02/24/2011 12:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Breast Cancer: Finding the Silver Linings

Despite ridiculous levels of pain from the double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery (still working on this issue), today was a glorious, adventurous, Silver Lined day. You know what I did? I walked around our yard. It's amazing, as an ... uhhh ... compulsive (?) hiker and runner to think about a big adventure being a walk around the yard. It's the little things now that mean the absolute world to me. No cliché here. It's all very real.

I have always considered myself to be a positive person; however, my sunny outlook has never been as challenged as since I was diagnosed with FBC (F-bomb Breast Cancer).

I firmly believe that we are all given challenges in this life that, at times, seem insurmountable. However, I also believe that we have specific choices about how we can respond to and handle the inevitable adversity in life.

I choose positive (sometimes this is a very active and focused effort). Where there is bad, I look for the good. Where there is dark, I search for the light. I am finding that looking for life's Silver Lining's (SL's) helps immensely. No, more than that: Finding SL's makes all the difference in the world.

We just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep on moving, which is what I did today. And it felt great!

One of the post-surgical components of a double mastectomy & reconstruction is a Jackson-Pratt drain, a/k/a a JP Drain. A Jackson-Pratt drain (or JP drain) is a surgical drainage device that removes excess fluid that can collect inside your body after surgery.

When fluid builds up in a post-surgical site, the area may not heal as fast as it should, or (even worse) cause an infection. Too much fluid in a post-surgical area may also cause pain, swelling and infection. Ewwwwww. Using a JP drain after surgery usually helps you heal faster and helps clear away pus. Yes, pus. Sorry, but I never said that this would be pretty.

A JP Drain looks essentially like a plastic hand grenade and doesn't feel much better. Seriously. ... and I woke up from surgery with four of them. Yes, four. They are quite uncomfortable. When it comes to sleeping, I felt like the Princess and the Pea ... having to position myself just so. No matter what, though, I woke up in the night being jabbed by one of them. Middle-of-the-night F-Bombs dropped regularly.

The JP drains are emptied (and contents measured) twice a day. The Husband has been nothing short of extraordinary. Twice a day, we had our emptying routine:

  • Alcohol wipes.
  • Measuring Cups.
  • Emptying.
  • Cleaning.
  • Re-cleaning.

The Husband even remembered from High School Chemistry Class that containers need to be rinsed three times. Impressive.

The drains have to stay in place until less than 30 milliliters of fluid are drained from each in a day. CC's and ML's are the same, by the way.

Well, onto the Silver Lining of the day. Eight days post-surgery, I had a check-up with my plastic surgeon. By the way, it is still so bizarre to say that I have a plastic surgeon. Really? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. He is ultra-conservative, which I deeply value in any plastic surgeon, but especially mine.

He was so happy with the minimal output of all four drains that he removed them all. Now, removal did hurt (a lot!); however, it was absolutely 150 percent worth the joy of being free! YIPPPEEEEE!

As of this post, I am drain free and healing well. So, take that, breast cancer!

I have to keep reminding myself that I have to continue to move S L O W L Y. No lifting my elbows. No picking anything up over 5 lbs. Still lots of "No's" ... however, I'm focusing on the Silver Lining Yes's!

‎I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

- Marilyn Monroe

To read more about Hollye's holistic and humorous journey over, around, above and below breast cancer, please visit her blog, Brookside Buzz ( You may email her at