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, 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