Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of you!

Happy Anniversary to my husband!
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Friday, December 30, 2011

Meeting my Radiation Oncologist

To make a long story short, we still don't know the exact treatment plan just yet. 

They are waiting for the HER2/neu test results.  This will identify which type of treatments will be needed.  HER2/neu protein is found on some types of cancer cells. This test shows whether the tissue either has too much HER2/neu protein or too many copies of its gene. If the breast tumor has too much HER2/neu, then targeted therapy may be a treatment option. This can include chemotherapy with drugs thru a vein or by tablet form.

The treatment that's right for me depends mainly on the state of the cancer (Stage I), the results of the hormone receptor tests (positive), the result of the HER2/neu test (still waiting), and my general health (generally good).

For now, we do know that I will have radiation therapy.  If I don't need chemo, then radiation will begin approximately Jan 20.  It will last 6-7 weeks and will be done 5 days a week.

Hopefully, the results of the test will be in by the time I meet with the medical (chemo) oncologist on January 4.  Her name is Esther (which is a good Biblical name) AND she is the department head.  I kinda like that idea. If I do need chemo, that is first .... then radiation.

My radiation onc. gave me a copy of my surgery report and the pathology report.  Clues about the nature of a tumor come from how abnormal its cells look and what percentage of them is dividing. These and other factors are summed up as a grade of 1, 2 or 3. The higher the grade, the more aggressive the tumor.  Cancers are also classified by stage -- a measure of how extensive the disease is. The system often used is called TNM, for Tumor (size), Nodes (cancer present or not) and Metastasis (cancer spread to distant organs). A number is assigned to each category.  Once the TNM categories are determined, this info is combined with the grade to create an overall stage, from 0 for noninvasive to IV for the most invasive.

  • My diagnosis is T1cN0M0 stage I

More to tell you, but it will have to wait until tomorrow ~ wiped out.

By the way, tomorrow is our wedding anniversary :)
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Getting Ready for the Appointment

I don't mind telling you that I'm scared.  It's probably the "fear of the unknown" ... which is a phrase I've spoken a lot over the past 30 years.  I've been accused of being the biggest worry-wart ever and is something that I've really tried to work on.

My sister has graciously accepted my offer to come along with Matt & me and promised to take notes!  So, I'll settle in and write a whole bunch of questions.  First on the list... WHEN can I shave my armpit! Ugh! :)

I'll post again this afternoon.  Until then, praying for calmness deep within.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Special Family Moments

Today, we (hubby & the kids) drove to southern Ohio to visit extended family.  Cousins from Monroeville, Texas, Kansas and down near the Kentucky/Ohio bridge.  We had a wonderful time sharing news and eating TONS of food.  Aunt Becky out did herself yet again!

As I sat there listening to the young adults (my cousins' children) share their lives with us, it just gave me that warm and fuzzy kinda feeling all over.  It was the feeling of connection .... of roots.  I've been having this feeling a lot lately because all year I've been feeling, well, disconnected.  Jasmine left home in January and Casey left home in June.  A huge part of my life was gone....of me.  I guess that's what they call "empty nest syndrome". 

Well, I know they are still a part of my life, but in a different way.  I remember listening to a program recently about how to relate to your adult child.  Would you tell your friend "hey, put a sweater on, it's cold outside".  No. (and if you do, you shouldn't, lol).  So, don't tell your adult child that either.  This has been a year of learning this kinda stuff.

What I also realized tonight is that I have my own adult cousins, along with my sibs, that are there to lend a helping hand or give me advice.  They are there to pray with me too.  My "team" is building larger.

Gonna load up my shutterfly site of photos from today :)

Get CONNECTED.... it has a lot of power to it!
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Monday, December 26, 2011

And The Report Is In!

At the Gorge - Cuy Falls
Dec 26 - 10:15am

Dr. Partin called this morning! The results are in! Pathology said that she got all the margins around the tumor .... So all is clear!  She did a great job getting it all. 

The tumor was 1.3 cm (about 1/2 inch) in diameter.  Lymph nodes were negative for cancer too.  I'm healing well.  A little tenderness, a little uncomfortable.  My follow-up with her is January 3 and I would expect to be back to work the next day.

Next step:  My appointment with the oncologist who will plan my treatment.  From what I know so far, radiation every day for 5-7 weeks.  Dr. Partin said that since I'm young, they may want to do chemo too, which would be done first.  I will know on Dec 30 at 1:00pm.

I hope your Christmas was as excellent as mine.  We had a wonderful family time at my sister's home.  All of our children are young adults, off on their own.  My daughter was home from Colorado. My nephew was home from Knoxville.  We never know from year to year what changes we will be facing in our family dynamics.  We all miss our own sweet sister, Cathy.  It has been 4 years now.  But we get to see her through her two boys.  Thankfully.

Hmmm, I'm emotional now ~ go figure!

Sitting here with a cup of coffee and enjoying the sunshine on this bright December morning!  Are you?
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

In the scheme of things, this is the time we remember and feel just how much God loves us. 

John 1:14   The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Know to whom you belong ~ You will never really understand your true identity unless you can forever settle in your heart that you are a son or daughter of God. The Bible says of Jesus that "to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (1:12). Once you settle this issue and come to know God as your heavenly Father, your life will change.  The unconditional love of your heavenly Father is something you need never live without.

May this Christmas bless you completely. Body, soul and mind ~
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My Own Personal Summer

Dad's Backyard
There sure has been a lot of medical issues this year.  Almost started to feel like a hypochondriac.  The main one that I wanted to tell you about:  In January, my GYN found a mass on my left ovary.  We decided to remove the ovary and while he was in, check the right one.  (it was fine) Three nice little holes mark the spot.  The mass was benign and life started to get back to normal. 

About a month later, the hot flashes began.  I had experienced this before. At 40,  I was seeking medical treatment for endometriosis and went through the treatments of depo-provera and lupron.  Let me tell you, instant menopause of "volcanic eruptions" or what I also call "my own personal summer".  The endo was finally relieved by a partial hysterectomy.  I didn't need to have estrogen therapy because I kept my ovaries.  But back to what I want to mention to you .....

After the removal of my left ovary, came "my own personal summer".  I hated it! I tried a herbal cream to no avail and even though a good friend advised against the estrogen, I called my doctor for relief.  He prescribed Premarin.

When my cancer doctor saw that I was taking Premarin, she said to discontinue it as soon as I could...if not immediately.  This causes the cancer to grow.  Wow.  I stopped that day.

So please, talk to your doctor if you are taking estrogen.
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Freakin' Out

Wow, I'm just kinda freaking out just little.  I thought I would do a little bit of searching for other blogs to get a feel for what other women are feeling and writing about. There is so MUCH! There are years of going through this stuff and I just started! How am I going to handle all the doctors appointments, all the trips to the medical center, am I going to lose my job in the process?

The amazing amount of resources on the internet just blows my mind.  It is comforting and at the same time, overwhelming. 

I warned you.  Welcome to my roller coaster ride .....
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just Thinking

Springfield Lake
I'm not sure if anyone is really interested in this little journey of mine or if they want to read about it.  As my head gets a little clearer and the treatments begin, perhaps I will have something to share.

In the meantime, I'm living in the moment.  One day at a time, sweet Jesus.  The colors are a little brighter.  The smells are sweeter.  And the moments we have with one another must be cherished.

I saw Casey for the first time today since she moved to Colorado.
Jasmine is now back in our lives.
My husband is my knight in shining armor.
And my sisters, parents, family and friends have truly made me feel special.

Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and your family ~
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Removing Bandages

Today, Matt removed the bandages.  We weren't sure what we would find underneath .... surprisingly, just a line where the lump was removed and a line where the nodes were removed.  A little bruising, basically intact.  It was a task taking a shower and washing my hair, but very refreshing. 

I'm still a little light headed, but not in terrible pain.  I haven't had a pain pill in over 10 hours. 

I finally got my leave of absence paperwork off for my short term disability.  My appointment with the radiology oncologist is Dec 29.  My follow up with the surgeon is Jan 3.  I'm anxious to hear what stage the cancer is and what the treatments will be.  Matt has offered to shave his head bald if I have to go through chemo.  Isn't that nice?  But I like his curls.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day after Surgery ~ Remembering

At the Gorge
This is my new blog and it's a new day! Sitting here with Sis, chillin' out in my new pink socks.  Christie helped me create this blog and I think it is fantastic.  (have patience with me as I develop it and get it just right).  I wanted to keep my journal separate from my photo albums as it is deserving of having its own space.  Why not?

I'm a little doped up from the percocet, but not nauseous from the Anesthesia. That's a blessing.  Let's see if I can recount yesterday ....

We arrived at Akron General around 10:30am and to our surprise, Pastor Phil and his wife, Myrna, were there waiting for us.  I felt honored and special to have them there to say a prayer over us and get us started on our journey.  I had my bright pink pj bottoms on (they said dress comfortable), no make up, hair pulled back ... what'a sight!   After they left, we settled in and waited to be called.  It didn't take long.  Teri & Jasmine kept each other company as Matt & I left for the ball.  First, getting into my ball gown, brrrr, very thin material.  Oh, how I love the toasted blankets! 

My first trip was to aggravate the cancer by sticking 5 needles into my right breast. This was the nuclear injection that turns your lymph nodes smurf blue (and your pee). It takes a while for it to run its course, so that's why it was done early (surgery scheduled at 3pm).  I really thought it was going to hurt, but it didn't.  The nurse and the doctor were very compassionate and gentle.  My quick-snap ball gown made things easy all day.

They took me back to the pre-surgical room where I met up with Matt again and waited for the next procedure .... a wire in my right breast.  While we waited, Troy (the man nurse as he called himself) came in talking like a new yorker.  I did it right back "yo, how ya doin?" *in my best Rocky voice ever*  How can you get offended by a lady with cancer, right?  Well, as much as we tried to warn Troy about my poor veins, he like many before him was a little over-confident.  Blew my vein.  It was premature anyway, because I had another difficult procedure that an IV would just be in the way.  He said he would come back afterward .....

Now the next stop was at the mammogram lab.  A very friendly nurse explained absolutely everything that she was getting ready to do.  I had my choice of a needle prick to give me a local and then the 2nd needle to insert a thin fish-line-type wire OR just go for the fish-line-type wire without the local.  I said one needle prick was enough.  It wasn't the needle that hurt, it was the compression. OUCH! I hate that.  But I held still as Dr White came into the room, did his thing, and left.  I really didn't get a good look at him from the locked-in position I was in.  I was really sore and tired by this time.  I think the clock said around 1:00.  She placed tape around the wire that was poking out of my breast.  Amazing.  We made the long trip back across the walk-bridge.

This time, Teri and Jasmine came up to visit and my friend Marylee stopped in as well.  It was a very nice surprise.  Marylee prayed with us and made my heart glad.  (I love to pray)

Then Mom & Christie came! A party! I wonder if they were getting upset with all the people, lol.  Anyway, it was good to see everyone and let them know I was doing okay. 

The Anesthesia man came in to look over my veins and such and put in the needle on the underside of my left wrist.  (it's bruised)  Thankfully, he got the vein though.  The coolness of the saline streamed up my arm. 

Everyone left, but Matt, and Dr. Patin came in to talk to us and explain the procedure once again.  If the lymph nodes were not blue, she would not have to do an axillary dissection ... which would mean an overnight stay in the hospital, and more serious treatment.

As they wheeled me away, I was wishing everyone I saw a Merry Christmas.  Have to remember the important stuff.  I also let them know that I was praying for them as well.  Dr. Patin is great. I just love her.

The surgery took about 3 hours.  Shortly after 6:00pm, Dr Partin spoke with Matt and Christie.  Good news! 2 sentinel nodes & 2 additional nodes were removed, no cancer found.  So no axillary dissection needed.  They took a larger amount, but did not require a drain.  Pathology from the cancer will take 1 week.  From there, we will know if chemotherapy will be required.  Radiation will be 5-7 weeks long every day.

After the surgery, I was trying to focus on the clock. 7:00pm
Matt came in after 8:00pm
Once I was able to drink some ginger ale and eat some graham crackers, I slowly got dressed to go home.  Teri was with us .... Jaz went home with Dan.  We got home about 9:30pm
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Surgery Day

White Farm
I'm at peace.

The house is quiet this morning. Coffee is made (I can't have any) ~ Thought I would check messages before getting ready. Jaz crashed on the couch and Matt is still sleeping. Teri should be here soon. Quiet ~ Just me and the Lord.

Dear Father, Thank you for bringing me through to this place now. There have been so many that have come together for the purpose of caring for me. I ask that you watch over each one of them as we take this journey together. I pray that the surgical team has steady hands, no distractions and that they see exactly what they need to see. I ask that there will be no infection or reaction to the medicines. And Lord, it sure would be nice to walk with you while I'm sleeping. Maybe you can hold my hand. You are the Christ, my Savior, and I love you ~ Amen
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Pre-Surgery Testing

Dad's Tiger Lillies
I went for pre-testing this morning before work.  Since I just had the chest x-ray and blood work, this was more of finishing all my medical history.  Too bad that the computer systems don't connect with each office because I was repeating information I had given in the other office.

The first nurse, Julie, took my medical history and told me more of what to expect the day of surgery. She was very comforting, friendly and a Christian too. It's pretty neat to meet such kind women.   Julie is 47 and is concerned about the growing rate of breast cancer among women.  It does seem that a lot of cancer is everywhere, not just breast cancer.

Then the 2nd nurse, Anne, came in and also firmed up some questions that I had. Ann suffers from Raynaud's (like me)  and I told her where to find the most protective gloves! I was given a gift card for a photo shoot I did and totally pampered myself with isotoner gloves. It's great focusing on others than myself. It takes the edge off somehow. 

When I got back to work, there was a message that Dr Partin (my surgeon) called. She gave me the results of the MRI, which showed another area in front of what they have already seen. The measurement changed to 1.3 centimeters. She still believes that a lumpectomy is still fine and there is no need for the mastectomy. By the way, Julie showed me my written surgery order and it was a shock to see that it said "partial mastectomy". Which Julie said was still considered a lumpectomy, but because they have to take "good" tissue all around the cancer, it is called partial .... ANYWAY, back to the story. Dr Partin said that my lymphnodes were NOT enlarged and that's a really good sign.

Won't know the full intensity of the situation until the operation. While I'm still in the OR, pathology will determine the kind, the aggressivness, the treatment needed, the stage.

I'm glad it is Friday. I just want to concentrate on finishing up Christmas gifts and getting the house in order.

I hope everyone doesn't mind that I didn't send out cards this year. If I have your e-mail, I sent you an e-card. Save the trees and all.....
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Getting the News

White Farm
Today was a strange day .... well, the last week has been quite strange. A whirlwind, actually. But, I suppose I should back up a bit before telling you how I came to be laying facedown on the MRI table with both breast neatly tucked into two holes. Seriously REALLY?!

I had my annual mammogram on Tues, Nov 28. I usually get them in the spring, but had waited because I knew Reflections was moving into a new facility close to work. As usual, life got busy and when I finally made the appointment, it was Nov. It was worth it because its new technology (digital) .... well, maybe not new to you, but I had been going to the "old fashioned" lab.

A few days later, Thur Dec 1, I got the call that I needed to be set up right away for a diagnostic. That news had my heart racing just a bit. I didn't have to wait long.

Wed Dec 7, I went in at 7:30am and what I thought was going to be an hour was 5-1/2 hours. I went from mammogram to ultrasound to surgeon to biopsy, another mammogram just to discover that they had cut and taken from the "wrong" area .... back to biopsy, check again with another mammogram and off to work I go. My headache from an empty stomach and no coffee was unpleasant.

Fri Dec 9, Matt & I went in for the results. Dr Partin didn't hedge around, but told us with compassion that I have breast cancer. I don't think you can brace yourself to hear those words and I know Matt got socked in the gut. It's true when they say that your mind just tunes out and you only hear bits & pieces. She took us in the conference room and began explaining and drawing and answering questions. And we began planning. I have a TEAM!

After our conference, I headed over for blood work and then for a chest x-ray. Glad I took the day as a vacation, because frankly, I wanted to go home and digest it all.

The name of this cancer is: Invasive Moderately Differentiated Ductal Carcinoma.
Size: 9 ml
Stage 1
Plan of attack: Lumpectomy followed by 5-7 weeks of radiation
When: December 20 @ 3:00pm

I plan to keep posting in this journal. I think it will be good therapy.

It's late now, but I plan to tell you my restoration with Jasmine ~
How I'm truly doing ~
But most of all, the blessings that are happening right before my eyes ~
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