Surgery is scheduled

I finally heard from the doctor’s office today.  My surgery is scheduled for 11:30 am on Tuesday, April 9th.  I will then have a follow up appointment on the 11th see hear about the pathology report.  I believe this is when I will find out if my particular cancer is an estrogen receptor cancer, meaning it needs estrogen to grow.  Now since I’ve already been through menopause, I don’t know how much I have left.  If it is this kind, then I’ll see Dr. Bernstein afterwards to see about going on a non-hormone medication so the cancer won’t come back.  He did say that side effects are hot flashes.  Great, just when I thought I was over those.

If everything is on schedule then I should be starting radiation on or about April 30th for 5-7 weeks.  That should give me about 2 months to get my strength back for my trip (which by the way is in 154 days.  🙂 )

 

Alaska vegas cruise

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Answers and Tears of Relief

I’m starting this while I’m waiting in the doctors office. They said they would squeeze me in today and judging by the crowd here in the waiting room, that’s true.

My biggest concern is what they found out on the biopsies from Friday. I’m so bruised, they girls look like they’ve been through quite a beating.

As I’m writing this, tears of relief are pouring out of me.  The three biopsies from Friday all came back negative.  The knot in my stomach is finally gone.  When Dr. Wilde came into the room, the first thing she said was, “We have really good news from your biopsies”.  As soon as she said that I started crying.  So now we schedule the lumpectomy and go with radiation to treat the cancer we know about.  Because I was the last patient of the day, Renee will have to call me tomorrow to schedule surgery.  I never thought I would be happy about a surgery.

I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and thoughts these past few days.  They have helped me tremendously and God was listening.  I still have a bit of a battle to go but now I know what I’m fighting.

I’m now going to take off my bra and give the girls some freedom.

More to come…..

attitude

Okay, that wasn’t any fun at all.

First off let me say that Xanax and I have broken up. The bastard deserted me today.  But I digress.

Mom and I made good time to La Jolla this morning.  We got their 15 minutes early and met up with my favorite nurse Tracy.  She gave me more paperwork to fill out and handed the remote to my mom so she could watch QVC again.  Since we were the only ones there, we went back together and Tracy got me hooked up with the IV catheter.  Dr. Thompson came in and told me about the procedure.

They took me into the room and ran the wand over me to make sure I didn’t have any metal and then into the MRI room.  Once I was there, I climbed up on the table and dropped the girls into the holes.  Once I positioned my head, they began clamping both of them so they wouldn’t move.  They slid me into the tube and began the first scan.  After a few minutes the injected the contrasting liquid so they could find the spots again.

They pulled me out of the tube and cleaned me off with the Betadine and then started injecting the lidocaine.  This time there was pain.  Once both sides were numb, they then inserted the catheters for the needles.  Unfortunately, the two on the left were causing me a lot of pain so he had to give me double the dosage.  As I’m laying there, I told them that I was breaking out in a cold sweat.  They put ice packs on my neck and back which helped.  The whole time I was laying there my left arm was getting a nerved pinched and I started losing feeling in my arm.  The worst part; I couldn’t move it at all.  Again, I’m slid into the tube so they could make sure the catheters were placed correctly.  Once that was confirmed, Dr. Thompson came in and proceeded with the taking the samples.  Well apparently the lidocaine in my left breast wasn’t enough and he had to give me more.  Taking all three samples felt like forever.  Before they were done, more markers were put in place in each location.   I slid back into the tube one more time and then I was finished.  Tracy came back and proceeded to remove the catheters.  Again more pain.  Bev, the gal I met during the Genetic counseling meeting, came in to assist Tracy with getting me off the table.  They each had to hold pressure on each of my breast while I lifted me self up.  Finally, blood was flowing back into my left arm.  Apparently the biopsy also caused a lot of bleeding to they had to keep pressure on my breast.

When I was finally able get my self up, I was very weak so they had to put me in a wheelchair.  Because of my cold sweat, they had to also give me an IV.  Once I was settled in the chair, they moved me to another room to lay down on a table on my back.  Now this was the worst.  They had to make sure any clots were squeezed out.  OMG, that was excruciating.   So much so I had to do Lamaze breathing.  Once they were done,  they had me sit up.  Instead of bandages or stitches, the holes were sealed with super glue (Durabond).  I was given ice packs and then wheeled over to the Breast Center for a mammogram.  Dear God, how much more squeezing could these girls take?  It wasn’t too bad.  When it was over, Dr. Thompson came back in and said everything went very well.

I got dressed and Mom and I came home.  Unfortunately I can only take Tylenol for pain.   I’ll just keep icing down the girls to keep the swelling down and hope the pain subsides.  Since one of the biopsies was close to my nipple, I get to look forward to bloody discharge from that nipple.  Sorry if that was TMI.  🙂

Tracy had mentioned that I might be able to get my results on Sunday but Dr. Thompson said no.  Dr. Wilde wants to give them to me so I won’t find out anything until Monday when I go see her at 3:45.

I’m just going to pop in my Golden Girl DVD’s, put ice packs on the girls and try and sleep.  More Monday night.

Hurry up and wait

I got a call this morning that they moved my biopsy from Thursday to Friday.  At least it’s still this week and I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Wilde on Monday at 4:15.  So now I should know what I need to know by Monday afternoon. 

Just when I thought things were moving forward…….

Today was my follow up appointment with Dr. Wilde.  She was running late from surgery so my 2:15 appointment became 3:00.  As I played my Ruzzle Game and Fruit Ninja, she finally came in.  It turns out the MRI found 3 more “abnormalities”.  Two more in my left breast and now one in my right.  These kind of abnormalities can only be found with an MRI so God knows how long I have had them.  So instead of scheduling my lump/mastectomy we now had to schedule an MRI Biopsy of all three.

I was very fortunate that they were able to move another person around to get me in this Thursday morning.  I have to be there at 6:45 am and plan to be there for about 2 hours.  This will be a MRI guided biopsy.  I guess I’ll get to spend time with my new best friend, Xanax again.  They are calling in another prescription for me.   After the biopsy I have to go see Dr. Wilde, yet again, for the results.

Here’s what I know:

  • I definitely have DCIS in my left breast
  • I have two clumped non mass-like abnormalities in my left breast
  • I have one clumped non mass-like abnormality in my right breast

Here’s what I don’t know:

  • Are the 3 new items cancer as well?
  • Am I having a lumpectomy or now radical mastectomy?
  • If the 3 new items are cancer, do I now have to have chemo?
  • When the hell is all of this going to come out of my body?

I was really doing well with all this until today.  The minute I say it out loud to my mom, that’s when I lose it.

I’m not a religious person, I never have been.  I do believe in God but I don’t think it’s necessary to go to a building to speak with him.  He’s where ever you find peace within yourself.  He and I have been talking a lot lately.  I’ve been told we’re never given anymore than we can handle and we find strength around us and within us.  I am very lucky to have the best supportive and loving parents, friends I work with or have worked with and even new friends that I have yet to meet, that are there for me.  I want you to know, that from the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful that you are in my life and for all your prayers.  It is giving me so much strength.

I will post more on Thursday, after me and my friend Xanax have parted ways.

MRI Time

Well today was the day I found out if I’m claustrophobic, and I still don’t know as I was blessed to have a Xanax prescribed for me.  The last time I took one was when I had my biopsy and that time I didn’t feel a thing.  This time, well lets just say, I’m in love.  Mom and I got there a little early and yet again I had to fill out paperwork.  As I was sitting in the waiting area, I really started to feel the effects of the drug.  Little did I know the effects of 1 pill would last 5-6 hours.

I went into the changing area and removed my top clothing.  As I came out I saw that the TV in that area was on QVC.  Mom was being tortured with CNN in the main waiting room so I asked if should could come back and sit in the other area while I went in.  I know how she loves her QVC.

The nurse I had was wonderful.  I told her I was already on Xanax.  She asked who my doctor was and when she saw it was Dr. Wilde, she said, “Why the f*@k does she only prescribe 1 pill.  Doesn’t she realize we always need more”.  From that moment on I knew it wasn’t going to be so bad.

We went into another room and she put in the IV catheter that was going to be used to inject the contrasting agent.   The contrasting agent is attracted to any other cancer cells that may be there in my breasts.   A few minutes later I went in to the MRI room.  The picture below shows what I was in.  However, my arms had to be at my side.

lbreastmr-vnr-006

From the moment they positioned me in the machine they said it would be about 30 minutes.  I put in the ear plugs and tried to relax.  Each time the scans were done, they told he how long they would last.  The sound was like being in a club with really bad techno music.  Towards the end, they then injected the contrasting agent.  That was the weirdest feeling; it felt like cold liquid being injected in my veins.

Then it was over.  It really wasn’t bad.  I think part of it was I was face down and wasn’t able to see how enclosed I was in the machine.  If I had been on my back, I probably would have felt like I was in a coffin.

The only instructions I received when I left was drink at least 32 oz. of water to flush the contrasting agent out of my body.

Now I wait until Monday when I go back to Dr. Wilde to discuss the treatment and find out if there is any other cancer cells in either of my breasts.

It still feels odd when I say I have breast cancer; it feels like I’m talking about someone else.  I wonder if it ever sinks in.  Maybe when I’m going through the recovery from surgery and radiation.

Below is a video I found on YouTube that also shows the MRI process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK7nxJwhslg

More after my appointment on Monday.

First meeting with the 4th Doctor

This afternoon was the meeting with the 4th doctor, Dr. Bernstein, the medical oncologist. When I walked into the office it was a very casual atmosphere. The two gals working behind the reception desk were surfing the internet looking at girls with bad make-up and girls with Jedi names. Don’t ask! Instead of having a nurse take me to the exam room, weigh me (argh!) and take my blood pressure, Dr. Bernstein came out and took me back personally. He’s a man who loves his black lab. Everything in the exam room was something with a black lab on it.

We sat down and talked about family history and I learned that people with Swedish/Norwegian descent have a strong chance of Breast cancer and skin cancer. He suggested I get the BRCA test only because of my age and my heritage.

We then talked about treatment. When I have the surgery, whether it be Mastectomy or Lumpectomy, they’ll test the tissue to see if the cancer is Estrogen positive. This means the cancer feeds on Estrogen to grow. If it does, then after radiation, we’ll talk about putting me on a anti-hormone. Side effects of the drug are hot flashes. Okay, I spent about year and half going through those when I went through Menopause, not really looking forward to going through those again. As my friend Mary calls them, “My own private summer” 🙂

My next appointment is this Thursday morning and the MRI. I’ve never had one of these but as usual I’ve looked up the process on the internet. I will post the video and see how close it comes to what I go through.

Churchill

Second Batch of Doctor Visits Down

Today was another long day of doctor visits.  First stop was at the Scripps Radiation Therapy Center to see Dr. Shimizu.  Talk about a fancy-schmancy building.  Again filling out multiple sheets of paper then off to the scale and to the exam room.  Once in there the nurse went over my paperwork, took my blood pressure (thank God, that was back to normal) and then I had to wait for 30 minutes before the doctor came in and there were no magazines.  Rude!  Once he came in, I really liked him.  He had me put on the infamous gown that opens in the front and then did an exam.  You know, with as many people that have seen, poked, fondled and examined my boobs in the last few weeks, the doctors don’t have to leave the room when I change my clothes.  Just stay there and save some time.

Once the exam was done, he went through all the scenarios of radiation treatments.  Three weeks after surgery, I will begin radiation treatment, 5 days a week for 5-6 weeks.  From the time I walk in the door until I leave it’s a 20 minute process.  On the initial visit they will measure how the radiation will be applied to my breast and I will finally have a tatoo; two permanent marks that can’t wash off between treatments.  The radiation will cause a “sun burn” and then I will finally have a tan, albeit on only one breast and it will fade but for a short time, I will be a tan.  And for the rest of my life, it won’t be able to be exposed to sun.  There goes the nude sunbathing I was planning in Alaska.

Next it was off to the Genetics Counselor.  Bev was the sweetest person I have met.  She sat down with me and we went through my family history on both sides.  I have to contact my cousins to see if they’ve had any cancer and then we’ll determine if I’ll get the BRCA1 and BRCA2 test to see if I’m predisposed to breast cancer.  If none of them have, then we won’t do the test and that will save me $4,000.

After that, I went upstairs to see my first doctor, Dr. Wilde to drop off my mammogram so they could download the disc.  They sent me back to the breast center and said they could download them.  I go back and the breast center says no they can’t because they don’t have a file on me so back upstairs I go.

I met with Renee, Dr. Wilde’s nurse.  She gave me my prescription for Xanax to take when I have my MRI.  While I was there, she checked again and found the insurance company finally approved the procedure.  She scheduled that for me on the 14th.  So on the 12th, I go see the last doctor, the medical oncologist, go back on Thursday for the MRI and then back to Dr. Wilde the following Monday to schedule everything.

So now more things to take in.  I swear my head is swelling!

More later.

 

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