Following a cancer diagnosis, it’s a common practice to have follow-up and checkup appointments every so many months to allow doctors to keep a close eye on you. For me, it was every six months. And as those checkups would draw near, I would be filled with so much stress and anxiety. Is it back? Am I ok? What will the doctor say? So many questions would fill my thoughts as I would walk into those appointments.
In January 2019, I started to feel a weird ache under my right arm. I called my doctor, Dr. Cuntz, and she stopped by my store to check it out. Initially, she didn’t think it was anything; however, she suggested we go ahead with a 3D mammogram to be sure and to see exactly what was going on. Again, I was so fearful going to the appointment, but thought I’d be fine. I went alone, as I usually did, and convinced myself it was nothing.
I had the mammogram and then was called back for an ultra sound – on my left breast, the location of my original diagnosis. This increased my worry as I knew we could be dealing with a possible recurrence. Another friend, Dr. Claire Roberts, a radiologist at Woman’s, decided that a biopsy would be best after reviewing my ultrasound. “A biopsy?!” I thought to myself, instantly being overcome with fear and thoughts of “not again!”
Following a call to Dr. Cuntz, things moved quickly. We decided there was no need to waste time. Prior to the biopsy, my husband came meet me and we went into the procedure hopeful for good news. Everything seems to stop when you get news like this, but trying to be positive, we went home and attempted to pick back up with everyday life. A day or two later, Dr. Cuntz confirmed that DCIS stage 0 was found again in my left breast. She suggested a mastectomy on that breast; however, I knew at that point that if I was going to take one, I would just take both. It may be an extreme decision to some, but for me I didn’t want to do one and then later worry if it would come back in the other breast.
It took me a little while to come to terms with my second diagnosis. Admittedly, I couldn’t help but be in a fog type state, questioning everything. It took me a while to get over the shock of it all, but told myself that I’ve always dealt with this head on and this time shouldn’t be any different. Through my original diagnosis, I’ve always been very open when people would contact me or ask me about my cancer. I feel like knowledge and awareness is key, so if one person gets tested because they heard my story or saw a post, then I feel that I’ve helped the cause.
As fate would have it, I ran into Dr. Ann Lafranca, my gynocologist, at a local retail store in BR, right after I found out about my second occurrence. She is one of the most comforting souls I know and I am very blessed to have her on my team. Of course, she was hugging me and I had tears in my eyes telling her about the situation. We talked about my options and deciding to go ahead with a double mastectomy. She was so assuring and confident in my plan. She said she was going to pray for me, her faith is a so strong and so appreciated in times like these. Again, I left our chance encounter feeling more confident and thinking “I can do this!”
Another friend, Kami Powell, who works for Dr. Taylor Theunissen, was helpful in getting me scheduled with him to discuss my reconstruction plan. There are a lot of options, but I decided if I am doing this, surely there has to be a silver lining somewhere! My silver lining came in the form of option to do the DIEP Flap procedure. The procedure works by using tummy or back fat to create and reconstruct the breasts. I looked at it as a positive and almost a 2 for 1 deal. See, I had had two c-sections with my pregnancies and had gained some weight following my first diagnosis, so I had always considered a tummy tuck somewhere down the line, and this would be a solution to two problems. I am fortunate to have Dr. Theunissen on my team, too! He and his staff are amazing and he is so full of energy… a great combination when going through a tough situation like this and making plans for surgery.
Our family goes snow skiing every Mardi Gras and I didn’t want to miss that. I wanted my children to enjoy our family trip before having to go through months of treatment and recovery with me. This time around, we decided to tell our children, as they were older and we knew my recovery was going to be more intense. They are both so strong and were so supportive. I pray that these trials will only help them to be stronger and find inspiration for strength when life gets tough in the future.
Scheduling these types of surgeries isn’t easy when you have two busy physicians that need to be both available for a few hours. Both Dr. Cuntz and Dr. Theinussen were very helpful and accommodating in working to get the date set after our ski trip. We determined that March 13th would be my surgery date. Leading up to the procedure, I would often look in the mirror and wonder, “Am I going to miss these girls?” I think after a diagnosis of breast cancer, when you are faced with making a decision like this, things change. For me and so many, I feel like the decision was simple, feeling like it was a necessary step to get this disease out of my body. For others, the decision may be more difficult, like those who may carry the gene but don’t have a diagnosis. At an appointment at Dr. Theinussen’s office, I saw a friend who was facing a double mastectomy too, only she was not diagnosed with cancer, only told she was a carrier of the BRACA gene. We sat there emotional and crying, sharing our stories, and while I was sad for me, my heart broke for her, knowing she was facing an equally challenging situation.
As the day arrived, I was naturally filled with nerves, but as luck would have it, I knew most of the people in the operating room. I’m always so blessed to have wonderful friends that work at Woman’s Hospital! Two moms from my daughter’s soccer team who are nurses, Dr. Theinussen, Dr. Cuntz, my friend Shyla Hebert, nurse anesthetist, Dr. Seth Roussel… it was a room full of friends and familiar faces! I couldn’t have felt more comforted going into a major surgery that would last up to 6 hours.
They say it takes a village, and it indeed does! Find out more about “my village” in Part 3 (coming soon!).
When I sit back and think about my story, I instantly get filled with emotion. So much has happened over the last ten years, but I’m proud to say that I’m still standing, still strong, and still positive about my future. Typically, when I share my story, I tell people I’ve lived two lives. Which, after you read my story, you’ll see that I really kind of have…
The “first life” starts with my job as a flight attendant. After graduating LSU in May of 1990, I took to the skies working for Delta Airlines starting that July. It was such an exciting time in my life, flying across the globe, experiencing new cultures and new places, and taking in all of the beautiful locations I got to visit. Over the 19 years that I was a flight attendant, I lived in Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, and New York City. While in NYC, I started doing international flights, allowing me to go to every continent except Antarctica. I was living and working out of New York when the 9/11 attack happened. As you can imagine, that really shook me and made me think about my future. Shortly after, my life as a jet setter ended. I retired from Delta and moved home to Baton Rouge.
Nearly 20 years after graduating from college, I started my “second life.” I found myself in love with Baton Rouge and a very special man. In 2009, I opened my own business, got married, and decided to start a family. My feet were grounded for the very first time and I absolutely loved it!
Woman’s Hospital holds a very special place in my heart. Being a first time mom at 41, everyone was so supportive and encouraging, especially my OB/GYN, Dr. Ann Lafranca. I often share my story with moms-to-be that are older because I think it’s important they know that just because they are older doesn’t mean the experience is any less special. When my husband and I found out we were going to have a baby, I didn’t do testing, didn’t find out what I was having or anything like that, we just let God lead the way. Nine months later, we were blessed with our daughter, Josie, who was quickly followed by our son Davis in 2010.
As an older mom, I made sure to make my health a main priority. I went in for my routine mammogram in May of 2016. I remember it vividly for several reasons; it was the day after Mother’s Day and the day that my world was turned upside down. After my mammogram and leaving the hospital, I received a call saying they wanted me to go back for another exam. It’s never a call any woman wants to receive, but I also knew that callbacks weren’t uncommon. To ease my nerves, I reached out to my dear friend, Dr. Cecilia Cuntz, who is also a breast surgeon. I asked if there was any way she can look over my results and let me know what she thought. She called me back and said it would be a good idea to come back in and have a 3D Mammogram for further review. So I did, and from there it was confirmed that I had breast cancer and was diagnosed with DCIS stage 0 – Negative for the BRCAA gene.
No one that gets the call about cancer is every really the same again. It changes your life from then on.
Initially, I was in complete shock. I would often cry in the shower, over and over again, thinking that my children needed their mom and I still had so much more to teach them about life and love and being kind to others. I had several close friends who had lost their moms at a young age because of cancer and I knew how hard it was for them. I didn’t want that for my children! At the time, Josie was finishing first grade and Davis kindergarten. After several conversations, my husband and I decided not to tell the kids, we decided they were too young and didn’t want to scare them or have them worry about my well-being. I was never really scared for me; my fears were always about my family.
Following a cancer diagnosis, you are flooded with so much information. It is absolutely overwhelming! There are so many options and things to read and learn about. I remember the moment that I settled down and realized I was ready to “fight” the disease. I was at home one evening and I got a call from Dr. Lafranca, my OB/GYN. She talked me through the diagnosis, statistics, and lots of other things. While her voice was soft, it was so supportive and sure I would beat this. In that moment, I knew if she felt confident, then I needed to be confident. So I decided I wasn’t going to let this defeat me. I was going to beat cancer!
I consulted with my surgeon, Dr. Cuntz, and we decided a lumpectomy would be best for this type of cancer. Following the procedure, she referred me to Dr. Levine with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center for radiationtreatment. From there, it was determined that I would do six weeks of radiation five days a week. At the end of my treatment plan, I proudly rang the bell on September 13, 2016. That October, my daughter’s soccer team wore pink jerseys in support of Breast Cancer awareness. Each player had the name of the person they were supporting. My daughter’s jersey simply said Mom.” It was a special moment, and I was excited to be done with treatment and done with cancer.
Or so I thought… Read more about Lisa’s cancer journey with Part 2 (coming soon!)
So excited to be featured in the Southern Living - Southwest Edition of "Where to Shop" in Baton Rouge.
I know tons of our customers are wondering why we weren't in our local issue, I have been asking that myself. Not quite sure how they figure out distribution. We are honored to be included along side these other fabulous BR stores. Cheers to our loyal customers for "Shopping Local!" We have lots of cool new art, pottery, and merchandise headed to LD this Summer & Fall. We search high and low to find unique Louisiana and Southern made goods. Love Local. Love Louisiana.
Welcome to LD Linens & Decor!
I am Lisa Davis Gilly, the owner. This is my first official - Legit - Blog Post. I tried a few times to create my own Blog and finally took the time, money, and smarts to invest in a Branding Company to help me create my own branding of LD Linens & Decor. I have worked with Reni & Heidi of Bliss and Tell Branding. They Rock! LD Linens & Decor started in April of 2007.
I was a Delta Flight Attendant at the time and living the single life of an International Flight Attendant. Paris, Dublin, Sao Paulo, Brussels, - all in a month's time. While on layovers I would visit the local shops of that city. I picked up art, fabric, pottery, and unique items or gifts. One of my favorite shops was in Dublin (I can't remember the name of it, but I know exactly where it is located off of Grafton Street). It was the most precious shop of clothing, books, and home goods. In the basement there was a sort of tea room. So began the dream of LD!
While at lunch one day, two of my dear friends Brooke Bramlett and Kim Katchur Wampold, suggested I open my own place. They both realized I had a knack for pulling things together. (I am not a Designer by degree and out of respect for all of those that are will never call myself one. They worked hard to get those degrees).
I started out in a booth space inside the old Lions Gate off of Jefferson. I probably had about 250 sq ft. I continued to work at Delta and had the booth location on the side. In April 2009, I opened the doors of ld linens & decor - 4265 Perkins Road. It was 1600 square feet. Last October, we moved into 4347 Perkins Road with 3500 square feet. We are so blessed to have survived those rough economy years. I am going to post some pictures of LD through the years when I can dig around without little fingers helping me.