Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beautiful Noise

July 15
I'm not sure if "Beautiful Noise" is appropriate for this entry, but until I find another song title that fits, I'll leave it.

We meet with the surgeon, her resident and the Breast Cancer Coordinator Nurse to review reports and films. Surgeon tries to find the lump, despite me telling her that the radiologist, who did the biopsy, couldn’t feel it. She continues to try to find the lump. Off the exam table now, she starts going over the test results. I can’t hear anything, my brain cannot comprehend until I hear if the cancer has spread through my body or if I am having a mastectomy.

The MRI shows either another mass - so that's 2 - or a continuation of the first one in the shape of a "dumbbell". I've always wanted to have a dumbbell in my ta-ta! MRI findings are similar to the review of the ultrasound imagining. However, ultrasound may have under called the size of the tumor. She believes the 2 masses total 40 mm but it may be larger if there is a space between the two. We need another ultrasound to confirm. This mass is large, but she believes I’m a good candidate for a lumpectomy. She mentions that maybe the medical oncologist will do chemo first to shrink the tumor and thus a smaller incision would be made for the lumpectomy. I like this idea . . .chemo first and smaller incision. I won’t go any other way with the lumpectomy and may decide to do a mastectomy.

Surgeon says that IDC is the most common cancer seen; it has the potential to spread throughout the body. Her/2Neu is negative which is a good thing; Positive is not good. Given that the ER/PR is negative, it is not fueled by estrogen; it cannot be treated with anti-estrogen therapy so consideration is given for chemo therapy. And here I stopped, as in cold-turkey, the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) 2 weeks ago! Hot flashes galore, skin so dry I could use it for sandpaper, fuzzy and dingy brain, or is that because of the stress level?

I saw the radiation oncologist. He, too, tries to find the lump and fails. I do get the pleasure of 6 weeks of daily radiation after surgery and chemo. Thankfully this can be done closer to home and I won't miss so much work.

I thought these doctors were trying to make tortillas with my ta-ta given all that patting and pounding. When the appt with the last doctor on Tuesday ended (and he left the room), I jumped off the table, flashed Victor and asked him if HE wanted to try to find the dang lump!

I'm thinking of putting a label on my ta-ta (kind of like those name tags that say "Hello, my name is. . . ") for Friday’s exams . . . .but my label will say, "No, you cannot feel the lump so quit trying!"

My surgery is scheduled for August 20th. The surgeon wasn't so keen on me waiting, but after we told her about Vic's surgery on August 4th, she was okay with it. That was when she mentioned about maybe doing chemo first.

Lesson learned: Obtain a copy of your pathology report to find out what type of cancer you have, do not be alarmed by things you see on the pathololgy report - it's only one piece of the puzzle. There are many pieces to this puzzle and one part of it should not be focused on.

Second lesson learned: Bring a tape recorder to record the conversation with your doctors (we have a special adapter for the iPod that also records). You will be amazed at how much you missed hearing! Virginia Mason's surgeon records her conversation with you, then gives you a CD of that conversation before you leave her office. It would be great if the radiologist and oncologist do the same.

Third lesson learned: Triple Negative breast cancer isn't necessarily a death sentence. Don't freak until you have the whole puzzle done!Fourth lesson learned: Surgeons are not necessarily the warm fuzzy people that oncologists are. At least, in my case, this is true. Maybe others have a different situation and I would love to hear from you.

Vic is doing much better with his symptoms from his tumor/adrenal gland and getting used to the meds. He had a few days this week where his blood pressure dropped too low and felt crappy. He is anxious to get his adrenal gland taken out and onto the road of health.

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