STANTON, Del. – Blood Collection Tech Joy Delucia has been recovering from a double mastectomy necessitated by breast cancer, but she made a surprise visit to the Christiana Donor Center in late April! It was great to see her, and we’re glad she’s doing better. When we asked how she was doing, she said, “Groovy.”

Blood Collection Tech Daisy Tannen hugs colleague Joy Delucia in the Christiana Donor Center.

Here is Joy, in her own words, giving us an update on her surgery and recovery:

My surgery was scheduled for March 30, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. My kids and I arrived by 8:15 and I was almost immediately registered and taken back to prep where my kids took turns sitting with me. I wish I could say I wasn’t scared but I was terrified. This was my second go round with breast cancer, but this time I was able to make the decision to have both breasts removed. This meant no more Mammograms, something that has given me PTSD for the past 12 years, and no more crippling anxiety as I waited for the results. Was I okay or did I need more films only to let me know I needed a biopsy?

At least this time I was in charge and the surgery went as planned. The surgery lasted longer than expected – a little over 9 hours. But, there was no involvement in any lymph nodes, another plus.

I was released around 6:00 pm the following evening and hopefully feeling better in my own home, which I did until the nerve block wore off and the pain hit me like a bus. Since it was the weekend my surgeon was off but the on call did his best to get me some pain relief. When nothing worked I was given IV pain meds and sent home.

My daughter, Sarah, is my primary caregiver and without her I don’t know how I would have gotten through that first week. The first hurdle was changing my dressings. I asked her if she was sure she could handle it to which she replied, “Yes mom I can take care  of you.”

The next hurdle was seeing myself in the mirror as I was getting ready to shower. My daughter waited outside the door asking me if I was ok, I lied and said, “Yes, I’m okay.” But, I’m sure she heard me break down asking, why me. I cried a lot in the shower. Every time I looked at myself the tears just came. This was all so easy compared to what was to come in the next 3 weeks.

After the follow up visit with my cancer surgeon I was told I wouldn’t have to come back for 6 months. This was great news and I felt like, “Okay, I’m making some headway.” But the doctor said, “I want you to keep an eye on your incisions. One is looking very dark, but this can be normal. So, if you have any questions call the plastic surgeon’s office. This started a domino effect that led me into a very scary place. Within 1 day of being 3 weeks post op, I was in the Emergency Room 3 different times – 2 CAT scans looking for pulmonary embolisms, 1 blood transfusion which made me feel so very much better, and 1 emergency doctors visit.

Unfortunately, that was short lived and my incisions were infected. I was sent back to the hospital and told not to eat as I was being taken to surgery later that evening. Several hours later I was again in recovery having had the skin expanders removed and all incisions debrided and everything washed out and on massive amounts of IV antibiotics for the next 2days. This is not how I expected any of this to go. However, I’m still here and if anyone else is going through this know that you are STRONG enough to pull through.

In a few week I will be getting my chemo port and starting chemotherapy once a week for 12 weeks (I’m probably going to lose my hair) then once every 3 weeks for 9 months. I’m not sure about wigs but I will definitely be sporting surgical caps. I hope you stay with me as I continue the fight, I look forward to going back to work as soon as possible! No Hair Don’t Care, Fight Like A Girl!