Saturday, November 27, 2010

5 Days to go

So now I'm getting nervous.  Surgery is scheduled for Thursday, December 2.  I am scheduled to be the first case of the day, "tentatively", at 7:30 AM.  That means I have to be at the hospital at 5 AM.  Not quite the 5:00 I like to see, but then, I'm getting rid of the cancer that has invaded my body.

My family and friends have been incredibly supportive in my decision to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction.  In talking with the plastic surgeon, she said that the type of cancer I have has a high recurrence rate to the opposite breast.  What's a girl to do?  I can't have one perky and one saggy, now can I?

I found out my aunt that lives in Arizona had a cancer scare last year.  We talked quite a while on Thanksgiving Day.  She totally understands me.  We pretty much grew up together when I was little.  She lived with me and my parents after I was born, so we got to be friends and did a lot together after she came home from Alabama many years ago.

She had a biopsy and it came back benign, much to the surprise of the doctors and her.  She's been fine since, but she's keeping up with her mammograms and breast exams.

If there is one thing that this has taught me, it's feel your boobies.  Only you know what is normal or not for your body.  If you find something that is not normal, CALL YOUR DOCTOR.  It could be nothing or it could be cancer. 

I have so many things running thru my pea-brain.  I need some WD-40 on the hamster wheel. (I totally stole that from my BFF!)  If it weren't for my sleeping medicine, I don't think I could sleep.  I keep worrying about things that I probably shouldn't, but I can't help it.  Doing this blog actually helps me to get those thoughts out of my head and quiets the wheel for a little while. 

I know I'm going to be in the hospital for at least one night, just because of the fact that I am having mastectomy and the risks of bleeding, infection, blah, blah, blah.  The thing I'm fearing the most is PAIN.  I have never done well with pain and pain meds make me feel out of control.  If any of you know me, you know how much I don't like to be out of control. I know I'll be ok and all I have to do is ask and I'll get what I need to make me comfortable, but it's the unknown.

Please keep me me in your thoughts and prayers.  I can feel the love!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A great weekend was had by all

I went to the dance convention and had a BLAST!!!!!  I also had a major meltdown Friday night.  After the phone call with the surgeon, I showered and dressed for the evening dance, and thought I might as well fix myself a drink. After I got ready, I headed down to the pavillion to meet up with my best friend and told her about the phone call from the doctor.  I was ready to party!  I partied myself into a stupor and was out like a light before 11 pm.  I missed the dancing and getting to meet new people that night, but I think it was time that I finally gave into the fear and anger that I had been feeling.  When I got up the next morning, Pam was still sleeping, so I went downstairs for breakfast and just sat and read the newspaper, enjoying the morning.

I went to an early workshop and had a blast.  I did a couple of more workshops and just had a grand time!  I think the best part of the whole weekend was learning that I am NOT the only newcomer in this area for West Coast Swing!

Now I am going to see the plastic surgeon on the 23rd and see what I'm in for.  I would really prefer to do the double mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time.  But..... we'll see what she says.

Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers!  They are much appreciated!

Hugs and lots of love!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No surgery on Nov. 16th

So, things were going so good on Friday. I was at the convention, spending time with my BFF and learning more and more about West Coast Swing dancing.  Laughing, making new friends and just generally having a great time.

Then I got another message that I needed to call the surgeon's office as soon as possible.  When I finally got in touch with the nurse at 315 pm, I was told the surgeon wanted yet another ultrasound because another nodule was found in my right breast.  Since I was in St. Petersburg, there was no way I could get back to Lakeland before they close at 4, but the nurse said she would talk to the doctor and call me later in the day, probably after 5 pm.  I said that I would be expecting her call.

At about 630, I got a call from the surgeon herself to explain what was found on the MRI and the ultrasound.  I seems I have more disease in the breast than originally thought.  To do a lumpectomy, she would have to take about a third of my breast and she couldn't guarantee how it would look after such a large excision.  I then broached the subject of, not only one, but a double mastectomy with reconstruction at the same time.  Of course that means delaying surgery, but it also means getting rid of the cancer.  Now, I'll see a plastic surgeon for the reconstruction procedure and have surgery in December. 

Merry Christmas to me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The week before surgery

Well, here it is.  Five days before I have surgery to remove the lump in my right breast.  I am a jumble of nerves.  I don't know whether I'm coming or going.  I was so distracted today, I drove almost an hour out of the way to get to St. Pete Beach for the Dance Weekend. 

My Mom and I struck out at 7:30 this morning for the first appointment of the day with the radiation oncologist.  I was there with her until almost 10:30.  My next appointment was to have an ultrasound of the right breast and axilla at 11:30.  Mom and I figured we'd go and wait if need be, I just didn't want to have to wait around somewhere else.  Fortunately for me, they were able to get me in early!  Thank goodness for that.  My next appointment wasn't til1:00 pm, so we went to lunch and just sat and chatted over a burger and fries and cherry cokes.  That is a treat for both of us.  When I finally got to see the medical oncologist, she talked so fast, I had a hard time understanding everything she said except for the fact that I will probably need to have some form of chemotherapy.  I don't know if that will be before or after 6 weeks of external beam radiation therapy.

I was hoping to be able to do what's called brachytherapy, a treatment where a catheter is inserted into the tumor bed and radioactive "seeds" are placed directly into the area where the mass was.  Unfortunately for me, the Rad/Onc told me I was too young for brachytherapy.  There are not enough studies done for her to be comfortable doing it, so I guess I will be going "old school" for treatment.

The medical oncologist is recommending some form of chemotherapy at some point in my treatment plan, but that is going to be dependant upon the final pathology report.

It seems I'm back to a hurry up and wait situation.  For now, I'm just gonna "SHUT UP AND DANCE"!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Facing a birthday with cancer

Tomorrow is a big day for me.   It's my 42nd birthday.  I'm happy to have seen another year, yet I am apprensive about the coming year for me.  I have always been somewhat "fearless", as my parents have said.  Now, I am scared out of my mind.  I have been more scattered than normal, I am finding it hard to concentrate on tasks at home and work and am afraid my work performance is suffering. 

I have 3 appointments on Thursday of this week.  The first is with the radiation oncologist at 8 am, then at 1130, I need to have an ultrasound of the right breast and axilla, then I see the medical oncologist at 130 pm.  I guess I am most worried about seeing the medical oncologist because there is a very real possibility that I will need to go on Tamoxifen along with hormone therapy.  The biggest problem is that I had a DVT or deep vein thrombosis, in my left leg 14 years ago and have been told not to take hormone replacement therapy because of the increased risk of developing another blood clot in my legs, arms or lungs.  What a thing to have to face on top of everything!

I'm gonna try to forget about it for today and tomorrow and I'm going to have a great lunch with my high school friends that I have reconnected with thanks to Facebook!  Tomorrow, my Dad is taking me and my Mom out to dinner and the people that can't make it today are coming tomorrow!  I am really looking forward to spending time with the people that mean the most the most to me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The next step

If you have never had a magnetic resonance mammogram, you ain't missing anything.  Not the most comfortable test I've gone through.  Imagine, if you will, wearing a hospital gown, open in the front, lying face down on an MRI table with your breasts dangling into the "cups" while a technician with COLD hands gets you positioned for the test.  Not only are you uncomfortable, you have your shoulders held by the "arms" on each side with your hands by your side.  The goal is to keep absloutely still while this is going on so they don't send you home only to come back another day!  By the time I was done, my back and shoulders felt like knots had been tied in them.  Fortunately, I got through it without having to come back another day.

After I got home from work tonight, I got a phone call from the surgeon's nurse informing me that my case was presented at "tumor board" today and everyone, so far, has agreed with the surgeon's plan of action.  I will see the radiation oncologist, have the ultrasound of my right axilla, AND see the medical oncologist all on November 11.  They are thinking I'm going to need to be on a medication called Tamoxifen for 5 years after the surgery and radiation therapies are done.  The only problem with that is that about 14 years ago, I had a blood clot in my left leg while I was in nursing school.  If they deem it to be necessary, I may have to go on a low dose of a blood thinner called Coumadin for the duration of being on the Tamoxifen. 

As if I wasn't already overwhelmed, I feel like I just had a 20 pound weight added to me and I'm struggling to keep my head above water.

I also asked if a time for my surgery has been set and yes, it had.  I have to be at the Watson Clinic Women's Center at 10 AM for the injection for the Sentinel Node mapping and needle localization.  Those procedures should take about an hour and a half.  Then I need to go to the surgery center to allow the radioactive stuff to circulate and anticipate surgery to be about 2 pm.  They have reserved my OR for about 2 hours.  I think it's gonna be a long and drawn out day.  By the time I get home, I think Mom will probably stay at my house, just to keep an eye on me.  She may even bring the "little doggie" to visit too.  Nothing like a pajama party!

At least for the next few days, things can be as normal as usual.  Then again, nothing in my world is "normal"

Hugs to all

Monday, November 1, 2010

The shock of it all

The day I was diagnosed, my OB/GYN's nurse called me back and told me I have an appointment the very next day with the surgeon.  The one I requested!  Thank you, God for her having an opening to see me.  I was told to get my mammograms, ultrasounds and reports of copied so I could pick them up for the surgeon's visit tomorrow.  I needed tasks to do to keep my mind busy and not worry about the future more than the next thing to do.

I left that Tuesday afternoon, reminding myself to "go get your films", "go get your films".  I got home, I forgot to "go get my films" which is soooo typical of me.  So, I went the next morning on the way to work and "got my films".  All I could do was laugh at myself for forgetting to do something else.

My best friend, Pam had been sick with some kind of upper respiratory bug all weekend and worked, but she did stay home Tuesday night and rested.  She called me Wednesday morning and said she was still going with me to see the surgeon, she had promised to take me and she wasn't going back on a promise.  I told her to stay home, but she's as stubborn as I am.  Thanks Pam.

As my appointment time got closer and closer, the more nervous I got.  I was trying to keep busy to keep my mind occupied and it was helping a lot!  Pam got me at 11:30 and off we went the one block north of where I work to the doctor's office.  Her staff was nothing but understanding and wonderful.  I met the surgeon and she is a wonder!  She talked to me face to face, eye to eye before she even examined me.  Showed me my films and explained everything she was seeing and was worried about.  After examining me, she let me dress and I got to go to "Breast Class".  Everything never wanted to know or were afraid to ask. Nothing was off limits with her.  Even Pam went to class with me to help me remember what was said and done. 

I found out that I have Stage 1 or Stage IIa breast cancer, due to it's size of about 5 centimeters.  It is invasive because it infiltrated outside the lobular tissue into the surrounding tissue.  Can't grade it yet because we don't have final pathology (that's after surgery).  All in all, for breast cancer, this is the one to have!

After we spent about 20 minutes in "class", the doctor's "nurse navigator" came in to help guide me through this long journey.  As it turned out, she has known my family since before I was born. Her in-laws lived across the street from me as I was growing up.  I truly had a village looking after me as a small child.  I considered her and her husband as a third set of grandparents! 

When she came in, both of us started to cry a bit and I wrapped her in a big hug, grateful for having someone I've known my whole life helping me through this.

She got me set up for my MRI of both breasts, and ultrasound of my right axilla (the armpit), an appointment with the radiation oncologist, and a date for surgery.  She did this feat all in ONE DAY!  She is amazing!

So here I am at day 6 of living with cancer.  I am still overwhelmed by information, nerves, questions, and the endless paperwork I need to get filled out and sent in for insurance.  How am I gonna get it all done?

I have found my faith again.  I pray everyday, several times a day.  I thank God for the life he has given me.  I ask for his guidance for the doctors, staff and me to do what is right and ask for His calming spirit to watch over me.  I ask for His strength to get through this journey, one baby step at a time.  I thank Him for putting my only sister back into my life after more than a year.  I know He has a plan for me, I just wish He's let me in on it sometimes!

Well, on Day 8, I have my MRI.  God's gonna have to help keep me calm through that! 

Keep praying.  That's all I can do about now.