Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Boy, this blog really works! When I don't post in a "timely" manner, I hear it from you!!

As you know, I went to see the surgeon today. She reiterated the pathology report as previously reported:
  • The tumor was 1.7 cm.
  • There was no cancer in the lymph nodes.
  • There was a minimum 4 mm margin around the tumor.
New Pathology results showed:
  • My Estrogen and Progesterone Receptors are both positive.
  • The screening test shows my HER2/neu gene is also positive.
  • I have a Stage I, Type II cancer. (Apparently Type II is the same as "Medium")

Because of the above, Dr. Christian is "pretty sure" I will need chemo therapy prior to having radiation. This news was very unexpected. I knew I would need radiation, but I had no idea I would need chemo since I have a Stage I, Type II cancer.

Apparently, I am "young" for breast cancer. Most breast cancer patients are over 60. Because I am 48, they will treat me more aggressively, hence the chemo. However, there is still a possibility that I won't need the chemo. That will be determined once the final test results are back in 7 -10 days.

I have an appointment Thursday 3/1 with the Radiation Oncologist and on Wednesday 3/7 with the Chemo Oncologist.

My cough is FINALLY gone. Both Tom and I are very happy about that. On another note, Dr. Christian released me for work. So "yippee" I get to work full time. No more lady of leisure for me!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wednesday, 2/21

I know I said I wasn't going to post anything until after my appointment next week, but Dr. Christian's office called with the final pathology of the tumor. They said:
  • It is a "medium grade" cancer. When I asked what that meant they said, "There are three types of cancer, low, medium, and high." Therefore the medium is better than high, but not as good as low.
  • The tumor was 1.7 cm with clear margins.
  • As previously reported, there was no cancer in the lymph nodes.

My cough is better, but not completely gone. I don't know who is more ready for it go away, me or Tom!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday 2/19

Things still going well. Seem to have settled in a routine where I take a 3 - 4 hour nap in the afternoon.

Since things are so monotonous (which is not a bad thing), I don't plan on posting anything new until after my doctor appointment on Tuesday 2/27 when I should have new information.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in a week!

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Things are still going well. Slept most of the day today. Off the pain meds and taking Tylenol. However the cough is back with a vengeance. Going to call the Dr. tomorrow if it's still bothering me.

Enjoying all the wonderful meals friends have brought!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday morning

Took a shower this morning, the first time after surgery. It felt good to wash my hair and get clean. I was also able to examine my stitches for the first time. The incision is about 3 inches long on the side of my breast (for you engineers out there, at about 45 degrees). It doesn't appear very concave. In other words it doesn't look like much tissue was taken out which is good.

Thanks again for everything!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

T +1 Day

Slept most of the day today. Very minimal pain, the cough is better and my pee is no longer blue. Things are looking up.

Lots of calls, cards and emails from friends and family. Thanks for everything!

T+16 hours

I'm up at 3 am to take meds for pain and cough. Helps if I sit up for a while to let the cough medicine take effect....

Things are still going very well. I went 6 hours between pain medication (I can take it every 4) and more importantly, I went over by 2 hours on the cough meds as well. That means either I'm finally getting over it or the calming effects of the anesthesia is wearing off!!

My friend Sammye said to check for shiners. She was right. I have a shiner on my right eye. Either someone punched me while I was out, or they popped a vessel when they pulled the tape off. It's probably the latter, but the former makes a better story :-)

Another very interesting side effect is that my pee is blue! Apparently they inject a blue dye in order to see the lymph nodes better. You know those blue toilet bowl cleaners people use - especially in restrooms of dubious cleanliness? My pee is that color! Glad they warned me. Fortunately, my skin is not blue. apparently, that can be a side effect as well.

I can't say it enough, thanks for everything. Between all of you I had all the religious bases covered. Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Jewish even Buddhist, Hindu and Baha'i! With prayers coming from all these religions, I guess the various Gods and Buddha got together and said "We'd best do as they say!"

Well, off to bed for more rest.... L8R

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

T +9 hours

Well, I had the surgery today 9 hours ago. I am at home and feeling surprisingly well. The only real side effect is my throat is a little sore. I can't tell if that is from the anesthesia, post nasal drip or both. I can even type with my left hand - which is the affected side. One of the (pleasant) side effects of the anesthesia is that it suppresses my cough. So I was able to take a long nap after I got home around 3:30 PM.

Wonderful news from the surgeon. The lump was only 1 cm instead of the 1.5 cm that the ultrasound showed AND she removed only TWO lymph nodes and ZERO had cancer cells in them!!! So I'm guessing I won't need to have chemo, but that is not official as I have not talked to the surgeon myself. Also, I do not have any drains! I was a little concerned about having drains since they sounded like a real pain in the neck to take care of.

So things are looking up all over. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the hospital today (even though I was out of it!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tomorrow's the day

Here I sit at T-12 hours and counting. Went to New Orleans today to talk to the client about remote work. Also talked to HR about the leave policy. I'm sure that things will work out fine with work as New Orleans has remote work for me to do.

My "crud" is better. Still not 100% but I can go 4 hours between medicine doses instead of 3 like before. Only got up twice last night with the cough. Sure hope it goes away soon. I imagine that coughing after surgery will not be pleasant.

Got flowers from the fraternity brothers and tons of cards, phone calls and other surprises from my sorority sisters. Again, I am overwhelmed. I can't say this enough - I am SO lucky to have such wonderful friends and family.

Loved what Laura W said on her voicemail, that having surgery on Valentines Day isn't a bad thing because of all the good karma all around us.

I've asked Trey to post my status tomorrow. I should be out of surgery by noon and recovery by early afternoon.

Thanks in advance for everything!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pre-op paperwork

Went to the hospital today and signed my life away. They told me about all the nasty and awful things that could happen when you are under general anesthesia - a swarm of locusts could attack and carry you away, your wound could turn gangrene and be amputated, you know the cool stuff - then they wonder why your blood pressure is a tad high! I passed even though I've caught "the crud". A horrible hacking dry cough. My surgeon seems unconcerned however. I guess if I cough up my lung during surgery, she can put it back!

I am overwhelmed by all of the notes, cards and emails y'all are sending me! Bob M, LOVE the card! (It has french fries on the front.) Not the typical "get well soon" card, but then again those who know Bob know he is not your typical guy!

And I do appreciate the prayer cards and bible verses that y'all are sending too. I know it certainly can't hurt to have so many people pulling for me!

Going to New Orleans tomorrow to wrap up loose ends with the client, then under the knife on Wednesday. I'll get Trey or Tom to post an update on Wednesday after the surgery.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Initial email sent to family and friends

There is no easy way to say this, except to just come out and say it…. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday, February 2. I will be having a lumpectomy on Wednesday, February 14 – Happy Valentine’s Day! – at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. I may or may not have to spend the night.

After a 2 – 4 week recovery, I will be having 6 weeks of radiation. Depending on the results of the final pathology, I may or may not need chemotherapy. Naturally if I need chemo, that will extend my treatment time.

Even though one never wishes to have cancer of any type, I am encouraged on several points.

  1. I had a “clean” mammogram in August, 2006. Therefore the lump is fairly “new”.
  2. According to the ultrasound, the lump is 1.5 cm which is below the 2.0 cm “threshold” for stage I cancer. Although they can not determine the actual stage until after the surgery and the final pathology comes in.
  3. The lump is very close to the skin.
  4. There have been many advances in breast cancer surgery in the last several years. One important innovation is they now inject the breast with a radioactive dye. Using a Geiger counter, the surgeon can pin point the lymph nodes that drain the cancerous area. Only those lymph nodes are removed for testing. If cancer cells are detected, then additional action is taken. Because of this innovation, the risk of lymphoedema (swelling of the arm) is reduced.
  5. My doctor is Dr. Mary Christian. She is a “breast specialist”. I had no idea that such a specialty even existed! She is a very competent doctor who deals exclusively with diseases of the breast. She says she sees 100 new breast cancer patients every year.

I feel very lucky to have such wonderful friends and family. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers.