Monday, November 2, 2015

1 Week Post Op

Well, I made it through my double mastectomy surgery! Tomorrow will mark one week post op and I am so proud of myself for getting through these past 6 days. I had hoped to post an update much sooner than this but the medications I'm on make me very drowsy, unmotivated and blur my vision so I've been dictating text messages to Matt for my friends and family.

But now that I'm past the hardest part of my journey, I am excited to provide you all with a recap of my experience so far. I blame the strong medicinal cocktail I'm on for any misspellings, grammatical errors or sentences that don't make sense at all. And in an effort to be transparent about this journey, a lot of this post will focus on the lowest of lows because the first week just sucks and there's really no way to sugar coat it. 

THE DAY BEFORE SURGERY was super busy. I ran tons of last minute errands, packed our hospital bags, tidied the house, got my car cleaned, met with my anesthesiologist, wrote a four page instruction manual for each kid and got my nails done! I knew I was supposed to be "resting" but I preferred to stay busy to keep my mind out of freak out mode. My mom arrived early in the afternoon and I took her to daycare to introduce her to Caroline's teachers and walk her through the morning routine. Since Caroline thrives on a routine we decided to keep her in daycare but let mom pick her up early to spoil her with fun things like playing at the toy store, sharing some nuggets at Chick-fil-a, visiting the animals at PetSmart, etc. Meanwhile, Matt took Thomas to his parents house in Winston. Even though it's been tough splitting the kiddies up, after lots of logistical discussions we decided it would be best for our moms to take the divide and conquer approach so neither one has to wrestle two babies at once.

The last night before my surgery I obviously didn't sleep a wink and neither did Matt. In addition to the anxiety surrounding my procedure, we had to be up by 3:30 am so I could shower with a special medical soap, get dressed, stare at my sleeping toddler for a few minutes and be at the hospital by 4:30 am. 
SURGERY DAY felt like a blurry dream. We arrived on time at the hospital and to my surprise I wasn't anxious at all. Honestly, I was so worried about Matt that I couldn't even think about the surgery that was just a few moments away. The nurse peppered me with scary questions about my living will, my power of attorney, etc. while wiping me down with tons of cold antibacterial wipes and inserting my IV. Once I was fully prepped both of my surgeons came in and drew all over my chest with permanent marker. At this time I also received versed to knock me out a little bit and was warned I wouldn't remember anything from then on but I did remember kissing Matt and telling him not to worry as they rolled me away. I also remember entering the operating room and panicking a little bit about still being awake. Surrounding me were a bunch of blurry people in blue scrubs helping me off my hospital bed and onto the operating table. 
RECOVERY. The next thing I remember was waking up in a recovery area and asking for Matt over and over again. Apparently this was five hours later. My mom and Matt's dad kept Matt company during my surgery and my doctors frequently provided them with updates along the way to keep them informed on how I was doing. The procedure could not have gone better! Praise the Lord! And even though the doctors don't expect to find anything, they sent off my tissue to be tested for cancer just to be safe.

After awhile they finally let Matt come up to see me. My throat was so dry that I could barely even whisper and was in excruciating pain. The nurses fed me ice chips but it was never enough. My chest and lungs felt like I had been run over by a semi-truck and I was having such a hard time breathing that I was put on oxygen. During this time a team of nurses also had to move me to a new bed which was hands down the most painful experience of my entire hospital stay.

Throughout the day I tried to rest but found it nearly impossible to get comfortable. Every few minutes I was asked to rate my pain level on a scale of 1-10 and hovered around a 9.5 long enough that the nurses ordered me a bag of morphine on top of the other two pain killers, antibiotics, collace and muscle relaxers. The morphine made me hallucinate and I kept asking Matt why the hand sanitizer station was crawling around the wall. In addition to the pain, there was one other thing no one warned me about. After surgery both of my legs were wrapped up in these awful leg compression sleeves that I had to wear for 24 hours to prevent blood clots. These hard plastic sleeves made it impossible to rest and were pure torture. They constantly pumped air into the sleeve until it hurt (just like during a  blood pressure check) and then quickly deflated over and over and over again.  They were also incredibly loud, uncomfortable and made my legs sweat and itch. So there wasn't a chance I was going to get any sleep that night.
BY THE NEXT MORNING my pain was finally under control and my doctors were happy enough with my progress that they released me that afternoon (a day early) to recover at home. I was so happy to get home to my own bed, hug Caroline and rest without constant interruptions. Matt and mom have been taking the best care of me too. It's been difficult not having the ability to be self-sufficient. Right now my arms are useless and I cannot lift anything over 3 pounds so I have to depend on Matt to do everything for me like put my hair in a pony tail, bathe me, get me in and out of bed, drive me places, flush the toilet after me, turn lights on and off, dress me, open and close doors, hand me things on my nightstand and many other things not in our wedding agreement. I am also on five medications right now. Some of which have to be taken together and some must be taken at opposite times so Matt has been diligently logging all my drugs every two hours. The pain medications makes me feel nauseous, extremely itchy (!!!!) and blur my vision but they really help alleviate the pain so I suck up the side effects. To minimize the amount of times I have to wake Matt up I've been keeping a long plastic serving fork nearby to scratch my itches that I can reach. Oh, and Benadryl. Lots and lots of Benadryl!
THE DRAINS ARE JUST AS TERRIBLE AS I EXPECTED. I have 4 tubes stitched into the sides of my breasts that drain nasty stuff all day and require me to sleep sitting up. They constantly pull on my skin and are in the way. At the hospital I received the sexiest surgical bra which provides clips for the drains to keep them out of the way when I'm sleeping. The hospital volunteers also made me the sweetest little apron for storing my drains when I want to walk around. And to shower I use a lanyard to clip the drains onto. So far I prefer to use the apron because the surgical bra is so itchy and puts pressure on my chest and the lanyard is just awkward.

Every few hours Matt empties, measures and cleans my drains for me. He's the best. After about two weeks I should be cleared to have two of the four drains removed. And then a week or two later have the last set removed. I cannot wait. I've heard this is the worst part of the entire journey and so far that rings true! I hate them!
I SNUCK A PEEK DOWN MY SURGICAL BRA on day two after the procedure and...I don't plan to do that again for awhile. I knew things would look a lot different after the surgery but I wasn't as prepared as I thought for the emotional aspect of getting my breasts removed. The expanders were placed under my skin during surgery but left empty to avoid any further stress to my nipples. I won't get my first fill until all of the drains have been removed so until then my breasts look disfigured, bruised, swollen and the incision marks are ginormous. The expanders are also super hard, unnaturally shaped and my skin ripples on top of them. On top of that I cannot feel my chest AT ALL. I was warned I would have "phantom itches" and those are the worst because even though I try to satisfy the itch my skin is numb so I can't get to it!
As I complete my first week post op I can honestly say that as each day passes I feel a million times better than the day before. My first post op check up with both of my surgeons is tomorrow. I am hoping for a good progress report and maybe a surprise drain removal.

Since coming home from the hospital we have been showered with love, flowers, cards, meals, edible arrangements and more! I am also so thankful for our moms who have been taking care of the littles while Matt takes care of me. It's been really sad not having Thomas home with us and also not being able to hold Caroline especially when she's sitting at my feet sobbing for me to pick her up. We've tried to let her sit next to me a few times but she's so wiggly that it usually turns into her accidentally knocking into my chest or pulling a drain cord. My mom is staying one more week with us and Thomas will continue to stay in Winston until his next eye appointment at the end of this week. It's been hard being away from him and I miss him terribly.

Thank you all for the continued prayers! We are blessed to have such wonderful friends and family and I am so thankful to be past the hardest part! 

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67 comments:

  1. Sending you healing thoughts and all good wishes. Hoping each day you will feel a little better. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Hugs to you and your sweet family.

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  2. I'm sitting here in awe of you, lady. Such a strong mama! Hugs and prayers.

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  3. Sending you lots of positive, healing thoughts and wishes! I had surgery in high school and remember those leg compressors and the morphine/medication itch all too well! I remember begging my mom to use ANYTHING (pen, ruler, whatever!) to get in there and scratch the living daylights out of my legs!! Hang in there, you are doing an amazing thing for your future and your family. xx

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  4. Oh Doll! At least the awful part in over. Thanks for being so honest. Praying for your recovery

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  5. I'm glad that you're doing ok now! You are SO strong! Sending thoughts and prayers your way for a good recovery!

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  6. Wow I had no idea what went into this kind of surgery, you are so brave! Hang in there mama, I'm sure its so hard not being able to cuddle your babies but it will all be worth it in the end! Praying for you!

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  7. Keep going friend! You are so STRONG! Thank you for the updates, I've been thinking of you and your incredibly inspiring story. Know the worst is over, and the best is yet to come!

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  8. Hang in there lady -- you are superwoman! Sending you lots of positive and healing thoughts -- you certainly are a trooper -- and so is your husband... I think he's a keeper :) Here's hoping you can get back to lots of baby and toddler snuggles soon!

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  9. The itching is the worst! I experienced it after my c section and can't imagine going through it for as long as you are in conjunction with so much pain. They did have a medicine at the hospital the gave me that helped a lot (not benadryl) maybe they can offer that? So impressed with your strength! Hang in there!

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  10. I've been thinking and praying for you over the last week. I'm so happy to hear that the surgery went so well! I'm so sorry that the pain is terrible and your cocktail of pain meds isn't fun. I'm hoping that you recover quickly and that everything is smooth from here on out! You're a rockstar! <3

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  11. Wow, you are an amazing trooper! Been thinking of you and praying for a smooth recovery. I can't imagine how challenging it must be not seeing Thomas or being able to hold Caroline. Big hugs for strength and support. Continued prayers being sent as well. God bless.

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  12. Family is the best. What a blessing. And you are such a fighter, mama! Praying for continued healing and praising God that you are a previvor!!! xx

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  13. So glad to hear that surgery went well and it sounds like you have an amazing support system! Keeping you guys in my thoughts <3

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  14. God bless you and your journey. What a courageous young woman you are!

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  15. Praying for you and your family! Stay strong, it'll be over before you know it!

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  16. You are such an amazing woman, wife, mama, friend...everything! You have been in my thoughts and prayers daily and I'm so glad to know how well you all are doing. Hang in there and keep up the good work!

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  18. You are truly inspirational. I give you so much credit for going through this journey with such grace. Even though I dont know you, I think of you often! Stay strong :)

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  19. Will continue to be sending lots of prayers your way! So incredibly courageous of you and so glad you have friends and family to help you during your recovery!

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  20. Prayers for continued healing!

    Justine @ Charm City Ciemny's
    www.lifeasabaltimoregirl.blogspot.com

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  21. Sending lots of hugs & continued prayers your way!

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  22. You and your family have been in my prayers. I hope each day continues to be better than the last. You should be proud of yourself for doing this for yourself and your family. I will leave you with my favorite Bible verse: Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

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  23. Wow! You are superwoman! Continuing to pray for you!

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  24. You are one tough cookie. I'm in awe of your bravery and transparency through this process. Praying for a very speedy recovery!

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  25. Thinking of you and praying that things go smoothly as you recover. I'm so glad that your hubby is such a sweet nurse and that your mom/MIL are able to help out with the kiddos. I am sure it's really tough to not be able to snuggle them right now. But, just think, you'll be able to snuggle them forever now that you've got this behind you!! You are such a great mama!!

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  26. Prayers and prayers and prayers!!! The temporary pain is worth having the future!

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  27. Thanks for the update! Glad the procedure was a success, and it looks like your recovery will be, too!

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  28. I've been thinking about you and wondering how you've been doing.. I'm glad that you're on your way to recovery! Matt sounds like he's being doing an amazing job!

    Rest up! xx

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  29. I just caught up on everything. I am glad you are doing well. You made what I am sure was a difficult and courageous decision. Were you tested for the gene by chance? My grandmother and aunt both had the gene (my aunt had breast cancer twice and now has terminal cancer in the spine that they don't know if originated from that or something else...they basically study her cancer because it's so crazy) and had to make some tough decisions. I need to be tested. Your family has been through so much this season. Praying for you all.

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  30. First of all, so happy everything went well (Gods amazing right!?) and second, you are AMAZING. Seriously, such a huge inspiration and a big applause for your husband as well. Sounds like a tough journey, but so worth it to be there for your sweet babies. I'll be praying!

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  31. Prayers for continued healing and recovery! So glad you have an amazing support system!!

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  32. You are so very brave and so very strong. Praying for unexplainable peace and comfort and relief from pain and fear as you continue to recover. I am in awe of your courage to do the hard things to protect your future and your family.

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  33. Oh my gosh, you may be the bravest person I've ever "known." What an incredible journey you are on. I wish you a very swift recovery. Also those leg compressor things are the WORST!

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  34. Be patient, it will all end well. My mom has breast reduction surgery back in 2008 (4'11" and had DD/E breats!) and was super impatient with her healing time... which caused her to get an infection at one of her drainage tube sites, gross!
    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    xo Kelli Nicole
    kellifornialove.blogspot.com

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  35. You are such a brave woman! Caroline and Thomas are so lucky to have you as their Mama. I am praying that your recovery goes by fast for you!

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  36. Been thinking about you! So glad you were able to update us. Praise God the surgery went so well. You and the family will continue to be in my prayers. On a side note...my mammo came back all clear this year! Thanks for your prayers.

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  37. Oh my goodness! I have to say, you are so brave and upbeat about all of this! I would never be able to talk about the surgery and post op like you are! It's going to be amazing when you fully recover and can go back to running around with your babies! Kudos to Matt - he definitely wins best husband award!!! Still praying :)

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  38. So many prayers for you! Such a brave thing you did. And your husband is doing great too! Can't wait for you to pass each milestone towards full recovery from your surgery!

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  39. YOU'RE SUCH AN AMAZING WOMAN!!!!!!! I can't even imagine what this must have been like, your strength is so incredibly inspiring. Praying for you through your recovery <3

    xoxo,
    alysalovely.com

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  40. You are so brave! Praying for you.

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  41. Continued prayers to you and your family! You are handling this with such grace. I know it is so hard being away from your littles, or at least hate not being able to care for them, but they will be just fine! They are getting a lot of love and they are so resilient. Stay positive.

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  42. I'm sitting here close to tears because I hate the fact that this is something you & anyone else have to go through. Cancer sucks! You are an inspiration for how you're handling this. Praying for you.

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  43. Wow! Sounds like you have been through so much! I had no idea what that surgery entailed but its clearly a lot and it looks & sounds like you're doing an amazing job. Props to your hubby for taking such good care of you, hey "in sickness & in health" is part of the agreement! REST UP!

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  44. So glad to see that you are doing well and recovering! Will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers!

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  45. So proud of you for doing this and sharing it all with us. Hubby is definitely fulfilling the part in the marriage agreement that was unspoken as a vow.. But I'm glad you took every precaution to avoid cancer and kick it before it started. My friend just passed from lung cancer just the other day and I know if given the choice she would have tried anything to keep it away if she had the choice. Your blessed to be able to try and stop it before it starts. Two thumbs up and keep at it! Rest up!

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  46. Yikes this all sounds pretty horrific!! seriously, what a miserable ordeal but I know you are powering through it with your usual positive attitude and beautiful smile. I can't imagine how hard it must be to not be able to hold the babes, that Matt is a keeper for sure, and I am so so glad to hear good news of your recovery process. Can't wait to hear further good news after your appointment! xoxo

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  47. You're amazing! Thanks for the update! Glad you're hanging in there and in good spirits!

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  48. I'm so excited to read your update!!! You are so amazing! And Matt!!! He's a keeper ;) So glad to hear you are doing as expected. Praying your post op appointment goes great!!!

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  49. I am so in awe of your strength through this whole process. You are amazing...and so is Matt!! Definitely a keeper :) Happy to hear you're doing well and continued prayers and good thoughts as you continue to recover!! Sending hugs!

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  50. You are amazing lady!!! Thinking of you, thanks for the update!

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  51. This is my first time stopping by and I have to say, you are so brave and inspirational. I know many women would not have the same attitude you do. I know the recovery process is long and hard but with family and friends who surround you with love, you will get through anything. I will be praying for you! Hugs!

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  52. You are such an inspiration!!! I love how upbeat you are in spite of all of this!! Go Mama go!!!!!!!!

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  53. Christina you look amazing! And you are so brave. I'm glad to hear that the recovery is going well and that each day is better than the last. Hang in there!

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  54. You are a rockstar, Christina! I just want to give you a big hug for being so brave. So glad you have such good support around you now. Continued prayers for recovery, good check ups and a clean bill of health from now on! No cancer for you!!!

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  55. Thinking of you my sweet friend and so glad that you are recovering well. Always sending love and prayers x

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  56. I can't even imagine. You are so much tougher than I could ever even think about being. Continuing to keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

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  57. Hi! Funny Story- My name is Danielle and I live in Mooresville, NC. My friend is a local blogger and she sent me a link to your blog a week and a half ago because I too am 29 with 2 small children and had a double mastectomy due to the BRCA2 gene. I actually had the surgery at the same hospital on the same day as you! I think my husband and I sat across from you and your husband in the waiting room at 5AM that morning. I didn't put 2 and 2 together until my husband said he had walked back from the cafeteria with someone, who i believe was your husband, and they were sharing their similar stories. I read your blog just a couple days before surgery and it helped put me at ease that someone else had made the same decision as me. Thank you for sharing your story and journey…it is nice to know I'm not the only one going through some of these things. I hope you continue to get better and better each day and I CANT WAIT to get rid of these drains!!

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    1. Danielle!!! Thank you for leaving me a message here! I absolutely remember sitting in the waiting room across from each other! My husband told me the exact same story about running into your hubs in the cafeteria and how we were recovering just a few rooms away from each other. So crazy! I hope you are feeling better each day! And I really hope you get your drains removed soon so you can hug your babies! Please email me if you want to connect and I can give you my phone number too so we can celebrate (and commiserate) together! Hang in there, mama! You are stronger than you think! Christina.marcellino@gmail.com

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    2. Such a small world!! Awesome that you ladies can recover together. What a blessing in disguise. Love the world of blogs.

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  58. Praying for you!! You are so brave and thank you for sharing your story! Fingers crossed for those drains out as soon as possible! xx

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  59. You are an incredible woman, lady! I'm praying for a quick and as painless as possible recovery! And for you and your husband and your littles! <3

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  60. Sending prayers for a fast recovery so you can hold those sweet sweet babies of yours! :)

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  61. You are so strong and amazing! Glad to hear the surgery was a success and that your recovery is on track. Prayers for you, your family, and a speedy recovery!

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  62. I don't know you but have read your blog for several years. You are AMAZING. A true testament to the strength only God can provide for us and through us.I have no words to adequately describe your strength and courage. So glad you are being loved on by friends and family…those stacks of magazines would be my favorite part ;) I prayed for you during surgery and continue to do so through post-op!

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  63. You are an amazing woman and an inspiration! Stay strong!

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