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Sue's Sewing and Happenings
Thursday, June 23, 2005
What's Wrong ....
Mood:  irritated
Topic: June 2005
"What's wrong... what part of this bothers you the most"... that is what DH asked as we left the oncologist's office yesterday. What bothers me the most ... well, the whole thing, all this crap. The fact that I have to spend my summer in a faux leather, overstuffed recliner with an IV in my vein getting pumped with chemicals I can't even pronounce that will make me sick, achy, bald, with several other cancer patients in various stages of their treatement - the befores, durings, and afters. What's wrong.....
I have reservations for Yosemite and now all I will get is virtual yosemite
. Oh, the nurse pointed out the nice large picture window in the "treatment" room. Oh, nice, I can look at the 134 and the 2 fwys and if it's not too smoggy a nice view of downtown LA. Not exactly the granite domes and full-from-the-winter's-rains waterfalls I had in mind. After Yosemite I was going to go to Big Basin to meet my sister and her family, a beautiful National Park just east of Santa Cruz, CA. I used to go there as a kid in the late 60's and dream how I'd live there some day as a hippie, without a care in the world. Um, so, what's wrong, Oh, nothing and everything.

Men have this natural instinct to fix a problem to slay the dragon, the kill the beast, and make it go away. Well, this isn't going to go away, at least not this summer. Thanks for asking and trying to help, but just be supportive, and don't take it personal if I'm in a bad mood or want to be alone. I'm just trying to wrap my brain around all this... and be nice at the same time.

Oh, yes, the oncologist's office, and yesterday's visit/consult. Your typical doc, sitting, taking notes, looking rushed. Asking me the usual questions: take any medications; any illnesses; breast cancer in your family; prior surgeries, blah, blah, blah. He asks, writes, and I answer. Then it babbles off the reasons I should have chemo. The technical side I don't understand, it's like an alphabet soup of formulas and reasons, but it seems to boil down to my age and that I am not menopausal, so I still got hormones. Oh, whatever.

He says chemo would be once every three weeks. Ok, that's better then the 3x a week for 3 weeks. He says it will be ATC treatments or something like that and to me it sounded like something I took to the hazardous waste facility last weekend when the oil was changed in my car.
He also asks how much research I've done. Well, not a lot. I prefer the denial way to life. Too much information; some of it useless - is it really necessary. Well, yes, according to him, I should have been doing my homework and researching all this crap so that I would be able to ask intelligent questions. I have no questions, oh, yes, I do have one: will my hair fall out? He bluntly says "in 3 weeks; it will just fall out; all of a sudden; gone; the roots will just die". So, now echoing in my head is "fall out, fall out, fall out, all of a sudden, roots die, fall out, fall out". Yes I knew my hair would probably fall out, but couldn't he have prefaced it with something, like "well, unfortunately; in some cases" or something not so harsh! [echo: fall out, fall out, fall out] It's my hair for pete's sake, I have spent thousands of dollars on special conditioners, brushes, shampoos, clips, babying my beautiful long hair not to have it fall out!
Then he asks which "formula" I would like, 18 or 16 weeks. I respond with, I'm still on the hair thing, can I get back to you later. Well, now it seems he's getting a little irritated with me. At first I haven't done my homework, so I don't have any intelligent questions, and then I'm being vain and worrying about my hair [yea, his hair is thinning and I bet he uses plain wrap shampoo, so what does he know anyway!]. He says, ok, why don't I come back next week and before my next visit, I should write down my questions. He said that twice, "write down my questions". I still don't have any questions becuase I don't know what to ask! Maybe I should write down: "can I bring a friend", "is alcohol allowed", or "since I'll be sitting in that chair for 2+ hours, can you bring in a manicurist?"

So, I went home, fired up the computer, and googled chemo. More good news: weight gain, eyebrows fall out, eyelashes fallout, muscle aches, bone loss (already got that from my previous thyroid cancer and THAT medication), irritated tear ducts, nausea, vomiting, fatique, mouth sores, taste changes, memory loss [who am I], neuropathy [oh great, so my fingers will go numb and I won't be able to sew?]. Ok, now I'm feeling better? So, then I read about wigs, false eyelashes, how to camoflauge green skin. This isn't helping, I close the computer and decide no more questions, maybe a different doc.

Well, needless to say, that's what's wrong... not the summer I had planned, but that's life, things happen.

Posted by sue at 9:57 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, July 25, 2005 3:05 PM PDT
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
What if ......
Mood:  lazy
Topic: June 2005
I'm tired today. I had one of those restless nites of "what if". You know where your brain works overtime with all those ridiculous "what if" scenarios that you can't block out because it's nite, and that's when everything is magnified. When I finally woke up this morning, it was like thank goodness! I can't really remember what the what if's were, but I'm sure it had to do with the possibility of being bald, sick, and, OMG, not being able to sew! I'm sure glad the Tonite Show repeats at 3AM!

Today I go for a consult with an oncologist, so I'll get the real scoop, I suppose.

Oh, I had my final stitches removed yesterday, and said goodbye to the surgeon. Guess I'm done with that doc, now on to an medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. I think I need to get a "date book" or something.

Posted by sue at 9:46 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, July 25, 2005 3:14 PM PDT
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Final Pathology Report
Mood:  hungry
Topic: June 2005
So, today at 4:30 I go see the surgeon to have the last of the stitches removed and probably that tape. I'll post of photo of my incisions for those of you that like that kind of stuff.

Oh, and the final pathology report I have. Here's the info.
"Specimen is received fresh from the OR labeled with patient's name [I like that word "fresh"].... measuring 6 cm ...[6 cm? Isn't that the size of my boob?] no tumor seen at inked margin [that's good].
"next specimen is received Fresh from the OR... [there's that word again] additional possible lymph nodes... also received ... fatty flap of breast tissue [augh, I don't like that phrase] .. no tumor identified.

"Final Diagnoses: Right sentinel node excision: no metastic carcinoma identified in three lymph nodes examined; focal micrometastasis identified by immunohistoligy in one out of three lymph nodes; right breast mass, segmental resection: infiltrating ductal carcinoma, moderately differentiated, modified scarff-bloom-richardson score 6-7/9 score info
Tumor measuring up to 1.5 cm .. ductal carcinoma in situ admixed ... no lymph node identified... inked new inferior margin free of invasive or in situ carcinoma"

Yea, I don't understand most of it either. Except it was small, within it's margins and the cancer hasn't set up house anywhere else in my body or lymph nodes.
So, this is what the surgeon says my treatment will be:
4 months chemo (3 week, 1x per week; 1 week off, for 4 months); 6 weeks radiation; and 5 years tamoxofin (that should kick in menopause, hot flashes, and what else...). So, I say, fasten your seatbelts, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Posted by sue at 11:27 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, July 25, 2005 3:23 PM PDT
So Far ...
Mood:  happy
Topic: June 2005
So, here's the story... so far.
First, let me suggest that all you do self breast exams .... really. self exams

A few days before my annual gyno appt (augh - don't we all hate those); I though, oh yea, a mammogram and that breast exam, so it reminded me to do a self exam. On my right breast, near my underarm, I felt an unusual lump; checked the other side, um... not one there, back to the right side, yep that's a lump - about small grape size. So, it was about a week before my visit to the gyno and I kept checking the lump, daily, several times a day, um... still there, well, that's unusual.

Made my appt to have my mammogram (May 13th - ooh, that's friday the 13th), and pointed out the lump to the technician. She put a little lead dot on the spot; took the xrays and sent me on my way, with "have a nice weekend".

A few days later, I got a call from the breast center (or whatever they call the place where they do the mammograms, etc.). They said, the mammogram didn't really show anything, but because I felt something, they just wanted to be careful and follow up with an ultra sound. So, the ultrasound was scheduled for May 20th.

Went in for the ultrasound, very nice technician. Um, she found the spot right away, I didn't really point it out specifically. I'm thinking, what does this mean? I hear her taking measurments, charting, plotting, she knows... (those technicians always kmow - but are can't say a peep - that's what the doc's job is). So, I leave, she says, "the doc will call you later today with what they found". Um... "what they found" does that mean they found something.... I'm listening to her every word, watching her every move, for some sort of hint as to what they found, if anything.

Later that day, the technician calls. My heart is pounding; I got my pad of paper and pencil in hand ready to write (for fear if I don't write what she says verbatim, I won't hear or remember becuase my heart is pounding so hard). There is something she says, it's solid. What does that mean? Well, it's not a cyst or fiberous; it's solid. They want to do a biopsy. Augh! The heart pounds louder, I write and make an appointment for the biopsy. Monday, May 23rd. A core biopsy; what does that mean?
biopsy descriptions
So, I go in for the biopsy, it doesn't really hurt; it's more scarey; a long needle, a gun, a trigger, a pinch, ouch! 5 times!

Then they send me on my way, with "we will have the results in 2 days and call you. More waiting.... tic toc; tic toc.

So, Wednesday, May 25 at 11:36 am (yes, I had my paper and pencil all ready); the doc calls. I'm listening, does she sound happy... listening for clues. She says unfortunately she doesn't have good news. The biopsy shows ductal carcinoma
ductal carcinoma
She says it is small, and I caught it early. I think I responded with something like: well, my boobs are small, so whenever a bra fits, I know there is something wrong. um.....
She gives me the name of a surgeon, a "breast expert" - wow, they got all sorts of docs now-a-days -- what happened to the "GP" (general practioner) that we all grew up with that knew our family, our life, everything.
So, I make an appt with the "breast expert"(I'm losing track of the dates now, but that was a few days later). I go see her, she nice, checks the breast, checks the other side, thinks she feels something unusual on the other side, so sets me up for another ultrasound. Eeesh.
So, I have an ultrasound on the other side, June 8th, and meet with the same technician, who is very nice and remembers me, and my story (just like a GP would - maybe the techs are the new GP's). Anyway, she doesn't find anything on the other side.

Phew, dodged that bullet, some good news, finally. So, now I guess I'm going for the asymetrial look. um, well, I got lots of shoulder pads left over from the 80's.

So, now surgery is set up - June 13th, noon - Noon at the OK Corral? Oh, sorry. Noon for surgery, 9AM for the sentinel node injection. What? more needles.
node info

Oh, did I mention the surgery is done on an out-patient basis - register, surgery, sip, pee, go home.
I got in at 8AM, register. Node injection and xrays at 9AM - 5 xrays, hold still for 10 mins each on this 2x4 plank with arm up over head (don't put over the good ear or I won't be able to hear the technician). Then the tech marks my breast or underarm area where he locates the node. Back to the surgical waiting area at 10:30. Oh visitors, my mom and sister visit, and we laugh, make fun, have a good time, and oh, I show them the cut on my finger from a sewing accident the previous nite.

11:45, my turn to be rolled in for surgery. I say my "goodbyes"; kiss, kiss, and down the hall, to wait in some lonely corridor. The anesthesiologist stops by, I mention, or I stress, that I get nauseated from anesthesia, so he says he will give me something so I'm not puking my guts out afterwards. (well, those really weren't HIS words). The surgeon stops by, and now I'm ready. I'm rolled into the surgery room, it's very cold, they bundle me up, insert tubes, strap down my arm (I hate that), and the next thing I know I'm in recovery listening to the nurses (hey, where's the one that should be hovering over me as I awake telling me everything is ok), oh she over there, watching tv, listening to a radio -- well, for pete's sake, Michael Jackson was found not guilty on all 10 counts! Eeesh, THAT was not my first concern or question.

A few moments later (probably more then a few moments) I am back in the out patient surgery room with family and friends. I sip, pee, and go home.

I have a week off from work, resting. I realize I have a huge support network. Family, friends, co-workers. People I could call at any time, day or nite who I really appreciate and who would be there to help in an instant. This blog is for them so they hopefully won't worry, can see that I'm still ok, "normal", and that I know that they are on this journey with me. I am grateful for such a large network of support!

Posted by sue at 11:25 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, July 25, 2005 3:24 PM PDT

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