Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today we WON the cancer Lotto!

I loved typing that title.  A win.  Yes, it was... and here is how it goes... I start by saying... this is a TRUE story.  And what a story it is. 
Yesterday, Wednesday, June 15,  I was scheduled to have a bone scan and a CT scan to insure the cancer had not spread.  Of course to have these tests ordered it meant the possibility was there, and I hated that.  I suppose I might have been living in what I call my "ugly fog" for a few days... the unknown.  Wednesday morning, 6:45am to be exact, I was in the basement of Riverside in Nuclear Medicine to have the IV started for the bone scan.  I have had a whole lot of IVs lately.  More than I can count, but none that went quite like this.  I should have known I was in for a treat when she said "wow, this is a big needle.. are you having another scan.. we don't usually use these huge needles for bone scans. "  Humm.. big clue Brett, but I just responded in my fog, "yes, I have a CT scan after this."   Did she need to tell me it was a big/huge needle?  Um, NO.  So, I turned my head away form my right arm... hoping she got what she needed.  I would love to say it was uneventful, but that was not the case.  I don't know what happened, but the next thing I knew, I had blood all over me, and needless to say the radioactive material as well.  Apparently, the IV didn't go as planned.  She cleaned me up, and then we quickly checked to see if any of the radioactive material went into my blood stream by standing in front of the scan.  Thank God it did and all looked ok.  The hospital closed the room I was in, hazmat put a huge tape X on the door b/c of the spill.  And to let me know how bad they felt for the issue, they gave us complimentary meals at the cafeteria!  Ha, that is my first comp'd meal I have ever had.  Unreal.  I wasn't mad, see I am just in that fog.  Just kept praying the test would be ok.  The rest of Wednesday was pretty smooth... considering... and I had the CT scan and bone scan and returned home,.. exhausted.  We were planning to have the results on Thursday, and would be meeting with Dr. Lilly in the afternoon.
At 10:23pm Wednesday night Dr. Lilly called me on my cell phone.  He ask to have Ben on the phone.  He told us he had the results of the tests and the CT scan came back clear.  OH - huge breath, relief, I started to breath deeply... what about the bone scan..??? He went on to say the bone scan had shown something that needed to be ruled out- a spot- on my right femur.  SHIT.. really ... oh, I had some hip pain while doing boot camp in February... I ask Dr. Lilly -- do you think that could be related?  He said does it hurt now, and I told him no.  He said that was a good  sign, but we really needed to do an Xray tomorrow morning to see what we are dealing with.  The Xray was scheduled for 10am, I had Genetic counseling at 11, and then I would meet with Dr. Lilly at 12:noon to discuss the results of the Xray and see if an MRI was needed.  We hung up.  Not sure Ben slept a wink.  I was in my fog. 
This morning, we got our sweet kiddos off to VBS, and headed to the hospital again.  We got to drive past St. Edwards and see all the kids and the wonderful volunteers... I knew most of them ... and wanted so much to be one of them today.  I bit my check.  Enough with the waterworks.  I needed to pull it together.  Got to Riverside and saw a happy family leaving with a beautiful baby boy.  Wow, didn't see that coming... I had my moment.  I cried it out.  Pulled it together, and got my X ray out of the way.. (or so I thought) Then on to Genetic Counseling, and finally met up with Ben in Dr. Lilly's office.  They called me back quickly.  They told me that the xray I had 2hrs. prior didn't get all the info.  They didn't get the whole femur.  Good Lord!  I am so short, I don't have a long femur.. what did she miss!  So, we ran, and when I say ran... literally ran to radiology, got the new Xray and returned to Dr. Lilly's office.  (All located in Riverside Hospital, thank you God)  And by the time I got back to Dr. Lilly's he was waiting for us.  He took us back and said very calmly... The X rays are clear.
The X rays are clear..... Ben and I look at each other - OK I say, that is good right... Dr. Lilly looks puzzled.  He has had two Radiologists look at the bone scan.  There is a mass on the bone scan, and the only thing they can attribute this to is some kind of "contamination" b/c there is NOTHING on the xray.  OMG I say... I had my clothes on during the bone scan!  I looked at Dr. Lilly, and explained the spilling of the material in Nuclear Medicine.  I didn't know if would have been on my pants, but it was all over the floor.  The IV was in my right arm and the femur is the right leg.  He left the room and went to call the Xray radiologist and the bone scan radiologist.  He returned 10minutes later and said,  yes, it looks like contamination.  You had your clothes on during the scan, but not on the Xray.  The bone scan picks up the radioactive material that collects... even if it is collected on my jeans.  UNREAL!  I grabbed Ben and we held each other, my God, this is good news.  We have gone through hell thinking the unthinkable again, but I am clean, I am clear, and I am out of my FOG!    Dr. Lilly said both radiologists agreed no further testing was needed, a bone scan would be performed in 3months.  (That is normal, in this case)  I am not sure I could write how good I felt at that moment.  It was like nothing I have felt ever.  Good news.  Really good news.  What is next,... Chemo, radiation, and MY LIFE.... that is what is next... my life back.  On our ride home Ben looked at me and said, " I feel like I just won the cancer Lotto!"  Indeed. 
Thank you for all your thoughts, and prayers, but mostly, thank you for taking care of you.  Hearing all of you that have gotten your mammograms, made appointments that were overdue, or just took the time to ck out your ta tas.  We are mothers, wives, daughters, friends, and we matter.  Take care friends.  I love you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"You take the good, you take the bad, you take em both...."

All that goes thru my head as I write this post is that silly, (rather catchy) theme song to the Facts of Life TV show that used to be on... "You take the good, you take the bad, you take em both and there have the Facts of Life, the Facts of Life!"  You know the show, Blair, Tutie, Jo... it was a good one back in the day.  Well, the song sums it up for me.  I wish I could only blog good news... but when I started this I promised to share all details... and so, you take the good, you take the bad.  And as I have said WAY too many times this past month.  It is what it is.  I suppose that is why it is a bit hard to blog today, there is good, and there is bad.  I hope as you read this you feel the good.  And know the good will prevail.  I truly feel that way. 
Friday June 3rd came and went as a beautiful day.  The village of Granville was filled, and I mean filled with pink balloons and signs.  It still makes me cry as I write this.  It was the most amazing, unreal, lift to my spirit and I am still taken back by my ride into Riverside on that sunny afternoon.  I told everyone I had the pleasure to see about it.  My nurse, the drs., even Chase the attending who got to wheel me to the OR.  It moved everyone.  My favorite sign read " Hey Cancer, you picked the wrong Chick!"   It was one of the last things I said as I went under.   The surgery was 4 hrs.  It was a successful surgery as they removed the tumor with clear margins.  And more importantly, I got to wake up and see my beautiful family once again.  That is success for me.  I awoke asking the questions I had wanted to know now since they diagnosed me... Was it in my lymph nodes?  Dr. Lilly explained it was.  The sentinel node biopsy came back positive for cancer, meaning it had spread to my nodes.  I was shocked.   But, we would have to wait until Wed. for the full pathology report to know more.  How many? I thought... but again, I was so happy to have the surgery behind me... I started to actually do what I had been telling myself to do... LIVE TODAY... so June 3rd.  I started to work on my LIVE today, one step at a time.  It worked.  I felt remarkable well.  A mastectomy is no walk in the park, but I really was feeling better every day.  By the time I returned home Sunday I was able to take walks around the neighborhood, and sleep in my own bed.  I was and still am amazed at the healing process.  Tuesday night Dr. Lilly called, pathology was back and he ask to speak to Ben and I both on the phone.  I can't say I was happy with the news.  But, it is, what it is.  He explained that what they had originally thought were two tumors, were instead one.  It was larger than they had thought at 3.2 cm.  Basically the two were connected if that gives you a better visual.  It was good to hear it was removed with clear margins, meaning healthy breast tissue around the tumor.  The right breast had no cancer, this is what we knew, but it was still good to hear.  Now the lymph node news...Dr. Lilly took 30 from my left arm pit area, out of those 5 tested positive for Cancer.  This is the news I didn't want to hear.  So, I say this is why Cancer is a ride you never want to get on.  You think you know what is going on, then it changes.  It plays on your weakest emotions, and for that I hate it.  But, it is, what it is.  So, it puts me at Stage 3a.   Don't start looking up the statistics... don't put yourself in a state of anger I tell myself.    I have to admit, I am not sure I even cried.  Until much later.  We hung up the phone and prayed.  And I felt an amazing sense of peace.   Ben looked at me and said, it is all out.  They got it.  Now we just move forward and do the chemo, and now radiation.  You can do this.    You bet I can, and I will.  I feel great.  I am amazed at how great I feel.  My drains (all 4 of them) look good.  I need to Live today. 
On Thursday we drove into Columbus for my post opp apt. with Dr. Treece, my plastic surgeon.   He was so pleased with my recovery.  He said I looked great, and then much to our surprise he removed all 4 drains.  I was so happy.  We knew I might have these up to a month... so to have them out so soon was just amazing.  It hadn't even been a wk.  I have an amazing HEALTHY body and it is working!  I was so happy leaving his office (and my 4 drains behind) that I think I could have walked home!   I had won.  Even if it was my drains... I won.  Moving forward... getting healthy.  That was a great feeling. 
There are a lot of little wins along the way.  I think it is a win every morning I get to wake up and see my family.  We are blessed.  I went to Church on Sunday.  It was just what I needed.   As I start this week I think of my additional testing and bone scans I have scheduled on Wednesday.  I feel so angry I have to do these tests now.  I hate thinking it could be somewhere else.  But, on the flip side I feel so happy with my body, seems so ironic, I am doing so well, and feeling so well.  How could anything really be there.  I pray all the Cancer is gone from my body.  And so, I need to LIVE today.  And guess what... so do YOU! :) Love you all so very, very much. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Please pass the mustard!

So, tomorrow is the big day, I am not going to candy-coat has been a tough couple wks. ...of waiting..  Some days I almost pretend I don't have cancer.  Last Sunday Ben and I went out together, and had a "no cancer" day shopping.  It worked...most the time.  Except for that pit in my stomach, or the look I get from friends we run into.  I finally said to someone the other day.  I sware... I am going to be ok!!!  I am sure I know how they feel... I recall being on the other side of this... not knowing what to say, crying like a baby b/c it was just heartbreaking.  Now, it is me. So, I get it, I have been you... and I frankly wish I was you... holding my hand, sending me cards, praying, loving, laughing... being a friend.  There are no words that can express how blessed I feel to have so many many people who care soo stinking much!  It is overwhelming, and makes me ... well, cry like a baby.  And that is just fine. 
Most of you that know me know- I am a mom, first and foremost.  It defines me.  It always has.  In college, I was voted most likely to be the best mom.  You know why I remember that... b/c even back then I was proud of it.  So, you can only imagine how it feels to answer the Doctors and Nurses when they ask me "Do you have any children?  How old are they?"   I normally take a slow breath, then answer..." seven and four."  And no matter how many times I have answered this question ... I just can't make it to " four" without my voice cracking and a tear.  I noticed at my latest visit- pre-admission testing... I saw where  they were going with the questions, and I started to tear b/4 they ask.  I can take the Cancer. (I didn't say I wanted it, I said I could take it... meaning I am going to kick the shit out of it.)  I can take the mastectomy... the chemo, loosing my hair... (again, didn't say I wanted it... but it gives me my life back)  But,  what is the hardest.. it is the kids.   We talked to the kids to let them know I was having surgery.  The Cancer word was NOT part of the conversation.  Our seven yr old is wise beyond his years, and of course is my sensitive one.  Again, worry, concern for mom is NOT anything I want for him.  I want him to run in the slip and slide, and have fun with his buddies.  Our four yr old is silly, and sweet, she is young, and carefree.   We explained Mommy wouldn't be able to do some of the things they are used too.  I can't hug, I can't drive for a while, I will need their help.  And I can't lift them.   Bella our four year old looked stunned... "can't pick me up" she said?  No, I explained... I can't lift much at all... it has to be really light.  She looked at me confused?  What about the mustard she said..... What?  Is she for-real I am thinking... Mustard?  Yes, she said, mustard.  I reassured her that mustard was on the yes list, and I could lift the mustard.  But Ben and I looked at each other and laughed.  Even my sensitive 7 yr old shook his head and giggled at her.  Kids are great.  Tonight, Davidson our 7 yr old ask me if I will be able to go to the store after the surgery.  I ask him why?  He said, well, to get the things that we need.  And I said, well, not right away.  Then he went on to tell me, well, if you go, I will go with you and carry your purse, b/c mom, your purse is heavy and you shouldn't lift it.  Very touching.  Of course before the Chemo we will dive into the Cancer word with them both.  But, if there is anything I have learned from this past month... it is one step at a time.  Feels like I have traveled and taken many, many steps already with this disease, but tomorrow really is my first step in fighting it.  I feel blessed, I feel loved, I feel amazed, and lifted up.  Ben will post tomorrow- good news after surgery.  Until then my friends hold each other, love each other, and keep praying.  xoxoxo (and go get your mammogram)