Monday, May 7, 2012

Surgery date set

I'm having a uni-lateral (that means only 1) mastectomy on Monday, June 18.

One day after my 14th wedding anniversary, by the way. What a way to celebrate, eh?

Here are some details I am going to share because so many people have offered to pray that I want to give them the specifics of the prayer (can't hurt, I'm thinking; I gotta' believe God loves specificity).

Although the atypical cells that are showing up on the mammogram are restricted to a duct (hence the diagnosis 'ductal carcinoma in situ'), the med experts have no idea if this is a new cancer or a re-occurrence of the old one. The profile of the cells from this recent biopsy are identical to the ones from the tumor 10 years ago, but that is not conclusive that it's a re-occurrence. It could just be a new occurrence with the same profile.

It's the best cancer, by the way. Isn't that funny? Not in a ha-ha funny kind of way, I realize, but you get me. If you knew you were going to get breast cancer and could choose the type, this is the type you should choose.

Anyway, at some point during my mastectomy surgery, the surgeon will remove 2-3 lymph nodes and biopsy them. Okay, I realize this is weird, but I LOVE the name of this procedure: a sentinal node biopsy. It conjurs an image of little blobs standing guard with full body armor and little spanish army helmets and swords, fighting off cancer cells in the form of arrows. The analogy breaks down a bit, I realize, as I would think it's difficult to fight off arrows with swords, so as I further develop the image, I see them wearing magic bracelets ala Wonder Woman to deflect those nasty little cancer bullets (instead of arrows because I'm not sure WW ever deflected arrows). That latter part, the Wonder Woman part, is more in keeping with the whole 'breast' part of the cancer, so let's go with that.

Hard to credit this pic: I found it on Google images, traced it to a blog, and then spent about 15 min trying to find the original source. I'm going to assume it's in the public domain. If not, may the copyright owner have mercy on me. 

Anyway, the nodes will be biopsied during surgery, and if they find atypical cells in those nodes, we jump to worst case scenario. Atypical cells there indicate 'invasive' which, of course, indicates cancer. We still wouldn't know if it's the old cancer or a new, but it suddenly occurs to me at this point, who the hell cares?

If the cancer is in the lymph nodes, then the surgeon will remove all the lymph nodes on that side (it's the right side, in case I've never mentioned that, 'cuz you know you'll want to look!), which has the potential long term complication of edema (swelling) of that arm. That alone is a sucky outcome but it gets worse.

I'll probably have to do chemo again. Yuk. The upside to that is that I have been REALLY hating my hair for the past few months so I'll be able to get that radical buzz cut I was so fond of 10 years ago (I'm not kidding here. I LOVED having no hair). The CNP (certified nurse practitioner) told me she can't put a percentage of likelihood on this scenario, but if she had to guess, she'd put it at 10-20%. Let me tell you, though, me and Murphy's law, we're like this:
image retrieved from

So, if you're wanting to pray for me (please!), here's the core of the prayer: no cancer cells in the lymph nodes! Thank you!

In keeping with my effort to find the gratitude (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18), the biggest blessing of all, despite the setback of having to wait 5 weeks (!) for surgery, is that my dear sweet sister-in-law (SIL) E (since Scarlett didn't have any brothers, she had no SILs so I'm just going to go with my SIL's initial E) will be coming down to stay and help out with my post-surgery care and Carmen. Yay!

Also, I'm going to go on a 5-week intense workout regimen. Best to undergo surgery as healthy as possible!

1 comment:

  1. Good for you on all fronts....healthy attitude, healthy agenda, no hair.... :-) Love ya.


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