Thursday, August 12, 2010

Road to a Cure

Finally the road to a cure is paved. The road ends with a single mastectomy of the left breast. Dr. Silva has scheduled a consult with a Plastic Surgeon in Omaha and I will meet him at the end of August. He will go through all the options and details of the reconstruction.

Disclaimer...This is all subject to change and is dependent on the consult with the Plastic Surgeon.

The plan is for Dr. Silva to perform the mastectomy and during the same surgical setting the Plastic Surgeon will start the reconstruction process. A tissue expander will be placed under the muscle and over a period of 2-4 months, they will increase the size of the tissue expander. Once symmetry with the right breast is reached (not sure how they build a saggy boob), I will have an outpatient procedure to replace the tissue expander with an implant. Once I have had time to heal, we will explore options to tattoo a nipple. As of today, I am thinking forget the nipple, but guess I will know more as time goes on. I do not expect that to bother me (or Dan), but who knows, maybe it will!

I do want to share with you that Dr. Silva and staff indicated he worked with 3 Plastic Surgeons in Omaha and asked if we wanted the 1st one we could get in to. Dan immediately responded, "NO! We want the Best One!" We discussed for awhile and then Dan said, "On second thought, maybe you better send us to the one that will put up with us!" We all chuckled. I will wear my boxing gloves and see how the Plastic Surgeon responds.

Dr. Silva did warn me there is always a possibility that pathology will not find any DCIS in the breast tissue. He indicated that he would be devastated to share that news with me if that is how all this plays out. I tried to reassure him that I am (we are) completely comfortable with the mastectomy and are simply ready to end this journey with a testimony of the Power of Prayer! I will be completely relieved to have the cancer out of my system!

Thanks so much for the continued support and for including us in your prayers!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Torch of Faith

My Torch of Faith burns bright! I have prayed for early detection of cancer for others and myself leading to more and more cures. I wasn't quite expecting it this soon, but I am so thankful it was detected quickly and will be cured. The MRI did confirm that I do not have invasive cancer, so that means NO MORE chemo or radiation...shouts of joy to the Lord!!! Several doctors have every reason to believe that I do have DCIS, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, which is cancer contained inside the milk duct. Unfortunately, DCIS can become Invasive Cancer. Treatment for DCIS consists of surgical removal without chemo or radiation. The only proof will be a biopsy, but I have recommendations from my chemo and radiation doctors to bypass the biopsy and proceed with the mastectomy. After the mastectomy, pathology will evaluate the breast tissue and cells and determine what the calcifications represent. The problem with the biopsy prior to the mastectomy is the results could come back negative, giving us false hope that no cancer remains in the left breast. However, the doctors that have reviewed my mammo and MRI are convinced that DCIS remains. The mastectomy will provide the comfort I need to sleep at night.

We do see Dr. Silva on Tuesday in Omaha, so I am anxious to see if he agrees. I definitely have some research ahead of me because there are several options for mastectomy and reconstruction. I am hoping to get some sort of timeline from Dr. Silva on Tuesday. As of yet, I do not have the impression that we need to rush into this and make a quick decision. I think I will have some time to find the option, the physician and the timeline that works best for us!

Dan starts football practice tomorrow. He says I need to do my mammogram in some other time of the year to avoid all the chaos! With all the support, we will not have a problem.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Results are Inconclusive

Dr. Silva was not ready to perform a biopsy after reviewing the mammogram results. Instead, he ordered a MRI of the breasts and he is hoping the MRI provides him the information he needs to reach a conclusion. He was disappointed with the mammo results, but determined to identify exactly what the calcifications are before formulating next steps. Several people were upset that we did not come home with answers, but I am comfortable that he is taking every precaution to do what is in my best interest. He was adamant that he wanted to get as much information to me as possible by Friday so that we do not have to go through another weekend of hell.

Thanks to a dear friend at Heartland, I am scheduled for a MRI on Thursday afternoon. I should be able to fax the results to Dr. Silva and hopefully we can discuss them over the phone on Friday before the weekend.

My head is spinning and the situation is overwhelming to say the least. I am continuing to pray for a cure, for the love of family, for the support of friends, and for the guidance from expert doctors. I am in great hands...God's hands!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To Hell and Back...And Back AGAIN!!!

No! No! No! All in a year's hell and back! And NO! I do not want to go back again!

I was pumped up for July 24, 2010, the one year anniversary of my initial mammogram and diagnosis. I spent the day at Lake Viking with a Best Friend from high school and our families. I had warned her we were celebrating and drinking lots of champagne. We had an eventful weekend at the lake and enjoyed every minute of it.

I am still utterly amazed to think of everything we went through in just a short year. I am so thankful to have a head full of curly hair, to have my health, to have my family and friends, and to have my job. Last fall I received a card from my sister's friend and she shared that her husband's battle was now but a faint memory. I was beginning to think that maybe some day this would all be a faint memory. Then...

July 28, 2010. I be-bopped into the mammography room with not a care in the world...feeling great and looking healthy. Ready for my first, routine, annual mammo...ready for my first cancer-free mammo. Tonight, as I sit here "in a fog", shaking my head "no", I still cannot believe her words..."how much do you want to know today?!?" "NO! NO! NO!", was my internal response. Immediately, I felt the life get sucked out of me. I don't know how well you know me, but I wanted the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth. I got just that.

The mammogram report reads...There is a persistent collection of calcifications medially in the left breast possibly 3.8 X 2cm in the CC projection and in the ML projection 4cm in length. These were present before and persist. In addition, there are some linear calcifications just deep to the nipple. IMPRESSION: BIRADS 5, highly suggestive of malignancy. This is a residual appearance post lumpectomy. From the distribution of the extensive calcifications I do not think the patient is and may not have been a lumpectomy candidate.

I am still having difficulty understanding. My heart says its ok, its a false alarm and my brain says the expertise of the Radiologist is hard to deny and my gut says %#*@!!! After they shared the results of the mammogram, I immediately called Dr. AJ, my trusted chemo doctor! He called me back and when I answered the phone, he said, "Mary Collins. Slow-down, take it easy, we know nothing for certain." AJ had talked to the radiologist that read the mammogram and shared that the calcifications truly could be benign, but the radiologist indicated they were very similar to the findings on my first mammogram. There is hope that this is a false alarm and there is hope for a cure if this is for real.

I am scheduled for a biopsy on Tuesday, August 3rd, in Omaha, with Dr. Silva, my surgical oncologist. I am anxiously awaiting his intuition and final diagnosis! Tuesday cannot come fast enough.

Thank-You for all the prayers and well wishes! I will get my boxing gloves back out and I will be ready to fight!