Month

February 2016

Did wine give me cancer?

Alcohol and Breast Cancer.

I like to drink. But I want to have a serious convo with everyone about alcohol and breast cancer. Because I really do feel that alcohol probably played a part in causing me to get cancer at an early age.

I used to drink every day. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but every night with dinner I had probably 2-3 glasses of wine. I did not NEED to drink, it just sort of became a bad habit. I didn’t get drunk, I did it to relax after work and unwind. And I just like wine! I still do! It’s fucking delish! My daily wine habit started when I got married in 2008. I would make dinner for me and my (now-ex) husband, and we would open a bottle of wine to pair it with whatever I made. Every. Single. Night. For about 5 years. Yikes.

I didn’t see anything really wrong with it back then. Looking back, I honestly can’t believe how I managed to drink alcohol every night and not look like Honey-Boo-Boo’s mother (google it). Also, what a waste of money! I don’t drink cheap shit ya know.

When my husband and I separated I didn’t really drink as much. I was living on my own (plus my two cats) so the idea of drinking alone every night was about as pathetic as a Backstreet Boys reunion tour (LOL just go away guys, you had your time in the sun). I also wanted to keep a clear head and focus on yoga and get a hot revenge body. I still drank, just on the weekends when I was out with my friends doing betchy things like brunch and Sunday boating. But the damage had apparently already been done. I had cancer and I didn’t even know it.

So drinking 2-3 alcoholic drinks daily (which is what I did) has about a 20% increased risk for breast cancer. There are a few reasons. First, because alcohol changes the way women’s bodies metabolize estrogen. In studies, women who drink (in that 2-3 drinks a day range) had higher levels of estrogen in their bodies. My cancer is estrogen-receptor positive. Meaning, the extra estrogen cells hopped on the cancer cells like they were a free Uber ride, and they joined together and took the Uber to the hottest club in town (my tumor). The estrogen cells increased the cancer cells. Partayyyyy! So my tumor was basically LIV on a Saturday night when Calvin Harris was deejaying. I don’t know the science behind WHY daily alcohol consumption increases estrogen, I just know that it’s been proven in women. See resource links below.

In addition, alcohol lowers women’s levels of folic acid, which helps DNA repair itself. For this one I’m going to quote from an actual breast cancer site because I dunno how to explain this shit.
“Drinking alcohol can reduce blood levels of the vitamin folic acid. Folic acid plays a role in copying and repairing DNA. Low levels of folic acid may make it more likely that DNA is incorrectly copied when cells divide. Such errors can lead cells down a pathway to become cancer. “

I believe that those 5-6 years of daily drinking probably cracked my cancer genes open. I tested positive for the ATM mutation which is a cancer gene. Just because I have a “cancer gene”, doesn’t mean I HAVE cancer. My dad also has the ATM mutation, but he doesn’t have cancer nor has he ever had cancer. What this means is that I have a mutation in my genes and when it’s flipped “on” it produces cancer cells. Nobody really knows what flipped it on. If we did, fewer people would have cancer. But my theory is that drinking, along with numerous other environmental factors (pesticides and hormones in food), low immune system, and genetics caused my cancer.

I still drink alcohol. Just not every day. I usually go out one night a week. And if I’m not going out on a Friday night, I’ll crack open a bottle of wine and fall asleep on the couch watching Bravo. It all depends on how busy my social life is (… did I just hear crickets chirping? I guess my “social life” is sorta slow lately!) I want to be careful but I still need to enjoy life. These days, I will open a bottle of wine, have a glass, and then forget about the wine and have to throw it away because it goes bad. It’s definitely a waste, but I’m okay with that! I’d rather throw away the wine. I also take Tamoxifen daily which stops nearly all estrogen production, so I like to think that I have a little bit of drinking insurance. (Is that how that works? No? I don’t know either.)

If you are a women and you drink alcohol every day, I am not singling you out and saying you are going to get cancer. You probably don’t have a genetic cancer mutation like I did, and you probably won’t get cancer like I did! But I am saying that there is a slight risk. So calm down, and don’t pour out that Pinot Noir or margarita you’re sipping on. Life is all about balance. We can’t live our lives being worried about cancer all the time. These days it seems like everything gives us cancer. Bacon, hot dogs, popcorn, non-organic produce, farmed fish, red meat, soda, food coloring. Like, whatever! What the hell am I supposed to eat? Organic, gluten-free, non-dairy, non-GMO, vegan …lettuce? And every ache and pain we have these days is a potential for cancer apparently. Just go to WebMd’s website.

Me: I have a stomach ache (from eating too many Oreos but I’ll leave that part out)
WebMd: Stomach cancer.

Me: I have a sore throat.
WebMd: Throat and/or tongue cancer.
Me: But I’m pretty sure it’s just a cold. I have a headache too.
WebMd: Brain cancer.

I am just telling you my story. And I’m also trying to reflect on my past and what happened and what I can do differently in the future so this doesn’t happen again. Some people may be thinking, “Why don’t you just quit drinking, forever?” I don’t know. Maybe I should. I certainly cut back. But do I KNOW if my former boozy wine habits caused my cancer? No. Of all the doctors I currently see, not a single one has even brought up restricting alcohol — except during chemo — but even then, they said it was fine to drink alcohol on occasion! I could have never had a single drink of alcohol in my life and STILL got breast cancer eventually. That’s what is so frustrating. We really just don’t know what causes cancer. So you know what? If I feel like having a cocktail or glass of wine, I’m going to. Just not every day. Everything comes with it’s risks. Find your own balance. Listen to your body and your intuition, have no fears, blah blah blah! You know the drill. If you do enjoy drinking every day, just be extra aware of any changes in your bodies. Feel those boobies often for lumps! Bottoms up. (or not) Xoxo

Resources:
ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/DrinkingAlcohol.html
www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet

2 Months Post Chemo

So it’s been almost 2 months since my last chemo and I’ve had a few interesting developments to share. Weird body changes happening here guys. I think menopause and puberty joined forces and formed an evil axis of power set to self destruct my sanity.

First of all, all of my eyelashes and 90% of my eyebrows fell out. WTF! That completely blindsided me. I was extremely excited that my sparse lashes and brows would start growing back but instead, they started falling out despite my liberal application of expensive eyelash serums. (Sigh… what a waste of money too.) I even bought a Groupon to get eyelash extensions! (which expires in March, again WTF/FML)

On the bright side, I am now slowly mastering the art of drawing on eyebrows and applying those defiant fake eyelashes. For any men reading this, applying fake eyelashes is the worst. It’s tedious. It takes multiple tries. We will probably cry at some point, and yes you can literally poke your eye out or glue our eye lids closed. I’ve done both. Men, the next time you consider going out on a date with a wrinkled shirt because you’re too lazy to iron it, please think about the horrors of fake eyelashes and remember that this is the kind of shit girls go through to get ready. Now go iron your damn shirt.

Some parts of my body are losing hair, and others are regrowing hair. Like, the top of my head is not really growing hair yet, but my legs are (cute). The new hair growing on my body has also created a super-neat phenomenon called Kertosis Pilaris. This is a skin condition caused by a buildup of keratin in the hair follicles which result in tiny red bumps all over your skin. It looks like a rash or rosacea and it’s all over my legs and arms. Just regular lotion is supposed to help, but I haven’t noticed any difference yet.

I know, I’m painting a very attractive picture of myself: hairless, sweaty-from-hot-flashes, rash-covered-alligator-skin, hairy legs. Hot.

Oh yeah, and can’t forget about nails. I had a pedicure last weekend and the nail technician said he thinks my big toe nails are about to fall off. So I’ve got that going for me.

Lastly, I have one small good side effect post-chemo! Since I started taking Tamoxifen last month, I’ve had a decreased appetite. Nothing drastic, but I don’t have the urge to stuff pizza in my face all day. So I think that’s a win. So far, the only downside to Tamoxifen is that it gives me crazy hot and cold flashes.

Oh God, I’m essentially describing myself as a hideous, disgusting monster. I’m not self-hating on myself; I’m not really that bad. And I do maintain my dignity: I never go outside of the house without at least doing my eyebrows and throwing on a wig. I don’t wear fake eyelashes every day, and somehow I still manage to pass as a somewhat attractive member of the female race. (I think my new cleavage helps considerably.)

Although I’m having some annoying post-chemo side effects, I’m incredibly grateful that they are POST-CHEMO side effects. So can I really complain? Hells to the no. It feels so free and refreshing to be finished, that nothing can dim this minty-fresh-outta-chemo-plus-I-got-new-boobs feeling. I am cancer free and I’ll take that any day over a full set of real eyelashes. 🙂 Ciao betches!

Hide yo kids, hide yo wife… BOOB PICS

Alright, the moment of truth… boob pics!

My new boobs are almost a week old! Happy birthday you sassy ladies! In their one week of life, they’ve had one plastic surgeon visit, one visit to Victoria’s Secret, 7 showers, 5 new bras, and been stepped on about 20 times by my dog and cat. When I saw the surgeon for my follow-up visit, he said “Woah look at that, you’ve got cleavage!” and I was like “I KNOW. HALLELUJIA! (insert hands raised to the sky emoji)”

So without further adieu, BOOBIES!

 

New boobies! Fresh outta the oven!

Update: I have new boobs! They’re squishy and they don’t look like two baked potatoes!

I had surgery yesterday, February 4th, which coincidentally was World Cancer Day. Honestly, I have no idea what World Cancer Day is, soooo let’s skip talking about that. Plus, I’m very aware of cancer and its effects so I don’t need some government awareness day to tell me that I need to educate myself about cancer. K BYE.

My surgery was to remove the tissue expanders (bagel boobs as I call them) and replace them with silicone implants. So yesterday started at 5:00 am when I rolled out of bed, hopped in the car with Jeff, and went to the hospital. I was excited and nervous too. I kept having flashbacks of the mastectomy and the pain that I felt after that surgery and I was scared I was going to feel that way again. That pain was a 10. Eh, no it was probably more like a 12. It fucking hurt and I was afraid that this surgery was going to hurt like that too. (spoiler: it DIDN’T!) I’m not going to recount the surgery because that’s boring. If you really want all the juicy in depth deets, just send me a message. But I will give you my surgery highlights:

1. When my plastic surgeon asked if I wanted “circus boobs.” My surgeon is a cool guy, his name is Chance and he is ex-military and he has a good sense of humor. Before surgery, he was marking my bagel boobs up with a sharpie and our joke is always that he’s going to give me giant ridiculous boobs like Dolly Parton so I can join a circus in a traveling freak show. Hmmm… new career move?

2. When the nurses are required to ask if I’ve done any drugs that morning. Yes, prior to my surgery I smoked crack with a homeless man in the parking lot.

3. When I laid on the operating table and they put the gas mask over my face and I yelled that it wasn’t working.
Me: “I don’t feel anything! I’m not asleep yet, ahh don’t operate.”
Nurse: “Just keep breathing, take a few deep breaths.”
Me: “I’m trying, It’s seriously not working” **Takes a few deep breaths** …And goodnight.

4. When the nurses try and have actual conversations with you in the recovery room. Like, what? I just barely opened my eyes which I literally can’t even focus on your face… why are you in the middle of telling me some story about your aunt who is BRCA+ but never got cancer. Chill. You and I both know I’m not remembering this conversation. Sorry nurse friends — are you all supposed to do this? To make sure my brain didn’t turn into a fried zucchini?

5. Coming home and getting waited on. My boyfriend Jeff has been great. Amazing, actually. He is sweet and patient and would probably go get me anything I want. Chipotle burrito bowl and a side of Chick fil-a nuggets covered in hot fudge? He would go get it. But I don’t abuse his niceness, so I settled for some good old Kraft Mac-n-cheese and a Percocet. Mmmmmmmm. Cheese. Mmmm Percocet.

6. My sweet new Velcro mastectomy bra. Be jealous. It’s the Croc’s of bras.

7. Cancer free boobs that look normal again! I apologize if I didn’t make this clear before. But I am cancer free. I was told I was cancer free after my mastectomy which was on June 29, 2015. BUT I did all the chemo and other stuff just to be extra sure. Because there may have been a few stray cancer cells lurking in my body, doing shady shit like selling fake Louis Vuitton bags and exotic animals on the black market, but we caught those bastards faster than an episode of Dateline. So now I am cancer free and I have new, slightly bigger boobs! I went with a D cup size, which was a little bigger than my natural size.

For all those interested, I’ll post some post-surgery pictures next week. I can’t take my bandages off until Saturday so for now the new girls are wrapped up like a mummy. And I will be wrapped up on my couch watching HGTV and Bravo all day with my snoring, farting dog (he’s a frenchie) and my hairless cat (she got her hair shaved and she looks ridiculous).
Ciao betches!