Friday, August 31, 2012

Yeah for early stage!

Today I saw my surgical oncologist and got as good of news as I could hope for.   There were 2 areas of breast cancer with the largest being at 1.9 cm so just squeaking under the line to be a stage 1. The margins and nodes were both clear which was great. Apparently, there were extensive areas of ductal carcinoma in situ with the largest being 3.6 cm so again I am so grateful for taking care of this when we did.  If that one had become invasive, things could be very different.  They also do a grade to describe how different the cells are from normal cells which for me was high grade/ grade 3.  While this means that the cells were dividing more rapidly, it also may mean that chemotherapy will be more effective on it since chemo tends to target faster dividing cells.  (This is how I've seen and heard it explained at least.)  Hopefully, I'll have an oncology appointment scheduled soon to know more about the chemo side of things.

I look at those numbers above and think about how lucky and grateful I really am that things were caught when they were and that I had a proactive primary care physician and surgical oncologist.  I also have to express again how much I appreciate the cards, thoughts, and prayers.  I've of course had a few "weepy" moments in all of this, but  knowing that I am in the thoughts and prayers of so many does help to keep me strong.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 Days out

So it has been 5 days since the surgery, and honestly, I can remember very little of that time.  If you came by or called and there was some super important piece of information that you shared, please share it with me again because the last 5 days are such a blur.  I'm sorry about that, but thankfully, that means I was on some good pain meds at least.

I had my first post-op appointment today, and everything looks good so far.  I seem to be getting a little better each day which is all I can really ask or hope for.  I will find out more about the stage and next steps for the cancer on Friday morning at that appointment.

I wanted to thank everyone for the thoughts, prayers, calls, cards, messages, food, magazines, visits, and various other things.  It seems like every time I was having a rough moment before or after the surgery then I would get a message, call, or something that would brighten my day.  It has been very uplifting, and I appreciate it so much.  

I'll be moving more to ibuprofen and away from the "good pain meds" over the next few days or weeks so hopefully I'll be much better at remembering everything that happens as I move forward in this process. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nancy is home, resting in her recliner.  Due to insurance issues, the doctor discharged her from the hospital after a 23 hour stay with a request for her to come to his office.  He reported that as insurance would not authorize more than one day, they worked hard to discharge her prior to 24 hours so she did not incur a large out of pocket bill.  Although it's scary to come home so quickly after such a major surgery, (without even having eaten solid food yet no less!), there is definitely no place like home.  Nancy's surgeon reported that he was happy with how the surgery went.  She's home with antibiotics, pain meds, anti-nausea meds, ready to begin the recuperation process.

We are all thankful for the answered prayer of surgery without immediate complications.  We want to thank all of you for your continued prayers regarding the outcome of the pathology reports,  Nancy's healing and well being during chemo treatment, and peace of mind and heart throughout the process.  Thank you also for your many expressions of concern and love both to Nancy and those of us in her family through visits, calls, texts, and messages.  The love of so many is heartwarming to us!  Hopefully in the next few days, Nancy will feel up to keeping you posted herself, but until then we will let you know of any changes.

(Nancy's sister)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Update on Nancy

Nancy's surgeons reported that she came through her surgery well.  She is now awake (although groggy) in a private room.  She tells us that she feels like she's been hit by a truck, but hopefully the pain medicine will assist with that soon.  The surgical oncologist reports that her sentinel nodes look clear; however, final pathology results are pending. They will also know more about staging the cancer once the pathology is completed, but no surprises were reported.   A port was placed for chemo, which should begin once some initial healing is completed.  The prayers of so many are greatly appreciated by Nancy and all of us in her family.  She will continue to need your prayers and support for quite some time.  We are thankful that everything seems to be going as well as could be expected so far.  Thank you all again for your encouragement, support, and most of all lifting Nancy's name up in prayer!

(Nancy's sister)  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Those dreaded words...

A month ago today, I heard those dreaded words...."the biopsies did come back as cancer", and life has been one storm after another ever since.  I'm striving to remember Psalms 46:10 - "Be still and know that I am God" at all times, but especially when I begin to get overwhelmed.

In that phone call, the doctor kept saying he was sorry and that he was surprised that it was cancer, but I  actually was not surprised. Besides the fact that there is a family history of breast cancer, I had just been feeling slightly off and more fatigued than seemed right with the rest of my health.   My life has been a bit stormy health wise for several years anyway, but we had finally figured out what was going on a year and a half ago. I was diagnosed then with chronic hyperventilation syndrome which finally tied in all of the crazy lung, nerve, and stomach problems.  After speech therapy that re-taught me how to breathe and talk,  I'd slowly gotten better and better.  My body's natural reaction to stress and/or various things was still to hyperventilate so I did have to be careful, but though I felt so much better, the fatigue seemed to stay the same or even get worse in the last few months.  I have had to really watch my breathing through all of this new cancer stress as I often catch myself breathing and speaking incorrectly.  

I had actually grown to be thankful for all of the craziness over the last two years because I did end up in a different, but probably better for my health, job and life situation, and I think that I have grown to be a stronger person physically, mentally, and spiritually.  When I first got this news, I did have a few thoughts of "why now, I've finally gotten so much better".   But then, I again began to realize how "good" this timing actually was: 
1)  I work primarily online now and should be able to continue doing some/ most of that through all of the treatment, and thankfully, people are covering the on-campus classes for me
2) My school district insurance ended on 6/30 and I first went to the doctor about a lump on 6/23. Thankfully, I had been able to get my own insurance policy through an organization that I belong to back in March.  I can't imagine having to deal with cobra and trying to find insurance now.  My policy is high deductible/high out-of-pocket, but it is so good compared to the alternative.
3) The previous illness taught me  how to communicate and be an advocate for myself with medical personnel along with providing me an internal strength.
4) As a silver lining to all of this, I'll get some quick weight loss and change to a smaller shirt size.  I much prefer thinking about it in this way. :)
5) Even though there are multiple masses, they believe that they are all small so it was still caught in an early stage hopefully.

Getting the actual surgery scheduled has been a storm in and of itself.  Originally, the doctor was going to do my surgery on 7/24, but with my weird history, I really wanted a 2nd opinion which that surgery date did not allow for.  I also had very mixed emotions about the plastic surgeon that I first saw so postponing gave me a chance to see a 2nd plastic surgeon as well.  After getting confirmation from Moffitt that they would do the same treatment, I decided to go with my original surgeon and  the 2nd plastic surgeon, and the surgery was pushed back to 8/2. The hospital canceled that surgery because it would have meant extending my surgeons' time in the operating room which they wouldn't agree to.  With a surgery that takes 2-3 hours for each surgeon, I think it might be a blessing in disguise to not be their 3rd or 4th surgery of the day, but that made me have to "hurry up and wait" some more. Both of my surgeons had some time out of town in August which pushed surgery back further, but the surgery is finally coming up on 8/23.  I know that it has really only been a month, but it feels like forever.   I will probably have to have chemo after that, but the path ahead is primarily based on what exactly they find in the actual surgery. 

   I am trying to rest assured in I Cor. 10: 13 that He is faithful and will not test me beyond what I am able.  I know that I will still have my moments of struggle, and that I will really need support of friends and family and prayers. There are many other things to consider in the upcoming months, but I hope to share my thoughts and keep you posted about what is going on here during that time.

Thanks for keeping me in your prayers!