Monthly Archives: December 2016

And in the blink of an eye…

First doctor (surgeon) appointment: June 2. I was super comfortable, since she had examined my breasts for a few years, but I did get the lecture that my body would NEVER see estrogen replacement again. EVER. My spouse, my daughter and I were able to ask intelligent questions and get intelligent answers. Nothing was left unsaid. A complete explanation of my tumors was given – she even made a drawing! At this point, I interjected that my mother had undergone her own breast cancer treatment (same place, different surgeon, different oncologist, but all partners). My 80 year old mother had only one Stage 1 tumor, was able to undergo a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation, and then she was off to Hawaii with her sisters. I said I’d take the same deal!  And then I was met with laughter and a ‘No, you have two tumors, the bigger one (Stage 2, Her2 positive) would be problematic but they would do their best to make me cancer-free.  I liked that!

I learned that because of the tricky Her2 positive tumor, I would require a mastectomy because of its size and location. I didn’t bat an eye and told her she could take both of them at the same time. My ‘good’ side had always been the problematic breast and I sure didn’t want that one to surprise me a couple of years down the road, so…

(But surprise!  my chemotherapy would come first, and the regime would be 18 weeks, in 3 week increments. Oh, and a port would be installed on the side of my chest that didn’t have the tumors. It was either a surgically installed port or 18 straight weeks of being stabbed with what my husband called the big fish hook. (That port was scheduled for June 20, with my first chemo treatment scheduled for June 25.)

As I said, the comfort level between surgeon and patient was very high. Dr D asked if I was interested in reconstructive surgery…that would be with a different surgeon but one of my surgeon’s teammates.  My daughter asked if it would even be necessary considering my age. And my wise surgeon replied: “your mother will look into the mirror every day for the rest of her life, and perhaps she would like to look at something more complete”.  I agreed. And the appointment with the new reconstruction surgeon was set for June 4.

My surgeon had also made an appointment with my new oncologist for June 3.

(to be continued)

 

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Breast Cancer? Ugh.

Ahhh…. the annual mammogram!  After years of twice a year diagnostic mammograms, I was finally sprung and got a reprieve of one year as a routine. Woohoo!!  I finally hit the big time. I’m 69 today and began my crazy ordeals when I turned 40. Very dense breasts and all that that entailed…

Faithful annual (or in my case, semi-annual) routine and diagnostic mammograms – ck

Faithful annual (or in my case, semi-annual) breast inspections – ck

It’s the first faithful item that seems to have gotten me into trouble. My general surgeon did my inspections, gave me the big lecture about getting off the stupid estrogen replacement that eased my hot flashes but didn’t do anything good for me, as I soon found out.

Back up to May 12, 2015 – Returned from our annual stay in Italy, basking in the sunshine, the language, the people, the excellent foods, the walks to the sea, and mentally prepared for my first thing in the morning, next day mammogram. Done.

And then the one week later phone call from my breast cancer group: ‘You need some follow-up film. Can you come in the day after Memorial day at the Diagnostic Center?’  Sure thing… but when one has to visit the diagnostic center, that’s not necessarily good. But I went for my 10.30am appointment that wasn’t supposed to take very long – we got there early so I could relax and read before being called in – and one of the med assistants came out at 9.50am…you know, get a quick start and be out before my appointed time!  I always like that.

Only I didn’t get out of there until 4.00pm.

First, a mammogram, followed by ultrasound, followed by another mammogram, followed by six biopsies (one of them a stereotactic core biopsy that is so not fun, I won’t describe it), and then back for one last mammogram that I cried in because of the pain, so they switched to another ultrasound. Fun day, wouldn’t you say??

Since my torture day was 26 May, and I hadn’t heard anything by Friday, 29 May, I just figured if it went out that far with no news, there was no cancer. Right?  Isn’t that how life works?  No news is good news… Wrong again.

Monday morning – 1 June – was my phone call.  I had so many previous ‘don’t worry, your biopsy was benign’ phone calls, I once again told them just to call me. And the nice lady on the other end quietly explained that I had cancer. Oh my. It left me speechless. And then I took a deep breath, thanked her for the phone call, and she explained that my surgeon already had this same information. Good to know!

I hung up the phone and immediately received a call from my surgeon’s office: “Cheryl, your appointment with Dr D is for 9am tomorrow …we’ll see you then.”

(to be continued…)