08 October 2009

"Today you will cry. Tomorrow will be brighter"

On Monday, I faced one of my biggest fears. The dreaded MRI! One night several weeks ago, about a week before the biopsy, I had a panic attack just thinking about what it would be like to be in the MRI tube machine thingy. (I believe that is the technical name) I have some claustrophobic tendencies and just imagining the possibility of having that test done was frightening to me.

Gratefully, my doctor prescribed some Xanax for me to take the night before, so that I could sleep and then one hour before the test, I was to take another. Let me just say something about Xanax: it makes me stupid! To be more accurate, I imagine that if I were ever intoxicated, I would exhibit similar behavior. However, it is the only way I could have made it through the process.

I had my MRI done face down, which I was not expecting. They did a trial by putting me in position and sliding the tray with my body on it in the tube. I felt the tube pressing up against my back, tighter and tighter, and it started to hurt. I urgently said, "OK! I can't do this!" They pulled me out and made some adjustments. We tried it again and that time I felt it touch my back, but it was light pressure so I thought I would just imagine that it was a heavy blanket, or someone's hand on my back.

So, they put in the IV and I went in for real and I didn't feel it on my back at all. The brace that went up the middle of my chest was very hard, and it hurt, but I just did shallow rhythmical breathing and relaxed and 25 minutes later, it was over. Whew! By the way, it was crazy loud!! I could not even hear the beautiful Chopin Piano music I had selected to listed to through the headphones.

Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Hanna, from Cary Plastic Surgery is another member of my Breast Cancer team. I saw him on Wednesday morning. One of the great advances that have been made over the years is that insurance companies will now pay for reconstructive surgery in association with mastectomy. And FYI, he told us (Patti Maxwell came with me to this appointment) that they only wanted pay for the plastic surgery for the single breast involved. But, during the legislative process, it only took four hours of angry women protesting for them to get a clue. So, even if you only have breast cancer in one breast, they will still pay for lifting and matching the other breast to the newly created breast. That was comforting since my 8 pregnancies and breast feeding, along with weight changes that have gone up and down more than a see-saw have left my "girls" with some crazy sagging. (I know you may thing TMI, but heck, it's MY blog anyway)

Dr. Hanna is well recognized in the area for his fine work. Word on the street says that he is responsible for most of the implants in Preston. I am in good hands. :)

He instructed me as to how the reconstruction will be done and informed my of my options. He was a funny guy, and Patti and I were cracking up by the end of the appointment.

Also, I can now proudly say that I have had my nude shots taken. Just like you see on Discovery Health Channel. Oh, no face in the photo. Thank goodness!

Medical Oncologist
I knew that everything was leading to this second appointment on Wednesday. Doug and I met with Dr. Singh, who is the oncologist that treats cancers with chemotherapy. Dr. Singh is a very nice man, who is from India and looks like your stereotype Indian man from a Simpsons episode. Turban, beard tied in a rubber band and folded in on itself, and wearing long muslin khaftan. I felt great compassion from him.

He gave me my results from the MRI. It was as I had suspected, but hoped that it would not be. The area of the cancer is huge. It had taken over more than half of my right breast and has gone into my lymph nodes. He explained how cancer grows, and how it starts in the ducts and then sometimes, it "leaks" out and infiltrates the breast tissue. Breast cancer can also start in the Lobes. I have cancer in both the ducts and the lobes. With the addition of the cancer having spread to the lymph nodes, they are calling it Stage 3. I will have a full CT scan tomorrow to see if there is cancer anywhere else in my body.

In the next week I have to have the following procedures/tests done:
  1. CT scan
  2. Bone scan
  3. MUGA (this is a cool scan of my heart to make sure it is in good shape to receive one of the chemotherapy drugs which is known for damaging hearts. Great)
  4. Biopsy of the lymph nodes
  5. A Port will be put in my chest for the administering of the chemo drugs. (This is so that they do not have to tap into a vein in your arm every time. This is done with outpatient surgery.)

The treatment plan is as follows:
  1. Chemotherapy begins ASAP, probably in about 12 days and will last for approximately 18 weeks.
  2. Bilateral Mastectomy in the Spring following the Chemo (both of the "girls" are going away)
  3. Radiation Treatments for 6 weeks
The treatments should all be complete by June of next year.

At the end of the appointment, Dr. Singh looked Doug and I in the eyes and said "Today is a very bad day. Today, you will cry. Tomorrow will be brighter. And with the Lord's blessing you will be well."

It was all pretty heavy. Doug took me home and went back to Wake Tech. I had to teach my piano lessons and finish up some baking. I have been pretty together and upbeat, considering everything. I mentioned in a previous post that I had not had a good cry yet, but I could feel it coming on. That was last week.

I made fajitas for dinner. We were all at the dinner table eating dinner. I had had a few bites of my first fajita when, like a dam bursting, I began to sob. I couldn't stop. Doug got up and comforted me. In a about a minute, Doug said, "He said you would cry today. I thought that was just a cliche." I cried on and off all evening.

Yesterday, I cried. Today is brighter.


carykate said...

Dear Sally,

You are a brave a courageous woman and I think this is a brave and courageous blog (and at time hilariously entertaining). I hope you continue it as possible. You have been in our thoughts and prayers.

Much love, the Dean family

Catherine said...

I had a good cry yesterday too, mom. But I am confident in your doctors and I will be there right along the way with you. I love you so much!!!!

Lisa said...

It sounds like you have some wonderful doctors. I'm glad for that.

Leann said...

Oh, Sally. At least you know now exactly what you're up against. Thank you again for your blog, I just love it. I admire your attitude, and also your sense of humor - I've always loved that! I'm here for you. Dave's surgery might not be for 3 more weeks and we won't know until about a week from now. So, let's get together (lunch, unpacking, organizing, being silly, etc.), just let me know. :o)

mom said...

I love you so much. I am so sorry you have to go through this, but truely it is our challenges that make us strong and help us to see clearly, the Lord's individual plan for each of us. You are in my prayers.

Love, Marta

CK said...

I think it's amazing that you are doing this blog. Please know that our family's thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. loving you muchas! MUAH!!

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