Karla sent emails to all her friends and family during her cancer journey. She gives details on her treatment and her feelings. Hopefully her words can help other cancer patients while they are undergoing treatment.
Friday, April 05, 2002 6:09 PM
Results of Karla’s first visit with the medical-oncologist, Dr. FaiChe Lee@ UNM Cancer Center
Dr. Lee confirms diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer and recommends aggressive chemotherapy with a total of 8 rounds consisting of 4 rounds of Adriamycin/Cytoxan combination followed immediately by 4 rounds of Taxol or Taxotier. This is neo-adjuvant therapy meaning chemo before surgery. Results of most recent studies show this combo most effective in reducing tumor size or eliminating tumor prior to surgical intervention in the form of lumpectomy or mastectomy. Dr. Lee says that 14-15% of women receiving this particular therapy have no evidence of tumor after the chemotherapy. He says further that 2/3 of the women who had planned mastectomy following chemo were able to have a lumpectomy instead. The chemo will be delivered every three weeks in the Infusion suites at the Cancer Center, intravenously through a Porta-Cath. This is a central line catheter which will be placed under the skin in her upper chest. It is an out-patient procedure done with local anesthesia. It will be nearly invisible, and allow the chemo needle to be placed each time with relative ease and minimal discomfort for Karla.
So-the plan now is for 8 rounds of chemo (3 weeks apart), then surgery (either lumpectomy or mastectomy, to be determined by her response to the chemo) followed by radiation therapy. Dr. Lee said this will all be completed after close to a years time.
The good news is her labs came back estrogen receptor positive and the bad news is the HRTII was positive. Not sure of the implications of either of these but for those of you who are oncologists, it may mean something. The surgeon said on Wednesday that the cancer is a Stage III.
He will treat her concurrently with tamoxifen, an oral hormone therapy that he feels will add to the aggressiveness of the treatment.
The chemo can cause fatigue due in part to anemia from bone marrow suppression. White blood cells can decrease, making her less able to fight off infection, and her platelet levels can decrease (platelets help the blood to clot) She will loose her hair after the second round of chemo. He says typically the week after, a person will feel tired; the second week the bone marrow is suppressed and the third week the bone marrow recovers. Nausea can also occur after chemo. He gave her medication for this. He said he would, if needed, use a medication called Procrit if she needed it to fight the anemia, which might also help with fatigue. The good news, he says, is that Karla is in excellent physical shape, and the fact that she is a runner and a cycler will only add to the bodies ability to respond to the chemo and add to her bodies ability to fight infection, to offset the negative symptoms of chemo, and have a positive impact on survival. He recommends a good diet and continued exercise throughout, as she is able. He says some women aren’t even bothered too much by the chemo! He agrees to her using herbal medicine and is open minded about the use of complimentary therapy.
Dr. Lee wasn’t able to give us information on the possibility of cure. He says everyone responds differently and we just have to take it a step at a time. He has ordered a bone scan to determine if it has spread to the bone. If there is bone metastases, the goal will be palliative, and if not the goal will be curative. He says whether the goal is palliative or curative, we will do chemo either way. He did say there was lymph node involvement.
There is lots of info on the internet on INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER. I did a “search” through MSN. It will be a difficult year, but CURE is possible! The positive mind-body connection that is so strong in Karla, modern medicine, and the collective love, prayers , positive energy and support of so many that love her will only add to the CURE potential.
SHE WILL BE AMONG THE PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN WHO ARE CURED!!!
Her schedule thus far:
2:00: Teaching session for Porta-Cath self care and chemo
Fri, 4/12 10:00: Porta-Cath placement To follow: Ist Chemo
Wed, 4/17 8:00: Bone Scan
Mon, 5/6 9:30: 2nd Chemo
Karla will have subsequent chemo treatments on Mondays every 3 weeks
Thursday, May 09, 2002 8:27 AM
Subject: Low Resolution Scans
Hey you all,
Had my second chemo on Monday. It went fine. Sally went with me this time. Don’t really need someone there, but it makes them feel better, right? It makes you feel kinda strange right after. Like cobwebs in your head. Didn’t get sick this time either. Guess I am one of the lucky ones. Take those sick pills and I am fine. I even ran Tuesday!! Yesterday around 4:30 the tiredness hit. This happened last time too. It finally hits me a couple days later and then all I do is sleep. I took an hour and half nap, laid around the rest of the nite, slept all night. Tuesday night I slept 12 hours only because I couldn’t sleep Monday nite and was awake at 4 oclock in the morning reading. Anyone that knows me knows this is quite irregular! Anyway, today i feel back to normal and ready to go to work.
Dad and Alice did the honors of getting some FINE pictures of my latest do! You will all get a kick out of them, I’m sure. One of them is when I whacked my hair off with the scissors after 45 minutes in the shower with the comb (kinda page boy look). The other short haired one was when I went to my hairstylist and her do something with it. This is the number one contender for a new look for me when my hair comes back. Maybe you should all vote!!! The bald look is the one I sport now. What do you think? One thing I realized is how much our hair keeps us warm. I get cold at night with no hair….yes, I have to wear a bandana on my head at nite to keep from freezing to death. Now I know what babies feel like!
Well, I guess that covers everything for now. Thank you again for all of your support. If any of you get tired of getting these, please just let me know. I can take you off of the list. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings!
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 9:08 PM
Have you been waiting and wondering? I’m sorry. I haven’t been avoiding you, just not alot of new news to report.
I had my 3rd chemo treatment on Wednesday. All went well. The doc was quite pleased with the results of the shrinkage of lymph glands that were previous very swollen. There’s one in your shoulder area that was very large that has gone down considerably, as well as a cluster of them under the arm and around the breast area. There are several that have decreased in both areas. This is good! I have also seen a considerable decrease in the size of my boob since the first treatment. The coloring is better and I am getting my nipple back!! I bet you all wanted to hear that! However, that is a very good thing, since this type of cancer retracts the nipple inward and causes major red discoloration. So, I am not going to be shy about this!
When I had my original blood work done, my estrogen receptors came back positive, which was not a good thing. We don’t want high estrogen levels when we are fighting breast cancer, therefore I went on Tamoxifen. I have been on that since the first treatment. It reduces the estrogen level that is produced in the body, therefore helping in the treatment. Well, what goes with that is hot flashes (don’t laugh), which was tolerable up until a week and a half ago. Last treatment, we decided to get a Lupron shot (a one month dose, to see how I would react) because I still want to have kids. The reason for this is that chemo kills your ovaries, for the most part, so you end up going into early menopause. (They usually suggest this with 20 and 30 year old women, but did my doc bring this up with me? NO!! I AM NOT OLD!!) He got really embarrassed when I brought this up and told him that he should have talked about this with me in the beginning. (He blushes easily.) Lupron basically shuts down your ovaries and protects them, but puts you into a menopausal state (temporarily) (even WORSE hot flashes!!) . Lovely, I say! So…..between the 2 (Lupron and Tamoxifen) I am WAY TOO HOT!! I never thought that a person could freeze and sweat like a pig at the same time!!! It’s amazing! This last visit, we decided to go off of the Tamoxifen because I don’t need to be doing both during chemo, and maybe try to alleviate some of the symptoms. We shall see! I will stay on the Lupron thru the chemo and then stop when that is over and go back on the Tamoxifen after the chemo until I decide to have babies. The general rule is that they leave you on Tamoxifen after chemo for 5 years. Ok, have I left anything out?
You all are so patient and understanding listening to all of this babble! But, you asked for it. I never thought I would be sharing so much of my personal life with all of you. Just tell me when enough is enough!
I am still working pretty steady. I have changed my hours some, so that I am not working as many of the tougher shifts at the restaurant (although I can’t stand it because it’s more money) and taking more naps. I get really tired right after the chemo for about 3 days and then I am ok. I feel myself slowly getting more tired during the days, but that bad. Just have to adjust my schedule, so I can squeeze in a few cat naps. (I know you all are jealous of that! Any excuse for a nap!)
Anyway, I guess I have covered everything. Putting self-tanner on my head so I can go bald when I feel like it. It’s so much cooler!
I love you all and I will be in touch!
Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2002 11:24 AM
Subject: Karla Update
Good Morning Everyone!
It’s that time again. I bet you just sit at your computers waiting impatiently for the next chapter! Like you don’t have other things to do with you time….
Well, let’s see. I was supposed to get my next treatment yesterday, but that was a no go. My neutriphils (which are your white blood cells that make up 50-70% of your wbc’s and their primary function is fighting off infection) were very low. The count for them generally has to be between 1.2 and 1.7 to be able to do the next chemo. That’s why there is a 3 week interval between treatments, to give your body time to rebuild your cells. Well mine were at .6 this time. So, it has been postponed a week. I guess this can be a fairly common occurrence, but if the count isn’t up by next week, there is some kind of shot they can give you to help in stimulating production. So we will see next week.
The doctor says that my progress is looking good. The lymph up in my shoulder, near your collar bone, is pretty much non-existent, which is good. That one was very swollen in the beginning. There was also a cluster to the right of my boob that was very pronounced, which has gone down also. So this is all good. There was another smaller tumor in that same area that has disappeared. Yea! The tumor is still very large, but it is responding well. The choice I have now is to decide whether I want to do surgery now and then follow up with the 4 rounds of Taxol or continue with the chemo and do the surgery after. Taxol or Taxere is another type chemo treatment which has become common breast cancer treatment to tag team with the AC mix (Adriamyacin/Cytoxan) that I am on now. This next treatment will be the last of the AC and we will now follow it up with the Taxol. This is so the cancer doesn’t become immune to the one type of treatment and we can continue to decrease the size of the tumor. So, my decision is to continue the chemo and see how far we can shrink the tumor before going into surgery. As it stands right now, I would have to have a full mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. If I continue to respond to the Taxol, then the possibility of a lumpectomy is there. There are no conclusive studies to show that surgery before the last 4 rounds of Taxol is more beneficial than continuing with the chemo and doing the surgery after. Either way, we do the 4 rounds of Taxol. It still makes your hair fall out and cause fatigue and all of that lovely stuff, so I might as well stay bald for a few more months.
I am finding that I am tiring much quicker now. I am still working but it gets harder to hang in there, especially if I go go go during the day and don’t get my cat nap before I go to work. I really feel it then. But the restaurant is really being great and I pretty much get whatever schedule I want, so that’s nice. I am still running (believe it or not!), but I am not able to go my 3 miles anymore. I did that the other day and it was just too much. Plus the heat here is awful (for those of you who don’t live here). If I don’t get out there before 9:30, forget it! Anyway, I can do about a mile and a half. It feels good but not too much. I am trying to keep that up to 2 or 3 times a week. I have slacked off on the biking, don’t ask me why.
What else? I am moving this week too! Like I don’t have enough on my plate already. I always have to be doing multiple tasks in my life, don’t I? Well, it was just time. I am moving in with Sally, who lost her roommate 2 weeks ago. As you know, Sally and I have lived together before, so we know we can. My situation here with Kay has gotten more complicated since her boyfriend moved in in February. I am very much the third wheel, even though they don’t purposely make me feel that way, it just happens. He’s never felt real comfortable since he got here. He moved into “our house”. You know how that goes. I have been living here for 3 years now and the emotional part is harder than I thought it was going to be. But, that’s where the chips fall. Sally needs the financial help and I need a place to stay until this whole cancer situation is behind me. So my new address will be 6923 Gabbro NE, Albq, NM 87113. My phone will stay the same (cell phone).
Well, I think I covered everything for now. I am keeping my spirits as high as I can. It does seem to be increasingly more difficult to stay positive the farther I get, but I do the best I can. You know me, I don’t like depending on others, and I have no patience for not being able to hang. You know? Anyway, thank you for all of your continued support and caring.
Until next time!
Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2002 3:51 PM
Subject: Karla Update
Well, it seems that it has been awhile since I did one of these things. Sorry, everyone. Hope you didn’t miss me too much. Let’s see….
I finally got moved in to Sally’s. It’s a little hectic around here with all the animals, but getting used to it. It will be fine for a temporary situation.
Well, I have had 2 treatments since the last time I wrote. Three weeks ago was my last one with the AC (Adriamyacin/Cytoxan) mix. That didn’t go so well. The doc decided to try a different anti-nausea recipe than my previous 3 treatments. Didn’t go well, to say the least. That was the sickest I have been so far. Usually they do an IV with Decadron and Zofran before the chemo. This time they did the Decadron and a Kytril, in pill form. No,no,no,no, no!! Doesn’t work! The pill doesn’t kick in fast enough before the nasty stuff does and then it’s too late. Four days of headaches, and nausea. Never threw up (although it might have helped), but felt awful. Mom had to come over on Wednesday and nurse me back to health. She didn’t mind, I know, because that’s what Mom’s do, and she wants to feel useful. Thanks Mom! So, needless to say I was pretty useless that first week, and then the other two weeks just kinda went by. I still worked, but had a lot less energy and the headache persisted. The fact that my neck was out didn’t help either. Finally went to the chiropractor too and that really helped.
So, now we are in the 3rd day of my 5th treatment. This one took place on Monday. This was the first one with the new drug, Taxol. I had my choice of Taxol or Taxotere. They both work the same way, except I guess the Taxotere makes your eyes teary all the time! (Helps you remember the name!) Taxol has been around longer, therefore there are more studies to show it’s effectiveness. Taxotere is the new kid on the block and is supposedly better or just as good, but not enough studies to show that yet. So, I went for the Taxol. The side effects are pretty much the same as the AC, however, there are some allergic reactions that can happen with this one. You can have shortness of breath, hot flashes (like I need those to be intensified anymore!), and chestpain, as well as peripheral neuropathy (“pins & needles”, cold, prickling, pinching or tingling in your toes, fingers, hands and feet.) So, they give you a 1cc injection into your IV and watch you for 5 minutes so see how you react before they continue, because you will know RIGHT AWAY! Well, thank God I didn’t have any of that. I guess some people have severe reactions to it and they can’t use that drug, or they have to give it to them in smaller doses everyday or every week over a period of 3 weeks and then give them a week off, and start over. Here again, I consider myself lucky that I wasn’t one of those. I took it all at once, but it takes 3 hours to administer. So, my day Monday was a long one. I was at the hospital from 10 in the morning until 4 that afternoon. I did manage to get a nap and mom brought me lunch. So, it wasn’t all that bad. Plus, I complained about the anti-nausea stuff so they gave what I had been having before, Decodron and Zofran together in that nice little plastic bag! Felt a bit tired, but now today is Wednesday, which would normally have been my worst day, and I feel fine! So, I am hoping that these next 3 treatments will sail by and we can get on with the next phase. I still get tired more easily but I am not feeling sick, so HURRAY!!! I asked Dr. Lee about getting a B-12 shot for the fatigue and he said that was fine, so I think I will get that from my primary. They don’t do those there at the cancer center. Plus, I started taking Glucosamine, because my joints are really starting to ache, more than usual. All these years of waiting tables has taken a toll on the ol’ bod and my joints ache anyway, especially in my hips, but the chemo just adds to that. That is one of side effects too. So we can add that pill to the 50 thousand that I am already taking. I feel like an old lady with my pill box with every day of the week on it, so I can remember what I took and didn’t take. Oh, well, it works. I will hang on to it, because you know in another 20 years I will need it again!
Dr. Lee says that the tumor has gotten smaller. The lymph nodes under my arm have severely decreased in size, but some detection still. The smaller tumor that was to the right of the main tumor is pretty much gone. The main tumor is at about 6 cm. (about 3 in.) across, which is substantially smaller than going into this, so the chemo is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. So we all need to pray for more shrinkage! Never thought I would be asking for my boobs to be smaller,… well, just one anyway. There is noticable difference in the looks of it too. The color is almost normal and it’s almost the same size as the other boob. Love it!
Been running around with so scarf lately too. That’s interesting. People are so weird. I have noticed they are more apt to be sympathetic and look me in the eye with the scarf than without it. I think without it, people are not sure if I am going through chemo or just trying to make a statement. It is kind of hard to tell because phyically I not any different looking. I am not pukish looking, walking around all lathargic. I look normal. That has been my observation.
Anyway, I guess that’s all there is to report right now. Sorry it took me so long. Thank you for all of you and your continued support. Couldn’t do it without ya!!!
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 6:56 PM
Subject: Update addendum
Well, guess I spoke too soon. This particular drug has decided that it is going to make me miserable by making my joints ache like nothing I have ever experienced. I could barely even get out of bed this morning, and I had to take a pain killer by noon today. It has settled in my back and legs. Sleeping last nite was aweful. Working today was hard. It doesn’t help that I have such an active occupation right now. So, I am going to have to start learning how to slow down a bit. I hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come and get worse. I met a lady not too long ago that said the chemo did this to her. She would just sit in her car and cry because her joints hurt so bad. I can relate. I did that this morning. She started taking shark cartilage and eating marrow. I don’t know if am ready for that or not. Hopefully, the glucosamine will help.
Anyway, just wanted to add this on. Not as chipper or a positive as my email yesterday, but I guess it comes with the territory, right? I will keep you posted.
Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 9:24 PM
Subject: Karla Update
Sorry it’s been awhile. Seems like I have been quite busy these days. I won’t make this too long. My last treatment was last Monday, the 5th. It didn’t seem to affect me as much as that first chemo with the Taxol. I am sooo glad. I still have achy joints and shooting pains in my legs from it, but not as bad as the first time. The nueropathy (numbness of fingers and toes) is getting gradually worse, but it will go away when I am done. My toes are numb at the ends all of the time. Anyway, things could be worse, I suppose. I could choose the Taxotere and it would alleviate the joint pain, but it make your eyes water all the time, turns your fingernails colors, and they fall off!! How nice!! I think I will stick with achy joints for a few more months. The Glucosamine supplements I think have helped, and now thanks to my wonderful friend Marci, I am taking shark cartilage now. Can’t hurt. She had a huge bottle being unused and she sent it to me. So I spent 2 hours last nite making capsules. (You can tell what my social life is like these days!)
Anyway, my doctor visit with Dr. Lee last Monday was really good! He was so excited at the progress just since that last treatment of Taxol, that he jumped up and down, and said “I am sooo excited!” You would have to see Dr. Lee to appreciate the humor in that. He is short and very and very boyish in his mannerisms, so it was very cute! It was also touching, and very optimistic. My chances are very good for a lumpectomy if this keeps up! So, three cheers!!! I only have 2 more treatments and then he says we will have to wait 4-6 weeks after that for the surgery. Wants to have all of the blood counts all pretty normal before they “cut me up” (that was Dr. Lee’s verbage which I of course had to chastise him severely for). So, all is good, and I think I will get through the next 2 treatments pretty event free. I will keep everyone posted.
Hope all of you are well. Haven’t heard from a few of you in quite a while (you know who you are) and so I expect some “hellos” soon. I take the time to do this, you can sit down and drop a line!!!
Love ya all,
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2002 10:52 AM
Subject: Karla Update
I know it has been awhile since I have written, but there hasnt’ been alot of new news to report until yesterday, and I didn’t want to bore you all with hum drum stuff, like all the aches and pains I have and how frustrated I get, but now I have good news.
I met with Dr. Rivas, my surgeon, yesterday. He will be doing the mastectomy. I thought I might get lucky and have a lumpectomy, but that isn’t going to happen. The tumor is still too large for that. I knew that was coming because I couldn’t see one more treatment making that significant of a change in the size of the tumor. Dr. Rivas is the one I originally met with who gave me the diagnosis that it was cancer. He then referred me to Dr. Lee, the oncologist, who I have been dealing with up to this point. Anyway, I needed to meet with him so we can discuss my options for my surgery. He was very pleased with the way the tumor had responded to the chemo. He also said that because I don’t have any skin discoloration like I did in the beginning, he doesn’t believe that I have Inflammatory Breast Cancer, but that I have a VERY aggressive tumor, which means that my skin is not involved. This is very good news! I meet with Dr. Lee for my last chemo on Monday and I am going to ask him about this. This is the first I have heard that my type of cancer could be different. Dr. Rivas said that with IBC, the skin stays red and inflamed , even during the chemo, which is why they do a total mastectomy and take as much skin as possible and that you must wait a year to be able to do any reconstruction due to the involvement of the skin. That was what I was thinking the scenario was going to be for myself for the last 3 weeks. I had talked with plastic surgeon friend of my boss, who told me this was normal procedure for IBC, and Dr. Lee had confirmed this at my last treatment. I was not very excited at the thought of stringing this out for yet another year and walking around with a prosthetic. I know I would have done it and would have had to deal with it, but it doesn’t look like I am going to have to now. Isn’t that great?!
What will happen from here is that I will meet with Dr. Rivas again on Oct. 16th for the pre-op and I will have him take a skin sample then, because I want to know when I go into surgery what I am going to have done. He can do it while he is doing the surgery, but I think I would rather know before hand. That way I wake up with no surprises. This will also determine how he will perform the surgery. I will have more details on that later, if all your stomachs are up for it! I meet with the plastic surgeon next Thursday to discuss my reconstruction. And the surgery is scheduled for November 18, unless they can get it moved up a week. There is a 4-6 week delay on the surgery because they have to let all my blood levels go back to normal and make sure I will be healthy enough for it, and also have time to get the Coumadin(blood thinner for my port so it doesn’t get clogged) out of my system. Plus,it revolves around the availabilities of the 2 doctors to be able to do it all at the same time.
So, I think I have covered everything up to this point. I will have more for you after next week when I meet with the plastic surgeon. Thanks again for all of you being so supportive. It gives me great comfort to know you are out there.
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 9:38 PM
Subject: Karla Update
Hi to all,
Well, I figured it was time to write another one of these things. Are you all bored yet? I wouldn’t blame you if your were. I have certainly had enough of this whole thing. And I still have 6 months to go! Can you tell that my “positive attitude” is waring? Well, you are right. I am hanging in there, but I think the worst is yet to come. I handled the chemo pretty well, I have to say, but I am not looking forward to the surgery. I am having a really hard time with this part.
I know I had originally told you all that the surgery was November 18th. Well, that was when the mastectomy and reconstructive was going to happen all at once. Well, that’s not the case anymore. After meeting with the plastic surgeon, he has strongly persuaded me to have it done later, because I am still going to have to go thru radiation. This process really screws up your skin, it burns it very badly and so he wants to wait until that’s done, so we can see how much skin is affected by the radiation. So the schedule is this….surgery for mastectomy on Oct. 24th, 3 weeks from now, recovery (could be one to 2 weeks, depending on how fast I heal) and then 5 weeks of radiation (5 days a week, for 5 weeks) and then wait 3 months to see how everything heals and then reconstructive. Needless to say, I am not happy about waiting for the reconstructive, but in the long run, it will be best. I don’t want to have to do that procedure twice, which is ultimately what ends up happening. I will meet with Dr. Lee (oncologist) on the 14th to make sure all my blood counts are good and Dr. Rivas (surgeon) for pre-op stuff and discuss the procedure and then go under the knife the following week.
So there you have it. I am really trying to stay positive and believe that this is the only way to save my life, but it’s pretty tough. Everyone tells you that you are strong, and that you will get through it. I know that intellectually, but the emotional part doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.
I will have more after I meet with the doctors, before I go for surgery.
Thanks again for everyone that has sent back nice letters of support. It’s very comforting to know that you care.
Bye for now,
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 4:18 PM
Subject: Karla Update
Well, surgery day has arrived. I go in at 9AM tomorrow. The surgery will probably be around 10:30-11:00 tomorrow morning, a little earlier than I had expected, but a good thing. The longer I have to wait around, the worse it gets.
My mom and dad and step mom will be there tomorrow. I will probably stay in the hospital until Saturday. Just depends on how well I feel. If the pain isn’t too bad I will come home Friday. My mom and sister, Kris, will be here with me for a few days. If you want to call my mom at any time, her cell phone is 505-238-0599. I will have mine with me too, 505-259-2437. Probably won’t be up for any calls until Friday nite. Would love to hear from ya.
I will have more to report after I get home and I get the pathology report from the doctor.
Tonite, my girlfriends are all coming over to eat pizza and have a little meditation and prayer. Sounds good to me! I know that these women have some intense energy and healing powers, so I will be in good hands.
So, I am going to take all of that wonderful, positive, healing energy that you all having been sending my way and use it to recover swiftly.
Sent: Monday, November 04, 2002 6:44 PM
Subject: Karla Update
Bet you are just sitting on the edge of your chairs waiting for this, right? HAHAHA
I had my surgery and everything went fine. I wasn’t even that nervous by the time I got in there, they put you on the table and you are out in 10 minutes and don’t know a thing. My first experience with any kind of surgery so I was a bit apprehensive, but did ok. It has been a week and a half and I still hurt most of the time, but I don’t let it stop me from doing things around the house (I cleaned out the pantry on Sunday and I am organizing the spice cabinet next, so you can see how things are getting!) I came home from the hospital on last Saturday morning and have been doing pretty well. I would have been out Friday, but due to all the time I spent on my back that first day and nite, and probably partly the anesthesia, my back went out on me Friday morning and I couldn’t even walk. That pain was more excrutiating than the damn surgery pain. Therefore, I had to wait a day for that to go away, so I could walk myself out of there. They had me on muscle relaxers and pain killers all at the same time. What a nightmare! Anyway, finally got home on Saturday. Had lots of visitors while I was there which kept me very busy. And just as many when I got home. All the girls came over on Sunday nite with a movie and chinese and we all piled in my room on the bed so I could lay down and we had a great time! Thanks to my homies!! Now I try not to take much in the way of pain medication, except for at night so I can sleep. But those damn hot flashes get me in the night anyway, so unbroken sleep is pretty much the norm. (Good training for when I have a kid, right? If and when….) Anyway, Dr. Rivas said it went well, that the main tumor was removed (2 cm, compared to the original 17 cm., which means the chemo worked) and some dispersed growths throughout the breast tissue. It hadn’t adhered to the chest wall due to some liquid surrounding the tumor. He thought at first that this might eliminate having to have radiation, but not the case anymore. He removed 14 lymph nodes, 7 of them still involving cancer cells. He is relatively sure that I DO have a form of Inflammatory Breast Cancer, due to the aggressiveness of the cancer and because there seems to be some skin tissue still involved, another reason for radiation. Because of the number of lymph nodes still involved, the question remains now whether more chemo will have be done. I am not too thrilled with that possibility, but I will discuss that when I meet with Dr. Lee again on the 11th. ( My hair is starting to come back in, getting my eyebrows and eyelashes too. Dammit!)
As for now, I am healing up nicely. I got my 20 staples and 2 drain tubes out last week. I see Dr. Rivas again on Wednesday for a check up on the incision. I have some fluid still in there. It might disperse on it’s own. Not sure if he will aspirate it or not. Also going to be meeting up with a physical therapist to get me started on some arm stretching exercises so I will have full mobility of my arm again.
I met the Radiation Oncologist today, Dr. Wong. Very nice man, very knowledgeable. Not ready for that process to start, but will see him in 2 weeks to see how I have progressed. Have to be able to get my arm over my head to do the radiation. Not even close to that yet! So, got a lot of work to do still. I started walking to get some kind of exercise again, before I got nuts. Walking 2 miles a day right now. Not too bad!
So there you have it for now. I want to thank all of you that came to the hospital to see me and sent flowers and cards and called and have emailed. It was amazing!!! It really brightened my day and made me realize how truly blessed I am to have the most wonderful people in my life. You are the best!
Well, I will have more info in a couple of weeks and will let you all know what will transpire from here. But you can write back ANYTIME before then and let me know how YOU are doing. You know it gets old talking about yourself all of the time!!