty yet. He said he could give her antibiotics but that could have major effects on her down the road and mess up her stomach and other issues. He advised to let it run it course and in a few days it would clear up and she would resolve it on her own by just letting it go. I can't tell you how hard this was. Roxy would just lay there with no energy and literally in pain and to some degree of lethargy suffering. BUT, one thing to note is she never lost her appetite and was still having normal poops and pees. Fast forward 4 days and all of the sudden she was back to her normal self. It was the craziest and hardest few days I have ever had. I felt so bad for her and laid down with her to comfort her. Thankfully the doctor was right and she was fine. I am glad we didn't put her on meds or do anything else to eventually harm her down the road. But it was a rough few days for me for sure.
2. Baby Teeth Fall out
I started to notice in some areas she would have double teeth. I was like whoa no wonder people are afraid of pit bulls, but it was actually her baby teeth being replaced with permanent teeth and then the baby teeth start to literally fall out of her mouth. I also saw some blood and her chew toys with blood on it and then realized she had bloody gums from the teeth coming out and in. This was kind of alarming but not too bad as a little research shows it is normal for pups to go through a teething stage and their adult teeth should come in around 16 weeks. Roxy was right on time at 3 months she started losing her first set of teeth, then the molars and etc will start to grow from 4 months on.
From as soon as we brought her home we started to notice a red rash forming on her chin, mouth, snout, tummy and ears. We were not sure what it was and thought it may have been the grass at our house or even the dishes we used to feed her. (Plastic isn't good because it is porous and can trap bacteria). Any how, when we left the Humane Society they gave us sample bags of Science Diet puppy food and were feeding to her, then when we brought her to the vet they also gave us Science Diet bags of food. Daniel, did a lot of research on the best food to feed her and I did everything I could to keep her off the grass and we got metal bowls for her food and water, washing frequently. The vet also gave us some natural rash remedies along with giving her some benadryl type drugs to help with the rash. Long story short, we changed her food to Bully Max which is a high performance, high protein food (no corn, wheat or soy) - not chock full of fillers and junk. And guess what? Yes, the rash went away immediately when we changed her food. Phew, mystery solved.
4. Woofs down food
So for whatever reason this dog can eat her food in a matter of seconds. Now this isn't anything new, but it can have some major effects down the road like gastric dilation volvulus - stomach fills with gas. While some might only feed their dog twice a day, it is better to feed this kind of dog smaller meals multiple times a day. I also found that if I put a biscuit in with her food it slows her down a moment to chew and try to gnaw on the biscuit instead of inhaling all her food in under 30 seconds.
So for as long as I can remember, I have always been an animal lover. I especially love animals that are furry or fluffy. I remember the first time my mom said we could have a cat and then over the years one cat turned into 5. Not long afterwards I moved away for college and had one cat with me since. I have always wanted a dog, but my schedule didn't allow for it...looking back in March I thought we should get a dog now... but the timing wasn't exactly right. Anyhow, after a short trip to Kauai and then the travel quarantine in place again, I thought now is the time to get a puppy! We put in the word and get a call that a brindle pit bull mix pup was going to be available at the Humane Society but she had what was believed to be a neurological condition called nystagmus. We didn't care and wanted to meet her anyway. Long story short her eyes move around and shake and her heads wobbles like a bobble head but we loved her and took her home.
Roxy is believed to be born on our wedding anniversary May 24th, she is a blue brindle with grey eyes and she is so sweet and very smart. The vet said they think she may be blind to some degree and we know she doesn't see 20/20 but we do know she can see somethings and some times. Her conditions don't impact her at all, her quality of life is impeccable and she is an extremely loving dog. Sometimes she tends to bump into things, but her sense of hearing and smell is impeccable. She is able to chase and get a ball, brings it back and runs to me, and she watches us like a hawk from afar. She's such a beauty and brings so much joy into our life!
You might be wondering about the cat? Well at first Rico was pretty upset and would just sit in the corner and pout. Roxy is outside so inside is still his domain, but about a week or two later he warmed up again. They have met face to face a few times, but I am uncertain if she can see him. She can smell him and I know she wants to bite him as she is a puppy and wants to bite everything. But they aren't friends are anything just yet. He seems to tolerate her and she seems very intrigued and playful as usual. Lucky for me Rico and I have our cuddle time when the puppy is sleeping and he is back to himself again.