Friday, October 23, 2009

What size is your pleasure?

March 12, 2009

We met with a plastic surgeon to discuss the various options in reconstruction. Unfortunately, I was filled with tension and apprehension for this visit. I had been looking forward to joking around with Patrick, learning the options and making this decision as light as possible. How many times does a person get the chance to redo a portion of their body and insurance pays for it? Hopefully not many.

However, earlier in the day, I had a routine GYN appointment, and received news that I didn't want to hear. It's not enough to hear the dreaded 'just scoot a little further down', I was informed that one of my ovaries was enlarged. The bottom literally fell out from under me. In that short time span I became convinced that the breast cancer was secondary and that the primary tumor was in my ovaries or uterus. The doctor's office wanted to wait to schedule an ultrasound and/or biopsy until after the masectomy, feeling that I may receive some of this testing anyway from the oncologist. Why go through the testing twice, right? Wrong! Who in their right mind would want to wait....not me! Patience is definitely not my middle name. I scheduled the pelvic ultrasound for March 16.

There are a few options for breast reconstruction. You can do the implants, saline or silicone and there is the version where they take the fat and tissue from your stomach (tummy tuck, sounds pretty darn good), back or butt to form the new breasts. I actually considered the tummy tuck version but was told that I wasn't a good candidate because I didn't have enough belly fat. Woohoo! That was okay with me. Ultimately, I want the quickest recovery period and the implants will give this to me. Plus, why take the chance that I would have future stomach problems.

The only highlight of the day were the 2 adorable, white Bichon Friche dogs in the surgeons waiting room. They are used as therapy dogs. We all know I am a germ a phobe. The thought of dogs running around with patients and unsanitary medical conditions makes me queezy. I became a believer after I witnessed how clean the facilities were and what effect they had on Patrick. I could visibly see they were calming him down. If only they could have worked on me!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Welcome...into our lives!

March 2, 2009- Welcome Hailey Marie, daughter of Patrick's brother and wife, and sister to Zack. They waited a long time for this addition and are truly blessed.

Another new addition to our lives is my breast surgeon. I was lucky to get an appointment with her just 4 days after getting the 'C' news. I will admit, there is a part of me that was hoping she would look at the films and say what a big mistake the radiologist had made. No such luck. Instead, I received another breast examination and a lengthy conversation on my options. I was told that there were 4 areas of concern, 1 that was confirmed invasive ductal carcinoma and 3 that looked suspiciously like the cancerous tumor.

Option #1-lumpectomy=2 more biopsies + lumpectomy + 6 weeks of daily radiation + chance of chemotherapy. Option #2- masectomy= loss of breast + chance of chemotherapy. The choice was obvious after hearing about the radiation...just take the breast. The thought of going through 6 straight weeks of radiation really unnerved and scared me. If I could avoid it I would. I did agree to think about the 2 options for Patrick. He doesn't understand how I can so easily give up a body part. Sleep-deprived and talking to a few woman at UC he finally came to grips that woman just do not care about the boobs, gazanga's, ta-ta's and whatever else our darling men call them.

Decision on the list...plastic surgeon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The news no one wants to hear.

February 26, 4:55 PM, I joined a 'club' that I thought was at least 20 years out. It all started at the beginning of February when I found a Tylenol size lump in my breast. Part of me wanted to ignore it, but the fact that our secretary was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Stage IV that had already metastasized to her bones, lung and brain, got me to the doctor within a week.

I was able to get into a local OBGYN and they listened to my concerns and actually had some of their own for my other breast. Three days later I had a mammogram and ultrasound. I had forgotten what it felt like to be flattened like a sardine, the women reading this are shaking there heads agreeing...the men have no clue. The radiologist came in after seeing the ultrasound images and conducted her own test on my breast. She measured and marked the area of concern and told me that they would need to do a biopsy. She also told me not to worry, as 80% of biopsies come back negative. Easier said than done. During this entire time my intuition told me it was 'something'.

I had to wait a week for the biopsy to take place. The radiologist conducted an ultrasound guided fine needle biopsy. I was very nervous, not knowing what to expect and LOVED that the doctor talked the entire time, explaining each step. I will admit it was very uncomfortable having the samples 'vacuumed' out of me. I don't even know how to describe it. She then told me that she wanted to put a metal marker inside my breast. This would identify the mass for a surgeon OR it would show radiologist to look at the area for any changes for future mammograms. In my opinion this was not a good sign. She showed me the 5 samples she took and I noticed some blood in the solution. I remember reading that if the liquid came out clear that it was benign, but that if it came back cloudy or bloody then it was surely malignant. I told her what I had read and she tried to convince me that it wasn't the case. I wasn't feeling very confident. In leaving, the nurse gave me the phone # to call for the results...3 days away.

I was on pins and needles on the 26th. I knew that I would have to wait until after 4 pm to call, they wouldn't have the results ready before then. I was swamped at work and didn't get a chance to call. I finally found a quiet moment sitting in the elementary parking lot waiting to get Kyle from an after school tutoring session. The radiologist came on the phone and verified my personal information and then WHAM, told me it came back positive for invasive ductal carcinoma, .7mm in size with a grading of 4. I put myself on autopilot, retrieved Kyle and went home. Patrick was home and I pulled him aside to tell him the news. Stunned disbelief best describes my emotions. Thankfully, life had to resume quickly as Kyle had hockey practice and Patrick was taking him. I still can't believe I did this but, as soon as they left, I actually called the hospital back and spoke with the radiologist again. I asked her to pull my file again, just in case she gave me the results from another patient. Hey, stranger things have happened. Unfortunately, she didn't give me someone else's was all mine...couldn't give it back as much as I tried.

I had another shock that night. I received a phone call from my OBGYN doctor, telling me that he received the results and wanted to make sure I was okay. He explained the diagnosis and what the next steps would be. We spoke for probably 45 minutes, he reassuring me that it would be okay and that the survival rate was high. I might add, that this situation was the first time I had visited this particular OB office. My normal OBGYN is in Cincinnati and I wanted to be able to get in quick and not have to take an entire day off work to get the lump checked out. I give this office very high marks on customer service.

Not only did I just find out I had cancer but it was Brandon's 14th birthday the next day and we were hosting a birthday dinner for the grandparents. I don't know how we got through the weekend, pretending everything was normal. My parents stayed the weekend and we even ventured to Louisville for Brandon's hockey games. My sister came up from Nashville with my niece, and my oldest nephew came over from Lexington. It was great to see them all and very hard to keep everything bottled up. This is my family, my greatest support, and I can't give them a whisper of my secret. I am thankful that I kept it together....for Brandon's sake.

It's time to move on....

I received the news that all club members want to hear, "It's time to get on with your life". I met with the Oncologist today, had some blood work done and talked about the next step in this journey. How is a person supposed to do this? Not a day goes by that I do not think about the cancer and worry that it will show its ugly head again.

I wrapped up my fourth and final chemo treatment July 23rd. I haven't done an email update since my first treatment on May 21, when I was truly upbeat and ready to conquer the world...or, at least the cancer beast inside me. In one of my conversation's with my sister, she encouraged me to write about my experiences. I did write, but in a journal. I thought I would try something new and started this blog. It will be a little easier to update you all, my family and friends. The bonus is: you have the choice to follow the blog....or not.

Over time I will try and fill in some of the blanks from the past 2 months. The days went pretty fast, working just about everyday and running around with the boys' baseball at night. The constant motion, always having to be somewhere is what got me through the roller-coaster of chemo. Go, go, go doesn't give you too much time to think....just what the doctor ordered for me.

Back to my wonderful oncologist. After a grueling 2 1/2 hour wait, with nothing to read but the same magazines I have read over and over (maybe this will teach me to bring my own book, duh), I finally reached the end, no more chemo. I have decided that my new birthday is March 23, the day I became cancer free. Next Thursday I will start a 5 year course of Tamoxifen, which decreases the odds of recurrence. Whether he likes it or not, this Doc and I are going to become bosom buddies, catching up every 3 months, keeping me fit and healthy.

BOUNCE-Nothing is going to keep me down!!!