You know I never asked to get cancer. I never asked to have a double mastectomy. I never asked to have 3-4 more surgeries in the future. I never wanted chemotherapy or radiation. I never wanted any of this, but then I have stop and think. First of all, I'm not the first or the last person that will ever go through cancer or any of the other yucky diseases out there. Second, you can always find something good to come out of something really bad. Lastly and most important, Jesus never asked to live a life of constant insecurities and hard times and then die a cruel death on that cross for us. Sometimes life doesn't go our way and we have to carry some heavy burdens just like Jesus did along his path, but we have to remind ourselves that it could always be worse and it is all for a great cause - GOD! He never leaves us or forsakes us through anything in life that we have to endure. Yesterday was kinda a crazy day that really was unexpected. On Thursday I decided, after consulting with my work friends during a visit to them, to call Dr. Arredondo to report some significant swelling on the left side of my upper chest and axilla (armpit). It has been swollen all along but it seemed to be expanding like a balloon more and more each day. His nurse called me back and told me to come in first thing Friday morning to let him look at it. Chris and I went at 8 am, and Dr. A told us that I had a seroma under my arm. This is just any cavity that the body decides to fill with fluid after something like trauma or surgery. I was always wondering why the cancer side (left) had way less drainage out of the drain than the right side. Dr. Arredondo said that Dr. Proffer would want to see me to aspirate that fluid out since he did the plastic surgery on it. Before we were sent to meet Dr. Proffer at Quail Creek Hospital to do so, Dr. A gave us the summary of the path report from surgery. From all we had known everything went as expected except that they had taken 11 lymph nodes to check them for cancer instead of just 2-3. Dr. Arredondo actually took 12 lymph nodes (3 sentinel nodes and 9 axillary nodes) and 2 of the 3 sentinel nodes had micromets or cancer in them. Then, we were told some surprising news after that. When they peel back the whole breast area off the muscles deep to them to take it out, they get some of the fascia (I tell my patient's it's like saran wrap) off the muscle. My cancer was not in the deep muscles but a small area had been found on the fascia that they removed. This means that just like in the lymph nodes, the cancer was trying to take its yucky self out of that area and into other areas. Praise God that is as far as it got before they removed it (again a positive thing to focus on). Dr. Arredondo said that because of this I would need radiation after chemo to make sure this doesn't come back.
I don't think I had mentioned on the last post that Peggy Smith, nurse navigator from Harrington Cancer Center, had called and told me that I have an appt with Dr. Pruitt, my oncologist, on Nov. 7th. We talked about things and again with my young age, BRCA 2 gene, and the fact that it had moved into 2 lymph nodes they had decided that I for sure needed chemo (without the ONCO testing being done). We all agreed that we want the best odds of kicking this thing's butt and never letting it come back. We will discuss at that visit which chemo drugs we will be using, how long it will last, and when we will start. We have to coordinate with Dr. Arredondo again to get a day surgery date to put my chemo port in the right side of my chest. Right now I can't fathom another surgery to make me even more sore than I am already. Got to do what you got to do, right?
Back to yesterday's story. Chris and I headed straight over to the hospital after Dr. A's office to meet Dr. Proffer. We were whisked away to a room in the back and Dr. Proffer looked at the swelling. I told him when I woke up that morning that drain was completely empty which was weird. He began pushing pretty hard on that area and then asked me to lay down on this hospital bed. He apologized for the amount of pressure that he had to put on my chest and armpit, but I told him that it was pretty numb still. Then, the weirdest thing ever happened. When he gave the first hard push, all that fluid that was stuck in that area suddenly and loudly rushed towards my breast area and sternum. It felt so crazy and all I heard from Chris was "Whoa, oh my goodness!!!". Chris described it as looking like an alien had suddenly appeared in my chest. I sat up after that and he kept pushing on all these areas. Suddenly I felt drainage dripping down my left side near my drain exit and the drain started going crazy. Finally, all that was coming out! Dr. Proffer said that I must have had a little blood clot that was blocking it from getting to the drain. That solved that problem and it looks so much better. Simple solutions to simple problems (one of my favorite phrases to Chris' dismay!). We left there laughing, but I left there really sore from all the pushing.
We had a great rest of the day hanging out together and then picking up Bren from daycare to build a snowman. Then, we met up with Brandon, Karen, Taylor, and Addison Mason (Karen Tallant for those from Canyon) to go eat at Chili's on Coulter and walked next door to the Lowe's parking lot to see the hot air balloons. They have something called Pirates of the Canyon each year with hot air balloon activities. It was suppose to be at the park across the street but because of the recent snow and it melting, it got moved to the Lowe's parking lot. I didn't stay out there long because I quickly figured out that me and the cold do not get along these days. You know when you get cold and start shivering and your muscles tighten up. This is amplified in me right now, so when I get cold my pectoral muscles, that are already so tight, go into spasms. This is not fun, so I did not take a short lift off ride on the hot air balloons with the guys and the kids (minus Brenley because she was so scared of them - she thought they would fall on her and hated the loud noise they made when they glow-funny!). We had a great time at dinner except for the disappointment of the Rangers losing the World Series again this year. Oh well, they did good this year and we're proud of them still. We have to get excited about something considering the Dallas Cowboys are so up and down and haven't done good in several years. So I guess in the next few weeks, we will talk about port placement, chemo starting, and when they will finally release me back to work (although I am thoroughly enjoying my extra time with my precious husband and daughter). Dr. Proffer had told us that we can continue to put more fluid in the expanders as planned but then we will have to stop the surgery plans until after chemo and radiation are finished. This is because of the possible side effects of the radiation on the skin area and reconstruction. Chemo will probably be 2-5 months depending on how many meds they need to do, and radiation will be Mon-Fri for 5-6 weeks (only 15 mins sessions). This extends my timeline quite a bit for everything, but I'm not letting that get me down. That just makes me fight harder. Look on the bright side, if I get chemo and radiation (and probabaly take tamoxifen for 5 yrs) then my odds are that much less that it will come back. My body may be a wreck, but I'll have more time with all of you. Praise God for that and always. My advise this time is to always look for the the bright spot in a day when it only seems dark and dreary because that bright spot will give you the hope and faith you need that tomorrow will be a beautiful and sunny day. Love y'all. Shay