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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Year Ago Today...

God is patient with us, even when we aren't so patient with Him. #autism #specialneeds
One year ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
On my birthday.
Thank you, God for another year of a beautiful life.
Be grateful for each day, my friends, and live life to the fullest.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Radiation Follow-Up

When I am afraid, I will trust in You... Free Printable

Today I went for a Radiation Therapy follow-up and the doctor explained that any pain I was having now was due to the nerves re-connecting and that the burn is healing up nicely. He did give me a manual breast exam, which was nice since I can't tell now one lump from another, as both the surgery and radiation therapy has left lumps. He didn't find anything unusual. Next appointment is in February.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Super Sweet Blog Award


Sylvia from Living and Learning With Our New Normalwas “sweet” enough to include On The Mend in her list of nominees for the, Super Sweet Blogging Award! Since I only blog about my illness here, I thought it better to post about the award on my parent blog, All Things Beautiful. Thank you again Sylvia for all your sweet support and for the chance to thank everyone who has been so kind to me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Celebration Breakfast at Mazarelli's

 We celebrated my finishing up radiation therapy with breakfast at the local restaurant.
 It is just a block or so from our house.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Finished Radiation Treatment

I am so happy to say that I am finally finished radiation therapy, so now it is just regular check-ups and continuing with the Tamoxifen (for five years.) Thank you again for all of your continued encouragement and prayers. Thank you for being a part of my recovery.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Radiation Treatment, week 6: One More Week To Go

Well, today when I saw the doctor he was sufficiently impressed with my burn. He prescribed some Lidocane in Aquaphor Cream to put on it. I can use that or some Hydrocortisone cream when it begins to get better. The blisters are dry enough however because I have been faithfully using cornstarch. I only have one more week of treatment and the areas that have been most affected are now not in the area of radiation, so I should be healing there. I am very grateful for all of your prayers and encouragement.

I am linking this to:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Switching Focus

Today they look pictures and measurements because they are changing the radiation from a wide-beam to a narrow-beam. What this means is that instead of radiating everywhere from under my arm to the whole right side of my chest, they will be radiating only the incision-lump site. This should mean that the areas that are now burned and sore will begin to heal. So far the incision site isn't as bothered because the skin there is a little tougher than the rest. I am pretty happy that we have gotten this far without too many problems. Only 8 more sessions to go. Thank you all for your prayers, kindness and loyalty in this difficult time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Radiation Treatment, Week 5: Still Hanging In There

This has been the most difficult week yet in terms of fatigue and skin burn, {the doctor did describe some cream for it this time}, but I have nothing but gratitude for how easy it is for me.
One morning this week while waiting for my turn, I sat in the waiting room with a pre-teen girl and her mother. The girl had several blankets folded on her lap and she did not look well. She was scared because she had vomited the day before after her chemo treatment and she was afraid she was going to get sick again today. It seemed to be partially that she did not want the discomfort of being sick, and partly because she did not want the embarrassment of it. He mother was kind and reassuring, but I could see how painful this whole situation was to her. Of course. I can't imagine having to see my own child suffer like that.
Please add them to your prayer list this week. I don't know their names, but He will know who you are talking about. And, may gratitude linger in your heart for all that you have.
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Friday, June 7, 2013

Radiation Treatment, week 4

I am sitting in the changing room waiting for the radiation therapist to call me to the radiation therapy room. I only wait there for a few minutes. It is not a long time, but in that time I can see down the hall to the other room in which people are sitting in recliners as they get the chemotherapy treatments. And I am grateful. I say a small prayer for their recovery and to tell Him that I am grateful that my treatment is going so well. Yes, I am bone tired and I can't get done half the things I am used to doing. Yes, I am sore and red, but this is so small. Thank you all who are taking my hand and giving me a hug every once in awhile during this walk toward recovery. It means a lot more than I could ever say.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Radiation Treatment, week 3

I have done pretty well this week in terms of energy level. I do have some redness of the skin, but it is not too bad and doesn't hurt much at all. All-in-all a very good week. Thank you for your continued prayer.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Radiation Treatment, Week Two

This is the end of the second week of treatment, and oddly enough, I have more energy this week than last week. I am not able to do all the things I want to do, but I do get enough done that I am satisfied. My skin remains to be without any signs of burning and I am not having any other side effects to speak of. It has been a very good week. Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes. It means so much.

Friday, May 17, 2013

CURE from Genevieve

A dear friend dropped by and gave me this bracelet to wear. Meanwhile she is wearing an identical one that says HOPE.

Radiation Treatment, week one

Well, I have made it through the first week of radiation treatments. The doctors and literature I read said that most people don't feel much of anything for the first three to five weeks, so I just planned life {schoolwork} as usual. No, actually, I decided to give my youngest a big birthday party on Saturday, so I had party preparations in addition to the school and house work. 

Well, folks, I have certainly felt it this week. First of all, during the first treatment, I actually felt the radiation. It felt like a cross between the warmth  of sitting in the summer sun and the warmth of a hot drink being spilled on you. I didn't feel it so much in the next treatments during the actual treatment, but during the ride home (it's about an hour away from our house) I can feel the heat radiating from my chest. So far I am not feeling too sore.

But that is not really what I mean about having felt it this week. I mean the exhaustion. I have not been able to do a fraction of what I normally do, and have been napping every day. Between party preparations and the exhaustion, I just had to say that we have an extra unplanned week of spring break and hope that the exhaustion gets better next week. At least I won't have a birthday party as well. : )

Monday, May 13, 2013

The First Treatment : 1/34

I began my first radiation treatment today. The actual radiation treatment was in two parts. The first part was from the side and then the machine moved. The technicians came back to make sure I was lined up correctly and then the machine came in towards the front. The actual radiation time was five minutes for the two. I could feel a warm, tingling sensation and afterwards I felt a little tender, like a mild burn. It surprised me that I would feel anything from the first treatment, but then again, my skin is sensitive. I hope that this doesn't mean I will have too much trouble with my skin. I will have treatments every week day from here on out an I will meet with the radiologist on Fridays. Unless something unusual comes up meanwhile, I will post after my meetings on Fridays to let you know how it is going. I have put a countdown on the sidebar to let you know how many treatments are left to go at any given day. It can't really filter out the weekends, so they are included in the timetable too, even though I don't get treatments on the weekends.

Thank you all for your prayers and kind thoughts.

Friday, May 10, 2013

First Scans

Today's visit to the oncology radiologist had two purposes. First it was a "dry run" for how the radiation treatments would go as I went through the same process as I will when treatments begin. First I went into a little room in which I changed my shirt for a gown. Then I was led to the radiation room and I laid down on the table. My arms were put above my head in the mold that they had made for me. The technicians had the job of lining me up with the tattoos and the like to make sure I was perfectly in place. This took a few minutes. The scan took about five minutes and then it was over, and I  was free to go. First treatments begin on Monday.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing for Radiation

It has been a hard week. As I was telling Ticia, In the middle of all that has happened this week in Texas and Boston, we were studying WWII and the holocaust. It was too much for me. Or, perhaps it was because I start my radiation treatments soon and they tattooed permanent marks for where they should set the radiation machine. I was in the waiting room and reading After The War so that I can read it before I read it to the boys. It is about what the Jews had to endure even after World War II was over. I don't mean to make light of the holocaust by saying this, but I am struck by the similarities of the settings. After a brief wait in the waiting room, and I must say that the cancer center waiting rooms are filled with people who either look like they are about ready to break down and cry then and there to or those who are overly cheerful. I don't feel like I am in either category. I am escorted to the changing rooms by a nurse or technician, I am not sure of the title as she doesn't tell me. She is very distant, telling me what I need to   do and where I need to put what and I find myself having to pay particular attention to these simple instructions because my mind has gone into numb mode. It will do this when the thought that I could actually die from this surfaces. Since this facility takes care of all sorts of cancer, many of the patients don't make it and it shows in the manner of the personnel. I do manage to get into the gowns, making sure they all go in the correct directions and are tied in the right places. I then put my clothes in a locker, but am instructed to take my personal possessions with me (my purse and book) so that they don't get stolen. I guess there is no fear that the clothes will get stolen. :)

I am escorted to the radiation room and lay on the table. The technician takes a thick piece of foam-like substance and gets me to position my arms above my head and she begins to shape the foam around my arms to make a pillow rest for my arms. This ensures that I take the same position each time I do the radiation. Through the whole time I am with her, it amazes me how much she seems depressive, as if she has seen too many people not recover. It is hard to put my finger on what she says or does or how she does it to convey this, but it is strongly conveyed. After she is finished with this, she begins to figure out where the tattoos will go. In three or four places, she tattoos a dot so that the equipment can be lined up perfectly each time. Now I have permanent reminders that this will be forever with me. Even if I am cured, the fear that it will return is always with you. As we leave, she says, "Good Luck with your radiation treatments."

I return home an we begin watching Paper Clips and I then I begin crying and can't seem to stop. It is just tears streaming down, but I still can't stop it. The boys didn't know what to think, because I don’t cry much.

I will begin the actual radiation treatments with a trial run on Friday, May 10 and then treatments every morning for seven weeks. Despite how all of this sounds, I am not generally this upset and I have much hope today, and for all the tomorrows, and I know He is in control, and it is a beautiful world, a beautiful life.

"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Ps. 34: 17-18

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


My GP is also my gynecologist and since one of the side effects of the Tamoxifin is an increase in the chances of getting ovarian cancer, it is particularly important to keep on top of this. We also discussed my getting a colonoscopy for the same reason. We decided to go with a hemorrhoid specialist since I have also had that problem ever since I had Quentin and it might be time for surgery. My appointment for that is Monday, June 3. We also discussed the other side effects of the Tamoxifin, which for me seems to be an increase in my neurological symptoms. We seemed to have moved full circle and am back to be affected again. Don't think that because I have posted all this that I am unhappy. I am so happy and grateful each day for the happy life I have.

Friday, April 12, 2013

On Tamoxifen

It has been quite a while since I have written to this space. I am sorry for the absence, but I wasn't sure what to write or how to write it. Some of the side effects of the Tamoxifen have been affecting me. 

First of all, let me go back a bit and tell you that when the Oncologist gave me the medication, he also gave me a list of the possible side effects...

  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
  • chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, fast heart rate;
  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs;
  • nausea, loss of appetite, increased thirst, muscle weakness, confusion, and feeling tired or restless;
  • unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge;
  • irregular menstrual periods;
  • pain or pressure in your pelvic area;
  • blurred vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • new breast lump
  • upper stomach pain, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice
  • hot flashes;
  • bone pain, joint pain
  • swelling in your hands or feet;
  • vaginal itching or dryness;
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm;
  • headache, dizziness, depression; or
  • thinning hair
homeschooling through hard timesThis is not a complete list of side effects, but it is enough to tell you that I looked at the list once and then put it on the fridge because there are so many, I didn't want to get myself paranoid and become a hypochondriac about it. Sam read them and committed it more to memory so that he could know if I was experiencing any of them, (he is a sweet kid like that) and he tells me when I do list one of them. The first thing I noticed was some depression now and then. I have found out, though, that usually if I mention it to someone, they tell me things like it is reasonable for me to be depressed from time to time because of all that I have been through in the last year, which I guess is true, but it also doesn't quite fit how this depression is. The most depressing aspect of my life right now is that my neurological symptoms have returned somewhat, but this depression really seems to have nothing really to do with that. It really feels chemical in that I will have this sudden feeling come over me and I don't have any particular thoughts going through my mind at the time. I review my thoughts to make sure it isn't some negative thing that has happened that I have repressed or something. It is not like anything I have ever experienced before. The depression lifts just as suddenly and inexplicably as it arrives. I am sure it is a side effect of the medication, but it doesn't make it any less real. It is really disconcerting for me because my personality is such a look-on-the-bright-side and make lemonade out of lemons that I don't know quite how to deal with it. It is like my personality is taken away ever so often.
I have checked off other side effects such as losing my balance, loss of appetite, tiredness, thinning hair and flu-like symptoms, but the depression is the only one that has been difficult.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and blessings. We continue to need them.
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Margins Are Clear!

do not be afraid
Oh, happy day! Had the follow-up with the surgeon and he got tissue all the way back to the muscle wall, and he did retrieve some DCIS cells in the tissue. The margins are well clear this time, however, so we are good to go with the radiation in about a month. All of this and I still don't look too lopsided yet. : )

Thank you all so much for your prayers and blessings.
I also wanted to mention that a bloggy friend of mine has started a new linkup, you-all might like to join.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

The Re-Incision

Well, I can pretty much say that my re-incision surgery in Delaware was about as opposite as you can get to the one in Tennessee. The differences also embody the stereotypical differences between the north and the south. This hospital was quick, efficient but not as friendly whereas Sycamore Shoals was warm and empathetic, but not always the most able in terms of getting the job done. 
Sample image 1
Joseph M. Belgrade, M.D.When we arrived at Christiana Surgicenter at 10:30, the waiting room was quite full with all sorts of people, including small children. On the wall was a large screen that had rows of numbers, which turned out to be patient numbers, on it and beside the numbers were the status of each patient. Steven commented, "I hope our flight isn't late." It truly did seem like an airport flight list. No one but the patients and the medical staff were allowed behind the doors, even for the pre-op preparations. It was all the things to raise my anxiety. It was a wonder that my blood pressure turned out to be a low-normal!
After all the undressing and dressing into gowns, the pre-op paper work and general medical information gathering (blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc.), the anesthesiologist came in and reviewed what would be happening. The surgeon came in to see if I had any questions, which I didn't. He seemed very different from how he was when I met him in his office. In his office he had seemed efficient but not very warm. He seemed very happy and very concerned with me and how I was feeling. It seemed as if he loved his job, which I guess is what you want in a surgeon. Next I was escorted to a smaller waiting room with others of us in our hospital gowns and surgery caps. This was the worst part in terms of anxiety. It almost seemed ridiculous, it was so un-calming.  
After a short wait, that seemed unbearably long, I was escorted to the operating room and was introduced to everyone in the room, which was about eight people altogether. (It is a teaching hospital, so there were a student doctor and a student anesthesiologist.) I laid down on the operating table and they got things ready for the surgery and soon I was getting the anesthesia in my IV and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room.
I had explained to them about my severe dizziness and nausea that I had experienced post surgery for the lumpectomy, so they had given me medication to prevent it from happening again. It must have worked because I was much better this time. They gave me Coke and saltines to settle my stomach and that is all I needed. I was in some pain so they gave me a pain reliever and then I was ready to go home. Steven was soon there and it wasn't long before I was in a wheelchair and wheeled out to the van to go home.
It was good to be home, and it was good for it to be over. I must say that I am feeling a bit lighter on the one side, so he must have taken a good chunk. : ) I will know in a week whether the margins are clear.
Please keep us in your prayers.

“O our God… we have no power to face this… We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” 
2 Chron. 20:12

Friday, March 1, 2013

Oncotype and Tamoxifen

We went over the results of the Oncotype test in more detail today. The score range is from 0-100 and mine was a re-occurance score of 13! This means that, according to clinical studies, those with my Oncotype profile that took Tamoxifen (hormonal chemotherapy) for five years, 6-11%, (with an average of 8%) had a re-occurance of cancer, or rather, about 92% did not have a re-occurance of cancer.
Also, I thought it was interesting to find out that not only did the traditional chemotherapy not help with reducing re-occurance, but that in about 2% of the cases it actually caused re-occurance!
I can start the Tamoxifen any time from today to when I start radiation therapy after I have finished healing from the surgery. I elected to wait until I recovered at least some from the surgery.

1000 Paper Cranes

Katie has started the project of making 1000 paper cranes.
"An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

At the Surgeon's

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 
Is. 41:10

We are back from the appointment with the surgeon. It was an interesting, but slightly confusing meeting. He reminded me a bit of Doc Martin, sans the hemophobia, in that he would ask me questions using technical medical terms of which I was not familiar. I would try to answer his questions using the terms that were given to me by the doctors in Tennessee, and he seemed dissatisfied by the answers.  He was unfamiliar with using radioactive seeds to locate the area with the tumors, but he uses frozen section evaluation of tissue during surgery to determine whether all of the cancer has been removed. Using this method, the pathology laboratory provides rapid, accurate microscopic analysis of tissue while the patient is still in surgery. In this way, surgeons know if they have achieved negative margins (removed all the cancer) while the patient is still in the operating room, eliminating the need for any further surgeries. Since that was not done in TN, he will go in at the same incision site and remove all the hardened scar tissue and a bit more around it. He cannot use the frozen section evaluations with this surgery as the hardened tissue needs a more time-consuming analysis. I have a surgery set for Monday at 10:30 at Christiana Hospital's Surgical Center for him to retrieve more tissue. In about a week we will know the results from the lab as to whether the margins are clean by at least 2 mm. If they are not, the next surgery will be a mastectomy. Please keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Meet The New Surgeon

“I have surely seen their affliction… and have heard their cry… for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them…” 
Exodus 3:7
Joseph M. Belgrade, M.D.
Joseph M. Belgrade, MD
Delaware Surgical Group

This is going to be a busy week for us. Tomorrow I have an appointment with the new surgeon and Friday I have an appointment with my oncologist. (We also had an appointment with Alex's new doctor on Monday and I meet with my priest on Thursday. Not really related to my health issues, but it has made for a very busy week!)
Please keep us in your prayers!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Oncotype Results Are Back!

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped,,,"
Psalm 28:1, 6-7

The nurse from my oncologist office telephoned me today to say the results came back on my Oncotype test and I will not have to have Chemotherapy! I will have to have surgery, however, so my next appointments will be with a new surgeon and with the oncologist to begin the hormonal chemotherapy. I will keep you posted.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Oncology Radiologist

Viroon  Donavanik, M.D.

Viroon Donavanik, M.D.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped,,,"
-Psalm 28:1, 6-7

Today we met with Dr. Donavanik, the oncology radiologist. We   went to his office in Elkton, so the trip was pretty easy and it took us a little less than an hour to get there. The office was pleasant and we had nice conversation with a couple of people in the waiting room. The nurse took us back to review the information on the forms and she asked me about my treatment for my neurological condition as her mother is being treated for something similar and is not responding to the medication they are giving her (a different one than mine). It was nice to feel helpful.
As the Dr. Guarino supposed, Dr. Donavanik was not pleased with how close the margins were from my last surgery. He needs to confer with Dr.Guarino, but it looks as if Dr. Donavanik is going to refer me to a surgeon so that more tissue can be taken before he feels comfortable beginning radiation therapy. Meanwhile, we are all waiting on the results of the Oncotype to come back to see if I will need regular chemotherapy. Another option instead of the surgery is a larger dose of radiation during the radiation therapy, but we all agreed that the surgery was a preferred option.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Michael J. Guarino, M.D; The Oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, Christiana, Delaware

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~John 14:26

It was a rainy morning when we set out to my appointment with my oncologist, Michael J. Guarino, M.D  at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center , which is normally an hour from our house. In the rainy weather, it took a bit longer and we were a few minutes late to our appointment, which was on the third floor. Steven let me off at the door and he parked the car. I was still checking in when Steven met me at the doctor's office. We waited a few minute in the waiting room, which was a very depressing experience. There was a very heavy atmosphere of sadness, of a sense of desperation in the air. It was unnaturally quiet, reserved, a feeling that fear was everywhere. I was very glad to get out of that waiting room. Steven said he did not notice it, so perhaps I was projecting or perhaps I am overly sensitive to such things. I am not sure. I do know, however, that while we waited in the examination room for the doctor, I became very agitated, very nervous. Scared. Perhaps that was only because we waited for a very long time, and I began to think about all the things that I had put aside during the move and all that entailed. 

Dr. Guarino finally bustled in and had a wonderfully charming bedside manner. Later, over lunch, I likened him to Columbo, and Steven agreed that he seemed very much like the TV detective. He was a wonderful combination of "telling it like it is" kind of doctor and yet kind, reassuring and I felt he met us where we were. He was very reassuring, gave us a sense that he was in this with us and that he would get us through it.  He went over all the material that was sent to him from Tennessee and then he explained what it all meant, some of which I already knew, but some I didn't. The good news is that I may not have to go through the regular chemotherapy after all. He said that he has ordered a test to be done on the tumor that was taken out in TN called Oncotype DX. This is a diagnostic test that helps identify which women with early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive, lymph node-negative breast cancer are more likely to benefit from adding chemotherapy to the hormonal chemotherapy. It looks at the activity of 21 different genes in the tumor tissue that was removed and measures the chances of the woman, whose tumor it was, chances of returning and the likelihood of that woman from benefiting from chemotherapy treatment. How amazing is that? (If you are curious about it, you can find out more about it here.)

I will get the results of this test in about two weeks and it will have a recurrence score result, which is a number between 0 and 100, with the lower the score means the lower the risk that the cancer will return. If the score is low, it also means that it is a cancer that is less likely to respond to chemotherapy, so doctors will recommend treatment with hormone therapy alone. (For those of you that are praying for us, please say a special prayer that this score will come back low.)

The order of treatment will be:
  1. Maybe Regular Chemotherapy, we will know more when the test gets back.
  2. Perhaps Surgery. When a tumor is removed, some tissue surrounding it is also removed. The tumor with surrounding tissue is rolled in a special ink so that the outer edges, or margins, are clearly visible under a microscope. A pathologist checks the tissue under a microscope to see if the margins are free of cancer cells. Margins, then, refer to the distance between a tumor and the edge of the surrounding tissue that's removed along with it. Mine, although were clear of cancerous cells, were close, by 2 mm. The radiation therapist has to determine whether they are too close and I will have to have additional surgery to get more of the tissue or not. 
  3. Radiation Therapy. This will be five days a week for six weeks. Some skin burn and fatigue are the most common side effects.
  4. Hormonal Chemotherapy This will be a drug, Tamoxifen, which is a pill and is used to reduce the risk of getting a breast cancer again. It often causes menopause onset. The use of this medicine is used based on the observation that receptors for specific hormones that are needed for cell growth are on the surface of some tumor cells. Tamoxifen is an anti-estrogen and it binds to estrogen receptor site on cancer cells, blocking estrogen from going into the cancer cell, which interferes with cell growth and eventually leads to the cell dying. I will be taking this for five years.
So, now while we are waiting for the results from the Oncotype DX. test, I will see the Oncology Radiologist, Dr Danavanik on Thursday to see what he says about whether or not I need the surgery.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Oncologist in Maryland (Delaware)

I have an appointment with oncologist Dr. Michael Guarino for February 8th at the Helen Graham Cancer Center.
Please keep us in your prayers.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; 

he drew me out of deep waters. 
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, 
from my foes, who were too strong for me. 
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, 
but the LORD was my support. 
He brought me out into a spacious place; 
he rescued me… he delighted in me.”
 ~Psalm 18:16-19

Monday, January 28, 2013

The GP Referral in Maryland (Delaware)

As many of you already know, we have moved back to our house in Maryland to continue with my cancer treatment. I went to my GP physician, Dr. Priya Dixit-patel here in Maryland, well, actually Delaware. Since we live on the Delaware border, it is sometimes better to cross the border into Delaware. She has referred me to the Helen Graham Cancer Center, which is about an hour from our house. They should be calling me this week with an appointment.
Please keep us in your prayers.

"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Phil. 4:11

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Surgeon Follow-Up

Since some of you knew that today was my meeting with the surgeon and were waiting to hear how the lab report came out, I will dispense with the formalities and get to the facts.
The good news is that I am healing fine from the surgery and that there is minimal bruising, and that the lab report came back that the surgeon did get the entire tumor, with some buffer between the tumor and the margin or edges of what she took out.  The good news, too, is that the extreme exhaustion that I have been feeling is completely normal and that I have nothing to worry about and that my energy should return by my second follow-up appointment with her on February 4th (to make sure that I am healed up entirely from the surgery.)
The bad news begins with the fact that there was a second smaller tumor there as well as well as lots of SITU cells sprinkled about. She did get the second tumor, so no additional surgeries needed at this time, however its presence along with the SITU cells, means that there is a possibility of other small tumors so small that the sonograms and mammograms can't pick up (they didn't pick up this small one either) and also of other SITU cells. SITU cells, by the way, are what are called "pre-cancerous cells." The radiation therapy, which I will eventually be getting, should take care of the SITU cells. 
The really bad news is that I will be having to have the tradition Chemotherapy as well as the hormonal Chemotherapy. So, I will lose all my hair, feel awfully tired, get mouth sores, be susceptible to getting illnesses, vomit and the whole bit. We have picked up a phrase at our house in order to look on the bright side, and that is, "It is better than the alternative" which might seem too crude for some, but it does help us to keep a balance between keeping it real and keeping a positive attitude.
Kanishka chakraborty
Dr Chakraborty
We will know for sure and know more when we meet with the oncologist, Dr Chakraborty on January 28, but it looks like the schedule will be Traditional Chemotherapy for about a year, then Radiation Therapy for every day for six weeks and Hormonal Chemotherapy. I will stay on the hormonal chemotherapy for five years. I will be getting mammograms every six months during this time period.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." -Psalm 4:8.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Lumpectomy

Steven took off work to take me to my surgery, but the illness that has been going through the family finally hit him hard, so Sandy decided to take me and she stayed with me pretty much the whole time. I was scheduled to arrive at outpatient surgery at 8:00, and after the paperwork, I was taken to my room, where I dressed in my gown and a bag of water was started in my arm. I was then taken down to this tiny room, about the size of a walk-in closet in which there was a ultra-sound machine and a small table for me to lie on. Into this tiny room, four medical professionals were crowded around. There was the doctor who, using the ultra-sound images as a guide, inserted a wire that went into my breast (using a needle), through the lump and out through my nipple. There was the nurse who assisted the doctor, and the sonogram technician who kept the sonogram image the way the doctor needed it. Lastly there was the radiologist, who was in charge of keeping watch over the radioactive seed, which the doctor also inserted near the lump. Both the wire and the radioactive material helps the surgeon locate the lump to remove it. They slotted two hours for this procedure and it took only 15 minutes. The nurse expressed her surprise about how smoothly it went, and said, "You must have some people praying for you." (Thank you all so much for your prayers...they really do make a difference.)

They took me back to my room, and I had to wait for a couple of hours since they had slotted the two hours for the wire-radioactive seed procedure before the surgery. Then they wheeled my bed into the pre-op area, where the anesthesiologist talked to me and began adding various medicines into my IV drip, some for nausea, some for my cough, and one to begin putting me to sleep. I had a brief moment in which I felt swimmy and then the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room, feeling very nauseous. I have never felt the combination of nauseous, swimmy and like the room was spinning all at the same time.

They wheeled my bed back to my room and gave me some medicine to help with the nausea, but the feeling persisted, so it was decided that I should spend the night at the hospital rather than go home feeling the way I was feeling. The nausea was finally gotten under control and I eventually ate something as I hadn't eaten all day.

As I was coming out of the anesthesia, the first word I said to Sandy was, "Truck."
She said, "Water"
I said, "No, truck."
"It hit me."
Yep, that was about how I was feeling alright.

In the middle of the night, I suddenly had chills and then, soon after, fever. I let the nurse know and she took my temperature and it was 102.1. They notified the surgeon, who ordered some tests...two large vials and four small vials of blood were taken. Tylenol took down the fever and it didn't come back. The surgeon said that this sometimes happens after surgery and not to worry. She also said that when she sent the lump to the lab (they need to retrieve the radioactive seed immediately), they sliced it in half and said that the surgeon had gotten the lump right in the middle, with a good amount of tissue surrounding it, so they were positive about her having gotten all the cells. We won't know for sure for a week and a half, when I return for my follow-up appointment.

Please keep us in  your prayers.

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