Coming at you live from my LAST treatment!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I’m done!

All is well on the doctor front. I saw all three of my docs today and everything is great. One more month to see the plastic surgeon before we schedule surgery. Also, it looks like I’ll have drains for the flap removal. Boo! And he’ll be straightening things up around the mid-section, so I’ll probably have a drain there, too. So it’ll be a slightly bigger recovery than originally planned, but it’s all good because it’s almost over!!

I’ll have more surgical info after that appointment, and I’ll share it then. Dr JB will also be there for that appointment so she’ll translate whatever Dr H says. Haha.

So good stuff here!! I’m healing and I don’t have to see my oncologist for three months. I asked him what I’m supposed to do now, and he said “live your life.” Haha, what does that even mean anymore?!?

I guess we’ll find out!!

So that was fun…not!

I had an appointment with Dr H and Dr JB yesterday. Everything looked pretty good, the incisions are still healing nicely.

But something had started happening over the last week. I was feeling a little bloated, and when I pushed down on the bloat on the right side of my belly, it would sort of ripple towards the left side. Like a wave… better yet, like a water bed.

I showed them this today. I was pretty sure it was fluid, but maybe it was gas?

So they did an ultrasound, and sure enough, there was a lot of fluid in my abdominal cavity.

Dr H said he was afraid we may have taken the drains out too soon. Well, he wanted the numbers to be under 30 CCs and they were, so that’s why the drains came out. I Googled, and some docs take their patients’ drains out at 40 and 50. So I’m kind of not sure what the proper solution would have been with that.

Granted, I wouldn’t have been happy to be traveling on vacation with the drains, but if I needed to have them in for my health, then they would have stayed in. Period. So I’m not sure how I feel about that, but what’s done is done.

So I was drained today with a huge needle, and several stabs on my left and one on my right. He took out about 190 CCs of fluid. That’s like a cup of fluid, check your Pyrex! It’s an average of 11 CCs a day since I had the drains removed on June 8th. Of course, I’m sure there was a gradual decline, and I’m not still producing that much. I’d be surprised if I need to be drained again next week, but he seems to think so.

It hurt. I’m still a bit numb around there, but the needle pinched the skin pretty bad. I don’t want to have to do that again.

Please send dry thoughts my way…

Three down, one to go…

So this is a little late, but I had my follow up appointments with Dr H and Dr JB on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dr H – Drain removed from left hip. Hopefully right hip drain will slow it’s roll, and the numbers will be low enough for it to be removed at my appointment on Monday. Seems like I’ll be losing my right nipple, it’s back to its black color regardless of the ointment/Vaseline. I’m ok with that. Dr H said we can reconstruct that later on, if I want to. My tummy wound is opening a little bit, but not a lot. (Seriously don’t Google it!)

Dr JB – Pretty much said the same stuff as Dr H. I did ask about these tiny little blister bumps I have around my chest. It seems that the surgical bra, that I have to wear like all the time, is irritating my skin. Yay! So I’m trying to give myself breaks from it, and I’ll wear a tight tank top to keep things contained instead. They also recommended lotion for the rash.

It’s just been a blah week for me. Lots of emotional ups and downs. I’m ready to go back to normal, you know? This has been dictating my life for several months, and I want to dictate my life again. I want to be able to go run errands and not be exhausted. I want to work! (Which I’m doing a little of next week whether anyone likes it or not!)

The week after next we go on vacation. I’ll be chilling poolSIDE for a week, unable to actually get in the pool due to my wounds not being fully closed. When we get back from the trip, I plan to return to work. I’ll have an appointment with Dr YB for my infusion and Lipton shot Monday the 18th, and I’ll probably have a follow up with the surgeons that same day.

I’m anticipating being in much better shape by that point. I think the key is going to be doing a little each day and gradually building myself up. I think I’m being too sporadic, and that’s the problem. Like going 75% one day, 50% the next, then 100%, 0%, and then back to 50% isn’t helping. It’s inconsistent and I think it’s confusing my body. So I’m going to try to start small and keep going up. I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself too far, I just feel like I haven’t been building myself up, I’ve just been randomly diving in, depending on my mood.

Anyway, something else to note is that I haven’t had much of an appetite post-surgery. I’ve had hunger, but I’m not 3-square-meals hungry. Like it’s after 1, I haven’t eaten, and I’m not even a little hungry. So, needless to say, I haven’t been sticking to my eating plan. I’ve been trying to focus on protein when I do eat, since I know I’m not getting a good sampling of nutrients and that’s the key nutrient for healing. I’m certainly not starving, I do get random cravings throughout the day and snack. I get late night cravings, too, and I have healthy snacks like fruit. I always eat dinner, it’s just breakfast and lunch are sometimes a wash. I am also having my Shakeology every day, which helps with protein and other nutrients. So hopefully my appetite will sort itself out soon and I can get back on track with Portion Fix.

Officially Cancer Free! Like for real, this time.

I may have jumped the gun in announcing that I was cancer free back in January.

It was the initial thought after the lumpectomy, that whatever cancer was left after the chemo, was removed during the lumpectomy. But when the pathology cane back for that, the margins weren’t great, so it was assumed some was left behind. Not a big deal since the mastectomy was in the works anyway.

Fast forward to today, when I saw Dr JB and got the results of the mastectomy pathology, and now we know it’s really gone! There was even more left behind from the lumpectomy than they’d initially assumed, but that was completely removed and the margins were great.

So hooray! I can officially say I’m cancer free! ❤️

Feels good.

Pre-Op

Took care of my pre-op stuff. I got a bunch of prescriptions from my plastic surgeon, and had some blood taken at the hospital.

The hospital looks nice, and apparently I’ll be recovering on the same floor as maternity, just the opposite side, which I’ve been told is a nice place to be. So that’s cool.

I did all the paperwork for the hospital, so all I have to do when I check in tomorrow is get a bracelet and head to my floor.

I’m not nervous about the procedure, and I doubt I’ll get nervous in the morning since I have to be up and at the hospital at o’ dark thirty (aka 5:30am). Doesn’t really give me the opportunity to panic prior to getting the good stuff from the anesthesiologist.

Did I mention that for my lumpectomy they gave me some kind of chill stuff through my IV to make sure I stayed calm before the surgery? I’m guessing they may do something similar tomorrow.

Anyway, as I said, I’m not nervous. I have faith in my doctors, and I know everything will be ok. Brad, on the other hand, is super nervous!! So he’ll need all the support he can get. I do believe people are taking shifts with him tomorrow, since it’ll be a long wait.

The surgery can take anywhere from 8-12 hours, and probably will take about 8. That’s a long wait for a loved one! Not so much for me, since it’ll be lights out and I’ll have no concept of time. One minute I’ll be making bad jokes and the next I’ll be in post-op.

Regardless, tomorrow is going to be a long day!!

I picked up some slippers and button-down shirts today, and I packed my hospital bags (one for entertainment, one with clothes and toiletries). So hopefully I’ll be comfy since I’ll be in the hospital until Sunday!!

I’ll see you on the flip side!

I’ve cried twice…

I’m not a big crier. If I cry it’s from laughter, a tear-jerker movie or book, or because someone died. I never really cry over myself or my emotions. I probably did when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older I think I’ve directed more of that particular emotional energy towards writing or have gotten angry instead (not the best outlet, I know).

Since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I’ve cried twice, and neither were directly related to the cancer.

I got into a car accident in July of 2015, I was deemed to be the one at fault, and in October of last year, I was served with two law suits by the other two people in the accident. It has since been resolved by my insurance, and I only had a few days of panic before I spoke with my insurance company and they said they’d take care of it, but that moment that I opened the envelope and saw what it was, I was like, really? I had apparently reached a breaking point because I cried.

The second time was today. I had my follow up with the surgeons. Nothing huge to report, except for me apparently. If I gain any more weight, I won’t be able to have the surgery. Super. I tried really hard to lose weight since my last appointment. I exercised, ate better, tracked what I did and ate so I could really see the difference…then I got sick with bronchitis and couldn’t do much for about a week and a half, so despite the fact that I’d lost about eight pounds those first two weeks, I didn’t lose anything the weeks following, and in fact gained some back. I’d gotten into the routine of yoga, biking and walking, then had to quit because I couldn’t breathe, and haven’t picked it back up enough to make a difference.

So here I am. Feeling totally and completely sorry about myself (not for myself, since I’ve done this to myself). I feel like a failure, which I definitely don’t like. I expect more from myself and hold myself to high standards, and while I know my weight has always been an issue, it hasn’t exactly been a major, in-your-face problem, until today. That was a hard pill to swallow, and I had several moments of self-pity over it.

I’ve joined a healthy challenge group led by someone I respect and admire, so I’m hoping to learn some things so I can make significant changes in the next month. I can do it, I know that I can, I just need to really focus. I need to exercise and to not quit. I need accountability. Hopefully I’ll get all that from this group I’ve joined.

Lumpectomy

My bad…I just realized this post was still a draft and never went live. Whoops! Insert this around January 24, mmmkay? Thanks!

Howdy! Everything went great yesterday, but it was a long day and I was pretty loopy last night.

Here’s the rundown:

Arrived at hospital around 9:00am. Let’s face it, it was downtown at the tail end of rush hour, I wasn’t getting there at 9:00 on the dot. I had to hit snooze for the appropriate amount of time, shower, pick up my prescriptions…you know the drill.

After admitting, I went to the waiting room and went to my pre-op room pretty quickly. Did the whole vitals and IV thing.

Then I went to nuclear medicine for the contrast dye injection, which highlighted the lymph nodes the cancer could spread to, the ones associated with the ducts. That was easy and painless. This time while in nuclear medicine, I was singing “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons in my head.

From there I went down to the Breast Center for the wire locator. The wire locator was literally a wire (two actually since I had an area of calcification that Dr B wanted to go ahead and take care of as well) inserted into my boob via needles. They were sticking out the side after insertion, it was quite weird. They were super thin and bendy though, sort of like a stiff fishing line, if that makes sense. This process stung a little bit, but it still didn’t hurt exactly. And for both this and the dye injection, I had a local anesthetic – Lidocaine. Oh, and this was mammogram guided, so I had another mammogram! Yay…

After that, I returned to my pre-op room. I took a while downstairs, spent a few minutes here and there waiting, so once I got upstairs I had people waiting on me for the next stuff.

Dr H (plastic surgeon) was there, and he marked me up for the reconstructive stuff. In addition to the nipple preservation (which is the reason I am having a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy in two separate procedures, for anyone who was wondering and hasn’t asked or who I didn’t have an answer for at the time), he shifted things around on the right side (reconstruction) and did a reduction on the left to match the right.

Then came the anesthesiologist. My favorite people. I just think the whole concept of general anesthesia is so cool. They’re like magicians…now you see me, now you don’t! Anyway, I got a nerve block for this procedure. He said it’s something they do with major breast surgeries that works a little bit better than general anesthesia alone. So he gave me a little bit of a sedative, Brad said his goodbyes, and they inserted the lines for the nerve block, one on each side of my back/spine. I had to sit up and sort of lean forward with my head on the table how you would for a seated massage. Also painless.

Then Dr JB came in and talked to me for a few minutes about the lumpectomy. Then I was rolled down to the OR, I moved from the stretcher to the operating table, I remember saying something about not having been awake in the operating room before, then it was lights out.

So I woke up groggy and my mouth and throat were super dry. I felt a little nausea, but that could have been due to the dryness from having the breathing tube. They did give me a good dosage of nausea meds through my IV (and morphine) before they removed it, just in case. I felt the meds coming in the IV, it was weird but didn’t hurt. I drank some cranberry juice and felt pretty good after a few minutes. I still have the nerve block, though not as high a dosage. I’ve got these two pouches that each have a bocci ball side rubber belly thing with meds. They give a slow drip of meds to the nerve block to keep things numb and keep me comfy. I increased the right side last night before bed since that side stings a bit. I got my discharge instruction, then I got dressed, and we were discharged. This was around 5:45 I think.

Traffic was a mess going home. Rush hour from downtown, up 61 through West Ashley is never fun. But we eventually made it to my parents’ house where we spent the night so I’d have adult supervision today to ease Brad’s nerves.

I hadn’t eaten since dinner time the night before, so I had half a Publix sub when I got to the ‘rents. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat (ha-ha), but I needed to get something inside so I could take the pain medicine. I took baby bites and was able to eat the sandwich over about an hour. I did take some Zofran, just in case, but no nausea.

I slept in the recliner last night because I figured it was the easiest way to stay on my back. Even if I fall asleep on my back, sometimes I end up on my side. Aside from Daisy waking me up to pee at 4:15, I slept well.

Woke up feeling some sting on the right side still, and took another pain pill with breakfast. Hopefully that’ll knock that out.

Overall I feel great. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as pain goes, and I’m sure the nerve block has something to do with it, but I feel good and that makes me happy. I’m having no trouble with movement, aside from a little soreness in my right underarm area, but I feel like I’ll be back to being (semi-) independence soon! I can’t lift anything for 4 weeks (ugh), but everything else should be good to go in no time.

I’m just finishing breakfast and the pain pill, Nucynta, should be kicking in soon, so I’m going to hit the recliner again!

Adios!

Another Update

My apologies! I usually write my posts from my phone while I’m waiting somewhere for something, like in a waiting room or in the car when I arrive somewhere early. I’ve been on the go so much lately that I haven’t had any downtime like that to share an update from my Monday appointments, so here it goes:

I had my appointment with Dr JB and Dr H last Monday morning. Everything looks good as far as healing goes. We did not schedule the surgery yet, but agreed it would be early May, after mine and Brad’s 10 year anniversary (!!!!!).

I went to the appointment with a short list of ailments, ones I wasn’t sure were a result of the surgery, chemo, or life. Let’s face it, it’s been a while since I’ve felt normal! The list included neuropathy in toes, tenderness and irritation where stitches were still poking out (more on this later), swelling in legs, muscle soreness, and joint aches.

Most of this was related to chemo, or rather the end of chemo, but Dr JB recommended using ointment on the incisions, and she was concerned about the swelling. She referred me out for an ultrasound/Doppler of my legs to check for blood clots. She also said the soreness and aches were probably a result of going from being inactive to active, and that I should just push through it, which is basically what I’ve been doing.

The other thing we talked about was my weight (yay!). She’d like me to lose about 10-20 lbs before the mastectomy because it’ll be better for my healing and I’ll have better cosmetic results, too. So I’ve been working on that and I’ll share more about what I’ve been doing in another post.

I’ll see both of them again April 26th.

I took a break for lunch and talked to the scheduler at Dr JB’s office and scheduled the ultrasound for 3:00.

Then I went to see Dr YB. My bone scan turned out fine. He still wants to do the shot he talked about last time that he feels will have a better long term prognosis than the pill, Tamoxifen. In order to do what it does to battle the cancer, it shuts down ovary production. I thought my ovary production was already shut down since I haven’t had a cycle since September, but apparently not. Dr YB said that’s actually a result of the chemo. I never asked, I just assumed it was the Herceptin causing that since the Herceptin is the hormone treatment, and I associate hormones with periods, but whatever. So they’re checking some hormone levels and we’ll probably start the shot at my next appointment, the 19th.

So I had my treatment, then I was off to the ultrasound. I ended up late because I didn’t leave the oncologist until 3:00, so I got there at 3:30. For the ultrasound, they do the three main veins in the leg (the names of which I cannot remember, but you can Google it if it interests you, or someone can leave it in a comment if they know). Having that goop on my legs was absolutely nasty feeling. I did apologize to the tech for the fuzz on my legs. Still haven’t shaved since September, still nervous to shave now because of the potential for ingrown hairs from the ones that never quite fell out. It’s a wait and see game right now. Fortunately, it’s still jeans weather and the fuzz isn’t obviously long, so I can afford to wait and see. Anyway, no blood clots. Yay!

I ended up leaving the hospital around 5:00, so I missed my Monday class, which sucked considering nothing ended up being wrong with me. I’m lucky my teachers are understanding.

In other news, one of the classes I did an incomplete in, Objective Assessments, I’ll be able to do in the fall, essentially from scratch, which is awesome! Such a relief to not have to worry about that right now. And I’m glad I can retake the class because I don’t remember much about how to administer the tests and stuff.

So I’ll chat more about weight loss and the perfectly timed delivery of Girl Scout cookies later!

🍪 🍪🍪

Post-Op

I had my first post-op appointment with Dr JB and Dr H today. It went pretty well. They’re happy I have been comfortable and taking minimal pains medication, and everything looks good as far as the incision sites.

Unfortunately the margins weren’t perfect and there’s still a little bit of cancer left, like two or three cells. It’s nothing terrible and nothing should have to change as far as treatment goes. It means I will definitely have to have a mastectomy on the right side, but since I was planning on doing a bilateral mastectomy anyway, that doesn’t affect anything. Dr JB said that since I still have several cycles of Herceptin left, I should be fine as far as the oncology side goes, meaning I shouldn’t need to have more chemo. But I have an appointment with Dr YB this afternoon so I’ll talk to him more about that.

My lymph nodes came back clear, yay, so no radiation! That makes me super happy.

So I’ll update more later if Dr YB says something different regarding treatment, but for now everything still looks good and we’re on target for the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery in about three months.

😁👍🏻

Surgery

I’ve decided what I want to do in terms of surgery, and I’m opting for the bilateral mastectomy.

Unfortunately, nothing will eliminate the risk of recurrence, or new cancer, so I’m going with what reduces the risks the most.

This is a two part thing.

First is the lumpectomy, which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 23rd. During the lumpectomy, whatever is left of the lump (not much according to ultrasounds and feeling around) will be removed and any of the lymph nodes connected to the breast (I forget the technical terms, but it’s the ones that connect to the ducts) will also be removed. So at some point before the surgery, they inject a dye to see which nodes “light up” and remove those. Dr. JB will do the lumpectomy. The same day, while I’m still knocked out, Dr. H will also do some cosmetic work to preserve my nipples in preparation for the reconstruction, as well as balance things out so I’m not uneven and lumpy for the next several months.

Part two of the process is the actual mastectomy and reconstruction. Dr. JB will do the mastectomy, and Dr. H will do the reconstruction. The reconstruction will use belly fat, and I described all that in a previous post so I won’t go through it all again. But this will take place three months after the lumpectomy, per insurance guidelines…so some time in May.

The recovery for the lumpectomy is about two weeks, give or take. There will be drains (yay, vomit) for some of that time. So I’m pretty much out of commission as far as filling in shifts for work and anything else physical for the rest of February.

I’m hoping for smooth sailing! I’m totally over all the yucky parts of this disease, so I don’t particularly care to deal with any more of it!

In other news, my former supervisor at my last admin job, K, is sending us some meals over so we don’t have to worry about food for a little while following the surgery. It’ll be nice to have one less thing to think about and have to do! People have been amazing and supportive, and we appreciate it so much.