Saying Tata to my tatas. (part 1)

Ah yes, the day I said goodbye to my tatas. What a day. My memory is still extremely vivid and full of details, so I figure why not let everyone in on what happened that day, and what the deal is now.


I’ve never had surgery before, so I was a little anxious about going under anaesthetic, and also about waking up with a permanently altered body… makes sense.


On the day of surgery I arrived at the hospital around 6am, with my husband, and was ready to just do what I had to do and go with the flow. One step at a time, they prepared me. I had to have a lymph node biopsied at the same time so I stopped in nuclear medicine first to be injected with two solutions in order to help them find the right lymph node – I was told it would be removed if it looked suspicious. But that’s all I was really told. Then I had my IV put in, and I waited around for a couple of hours until it was my turn.



I was visited by my plastic surgeon Dr. Omodele Ayani ahead of time. It felt pretty casual, cracking jokes as usual… And once it was my time someone led me to the operating room and I walked in and sat up on the table. I had two main surgeons – the general surgeon was responsible for the bilateral mastectomy (double mastectomy) and removing the cancer, and my plastic surgeon was responsible for the reconstruction process.


My plastic surgeon walked in to mark my body before surgery got under way, and I noticed he had a portable music speaker in his bag. Tunes, obviously. I was into it, but then I became instantly alarmed when he told me he’d be listening to John Legend’s Christmas album! Whoa whoa whoa. What. I told him that top 40 music was what I’d listen to… but hey I’m not the one with the sharp objects. The person with the sharp objects gets to choose the playlist. Check.


He started to mark my body for incisions as I sat on the table, so I  took the opportunity to make a joke about how my boobs looked before kids – and after kids.


It was obviously the appropriate thing to do.


Hey look, before kids *lift them up*

After kids *let them drop*

Before kids *lift them up*

After kids *let them drop*


That happened. I did that.


Friendly banter back and forth ensued… Fun with my tatas right until the very end!


So, now it was time to lay back and get the show on the road. Doctors and nurses were bustling around me getting ready. I was told it would be about a three hour surgery and that everything was going to be ok. Just as they were getting ready to put me under anaesthesia, I could hear my plastic surgeon ask ‘Hey who changed the music?!” because all of a sudden it was playing some typical top 40 hit. “Lindsy, did you put them up to this?!”. The mask was already on my mouth but I laughed, and denied it… although I’m sure no one could actually understand me. Then another doctor said he was the one who changed it. It was a pretty solid way for me to go under, because literally 3 seconds later, I was out.


I’ll never know exactly how much Christmas music was played, and that my friends, will haunt me until the end of time.

Chemo round 3: the waterworks

So, my third round of chemo was an interesting one. It was most definitely the opposite experience of what my first two treatments were like, in an emotional way. Cue the waterworks.


If you read my previous post, you’ll know that the morning leading up to my treatment was not good. In fact, the evening before I was not great either. I could feel all the emotions bubbling up inside me, and I just could not control them. I couldn’t even rely on my usual tactics to push myself into a positive mindset.


It was the timing. And I cried. A lot. And I don’t cry, like ever. Black heart, remember?


My husband and I were on my way to the appointment for 2pm, and I started crying. One little thought… cry. Got it under control, another thought… cry. A little fight with the hubby, why not? Cry. WTF is happening to me. Cry.


I’m trying to get my shit together because I’m embarrassed. If I walk into the cancer centre crying everyone is going to be like ‘ohhh that poor girl is sad because she has cancer’ – which is one of the things I try to avoid and dislike very much – but I just couldn’t get it together.


I knew I was feeling anxiety, which is something I am not familiar with personally. My heart rate was up, I kept crying and I couldn’t control it… textbook anxiety. I wore my sunglasses in (dead giveaway) and was much quieter than usual while I waited for my appointment.


In the waiting room there was another younger woman, with a winter hat and heavy eyeliner (no hair) and I thought to myself ‘oh that poor woman has cancer too…’  SEE. I did exactly what I hate being done to me. Cue the tears haha… what is wrong with me?!


They call my name, the tears slowly keep coming, I sit in my chair… I just can’t even. The nurse sees me, and I tell her “Hey, I’m sorry, I keep crying and I don’t know why, I’m totally fine, this is embarrassing.” Obviously they feel sorry for me, but that the same time have totally dealt with worse. I just simply didn’t want to be there, and I was having a physical reaction to something I couldn’t use my rationality to control this time.


They access my port, which hurt. And made me cry… duh you should know there is a theme here by now. And then the nurse looks at me and says “Hun, do you want something to calm you down?” Oh great, I’m such a shit show they want to give me drugs. “What is it?” I ask, and she replies “Ativan, it’ll just take the edge off.” So, naturally I say yes, take it and wait. And cry. Jesus.


They start the chemo process, I’m trying to crack a couple jokes, my husband is trying to make small talk about vacations and things… and I’m talking, and laughing a bit, but still experiencing the watery eye syndrome. It’s totally ridiculous. The Ativan starts to set in, I feel more relaxed and eventually the emotions subside.



I even got a couple of pictures, because I knew I would look back and wish I had them. So, it’s my crybaby drugged up chemo look, what do you think?


The chemo went fast, and my shit was officially together after it was all over. Business as usual. I survived these things people call ‘emotions’ and hopefully it means I’m in the clear for a while!

The roller coaster

Yesterday morning I woke up in a bad mood. I woke up with a pretty loud and negative inner dialogue and I know why. My third round of chemo was that afternoon and I was out of time. Here is a quick glimpse into my brain, and yes this is meant to come off sounding like two 3 year old children are arguing….


‘Hey man, you’re in a shitty mood.’


‘No I’m not.’


‘Yes you are and you know why.’


‘No I’m not and whatever, bro.’


‘You have chemo later today and there is no way that isn’t the reason.’


‘I don’t care about chemo…. You have chemo…’


And so on, and so forth. One of the biggest pieces of feedback I get from social media engagement, blog responses, and in conversations with people is about how positive I am. I’m able to make people laugh, not let it get to me, take it all on and continue to live my life as normally as possible. It’s all true, that is me and that is exactly what I want people to understand about me.




There is some creeping negativity that tends to show it’s face every once in a while, and especially on mornings like today. I feel like I’m out of time again. I just started to feel better, and I have to go back to feeling sick, and being limited. Those who know me the best, know that I seriously don’t like being limited, I don’t like feeling sick, and I don’t like it when things prevent me from being my happy, energetic and positive self.


I woke up feeling overwhelmed by the housework that is going to pile up, the laundry still needs to be done, the kids are always making messes, I paid all the bills, oh yeah I’m not working, I don’t have the energy to do my job properly, I haven’t exercised regularly in a billion years, and then I see my bald reflection in the window…. Yikes.


That happened. I said yikes…


I know we all have bad mornings, or bad moments… But don’t let it become a bad day, a bad week or a bad season! I think it is really important to explain that I also have negative feelings, thoughts and moments too. It’s understandable, and completely human. The whole ‘no one actually fucking gets it’ thought will pop in my mind, and in the same minute I rebuttal myself with ‘you’re fine, it’s not their fault they don’t get it and everyone has their own shit…’ Seriously, they say it’s an emotional roller coaster because it is. And that’s ok. Feel it, live it, learn from it, turn it into something positive and good.

But my emotions taste so good…

Let me tell you, I have been eating my emotions for months now.  And although the emotional eating streak was fun… it’s time to get back to what makes me feel good – and that is feeling good.


Before you say ‘Lindsy, now is not the time to worry about what you’re eating and how much you weigh’’ – I want to tell you that it is actually the exact perfect time for me to do that. And I’ll tell you why.


First things first, I need to admit to myself where I am. So, since the beginning of November I have gained 10lbs… ok 12lbs. 13 – does it matter?! Oh wait that’s the point, to be honest, it’s 13lbs. That may not seem like a lot to some of you, and it may seem like a shit ton to others.


For me though, it is the exact amount of weight I worked my ass off (literally) to get rid of a long time ago. I always hovered around a number, and then one day with a few habit changes, the number changed, and it hovered at a much better place. It is no longer in that place. I need to do something about it before it gets even more difficult to come back when this is all over.


And this is what’s important, the reason why now is the best time to worry about what I’m eating.


  1. I can’t do much moving. I used to rely on exercise to be able to eat a lot of food, all day long. The right food yes, but still – a lot. Exercises builds a strong body and burns energy. If I can’t exercise much then I need to be especially focused on my nutrition.
  2. My body needs fuel that will strengthen it, not weaken it.
  3. Too much inflammation. All over. Everywhere. The chemo is literally poison in my body and it makes me puffy. My body needs food that will not cause more inflammation. Check.


So I am up against a lot right now. Chemo doesn’t make it easy to feel good about yourself both inside and out. I plan to do some positive emotional eating, and do you know what that is? Eat means eating better so you feel better in general, and you might lose some weight which feels good, and you gain confidence which feels hella good. All in all: GOOD.


Right now I need to do whatever I need to do to feel comfortable in my own skin. Right now, I need to focus and take care of me, and do exactly what the happy, fit me used to do – which is live pretty much the same life, but with less take out, pizza and carbs.

What’s all the buzz about?

Well, it’s official. I have no hair. So what kind of tone do I want to set in this specific blog post? Is there even any way I can set a tone after the shock factor most of you experienced after you just saw that big picture of me?


Maybe it’s that I have no hair and who cares. Or that I’m hurting every time I look in the mirror? Maybe it’s that I can totally rock the cue ball look and might even like my hair this short… Probably not, let me think…


The mixed feelings are real.


No hair means the chemo is working. It means it’s targeting all those aggressive fast growing cells and and if I can see it, and I can feel it, then it’s happening. PRO.


No hair means I can feel every single draft of cold air that ever exists. CON.


No hair means I get to experiment with some pretty stellar wig game. PRO.


Wigs are fucking annoying. CON.


No hair means my get-ready routine has been drastically reduced. PRO.


Until I need to really focus on makeup once my eyelashes and eyebrows disappear. CON.


My kids think it’s funny. PRO.


Kingsley thinks I look like a boy. And she really wants me to stay a girl soooo…  CON. And funny.


My eyes really stand out. PRO.


Unless they’re tired eyes, sigh… CON.


Who even knew there could be this many PROS? I was really focused on the CONS just before it happened, because I had no idea how it would look, how I would feel or how others would feel. I didn’t want to look like a cancer patient… and now I do, which means that now everyone knows.


PRO – I now know that when my hair starts to grow back, I’ve already tried all of the different lengths and they looked pretty ok on me. And, my hair will be growing back stronger and healthier then ever in just a few short months. It’ll be here in no time… at least that’s what I keep telling myself.


High FIVE!

The kids are alright

“What do you tell the kids?” This is a question many people are curious about, and here is my take. Early on it was a pretty easy decision for my husband and I that we would not hide anything that was happening to me. Medical things and health issues can happen to everyone, and we didn’t want them to be scared of hospitals, scared of getting sick, or scared if someone they love get sick. I’ve always been a firm believer that they need to know that these things happen, and when they do, we are here for them, people are there for us and we live in a place where we get excellent care.


Everyone may not agree with this approach, but I will tell you that the confidence in our decisions with our children grows everyday. I think it can be easy to not give them enough credit in their ability to understand what is happening around them.


Of course, we give them age appropriate versions of what’s happening, and our top priority is to make sure they have no fear, and feel comfortable knowing they’re still our top priority and maintaining a stable environment for them trumps everything.


Kingsley is 4 years old, and she is empathetic, caring, loving, and we watch her compute what’s going on as it’s happening every single day. I love hearing what she has to say, answering her questions and watching her process everything in her own way.


Hunter, is 2 ½, and he is the most loving, caring little boy – and provides all the comic relief necessary. He is so young, but seems to grasp most concepts, and isn’t phased by it at all. They’re both happy, secure and don’t realize that what is going on with me is much different then what’s happening outside their world!


They knew from the start that I had something in my chest that needed to be fixed. We told them that my body made extra cells, and they had to be removed. We obviously down played the nitty gritty details of the  surgery, and told them what they needed to know – like that I would be in the hospital for a couple of days, and after I went home I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I normally do for a little while.


(Below, we got a lot of flowers after surgery – Kingsley LOVED that! Plus, a couple pics from one of their short hospital visits.)



So, that is where we left it at first. We didn’t use the ‘C’ word, mostly because I was worried they’d hear it somewhere else, in a scarier context. We decided we’d wait on the final details of my treatment before making any more calls.


Once it was confirmed that I’d be doing chemotherapy, we decided to look into how to approach the situation the best way possible, because we knew we’d have to give them more details. All the professionals and resources were telling us that we needed to be more up front and honest with them, including using the ‘C’ word.


We waited until my PICC line was inserted into my arm, because it was a great way to lead the discussion – a look what I have – guess what it’s for – kind of situation. We told them I was going to start getting special medicine, because after they removed the cells in my operation, we had to make sure no cells were left in my body (Kingsley learns about cells in school – and she LOVES learning these kinds of terms). We explained how the PICC line is how they give me medicine, and that the medicine might make me feel unwell sometimes, but it is going to be make me all better, and nothing is really going to change.


They weren’t really interested haha – like it wasn’t a big deal. We approached the name, told them this was called Breast Cancer – again, they didn’t really care at all, which is good in my opinion, what’s the big deal MOM?!


Finally, we told them my hair was going to change, and eventually fall out. This took a little longer for Kingsley to compute, Hunter was literally already off playing and didn’t give a shit haha. So I said ‘Kingsley – my hair is going to look like dad’s hair!” – she burst into laughter, thought it was the best thing she ever heard and that was that. Aside from all the ‘funny’ jokes she was making – she’s a comedian just like her mama 😉


We made light of it all, one of my favourite tactics in life – and honestly, as things happen both kids have been amazing. I know they’re ok, we check in all the time, and our decision to be as up front as we were seems to have been the best one, for our family.


Feel yourself up

Everyone wants to know, did you find it? And how did you know it was a lump? Yes, I found it, although I don’t exactly remember when I first acknowledged it. I’d rest my hand on the side of my breast at night before falling asleep, because it just so happened to be a position I feel comfortable in…  and that was the only time I’d feel it. I remember starting to wonder ‘hmmm, what is that? Is that what a lump feels like? Maybe I should get it checked out.’


Cue life. I’d forget in the morning, and forget until the next time I slept in that position again.


The time frame isn’t clear, but I’m pretty sure I repeated this cycle for at least half a year, probably longer. It just didn’t feel like what a lump would feel like – so it probably wasn’t anything to worry about. PLUS what are the actual chances it turns out to be something.


The lump was soft, and more of an oval than a round ball shape. It didn’t move at all, and it wasn’t super defined. It was at the side of my right breast, along the curve that moves towards my armpit. It must have been getting bigger in size, because I was noticing it more, but it just didn’t’ quite feel like what I thought a lump should feel like.


It’s hormones.

But breast cancer runs in the family.

I just finished breastfeeding, so…

But I’m pretty sure that is a lump.

That’s not what a lump feels like.

What the hell does a lump even feel like?

There is no way this is Breast Cancer…

But what if.


Back and forth. It was the back and forth that finally made me realize I needed to just figure it out already. Plus, it was starting to hurt, like physically ache. Not all the time, but when it hurt it was really hard to ignore.


So, it was the second week in October and I finally remembered that I needed to make an appointment with my family doctor, to get this lump checked out. I made an appointment for the end of that week, just before I was leaving for a conference in Tampa.


My family doctor did a breast exam and told me ‘yeah that is something, let’s get an ultrasound’. She told me it was probably one of two things – neither of which were cancer. Lumps are common in women my age, they’re usually hormone related (see!) or cysts… nothing to worry about. BUT, she told me “because it feels rooted in it’s spot, and your skin slightly dimples around it, it has some characteristics worth looking further into”.




Cue an epic trip in Tampa (picture above is courtesy of pool shenanigans). The lump in my breast hurt the entire time I was gone, and now it was weighing on me. I hadn’t told many people about my appointment, mostly because I’m not the kind of person to get worked up over something until I know it’s time time to get worked up. I didn’t want to make a big deal, I didn’t want to worry anyone.


I get home, and my appointment is Monday. I have the ultrasound and I find out that same day that I’ll need more testing. I was very disappointed, and upset. Mostly at the fact that it wasn’t nothing. At this point my spidey sense was going off… but again, what are the chances. My rational side was constantly crunching numbers and statistics – this would turn out to be nothing.


The next phone call I got was from the Breast Clinic at Southlake hospital, in Newmarket.


“Hi Lindsy, here are your appointments, to follow up the ultrasound you had yesterday (Monday)”


Mammogram Wednesday, Biopsy the following Wednesday (Oct 31, Halloween). Appointment to find out the results of the biopsy is on the following Wednesday (Nov 7) and if surgery is required it’ll be three weeks from that day (estimate November 28).


Oh. It was literally all lined up. And things were moving fast.


The moral of the story is that  I FOUND IT. I felt a lump, I finally got it checked out, and the doctors all did an amazing job of taking care of me. If I didn’t know what felt normal and what didn’t – if I didn’t regularly FEEL MYSELF UP (hehe) then it could have been much worse.


DO A SELF EXAMINATION. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If it feels like something you aren’t sure about – get it checked out. If you have family history – ask for a mammogram or an ultrasound. If your gut is telling you that you should get checked out – do it.


Just listen to me and feel yourself up on the regular ladies!


It’s not like looking in the mirror

I have had more hairstyles in the last 10 days then I have had in the last 7 years. The whole hair loss thing is one of the hardest parts of this ‘journey’, and not because all that matters is how you look – but because your look is a part of your identity, it is a way you express who you are. So when that look starts to change, and not by choice, it’s a hard thing to accept.


First, I cut the long hair into a bob – my mom bob! You see, the hair started to feel pretty annoying because it was falling out everywhere. Like, it was everywhere. Quickly, I realized that it wasn’t short enough, the inconvenience of it all was too much for me. So the next step naturally, is to cut it shorter, so I went for the pixie cut just 48 hours ago. I thought that haircut would be a tough one, but truthfully since I had absolutely zero emotional attachment to the outcome, it felt pretty casual, and actually very easy.


The poor hairstylist though, looked absolutely horrified when he combed my hair and a ton of hair came with it. My friend had called in advance, and warned him what was happening and why we were there – but I think until you actually experience it, it’s hard to prepare yourself. So, naturally, I told him ‘it’s all good bro keep going’! Haha… That happened.


I keep seeing glances of myself in window reflections, mirrors, etc. And it’s the weirdest thing. It’s me, but it’s not me. How does it actually feel to have shorter hair?  It feels ok – it feels like my hair is in a ponytail. But when I see it, I look like someone else.


I plan to shave my head tomorrow, because even though it is super short, it is still EVERYWHERE. It is still too long to just fall out at random. So it’s time I just take complete control of the situation and shave it off. I’m not going to look like myself, and I am probably not going to ever quite feel like myself again – so it’s time to be a different me. With a wig! Or two. They’re all lined up, ready to be worn, so let’s have some fun with it.


Chemo makes you hotter, right?

I’m a visual person, so naturally when I needed to get some ideas on how I might try to look as normal as possible during my chemo treatment I went to my fav app – Pinterest. I knew I was going to lose my hair, I knew I’d need a wig, and I knew I’d need to learn how to do makeup properly, at the age of 33. I also knew, my regular bikini style wouldn’t suffice during radiation so I needed to find a proper replacement.


“Platinum blonde hair extensions”

“Platinum blonde hair with a touque”

“Blonde curly hair in hat”


These were my first searches. I mean, you all know how much I love a good fake blonde look, in fact many of you have probably heard me admit that I’m ‘blonderexic’ – a self diagnosis where I feel like I’m never quite blonde enough… so here is a chance I can make the most out of a difficult situation and find a head of hair that is definitely not possible in a natural way for me, and have fun with it.


“Makeup tutorial for chemo patients”


Fuck that noise. Too real. New search. ASAP.


“Heavy eyeliner tutorials”

“Dramatic makeup for blondes”

“Mimic fake lashes with eyeliner”

“Eyebrow microblading”


These searches were a little nicer, and there were some pretty beautiful make up examples. If only I could be as effortless as them…. At least I had the visual. That’s all I needed, a visual to see that it’s possible to look like a human, and maybe even attractive during chemo.




“Rashguard bikini”

“Cropped rashguard”


I am going to have to start radiation in the spring, and it’s going to last until early July. I am a SUMMER human. Summer is my thing. The only good thing about getting Cancer when I did – was that my surgery and treatment somehow managed to avoid the summer season. I’m grateful, because that is honestly the best timing ever.


But – during radiation my skin is going to be very sensitive to sunlight and any kind of suncare products. This sensitivity will also likely span the majority of the summer after my treatments are all over. So I’ll need to cover up. I found some great options online, and even though I’m not exactly twinning with all of the models – I’ll find a way to pull it off.


The best joke is, I saved a few pictures on my phone. This would be my visual, my goal to help me get to my treatments and knowing that maybe I’d get out of this looking as normal as possible, maybe even…dare I say… attractive?! It might seem shallow, but shit, when you don’t feel like you look good it can really mess with your day. I don’t want people to see Cancer when they see me, I want them to see me, and my effortless beauty! Hahahaha… that’s a thing. Right?


I showed my husband, he said “so basically you want to get hotter during chemo”. I laughed my ass off – because DUH YES. Yes that is what I’m saying. Is that too much to ask?


When I asked my GF to take a look at what my ‘chemo goals’ were she was much more supportive haha. I showed a couple others when they asked what kind of wigs I’d be looking for. All my ladies out there just get it. They’re all very good friends for knowing when they NEED To LIE to me lol. I appreciate it. More then you know.




I posted the photos so you guys could all see the inner workings of my brain. The one of Kingsley is my CONFIDENCE GOAL picture, she just knows how to rock whatever she’s got! I hope you laugh, or at least smile, and understand that visualizing this shit is what works – or at least we’ll see won’t we? Wish me luck!


The Port Insertion

It’s the day after my port insertion, and let me tell you, it feels like someone stabbed me in the neck with multiple needles and forgot a piece of equipment in my chest.


Oh wait, that happened.


Only the piece of equipment is actually a small tube inserted into my vein, travelling directly into one of the major valves of my heart. This way, the medication goes straight to my heart, causes minimal damage to my veins and circulates the chemotherapy and other medications more efficiently.


My PICC line was removed, it was always meant to be a temporary solution until they could get me in to have the Port insertion procedure. The PICC line was a small tube inserted into one of my veins through the bicep area of my arm, and travelled 42cm to the right valve of my heart. YES. I know what you’re thinking – that is a ruler and a half of tubing in my vein – F word. It couldn’t get wet, so showering was annoying, and it was very in the way when doing normal daily tasks. But, it’s gone now.


The Port is much more convenient, it’ll be completely under my skin once it’s healed and I’ll be able to bathe, swim, and whatever without having to even think about it. It’ll stay there until all of this fun stuff is completely behind me, probably after my second reconstruction surgery in about a year from now, but that is a total guess. We shall see.


How fun was it?


Well, now that people keep pointing out to me that I make a lot of jokes, and tend to talk about everything with everyone, and somehow make things like this fun – what do you think? Like, it’s not what I’d choose to do on a Friday, but it was ok.


I could see my husband reacting in my pre-op nursing interview, I mean, I could just answer the questions like a robot but that just isn’t something I know how to do. I’m not trying to be funny, I’m just being friendly, and honest. And positive.


These pictures are from before surgery, the empty bed is during surgery and also there is a  little shot of what it looks like now.

         port instertion, lindsy matthews, chemo, chemotherapy, breast cancer, cancer, surgery, procedure


Why is there a picture of an empty bed? My husband said he took it when he could hear the room burst into laughter through the doors and he knew that I was ok and cracking jokes. And, well, he was right. The nursing team had an excellent sense of humour and I was feeling pretty fine from the light sedation they gave me.


Everything went mostly smooth. There was only one slightly uncomfortable blip where between jokes I told the Dr. “Um, I can really feel my heart beating. Like, it’s beating very fast and very hard, I can really feel it in my chest, it’s borderline painful”. They quickly noticed, and they noted out loud that my heart rate was around 73-75 when they started and it was too high now, although they didn’t offer that specific number out loud.


The Dr cut the line that was in my vein and made it shorter, it was obviously in too far. Ewwww. My heart rate started to get lower, and it wasn’t until after it was back under control that one of the nurses told me it was into the hundreds. I never asked the exact number, I didn’t need to know.


After I was all done I told the nurses my husband would be stalking the door outside the room I was in, which he was. Thankfully. And we all headed to the post-op recovery area, enjoyed some water and apple juice and I was on my way.


Today, it hurts. They told me it would for a couple days, so I’ll look forward to when that’s over. In about a week’s time they said it’ll be practically healed and I will be able to participate in anything as if it’s not there. And that’s what makes it all worth it.


So there, a port insertion adventure. Exciting!