A journal of my experiences with breast cancer to inform those who are interested and to help any one else who might have just been diagnosed.

“[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Lymph Nodes are Removed

Steven left me off at the hospital early in the morning, knowing that I would be there all day. He tells me again that he wishes he could spend all day with me there, but this week is the most busy time period for his job as there are a lot of mailings to do for Black Friday. I am really okay about being there by myself I tell him because I always feel so much worse for the people seeing me suffer than I am for my own suffering. I just don't feel up to worrying about others right now.
The nurses get all the paperwork done and I dress in a hospital gown and get into bed. They get a bag of  water going in my arm, and get a urine sample to test for pregnancy, just in case. It comes back negative. Sandy drops by after teaching in the morning and stays for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, the doctor in charge of inserting me with radioactive material comes in with three needles. They raise the head of the bed and he inserts these in my breast around the area of the lump, which turns out to be the most painful part of the whole procedure done this day. He is apologetic about hurting me, which was so kind. Sandy tells me that I can squeeze her hand just like I did during delivery of each of the five babies, but that hand has the needle in it for the water, so it is too weak to squeeze. 
The nurse massages the area to help get the material spreading around. I am instructed to shift around every few minutes and even get up and walk around to get the radioactive material going to the lymph nodes. This helps the doctor to find them for removal. After a while Sandy leaves for a meeting at work, but she brings Sam back to stay with me, but by this time, they are wheeling me off to the surgery prep area, so he has to stay in my room and wait for me. 
The surgeon checks to see if the radioactive material has made it to the lymph nodes with this piece of machinery that looks like a tape recorder with a microphone. She puts the microphone looking piece up to my arm pit and it makes this sound like a metal detector. I must admit, it was quite cool. I am introduced to the anesthesiologist and my nurse. They explain everything that is going to happen to me, including everything while I am asleep, which I find very reassuring. It is not knowing what is going to happen which makes me scared. They are all so very kind. They inject the area with blue dye, which also helps with locating the lymph nodes. The nurse tells me that my urine will be blue for a while because of it. They give me morphine for pain, an antibiotic and a pill that makes me go to sleep. 
The next thing I know is that I am waking up in the recovery room a couple of hours later. They wheel me back to my room and I am feeling particularly vulnerable coming out of anesthesia, so Sam's smile is a very reassuring sight. I was glad he was there after all. Not long after, the nurse gives me pain medication and tells me that I am ready to be released in a half-hour. I am surprised since my legs are still shaky, but within a half-hour I am indeed ready to get dressed and leave. I am wheeled out to the car and I am home within minutes, feeling pretty good, all things considered. This first leg of the journey is complete. My next appointment is with the surgeon on Monday, December 3 to check the area for recovery and to give me the results of the testing on the lymph nodes. On Tuesday, December 4th, I meet with the plastic surgeon to talk about breast reconstruction because reconstruction begins at the same time as the mastectomy. All the decisions on that have to be made, then, before I go in for the mastectomy. We are all hoping this will be completed so that I can be in recovery during Christmas.

Please keep us in your prayers.

“…For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” 
~Phil 4:11-13


  1. My prayers are certainly with you my dear friend.

  2. Praying for you! You have a good attitude my friend.
    Blessings, Dawn

  3. Oh dear Phyllis I am so sad to hear of this bad news. I am praying for you and your beautiful family>

  4. Wow, so very brave. I'll be praying for early appointments for everything.

  5. Thank you all so much for your kind words. It is knowing that you all are behind me praying that helps me get through it!