Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Days...Slippin' Away

Monday, June 22, 2009

So, call me lazy...and you'd likely be justified in doing so...but I'm reducing my postings to once each week on Mondays. I'm simply not interesting enough to post more than that. At first, as news was coming in day by day, every day, I could keep up with it, but this is simply no longer the case. As I truck along, chipping away at chemo treatments one by one, the action is really only on a weekly basis.

The latest:

On Thursday, I had my first follow-up surgery consultation. This is very exciting. It is a follow-up because my initial consultation was back at the end of March when all of this started, but it's really my first surgery appointment leading up to the actual surgical event.

My surgeon has been getting updates from my oncologist all this time, so he was up to speed and "very excited" about my response to the chemo. Guess what!!! He couldn't find it on a physical exam!!! I have no doubt that my oncologist will be able to find it--he apparently has an uncanny ability to track down cancer lumps, no matter how small or difficult to find--but my surgeon couldn't find it. This is awesome news!

The surgical schedule:

So, we discussed date and surgery plan. They like to wait three weeks after a chemo treatment to do surgery. This lets your body recover--your body is better able to fight infection (i.e. white blood cell counts go back up) and you stop bleeding and bruising so easily (i.e. red blood cell counts and platelet counts go back up). Three weeks after my last chemo (July 20) puts us at the week of August 10th. For any of you who have spoken to me about this, I'm REALLY ready to have this thing out of my body, so if we're looking at the week of August 10, I'm hoping it will be scheduled for Monday, August 10, first surgery of the day.

The surgery itself:

My surgeon agrees with my oncologist--I am a good candidate for a lumpectomy. So, barring some crazy occurrence like more cancer showing up in the same breast between now and August 10 in the midst of my undergoing chemo treatment, then lumpectomy it is. While I am under anesthetic, they will also take that opportunity to biopsy the sentinel lymph nodes. Sentinel nodes are the lymph nodes in the closest armpit that most commonly the cancer would spread to first. They will biopsy nodes to determine whether any nasty little cancer cells have moved in to your closest nodes--if yes, then they will biopsy and remove as many as they need to until they get clean and healthy ones only. They do all this--biopsy, run pathology, and remove if necessary--while you are under anesthetic so you only have to do under once. Obviously, the more lymph nodes they have to remove (if any), the more serious the surgery and the longer recovery time.

Best case scenario: Lumpectomy and node biopsy only.
Recovery time: Outpatient surgery, back at work 48 hours later.

Keep your fingers crossed that we land on best case scenario!!! Keep those prayers and well-wishes coming!

Between now and then:

I will be having a consultation with a radiation oncologist in two weeks to discuss how radiation works and what the after surgery plan will be and I will be getting an MRI scheduled for a week or two after my final chemo just to see where we stand. That will give my surgeon a clear picture of what we're dealing with going in to the surgery. There will also be a radiologist present during surgery with an ultrasound machine so they know what they're looking at. They need to be able to see what's going on so they're sure to get all of the cancer and enough of the surrounding tissue. There is some amount of guess work involved in it--unfortunate but true. In short, July is the month when stuff will start to happen. My last two chemos will be in July, my second MRI, my radiation oncologist appointment, another surgical consultation and getting my surgery on the schedule.

We're nearly there! I'm hanging in there, but getting antsy to be cancer-free!

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