Lots of Doctors and an MRI

Hi all,

The last couple weeks have been mind-numbingly busy with doctor appointments, phone calls to schedule said appointments, and calls to get records faxed, copied, etc.  Last week there were 4 cancer related appointments, this week saw 3, and, as of now, next week has 3.  From all these appointments we have decided that 1) we really, REALLY like the team of doctors we have and 2) the iPhone app “Calengoo” is a life saver for us since it will sync both of our Google calendars (without it we would be both double booked and lost).

Another piece that made the past week difficult was that the results from the MRI were not what we had expected or wanted.  We were really focused on the mass being small and the rest of my breast being clear or unaffected by cancer.  The oncologist went over the MRI results and explained that there were a few other areas that were cause for concern, five to be exact.  Four of the areas were in the same breast that has the cancer, three small masses and one axillary lymph node.  The other concern was about a possible mass on the opposite breast.  This news was harder for me to hear than the initial cancer diagnosis because this news, if true, can affect treatment and possibly the stage of cancer (though not greatly).  I had been prepared for the possibility of some lymph nodes being affected but to hear that there were more possible tumors, especially after what seemed to be a clear mammogram a few weeks prior, was stunning to say the least.  Despite this news, the oncologist was very encouraging and positive about the treatment plan, citing past patients that had similar diagnoses and are many years post treatment with no recurrence.  Her assurance and demeanor helped us to breathe a bit, as did meeting with our surgeon again this week.  Our surgeon noted that there are many reasons that tissue can fluoresce and look different under the MRI.  Both doctors encouraged us to breathe and remain confident that my prognosis is STILL great.  I should note that neither is the type to give false hope or candy coat facts.  🙂

We’ve had some more news since then and some of it was very positive, I’ll write another post shortly with that information and our next steps.  I’m working to make these shorter and more frequent, time will tell if I can meet that goal.

Love, hope, and laughter to you all!

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A funny thing happened on the way to the biopsy

Here is the promised post about my biopsy fainting spell.

I had my biopsy on Friday 2/28.  It was an ultrasound guided biopsy, I knew the basics of what was going to happen.  An incision is made, probe goes in sucks out some tissue to test, and a marker is left behind to let any future radiologists know that the lump, mass, whatever was checked.  Then they use ice and pressure to stop bleeding.  All of this is done with a nice dose of local anesthesia so there is no pain.

I’ve had two kids so this should be no problem, right?

That would have been true if I had not had to go through the “informed consent” or if Matt had been with me for the informed consent.  When they took me in Matt was left in the waiting room with the assurance that they would “take great care of me”, I wasn’t worried because I knew what to expect.  We went through the changing of the clothes, an ultrasound to make sure everything was still in the same place, and then it’s time to get this show on the road.  I meet the Doctor that will be performing the biopsy, she is very nice, reassuring, and calming.

I’m going to pause here to mention that I am somewhat squeamish, not so much when procedures are happening to me but when I hear people talking about procedures.  There are a couple of others in my family, that will remain nameless, that also have a squeam weakness.  This was more of an issue when I was younger, as an adult I haven’t really had any problems, so to speak.  I’ve had two kids, two lipomas (little fatty polypy things) removed; I’ve bandaged my kids cuts and scrapes, and bandaged my own cuts.  I did not think that I would have a problem with this procedure.

So the Doctor began talking to me about how I was, what the procedure is, how long it will take, and so on.  Then she began talking about the very specific details of the procedure, let’s call them graphic details of the procedure.  I was doing fairly well through the first two thirds but as she began talking about the final steps of the procedure I felt the need for a little more air, and things began to get fuzzy.  I’m told that I was nodding away, as if in agreement or understanding, as I began to faint.  The next thing I know I’m laying flat on my back (on the bed that I had been sitting on) with my knees bent.  This was not a “Oh I feel dizzy let me get my head back” kind of fainting.  This was a “What the heck just happened?  Did I just hear music?” kind of fainting.  I actually think I did hear music, not the “go into the light” angel music that we hear about in movies but just a chord or two of more “regular” music.

At that point the Doctor was not as calm, she kept asking if I was sure I didn’t want to do the procedure at another time with some sedation, etc.  I, of course, insisted that ‘no this will be fine.  I want to get it over with.  Please don’t go into any more detail about the procedure.’ and ‘can I see my husband?’.

Matt came back and after a moment of panic realized that I was OK.  He was able to stick around through the rest of the informed consent (which was finished with fewer details) and then left for the actual procedure.  The ultrasound tech, Doctor, and nurse (that joined us after I fainted) were all great and the rest of the biopsy went with no problem.  The Doctor was concerned enough to give me her cell phone number and ask that I call or text her the next day to let her know that I was feeling alright.

So the moral of this experience is that Matt will be in the room when informed consent is given so that I can tune out if needed.  If anyone knows of a way to desensitize oneself to this squeamish passing out thing please let me know!!  I’m guessing the surgeries and treatment that lie ahead will probably help.

I hope you were able to laugh with us!

Love, hope, and laughter to you all!

Killer boobs…

I’m going to jump right into this because that’s really the only way I know how to do things.

On February 16th I found a lump in my right breast, nothing huge but it was noticeable. About one week later I had an appointment for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.  During that week I figured this was nothing to worry about, lots of women have little lumps and bumps that turn out to be of no concern.  While I was at the appointment things went along normally, I was told that depending on what the radiologist saw I might just talk to a nurse about the findings.  I knew things took a different turn when the ultrasound tech said that the radiologist would talk with me about what they were seeing; the turn became even bigger when I was brought to the really nice waiting room; I knew that we had changed roads when the radiologist came into the room with a “Nurse Care Coordinator”.  “Crap” was my thought when she introduced herself.  We spoke about my need to have a biopsy to determine the exact nature of the lump.

From there time sped up and stood still.  We met with a surgeon and had a biopsy later in the week.  Our surgeon gave us a good picture of the different options we would have depending on the biopsy results.  I think this made a big difference for us when we received the call on Tuesday telling us that the biopsy showed that the mass is cancerous.  I felt somewhat prepared by already knowing some of the options I have and some of the next steps in the process.

Yesterday (Fri 3/7) we met with the surgeon again to discuss specifics.  The cancer that I have is invasive ductal carcinoma; it is a MSBR grade 3 (this is different from the stage) which means it is an aggressive form of cancer.  It tested positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors, we are waiting to see if it is also positive for another receptor, receptors can impact treatment and provide me with more options for care.  My lymph nodes appear clear and the tumor is 2.4cm so I have stage 2 cancer.  This is considered highly treatable and curable.

The next steps involve screening for the BRCA gene, I had the blood drawn yesterday so that is in process and will take a few weeks.  I will also have an MRI to get a better picture of the tumor and lymph nodes to confirm size and status a bit more clearly.  We will be meeting with an oncologist and plastic surgeon in the next 2 weeks, as well as a geneticist to discuss the BRCA results.  As of now I will be having surgery in the next month or so, depending on how quickly we can schedule appointments and follow-ups.

I feel pretty much the same as I always have so I have good energy levels and I’m not sick at all… well aside from the cancer. 😉  I feel very comfortable with the surgeon that I have, she is young and understands my perspective and is very competent.  I’m scared to be facing cancer at 36 and I’m definitely nervous about surgery and treatment, especially since I am fairly squeamish; as in I fainted before the biopsy, but that’s a story for another post; and there will be incisions, drains, spacers, and all sorts of other “squeam” inducing things. (UGH) I’m pretty sure that we have a bit of shock going on and I think things will sink in as we get closer to surgery.  I will keep living and having fun with life, for example I fully intend to have a wicked fun haircut before surgery and beginning chemo.  I am comforted by the care, prayers, and support that we are already receiving from family and friends.  Finally and most importantly I have a peace from God that he is carrying us through this, that this will be a chapter of my/our story that will have a positive impact on my/our life and for those around us.  The passage Romans 5:1-5 keeps coming to mind, here’s verses 2-5 from The Message “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

When 2014 began I sort of ‘claimed’ Oceans by Hillsong UNITED as my hope for the year, it’s pretty much perfect for where I am now.  Here’s the song in case you aren’t familiar with it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_sWJQm2fs

Please pray for wisdom for the Doctors involved and for us as we face decisions regarding treatment and care.

Love, hope, and laughter to you all!!