Breast Cancer BRCA Update from Dr. Bailey

Breast Cancer BRCA dr bailey breast cancer journey


Hello Dear Blog Readers,

I, my team here at Dr. Bailey Skin Care, and my family are so very happy to let you know that I am doing well and just finished a big part of the intense 9-month cancer treatment that has become almost a normal part of life for us – me particularly!

Last Thursday, I had what may be my final BRCA-cancer related surgery and, thanks to my skilled surgeon, it was another success. It was a 4-hour reconstruction surgery, bringing the total number of hours of anesthesia I have had in the past 9 months to 15. My surgeon put back together some of what had been taken apart in January. She has given me strict post-op instructions to do almost nothing and it’s a good sign that I’m bored silly. Frankly, it’s a miracle. It’s also a testament to the resilience of the human body, the skill of my physicians and their medical teams, and the power of prayer and support from all of you who have been such a comfort to me. I know how truly fortunate and I am and I am grateful.

My life at home is resuming some semblance of normalcy. My husband, who has been by my side throughout this process, is glad to be back to work – uninterrupted by the need to take care of me. He has been a generous and selfless caregiver and I have to say that those wedding vows he took over 30 years ago got taken for the biggest literal interpretation this year. I am blessed he was able to support me so consistently through this process. We have learned that cancer is very time intensive.

Breast Cancer BRCA Update

My image of my life over these last 9 months is that Whack-A-Mole arcade game. Each trauma – such as a chemo infusion, a surgery (5 in total), horrible test result, scary news from a doctor, side effects from the mountain of medicines in my medicine cabinet, etc. – would whack me down. I would slowly recover my strength and optimism only to get whacked by something else – again leaving me feeling sick, tired, worried, and needing to recover yet again. May Thursday’s surgery be the last whack I sustain in this BRCA-cancer chapter.

I have decided that I’m going to act as if it is. I’m turning my sights to the future and looking beyond my next medical visit. I’m eager to get back to doctoring, gardening, yoga, fetching and carrying for myself and for others, etc. I am committed to doing it with a healthy balance that supports my continued recovery.

Hair will be the next nice new treat for me to look forward to. It’s coming in thick, dark and curly. With the 5 cowlicks on my scalp, it’s building up to a riot of random ringlets. As a dermatologist, I know that thick and curly post-chemo hair is my body’s way of saying that I have begun the real recovery process – and I celebrate my hairstyle anarchy. Yep, ringlets will be another first for me and I’m planning on having fun with them (probably going to bleach them bright blond for kicks too!). Between everything I’ve been through (including my new hair), I look a little different – but honestly, different in a good way because I’m so happy to be vital and alive.

There’s nothing quite like cancer to change the way you look at life.

Breast Cancer BRCA Update finding peace and gratitude in the midst of cancer treatmentAgain, thank you for being part of the community of supporters that have helped to get me through this cancer journey. I want to tell each and every one of you how grateful I am for your support these past 9 months; either in thought, prayer, email, blog comment, posted get well card, or supportive deed – your presence has been the biggest blessing of this process – a blessing that has buoyed my spirits and optimism day after day.

Along with my excellent medical care, I believe your support tipped the balance to overcoming my initial dire prognosis. Thank you again so very, very much. I am glad to have this most recent good news to share with you – blessings abound.

In Gratitude,
Cynthia Bailey, MD

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Photo attribution: thanks and gratitude to Julie Jordan Scott

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14 Responses to “Breast Cancer BRCA Update from Dr. Bailey”

  1. Lillie May 1, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Congratulations! Wish I could see your hair. My daughter has curly hair but it has grown straighter as she gets older. Recently we impulse-bought a bottle of Bumble+Bumble Surf Spray. She washed her hair and squirted it in when I wasn’t home (she’s only 9, and she managed this by herself). I about fell over when I came home and saw her hair in ringlets for the first time in years. All that to say, a $10 sample at bottle from Sephora might be in your future to take advantage of that new-found curl. Good luck! Oh, and don’t dye your hair pink like my mom did when she first started growing back her chemo hair! It was an accident, but still!

  2. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. May 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Thanks Lillie! Pink hair, that would be very appropriate given that I had breast cancer :-) I like the thought of hyper curls from a spray. Hmm….. I’m in a mood for adventure after this 9 months, you never know

  3. carol Woessner May 2, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    So glad to read this good news!!! Congratulations!!! Praise the Lord!!! Wow!!!

    I was at your office on Monday–missed you Big Time. I hope you’re there next time I go–in the fall.

    Please post a picture of your curly dark hair. I think it would be fun to be a brunette for a while. You could be incognito. :-)

    No more whack a mole.

  4. Kathy K May 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    So relieved that it is almost all over for you. Dark, curly hair???!!! I need to see that!!!!

  5. Karen Nutt May 3, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    Dr. Bailey, I have been including you in my daily petitions/prayers ever since learning of your diagnosis. SO happy to hear the good news! Sending hugs and prayers from Orlando Florida your way! God Bless!

  6. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. May 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Karen, thank you, it takes a team to beat cancer that’s for sure. I appreciate your being on my team and helping me win the battle. Blessings and Gratitude from California!

  7. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. May 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    Kathy, you would not believe it actually. Someone described her post chemo curls as like an aerial view of a hurricane. It’s like that with the addition of the cowlicks causing numerous parts that expose scalp, then there is the bun comb-over of my original length hairs – about 1% of which I saved with cold caps. Hair that resembles some sort of intentional style will be my next milestone, but for now the curls are soft and comforting.

  8. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. May 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    Carol, the pic is a good idea. I may try to get one I’m not too embarrassed about putting online. It’s a riot up there.

  9. Cura Pelle May 5, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I can’t imagine it coming in dark, although I’m sure you’re beautiful with dark, curly hair.

    Always a pleasure to hear of your successes!

    Yay for all of us,

  10. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. May 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Thank you Cura. Yep, fuzzy, soft, short and curly. Looking forward to it being long enough to style so it looks intentional. I’ve never had short or curly hair so it will be fun.

  11. Betty Lyle May 6, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    Wow….first of all congratulation!!! You have fought valiantly and are well on your way to recovery!! I met you over twitter somewhere around the year 2009, I was using twitter as a platform for pt. advocacy for EDS (a genetic connective tissue disease) for which I suffer from, Celiac disease, for which my daughter has, and Lung Cancer (for which my father lost his battle this past Dec. 2013) I have not been on twitter for a couple of years now, but have not forgotten about all of the people who struggle with everything that entails these life altering diseases. I followed your blog, purchased your skin care products and loved them! plus your very informative articles on your blog! You were very personable and your tweets were encouraging and down to earth. I just came across this blog entry today and was unaware of your journey this past year. I am sorry you ( or anybody for that matter ) has become yet another statistic in this unrelenting disease. Thank you for being more than a statistic and openly sharing and blogging your journey, helping to raise awareness as the plight of a patient . I am so thankful to hear as difficult and traumatic and scary as this past 9 months has been, you were blessed with healing and recovery, a loving family, co-workers and an online support community . Prayers for continued blessing’s and healing!! Big hugs from Las Vegas

  12. Jenifer P. May 6, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Hi Dr. Bailey! Thank you for sharing so much of your difficult journey with us this past year – I’m so so happy to hear you are doing so well. Really wonderful news :) Thinking of you! ~Jenifer

  13. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. May 6, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    Hello Betty,
    Oh my goodness what a surprise! This is why I love the internet. I remember tweeting with you and wondered where you went off to when you left the tweetsphere. We had a good time! How very lovely to hear from you. You know, when I frame what I’ve been through this past 9 months from the vantage of a relationship with someone I have not seen or interacted with since before my diagnosis I get a 3D view of what I’ve been through; where I’ve come from pre-diagnosis and who I’ve become now. I have sadness, but I actually have more wonder than anything else. A process like this changes you in so many ways, not the least of which is in the view of what’s important. Life is such an adventure. Thank you for anchoring me so securely in that 3D view today. It is wonderful that you have checked-in after so long. You sound as though you too are doing well in spite of physical body challenges too. May you continue to thrive. Big hugs back from Northern California

  14. Laurie S May 6, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Dear Dr. Bailey – Wonderwoman doesn’t hold a candle to you – but I think she’d definitely give you an approving nod.
    I applaud your wonderful attitude, and know from experience that it’s sometimes hard to maintain, especially in those dark hours. So glad you’re looking Forward – and that you’ve had such a wonderful support network.
    Keep your stories coming – they’re wonderful to read.
    You’re definitely in lots of thoughts and prayers – may you continue to recover into strength.
    Very very best wishes, Laurie S