Friday, April 26, 2013

happiness is...

...being cancer free!  Yep, the mastectomy was all I needed, pathology came back and no more cancer.

A bunch of sunny warm days.

Getting out for walks along the waterfront.

Building my energy level back up.

Finding a yummy cookie recipe on - Ginger Lemon Oatmeal, add more ginger to the recipe    if you like an extra gingery flavor.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The bizarre and tricky world of a DCIS diagnosis...and the best family I could ever want!, a month ago I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ.  It has been in my left breast since sometime after my last mammogram in March 2012 and discovered during my mammogram of March 2013.  My breast surgeon Dr. Dawson, whom I love by the way, told me that if I were going to get breast cancer, this was the one to get.  Basically once it is removed from the breast, it is gone and you are considered cancer free.  It is considered Stage 0 breast cancer and not even considered a cancer by some authorities since it is 'in situ' or contained within the milk duct.  This is not to say that it won't become invasive in the future and no one knows really how long it would take to become invasive.  My DCIS was found to be high grade and aggressive.

Now you are faced with several treatment options which I won't go into here but suffice it to say, the options present difficult choices.  I read in an article that DCIS was "a fake breast cancer".  The response of the writer was, "so I just had a "fake mastectomy"??  Or words to that effect.  Don't let anyone minimize the fact that DCIS is treated much the same as a higher stage breast cancer minus chemotherapy.  You still either lose part or all of your breast and may or may not need radiation therapy depending on your decision.

And so I sit here writing this with no left breast.  I decided that I wanted the cancer gone, I didn't want radiation therapy nor do I want to take Tamoxifen for the next 5 years.  The side effects of the Tamoxifen alone scares the s**t out of me.  So I decided on having a mastectomy.  My family and friends have been very supportive of my decision and I have no regrets at all.  I do have to go and see a medical oncologist next week to discuss the tamoxifen option but I am pretty sure that she is not going to be able to dissuade me from my decision.  Her reasons for me taking it will have to be very compelling and out weigh the really awful side effects.

This is my very personal story and I do not recommend anyone making the decisions I have without lots of research and questioning of your medical professionals.

In one month I have gone from having cancer to being cancer free.  My mind is still trying to grasp the "I have breast cancer" hasn't quite gotten to the post mastectomy stage yet....until I feel the pull of the sutures and look in the mirror.

I still have two drains in the surgical site and a funky looking left chest.  I had skin sparing surgery so the next step is reconstruction which has already been started with a 'tissue expander' placed during the initial surgery.  I will have a perky new left breast and a saggy old right breast!!  The plan is to perk the right breast up to somewhat match the left breast.  My right breast is looking forward to her 'face lift'.

My niece Sarah came down for the my pre-surgical drugged out state she and I planned our family's next few vacations together...that didn't work out so well since we basically forgot most of the family members in the planning.  We were only thinking of ourselves - ha!

The best husband and cat in the world - here he is reading all
of my breast cancer materials with the help of Bibi

The best sister in the world - she took me out for lots of walks after
surgery...and she washed my hair for me!!!  But not on a walk.

The journey continues...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happiness is...

...retail therapy!

Soft roomy hoodies, zip up the front a must
A VERY attractive post mastectomy camisole

So totally needed these cute shoes

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A very busy past 3 weeks! And... how I will spend my summer...

Here's the rundown so far...don't get dizzy, this is a fast ride!
March 15th - yearly routine di da, this is always a breeze

March 18th - call back for more films and ultrasound...OK, I've done this before; this time with not so great news afterwards though; breast biopsy scheduled

March 20th - sterotactic biopsy left breast (it hurt and my left breast was not happy)

March 22 -  AM phone call - I have DCIS 'ductal carcinoma in situ', high grade; non-invasive...start reading about DCIS on the internet which is a blessing and a curse, lots of conflicting info and opinions about treatment, DCIS is tricky that way...breast MRI in the afternoon

March 27th - first appointment with breast surgeon, all my options discussed

April 1st - Appt with reconstruction plastic surgeon, I'm considering a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction; then head downstairs for appt with the radiation oncologist to discuss possible radiation therapy.  At this point in the story I have to say that I could walk around topless now and not be self conscious.  Everyone has looked at my breasts, touched them and photographed them...and really, could they make the exam rooms any colder?!  

April 4th - decision made, meet with breast surgeon, scheduled for mastectomy on Monday the 8th; then head to a different building to the physical therapy department for consult on exercises for left arm; then back to original building to the plastic surgeons office for last meeting with her to finalize reconstruction decision. Head home and go out for a well deserved margarita and relax.   Whew

Now I have to say that all of this went like clockwork, like butter, smooth as silk, easy peasy etc.
All of the appointments were made for me by the various departments, everyone working in sync, I just needed to show up where they told me.  From the moment they detected something suspicious on the first mammogram they were not going to let me fall through the cracks.  I am so totally impressed with how everything has gone so far and I am at peace with my decisions.  All of my surgeons and their staff are women who are very nurturing.  

Emotionally I am doing OK, sort of a roller coaster ride, but I feel very positive about having a good outcome.  I've lost some sleep but have pampered myself with some nice afternoon naps.  My family is so very supportive, sister Kate and my niece Sarah will be here for the surgery.  Their job is to keep me laughing and cater to my every whim; my husband is amazing and will take great care of me as well...he too shall be catering to my every whim.  Do you see a pattern forming?  I'm liking it...

Heading into Seattle  - it will be a road well traveled when this is all finished

Monday, April 1, 2013

So many decisions...

Do nothing - not an option
Lumpectomy with radiation therapy and tamoxifen
Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction started - no radiation or tamoxifen needed with mastectomy
Mastectomy with delayed reconstruction
Mastectomy with no reconstruction
Then, all of the reconstruction options which I will not list here, some very complicated and confusing

I came home and took a nap because my anxiety level was rising again...woke up, sun came out and felt much better with more clarity.

Bibi is modeling what my face looked like when I got home from doctor's appointments today...a blank stare off into space.  Thank you Bibi, well done.  Now you can go take a nap.