Archive for the ‘{11} December Updates’ Category

The Joy of Needles!

December 20, 2008

So, I’m finally getting around to sharing my pre-surgery experiences that I endured 3 weeks ago.  Hopefully this won’t heeb-you-out or bore you too much, but if it does, please know that it’s helpful for me to reflect on my experiences, however ridiculous they might have been at the time. I’ll leave out the hours of minutia and just get to the good stuff!

Once I was admitted and walking around with my fancy hospital wristband, one of my first stops was to the Nuclear Medicine department where I was to be injected with (I shit you not), radioactive isotopes directly around my nipple!

And let me quickly explain why I needed this procedure, because modern medicine is actually very fascinating.  Once injected, the radioactive particles travel to the sentinel (main) lymph nodes.  While in surgery, the doctor uses a Geiger counter (still not kidding) to locate the “hot” nodes so he knows exactly where to make the incision.  And here I am worried about eating organic and this crap is going into me…I mean it can’t be good for me, but what am I to do!

So, back to the nurse with the big needle…  The nurse gave me the first shot. Ok, not so bad I think to myself.  Then 2-4 were excruciating and I was tearing up saying “Oh my gosh that hurts so bad!!”  Sympathetically, she says, “Yes, they always say the first isn’t so bad but the rest hurt much worse.”  Ahhh, yea!!!!

I quickly dressed and walked back to Mike in the waiting room, and he gives me a weak smile saying “How was it?”  While holding back tears I said something to the effect of, “It hurt like Mother F…..  It was complete Bull S…!”  You know, words that any respectable, polite, demure, lady would say.

On to the next…

From what I know, not all cancer is necessarily detectable by the human eye.  Even though I imagine it kind of like green-gobbily-gook, it isn’t always visible, which means when the doctor begins surgery he needs to know exactly where the cancer is; which brings me to my next ridiculous needle procedure.

So I’m wheeled off to the ultrasound room where they are to insert a needle into my breast into the cancer area (and are you ready for this!?) and then leave the needle inserted so my surgeon knows exactly where to operate!  At this point it was becoming laughable!  So the doctor slowly numbs up the area with a very long needle, and with the aid of the ultrasound tech, guides this needle wire thing deep into my breast.  While this is going on, I have a total of four doctors/techs who have now entered the room, because apparently everyone came to watch and learn;  not exactly reassuring!  And somehow during all of this I still found the strength to make a crack that “everyone wants to see my naked boobs”.

So, now this thing is inserted and about 3 inches of it is sticking out of my breast and I am near hysterics because I’m so worried someone will bump me.  Their high-tech solution for this… a Dixie cup!  Literally, they took a Dixie cup to cover the needle thing and taped the cup to my chest.  Then I was wheeled into pre-op where I lounged in a hospital bed for an hour or so waiting for my surgery to begin.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had Valium before this, I rarely even take Tylenol, but when the nurse offered up something to relax me, I took it with gusto!

Here’s a snapshot that Mike took while I was sleeping.  My IV had just been removed and my little drawn on wedding band looked so sweet!

hospital-hand

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December 15

December 15, 2008

What I’ve learned so far is that it’s not necessarily the news that is overwhelming but the deluge of decisions that need to be made.  Of course, the news was difficult at times, but the decisions and appointments kept dragging out and that mental energy that went toward thinking about my options became a burden.

So with that said I am happy to report that I have finally come to a place that I don’t have to make any more decisions (at least for awhile).   I had my appointment with my plastic surgeon today and she happily told me that I am a good candidate for immediate reconstruction and so we plan to go ahead with the combined surgeries (mast/recon) on Tuesday, January 6.  I’ll be admitted into the hospital for one night and then I’ll be home recuperating.  And with that set surgery date, my chemotherapy will begin near Jan. 30.

With all of that decided, I am now happily home, buzzing about and working on projects that I have been putting off.  Even though the upcoming surgery and treatments are scary, I’m relieved that the weights (of decisions) have been lifted from my spirit and I’m looking forward to taking care of my entire well being in the next few weeks leading up to my surgery.

December 13

December 14, 2008

Well, there have been a couple of doctor appointments and a lot of decisions over this last week; some good news and some surprising news, so here goes:

Stage 1
The good news is my cancer has officially been diagnosed as Stage 1, which means it has not spread anywhere else in the body and that is great news!

Biopsy
The complete biopsy of the tumor was determined to be Grade 3, which means it is not a nice little tightly contained tumor.  Even though it was small, it’s a bit unruly, and it’s not something to mess with.

Mastectomy
So with that said, it’s been decided that health is (obviously) more important than a breast, so I’ve decided on a mastectomy to be extra safe.

Reconstruction
The surgery will hopefully be combined with immediate reconstruction.  My initial consultation with the plastic surgeon is this Monday, so once again there are still some unknowns. The surgery will be either Dec. 23 but more likely Jan. 6. and I’ll know for sure after I meet with the plastic surgeon.

Chemotherapy
And the big surprise news that caught us off guard is that I WILL be having chemo.  Basically, I’m young and my doctors want to take every precaution, so my chemo will begin about 2-3 weeks after my surgery date.  So, I’ll be celebrating my 38th birthday bald.  Ughh!

Radiation
Since I’ll be going through a mastectomy and chemo, it is likely that I’ll get to bypass the 6 weeks of radiation, so that is one more silver lining.

When all of this began, I didn’t take it (the cancer) all that serious.  I knew the cancerous area was small, so I just thought and I’d have the Sheryl Crow kind of breast cancer experience; a little surgery, a little this and a little that and before long I’d be back on “tour” in my tank tops.  Saying goodbye to a breast while getting sick and bald from chemo was not what I expected at all.  But I’m still focusing on all of my blessings;  I don’t have the bad gene, my lymph nodes are healthy and I’m at stage 1 which are all very important factors!

This news has taken me almost a week to process, hence my delay in posting this news, but I want everyone to know that I’m still the regular me, doing regular things and now I’m focusing on complete health, and a new short (short!) hair cut just in time for summer.

I’ll keep you posted…

Lymph Node Biopsy Results

December 9, 2008

My lymph node biopsy results finally came back and…. (drum roll please) THEY ARE HEALTHY!!  So many cheers for that great news.

The “bad news” that piggybacked on this happy moment is that my breast tissue was biopsied after its removal and it came back without clear margins; which means there’s still a bit of breast cancer in the breast – the surgeon did not get it all.  This means that I will be going back into surgery in the next week or so to remove the last little bit. I’ll keep you posted to when that will be.

Other than that bit of surprising news I’m feeling well, healing quickly and I’m keeping my spirits up.