Biopsy 2: Electric Boogaloo

Forgive me for the title.  I’m an 80s kid and couldn’t resist.  😃

Cancer isn’t funny.  It sucks.  However, thinking you might have cancer, or are fighting cancer, sometimes having a dark sense of humor comes in handy. That’s how I’ve tried to handle things since starting down this road to finding out what the hell is in my boob.

Last Friday morning,  I took a step closer to solving this mystery of “That Odd Tentacle Thing in My Left Breast.”

First off, I’m wheeled down to Radiology to get another mammogram, so my doc can insert a wire in my breast to surround the questionable area.  This will help the surgeon to take out enough tissue to be tested.

Ah… the lovely Boob Smashing Machine.

received_1218037608344136

Dr. G and her assistant prepped me by inserting a numbing shot. “A prick and then a little burning,” Dr. G said.

little burning? I could feel my eyes water as I inhaled deeply as what felt like FIRE enter my breast! Thankfully, the burning passed quickly.  A young 20 something tech smiled at me emphatically as I winced.

“Now we’re going to insert the wire. Look straight ahead,” Dr. G gently warned me. No problem – I have zero desire to look at myself turning into Frankenboob.

After a few minutes, the procedure was done. The extra wire poking out of me was taped to my upper chest (I’m still numbed up), gauze packed on my underside area, and I was whisked away to surgery.

On my way to surgery, we passed my hubby in the waiting room.

He kissed me. “I love you.  It’s going to be all right,” he half whispered. “I’ll be here when you wake up. ”

After the nurses began inserting an IV,  getting additional info from me, and taking vitals, the anesthesiologist gave me a pill to prevent nausea. “I’ll get your medicine to make you sleepy; I’ll be right back,” she gently touched my shoulder.

For the first time since checking in, I was alone.  Suddenly, the room felt too big, this whole thing felt like too much. I wanted to leave. My hands began sweating.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE CANCER?

No,  I thought.  You’re not going to do that.  You’re not going to let IT win.  If I do have IT, then I’m fighting.  All The Way. You’re not going to let the Fear or Cancer take over your life, I swore to myself.

After the drugs were administered, I didn’t give a damn what happened. I was floating in bliss. Then, the oxygen mask was placed on my face.  “Take a few deep breaths for me. There you go.  Take another.”

“Melanie!” I heard a woman’s voice, followed by patting of my cheeks. “Melanie, wake up. ”

I open my eyes.  “You did great,” the nurse smiled.  “It’s all done. ”  That felt like 5 minutes!

It’s been a few days since the surgery.  My poor boob looks like Mike Tyson used it as a punching bag, and it aches.  No weighs over 15 lbs, no bathing or hot tubs, and no raising my left arm over my head for a couple of weeks. By the way – I didn’t realize how much I used my left arm until I couldn’t raise it!

The doc said I should know the results in about a week’s time, but unlike the first Biopsy, I’m ready for whatever result will happen. In that surgery prep area, I killed off the What If. I am not afraid.

If Cancer is what I’m facing, then Cancer better strap in for a helluva fight! I’ll be ready to whip some ass.

received_285482328747986

Love, laughter, and shoes-

Xo, Melanie.

 

 

 

Advertisements

How a Pimple May Have Saved My Life

It was annoying and wouldn’t go away. A mid sized blemish on my left breast popped up unexpectedly and just wouldn’t totally go away, even after using hypoallergenic soap and softer bras.

Out of ideas how to make it stop, I went to my doc to have the blemish examined.

“Hmmm. You’ve never had any like this before?” she asked.

“No. It’s the only one I’ve had on a breast, ever.”

“Well, it could be something for Dermatology to look at – but I’d like to get a mammogram done just to rule out things. When was your last one?”

My mind started to race. Did she think this was something serious? After I told her my last date, she continued. “I think it would be good just to have another mammogram done for comparison’s sake. Chances are, everything’s fine,” she reassured me.

Two weeks later, I stood at the not-intimidating-at-all mammography machine, ready to have my poor boob smushed.

“There! All done. I’ll have the Radiologist look at these real quick to see if he needs any more images. Be right back,” the cheerful tech chirped.

10 minutes passed. This seemed a little long. Then the door opened.

“Ma’am, we’d like to have a few more images done just to get a closer look,” the tech explained. “There’s nothing to worry about; the Radiologist just wantsto be sure of what he’s looking at.”  Well…ok, I thought. Nothing to worry about, I told myself.

After wincing through another smushing, I sat and waited a few minutes. I had gotten mammograms done before and have never had to wait around – usually, it’s pics done, go home, and they’ll call or send results.

Then the door opened. Three people came in.

The tallest guy introduced himself as the Radiologist. Another doctor accompanied him with the cheerful tech, who wasn’t so chipper this time.

“Ma’am, after looking at your images, I’m seeing an usual area in the upper part of your breast. It’s not a lump, but it’s a little odd looking. It could be fibrous or scar tissue, so would you be able to stay and have an ultrasound done? We could probably get a better idea that way.”

Ok, I said. But inside, I thought – is this really happening? Is there something wrong? This was supposed to be a pimple.

Though I calmly laid on the table as the ultrasound took place, my mind swam. Don’t let your imagination get away from you, I told myself. They’re just being thorough. I tried to study the radiologist’s face as he rolled the device over me. I looked to the monitor to try and see what the others saw. The doctor pointed out a tiny area which looked like what I could best describe as “tentacles.”

“This doesn’t resemble a mass or a lump, but it is unusual,” the doctor said. “We are looking at a few options. One, we could do nothing now and do another ultrasound in a few months. Two, we could try and get a MRI to get a closer picture. However, we may not be able to get you scheduled for a month. Third, we could do a biopsy and have the tissue tested.”

“Do you think it’s cancerous?” I asked.

“That’s something a biopsy could rule out,” the doc said. So, I agreed.

Crazy enough, the area of concern wasn’t even the pimple in question! That pimple was most likely a clogged/infected hair follicle.

Jesus, I thought. What if I didn’t get this checked out? I wasn’t due for a mammogram for another eight months.

Unfortunately, the biopsy didn’t give a definite answer (and let me tell you – even though you are numbed up for the procedure – it is NOT fun. I was sweating buckets the whole time!). “Benign with unusual markers” was the official report.

My doctor, however, wants to know what those unusual markers are. I do, too. It could be nothing – but it could also be precancerous tissue, or Stage 0 breast cancer. She, along with my husband and I, decided it’s best to do another biopsy where a larger sample is taken to be tested (thankfully, I’ll be put under for this one!). The surgery takes place in a few days and I should know results in a week’s time.

I have never heard of Stage 0 before, but with the new technology available to several hospitals, images can be seen in 3D now, versus 2D. The hospital where I go has this technology, and it’s possible to catch cancerous activity in its earliest stages. Though I’m nervous, I am thankful this can be caught quickly.

My biggest takeaway from the whole situation is – Trust your instincts. When your body is doing something different from the norm, get it checked out! Though my annoying pimple had nothing to do with this situation, it was probably God’s way of sending me a signal before things potentially got out of hand.

check yourself

Women Over 40 – GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS DONE. 

Here are some resources to find free or reduced cost mammograms: Free or Low Cost Mammograms

Or – try The National Mammography Program for facilities in your area: National Mammography Program

I share my story to spread awareness – don’t put off something that doesn’t feel right.

I am also so thankful for my rock, my partner, my love – he has been so supportive and  lets me cry, vent, or gets silly with me. I am blessed!

40533995_10217329209047656_8569703908761403392_o

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo, Melanie.

Please Stop Hating Yourself!

Hello Lovelies,

Tonight I chatted with some friends in my Facebook Messenger, and the topic of our bodies came up. Some of the conversation went like this:

“I think I look gross. I did a boudoir for last year. And Had to wear something that covered my stomach and still hated how I looked in all of them. The photographer was amazing but ya…”

“I don’t have the balls to do a shoot-

I barely have sex with the lights on.”
“I’m just not comfortable with my body.”
These are mostly 20 and 30 something women who are absolutely gorgeous. Being good friends, we were telling one another how crazy we were to talk this way about ourselves (which was true! These ladies are HOT!).
But I remember that loathing. The feeling of not being good enough; judging myself in dressing room mirrors, cringing at the slightest extra few pounds on my stomach. Endless dieting. As a performer, I felt that extra pressure to achieve that coveted size 2-4 (and I did – but developed an eating disorder in the process).
I’m no longer living off the coffee and protein bars to stay small (thank God), and I’ve stopped the size obsession. It’s exhausting. Could I stand to lose some weight? Of course. I’m working on dropping some pounds, but I really just want to be healthy.
How did I stop the loathing? This quote from RuPaul did it:
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?”
(can I get an “Amen” in here?)
rupaul
It’s true. Mama Ru knows a little something about acceptance! I finally had to learn to accept who I was, right then – not the “someday” version of Melanie I fantasized about. I deserve to be happy.
As women, we are fantastically hard on ourselves. We’re not tall enough, thin enough, curvy enough, busty enough, young enough, bootylicious enough. If it’s not our bodies we’re hating, it’s feeling like we don’t measure up as mothers, wives, or deserving of success.
PLEASE STOP.
Generally, men don’t do this to themselves. They work on their “trouble” areas, but the self loathing is not nearly as much as what women do to their self-esteem.
So, what do we do about it? Focus on things which we love about ourselves. Start by playing up those legs if you love those. Enhance your beautiful skin. Show off your shoulders. Let your hair hang down.  Give back to others. Surround yourself with those with good energy. Realize that all those models are airbrushed and photoshopped!
zendaya
If there’s one advantage to being a forty something, it’s that knowing that I am comfortable and fine the way I am. It took me a long time to get here, and I want to face the second half of my life feeling good.
Let’s give ourselves a break and enjoy life!!
Until next time –
Love, laughter, and shoes –
xo Melanie
20170911_122153

Lady Gaga and I Share Something in Common

Hello Lovelies,

I recently watched a fantastic documentary on Netflix called Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two, which chronicles the recording of her Joanne album, her prep for the Superbowl, and her struggle with chronic pain.

I cried along with her when she was in her doctor’s office, saying “I just need someone to fix me.”

I wanted to stand up and yell that as well.  “Please, just FIX me.”

Chronic pain is one of the most unpredictable, stressful conditions one can have.  I could feel fine one day, but the next can be an entirely different story- depending on what my activity level Is, or my stress factor, how much sleep – or even what I eat.  It’s hard to pin down and tricky to diagnose and treat nerve damage.

What’s the most frustrating part of having chronic pain is that many times I can be like Gaga- working out, performing, dancing- then it hits like a ton of bricks. Strangely enough the sciatic attacks (which feel like fire running up my leg) have happened when doing every day things like grocery shopping. I was literally stopped in my tracks with my shopping cart and had to call a friend to get me. While waiting, I flagged down a store clerk to get me a motorized cart. I was so embarrassed and upset. Not only is this pain messing with my life, but I have to involve others with my struggles.

I don’t wrote this post to elicit sympathy or bring attention to myself.  This is something that I’ve been told that I may need to deal with this for the rest of my life (which I’m not exactly accepting; we’ll see about that). But I write this because chronic pain is something many people are silently dealing with, and some are in real dire need of help. Some have turned to narcotics to try and get through the day and unfortunately end up hooked. Others drink. Some grit through it with basic pain meds. I’ve been dealing with it with basic meds, but I would just love to not have to take medicine anymore.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying all that I can and seeking that something that will fix me.  Lady Gaga- I feel ya, girl.  Hang in there. We’ve got this.  

Spring is Here – Refresh, Reboot!

Hafa Adai Lovelies!

SPRING! A time to clear away the blahs, to reassess goals, to clean out closets! Here in Guam it is an endless summer (which may sound great to a lot of you!). however, the weather can be a motivation killer. That “sameness” is kind of what has happened with me lately. The lack of a season change made me a bit stuck with my mindset and goals. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I noticed that I hadn’t written anything in awhile or planned something new. So – presto!

Presenting the new look to The Divine Mz M! I am back, baby! New beauty tips, reviews, fashion, fitness, body image discussions….and GIVEAWAYS! Yes!!

As of late, I have really worked on my makeup skills and started a side gig as a makeup artist! Being able to create while making someone feel amazing is such an fantastic feeling. If you are on Instagram, please check out my work and let me know what you think! @DivineMzMel

What are you planning to do differently this spring? I’m going to get more fit (planning on 15 more pounds gone by my July birthday), focus more time with friends, and saving cash towards a December trip to Australia!

I would love to know your goals!

Until next time –

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo Melanie:)

The Truth About Getting Older!

Hello Lovelies,

I think the month of January ran by me without my realizing it. My every day life has been incredibly busy for a month straight – between teaching, doing parties, and now launching a new business with makeup and skin care (more to come on that later!!), I think my body decided to revolt!

Some of you know that I’ve become pretty passionate about getting healthy. For almost a year, I’ve watched my diet and worked out at least 3-4 times a week, focusing on a cardio/weight lift circuit. It’s worked out great, as I’ve lost 33 pounds. Pretty nifty keen, if I say so myself!

March 2016

March 2016

January 2017

January 2017

But here’s the thing. Though I am stronger and more fit, somehow my body decided maybe I was trying to do too much and as a result, my sciatic nerve GOT MAD last Saturday morning and the Hubby and I spent most of the day at the emergency room. So, imagine my frustration when I am told to rest for a few days and take medications for pain. UGH!

Besides all that, I am realizing that my eye sight is going downhill. More and more I am having to rely on my reading glasses – and that’s not such a bad thing, as my glasses are kinda cute, but damn….it means I am definitely getting older!

I want to tell all young women out there – CHERISH your bodies. Love them as they are; don’t wish for something else. Now that I am in my mid 40s, my beauty routine has become much more elaborate to fight gravity. More supportive bras, firming creams, regular masks and facials. Yes, I know – we all get older. However, it doesn’t mean I have to just let gravity and stress tell the story of my life! Call me vain, but I want to look as young as my heart feels.

Dress. LuLaRoe. Bag, Just Fab. Necklace, Premier Designs.

Dress. LuLaRoe. Bag, Just Fab. Necklace, Premier Designs.

I take care of my skin. No longer do I trust just anything to put on it – chemicals make me red and the inflammation ends up breaking down cells, causing loss of tone and creating wrinkles. I discovered a professional grade skincare and makeup line, LimeLight by Alcone, which uses no chemicals, is free of parabens, plus is cruelty free (which I especially love!). Check out my before and after! You can see more at my Facebook page: Giving Good Face by Melanie! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1069186336560621/

Left, last December. Right, Feb 3 2017 after using LimeLight by Alcone's skin care and makeup consistently. No photoshop or filters!

Left, last December. Right, Feb 3 2017 after using LimeLight by Alcone’s skin care and makeup consistently. No photoshop or filters!

So yes – physically, aging sucks. Over time, things wear out. However, one thing I know is true: With age, comes wisdom. I don’t get sucked into others’ dramas, I focus on what’s really important to me and my family, I believe kindness is much more effective and needed, and true friendships are precious and few. I have no patience for toxic people or situations.

Getting older has given me more confidence. I say what I mean, and mean what I say. I don’t have time for games. If I want to try something, I will do it. Appeasing others to save face doesn’t interest me. The cliche’ of “life is too short” becomes very clear as one gets older.

So, yes I’ll have to do more physical therapy, wear glasses more frequently, maybe pass on more commitments to reduce stress. However, I’ve got one life and I want to live it the best I can!

Until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo, Melanie:)

 

Fighting the Good Fight: My Battle With Anxiety

I am celebrating an anniversary today. Six months ago today, I decided to take control of my life.

On March 12, 2016, I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life, 223 lbs. I was suffering from constant pain from sciatica, which created a daily need for some kind of painkiller, be it an over the counter med like Aleve or something stronger that could knock me out.

What I wasn’t sharing – panic attacks that used to plague me for years had returned. Driving around this little island made me feel claustrophobic; like I couldn’t run away. I chalked up most of my feelings to homesickness, but the bulk of the truth was staring at me in the mirror.

I was sick. Overweight. Over-medicated. Physically weak.

At my heaviest.

At my heaviest.

I have always been an advocate of celebrating the body you have and not tearing yourself down. Though I’m not ashamed of the weight I gained, I was worried that the weight I had put on was destroying my body. Things I used to do rather easily (like climbing stairs) would leave me out of breath. I was more tired than usual.

But what I failed to see until that day in March was, my panicky feelings were tied to my body crying for help. Though I was put on an anti anxiety medication, I still struggled with leaving our house, worried that a panic attack might happen. That’s the worst part – the “what if” I have an attack?

I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I decided to get serious.

Before I "got it." Medication only helps so far.

Before I “got it.” Medication only helps so far.

To be clear: I am not advocating that anti anxiety/antidepressants are bad. However, through my experience, using medication alone to deal with anxiety was not enough. I had to make big changes to my diet and get physically strong. I needed to push through discomfort in order to make changes. Not only from a physical standpoint, but I needed to confront issues with myself. Meditation and seeing a therapist helped to quiet my ever-racing mind.

Today, I am positive that my body does not respond well to sugars and processed foods. Whenever I have given myself a treat and eat something with more sugar, my joints hurt the next day. I feel lethargic and also more prone to insomnia. So, I will eat a much smaller amount to avoid the side effects.

As I write this, I am 28 pounds lighter. My medication has been adjusted and I’m sleeping better.

Feeling so much better!

Feeling so much better!

My message is this: Anxiety and depression are very real. It’s not just feeling anxious or blue. I “white knuckled” through a lot of the anxiety for a long time, or I would try to distract myself by throwing myself into a lot of projects so I wouldn’t have to deal with my issues.

I know that I will need to continue to work out, eat well, and monitor my stress to keep the panic attacks and depressive episodes at bay.

The Hubby has been amazing through my journey. I really don’t think I could have got on a good path to wellness without his support. I love him with all my heart!

Love of my life!

Love of my life!

If you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, don’t be afraid to get help. You’re not weak for doing so! It means you want to live a better life, and you deserve that.

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo, Melanie.