Posts tagged Lymph Node
Phone’s ringing. The doc. I’ve been waiting.
Yes, now is an OK time to talk.
T-t-t-tell me what to do.
Sit down. Swallow that lump. What next? Go talk to Tracy. Get hugs. Get help.
Kids, don’t freak, please. I am NOT about to die! LOOK at me – I’M STRONG!! Believe me, PLEASE!
Surgeons. Tests. Biopsies.
Questions. Prayers. Decisions.
No decision to make. It’s clear.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Business. No stopping. Training and training.
Must move out of studio. Coincidence? Another place found.
Ready but still waiting.
Finally, mastectomy. Times two. ATTACK!
Awake from surgery. Were my nodes clear? Nurses won’t answer.
Were my nodes clear? No one answers.
TRACY, were my nodes clear?
That news is my medicine.
Peeking. Two small mounds, so very welcome on the flat reality.
Home. Drain 1, Drain 2, Drain 3, Drain 4. Learn to love them. Necessary.
Feeling pain. Who beat me up?
Days. Healing. Drains can come out. Gross. Moving on.
Scars: large. red. Shocking. A life was saved here.
Plastic surgeon doing his job. Pumping up the volume. Week 1. Week 2. Week 3. And that’s enough.
He says: now we wait.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Confirmation: no chemo! RELIEF!
Just take this pill. Everyday. 365×5.
The summer of expanders. Eagerly waiting to exchange.
Adjusting. Feeling good. Feeling strong.
Surgery pre-op. Almost time to exchange. Done waiting. So ready.
Hospital. Here goes again. This time it’s outpatient. OK, I like that better.
Beat up again. Sore. Same sore. Hallelujah – no drains! But foggy head. Foggy foggy head.
Improved? Yes. How much? A lot. As good as you hoped? No.
Grateful nonetheless. So grateful.
Stumbling. Feeling sad for no reason. Mad at myself. So much has gone right. Why feel sad?
Staring. Whose chest IS this? What happened to me?
Priorities change. Need to do all I can.
Re-evaluate. Think. Pray. Heal.
October will be Pink. A race. A team. Important.
Ask. Receive. Grateful.
Abounding kindness. Amazing generosity.
Got my shirt. It has the word. Survivor.
I am a breast cancer survivor.
Still healing. I’ll get there.
My breast cancer was detected early, at Stage I, and my prognosis is excellent. Efforts by Susan G. Komen have made my walk through this difficult time easier.
From the Susan G. Komen For the Cure website: For more than 25 years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has played a critical role in every major advance in the fight against breast cancer, transforming how the world talks about and treats this disease, and helping to turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors. Over the next 25 years, an estimated 25 million women around the world will be diagnosed with breast cancer if we don’t find a cure. Susan G. Komen will not stop until we discover and deliver the cures. That’s our promise.
On October 2, 2010 I will walk with my family and my team in the Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure. When I cross the finish line, my name will be announced as a survivor.
Please consider supporting my team, StrongerSarah, in the Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure. Donating any amount is easy by going here. Although my individual goal has been met, our team goal of $2,000 has not yet been reached. Your donation will help raise awareness and fund research so that our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends may never have to get that phone call.
Just the Facts: It has been a busy couple of days. I had my post-surgery follow up appointment with my surgeon yesterday (Tuesday), which went very well. Then I went to my plastic surgeon to have my four surgical drains removed. Today I went back to be checked because it seemed like I was retaining too much fluid, but all is well.
Details: I am 8 days post-mastectomy and reconstruction surgery as of today. Yesterday I saw my surgeon for a follow-up visit. He was very pleased with how I am doing and we mainly ended up discussing the pathology report and our next steps. He referred me to an oncologist and had an appointment set with her for April 23. We will meet and discuss the pathology report in greater detail, then she will most likely order an Oncotype DX report for me, which will boil down all my decisions about chemotherapy and hormone therapy into hard numbers. The surgeon reiterated that most likely, chemotherapy won’t be recommended since my lymph nodes were clear. Hormone therapy (tamoxifen) will VERY likely be recommended.
Here are some “highlights” from the path report for those who have an interest in such things:
- There were two tumors (This princess actually had two peas.) One was 1.5cm and the other was 1.2cm. They were both invasive carcinoma. There were also a few occurrences of In Situ Carcinoma (not invasive) that accounted for the other worrisome spots on the MRI.
- The margins were clear with a range of 2-5mm, which is excellent.
- Three lymph nodes were removed and all were cancer free.
- The left breast was completely benign.
- Both tumors are highly estrogen sensitive and at least partially progesterone sensitive, which makes the cancer highly treatable with hormone therapy.
- The tumors were HER/2 negative, another reason chemotherapy is likely not needed in my case. HER/2 positive cancers are always treated with chemo.
- The tumors were a low grade, meaning very slow growing.
After discussing the report with my surgeon, he asked that I make another follow up appointment with him for three weeks from now. After that he won’t need to see me for a year.
The plastic surgeon’s office is where we’ll be spending lots of time in the coming weeks, and that’s where Tracy took me right after we left the surgeon’s office. They ask you to monitor and measure the amount of drainage that you have each day that you have the drains and come into the office when the output is at or below a certain level. By Tuesday I had been at the magical level for 48 hours and called to see about getting the drains taken out. (Managing life with them is no treat!)
The nurse called early Tuesday morning and said I could just come in whenever it was convenient. So we headed there about 11:00am. Sparing the ugly details, I will just say that having those drains removed was gross and awful in many ways. Afterward, I was relieved but also felt very disoriented and off-balance. For the last week I had grown used to them, my 4 new appendages. Further, they had been there since the loss of another major part of me. Somehow the mix of adding and subtracting plastics and parts left me quite out of sorts. After some lunch I felt better.
However, by late afternoon, I noticed that I was beginning to look quite fluffy and puffy, especially in the post-surgical area. The fluid that would have found it’s way out via a drain was beginning to pool in the area and I started to get nervous. My doctor had mentioned that the success of the reconstruction was dependent on keeping the fluid retention under control, in order to avoid infection and general failure of the effort. I knew some fluid retention had to be expected, but it seemed too much, too fast. I called the plastic surgeon’s office and the nurse asked me to come in today (Wednesday) because she wanted a doctor (mine wasn’t in the office) to check it out.
Through the evening it seemed to get worse, then better, and back and forth. I really did not sleep well, partially trying to monitor the puffiness as I slept, as if there were anything I could do about it. I somewhat expected the doctor to tell me that I would need to go back to the OR and have the drains put back in.
However, the opposite turned out to be the case. The doctor I saw said that the retention was really very little, in the spectrum of things. He said that it would 1)begin to be reabsorbed by my body or 2)be removed by needle if it persisted or 3)be pushed out as we proceed with the tissue expansion process. I already had an appointment to see my plastic surgeon tomorrow (Thursday) so he will check the situation again then and decide what, if anything, else needs to be done. Whew!
Me: I feel good. The ordeal with the drains has left me, well, drained. (I couldn’t resist.) But generally I feel strong, energetic and healthy. The after effects of 6 hours of anesthesia are not unnoticed, though, as I do get sleepy and groggy when I really don’t think I should. I have been told that those effects could take 6+ weeks to wear off. I plan to ask my plastic surgeon for details tomorrow about EXACTLY what types of exercise I can safely do right now, because I want to move again, in that way, and I know it will help clear my groggy head!
What’s Coming Up? Plastic Surgeon tomorrow and every Thursday for a while, Oncologist on 4/23.
Other: Our family has been so hugely blessed by all the support and good wishes and prayers from friends. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am not able to answer most blog comments but I do read them all again and again. Thank you so much.
Just the Facts: I want to SHOUT for joy that the pathology report CONFIRMED all of the following: 1) the left breast was cancer free 2) the margins were CLEAR and 3 )the lymph nodes were CLEAN!! This fantastic news came late this (Friday) afternoon, several days earlier than expected!
Details: I received a call late this afternoon from my surgeon’s nurse. She said they had just received the pathology report from my surgery and my doctor asked her to call me to share the news. Basically, the pathology report confirmed all of the preliminary findings from the biopsies and the surgery. It seems that the cancer was confined to the right breast. It was confirmed that the lymph nodes were cancer free and the margins were clear. I did not ask the exact size of the tumors, but I will be able to find out that information next week, when I go back for a follow up appointment on Tuesday. We will still wait for the official word on a recommendation regarding chemotherapy and other treatments, but expect to hear that chemo will not be recommended. The surgeon had told us before that if this were the outcome, my cancer would probably be considered “cured” by the surgery alone. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: That news definitely helped! I do feel better today, after a good night’s sleep last night. I am resting a lot more during the day, which is difficult, since I do feel good, but I know it is the key to feeling even better sooner. The surgical drains (sorry, eww!) are the biggest annoyance, moreso than the pain. The good news is that the drains will only be there for another week or two. That is really not much time at all and after that, I should feel MUCH better.
Prayer Requests: PRAISE God for bringing me through surgery so easily, for having it go well and for excellent news from pathology. Aside from a difficult first night home from the hospital, this whole thing could not have gone better. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes!
Sarah is home and resting after being released from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Both surgeons were thrilled with the results and encouraged by how good she looked so quickly after surgery.
Thanks Pop, Steve, Doug and Alice for waiting with me at various times during surgery. A couple of them got to see me “exhale” when hearing the good news about the lymph nodes. I did not realize until yesterday I had been “holding my breath” since Sarah’s diagnosis. We both realize there are ups and downs to come but it is a relief to turn those pages in this chapter.
Sarah is trying to take it much easier today (Thursday). Last night was less than ideal. The trip home from the hospital was fine and Sarah was up and around most of Wednesday afternoon and evening. We sort of paid the price overnight. Rest is our priority now. Neighbors and friends are setting us up with meals and other support where we need it.
We have been truly blessed by the outpouring of kind words, prayers, service, support (and the list goes on) of all of you! Thanks again and the better blogger (Sarah) may feel like resuming updates soon. Sarah got a special treat on Wednesday by being featured in Episode 3 on www.dragondoor.tv as “Comrade of the Week”. Her fellow kettlebell friends nominated her and she is very honored.
Just the Facts: My bilateral mastectomy/reconstruction surgery is tomorrow. I am ready!
Details: The waiting is finally over. This journey that began even before my first biopsy in February is finally moving forward. Tomorrow I will have bilateral mastectomy surgery, which will be followed by immediate reconstruction. The mastectomy portion of surgery should last about 2 to 3 hours. The reconstruction will last 3 to 3 1/2 hours. I’ll be in recovery about 2 hours. Sounds like a fun day to me!
Surgery is scheduled for 10:30am but will likely start closer to 11:30am. We have to be at the hospital at 7:30am.
My husband, Tracy, will be writing on my Facebook wall when he gets updates from the doctors. Later in the day he will post here. I will be online tomorrow morning for as long as they let me keep my electronic devices. Then sometime on Wednesday I will probably find my way online as well.
Prayer Requests: Please pray that all aspects of surgery will go smoothly. Pray that the pathology report tomorrow would confirm NO CANCER in the lymph nodes. Pray for peace for Tracy, especially, as he waits tomorrow. I am focused these verses tonight: You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 and For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future Jeremiah 29:11.
Me: Really ready. So glad that the waiting is over. I am eager to know the result of the pathology report. In all honesty, since my diagnosis, I have not been comfortable in my own skin. This part of me has felt as if it no longer “belonged”. The only event that I dread is saying goodbye to the children in the morning. But I’m ok with what we are doing. It’s what needs to be done. I’m also very very grateful for the support, good wishes and prayers from so many friends.
Just the Facts: Enjoyed a great Easter Sunday with family. Would love to do this day all over again, but also, feel so ready to move on.
Details: It was a low key day for us, really. We went to church and then to lunch and hung out outside for most of the afternoon. Then we cooked burgers on the grill for the first time this season. SO good! I had a number of nice surprises, mostly in the way of support from friends in various ways. Check out what my sweet friend, Rose, had to say in her blog today. I am overwhelmed at the support I am receiving.
Tomorrow I have to run a bunch of errands, do a number of things on the computer and pack for the hospital. My sister also arrives tomorrow and I’m so psyched to see her! I am going to do a workout tomorrow, just something modest and no strength training. Doing it will help me stay focused better during the day and sleep better tomorrow night.
Prayer Requests: Time to focus on the lymph nodes. The surgeon will perform a Sentinel Node Biopsy on me in the first part of surgery. This is a method of checking the lymph node(s) that are most likely to harbor cancer if any of them does. It is meant to limit the number of nodes that have to be removed, as long as the pathology report indicates that there is no cancer in the sentinel node(s). Please pray that my sentinel node biopsy comes back CLEAR! Pathology will examine the sample during my surgery and if cancer is not found, no extra nodes will have to be removed (a very good thing, making it more likely for me to return to normal functioning.) I feel strongly that this biopsy is going to go well. However, please do pray for a good result. If cancer is found in the nodes, it means more extensive surgery and chemotherapy for certain.
Please also pray for peace for my sweet husband, Tracy, and my children, Olivia and Mitchell, as well as other friends and family who are closely following my situation. I pray that all will have the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Just the Facts: Tracy and I celebrated our 20th anniversary today! Thank you for the good wishes!! We look forward to about 50 more. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be a follow up appointment with my plastic surgeon. Surgery is next Tuesday. The week is flying by.
Details: In addition to celebrating, we also moved completely out of my fitness studio space. (We lost the space because a long term tenant signed a lease for it and the 2 adjacent units.) However, I also learned today that my neighborhood swim club has approved my proposal to rent the clubhouse for my kettlebell classes. This is going to be a perfect solution for us, and the fact that it happened today confirms to me that it is right.
Tomorrow I have to take Mitchell to the dentist for an appointment at 9:00 and then get him to school. That will take most of the morning. I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon in the early afternoon, so the whole day is pretty much gone. I have a lot of loose ends right now and am trying to fit as much in as possible. I know I won’t get them all done and am trying to make peace with that and just breathe whenever I stop long enough to think about it. The “planner” in me wants to check things off my list, at the expense of taking any rest.
Me: Besides being busy and somewhat frazzled with my to-do list, I feel very relaxed and at peace about what is to come. I have a confident feeling about the lymph nodes — that they are going to come back clear. So much so that I rarely think about it any more. That may change as we get closer, who knows? But right now, I just see the surgery as a process to get through and get back to life.
Other: Working on a Care Calendar as a way to organize care needs. Look for it in the next day or two. I can’t tell you how much your comments, support, tweets and prayers means. Thank you!!
Just the Facts: Tracy and I met with my surgeon again today. He answered a long list of questions and gave us more insight into how the surgery and recovery will go. We now have a good comfort level with this aspect of my treatment.
Details: Today’s meeting was scheduled for two reasons. First, I had a number of questions that I wanted to ask the surgeon including what to expect, what if’s, and when-can-I’s. Second, the surgeon wanted to meet with us again to make sure we were all on the same page about the procedure he will perform. The meeting went well. We did not feel rushed and the doctor was wonderful about answering our questions.
He reviewed his impressions after looking at my MRI results and confirmed to me AGAIN (I can’t hear it enough) that my lymph nodes looked normal on the MRI. Of course, there is no guarantee until the lymph node biopsy, but all signs indicate that the cancer has not spread. He does not anticipate a need for chemo or radiation.
At the end, I signed a consent for surgery. We’re set to go. We feel confident with the doctor and the procedure. It won’t be easy and the aftermath will be rough but we know what to expect and we’ll get through it fine.
What’s Coming Up: Our first meeting with the plastic surgeon on Thursday. I will have a long list of questions for him, too. I’m told he will be the one to say how soon I can shower and eventually exercise after the surgery, so I’ll be most interested in his comments. Though I’m really kind of dreading yet ANOTHER exam, I know that this one is the most important with regard to my future “look”.
Me: After today: thankful for my great surgeon and ready to move forward. Not in a panicky way, but in a confident way. Still nesting when possible, but busy with regular life stuff and doctor appointments. I think I’m feeling the best that I have felt since before I found out about the cancer. Thank you for your continued good wishes and prayers. They have definitely made it possible for me to get to this more “comfortable” spot.
Just the Facts: The pathology report from the biopsy this week indicated the tissue sample was benign!! There is no cancer in the left breast!! Today I also called to set up an appointment for a second opinion with a surgeon and actually HAD that appointment late this afternoon.
Details: Woo hoo!!!!!! So excited to get the news that the suspicious area in the left breast is not cancer!! This is the best news we have had since the whole process began. This does not change our decision for bilateral mastectomy. It does mean that I will not have to have lymph nodes on the left side evaluated any further. Therefore, on that side there will be none of the side effects of the lymph node biopsy, which includes numbness in the arm, possible lymphedema and potential range of motion problems. The lymph nodes on the right still have to be evaluated but we get to skip that on the left. YAY!!
This afternoon I decided to try and set up an appointment with another surgeon. We liked the first surgeon a lot but wanted to see another one anyway. To my surprise, they were able to offer me an appointment this afternoon. After rushing around picking up mammogram/MRI records, we made it to a late afternoon appointment with the new surgeon.
Given all the data we now have, this doctor estimated that there is a 90% chance that the lymph nodes are cancer-free, which would put my cancer at Stage 1. He agreed with our decision for bilateral mastectomy. Each doctor we have spoken with about this has said Bi-Mast is what they would suggest to one of their family members if they were in the same situation. The doctor described the skin-sparing type of mastectomy surgery, which is the type he would perform on me. We liked him a lot and are now faced with a tough choice (which surgeon to choose). Coincidentally, he recommended the same plastic surgeon that our first surgeon recommended. We meet with that plastic surgeon on March 18. We have initiated a search for a second plastic surgery opinion but after all we have heard, expect to be impressed with this one.
Other: I can’t believe that we have gotten so much done this week. It now feels weird to think that there won’t be much happening on the issue for about 2 weeks. The waiting will be tough.
Me: It has been 3 weeks since I first learned I have cancer. Life has changed a lot. My perspective has changed a lot. All things considered, I am really happy right now. This could be so much worse. I am blessed. In the next few weeks I plan to focus on achieving the best physical condition possible so that I have the best chance of a fast, uncomplicated recovery from surgery. We’re going to do this thing right!! Thank you for the thoughts and prayers. Please continue sending them!!
Just the Facts: Today the tumor in the left breast was biopsied. It was difficult to find but my rockstar Radiology Technologist and new friend, Denise, was able to pinpoint it using ultrasound. Samples were taken and results are expected in 1-3 business days.
Details: There is a tumor in the left breast, located at the 10:30 position on the clock. The biopsy of that tumor was performed this morning. This should be the last biopsy for me! We needed to know whether this one was benign or malignant so that my surgeon will know how to proceed with lymph node assessment during the mastectomy surgery. The tumor was deep and difficult to find, but my excellent caregivers successfully found and biopsied the thing. As usual, a marking clip was inserted and post-biopsy mammograms were taken. I could start an album with all the pictures I have now!! I’m bandaged and iced up and will have to wait until it has been 24 hours before I can remove the bandage and shower. No strenuous activities are allowed until Friday (boo!). Steri-strips stay until Monday. I expect to hear results by the end of Friday, although it could be as late as Monday. Please pray that the results come back indicating this tumor is benign!!
Other: I received a call from the appointment/surgery scheduler to let me know I have an appointment with a plastic surgeon on March 18. Another appointment with a second plastic surgeon will be scheduled as well, per my request. Regarding a surgery date, the earliest possible time will probably be the second Friday in April. I really do NOT want to wait that long but suspect that I really don’t have much choice.
Me: Happy to have the last biopsy done! Not thinking too much about the results. Praying it is benign but will deal with whatever it is.