Getting Things Off My Chest Third Edition: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer by Melanie Young #Review
Getting Things Off My Chest Third Edition:
A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer
General Women’s Health
Publisher: Plain Sight; 3rd edition (August 11, 2020)
Paperback: 264 pages
Kindle ASIN: B08JZ6PDC7
Charge head-on into the battle with breast cancer, armed with these outstanding survivors’ tips on how to stay sane, focused, and in charge. Written by a breast cancer survivor with expert insights, handy checklists, and helpful questions to ask your doctors, all geared toward streamlining your new life. This detailed, upbeat book helps you make informed decisions, eat and exercise to stay strong, look, and feel your best, eliminate stress and boost your spirits with positive thinking and a dose of humor. Don’t let your cancer control you; empower yourself and ease the transition with this all-inclusive guide. This book is WINNER of the 2014 International Book Award for Cancer Health topics.
Everyone’s breast cancer journey is unique but most of us go numb or are stopped in our tracks when we hear the words, “yes, it’s cancer” When you finally start to wrap your head around your diagnosis you have questions that need to be answered. For many of us, that means getting a book or books on the subject. A survivor’s perspective is always appreciated. It’s funny, I am a book person but that isn’t the route I took at first. Instead, I was Googling everything. Then in September, I was given the opportunity to review this book that was being released to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was recovering from my surgery and set to start my radiation treatments in October and still suffering from “chemo brain” making it hard for me to write coherent reviews. So while late, I still wanted to share with you my thoughts about this book.
Melanie Young is a breast cancer survivor after being diagnosed in August 2009. This is the third edition of her book. She covers everything from “Digesting Your Diagnosis” to “Your Options on Reconstruction” to “Positive Side Effects” and “Making Cancer A Positive Life Sentence”. She shares her story while including insights from many experts.
I found the book to be very well-written and set up in a way that easy to follow even though the author’s path was in a different order than mine. She also did not go through her treatments during a pandemic as I did, but I hope she will address that in her fourth edition. So her account told me how things would have been if 2020 had been a normal year. I found myself getting emotional over the number of times she encouraged leaning on family members and having someone go with you to doctor’s appointments and chemo treatments. After my very first appointment where care was explained, I was on my own. I was so glad to have my daughter with me at that appointment because it was information overload and she knew I was overwhelmed she wrote everything down and asked a ton of questions. Questions the author of this book recommends. Lord, only knows how many important things I missed along the way without back up by my side although the doctors, nurses, and everyone involved in my care was superb and took great care of me.
I really wish I would have had this book at the start of my journey. It is packed full of information. Questions I had were answered in a clear and easy to understand way. I read and reread several chapters over the past couple of months. Ms. Young focuses on the positive way to look at everything in an upbeat way. A way I needed to read when cancer was getting the best of me. Some of the side effects were brutal but I found comfort in her words.
I am so appreciative that this book was presented to me for review. If you or a loved one receive a breast cancer diagnosis get them this book as soon as you can. The positive messages are uplifting and the information is useful and clear. It is an excellent resource that you can read and then refer back to certain sections as needed.
It has been a while since I posted an update.
I started my radiation treatment last Tuesday after a false start the previous week where my body and the lasers just wouldn’t line up. Now, I have four treatments in and just a little redness under my arm. I am moisturizing like crazy 🙂
Our family did have a couple of rough times over the past couple of weeks. We knew we would have a tough decision to make soon about our two Border Collie/Blue Heller mixes. They were just over 17 years old and one had lost her hearing and both had their eyesight failing. Plus they had the arthritis we all get when we get old. On September 27 Oreo, originally our son Kris’s dog, took a turn for the worse. She just couldn’t get up on her own, and one of the many fatty tumors common with this breed burst. The kids rushed her to the emergency clinic and sadly we had to let her go.
Then last Monday after a stressful weekend of Nerabelle started to show signs of failing we knew what was ahead. I know she missed her sister. She slept next to Oreo’s bed instead of in her own. She was also having trouble with her back legs so Daughter #1, Nera was originally her dog, and Kaden arrived last Monday for another trip to the vet. Nerabelle didn’t even fuss going into the clinic.
For 17 years both these dogs brought so much joy to our lives. They were wonderful support animals while I was going through chemo too. The house is so quiet, no toenails clicking across the floor, no barking at the mailman or pizza delivery guy, and no one to eat my pizza crusts or begging for other treats. No dogs to greet us at the door when we come home from my treatments. Mr. Dollycas wrote on his Facebook Page, My heart is heavy and I will grieve for them both as they were the greatest friends I could have ever had the pleasure of living with. And he is so right. These animals quickly worked their way into our hearts and become true family members. It is hard to say goodbye but they both deserve a peaceful rest. We have now turned their care over to our son/brother/uncle in heaven.
On the blog front, you may have noticed I am posting a little more often. I am still catching up on reviews of the books I read at the start of my treatment when chemo brain wouldn’t let string a coherent sentence together. I am also trying to review books as soon as I finish them. I am still reading less than I did before because my body can’t take the late nights and early mornings like it used to. Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done and the writing of reviews gets pushed off. My radiation treatments are scheduled to end right before Thanksgiving and the oncologist has said fatigue is the biggest side effect and it is cumulative so allowing for some recovery time by the new year I hope I will start to get my life back on track. I am also hoping that in the new year COVID gets handled and we can gather with our family and friends and that publishers will be able to offer giveaways again.
Thank you for being so supportive of me during this time and being patient with me. Your prayers and best wishes are so appreciated and have been giving me so much strength.
I hope you have an awesome week!!
It has been two weeks since my lumpectomy. I met with both the surgeon and my oncologist this past week. The surgery turned out to be more extensive than originally planned. Due to my ample supply of tissue, 🙂 the tumor/s in the breast were easily removed. The dye that was injected prior to surgery to outline the cancerous lymph nodes did not work properly so the surgeon removed all 14 lymph nodes from under my arm. Because of this, a drain needed to be put in and I had to spend the night in the hospital. I still have the drain. It will remain in until I expel less than 30 cc’s of fluid over a 24 hour period. I am getting close. It is a good thing she removed them all because 6 of the 14 had evidence of cancer. She is confident she got all cancer out and left good clear margins. I left her office feeling pretty good.
Then a couple of days later we went to followup with my oncologist. He said he usually waits until patients are midway through radiation before meeting with them to discuss the next steps but he had something important to discuss with me. He learned a lot from my pathology report. He went on to explain that while Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), is the most common kind of breast cancer, my personal form of this cancer is very “aggressive” and did not respond well to the second type of chemo. The tumors shrank the most during the 1st regimen of chemo, the 1st 8 weeks, but that progress basically ground to a halt when we switched over to the different drug (Taxol) week 9. He said this also puts me at a high risk for recurrence. Because of that, he would like to try to get me into an upcoming clinical trial. He kept stating that I was “young” 😆 and with my other physical limitations, he thought I would be a great candidate. It would mean taking an additional pill when I start the maintenance pills after radiation for the first 2 years. It could be the actual medication or a placebo as it is a blind study. He needed my permission to proceed when he meets with a committee at the end of the month. I told him I was on board, how could I not be? I also kept a brave face throughout our meeting but later that evening I started to freak out a bit.
I have tried to stay positive throughout this process but I sure don’t want to go through this again. I started second-guessing myself, should I have had a total mastectomy of that breast? Why didn’t the scans show more? I know that had a heck of a time getting images of the lymph nodes. COVID 19 was a blessing and a curse. Because of it, my treatment was started quickly because so many other procedures were put on hold, but it also meant I was in most of the doctor meetings alone and maybe I missed something. The doctors I had were highly recommended and I trusted them and still do. I know they have my best interests at heart as do all the others on my team, from the patient advocates, the nurses, and everyone else involved in my care.
Now I wait to start radiation next month and wait to see if I am accepted into the clinical trial. I also put myself in God’s hands and hope I will be able to put cancer behind me once and for all.