Catching Up

When I first began this blog, I knew I’d have a difficult time keeping up with it. Life gets busy and the day passes quickly when you have a toddler on the go. But there’s often times that I think, oh I’ll definitely write about that later. Then, of course, my chemo brain never allows me to remember what it was. So I’ll try my best to recall the highlights of my summer.

I spent the majority of the summer battling a breast infection that I developed after my last surgery, when the expanders went in. Something never felt right about that one side. Sure enough, months past and it got worse. My plastic surgeon finally decided it required surgery. So in I went this week to get the infection cleared out. When I awoke, I felt a bit lighter (and flatter) on the side with the infection and I learned that the infection had spread and the expander had to come out. Disappointed to say the least, as I’m not looking forward to starting reconstruction over again.

But nonetheless, that will be some time away – because this summer, I also lost my health insurance. My COBRA benefits were finally exhausted and, being self-employed, I couldn’t find an individual plan that would accept someone with a pre-existing condition such as breast cancer. The experience of navigating health insurance was cumbersome, tiring and overwhelming. I sought advice from a large, national cancer advocacy group, only to be told that I had already done everything they would have advised me to do. Crushing news, but I learned quite a bit about the politics behind healthcare reform through this experience. So now I wait the 6-month waiting period to be accepted on a government high-risk pool plan.

This summer, I also experienced my first real recurrence scare. After developing a persistent cough that lead to wheezing and shortness of breath, I began to worry. With no health insurance, I was hesitant to get it checked out. However, the fear of the possibility of a recurrence ate at me for several nights until my patient navigator finally convinced me to go in. Turned out to be a bad sinus infection. Whew!

Shortly after that, I went in for my scheduled 3-month oncology check-up. All went well, other than the breast infection had caused a swollen lymph node. I posted on Facebook that day: “That feeling you get when you’re on your way to your routine 3-month breast cancer check-up and, no matter how it goes, you’re just so overwhelming grateful for life: Amazing. Then to hear you’re still in the clear: Awesome.”

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