Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dealing With Small Complications. . .

As I've mentioned in a few of my last posts, I've had trouble with fluid build up near my lymph node biopsy. On Tuesday, my doctor inserted a drain tube with the hopes of removing it by this past Friday. Unfortunately, I was still putting out about 75ccs from this area in a 24 hour period.

Another development I noticed Friday morning is a slight redness on my breast. The doctor was not quite sure if this was the start of infection or from the fluid that was building up in the area of where more breast tissue had been removed or what. A needle was inserted to remove some of the fluid for culturing. Due to the discomfort I started to feel, the doctor stopped. I'm on two antibiotics. Doctor is hoping to knock whatever might be there out. On Monday, I will see him again to see how the breast looks and hopefully remove my drain tube. I'm hoping this does not get any worse. Wednesday I'm suppose to have surgery and will not be able to if I have an infection. Yikes!

Despite all this going on, I have been working. I'm trying to get my portfolio in order for my backup manager before the surgery day.

I believe that the surgery centers and/or doctors should give more insight into Seroma so that anyone who starts to experience this has a better understanding of what is going on and what to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thank Goodness For 4-Wheel Drive

This was the view out my windshield this morning as I drove to check on my properties for snow removal. I was very thankful I had a gas-guzzling 4-Wheel Drive to make it where I needed to go. (Yeah Envoy!) The only other vehicles that seemed to be moving about easily were other 4-wheel drives as well. I saw many a car stuck in a BIG snow mound or at the bottom of their driveways as I traveled from the east to the west neighborhoods. The Indianapolis Area is not use to getting this much snow all at once and many people do not know how to drive in it. Hamilton County seemed to be doing a better job of keeping up then Marion County

I made it safely back to the office and will now just field calls as they come into us. I'm sure all the kids were happy that school was closed. If you have to be out and about today, please be careful.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yet Another Visit To The Doctor Today

I woke up this morning and my lymph node area was beginning to swell again. It also looked a bit red and I really could not tell if this was the red color I was suppose to tell the Doctor about or not. So, this afternoon I saw Dr. Nate again. When he looked at the area, he suggested a drainage tube for the next couple of days. While a bit uncomfortable in the beginning of the procedure, the relief it's brought from the build up made the discomfort worth it. Hopefully by Friday it'll be out. He did not think there was an infection but put me on an antibiotic for safe measure.

I also have a surgery date. I was lucky enough to get February 4th at 8:00a.m. This will save me from six weeks of waiting that I thought I would have to endure. I'm thankful! Remind me of that next week when my anxiety level rises because the surgery day is close. How does one get use to the idea of what is going to happen to them? I intellectually understand, emotionally it's a lot to take in.

Well that's all the news I have today. Molly, I'm hoping you were able to see your doctor today and Karen, I'm praying for good results for you tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another Trip to The Doctor

I went to see Dr Nate today after a long weekend with a swollen arm pit. When he saw the area, he said he needed to extract the extra fluid. So with the help of a needle and his sonogram machine I received relief at last! Hopefully I will not have to go in again, but Dr. Nate told me that this happens from time to time and I needed to contact him immediately if any redness developed. If redness does appear, it means no expander for me at mastectomy time (Ugh!).

I also asked my doctor more about the size of my cancer. He confirmed that the nipple area still showed cancer and he had taken out as much tissue as possible on that side. I have an area about the size of a golf ball missing from my breast. (Hmmmm, when the surgeon removed the tumor from my brain, he said it was the size of a golf ball. I think surgeons like to use that analogy) Anyway, I asked Dr. Nate if he was going to run any more tests to see if this cancer had spread to my lungs or liver or anywhere else. He asked if the oncologist had ordered any more testing for me, which he hadn't. Then Dr. Nate said that because cancer was not in my lymph nodes, it should not be anywhere else in my body. He felt it should be contained to the area it was found. At this point, he didn't want to run any further unnecessary tests on me. I'm not sure if I agree with his rationale but I'll let it sit for now.

After I was done at Dr. Nate's office, I walked down to the plastic surgeon's office and told them to schedule my surgery. Maybe tomorrow I'll get the exact date and time.

Oh by the way, I decided to go with an expander and then implant for my breast reconstruction.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Summit Lake State Park

One thing that has been difficult since my diagnosis of breast cancer is just being able to go out and enjoy the day. Yesterday, Bob and I took a ride over to Summit Lake to check out where we will be going fishing this summer. It's about 47 miles from Indianapolis and takes maybe 40 minutes to get to from our home. While it was fairly cold, I did see some people ice fishing. Brrrr! It was a pretty day and a pretty drive. Just wanted to share the pictures we took.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ok, I'm Stepping Onto the Worry Wagon

Today I'm distracted by the swelling I feel by my lymph node surgery. I actually felt this yesterday evening and it is still there today. I did call my doctor's office this morning inquiring about this and to ask some other questions that have crossed my mind. I was told he was in surgery and they didn't know when he'd be able to return my call.

It's now mid-afternoon and we're heading into a weekend. So I just tried my coordinator person and she's not available right now either. (She's an RN and maybe she could tell me whether I should be worried about this or not.) I'm hoping she'll contact me before today's end.

I'm probably over reacting? Right? I'm not running a temp, it's not overly warm to the touch and I'm not in severe pain, just feels awkward, like I've got a ball or something under my armpit. Gosh I hate how I worry these days. . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Visit To The Plastic Surgeon

I had the opportunity to meet with a plastic surgeon today to talk about breast reconstruction. Bob met me at the office and watched as I filled out the necessary paperwork and answered questions about any previous radiation, previous surgeries, previous health issues, etc. (For all the different doctors and tests I've gone to recently, I wish all their forms were the same and that I could have filled one out and handed everyone else a photocopy.)

I learned that I am a candidate for expander/implant surgery and any of the flap surgeries that use stomach tissue and fat to form a breast. We discussed the possible recovery times for the various procedures and any other surgeries/procedures that maybe necessary afterwards. Most of the information we spoke about, I had found on line yesterday at Dr. PS said that he would not lift my other boob until after he saw how my new boob looked. He took some measurements and a picture and said to think about it and let his assistant know what I wanted to do. (I did manage to get him to smile when I told him that Barbie Doll and I would have something in common soon, a breast without a nipple.) As I spoke with his assistant, I asked if she could arrange for someone that has had each of the procedures to talk with me. She said yes, she would find a person that's had each procedure and have them call me. Wonder how long that will take?

My gut says to go with the tissue expander and then implant. While this procedure will require a few months of expansion, it sounds like less time to recover from the initial surgery and while not pain free, I should be able to function while they expand my chest muscle. Plus this surgery is available with AlloDerm which will help in covering the implant. I also think that this surgery may be less traumatic to my body than the other. (In all honesty, I really don't know. Cancer is traumatic as well as the things we have to do to rid our bodies of it.) For me, none of the reconstruction options sound like an easy road to go. I believe it just depends on my pain tolerance and how long I want to be down afterwards. In some ways I wish I could be comfortable with just having it removed and no reconstruction. A lot less trips to doctors. A lot less fuss.

While I do not have an exact date for surgery, if I make my decision in the next few days, it looks like I'll be able to have my surgery the end of February, beginning of March. I know that time will pass quickly but for right now, it seems like a long, long, way aways.

I wish everyone a good night's sleep. Hopefully I'll be able to get one too. Karen you are in my thoughts and prayers for your surgery tomorrow. Clear margins and negetive lymph nodes!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Took The Day Off. . .

I got up this morning, tired from not sleeping well and decided to take the day off. (I feel like a real wuss for doing this. I mean other people seem to be able to work after receiving this sort of news. What's the matter with me? I feel like I'm being a BIG baby about all this!)

My hope is to get some rest and to get some answers to all the questions that popped into my head over night. I started to wonder how long will it take to recover? Will I go home the same day of surgery? What can I expect with this reconstruction? What type of reconstruction should I have? Saline of Silicone? How much is this going to hurt? I suppose until I see my plastic surgeon, I will not know but I'm hoping to have the time to read up on what others have experienced to have some sort of idea. Then maybe I'll be able to go to work and concentrate on the things I'm suppose to be doing for my communities. I just don't think I'm up to a long day that has two board meetings and probably would not end until 8:00p.m. tonight.

Good news, I just received a call from my surgeon's office and I will be able to meet with the plastic surgeon tomorrow afternoon at 3:30p.m. Now I am thankful that I took the day off to read and get my thoughts together. I will be prepared tomorrow.

Thank you everyone that has given me encouragement and support. I appreciate your words, thoughts and prayers. And yes, my lymph node biopsy did come back negative. That was very good news!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride of Cancer. . .

The last time I remember looking at my watch before my doctor called it was about 10:30a.m. I knew if there was news today, the call would be coming through at anytime now. Moments later, my cell phone rang. I felt a queasiness as I reached for it and looked at the phone number in the window. It was Dr. Nate. He asked if I was somewhere I could talk, I replied "yes." I felt my stomach fall to the floor when he told me that we hadn't gotten the results we wanted, four sides were still cancerous. He felt we needed to remove the breast. We went through the same questions as once before, did I want reconstructive surgery and if so I needed to meet with the plastic surgeon next. When the call ended, I put my head on my desk and began to cry. Even though two weeks ago I thought my breast should just be taken off, now I was crying because this was where I was headed.

So that's where I am today. I've gotten my news and I'm waiting for my doctor's office to call me to set up an appointment with the plastic surgeon. I have too many thoughts and too many emotions at this time to even begin to tell you how I feel or what I think. They are just all mumbled together. I know I still have decisions to make and they'll come as I gain and collect more information. The roller coaster ride has not come to an end, it just climbed a high point, plummeted, jerked back and forth a few times and is now moving sort of straight before going towards the next peak.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tired, Sore and On the Waiting Train. . .

Yesterday I went for my second surgery to remove more tissue and have my Sentinel lymph node biopsy. The lymph node came back OK at this point and will be sent for further testing. Now I will wait to hear about it and whether the doctor was able to get clear margins. (The waiting train. . .)

My first surgery seemed like a piece of cake. I felt pretty good when I came home and besides being tender, I was doing very well the next day. This second surgery has me a bit more tired and sore. Maybe it's because I had surgery a month ago and this time my lymph node was involved too. My pain killers seem to be making me sick this time. So I'm sitting around being lazy. Probably a good thing seeing as the temps are soooooo coooold outside!

When I heard I had to have a nuclear injection prior to surgery, I went on-line to see what to expect. I ran across a forum where many of the women said the injection was extremely painful. So I was somewhat terrified when I met the doctor yesterday morning to receive this procedure. He talked me through it and I'm hear to say that the injections were not that bad other than a slight stinging while the dye went in. As the nurse explained it, if you've ever had a TB test, it's done something like that.

Another piece of good news I received this morning was that my tests on my uterian tissue came back clear. In the midst of finding my tumor in Novemeber, it was discovered that I had an enlarged uterus and a slight thickening. So I had to have some more testing. Now I can focus on the task at hand.

Thanks everyone for your prayers and concern.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Live Like You Were Dying . . .

Live Like You Were Dying - Tim McGraw

Verse 1

He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me And one moment came that stopped me on a dime I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays Talking bout' the options and talking bout' sweet times. I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end How's it hit 'cha when you get that kind of news? Man what did ya do? He said


I went skydiving I went rocky mountain climbing I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu And I loved deeper And I spoke sweeter And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin' And he said some day I hope you get the chance To live like you were dyin'

Verse 2

He said I was finally the husband, that most the time I wasn't And I became a friend, a friend would like to have And all of a sudden goin' fishin, wasn't such an imposition And I went three times that year I lost my dad Well I finally read the good book, and I took a good long hard look At what I'd do if I could do it all again And then


I went skydiving I went rocky mountain climbing I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Shu And I loved deeper And I spoke sweeter And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin' And he said some day I hope you get the chance To live like you were dyin'


Like tomorrow was the end And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it. What should you do with it. What can I do with it. What would I do with it. . .

Skydiving I went rocky mountain climbing I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man ChuAnd man I loved deeper And I spoke sweeter And I watched an eagle as it was flyin' And he said some day I hope you get the chance To live like you were dyin' To live like you were dyin' (4x)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nobody Can Go Back . . .

My daughter bought me a necklace over the weekend and the card that it was attached to said,

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. This necklace will remind you daily that the best is yet to come. (The necklace has a ribbon with a heart in the round part and the word survivor at the bottom.)

Friday I was able to meet with an oncologist. He pretty much told me that I would not be seeing him because my cancer did not require chemo. He did look over my pathology report and told me that based on the information he had so far, my cancer was only stage 1 and that my tumor was low grade. I questioned him because my surgeon would not comment on this until he checked my lumph nodes. The oncologist said that my surgeon was being cautious but that he would stick his neck out and answer my question. He then said that if he were an insurance agent he would sell me a life insurance policy. He felt I was going to be around for a while. He knew I still had to go in for more surgery which would require my lymph nodes to be checked and he felt that this was probably going to be ok. His recommendation agreed with my surgeon, have a re-section, check the lymph nodes, get clear margins and then go for radiation.

We talked about the possibilities of damage to my lungs from radiation and he explained that the machines they use are very precise. While there is always a risk, happenings like that are unusual these days. He confirmed that if I had radiation on my right breast and the cancer did return, I would not be able to use radiation in this area a second time. He then printed off some information that the doctors use to do research on my type of cancer and gave it to me.

Afterwards, I called my surgeon's office to schedule the re-section. While it's not been confirmed, I might be having surgery this Thursday. I thought I would give myself the opportunity to preserve my breast as long as the pathology comes back with clear margins.

In reading the stories other women have written about having radiation or having the breast removed and reconstruction surgery, none of the options are an easy road. Each choice comes with things that do not sound convienent or easy to deal with at times. It is my prayer that the second surgery will come back with clear margins and that I will not have to return for a third surgery to remove the breast. (But I will do that if that's what it comes too!)

I was blessed this weekend with a visit from my two daughters who live in various areas of Michigan. We spent our time together looking at old photos, watching videos, playing Wii, talked, shopping, playing cards and just spending time together. I was sad when it was time for them to leave. It had been a wonderful weekend. Sure helped to put the last week or so behind me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TO have a B(reast) OR NOT TO have a B(reast)? That is the Question.

I received the call I'd been waiting for from my surgeon today. The results were back from my MRI and it was not showing anything further to be concerned about. (The thought that MRIs don't always show everything they need to was running through the back of my mind.)

The next step. . . My doctor spoke about doing the surgery, re-section, where they go back into my breast to remove more tissue with the goal of getting clear margins. He also asked me if I'd given any more thought or research into what I wanted to do next. Here comes the tough part, which direction do I move in?

If you remember from my first post, I've actually been wondering if it would be better to completely remove the breast. I make that statement because these are the thoughts that have been running around in my head. . .

The tumor that was removed was near the nipple which doesn't leave much tissue left to be removed.

What happens if the tumor is bigger than they thought?

What if they can not get six clear margins? They'll be removing the breast anyway. (It's imparitive that I get clear margins.)

If I have to remove the breast anyway, I'll just have delayed the inevitable.

A few more "what if" questions, a few more "if they" questions and etc. etc. etc.

Here's one of the biggest decisions I'll make in my life about my life and I'm not sure I'm qualified to make it. I'm waiting to speak with my husband and bounce all the ideas and options off of him. (Saying them aloud makes everything a little more real to me.) I'm also checking with my coordinating support person (from the doctors office/hospital) to see who my oncologist might be and if they've had any experience with ACC of the breast. Maybe this person can add some insight based on the information we have so far.

Ok, it's time to occupy the mind with some other thoughts and activities. Till next time. . .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Work, The Distraction Blessing. . .

Due to the New Year's Holiday, I've been off from work for the last four and a half days. By Sunday (yesterday) the waiting, the unknown and the idle time had gotten the best of me. I found myself panicking about every little thing. I surely thought I was going crazy.

Fortunately, this morning, when I got to work and started listening to my voice mail, sorting through my email and organizing my regular mail a normalcy seemed to return to my mind. (I'm not sure if there is such a thing but at least my mind quieted down.) I believe work is going to be a BIG BLESSING in helping me through this fraction of my life. Ok, I have to get back to work. . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Moving Through The Situation Of Telling Others

Something I've struggled with since my diagnosis on Monday Dec. 29, 2008 was who to share this news with and when to do it. New Year's Eve was only a couple of days away and I found myself questioning if I wanted to drop this bomb on my family.

One thing I know for sure, each person who goes through this will know when the right time is for them. My daughters were the hardest for me to tell. I waited until New Years morning to speak with them. My mind raced with how I could let them know easily, how I could protect them from this news and how could I be strong so they wouldn't worry. Nice in concept but hard in reality. I believe they took it as well as could be expected. It took them a couple of hours for it to sink in, and then each one spoke with me and asked their individual questions.

I'm learning that having a support system is very important. Knowing who I can talk to about this helps. I'm thankful for my husband, family and new friend Molly. Each has helped me in their own special way. I'm at a loss for words and wish I had more wisdom to share. Until next post. . .

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Big Fall

I'm calling today's post the "Big Fall" because I had an expected fall this morning and knocked the back of my head pretty hard on the floor of my kitchen. I never realized the dangers of Heidi Girl's bones that lay about the house. Yes, I've put ice on it and I even called my mother-in-law so somone would check on me know and then. I bet Tylenol and I are going to become buddies for the next day or so.

With that happening, it put a monkey wrench to some of the things I thought I'd try to accomplish. I decided to take it easy and just try to accomplish getting the wash done. Better to be safe than sorry. Well I'm going to go and apply an ice pack to the back of my head. Maybe I can write again later.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcoming in 2009

It's a New Year with a new bunch of circumstances. I and many other people will be taking some time to think about the New Year Resolutions we all make and hope to achieve. One for me is real obvious, "Beat breast-cancer." Another thought/resolution is to stay positive and believe I can get through this. . .

I made it through the MRI yesterday. Having had a Meningioma, I've had a few of these in the past 15 months and I just don't remember them being so LOUD. A breast MRI is different from the type I've been through. On this MRI, a woman actually lays face down with her breasts dangling through two open areas especially designed for this. I also didn't feel boxed in, it was just tough to lay there still with my arms above my head for a half hour.

Now it's the WAIT. . .It will probably be a week before there's any word on the results. I'm beginning to see how "the wait" is going to be a constant in my life for a while. Wait for tests, wait for results, wait till the next appointment.

I decided I was going to need something to entertain myself while I was waiting so I picked up a book called "Broken Open" by Elizabeth Lesser. I admit, the title caught my eye. I definitely needed something that would inspire me. I'll let you know as I read through it.

I wish everyone a Healing, Healthy and Happy New Year! God Bless all of us!