Thoughts on My Upcoming Mastectomy

First off, apologies for the long absence. Between working from home, homeschooling, gardening (I’ve got a CRAPTON of veggie plants and flowers that I love, pet, kiss, and call my green babies), bread baking (while the yeast lasted), quilting (I’m seriously turning into my grandmother), I’ve been a little busy in quarantine.

We’re all just trying to get by here

Busy is good. Busy has kept me from wallowing and perseverating over my upcoming mastectomy. Two years after oncoplastic surgery to remove the tumor in my left breast and reconstruction involving a breast reduction and lift, we found residual disease. My left breast has to go.

Thanks to Covid-19, my reconstruction will be delayed. That’s not super unusual, as women who opt for implants normally get expanders to stretch their skin prior to permanent placement of the implant. But it’s still stressful. I’ll be lopsided for a while, but I opted to keep the right breast to preserve sensation on at least one side. You knew you lose ALL sensation following mastectomy, right? The new boobs look fantastic and do you no good from an intimacy standpoint.

More on that in a later post.

This post is about perspective, looking ahead to tomorrow, the next few weeks, the next few months, and how to move forward. I received the following message from a Facebook friend, and it is perfect. I’d like to share it with all of you:

“Happy Mother’s Day, Dana. The most Hallmarkesque of the Hallmark Holidays. I trust that Patrick and the brood are making a fuss over you today, and every day.

Patrick has spilled the beans about tomorrow. I imagine that you must be both determined and more than a little whacked out and scared. If you weren’t, I’d be more worried about you.

Surgery is a big deal, and you wonder what life will be like on the other side. At least I did as I prepared for mine last year, when I was blindsided by news that my prostate had to go. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I am delighted that you will be spared the indignity of having a rubber tube jammed up your wee wee for 2 weeks.

I can report that almost a year later, life is still good. Turns out that my masculinity had virtually nothing to do with the operational status of Mr Happy. Your femininity has nothing to do with your hooters, to use the most inoffensive yet funny term I can think of. Bazooms ran a close second.

The most attractive part of a woman to me is her brain. I pray that with the surgery behind you, your brain can be free from worry, and that you can fill it with more good, tranquil and beautiful thoughts.

Your family loves you, especially that bizarre Dutch guy. We are all pulling for you, and send healing thoughts, love and joy.”

Thank you, Survivor Brother. That’s exactly what I needed.

Team Lab Rats at Nashville Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event

Laura Kim, Kalin Wilson, Dana Brantley-Sieders, Rebecca Cook – Team Lab Rats!

Days like today fill me with so much energy, enthusiasm, and hope.

Nissan Stadium and the surrounding area were JAM PACKED with people – women, men, kiddos, cute doggos, survivors and those who love and honor them – gathered together in a unified purpose: to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research, patient assistance, and to keep making strides!

My wonderful friends/colleagues, including graduate student Laura Kim, medical student Kalin Wilson, and fellow investigator and collaborator Rebecca Cook, joined me to form Team Lab Rats. They were with me through my own adventure with breast cancer and are with me in the laboratory as we search for new and better treatments for molecular targets that drive breast cancer growth, survival, and metastatic progression. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m a lucky woman.

Together, we raised $1,500, and I couldn’t be prouder of these amazing women and all of the teams who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for this cause that is so near and dear to my heart. Nashville, my home city, you make me so proud!

Look at that crowd!
My AMAZING Team honored me at the Avon booth by Kissing Breast Cancer Goodbye!

To everyone in Nashville and around the United States (and the world), thank you for your support. It means more than you know to survivors. Thank you.