Hurry up and wait…
It’s been a while since I’ve written, so this will be a catch up post as there is much to update.
Leaving chemo in the past, the time to focus on surgery options came quick, with little time for important decisions to be made. After meeting with my surgeon a couple times, undergoing additional scans to better pinpoint where tumors are post chemo and understanding what my options were, I ultimately had to make my decision on Thursday, February 24th with a scheduled surgery date just one week later on March 4.
It was an emotional journey, but ultimately I chose to go with an aggressive lumpectomy (or partial mastectomy) and lymph removal. This choice comes with an excruciating wait of 5-10 days after surgery to get results of pathology letting us know if we got all the cancer out, or not. And a 1 in 3 chance that I will have to go back in for a mastectomy in the coming weeks if pathology indicates we did not get it all. Today marks day 3 of that wait.
On Thursday, March 4th, I went into the hospital at 10am. After being admitted I was taken to have ultrasound guided “savi scout” markers implanted in my breast and lymph tumors.
A relatively new wire-free technology for more precise tumor removal, I was among the first patients at Kaiser to receive this exciting technology, so a host of trainers and trainees were present for my implantation. And, even with a room full of people, I was able to watch the procedure in real time on the ultrasound screen. After the devices were implanted, a digital wand was waved over the affected areas and a loud beeping was audible as the wand hovered over the tumor. Then blue dye was injected as another helpful visual indicator for surgeon once she gets in there. As she explains it, she “can’t see cancer”, so these tools will help her find, and remove, the cancer during surgery. I felt a bit like I was in a sci-fi movie.
Next, I was taken to be prepped for surgery. After being prepped, dressed and IV placed by 12:00, I was ready for surgery, scheduled to start at 12:30. Then, I was informed that the surgery before me was running long and it would be another 30-60 minutes before the room would be ready for my surgery. So I hung tight, resting pretty comfortably under the disposable space-aged hot air filled blanket.
Then I was informed that it would be another hour… and then another hour. Finally, at around 2:30 I was taken to the operating room, again a group of trainees and trainers were present for the new technology being utilized. After roll call, and verbal verification by the surgeon and me as to precisely what the plan was, anesthesia began going in. I started to crack a joke about trying to get up out of the bed, but I was out cold before finishing it. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a dimly lit recovery room about 4 hours later.
With the help of the nurse, I got up and walked about 15 minutes after waking up. My surgeon called and told me the surgery had gone as well as it could have. While she did have to take a good portion of breast out, she was able to minimize the incision (and later scaring) by cutting around my areola, and that she was successful in the lymph removal, taking 3 lymph nodes, verified by new technology and lab tests to be the lymph nodes with cancer present. Woo hoo!
I was home and resting in bed by 8:30 that night.
Now, three days later, I’m managing the pain with meds, ice and rest. The ice is a must, bringing immediate relief, even if short lived. The swelling and bruising are worse today but I’m hopeful I’ll be in less pain day by day after this weekend, or at least by mid week. I have not yet seen what the incisions look like as the waterproof dressings are not ready to be removed. While I’m anxious to see, I’m much more anxious to get the results from pathology back. I’m ready to hear that I’m cancer free!
Fingers crossed. I’ll post an update as soon as I know. Thank you all so much for the continued Love and support…it keeps me going! More to come soon…