If you’re happy and you know it

Today is a happy day, so get ready to clap your hands, stomp your feet and shout hooray! Loads to tell, so put your feet up and grab a snack we’re here for a little bit.

Surgery was last week (has it only been a week?). Being the crazy, try-to-get-it-all-done woman that I am, I scheduled an appointment to bring my car in for service immediately prior to surgery. After all, I wasn’t going to need my car for a few days, and the dealership is across the street from the hospital. So, we (Mom, C and I) dropped my car off and then realized it was waaay too early to get to the hospital. Obviously the best place to go–Starbucks, because there’s no place like a coffee-perfumed cafe to waste an hour while fasting and sporting a caffeine-withdrawl headache. In all seriousness, it went quickly. C plugged in for work, Mom and I sat, and shmoozed, and whiled away the hour.

This surgery, because of my doc’s hospital affiliations, was at a new-to-me hospital. North Fulton Regional is a much smaller hospital than I am used to, and because of a bad experience of some family friends, it was NOT where I wanted to be. I arrived at my specified time (8:45am) and was taken back almost immediately. The nurses in pre-op were wonderful: warm, personable, professional and able to get blood from my crappy veins on the first try (always a huge bonus). The anesthesiologist came by and asked the usual questions. We discussed post-op nausea drugs and known allergies. I asked if we could do the procedure with an epidural, and learned a whole lot more about the surgery than I was prepared to know (the answer is “no” because they pump your abdominal cavity so full of gas to distend you and give the doc space to work that your lungs cease to work on their own so you are on a ventilator, and obviously you should be asleep not just numbed from the epidural down). Then he signed off on the anesthesia orders and in walked the nurse with my Versed. (I love Versed).

The next thing I know, I am in post-op and feeling pretty good. This is very strange, because I never feel good post-op. For some reason, maybe it’s the short procedure time or perhaps the anesthesia cocktail, I snap out of my haze pretty quickly and I feel okay. I had put on a scopalamine patch the night before, to help with the nausea…but still. I felt really good.

My PACU nurse was one of the nurses I had in pre-op, and she was so attentive. I’m pretty sure I must have been her only patient because it seemed like she was with me constantly. I saw Dr. W who said that surgery went very well, and then she proceeded to show me all the pictures of my uterus, ovaries and THE cyst. They sure were pretty: smooth, pink and big. Dr. W said that they looked healthy and that she wasn’t expecting anything to show up on the pathology report given the low CA-125 and the visual…but I trust nothing.

Just to circle back to this point, my experience with North Fulton was nothing short of wonderful. The administrative and nursing staff were phenomenal, and my docs were just great. I even received a follow-up call just to make sure that I was doing okay post-operatively.

I have very few memories of the day of surgery…I think I spoke with a few people, but forgive me as I don’t remember who. I know I was home by about 1:00 and I climbed into bed for a nap. The 2 younger boys were at my parents’ house and spent the night there, and J hadn’t yet gotten home from sleep away camp.

Recovery went very well from a cutting/incision stand-point, but let me tell you what. The pain from the gas that is pumped into the abdominal cavity was excruciating! I thought of my body like one of those bounce houses (we used to call them moonwalks) that my boys liked when they were younger. I figured the doctor would blow me up with all that carbon dioxide, do the surgery and then turn off the blower and I would deflate. It didn’t quite work like that. Some of the gas gets trapped in the body and for me, it settled in my ribcage, back, shoulders and neck. I spent about 30 minutes those first 2 nights crying from the pain. Fortunately, I would realize that I needed some Aleve and that would bring both comfort and sleep. It took a good 4 nights, before the gas had completely been absorbed. But, really, the other discomfort is minimal and completely manageable.

As for the dreaded hot flashes, it looks like I may be fortunate enough to miss those. I haven’t yet had one, and according to my docs (since I’ve asked all of them), if I was gonna have them, they’d have begun by now. I also get to stop taking Tamoxifen. I see Dr. A (my oncologist) on Monday for a regularly scheduled visit, and we’ll discuss if there is something else that she wants me to take, but for now I’m enjoying being off of one of my prescriptions.

By happenstance, today I had my 6-month check-up with Dr. S, my breast surgeon. I had both a mammogram and ultrasound scheduled and spent the better part of 4 hours in the office. Now for the good part of the day,

    the ultrasound and mammogram showed no signs of cancer!

I also checked with my GYN about test results and was told that my results were back, but if the doctor had NOT called, then everything is fine. So, while it’s not the official pathology debrief I’m accustomed to, I’ll take it and run with it. It seems like

    my ute and ovaries showed no signs of cancer either!

CLAP, CLAP, STOMP, STOMP, HOORAY, HOORAY!!!

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

I had an appointment on Monday for my Herceptin infusion, and Dr. A came to talk to me. We had a lot to discuss since she had the results from my PET scan the prior Monday.

I’ve explained what a PET scan is and how it works here. A quick summary, the PET scan is an x-ray-type test that shows glowing areas if you have active cell clusters. Cancer is pretty metabolically active, meaning it works faster and harder than most other cells in the body. During a PET scan, the patient is injected with a special sugar water that congregates in the metabolically active cells and shows up on a CT scan like bright lights on a foggy night.

This is the same test that showed that funky spot on my sternum back in January which indicated a possible bone metastasis.

The amazing, great, fantastic news is that all the spots that we’ve been watching are gone. Even the one on the sternum is nowhere to be found. I am so relieved.

But, it wouldn’t be my crazy-ass journey if we stopped there. So, there’s more.

Dr. A explained that for some reason, my ovaries are lighting up like they’re trying to signal ET home. These things are glowing bright and hot and we don’t really know why. I also have a 6cm mass on my left ovary or on the left part of my uterus. Reading the PET report, it looks like the mass is fluid-filled, which would indicate a cyst and not something more sinister.

Dr. A asks if I’m attached to having my ovaries, and I laugh, since when I told her 3 months ago that I was going to have a hysterectomy, she told me I didn’t need to take such radical measures. She asks who my GYN is, and tells me that she’ll fax the PET report over to Dr. W immediately.

Tuesday (yesterday), I went for a consult with Dr. W who says “Name your Wednesday, because that’s when I do surgery.” We discussed the laparoscopic procedure and the fact that it may be a little complicated because of the TRAM reconstruction. Dr. W said that it shouldn’t be any more difficult, however she did want me to have the CA-125 test. Dr. W does hysterectomies, but she would defer to a GYN oncological surgeon if necessary. We tentatively scheduled surgery for Wednesday, 28 July, and then off I went to the lab to have my blood drawn for the CA-125.

As a parting question, I asked what number I want to be below, and Dr. W says, anything lower than 35 is good.

The CA-125 is a blood test which measures the CA-125 protein in the blood. Please go here for more information about this test. Ovarian cancer is outside of my area of “expertise” and I don’t want to say anything that is inaccurate.

Today, the doc’s office called and said that my levels were 10.4. I am very, very relieved. I am going into surgery with the knowledge that it does not look like ovarian cancer. Of course, there will be a complete biopsy on my ovaries and uterus to make sure that no other creepy, sneaky cancer cells are hiding.

I asked also about the joys of menopause since I’m going to be thrown rather unceremoniously into a dearth of estrogen. Dr. W explained that if I haven’t experienced hot flashes from Tamoxifen, then I probably wont from removing the ovaries. So, it looks like I’ll be among the first of my friends to hit my “changes.”

Surgery is 10:30 on Wednesday 7/28 with a 9:00 arrival @ North Fulton. I should be under for about 30 minutes, and it’s outpatient, so I’ll be home that night. I’ll take it easy for a few days, but all the boys will be home from camp and I’ll be on full-time Mom duty again. I can’t wait.

Stand your ground and ring the bells of freedom

Is this thing on? Is anyone still there? I wouldn’t be surprised if I was speaking to myself after leaving for 2+ months, but I just couldn’t talk about myself or my cancer any more. But, since today is Father’s Day and my Dad has been asking me to write, it’s a little gift to him, and to myself.

A quick and dirty update before I get into a long-winded update on my experience. I finished radiation and have my next set of scans on July 12th. The oncologist is happy with how things look on the surface…and we’ll know what, if anything, lurks below by mid-July.

Now for my unexpected insights into radiation. Radiation was much harder than I expected. It wasn’t nearly as physically as demanding as chemo, but mentally it really knocked me on my butt.

A quick reminder: during chemo, I was at the oncologist’s office every Monday, on short days for an hour and on long days for 5 hours or so. The long days were every three weeks, and those treatments were the cocktail that left me fuzzy for a week. The short ones were the Herceptin and later Herceptin and Zometa. That once weekly appointment seemed to work well for me. I was in the office often enough to have some sense of security with my treatment, but I was also able to almost forget that I was going through treatment during the second and third weeks of the schedule.

Radiation is much different. I was at the doctor’s office every day, Monday through Friday at 9:30. The staff was wonderful, and I looked forward to seeing all my girls in the office. It was short, usually. On the days when the machine was working properly, I was in and out in 15 minutes, if necessary. Truth be told, usually I was there longer because I tend to talk and visit and bring cupcakes and such. However, the actual treatment was fast.

But it was EVERY. STINKING. DAY. And there is no way to forget that cancer infiltrates every tiny inch of your life when you wake up each day and head into another treatment. There was no escaping the reality that my time, daily and long-term, is dictated by these tiny, rampaging, rogue cells that are trying to kill me.

I felt so untethered that first Friday that I woke up and didn’t have to drive to St. Joe’s. We had left for Savannah on the Thursday afternoon of my last treatment, and waking up 300 miles away drove that freedom home. I didn’t have to spend an hour on GA 400 headed south in morning rush hour traffic. I didn’t have to get into that damned robe. I didn’t have to lie still and count out the 308 seconds that I heard the machine whine.

And I didn’t have to talk-or write-about my cancer.

I hope that you understand my need to have some space. If you don’t, I certainly appreciate you taking the time to follow my journey up to now. Moving forward, my goal is to update at least once a week.

Next up will probably be all about the actual radiation treatment experience. Feel free to leave questions in the comments section and I will do my best to answer.

You’re still a part of everything I do

I had my first radiation treatment today.

This is now my third visit to the radiologist’s office. The first visit was almost 2 weeks ago. I met with the doctor, discussed how many treatments we’re going to do (28 plus 5 boost), what to expect (loads of lotion and stiffness), and when the show was going to begin. I thought that would be all we did at the first visit, but I was wrong.

Radiation is not unlike many of the other procedures I’ve had where I find myself lying on a table with a big machine whirring around doing it’s very precise, medical job. However, unlike the PET/MRI/CT scans which read and record data from my body, the radiation machine emits killer beams at the diseased sections of my body. There is a whole lot more precision in the original set up, and consistency is crucial in my positioning on the table so that we get the targeted areas and nothing more.

Back to that first visit. After meeting with Dr. W, I thought I was done, but I was led into a dressing room with gowns, and I’ve done this enough to know the drill…opening goes in the front. After I changed, I was brought to Tricia who was a hoot. She put me up on the first table, tells me to put my hands above my head and turn my head to the left. The pillow that I was resting on turns out not to be a pillow at all, but some kind of a plastic which puffs up around my head and arms and then turns hard. I now have a mold which will guarantee that my arms and head are in the same position each and every time I go for radiation. I have to hold still, and the machine starts doing it’s thing measuring and reading and gathering information for Dr. W to determine where exactly we should zap me. I don’t know exactly what was going on but, after about 25 minutes, Tricia comes back in and starts drawing crosses on me in black permanent marker…3 in all. I have to keep these on for 10 days, and if they fade I can go over them again. I bought a new Sharpie that night and have kept it with me ever since.

Yesterday was my second appointment, my run through before my first official radiation treatment. I went back expecting to see Tricia again, but this time I met Beth and Tiffani who put me on a new hard slab table with a new machine whizzing by my head…but my mold was there, so I knew I was in the right place. This time I had to lie in position for forever. I don’t know if it was any longer than the original visit with Tricia, but it sure felt like it. This appointment was for more x-rays and even more precise measuring and mapping and I left with three new crosses in marker. Beth and Tiffani told me that Dr. W would be reviewing everything that had been done to date, and that if everything looked good, I would begin radiation on Tuesday.

Today was that Tuesday in question, and I guess everything looked good because I ran the routine and this time I had an actual treatment. First though, I got 3 tattoos. Those crosses that I had drawn all over my torso are points which the radiation technicians use to make sure that my body is aligned properly with the machine. At the center point of each cross, I now bear a small black tattoo…it’s really just a dot. Anyone who didn’t know would think it was a blackhead, but it’s just another mark in my arsenal of scars…another badge of honor or courage, depending upon my mood.

I laid upon that hard slab and though long and hard about how many people, both before and after me, will have to endure the same treatment. I thought about my father in law who couldn’t do his full 30 rounds because his skin was too badly blistered, and I thought about my friend J who went through radiation 2 years ago and whose the poster child for a successful, non-blemished post-rad experience. I thought of Make it Go Away, a song by Sheryl Crow, in which she wrote about her experience with radiation.

And then it was over, and I went back to the dressing room, slathered on my special radiation lotion and went on about my day, three new tattoos and all.

It’s always more fun to share with everyone

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve begun posts, gotten my thoughts half down, and read someone else’s blog sharing almost the exact same feelings that I was attempting to get across.  I know for a fact it’s happened at least 6 times in the few months that I’ve been keeping this blog.  And it’s happened twice within the last few days.

I don’t know if there’s any kind of blog ettiquet that says you need to wait a certain amount of time before posting a similar topic as someone else, but I don’t feel right posting these right now.  It feels like I’m just piggybacking off of other bloggers’ ideas.  I’ll come back to these thoughts, but it will be later.

I guess the thing that amazes me the most out of these serendipitous moments of finding my thoughts and feelings on someone else’s blog site is just how universal the experience is for us “in our prime” cancer patients.  I have found myself falling into The Carcinista’s words as easily as my own. And this post by Emily Beck, was completely on-point and shockingly similar to the post I was working on (although without the cartoon impetus).

Prior to this whole cancer experience, I liked to believe that I was unique, and that my thoughts and feelings were my own. However, the more time I spend sharing my experiences, feelings, thoughts, fears, the more I realize that there’s a universality of this experience that I can’t escape. Being diagnosed is such a lonely feeling, yet I feel connected to complete strangers in ways that only arise from shared experiences. We are a fraternity–a family, us cancer warriors, and we have a language and code of behavior which we accept at the moment of our “you’ve got cancer” initiation call.

I pray that there will be no other initiates into this particular club, but unfortunately approximately 1.5 million cases of invasive cancer will be diagnosed this year (see here for the American Cancer Society study). I know that this isn’t the way they expected their lives to go, I know that they are scared and I know that this will change them forever. I know this because every one of us initiated into this fraternity has been there. We have faced the lonliness, fear and despair each time it comes up.

Our cancer doesn’t define us, but sharing experiences and feelings makes us feel less alone. We may have different cancers, but we all share a single humanity. And that is very comforting.

Dum – de – DUM – DUM

In just a few hours, I  head off to meet with my new radiological oncologist to figure out what we are going to do for my treatment (which specific areas, how deep we’re going, how many treatments).  I know that Dr. A has forwarded this new doctor, Dr. W, my chart.  They’ve been texting about me and my unique history for weeks now, but that doesn’t relieve me of recounting the entire story.

I hate going over my medical history.  It’s like reading a murder mystery where the murderer is known but still at large.

Let’s hope this next piece of my treatment will cast a wide enough dragnet to get any remaining errant cancer cells.

Who’s gonna catch me when I fall

In May 1994, I was taking a 6-month long class at Landmark Education called the Introduction to the Forum Leaders Program (IFLP for short). On our first classroom evening, each of us had to stand up in front of the other 35 people in the class, say our name and with whom we were in a relationship. I stood up and said,

“Hi, my name is Eileen, and I date.”

These words are repeated at least once a month in my house, so I know them by heart. And the reason that they’re repeated is because C reminds me of them often. We met that night and began a roller coaster 2 years of dating, followed by an easy, calm 2 years of dating followed by almost 12 years of marriage.

When we first met, I was 26 and working for a subsidiary of BellSouth. C was self-employed and working a contract gig at CNN. He loved working for himself, working on projects that were interesting and learning new things constantly so that he could meet his clients’ needs. He had a business partner and an employee, and provided health insurance for the employees of StarMountain Research.

Fast-forward to now, and I have been a stay at home mom for 10 years. C closed down his company in 1999, and now is a VP of a multi-national corporation. He has a good job, a good salary, and fortunately for us, amazing insurance benefits. We are very, very aware that these are blessings. We know that not everyone is as fortunate.

We also know that life has a way of making these sharp turns and taking us off the path that we expect. This is why I am neurotic about insurance: health, home, auto…you name it, and I have it. The fear of not being able to get future health insurance, or being dropped from my current insurance, would fuel my insomnia during chemo. I worried that my illness would leave my family both motherless and bankrupt.

So, without getting too political, or trying to sound like I understand the entire new healthcare reform bill that was passed, I am happy to share with you the 2 main reasons I am thrilled that the bill passed. Please do not try to sway me with threats of socialism or tax hikes…until you’re faced with either the reality or the very real possibility that the insurance companies will have dominion over your ability to get healthcare, you cannot understand my fears.

My first reason for celebration is that I no longer have to worry that I will fall into the abyss of the uninsurable. This is a horrible spot where people go to die (literally) when big insurers decided that they will not make any money off of granting you a policy. C makes too much money for us to qualify for Medicare, which means that, if I ever were to find myself uninsured, we would have to pay for everything out of pocket.

My medical bills for January were in excess of $35,000. That month I did not have any extra tests (no MRI’s, PET scans, CT scans), unforeseen hospital visits, or other assorted emergencies. This covered my regular oncology visits, a round of chemo and 2 rounds of Herceptin. It covered my $3,000 Neulasta shot which is a white blood cell booster, but since I administered my own injection, I saved the insurance company another office visit payment. $35,000 for a month of life-saving medical costs.

My total out of pocket for the month was just over $700.

There is enough fear in fighting cancer, or any other disease for that matter, that patients should not need to worry about bankrupting their families in pursuit of survival.

My second reason for being happy for the passage of the bill is that insurers can no longer cap the amount that they will pay over someone’s lifetime. I have heard stories of people who have maxed out their benefits…and it’s not hard to do if you have a catastrophic illness or accident. Most plans have a $1-$5m max benefit paid out over a lifetime. Between my tests, treatment and surgeries since 2007, as of now I am closing in on $400,000. I still have radiation to account for, plus infusions every 3 weeks for life (Herceptin/Zometa infusions run about $4,000 each), and my follow-up tests for the next 5 years. Before I’m 50, without even considering another recurrence, I will have surpassed $1m in medical costs.

So, yes, I do understand that this plan is not perfect. There are glaring omissions in coverage and questions about how it will be paid. But what I do know is that, from my perspective, there is a whole lot more attention being paid to the best interests of the patient rather than the insurance company.

And, no one ever grows up thinking that breast cancer (or lung, ovarian, prostate, lymphoma, melanoma, etc) will happen to them. When I met C, my introduction was not,

“Hi, my name is Eileen. I date, and in 14 years, I will be diagnosed with breast cancer .”

These are not the things that we plan for, or that we expect, but they happen all the time. And, that’s precisely what insurance is for…it’s a safety net to catch you when you fall.

I like ’em big, I like ’em chunky

It’s a great song.  I listened to it 3 times on the treadmill today.

Yes, I was on the treadmill.

Monday Dr. A cleared me from chemo.  I am still taking Herceptin and Zometa, but the Taxotere and Carboplatin are done.  I am so very happy and relieved.  Of course, I am also scared, but I’m trying to focus on the good news and not second guess my doctors or my body. In a few weeks I will begin radiation, but in the meantime I have been given new marching orders, from my physical therapist nonetheless.

One of the newer side effects of chemotherapy is weight gain.  Huh?!?  I know, most people expect chemo patients to be sickly, ashen and drawn.  But, with the new anti-emetics (anti-nausea) drugs, plus the steroids and the bloat-inducing Taxotere, most times, chemo treatment doesn’t look like that anymore.  Add in the exhaustion, the heartburn that is calmed by carbs and the delicious brownies that accompany almost every meal that was sent to the house (thank you, they were delicious) my clothes don’t fit.  As a matter of fact, most people I know that have gone through chemo within the past 3 years put on about 25-30 pounds during their treatment.

Bald and fat, it’s such a pretty combination. It’s not enough that the cancer robs you of the safety of your body, but it also leaves a stranger in it’s wake.

Anyway, I went to physical therapy yesterday at Turning Point and saw the same therapist I saw 2 years ago after my TRAM. Marcia is wonderful and really helped me work through some pain and tightness in my arms and abdomen back then, and we’re working on getting the swelling and scar tissue under control now. Finally, we are working on a plan to get my arm healthy post-op so that radiation wont be so traumatic.

Marcia told me that there are 3 things that increase the risk for lymphedema: the number of lymph nodes removed during surgery, radiation and weight gain. And then Marcia told me that I needed to get my butt back to the gym. So, my chemo-exhaustion exercise hiatus is over.

I am back on the treadmill, or on nice days at the Greenway, for at least 5 days a week for an hour a session. In a few weeks I’ll add in some weight training, and maybe a yoga class or two…not only am I out of shape, I am out of practice and routine too.

I guess I now have something new to keep you posted about. And, anytime you want to meet me, drop me a note. I’d love some company at the Greenway.

You cry, You learn

Last year, towards the middle of April, I went to a funeral for an acquaintance. Barrie was not someone that I knew well. I think we had spoken maybe a handful of times, but her son was in school with my boys and I would see her at the bus stop each day. I heard through the grapevine that Barrie was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, and having lived through that you-have-cancer call already once at that time, I knew the numbness and floundering both she and her loved ones were experiencing.

Her friend, A, now spent a lot of time picking up Barrie’s son, and I would spend a lot of time talking with A. I shared the few things about managing the logistics of all the help being offered. Mostly though, I learned so much about Barrie and her family from these talks, and from watching the many people that rallied around her, her children, her husband, her sister and her parents.

I also learned from watching Barrie. From what I had heard, and again, I was not close to Barrie, her disease was extremely advanced when it was diagnosed. The prognosis was not good, and as it turns out, her disease took her within 5 months of detection.

But, these are some of the things that I learned from Barrie, from A, and from the people who surrounded them :

  • Have faith. The last time that I saw Barrie was at a weekly prayer group being held in her honor, which she continued to attend until she was too weak to do so.
  • Be generous. When Barrie walked in to the room that day, her first stop was to make a donation in the tzedakah box.
  • Fight. No matter how dire the circumstances, find the strength to fight for the things that matter.
  • There is only today. It can be overwhelming to think about the future, but concentrate on today and enjoy the time now.

As I said, I didn’t know Barrie well. However, if she touched my life in this way, I can only imagine the impact she made on those who truely knew and loved her. Which brings me to a wonderful organization that was created to honor Barrie’s memory. Barrie’s Closet is a non-profit group in the Atlanta area created to allow others to use donated items for their own celebrations. Please stop by the website, and if you have items that you would like to donate, please contact someone through the link there.

We are coming up on Barrie’s first yahrzeit, and there is no better way for me to pay tribute to her and her lessons than to share them with you. Keep them alive in your own lives, they make a difference.

Ain’t Doin’ Too Bad

Mid last week, Dr. S called me with the pathology report from all the different pieces of me that she removed during surgery: there was the one area internal to the TRAM, the original axillary tumor and then 3 lymph nodes from that general tumor site. This report held the answer to how well the chemo had shrunk and contained the tumors and what we should do post-surgery. As you can imagine, this was a big deal phone call, and one that I was both anticipating and dreading.

As I’ve mentioned, Dr. S now makes all calls to me, regardless of “good” or “bad” news. This has worked out well since I don’t feel like vomiting every time I hear her voice.

“Eileen, it’s Betsy. Is now a good time?”

“Sure.”

“I’ve got the pathology results and I wanted to go over them with you.”

*I do feel nauseated at this point*, “Okay”

Here’s where I go from remembering everything clearly, to having an overall sense of the conversation:

  • the TRAM tumor is gone, and the margins are clear;
  • the 3 lymph nodes are all clean, meaning that the pathologist does not see any cancer cells invading these lymph nodes.
  • the original axillary tumor has shrunk from an overall size of 33mm to 11mm with about a 6mm core of active cancer.

So, all in all, this is very good news. Clearly the chemo protocol worked against my cancer, and we are in much better shape than we were in September.

Now, you’re probably wondering about that last annoying little bugger…the 6mm area within the axillary tumor, and what that means in the grand scheme of things.

For that, I don’t have an answer.

See, in my extreme efficiency of scheduling my surgery, I scheduled it during a week when my oncologist was on vacation. I have not spoken with Dr. A. I do not know her take on things. I am sure that she’ll be very happy with all the clear areas (I’m smart like that), but I don’t know what she’s going to think of 6mm of active invasive ductal carcinoma left inside the tumor.

I am preparing myself for the possibility that I will be doing 2 more rounds of chemo. Dr. A has not said this, made no suggestion of this, nor even hinted that this was an option. This is purely my own mishigas. So, left to my own devices, I have decided that another 2 rounds will be necessary (please don’t ask me where I went to med school). Fortunately, I have my next Herceptin and Zometa appointment on Monday, and I will see Dr. A then.

As a quick update on my post-surgery recovery, I am doing quite well. I had my JP drain removed on Monday and the incision sites are less sore each day. I do have some issues with tape, even paper tape, so my skin is a little blistered and red. Next Tuesday I’ll be headed to Turning Point for physical therapy, which helped tremendously after my last surgeries.

I’m out, about and ain’t doin’ too bad.

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