Thursday, January 28, 2010

Drain Free

Hallelujah, the damn drain is out! Finally! Dr. Silva and crew were able to remove the drain tube that I have had since surgery 2 weeks ago. I am so happy to get rid of that thing and hoping to get some restful sleep tonight. YowZaa...thank goodness the burning and stinging did not last but a few seconds during the removal of the drain tube. My labor and deliver relaxation method did not get me through the removal, but I was able to grit my teeth and made it without screaming. Wow, that stung!

The back of my left arm from my elbow to my armpit has been very sensitive since surgery. It already feels much better and I can finally handle some bumps from the kids. It is not great, but MUCH better. I can easily raise my arm to a 45 degree angle in a couple directions, so getting that drain out helped a bunch.

The girls went to Omaha with us and were able to stay with cousins last night and we loved every minute of it. We did not get much sleep for a "school night", but the kids do enjoy playing together. The girls met Dr. Silva and his nurses today and they liked "Mommy's Breast Cancer Doctor". Maggie sat on the exam table when we first arrived and I asked her if she was going to let Dr. Silva look at her boobs. She looked at me like I was from a different planet. I am not sure what goes through the mind of a 4 year old, but I still do not think she understands why Dr. Silva looks at my boobs. She is too funny!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dr. is Impressed

I saw Dr. AJ on Monday. I think I wrote that Dr. Silva was thrilled with the results of chemo and surgery. WELL, Dr. AJ is ECSTATIC! He is elated with the results of the chemo and the shrinkage of the invasive cancer and excited that Dr. Silva was able to perform a lumpectomy! The man was nearly doing cartwheels. Then he asked to see my incisions. The look on his face was priceless. Prior to surgery we saw Dr. AJ nearly every week and we had several conversations with him regarding mastectomy vs. lumpectomy. He was upfront and honest with us in preparing us for a mastectomy due to the size of the cluster. One look at my incision and he could not believe his eyes. He stammered and stuttered and finally said, "That Man (Dr. Silva) is a genius! I cannot believe he salvaged your nipple too!" He immediately picked up the pathology report and re-read the surgery outcomes. Dr. AJ is thoroughly impressed with the expertise and surgical lumpectomy that Dr. Silva performed!

The bummer of the situation is I still have the damn JP drain. I was not able to get rid of it yesterday due to output volume and they rescheduled my appointment for Thursday morning. I have an appointment at 8AM in Omaha and Malia has her first dental/orthodontic prep procedure at 12:20PM in Maryville. I am sure that is exactly what Dan had envisioned for his 43rd birthday...toting his girls to doctors. Simply praying that all goes well and the healing continues!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our God is an Awesome GOD!

Oh Yeah! Our God is an Awesome GOD! Thank You Prayer Warriors! Thank You Emil Kapaun! Thank You Saint Padre Pio, Saint Peregrine, Saint Jude! Thank You Miraculous Mother! Thank You Family! Thank You everyone! Thanks for standing ringside and rooting me on to a Victory! We did it! The cancer is OUT of my body! Chemo was a success! Surgery was a success!

The invasive cancer had shrunk to 0.7 cm and was contained in the lump that was removed from my left breast and the Dr. Silva obtained SUPERIOR margins (he removed enough healthy cells surrounding the damaged cells). The original non-mass like enhancement was estimated by MRI back in July to be a 5.5 x 6.1 x 7.3 area. The area contained DCIS (cancer inside the milk ducts that is not impacted by chemotherapy and does not reduce in size), Invasive Cancer, and cells my body produced in defense. So, they really do not know the original size of the invasive cancer. But, what we do know is the non-mass like enhancement that was removed during surgery was 8.0 x 7.0 x 3.5 in size. There was ONLY one lymph node that contained cancer of the nearly 20 nodes they removed. The size of the cancer in the one lymph node was 0.3 cm. Needless to say, Dr. Silva was proud and we are elated! I cannot even describe what the tears streaming down my face mean...what a bottled mix of emotions! I did ask Dr. Silva what the risk of NOT doing radiation is. He quickly put his forehead on my forehead and stared into my eyes and demanded, "THAT is NOT negotiable! Get those gloves on and finish this FIGHT!"

So, off I go! Just as the doctor ordered...I will wait to heal completely from surgery and then I will wear my boxing gloves and fight my way through radiation. Dr. Silva estimated that I would have 5 weeks of radiation, but I will be under the Radiation Oncologist at Heartland so they will conduct the final radiation plan.

I did not get my drain tube removed because the output is too bloody and there is still too much output daily. I have an appointment scheduled next Tuesday to remove the drain tube, but we may have to wait until Thursday depending on how the output progresses the next few days.

Prayers of Thankfulness and Praise!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prayerful Healing

This waiting game is full of prayers and more prayers! I have a follow-up appointment on Thursday to get test results and remove the drain tube and another appointment on Monday to get the next steps started. I am sure you have experienced the craziness of time...time is so precious. I complain about waiting so long for these results and then realize that Thursday is ONLY a couple days, where did the week go?

I went through the same thing on was the 11th anniversary of my Daddy's death (and the 53rd anniversary of my Biggest Sister's birthday as Mother reminded me). Sometimes it seems like Dad has missed EVERYTHING and been gone FOREVER, then in an instant I can re-live Monday, January 18, 1999. I know where I was sitting on the couch with Dan when the phone rang and I know we were watching Melrose Place (haven't watched it since). I remember waiting in the ER at the hospital because we lived in Maryville and beat the ambulance to the hospital...nothing about that wait went quick. But, one thing is for certain...the existence of prayer. The waiting game for me is always full of prayers and more prayers!

I think my healing process is going great. The pain has subsided and I get yelled at a lot for "doing too much". I have two is about 3 inches long and about an inch above my nipple on the left breast (kind of curved around the nipple) and the other is under my armpit (I cannot see much to know the details of it). That incision has been the source of all the pain I experienced. If it wasn't for that incision, I may not have known that anything happened. There is also a drain tube in the armpit and Dan gets to measure and rid the gunk twice a day. Dan helped me with my first bath yesterday. I am laughing as I think of it because it was basically a circus and took entirely too long, but it felt good to finally be refreshed. I do have lots of help from family, but Dan has been amazing. This is really not his calling and we both lose our tempers, but he is mastering the extra duties and responsibilities. The first night we were all home after surgery (remember, I was basically helpless and as needy as one of the kids) and Dan finally had everyone in bed, he sighed and slumped into his favorite chair and said, "Damn, I feel like I have just been in a bar fight!"

I will continue my fight. I am prayerfully awaiting the test results. I was so saddened yesterday when I heard my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She, too, is awaiting results. It makes me so sick to think of my loved ones fighting through this, but I do know that my aunt has a lot of fight in her and she will put up a strong fight. Sending Hugs and Kisses from MO. We will surround my aunt with prayers!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Post Surgery!!!

Update from the waiting room: WOW, what a long day! We got here to the hospital at 6 this morning and they didn't really do anything til 8! She went for her dye test and Dr. Silva was there and she was all decked out for his birthday, with beads, horns, hat and a HAPPY BOOB day song for him; he absolutely LOVED it! She left for surgery at 10, they started at 10:30, and we didn't hear anything til 1 when they were closing. At 2 Dr. Silva came out and told us that everything went fine. He did find some cancer in a lymph node under her arm but they will do further testing on it and we will know the results next week, but this DOES NOT change any course of treatment. Next step is to get the pathology report, radiation and hormone blocker medicine. She will have a drain tube from her lympth nodes that will be removed in a week and we are anxiously waiting for her to wake so we can see her and know how she is getting along. If Dr. Silva says it's ok she can go home today. We are planning to stay at our Uncle Harv and Aunt Diane's tonight if she gets out today. Thanks so much for all the prayers and please keep them coming. Fr. Emil Kapaun, PLEASE KO THE BEAST AND HEAL MARY COMPLETELY, AMEN!!! Thanks again!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Power of Prayer

I hope that each of you have been able to witness the power of prayer in your life (hey, I guess you are a witness right here and road from diagnosis to complete recovery is a true testament to the Power of Prayer). Not because I hope you have witnessed suffering, but because I wish that you have been blessed to be a part of something so special. The Power of Prayer is truly a life changing event. I am currently surrounded by several friends that need the support of prayers and I am asking that you join me in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers...

A special Bearcat fan is recovering and healing after heart valve surgery. My 'favortist' Kindergarten teacher is hopefully coming home from the hospital soon after falling on the ice and breaking her hip and having surgery. A wonderful father in the community needs prayers that his broken arm will heal on its own without the risks of surgery. An elderly gentleman in our parish also fell and broke his leg. And God called a precious 3 month old baby home last week. Please help me pray for his parents (they have faith that could move mountains), his Big Sisters, and his Daycare Provider and family.

I thank you for the continued support and the extra prayers heading into surgery tomorrow and I am sharing those prayers with my friends that are bearing their own crosses. We will try to get to a computer later tomorrow to share the surgical outcomes with you. I am thrilled the time has finally come to get this crud out of my system...a giant step on the road to complete recovery. Father Emil Kapaun, Servant of God, Pray For Us!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We have a Surgery Schedule

I AM ready for the next BIG KO! Today reminded me just how confident I am in the team of physicians that are taking care of me. Dr. Silva was thrilled with the progress we made with the chemo treatments. He seemed very pleased that he could not feel or detect any lymph nodes today. He was encouraged by the shrinkage and the improved mobility of the cluster. I have always trusted his strong intuition and he indicated this is where he expected to be...he believes the invasive cancer is gone, he believes he will discover some DCIS (cancer cells inside the milk ducts that do NOT respond to chemo therapy) and some scar tissue of cells my body created in defense. We feel well prepared for the next round in the

Surgery will consist of a lumpectomy and removal of lymph nodes...yes, a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. The chemo did work because lumpectomy would not have been a choice if I had surgery in August. Dr. Silva is a huge advocate of conserving the breast. Surgery is scheduled for Friday, January 15, 2010. Dr. Silva will perform the surgery on an outpatient basis. They will take a mammogram and run several tests of the cluster that Dr. Silva removes to ensure they have removed all the damaged cells. The lymph nodes will be tested as well. I will have a drainage tube for a week after the surgery. Once I am completely healed after surgery, I will begin radiation treatments. As of yet, I do not know any specifics about the number and frequency of the radiation.

We discussed several things today, and again, I am reassured that my physicians have similar philosophies and care patterns. I will be talking to Dr. AJ about joining a trial/study for breast cancer survivors. I will start taking a hormone suppressor and Dr. Silva hopes to keep me in menopause which will offer me better protection against recurrence and against the spread of cancer because my cancer is estrogen receptor positive. Dr. Silva seemed impressed that I was able to complete my chemo treatments on the original schedule. I do feel fortunate my levels remained high enough, I did not get so sick that I could not get a treatment, I was not hospitalized, I did not have the nasty numbness and tingling from the Taxol, and I am very luck to have completed on schedule. Now, I hope my health continues in preparation for surgery next week.

This may be Too Much Information, but I simply have to share that Dan is not so thrilled about the breast conserving lumpectomy (nor the menopausal crap, either). Considering the DD bra he gave me for Christmas, I think he had high hopes that HE would get new boobs out of this deal. He's been to Hell and Back for me, with me! I think he was hoping to get some special reward, but that is not the plan!

I do have some pre-op junk to complete this week, so I hope the winter wonderland forecast cooperates and I am able to get all of that out of the way. Thanks for standing ringside with me as I continue this fight. Keep Warm! Safe Travels!