Monday, August 17, 2009

Step 2: Surgery

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last week, I underwent all of my follow-up testing, which I believed would be entirely NOT interesting and totally expected. I was mistaken. What resulted was a stressful week that ended well, but was pretty emotionally tumultuous as it happened.

Friday, August 7, 2009: I arrived at the Medical Center (different than the Cancer Center) early in the morning expecting to check in at Outpatient Registration, head to the Breast Center, have a mammogram, followed by an ultrasound, followed by a breast MRI up in Radiation. This didn't exactly happen. I arrived, only to be told that I would not be having my ultrasound that day and would need to reschedule for the following Tuesday. "They" explained to me that "they" prefer to do the ultrasound after the mammogram and MRI results are received and interpreted. This made sense to me, but it inspired the question: Why did my surgeon's office schedule them all on the same day if I shouldn't have them all on the same day?

Monday, August 10, 2009: I had a relatively restful weekend. I wasn't really worried at all about my results as I wasn't done with the testing yet. In the afternoon, I received a call from my surgeon's office (not my surgeon) and was told that my MRI and Mammogram were clean and good. I asked what they showed in terms of progress and shrinking the tumor. She said, "I'm not sure." That seemed silly to me as I thought that was one of the primary purposes of the follow-up testing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009: I go in for my ultrasound. Again, I'm totally not worried because my surgeon's office has already told me that I'm fine--nothing new or questionable.
Note: It is so important to remember that "surgeon's office" is NOT synonymous with "surgeon." I like my surgeon. I trust my surgeon.

To my shock and less than thrilled amazement, I am taken back to the procedure room and the tech says to me, "Now, we're going to do a bilateral diagnostic ultrasound and we're going to focus on the area where the cancer is and on the suspicious area in the other breast." Hold the phone! Suspicious area? No one had said ANYTHING about a NEW suspicious area until this point. I was pissed. I was scared. She does the ultrasound with me freaking out. She asks me to wait (due to the fact that she KNOWS I'm freaking out) and she has the radiologist review the images right then and there. The tech comes back in and tells me the radiologist looked at it and determined it's just a cyst--definitely fluid filled and nothing to worry about. I breathe a deep sigh of relief.

I then went up to the surgery department to get my pre-surgery blood work done. I was told that if my white blood cell counts were not 3.0 or higher, I would have to postpone surgery. At this point, I'm totally not worried. I'm still a week and a half out from surgery and my counts never rebound until 3 weeks after chemo, which was still a week away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009: Again, I am 100% not worried about receiving a call from my surgeon's office. I have already been told we're fine. I was looking forward to discussing whether we would just remove the cyst or aspirate it. That is the ONLY reason I was waiting on the call from the office. In the afternoon, I get a call, again, not from my surgeon, just from the office. I am told that the ultrasound has caused concern over what "might be a cyst" on the right side. I am told I need to go in for a "biopsy" the following morning. She also throws in there the fact that my blood counts are too low and we may have to postpone surgery. More stress!
Let's pause for a moment: This is when I freak out. I am fully aware that you need solid tissue in order to perform a needle biopsy. That would suggest that it is NOT actually a cyst and upon further examination, the radiologist must have determined that there was solid tissue, not just fluid. I spend the rest of the day and night crying and not sleeping, thinking that I am starting this horrible process all over again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009:
I arrive for my "biopsy" holding back tears, and the tech says to me, "So you know why you're here? We're going to aspirate the cyst and if it doesn't aspirate fully--if tissue remains--then we will need to biopsy that, but I don't think that will happen." At this point, I am confused. I tell her what my surgeon's office conveyed to me and that I thought I was there for a biopsy. She tells me I'm not. The procedure is actually called a "full aspiration with possible biopsy."Notice that word--possible--in there. Yeah, that makes a huge difference. Once again, a little annoyed with my surgeon's office, but not my surgeon.

They fully aspirated the cyst--and yes, it was absolutely a cyst. It's gone now.

Monday, August 17, 2009: It wasn't until today that I got a call from my surgeon's office asking if I understood that everything was fine now--in reference to the NOT biopsy cyst removal. I said yes. I think I only got the call because I had faxed them the blood work I had done at the Cancer Center this morning. The good news? My blood counts are high enough to go ahead with the surgery on Friday.

So, in short, after over a week of stress and worry over blood counts, new lumps, and all kinds of things, turns out I was right from the beginning to NOT worry. My blood counts are fine. The cancer is less than 1cm x 1cm. The total area of tissue they will remove will be about 3cm x 3cm and there are NO NEW TUMORS! Good news all around.

I'll see you next week, on the other side of surgery. Surgery will be this Friday--a lumpectomy, as planned, with sentinel node biopsy! See you soon...cancer free!


  1. Doctor's offices are full of crazy people. That is all. I'll be thinking of you this Friday! Hope your surgery goes beautifully!

  2. Lordy! What a week! Glad you found the article on the red surely need it after all that!! Thinking of you this week!!

  3. I think the glass of wine is a good idea. I cant begin to imagine what you went thru last weeks. I keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Megan I know your in-laws from mybeachboard. You're in my prayers - w..h..a..t a week! The office sure isn't making it easy on you. Thinking of you!! Laurie