Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm Sure There's a Silver Lining Somewhere...

My oncologist, Dr. Jahagirdar, called me tonight (about 7 pm) to give me the results of my path report. Not much good news there, unfortunately. So, here goes:
The area of cancer (not necessarily a tumor) is 3.5cm (1 1/4"?); 3 of 9 lymph nodes have cancer; stage 2B; estrogen and progesterone negative; Her 2 positive. Her 2 is a hormone that, in my case, causes the tumor to grow, so I will have to get herceptin infusions to block the hormone.
The plan will probably look something like this: Adriamycin and Cytoxin (not sure about spelling yet!) chemo cocktail every 2 weeks x 4 (2months), then another chemo drug, Taxol, once per week for 12 weeks. I will start the Herceptin at the same time as the Taxol, and the Herceptin will continue on for 7 (?) months.
Also, the margins of the lumpectomy were not clear, so I will need another surgery(re-excision) to remove more tissue. Dr. J. thinks I should consider a mastectomy, because then I wouldn't have to have radiation, and I wouldn't have to worry about the margins coming back clear. It is possible that if I have a re-excision that the margins still may not be clear and I'd have to go back in again. Now, I do have a lot of tissue, but removing even more tissue could leave me quite lopsided and disfigured. I want to wait until we have the genetic test results and talk to my surgeon about all my options before I make any decision.
Next Friday I have my ct scans scheduled, and Dr. J wants to try to get some other tests done too. He wants me to have a bone scan (breast cancer sometimes travels to the bones), and an EKG and Muga test for my heart. Some chemo drugs are hard on the heart so they do the tests first. Someone should be calling me tomorrow to schedule everything for next week. I took next week off too because my surgeon didn't want me going back to work yet.
We are all a bit bummed right now. I'm leaning heavily on God. I'm scared of what the scans might find, because I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.
Rest assured though, God is with me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lumpectomy Done...With a Few Surprises!

I hate surprises!
I had my "Partial Mastectomy" with Sentinel Node Biopsy yesterday. It was supposed to be a same day surgery. The sentinel node biopsy was just a precaution...NO ONE expected to find that the cancer had spread...well, it did. There was cancer in the lymph node, so the surgeon had to take more nodes. This is not supposed to happen with DCIS, but the surgeon figures there was more invasive cancer than the biopsy found. We now have to wait until Thurs. or Friday to get the pathology report.
Because more lymph nodes were taken (from the armpit area) I have a drain tube, and I had to stay overnight in the hospital. Rich and I had to learn how to take care of the drain and change the dressings. I'm glad I was there yesterday, because I got the big drugs--diluaded and percoset. Today I haven't had much pain., just some tenderness.
So, unless it was just a few stray cells in the sentinel node, I will most likely have to have chemo again (in addition to the radiation already planned). Of course I immediately thought of my hair! It seems like most breast cancer chemo cocktails make you lose your hair.
My oncologist, Dr. J., was making rounds yesterday so he stopped in to see me (not planned, I just happened to be there). It was just a short visit, but nice to see him. Tonight (about 6:30) he called here. He said he could tell I was a little disappointed yesterday (ya think?). He wanted to reassure me. He said if I have to do chemo, it'll just be a nuisance, and I'll get through it. He said we'll do whatever we have to. He almost had me in tears. It was so thoughtful for him to call just to reassure me. He told me to call him Thursday for the pathology report.
The other thing that the path report will tell us is if the surgeon got clean margins or not. He feels there is a good chance he did, but he has no way of telling until he gets the path report. If there is cancer at or near the edge of the tissue he removed, I'll have to have a re-excision--meaning another surgery to cut more tissue out.
I've already had a problem with my drain tonight! My underarm was feeling very wet and I thought I was sweating alot. I realized I better check and make sure it wasn't my drain, and of course it was! I think it got all backed up because there is a lot of blood clots in the tubing. We tried to break them up a little and put new dressing on. We'll check in alittle while to see if the dressing is wet again. I'm SO THANKFUL Rich is willing to help with all this. I could do it myself, but it would be difficult and make me more sore.
Well, time for more pain meds...and soon to bed. Its been a long day and I only slept a couple of hours last night.
Keep praying for me! I know sometimes it seems that God isn't listening, but He is. He has a plan for me and His word tells us to be PERSISTENT or BOLD("shameless insistence" in Greek) in prayer!
Thanks for all the love, thoughts, prayers, cards, etc. It means A LOT to me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pink and Blue

Some pictures of things that have going on lately. Top is of Alyssa at one of her bridal showers; next one is Rachel, Ken and Brennan on Brennan's dedication day, then Shonna's Prom, and a happy Brennan!
TGIF! I'm so glad its Friday! My feet need a break, and so does my bum! Ok, I don't usually talk about that because a lot of family, friends and co-workers read this, but if I'm going to talk about how I'm doing, then I need to talk about unpleasant things. This is a fact of life if you have colon cancer! Let me just say just that the toilet paper at school is the worst I've come across, and it contributes to my pain and tenderness. I'm hoping a week of being at home and being able to keep clean will help heal things up. Yup, its not real fun; actually I'd call it a pain in the a**!! This is why it's a cancer people don't like to talk about. But we shouldn't be afraid to talk about normal body functions and body parts. (ok, if you know me you KNOW I still don't talk about that stuff much--oh well!) Now go get your butt checked!
Now on to the "pleasant" cancer. First I have to say I'm SICK OF PINK!! Its EVERYWHERE! We know breasts are great, but seriously? Can't we just raise money and awareness for ALL cancers? More people die from lung and colon cancer than breast cancer. Thanks for letting me vent. :)
As most of you know, I'm having my lumpectomy on Monday. Yesterday I had my pre-op and had a cbc done. I've been wondering how my blood counts were doing since I've been done with chemo. During chemo you get them checked every 2 weeks, and then all of a sudden you go months without any tests. I guess I got used to knowing what was going on in my body. My hemoglobin is up to 11.7, which is almost normal (normal is 12-14). It hasn't been above 12 since last Feb. ('09). My platelets are ok, but not as high as they used to be, and the white blood cells are good. I'm good to go for my surgery!
I asked the nurse practitioner if swelling of the feet was normal with neuropathy and she said yes. I also asked if being on my feet so much would cause any damage and she said no. That's good to know. Most websites that talk about neuropathy just talk about what it feels like, and don't really say anything about what you should or shouldn't do. I still think the neuropathy is getting slightly worse. I had hoped that by now it would be getting better. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I burnt my fingers on Easter by picking up a hot glass lid (it had been in the oven) . I think because of my numb fingers I didn't feel how hot it was right away. The burn wasn't real bad, but was painful for awhile!
I talked to the nurse navigator at the breast health center about my surgery, and she said most people take 4 or 5 days off work, so I took the whole week. I should be ready to go back to work the following Monday. Then the Friday after that (May 7th) I have my CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvic area. This is to check for colon cancer that may have spread. The Wed. after that (May 12th), I meet with my oncologist. My meeting with Dr. J was supposed to be just for the colon cancer, but now we will also be talking about the next steps for the breast cancer. By then we should know if I need hormone therapy, and he'll probably tell me when I should start radiation. I hope the radiation can wait until school is out. I feel bad about missing so much work. Well, a little bad. Last year I was in tears about having to call in sick all the time from the chemo. I've decided the stress isn't healthy for me and I need to let it go.
Gosh, that seems like such a long time ago, when I started chemo. I was a different person then. I've been through so much...
The people I work with have been great, and I know many of them will be thinking about me Monday, and some will be praying for me. The surgery shouldn't be too bad. I know what pain pills work best for me! I won't even spend a night in the hospital. Sleeping might be difficult; maybe I'll plan on sleeping in the recliner the first night. I'm not worried about radiation either. It should be MUCH easier than the radiation I've already been through. And God will be with me through it all!
My husband is a wonderful man, and is by my side through everything. He goes with me to every appointment. Its sooooo comforting to have him there. I always tell him I can go by myself (and I can if I need to!) but I'm always happy when he can go with me.
My beautiful grandson is getting big and is so much fun to spend time with! Brennan is almost 7 months old! He's smiley, and I'm so impressed with how well he goes down for a nap! The only problem is he doesn't like to fall asleep while being held anymore, so getting him to take a nap when we are out and about is difficult!
Life is good for all 3 of my girls. I am so blessed to have such wonderful daughters! And their husbands aren't too bad either! :)
Please pray that I have a quick and easy surgery, and that I'm not too uncomfortable, or nervous! It may not be major surgery, but its not going to be fun!
I'll try to update you Monday night or Tuesday. I hope everyone has a great weekend! I plan on enjoying every minute!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MRI Results and Genetic Counseling

Yesterday (while on the playground supervising recess!) I got a call from my oncologist. I was surprised because it was supposed to be my surgeons office. Dr. J said he saw that my MRI results were in and he couldn't help but look! He is an awesome doc. He said they didn't find anymore cancer, and nothing at all in my right breast. I wasn't even sure they MRIed (?) that side. So, that's good news! I asked him if it still looked like a lumpectomy would be ok, and he said he thinks so. I still haven't heard from the surgeons office--maybe they know Dr. J already talked to me?
Today I met with the genetic counselor. She said she was sorry to see me again! I am going to be tested for the 2 breast cancer genes. Its not 100% accurate, but close. I had to have a tube of blood drawn and it will be sent to a lab in Salt Lake City. Apparently, its the only lab in the US that does this test because they patented the gene. I didn't realize it was a blood test, I thought they'd test the tissue from the biopsy. The test results won't be back before I have the lumpectomy, but I don't think I would change anything anyway. I think I'd still want to have a lumpectomy, and have more frequent mammograms and MRIs. Then if the cancer comes back, I can decide if I want to do something more drastic then. I'm really not ready to give up "the girls" yet! But I definitely will if I need to.
I think because of what I've already been through, cancer doesn't scare me so much anymore. If this was my first cancer, I'd probably be freaking out. But because this was caught early it's not really life threatening, like the colon cancer. Some people would just want the cancer out as quickly as possible and would do whatever it takes to make sure they don't ever get it back. I totally understand that viewpoint, but that's not where I'm at right now. As long as I'm getting all my tests done when I'm supposed to, I'm ok with waiting to see if it comes back. I do have to say that this is where I'm at at this moment--that could always change! I haven't talked all this over with my onc. or surgeon yet either.
Now, the colon cancer is a different story! It was stage 3, and I'll probably always worry about it coming back. I have my CT scan scheduled for Friday, May 7th, and my onc. appt. the following Wed. I'm already nervous! It seems like I've been off chemo for too long, and if there were any cancer cells left, they've had too much time to grow!
ok...I think that's all I needed to say for now. Rachel, Brennan, Alyssa, Jaren, Shonna, and Rich are all here in the living room, so its been hard to keep my focus on the blog!
Take care everyone!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Met With the Surgeon

Ok, before I get started with details, I want to mention that I started getting sick this morning. My neck started to ache, which worked its way down my back and up into my head, then I discovered I had a fever too. Took Tylenol and ibuprofen, and felt ok most of the day. I mention this because I'm really tired and a little achy right now, so I'm not too concerned with grammar and making sense! :)
I met with my surgeon, Dr. Todd Morris, about 2 today. I really liked him. He's kind, and has a good sense of humor. He took his time explaining everything, and answering all my questions. He said I could have a lumpectomy with radiation, or a mastectomy. I probably won't need chemo, but might need hormone therapy. We went ahead and scheduled the lumpectomy for April 26th, and in the meantime, I'll have an MRI (next Tuesday) and meet with the genetic counselor (next Thursday). If more calcifications (or worse) show up on the MRI, I would probably have to have a mastectomy. If the geneticist finds out I have the "breast cancer gene" I could possibly end up having a bilateral (double) mastectomy. But for now, we are going with the lumpectomy. I could have chosen to have the surgery sooner, and do a mastectomy in the future, if needed, but I would rather have all the facts and then have just one surgery.
When I have surgery, the surgeon will also take the sentinel lymph nodes. He finds them by injecting dye into my breast, then watching which nodes it goes to, then those are the ones he removes. Its just a precaution; he doesn't expect to find anything in the nodes.
Dr. Morris said I am lucky to have caught the cancer at an early stage, and my prognosis is very good. We will find out after surgery if I need hormone therapy. The biopsy I already had was too small to tell whether there was estrogen or progesterone receptors. That basically means one of those hormones might cause the cancer to grow, and I would take drugs to block that hormone.
This morning I started to get very nervous about all of this. I REALLY don't want to have another surgery, and go through all this again. I mentioned on facebook that I was more nervous than I expected, and several people gave me encouragement and prayed for me. I spent some time with God, and felt more at peace (although I started feeling sick!). I don't know why I have to go through this, and I don't like it, but I pray that God's will, not mine, be done in my life. Then sometimes I wonder if I'm really that thick-headed, that I have to go through all this to learn the lesson God wants to teach me! :P
I want to thank one of my wonderful aunts for sending me money to buy treats for the cancer center. We stopped at Target on the way and bought a bunch of snacks. As usual, they were VERY grateful. My mom had crocheted some hats, and I brought them too. The nurses set them out, then anyone who wants one can take one.
Speaking of the nurses, I had a different one today (I had my port flushed before my appt. with the surgeon), and I told her about my new diagnoses. She didn't say much about it, just kept being all chipper and nice. When I was in the waiting room at the breast health center (across the hall), she popped in and told me how sorry she was that she misunderstood me. She was entering my info into the computer and somehow saw something about the breast cancer, and the other nurses looked at it too (the others knew me better and new that I had colon cancer before, not breast cancer). She had thought I was saying that I had started chemo for breast cancer a year ago. Anyways, she was very apologetic and said they all were sorry to hear about this, and would be thinking about me and praying for me. Those nurses are THE BEST!
So, that's my story. Oh--when I got home this afternoon, Brennan was here and I got to take care of him for a little while. He has a cold, but was still pretty smiley. He was more snuggly too!
I'll keep you updated!
Take care,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Donations for the Cancer Center

If anyone would like to donate snacks (or money to buy snacks) to the Regions Cancer Care Center, we will be going there next Thursday (April 8th). The staff is always so greatful for the help. They often use their own money to buy treats for the cancer patients. The cancer patients are also very greatful to have something yummy to eat while they are sitting in the infusion room for several hours.
They can use just about any food/snack item that is packaged in individual servings. Like small cans of soup, cookies, crackers, fruit snacks, granola, etc.

Thanks for your help!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Biopsy Results!

Well, got the news today, and its not good. I do have breast cancer. Its DCIS, with an "area of micro-invasive ductal carcinoma". What that means is that its mostly non-invasive, but part of it is invasive. That means it can spread. My primary doc thinks we probably found it early enough. She gave me the name of a surgeon to call.
Before I called a surgeon, I wanted to check in with my oncologist to see what he had to say. He is out of the office this week, but his nurse gave me the # for Regions Breast Care Center--which is right across the hall from my onc. They have 3 surgeons there, so I made an appt. with one of them for next Thursday. I had an appt. to get my port flushed next Friday, but I changed that to right before my surgeon's appt., so I can do it all in one visit.
I'm guessing I will have to have a lumpectomy, and maybe radiation. Hopefully that's it. You'd think all the chemo I just had would have taken care of this too--but each cancer is very different.
So, isn't life fun? I am feeling very sarcastic, annoyed, and sometimes even a little humorous, but not afraid. I thought it was a little funny that I now can sport blue and pink ribbons--I love those 2 colors together! I guess the "C" word doesn't scare me so much anymore. God is still good (its impossible for Him to be anything else!), and He will help me through this too. Our sermon series at church has been about "Fearless Living", and I've decided to really put my trust in God and not be afraid! Life isn't about me, or my happiness and comfort, its about God, and showing Him to others and giving Him glory no matter what happens.
So, keep me in your prayers, but don't worry about me. :)
Love to all,