Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I'm So Fancy

Goodness gracious y'all it's been nine whole months since I've posted a blog!! Guess that's a good thing because it means life is pretty much back to normal for this girl :-) As of today I've had 11,125 blog views OMG craziness! Makes me kind of excited y'all and I hope it continues to help others looking for some insight into the world of BRCA+.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Bright Pink University. Can I just say how monumental this weekend has been for me in regards to my life and the journey to this moment?! 

So just a little background info for ya. Since I was a little girl I've had this passion burning inside of me to help people. I grew up knowing/feeling/dreaming that I was going to do something involved with helping others. I've spent most of my adult years searching for that dream. I started college as an education major. I had convinced myself that was my calling. I just saw a home video recently of my senior year of high school and I was in the running for Homecoming Queen and I was out on the football field parading around with a football player on my arm and they were reading my bio. The last line was "Eryn plans to attend Texas State University and major in Elementary Education." I laughed so hard when I heard that 10 years later. How things change!

Anyway, I started college as an education major. After a few bumps, I dropped out and got a full time job. That small break from school turned into four years and when I finally decided to go back I went as a Criminal Justice major. I was sure that I would channel my passion into helping kids rehabilitate their lives in detention centers. This made sense. Two semesters in I knew it wasn't right.  I did some searching and thinking and I changed my major back to education. This has to be it, I thought. I am going to teach and inspire children and I love office supplies so basically a win win. After a semester of education classes, I started feeling like that wasn't right for me either. Time and money wasted all over again. This was especially discouraging at the time because I felt like I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to be doing and time was running out. 

A friend suggested I look at business majors. I didn't give much thought to the idea at first because I didn't want to sit at a desk all day. I was supposed to be out in the field helping people for the love of God y'all. I am stubborn. Anyway, fast forward my life a bit and here I am a in the college of business and turns out I pretty much love it. When people ask me my major and I say Human Resource Management they are always like "Oh I can totally see you doing that." So I made up my mind and had to tell myself to trust in the plan. I would do big things somewhere someday. 

Anddddd then I had the opportunity to apply for Bright Pink University. It didn't really hit me until I was in Chicago on the last day sitting in a giant circle with all these other women with similar stories as me and all I could think was wow. We were all there together with the same passion. Everything I've been through has brought me to this point. It's crazy to me to think about the time when I was so confused about my life direction and I had no idea that I would soon go through this whirlwind of genetic testing and doctors appointments and surgery and recovery and then ultimately come out of it with the intense passion to help others in the same situation. Baffles me y'all that this is where I'm supposed to be. God knew the whole time. He was probably like calm down seriously you are acting a fool for no reason. Trusting in the timing ahhh if only it were that easy :)

So now that I have been trained as Support Ambassador, I get to host monthly outreaches for high-risk women. We get to do something super fun and then just talk about being high risk and that sort of thing. I am juts really hoping to give San Antonio women an opportunity to be around other women who understand the situation. It's sooo helpful and so much easier to get through when you have people who understand exactly what's going on. 

Here are some pics from Chicago y'all






















Thanks for reading y'all!!
 XOXO

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Am I boring now?

I'd like to start this post off by saying that as of today, I have had 7,818 High Risk Humor page views. I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving to the readers and truly hope that some of those were girls looking for answers just like me. Thank you all!


It's only fitting to post today because it's October 1, which means it's the start National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's also National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and tomorrow is National Previvor Day! Lots of awareness up in hurrr.

I went to Chiii town y'all. I'm not sure if it's cool to say that anymore but I am gonna go there. Anyway, It was such an amazing time and although I am feeling tired and I have a huge test today that I was supposed to study for while I was there (yeah right) it was super duper worth it. The best part was that I got to spend it with two ladies who have gone through the exact same thing as me. No one could believe we all met online through Amy's blog and that we were here together. It's kinda crazy y'all! TEAM TEXAS!

 Here is a little recap of the trip.

DAY 1

brunch!


the bean


champagne at brunch= this





sky deck





 night time fun!!


 We have to use a coin for the bathroom?!


DAY 2
 Not even sure what we did except take this picture


DAY 3
FAB FEST!








It was a great weekend and I am so thankful for all of the donations I received. I can't believe I raised over $1000 dollars. Ok I raised $1,025 but you get it. Thank you to all who made it possible!

So there's a little update of what's been going on. Life is back to normal since my surgery and I am going to try to blog more even though the hard part is all over! I will try to be less boring!! I can't say enough how much blogging helped me through this journey. If you are just finding out you are BRCA+ or are high risk in general, I encourage you to start a blog or get involved in a support group. It helps SO much. 


Thank you for reading y'all guyssss

ERYN


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boobs.

I know my last few posts haven't really updated you on my progress so today, my friends, is all about boobs! (I am shimmy shaking and cheering, I hope you are too)

Since we've talked I've taken the first major step towards my reconstruction. This is good because my chest no longer looks like two shriveled up prunes. I was able to get my first tissue expander fill as of the first week in January. Here is a little diagram of what that looks like.



Basically they use a magnet to find a metal port that is underneath my skin and connected to the tissue expander. Once they find that they stick an insanely thick needle into my skin and through the port. They then inject me with a saline solution. This slowly pumps up the expander inside my chest.

The first time I went I thought I was superwoman because I got 90 cc's in each breast. The next time I went I could only take 40 cc's. The sensation is super duper weird and I won't even try to explain what it feels like to have your chest stretched because there are no words. It's just plain weird y'all.

As of today I have had 3 fills... well 6 total if you count both breasts. I am finally to the point where things look normal and with a shirt on it looks like I have normal boobs. (insert shimmy shake here). With a shirt off they look semi-normal, except that my chest is pretty much at my neck and I do have small scars. They will drop a bit once I have my exchange surgery and get the implants in. I've been going crazy with Mederma on my scars and I can actually see a huge difference in the color of them. Not that I really care about the scars, you wouldn't be able to see them unless I decided I wanted to sport the trendy side boob look. Not happening.

Good news, I went to Washington D.C. last month and my robot boobs did not make the airport metal detectors go off. I was so worried that I would beep. I even asked my breast surgeon to write me a note that said I had these special things in me. He did. He's so nice. I didn't have to pull it out THANK GOD.
  
SOOOOO something great happened last month! I got the have brunch in Dallas with the lovely Amy Jones from PREvivor GENEration. We had talked on the phone and through text and facebook for at least 4 months before this so it was nice to finally give her a big hug in person! When I arrived at brunch, seemingly hungover from the previous nights mustache party, she had a surprise for me. It wasn't a shot of tequila like I was hoping, but something way more awesome. Amy brought along Diana. Diana had seen Amy's recent interview on the Dallas news and contacted her because she recently found out she was BRCA2 positive. It was such an amazing thing to be sitting there with two other women who are in the same boat as me. What I would have given to be Diana, pre-surgery, sitting there, listening to first hand information about my recent experience with surgery and Amy's recent experience with finally getting her implants. It was honestly a day I won't forget. Before this, I had never had the chance to sit down with anyone and talk about being BRCA2+. Yes I talked to friends and family but it's so different when the person you are talking to knows exactly how you're feeling being a 20 something with your whole life ahead of you. It was amazing! And then of course we all went to the restroom and showed Diana our boobs. 3 girls in the big stall isn't weird at all. She was able to see how she would look and feel after her surgery. In person. I wish I had this. I want other girls to have this!!

Here is a picture from that lovely day:


Amy is in the middle and Diana is on the right :) If you want to follow Diana's journey, she also writes a blog: Previving & Thriving

 In other news, I got cleared to start going to the gym again. I'm pretty sure that didn't mean jump right into zumba after not working out in 3 months but hey I am all for a challenge. I went to my first zumba class last week and it went well. I have to say it's the weirdest thing jumping around with these rocks in my chest. I dreamt last night that I woke up and one boob was sagging to my belly button because I jumped around too much at zumba. Yes I went to the restroom and checked in a mild panic.
Other than that all is well in the boob world.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Half-Sister Part Dos & Surgery Pics!

It's been a hot minute (I've always wanted to say that) since I've posted, I've been busy and stressed AKA school is taking over my life and my classes are getting harder and I actually have to try now that I'm getting into my 3rd year, who knew?
 Last post, I shared the wonderful news of finding out I had a sister. I've had a few people pressure me to write this next blog with the rest of the story and I am SO sorry that I haven't gotten to it yet! The wait is over my friends. SO what you know from the last blog is that I have a big sister and we're going to meet her in Houston for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving came QUICK. As in, it was 3 days after I found out I had a sister. I think back on it and I do really feel like it was all a dream.

Sidenote: In my last post, I mentioned that my sisters adoptive parents gave her a note from my mother this past Easter. I think I made it sound like she had never seen the note before but she had. That piece of information was relevant because this past Easter seeing the letter again prompted the search for my mom. Just to clear things up...
Funny story: On the way to Houston, my sister and her family were driving towards San Antonio, which means they would be passing us on I-10 at some point. We ended up coordinating where we were through mile markers and we all got to wave at each other in passing. We hadn't even met yet so it was kind of funny and kind of weird. At one point, my dad told me to get my barefoot 'Walmart' feet off the dashboard because they could probably see how black the bottoms were from across the highway. You get Walmart feet when you walk around Walmart barefoot, preferably in a small town where there is a Dairy Queen next door. I don't like wearing shoes outside, it happens.

So we get to Houston and spend a lovely Thanksgiving week with my mom's side of the family. At this point, the only person who knows that my mom has been in contact with my sister is my Aunt Yana. This is rare because we have an insanely large Mexican family and things never seem to stay a secret for long. Mom had planned on sitting all of the girl cousins and aunts down and announcing 1)that she had a child that she gave up for adoption and 2)that we had been in contact and were meeting her that Sunday. Her sister's knew about the child, but no one had ever brought it up since it happened. The first night we were there I pressured my mom to spill the beans. I wanted so badly to be able to tell my cousins and for all of us to share in the joy of it but I knew it had to be my mom's decision. That night she finally sat all my aunts and cousins down, made the announcement and showed the pictures. Everyone cried, everyone hugged, it was insanely therapeutic to share such a raw moment with the people you love. That kind of stuff definitely brings a sense of closeness.

Sunday comes around and we are packing up the car, getting ready to head to my sister's house on our way back to San Antonio. Talk about surreal. During the ride there I could tell we were all a little nervous. When we pulled up to the house, my heart was nervous. I was wondering what on earth my mom was thinking and what she was feeling. She was probably WAY more nervous than me. We got out of the door, walked up the sidewalk and rang the doorbell. Omgomgomgomgomgomg not even really sure what I was thinking at this point but my sister's husband opened the door and greeted us and we walked in and there was my sister. Mom and her hugged first of course. I kept my composure but I was literally biting my teeth together to keep from crying. Then it was our turn. I hugged my sister for the first time. I don't really know how to explain this but before I even met her I felt a connection. I stalked her facebook many times and just cried. As weird as it sounds, it's an overwhelming feeling knowing that we share the same blood. Someone I never knew for 25 years has the same DNA in her body as me, it's really mind blowing. The rest of the day was perfect. We sat down us 4 and my sister and her husband and got to talking. After a while of getting to know each other, the neighbor brought over my sisters two kids, an energetic precious 6 year old boy and the sweetest, prettiest 9 year old girl. I literally just looked at them and thought to myself, these little people share my DNA too. It's so crazy. We all got to have lunch together and then after we watched my sister and her husband's wedding video. It had a ton of pictures of my sister growing up and it was soooooo awesome to see. After that we all went outside and took a TON of pictures (you know my mother) and then we said our Goodbyes. It was such a surreal moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Here are some pictures from the day:

  


This one's my favorite....

  
  


My sister had her genetic testing results appointment the next day. Thankfully, she did not have the gene mutation! We were so happy.


My surgery time came around and my sister and her husband surprised me at the hospital! I was so surprised I cried. I was semi jealous when they all went out to eat that night because I was stuck in my hospital bed but I just clicked that morphine pump and watched TV with my lovely boyfriend and all was well in the world again.



Here are some pictures of us at the hospital:



So that pretty much sums up all that fun stuff. I am working on another blog with an update to what's going on with my recovery and all that jazz. I wanted to keep this one separate because it's special to me :) Till next time!

Friday, January 4, 2013

I'm the middle child, no wonder!


Happy New Year friends! I look back on this past year and still don’t even believe that I am 3 weeks into my recovery. It feels like I’m still back in August trying to decide when to have my genetic testing done. Time has seriously flown by y’all.


First, I want to address something I've been hearing lately from a few different people in talking about my surgery and it's that "everyone is going to get cancer anyway". This bothers me to hear because I feel that it completely discredits my choice to get a preventative surgery and the severity of it. Yes, everyone has a chance of getting cancer, depending on your lifestyle and many other things, absolutely, and people will continue to get cancer but no, not every has the genetic mutation that I have, in fact only 5-10% of women have this genetic mutation that causes breast cancer. This does not change my risk for other cancers but it does give me peace knowing I have eliminated my 87% genetic risk of breast cancer in my lifetime. If you don’t have the genetic mutation, YES you still have a chance of getting cancer BUT a woman who has the gene mutation is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have a mutation… If 5-10% do have the gene then that means 90-95% of women DO NOT HAVE THE BREAST CANCER GENE. So my surgery was absolutely for a reason. Do your research please :) Get educated!!


Now, I will get into my NYE status that everyone got so confused about! I am so excited to share this awesome news with y’all. I have a big sister! In searching for my mom, she found my blog and she was able to find out about our family history and get tested for the breast cancer gene. Here is the story :)             

All of this began back in November. I got a text one Saturday morning from my mom that said I needed to come home today because they needed to tell Lauryn and me something important and that it wasn’t bad. I immediately called my sister in a panic and we brainstormed about what it could be. We discussed the option of my mom being sick again. We thought maybe they were just saying it wasn’t bad so that we wouldn’t worry. We thought maybe they were going to lecture us about our church attendance (normal) or that someone lost their job. We literally made a list of things it could be. Did we win the lottery? Nothing was making sense. We had no idea what to expect. We both immediately went home. Of course my sister was late. I was texting her while I was sitting in the living room with my parents, telling her how they were acting so extra happy and weird, I could not for the life of me figure out what was going on. My sister finally got home and we both sat down in the living room. My parents started beating around the bush and then started arguing about what music channel to put the TV on, mom wanted holiday music, dad wanted Christian, are you kidding me?? My mom finally left the room and came back with an envelope. She pulled out two separate stacks of paper, handed them to us and said "Girls.... you have a big sister." The first thing out of my mouth was WHAT followed by hysterical crying. Lauryn was quiet. I sat there and read through the recent emails that were exchanged between her and my mom. And then I got to the pictures. Cue loss of all composure.             



Below is my mom. Can you see the crazy resemblance?!





Saw the above picture first. Saw mom so much in her. Kept reading and looking at pictures and kept trying to fathom in my head what I had just been told. I am not the oldest anymore. I’ve thought one way for 25 years and it’s all just changed in an instant. I have to say I was truly shocked to the core. Not in a million years did I think this is what they were going to tell us. After the initial shock and crying calmed a bit, my dad encouraged my mom to share her story with us. We shed a lot of tears that day, all of us together as a family, even my dad :) We laugh about him and my uncle Graig because they are very emotional and they are probably going to cry again reading this. It’s ok guys.




Mom proceeded to tell us her story with tears streaming down her face. She was 18 years old. She found out she was pregnant. She chose to live at a special home for girls during the pregnancy, had a little girl, and gave her up for adoption. I admire her greatly for this decision, especially in that day and age when things weren’t as relaxed as they are now. She still chose adoption. I look at my mom in a whole new light. I can’t believe that she carried this secret for 34 years. I think back on the times that we watched teen mom together and the episode of 90210 where Dixon tries to find his birth mother. I know she was probably thinking about her daughter during all those times and I thought we were just catching up on our guilty pleasure shows.




My big sister was given a letter this past Easter weekend from her parents that my mom had written in July of 1978, before she was born. After they got back from out of town, her husband started doing research online based on the information given in my moms letter. On April 9, he compiled a list of 30 women that had gotten married in Bexar County from 1979-1985 that all had my mom's birthday. They started looking up the women on Facebook and found my mom. Upon further research into my mom's pictures they knew it was her. They look like twins to me, I still can't stop staring! Weeks went by and my big sister periodically looked at my mom's page. At one point, she saw that mom posted about my Aunt Mini's passing from breast cancer.  She found the obituary and saw that it mentioned that she had 5 sisters. My mom's letter to her also mentioned that she had 5 sisters. She ended up finding some of my aunts on Facebook and matching their graduation dates with the ages mentioned in the letter. This is when it became real for her and she knew she really had found her birth mother! In the next few months, she researched further and saw pictures of Lauryn and me at Race for the Cure on Facebook. It was at that time she realized my mom's name was on our shirts too, not just my Aunt Mini's. She realized that my mom must have had breast cancer also. A few months later, on July 6 she came across my blog YES! She learned through it that my mom was diagnosed with her first breast cancer at 34. This freaked her out a bit because she learned this the night before her 34th birthday. She truly felt that this was a sign from God telling her to get more information for herself and her future as soon as possible. She tried to contact my mom a couple of times through Facebook (mom didn't notice because it was going to the 'other' box instead of her inbox since they weren’t friends. If you’ve never checked your ‘other’ box go now! I found a bunch of old messages from people who wrote me about my blog that I didn’t know and felt sooo bad about never seeing them!). She also tried old email addresses that my mom never checked. As she waited for a response she kept up with my blog. It is so crazy for me to think that as I was posting each month, my very own sister- I had no idea about- was reading it.




My sister met with a doctor and decided to proceed with a mammogram and genetic testing. On October 12, she had her first mammogram and got a dreaded call back a few days later saying they found an 8mm mass. She got an ultrasound and it turned out to be a normal lymph node, thank God. She decided to pursue genetic testing but when she received all the paperwork, her heart sank because she had so many family history blanks she didn’t know how to fill in. This was her push to finally send my mom a letter in the mail. She sent a letter, with all the paperwork on October 31, 2012. My mom received a package a few days later. She opened it up and immediately broke into tears. When my dad got home from work she called him into the room and told him that she received a letter from her daughter. The next few weeks they would try to decide how to tell my sister and I and that my friends brings me back to the start of this post.




This is becoming a book, so I think this is a good place to stop for now. I feel extremely blessed. Can't wait to share the rest of this story and tell you about our first time meeting :) Happy New Year!




-Eryn

Friday, December 28, 2012

Post-Op Post


Here it is, my post-op blog post... yeah say that 10 times fast :) Today it has been exactly two weeks since my surgery and... I only have 12ish more weeks till I'm back to normal whoooooo can I get an Amen?



Thinking back on surgery day I definitely feel like it was all a dream. That morning I woke up, got dressed, put on make-up (for surgery? Of course.) and headed to the hospital with George, my parents and my sister. I wasn’t feeling nervous, just more anxious then anything, and so ready to get this over with. They did the usual hospital registration, signing of the waivers and deciding who my money would go to if I died… luckily I don’t have any money so that was easy. We waited in the waiting room and they called me back for prep. They prepped me, I said my I love yous and then they wheeled me away. By this time I was supposed to be feeling this lovely cocktail that the nurse gave me but I felt nothing. I started to panic and kept telling her I couldn’t feel anything. We got to the operating room and they moved me over to the table and strapped my arms down. By this point I was in full on panic mode and the tears started pouring. I couldn’t see a thing because they made me give my mom my glasses but I could see the blur of a nurse over me and I could feel her wiping my tears and saying it was going to be ok.



The next thing I know I was waking up in the recovery room. It was 5 hours later and my chest literally felt like I had done 1 million bench presses. I couldn’t lift my head. My throat was so dry. I couldn’t talk, only whisper because it hurt. The nurse fed me ice chips but it was never enough. What I would have given to down an ice cold glass of water at that point… Honestly, that time in recovery was the WORST. I kept asking when I could see my family, that’s all I could think about. I wondered if they knew I was ok. I wondered if they were here waiting for me. It seemed like eternity waiting to get to my room. After about an hour or so they finally brought me to my room and let me say, getting moved over to the hospital bed from the rolling one was absolute horror. Awful. My chest hurt soooo bad. And then I met my new best friend, morphine. I clicked that thing every 6 minutes for 2 days straight.
 
During my stay I got lots of flowers and edible arrangements and cupcakes and visitors and I felt and still feel extremely blessed for all of the support I have in my life. Hospital stays aren’t fun so I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the wonderful people who came to visit me. I think at one point we had about 11 people in my room. I got to see some very special people and even got a surprise visit that I was ecstatic about :) Thank God I got my own room and it was so nice and spacious! My amazing dad and boyfriend each stayed with me one night. I felt so bad waking them up every single hour needing something or another, but they were so great and helpful. There was never a time in those 3 days that I was alone in my room. It made things so much easier always having someone there.
 
 
Now that I’m home things are getting easier. The first couple of days were rough. There is no way to be completely comfortable. As a tummy sleeper I had a really hard time sleeping on my back let alone sitting up! Now I can actually lay down on my back so it’s a bit easier but still a struggle. The drains SUCK and are so gross. I can't look at them. Doctor George has been cleaning them for me and fixing me up real nice y'all. Can't wait to get them out, 3 more days!!!
My arms were out of commission for at least 5 days after surgery. I couldn’t do a thing with them it was the weirdest thing. Every day things get better. My first bath was a huge milestone. It’s amazing what a bath can do. Shout out to my wonderful mom who bathed and clothed me. We both just laughed through the awkwardness. I don’t think I have any shame left after my hospital stay. My dad had to help me put on underwear one day and I had like 4 different nurses wipe me after I peed. No shame here.

So it’s two weeks later and things are good. My chest still hurts and my back HURTS all the time. Now that the swelling has gone down a ton I can actually feel the expanders inside my chest and it’s uncomfortable. When I lay down I can feel them putting pressure on my lungs for the first couple of seconds and then I’m good, it's weird.
 
I drove today WHOO. It was hard and turns hurt and I probably won’t do it again for a while but my hair hadn’t been washed since surgery and I was itching… literally to get it washed and styled.
 
Anyway, thank you for all the prayers and thoughts and words y’all have sent my way for the past couple of weeks. It has meant the world to me. The hardest part is over!

-Eryn

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just a little something to hold you over.

Unfortunately I have been unable to do much since surgery so I apologize for not getting back to everyone on Facebook/texts/calls and all the flowers and gifts that were sent. As soon as I am feeling better I will be responding to everyone, it's just a little much for me now. I leave you with this, my current set up. Here I am, drains in tow. I have a considerable amount of swelling under my arms and where the girls used to be but things are getting better. It's such a relief knowing that my chances of getting breast cancer went from 87% to 1%. I can breathe again. Thank you friends and family for everything. I am continually overwhelmed with support and love.  Happy to say I slept in about 3 hour increments last night versus the usual one hour. Back to the couch I go.