Monday, April 26, 2010

Well I've taken the next step. I had my second surgery on the 19Th of April. The surgery went as planned. They took a larger area around the tumor site to try to get clear margins this time and also did a sentinel node biopsy. I'm still recovering of course. I think the pain is worse near where they took the lymph nodes. It's just in an awkward place and there is still lots of swelling but I'm told that's normal.

I'm waiting on the final results which should come sometime today. I think the waiting is the most difficult part. All the uncertainty. If margins aren't clear the surgeon says we need to do a mastectomy. I was really hoping to avoid that since I'm not insured reconstruction isn't an option at this point. The initial findings of the lymph nodes was clear but one looked suspicious so we won't know until the dissection is done and we get final results. Of course if that pesky one isn't clear they will remove the rest of them under my arm for more testing. I so hope I don't have to do that!

I have to say the sentinel node biopsy prep was not a fun thing to go through. I'm so glad I had my mother wait in an area away from where the prep was happening. I think she would have lost it completely if she had heard me scream. It's not something I ever wish to go through again. If you're squeamish don't read the next sentence or two. They have to inject a radio active substance into the nipple in 4 areas. That is absolutely the worst pain I've ever gone through and I've had 3 children. I'm pretty sure that's the loudest I've ever screamed in my life. The doctor who was doing the injections felt so bad. He just kept saying he was sorry but this was the only way to do it. There was no numbing medication as he said that injection was worse than the others. I can't even imagine.

So here I sit waiting to see what the next step is. Radiation and possibly chemo or yet more surgery. I'm trying to keep positive thoughts but it's a difficult thing not know the outcome of the pathology yet. I'll be sure to post when I get my results. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I'm so nervous i can't sleep and I think I'm about to lose my mind here. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My new journey

Well it's time for me to start a new journey. After spending years not having health care, I finally found an organization of volunteer doctors, hospitals, clinics and laboratories who help those in need. I was led there by a limited free clinic in my town.

I met with them and qualified and they assigned me to what they call a "home doctor," meaning that would be my main doctor to see and that doctor would refer me to specialists in the program to address any medical issues. First was to tackle the problem with my arm. I had gotten some kind of infection in the tendons and as a result couldn't lift it. I was sent to physical therapy and I'm happy to say its good and new. They also did blood work to check my thyroid (I have graves disease and take thyroid replacement hormones), and the other standard blood work i.e. blood sugar (I'm diabetic), cholesterol, triglycerides, liver function, etc. Well all of my blood work was not good. Blood sugar was up, thyroid was dangerously high, cholesterol was 3 times normal as were my triglycerides. My blood pressure was also dangerously high (160/102). I was told that because I am diabetic with those counts it was as if I had already had one heart attack and I was on my way to a second. So needless to say my meds were changed and I will soon be having them redone to check my progress.

You would think that was enough to deal with but I was also having issues with eating. I was in a lot of stomach pain when I ate and to put it delicately I lived in my bathroom. We will just leave it at that. I had an ultrasound to check for gallstones. None were found. It was decided they would then check the function of my gallbladder. Although it was consider to be a normal result, it was very high as compared to most. Most results come out between 40 and 50 percent. Mine was at 87 percent. I was referred to a surgeon and he did one last test to check my stomach function which was normal. We decided it was the gallbladder and determined the best thing to do was remove it. It was overactive and I'm happy to say since my gallbladder was removed all symptoms are gone.

Ok so yes I'm leading up to the real reason I've decided to start blogging again. When I went to the Women's Imaging Center to have the ultrasound of my gallbladder the tech noticed some retraction in my breast. When she went to talk to the radiologist about my gallbladder she mentioned it to him. He came to the room and told me no stones in my gallbladder but that the tech had mentioned what she saw and would I mind if he took a look. I said ok and he inspected the retraction and ask me how long it had been since I'd had a mammogram. I told him I thought it had been about 2 or 3 years and so far they had been fine other than a cyst they had found once but that I had recently noticed a lump in the right breast. He ask me to stop and the front desk and sign a release to allow them to get all my old films and that I should come back in the next 2 weeks to have a mammogram and ultrasound to check on the lump. I signed the release and informed my home doctor and she ordered a diagnostic mammogram with ultrasound.

I went to my appointment and had my mammogram. The mammo tech used a special paddle to get a closer picture of the lump. From there I went to the ultrasound tech who did extensive exam of my right breast and the lymph node area. She uploaded the digital images to the radiologists computer and ask me to wait. Not to long after they both walked in and the radiologist did another ultrasound exam of the area around the lump and the nodes. Saying that made me nervous is an understatement to say the least. The minute he looked at me I knew what he was about to say and my heart sank and I thought it would beat out of my chest. All I could think is, "This can't be happening to me."

He proceeded to tell me the lump was highly suspicious of cancer and my lymph nodes looked reactive. He said he would give me copies of my films before i left the office because he didn't want to have any delays and that i should see my surgeon immediately for a biopsy. I waited in the waiting room for my films to get done and was greeted by many of the techs who looked at me with sad eyes and gave me hugs. Although that was so sweet of them to do to show their concern it also scared the heck out of me. Even the lady who had me sign out for my films looked at me sad and hugged me. All I could feel at the time was terror and devastation. I just wanted to get home and be in familiar surroundings. Even harder was then telling my family. My mother is devastated as is the rest of my family.

My first surgery was done on March 19Th, 2010. At that time they removed my overactive gallbladder and also my biopsy. The diagnosis is invasive ductal carcinoma. So the next step is to check the lymph nodes and also remove more of the area around the tumor as they didn't get clear margins the first time around and have to take bigger margins. That surgery is scheduled for April 19Th. Needless to say I'm a wreck. I've chosen a lumpectomy and will have to have 7 weeks of radiation therapy. I'm praying for no involvement of the lymph nodes as that would mean chemo too. The thought of chemo is terrifying. Actually this whole thing is terrifying.

So that's where it stands for now and now I wait to see whats next in my new journey. A journey I surely wouldn't have chosen for myself but mine nonetheless. I'll post along the way as I can and hope that anyone that has been through this will post comments to help me with my journey. All support is welcome.