—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Shannon’s Journey, 8

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This afternoon, Vesta and I met Shannon and Shelby at Dr. Janiga’s office. Today was a big day. Dr. Janiga was going to check on how she was doing and he was going to inject fluid into her expanders.

Remember those, the expanders. Those are the things under her skin, where her breast tissue used to be. Now she’s got those plastic balloon type thing under there and Dr. Janiga’s gonna fill ‘em up.

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Here, Shannon’s in THE chair and she’s a little scared. Not as frightened as me. I’m plenty frightened. I don’t like seeing people hurt and I’m thinking she’s gonna be hurting pretty gosh darned soon and I’m not liking it at all.

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She said she’s been having a bad time with her back. She has to stop and rest it often. And we were wondering, at least I was, if it was because of the muscle they had to bring around from her back to under her left breast, but the Dr. Janiga didn’t seem to think that was the problem.

And he told her she should be doing exercises and he demonstrating the kind she should be doing. He’s a pretty nice guy, Dr. Janiga is. Shannon’s pretty lucky, doctor wise, with both Janiga and Reganti. I’ve been around awhile and I’ve met quite a few bummer humans who were doctors. Janiga and Reganti are not those.

They’re caring individuals. If you’ve gotta go through what Shannon’s going through, you couldn’t do better.

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These are the syringes full of the fluid Janiga’s gonna be injecting into Shannon’s breasts. I swear, when I saw ‘em, I almost fainted. Shannon didn’t look too thrilled either.

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Here Janiga’s swabbing her with alcohol or some kind of antiseptic. I don’t know what, but it’s a germ killer, I’m sure of that.

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I wasn’t going to use this photo, because it just a close up of Janiga cleaning the area where he’s gonna stick in the needle, but the look on Shannon’s face speaks volumes, way more than I could say about the anxiety she’s feeling.

And, I should mention here, because I didn’t get a photo Janiga doing it, but there are tiny magnets inside the expanders and Janiga used a magnet to find ‘em so he’s know where to stick her.

Shannon asked if he was going to numb the area and he said no, because he’d had to cut the nerve, so she has no feeling in her breasts.

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It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. And I swear, I felt that needle. Vesta had to leave the room and I made some kind of unconscious, uncontrollable squeamish sound that got a gentle rebuke from the good doctor.

He said something like, “What’s that?” under his breath, but I got his meaning loud and clear. He was really saying, “Hey, shut up back there,” and I did.

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She asked Dr. Janiga if she’d ever get feeling in her breasts back and he said overtime, sometimes nerves grow back a bit. I hope they do.

Oh yes, and I was wrong when I said Janiga was going to “fill ‘em up.” When she comes back next month, he’s going to inject her again.

I asked could he do that while she’s going through chemo and he said he could and I shivered.

Afterward, when we were outside, Shannon said that the injections (she got two on each breast) on her right side felt a little uncomfortable, but she couldn’t feel the ones on her left side at all.

And we wondered if it was because there was some feeling in that muscle that was pulled around from her back.

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Here’s how she looks now. Her recovery, at this point, seems remarkable to me. Sadly though, the chemo is yet to come and then the reconstruction. Still, right now, she’s looking a whole lot better than she did just a couple short weeks ago.

Also, I guess I should mention again, the reason her right breast (camera left) looks different, is because the radiation she got the first time she had breast cancer damaged the tissue and she had to have some skin grafted from her back.

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And here she is, checking herself out. I suppose I could’ve done without this shot. I almost didn’t use it, but I’m a wedding photographer and I love mirror shots when the bride is checking herself out right after she gets into her dress, so I’ve been sorta trained to take a picture of a pretty girl every time she looks in a mirror.

Still, as I said above, I almost didn’t use this photo, but then I noticed how prominent the chemo port was. That’s what you can see under her skin on camera right, coming down from her neck to her breast.

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The visit with the plastic surgeon over, now she’s ready to go home, but Wednesday it’s several appointments at Renown and Thursday, it’s Chemo Class.

Though I don’t know why she needs the class. She’s been through it before. But Vesta and I haven’t.

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