Friday, June 29, 2007

Finally more news - good and bad

I have invasive ductal breast cancer and it is basically the most average common kind of breast cancer there is. The good news is that the tumor was 1.3 cm and was clearly removed - clean margins is the term. The bad news is the one node removed tested positive and means I need to have more surgery to take out the rest of the lymph nodes under my left arm. This is already scheduled for Thursday July 5. Apparently no one wants to have surgery next week so they could fit me in quickly.

After this surgery, I will have a drain to deal with for about 10 days and then when I go back in for follow up we will find out the next stages for chemo/radiation.

Also, I have to leave the rest of the damn steri strips on until next Tuesday!!!!! Grrr...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Oops!

Some of the damn steri strips fell off yesterday! Maybe the rest will fall off today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Did I say this before?

Steri strips itch. 2 more days of them. Grr, grr, grr.

Also, major OMWAH sighting yesterday. Driving slowly in the right lane of 128, yielding to merging traffic - in a brand new bright yellow Ford Mustang convertible! That car belongs in the left lane moving about15 mph over the speed limit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Here's a new game to play!

So the big thing with a cancer diagnosis is, has it SPREAD? As I sit here and wait for the results, I can tell you every ache and pain in my body is surely the result of a vast network of tumors waiting for full diagnosis. Yesterday in the Boston Globe, there was an article on ovarian cancer, the "silent killer". Of course, I decided I must have symptoms of this and started to play the game.

The way to play is go to the American Cancer Society website www.cancer.org and select Learn About Cancer/Choose a Cancer Topic. Then pick a type of cancer and see if you can self diagnosis yourself! Who needs a medical degree when you can do it all online! There are a few cancers in there I can safely say I don't have: Male Breast Cancer, Penile Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Childhood Cancers, but there are still many on the list to go through! What a great stress reliever! NOT!

Also I said I recently went to the Marble Museum in VT. Well it turns out I missed the best part of the museum as noted here:

"The Vermont Marble Museum is one of five finalists in the sixth annual contest to be declared as hosting America's Best Restroom.

It's fitting that a museum devoted to the local marble quarrying industry would feature what contest sponsor Cintas, a Cincinnati-based company that supplies and maintains corporate restrooms, calls restrooms "made entirely of marble."

Marble restrooms aren't all that uncommon, but Cintas says it also was impressed with the "bright flowers and lace curtains to soften the smooth lines."

The competition is stiff."

I didn't use the bathroom I was there. Now I have to go back. To find out more about this google 'restroom marble museum'.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Can I just say?

Steri strips are itchy!!! And I have to have them on til Friday! Grr, grr, grr.

Friday, June 22, 2007

More good news

My bone scan came back normal with no sign of metastic disease. That is nice to know. I am glad not to wait another week. I just have the other tests to worry about!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Positive Things

Today I called the social worker at Lahey about their Breast Cancer Support Group. Evidently there is an introductory group for newly diagnosed patients but it won't be starting up again for a while. She referred me to two other places - one in Arlington and one in Newton. The center in Arlington suggested Reiki for stress reduction. I have an appointment for next week and will give it a try. They also have a support group but that doesn't meet again until after July 4th.

Ow! I took a shower

I was allowed to take a shower and it hurt! Ow, ow, ow. More ice. I am glad I took it with Walter here. Now I have an excuse to be lazy today. The movie for the day is Little Miss Sunshine - its supposed to put the fun in dysfunctional families.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Napping is a good thing

I now feel much better. I slept a lot last night and more today and actually ate a balanced lunch with my parents - salad, soup, bread and butter. Then more ice cream for a snack. I spoke with the Dr's office and they said it is normal to be in a fair amount of pain from where they dug around to find the lymph node they took out. Ice and darvocet seem to manage it fine.

I am not supposed to pick up anything more than 5 lbs for the next two weeks - that includes the vacuum cleaner, laundry baskets, the cat (14.4 lbs). Hmmm... They did mention something else about no housework for a year but I don't think I can get away with that. Walter is being very good but he needs to workout his stress as well as get some downtime in.

Chocolate ice cream for dinner

Yes I had Ben & Jerry's Super Fudge Chunk ice cream for dinner last night after surgery. (For you healthy people, I also had whole wheat toast and a banana).

My surgery went well as surgery can. We were there all day (8-445). I had the wire inserted and then injected with blue dye. Then I had to wait around for the dye to circulate and finally went into surgery after 12. The doctor removed one lymph node but said they did look okay but pathology will tell the real story. I am not in much pain and have been sleeping a lot.

I have to take it easy for a few days and NOT stress between now and next Friday when I get the results of everything. Hah! That's easier said than done.

PS I will eat a balanced diet today to make up for my dinner last night.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Finally the schedule

We have to leave here at 7am to get to Lahey north by 8am. Then I get a wire put in, blue dye, and then surgery. What fun. I hope I don't see the needles.

I think I need more topics to write about besides stress and needles. There must be more here. It will come to me sometime.

More stress again!

Both of us are very stressed about this. The surgery itself doesn't seem so bad. I can't drive for a few days and get to be lazy. Its the waiting until we get the results that is the worst. We did get to go to Rutland for the weekend - I got to have fun and Walter got to work. Its probably my last weekend for a while to go do lots of stuff. Anyhow, I went to the Marble, Maple, and Norman Rockwell museums and Windsor Castle as well as visit lots of stores. Nice to be away but now back home and dealing with everything. I will find out the exact surgery time later - I can't believe I lost that stupid note!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Painless is good

Glowing?? Maybe. I had my radioactive injection and then the bone scan. BORING! Lie still, dont do anything, so I took a little nap. Now I wait for the results of the test. Maybe later today or Monday but I have a feeling not until Tuesday when I go in for surgery.

Off for a bone scan

Sounds painless? Well first they give me a shot of some kind of radioactive stuff and let it work its way through my system and then I come back for pictures... Well, if I don't have to see the stupid needle that should be okay. Needles and me, a real disconnect. I think that could turn into an issue here with lots of upcoming medical stuff. Well, maybe I'll be glowing afterwards....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

more planning

Today I spoke with the pre-op nurse. Nothing exciting there. No food/beverages except water and black coffee after midnight. Nothing 2 hours before. I lost the stupid note with the exact time Tuesday but I think its 9am... This sounds like fun. Needles, dyes, radioactive injections, and then surgery. What fun! It won't hurt much either! Hah!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Finally some more good news

I went to the dermatologist and what I thought was a problem wasn't. I also met with the surgeon's office about surgery next week. I should know by the end of the month what treatment I will need and then can figure out my job search issues. I wont be able to job hunt/work while on chemo but I should be able to with radiation.

I also made it through the Lahey garage without too many OMWAH sightings and no significant delays other than the one car that managed to block all THREE exit lanes from the garage, chose the left one, no the middle one, then hit the curb....

Now I talk to the nurse again tomorrow. I did speak to someone last Friday who told me they said my surgery was scheduled because of the radiation/biopsy thing. I lost the damn note and can't remember what she said... Now they can't tell me anything because technically the time's aren't scheduled until the day before. Grrrr.....

Friday, June 8, 2007

More stress... aaagggghhhhhhh!!

We are both very stressed about this. Its not the surgery that is intimidating its the potential test results, the idea of chemo, and radiation. Not a fun way to spend my summer vacation. On the positive side, I am sure I will be all caught up on any movies I have wanted to watch. The cat will be happy to have me home every day - me home=more opportunities for treats and laps. I can enjoy my garden.

Maybe all this stress will make me lose some weight.... At least one positive thing.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Now my surgery is scheduled

While gardening this morning, I got a call from Lahey. Of course I freaked out and thought they had some more bad news for me. Finally I got a call back at 330 this afternoon. Since they found nothing yesterday, they went ahead and scheduled my surgery for June 19th. After the surgery, I will find out if I need chemo and radiation or just radiation. I am glad its sooner rather than later. The stress is awful. I was going to say the stress is killing me but I don't like the word...

On the plus side, one less doctor's apt next week but I still have to stop by the hospital for paperwork. I can look for more OMWAHs in the parking garage.

OMWAH sightings

Over my many recent visits to Lahey and its nice, new (and not free) parking garage, I believe I have discovered the center of the universe for all the OMWAHs out there. First of all, an OMWAH (Old Man With A Hat) is usually seen driving a late model Lincoln or Cadillac approximately 15 MPH under the speed limit, braking often, parking badly and usually blocking a long line of cars. Well the Lahey parking garage seems to be the center of the universe for the OMWAHs of this world. Usually I get stuck behind one as I near the clinic. Then in the parking garage, they brake every time they see someone else's lights - even if it is someone who just pulled into a parking space. They also often go the wrong way through the garage, and make 20 point turns to pull their giant land yachts in to a slot! Tell tale signs are also the multiple dings and dents, and long scrapes down the side of the cars. Not to be sexist, OMWAHs can also be women. Parking can take a great deal of time if you are stuck behind one in the garage.

Anyhow, both of us are more relaxed today, but still freaked out. I have FIVE (count them), five whole days without a Lahey appointment. I almost don't know what to do with my time but I am sure I can find something. This whole thing is just really scary. They say its early, I am young, etc but now as I wait to meet with the doctor again I start to feel like every little ache and pain in my body is related to the cancer and there wont be much they can do.

I have made the decision before I start chemo, I will donate my hair to Locks for Love and then get it cut really short. Poor kitty, he does like to sleep on my hair... He will have to adapt too!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Good news for once

Finally some good news. What was thought to be a possible second cancer area is only a false positive from the MRI. Therefore no needle, no itchy steri strips, no mastectomy! I needed to hear something good for once. Now I just get to wait until my next surgeon apt on the 14th to set up a date for surgery.

Then I went and met Walter for lunch and my car died... Grrr... If its not one thing. I had it towed and hope it is the starter and not some weird electrical thing. So I'll ride my bike for the rest of today and tomorrow.

Off to Lahey again

A day with out a trip to Lahey is like a day without sunshine. Three days in a row so far this week and its only Wednesday. But I have nothing scheduled for the next two. Crossing my fingers that this morning there is nothing there but a false positive from the MRI and I don't have a second area.

I also changed the name of my blog from Caroline's Cancer Blog to Caroline's Breast Cancer Blog as I hope it reflects the true range of my illness.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Today's little tizzy

I finally took a good look at my biopsy incision when I took a shower this afternoon. It looked like it had pus coming out of it! I panicked slightly and called the dr's office. The PA wanted me to come in to take a look at it because she said they wouldn't do the second biopsy if I had an infection.

She looked at it and said it was fine. Possibly not pus but just some bacitracin from the first biopsy and it was healing fine. Okay. So I panicked a little. Stress causes bad reactions to lots of little things...

Gee whiz I can't wait for another one of these.........

Got to meet lots of doctors

Yesterday I spent ALL day at Lahey. What fun. In the morning I had an EMG to find out about hopefully unrelated tingling in my left leg - probably caused by bursitis or a pinched nerve. However in view of everything else that is going on, I need to have a follow up bone scan next week to make sure.

Then we met with the surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and social worker. Apparently the good news is they caught it early, it is small, and is positive for estrogen and progesterone reception which means it should react well to hormone therapy. Also good news is they took off the damn itchy steri strips. Then the bad news. The MRI last week picked up a suspect area that is also located in my left breast which needs a further look so I have another ultrasound and possible needle biopsy tomorrow - which means more DAMN itchy steri strips. If that is positive, I am a candidate for a mastectomy instead of just a lumpectomy. I should know more late this week or early next week. I have since found out that MRIs show false positives - pick up something that isn't really there. I have already had two mammograms and an ultrasound that didn't show this so it is possible that it doesn't exist. Power of positive thinking here. Either way I go back to the surgeon on the 14th for decision time as well

More stress, more waiting. Desserts is stressed backwards - I don't really like dessert that much. What other junk foods spell something related backwards?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

More for today

Stress is a great diet. I have no appetite. I finally had breakfast & lunch at 1pm... These stupid steri strips that itch are 'falling' off quite rapidly. I do believe they might be gone by tonight.

The stress is really awful!

Apparently this part of knowing but not knowing is the worst. Until we meet with all the doctors and get some answers and establish a plan the stress is the worst. Luckily that is tomorrow we have all our meetings. Unfortunately, I know we won't get all the answers. They will have to do a lumpectomy and more tests before we know everything.

I alternate between thinking its only stage 1 or 2 and that it is stage 4 and there is nothing they can do. This takes me from semi relaxed to sheer panic. Silly me. I can't remember exactly from the ultrasound - did the radiologist say it was 1 cm or 2 cm. I think that is the difference between stage 1 and 2... That I will find out for sure tomorrow. Then the question of has it spread comes into play. Thats when it gets nasty if it has. Right now I could be convinced that every little ache and pain in my body are the result of a giant web of tumors and cancer cells for which there is no cure... I could also be convinced that I have one little tiny cyst that can be removed and nothing further is needed... This yo-yo part is driving me insane.

Now the other hard part is how do I tell people? I am not up to a bunch of get togethers to tell people nor do I want to talk on the phone. Maybe I am not ready but I know I have to start telling. Its another question for tomorrow - how and when to tell people.

I was awake for about 2 hours last night thinking about this. The lack of sleep is not good. I did sleep in a little today. The cat appreciated that but apparently it made his breakfast a little late. He too shall adapt. Walter is being great and very supportive and will go with me on all my doctors visits tomorrow. I want him there for every meeting so he can be as informed as I am.

Okay. The plan for today, after I go for a walk, fold laundry, and mop the kitchen floor (I have been talking about it for two weeks now and it REALLY needs it) is to be proactive and: work out the list of questions for everyone tomorrow and buy Susan Love's Breast Book. Apparently this is the best resource for understanding everything available. Tonight I will try to get more sleep as well before a day at Lahey.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

My big announcement

As you can probably tell from my blog's name, I got some very bad news this week. It all started with my annual checkup in late April. I was sent on a standard annual mammogram on May 10. On the 11th, I got a call they needed me to come back in which I did on the 14th. I had another mammogram and an ultrasound where they found I have what is called a complex cyst. They sent me to a surgeon for a follow up on the 23rd who scheduled me for a needle biopsy on the 29th. The results were positive for cancer on May 31st. I had an MRI (oh what fun) on June 1.

Now what do I do? I don't know how to tell people, I don't know what to say. I have been on the message boards at the Susan Komen Foundation (www.komen.org) where I have learned that evidently this is one of the most stressful times. You know the beginnings of the diagnosis but nothing about what they can do about it.

Our next step is to consult with a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and social worker on Monday, June 4. Hopefully then we will find out more about the stage of my cancer and the treatment. Then perhaps I will be able to communicate better about it.

Is it wimpy of me to put my thoughts into a blog? I am not sure. I would like to talk to everyone about it but it is too soon for me to answer questions as I dont know anything yet and I am not sure I am up to all the calls. I hope to post regularly and invite people to visit my blog.

Right now I can tell you I am scared, stressed, and very upset. Also, my damn steri strips from my biopsy itch like hell and I can't take them off!!!