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

Sunday, December 16, 2012


The most beautiful thing to come out of this situation has been the outpouring of love and kindness. I really appreciate every kind word, every prayer said on my behalf, every mention or comment. There have been times when I have cried when I have gotten an email or a comment. One blog friend, when she heard that I was changing the course of our schooling so that Katie could take over when I was too unwell to teach, arranged for a free membership to schoolhouseteachers. Another blog friend sent me this email...

Oh, Dear Phyllis,
I have been sucked off in a vortex as of late and just read some of
your posts last night at All Things Beautiful when I came to the part
about you being diagnosed with breast cancer, I went to the site and

read all of your posts there. I tried to reply two times, but it

didn't go through either time. I'm not sure why it didn't work, but
maybe I am supposed to e-mail you instead of putting my comment up on
the blog.

So here goes...

I am so sorry that you are going through this. Learning with your
family has been such a blessing to me. I have followed your blog from
the time I started blogging several years ago. You have taught my
children so much! In fact, when I told my husband about your
diagnosis, he "knew" exactly who I was talking about.

Please know that I will pray for you every day and I'll find a verse
to hang on my refrigerator to pray just for you. And I'll pray for you

Dear Heavenly Father,

Hold Phyllis in the palm of your hand. Give her strength and courage
and peace. Guide the doctors' and give them wisdom to care for her.
Bless her.

Lift up her husband, and children, and dear friends that are there
with her. Show them your goodness and love through her healing. Grant
them freedom from worry and fear.

In Jesus' most holy and precious name,

Although we've never met face to face, please know that I hold you dear.


I will take all of these kind thoughts, words and prayers with me in my mind and heart for when I am feeling low during the treatments. 

If you are a blogger, you
 know how it is when you just post and you don't 
even know half the time whether anyone is reading or not. LOL To know that 
my life has touched some of yours in this way is just an amazing thing that has made 
all the blogging worth it.
Never fear...I believe that God has more plans for me here on earth before he calls me to his heavenly home. I may miss some weeks of blogging here and there, but I will keep on blogging when I can and when this is all over, I will be changed by the strength he gives me and the knowledge of all the love that has been shown me. 
Thank you.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins 
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion, 
who satisfies your desires with good things…"
~Psalm 103:2-5

Friday, December 14, 2012

Decision Made with Surgeon

My fortune from a Japanese restaurant fortune cookie.
After much prayerful thought, we have decided to do the lumpectomy. It will probably be scheduled for Thursday, January 3. It is an outpatient procedure. They will inject the area near the lump with radioactive material (just like the lymph node removal) and then insert a wire into the area, using a sonogram to determine the exact location of the tumor. With these two methods, the surgeon will locate the mass and take it and a bit of the tissue around it and remove it. This will be sent to the lab to determine if there are any cancerous cells around the margin of the tissue she removed. If there are any, she will have to go back in to remove more tissue in the area the cells were found. If no cells around the margins, we can move on to the next phase of treatment.
(On a happy note, I have lost nearly 30 pounds.)
I think we can now take a breath and enjoy the Christmas and New Year's season.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-Phil. 4:6,7

Please keep us all in your prayers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Oncology Radiologist

We met with the Oncology Radiologist today. We loved him very much. He had a wonderful bedside manner and he explained everything about my particular type of cancer and what the different things mean. He also stated that 40% of the women with Raynaud's disease when they get radiation therapy have a hardening of the tissue of the breast. He likened it to having a potato under the skin of the breast. It limits movement of the arm and is very uncomfortable to sleep with. He said that he would allow me to get radiation therapy, but that he felt that I would be more satisfied with the results of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy than the results of the hardened tissue. 
If I do get the mastectomy, however, and  later there are cancerous cells found in the muscle wall or other places, they will probably suggest oncology radiology again, and if I have already gotten the reconstruction, there is the same possibility of hardening of the tissues around the implant, which will make the  implant distort. The advise is to wait until the patient is cancer-free for a number of years (at least two) before the reconstruction is even started. By this time, a lot of women decide not to go through with the reconstruction because they have gotten used to what they have had for the past couple of years.
We have made an appointment with the surgeon on Friday to finalize whatever surgery we finally decide on. I will let you know which way we decide to go.
Meanwhile keep us in your prayers for wisdom to make the right decision.

“…for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Plastic Surgeon

We met with the Plastic Surgeon today, and I am beginning to get used to the confused state that these doctor's appointments seem to produce. He described the different procedures, which include:

  1. removing tissue from either the stomach area or the back, which is then brought around to the breast area. (He really didn't seem to want to do this. I am not sure whether it was because of his own personal preference, or whether it was because obesity, as this is listed in the pamphlet they give you as one of the reasons why not to do this. He didn't say.)
  2. a pouch that is inserted under the muscle wall and skin (either just the skin you have left or with the additional skin added) that is slowly inflated over time to stretch the skin to somewhat equal the other side.
  3. after the pouch has created the area, this is removed and the breast implant is inserted in the area.
  4. a nipple is made from your skin and added.
With all of this, we are reminded that the new breast will not terribly resemble the previous breast, just  make it less traumatic than nothing there. 

Since radiation therapy tends to create hardened tissue around the pouch/implant, he likes to wait until radiation therapy is over before even starting this process. Also, studies show that there is an increase in infection if the process is started at the time of the mastectomy, so they tend to like to wait until the patient has recovered from the mastectomy surgery before beginning the reconstruction phase. This is apparently a brand new way of thinking. Upon inquiring about the time frame for all of this, it looks as if it would be at least six to nine months before the reconstruction process even begins (depending on what types of treatment has to be done) and then many months of reconstruction...perhaps a year. All of this makes me want to lean toward the lumpectomy....however, it is possible that since I have Raynaud's disease that radiation therapy might not be an option for me. We may have to see the radiologist first to determine this. If radiation therapy is not an option, then we will have to go with the mastectomy. The plastic surgeon said he would discuss all of this with my surgeon.

Update: I have an appointment to see the radiologist on Wednesday to see if radiation therapy is a possibility.

Please keep us in your prayers.

"Behold, I make all things new." -Revelation 21:5

Monday, December 3, 2012

Surgeon Follow-up

The lymph node site has healed quite nicely, so the check-up on that was pretty quick. 
We spent most of the time discussing with the doctor the options of lumpectomy vs. mastectomy, as we are still on the fence about which to go with. Initially we thought we would go with the mastectomy simply so the worry of reoccurence would be lessened, but upon looking into it further, it seems that the the percentages chances are the same with the mastectomy and the lumpectomy plus radiation. When we spoke about it with our GP, he said that some studies done lean a small percentage one way and other studies lean a small percentage the other way. From talking to the surgeon, it seems that I am in that small group in which it could go either way, as there are factors that would pull one in one direction and other factors that would pull one to the other direction, but nothing definitive either way. I could go for the lumpectomy, and radiation therapy afterwards. If cancer is found around the edges of the tissue she takes out, then she will have to go in and either get more tissue or do the mastectomy then, but if no cancer cells are found around the edges of the tissue, can can then go on to the next step of the treatment. I will have to do the hormone chemotherapy either way, and perhaps the traditional chemotherapy either way as well. If I do the mastectomy from the start, I may not have to do radiation therapy, but it is a much more difficult surgery to recover from, both physically and emotionally, and may require a few different surgeries. I suppose that I should consider the options to choose from a good thing, and I am sure that if the decision was being made for me, I would wish I had the decision to make, but trying to weigh all the factors right now seems more difficult a process than the comfort in the freedom of the choice is giving me. We are to see the Plastic Surgeon tomorrow. Perhaps that will give us more information to make the decision on.

Please keep us in your prayers.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."
-Proverbs 3:5,6