the vag laser!

Yep – you read that title correctly. haha

Yesterday afternoon, I had treatment 1 of 3 of Femilift laser therapy.

How does it work?

Femilift works using precision laser technology via a probe that goes into the vagina. The laser beam leads to microablation of the vaginal tissue to break down old collagen and stimulate your body to produce healthy, new collagen and elastin. The vaginal tissue also develops new blood vessels that allow for increased lubrication and better vaginal health overall.

What does it treat?

Femilift is a choice for women of all ages. Whether you are postmenopausal or postpartum, Femilift treats the symptoms of declining estrogen levels such as dryness, burning, irritation, itching, and urinary leakage.

My experience:

I had to insert 5 ml of lidocaine into my vagina an hour prior to the procedure to help numb the area. Once I arrived, I undressed, feet in the stirrups, and put on a pair of metal goggles to protect my eyes from the laser. My doc inserted the probe and made three passes at varying strengths, which took a total of about 15 minutes. It was definitely painful – especially around the vaginal opening, which is where most of the nerve endings are located. I can’t have sex (or insert anything vaginally) for two days, and I go back in four weeks for my next treatment. I’m definitely uncomfortable, but I feel really good about it, and think it is worth it. I hope I see results soon!

How Much?

It’s not covered by insurance, though it absolutely should be. Don’t get me started on that. The three sessions total around $2k, and then you will need one session per year @ $650 for maintenance. If you can afford it, I think this is a great option for menopausal women – particularly for my estrogen based cancer ladies.

Local ladies – check out my doc. She’s fucking fabulous.
https://www.evorabydrbeckylynn.com/

I never really thought I’d be doing vaginal rejuvenation, but here we are. This is where being diagnosed with breast cancer at 33yo and being estrogen deprived for eight years will lead you. I’ve gotta get my bang on, ykwim? I feel so lucky that this treatment is an option for me.

treatment updates

Oof – the chemo brain is real. I’m just walking around in a perpetual brain fog. I used to be sharp; a bitch with a long ass memory. Nowadays, I can’t remember if I did something five minutes ago. Today I forgot that my child was in the house until he said good morning to me. I was legit startled. I didn’t set an alarm to wake him up for school, but luckily D did it for me. I took Trazadone and Tylenol PM last night, and finally got some good sleep. Fuck I needed it. I feel like a human instead of a zombie today.

Talked to my psychiatrist this morning. She is fucking amazeballs. She’s got a drug for everything and isn’t afraid to use that prescription pad. I have learned just how important palliative care is when living with MBC, so I am forever grateful to her. I will be starting gabapentin tonight, which should help with pain, anxiety, and sleep, but most importantly, it is supposed to be a miracle worker for hot flashes/night sweats. I am super excited. I wake up several times a night drenched in sweat. It is no bueno.

She even mentioned going on a low dose of Ritalin in the future to help with my brain fog/concentration issues. We aren’t there yet, but it’s good to know it’s available if/when I need it.

I also started a super low dose estrogen suppository this week, which will help plump up my vag tissue. I have some atrophy from all the years of estrogen suppression, and sex has gotten a bit painful. Y’all know this bitch loves to fuck, so I told my doc we had to fix it. I am not afraid to talk to my doctors about sex, and I write candidly about these things here because this blog has become a resource for women living with breast cancer. The drug I’m using is called Imvexxy, and I can honestly already tell a slight difference after just one dose. I know a lot of women with ER/PR+ breast cancer (like mine) are reluctant to try low dose estrogen, but the studies show that it is safe, and doesn’t enter the bloodstream, when used vaginally. It really does make a HUGE difference, too.

I have a consultation in a couple of weeks with my plastic surgeon regarding Geneveve, which is a procedure that restores collagen in the vagina. We will have to pay out of pocket for it, as it is considered an elective procedure (don’t get me started on this bullshit), but it will be well worth it considering the reviews I have read. I feel lucky that it is something we can afford to do, and I am hopeful that I will have good results.

So yeah – I’m fighting the disease itself but also the side effects of the treatments. I don’t know how much time I have left, but I intend to squeeze out every last ounce of enjoyment I can. What is the point of fighting to live as long as possible if we are miserable the entire time?

Don’t ignore stage 4

It’s breast cancer awareness month. Everything is going to sport a pink ribbon. Everyone will talk about saving the tatas, and fighting like a girl, etc. But nobody talks about metastatic breast cancer. Why? Simply put: mbc makes people uncomfortable. Because there’s no cure, approximately 40,000 women (and men) die from mbc each year. My goal, not only this month, but every day for as long as I have, is to teach you about mbc. Those of us thriving with mbc are tired of being breast cancer awareness month’s dirty little secret.

Marked

I like that you can see the marks left on my body from cancer. My port scar from chemo. The cancer boob with the slight dent. The mandala tattoos where nipples should be. The tiny black radiation tattoos on my chest and stomach. The tiny scars on my stomach from my hysterectomy/oophorectomy. I hate on my body a lot, I know, but this bitch has fought hard and is not only surviving, but thriving. I’m now, at 41, finally learning to be comfortable in my own skin. The scars, the wrinkles, the extra fat around my midsection – I’m thankful for all of it, because it means I’m still here.

I’m ready to talk about it

I have a lump in my cancer boob.

My doc was like: well it could be a cyst or a tumor. We’ve gotta cut it out regardless.

So that’s happening at some point soon. I have to talk to my plastic surgeon next week.

We discussed my exchange surgery that is scheduled for September. He said we have to wait and see where we are at that point. I think I’ve decided to just cancel it. I am pretty sure I only have two to three years left, and I don’t want to waste any of my time recovering from unnecessary surgery. D and I are happy with the current tits. I won’t be alive long enough for these recalled ones to kill me – so why bother?

My tumor markers are way up. He told me today that this result would be the determining factor in whether I continue this treatment. Those results come in last, so I didn’t get them until several hours after the appointment. I emailed him and just said, “Where do we go from here?” I imagine I’ll be getting a phone call on Monday.

It’s weird – I’m not that upset. I’ve accepted it. My fate is to die from breast cancer. I’m mostly worried about my husband. He’s a heartbroken mess.

I’m not completely satisfied with the care I’m receiving. I’m going to make some calls on Monday. I want a second opinion. I know this will kill me, but I want as much time as I can get. My oncologist is a nice guy, but today was kind of a hot mess. I worry he has too many patients to really treat me properly.

I’m a bougie bitch – I can afford better care than this. I’m thankful for that; believe me.

I’m going to cash out my 401k. We’ve (D and I) debated this a lot, and he’s been telling me to wait, but tonight, in tears, he said: I think you should go ahead and cash it out.

I want to finish the basement. And take the kids to Hawaii. And buy whatever random shit that makes me happy.

I’m starting to think about what to do with the firm. I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet, but if I can’t find a treatment that keeps me stable by the end of the year, I’m going to give up my practice.

And that’s where we are.

It’s…hard. Really, really hard.

Thank you for reading.

Even if I don’t know you, I love you for caring.

xoxo

Radioactive

PET scan is done. Now the waiting begins continues.

My tech today is really good friends with my high school bestie. Stl is like a small town, I swear.

Next up: colonoscopy prep. Are you envious?? Lol.

Actually…next up is a fucking nap, and then I’m heading to the Jeffco office this afternoon.

Send me good nap vibes please. I’m exhausted to the point where D seems a bit concerned. I know I’m (unintentionally) behaving strangely.

it’s all about perspective

I’m suddenly sort of grateful for my completely overwhelming job, because it takes a lot of my attention, and keeps me from going too far down the rabbit hole during the day. The nights…well the nights are another story altogether.

I have found some comfort in the BreastCancer.org message boards. A lot of ladies live 5+ years after being diagnosed with mets.

I know I haven’t been diagnosed yet, but I do not have a good feeling about it. It’s like I told D last night: I’d rather get into a head space where I’m prepared to hear the news, and end up pleasantly surprised, than go in with hope. Hope is a fucking killer. I cannot do hope.