Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bad news and worse news - more from the doctor

Ok, so it's now Thursday, a full week after my surgery. I went in for stitch removal and the beginning of discussion about radiation therapy.
Don't you know, there's been a change. Apparently the 5cm x 7cm glob of tissue that was removed was biopsied, along with the tissue around the edges. It seems that even with what he removed, there is still some of the "suspicious" tissue left.
I'm now facing a choice. One is to do nothing, perhaps take the radiation, and hope that none of this comes back. Again - if it does, there's a high chance that is will and it will come back very aggressive. The other choice is to prevent any chance of all with a full mastectomy. That means all the tissue gone, but muscle and lymph glands will be left. Next summer would be reconstructive surgery.
So what's next ???
I'm seeing him again next week for the remainder of the stitch removal. Dr. Black gave us (John was with me) a week to discuss it and we can give him an answer then.
So do I submit to a major surgery as a preventative of the inevitable, or do nothing as see when it will happen in the future?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Post-op report

It's now Saturday about 2pm. Friday went well, with only one nap mid-day and regular tylenol extra strength. Robby even had a Dungeons and Dragons game in the living room, while John, Louisa and I sat downstairs chatting and drinking White Russians.

Last night was a little rough trying to keep settled in bed. (I should have taken a tylenol - now I know) My plan had been to stay home while John and Robby went to the game club and Katie would be in London visiting with her friends. I was in such a down mood, I packed up and came to the club with the guys. I'm a little tired now, but I brought a comfy camp chair and can be comfortable.

Tonight I'm working with Katie to make icing flowers for a birthday party, so it's probably going to be nap time when we get home.

Overall, not a great time, but it could be worse. At least I'm out and about.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Medical stuff - Day of surgery

So I made it through the surgery. I went to the OR about 10.30 and was home by 4pm. Again, the post-op pain meds delayed my trip home. After a 3 hour nap with Pooka curled up next to me, and a bowl of chicken noodle soup, I've made it downstairs for the evening. Overall, I'm feeling ok about stuff, and so far, not in any pain.
I've gotten lots of wonderful notes of support from many of you. Thanks for all the support.
So far - so good!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Medical stuff - the Beginnings

Dear friends and family,

As many of you have gathered from my recent facebook status postings, I have been dealing with some medical problems. Now that I've been given a diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan, I'm ready to share all the details. (Even if you don't know me that well, if you have a female relative or friend, it might be worth a quick read)

I have been diagnosed with that is technically called “Ductal Carcinoma in-situ” (DCIS). This is a type of breast cancer that is called Stage 0. It has not become invasive (starting to affect surrounding tissues) nor is it malignant (growing outside of the affective area).

This all began on Saturday, April 9, 2011, when I woke up with a soreness in my breast. This isn't unusual, as most women can agree. It's the kind of pain we've all had once in a while. I didn't give it a second thought, and went about my day. On Sunday, I went to church, taught my class, and even served at the church dinner that night. Through the day, the soreness increased and was very sensitive to the touch. On Monday, I woke up with redness and hard spots on the top of my breast. Since I was volunteering at the hospital that morning, I went in early and went into the Emerg Department to have one of the doctors take a look at it. (For my U.S. friends, Emerg Depts often act as walk-in clinics for people who don't have family doctors or can't wait until the doctor could see me the next day or so.)

After about an hour wait, the doctor on duty told me that I had a very bad infection. She started to write out prescriptions for an antibiotic and a pain med, but asked if she could get an ultrasound just to see how large the infected area was. I agreed (thanks to the free healthcare), and after the results were back about 15 minutes later, she asked if she could call in the surgeon on duty. She felt that the infected area was large enough to warrant a second opinion.

Dr. Black, the surgeon, came in shortly afterward, examined me and my records, and said “Yup, this is a biggie.” When he couldn't drain it in Emerg, he decided to admit me right away for surgery as soon as possible in the day to remove the abcess. He didn't even want me to go home and come back, he was afraid that if it ruptured, the infection would spread through my bloodstream and we'd be dealing with a systemic infection. (poison in my bloodstream). He did the surgery at 7.30 that night, I stayed the night, and went home on Tuesday.

So far – so good. Now the fun starts!

Because of the nature and size of the wound, I had to visit a care nurse every day for a month to have it packed (3.8cm long x .1cm wide x 4cm deep) and dressing changed every day. Then every other day, then every 3 days for a total of 7 weeks of care. Dr. Black had also taken a biopsy, and this came back showing the cancer cells. Now we're talking another surgery and more time.

After another mammogram (which showed nothing unusual) and another ultrasound (again-no new infection), at my visit with him two weeks ago, he told me that he is going to have to remove a section of tissue about the size of his fist. Yes, his fist! He needs to get all the affected tissue in order to prevent this returning. When we talked yesterday, I asked him for more information, and what was in store after the surgery. I then found out that I'm facing radiation therapy to prevent any further spread.

It seems that my Stage 0 cancer is a “high active” kind, which means that if it occurs, it will come back fast moving and strong. Without the radiation therapy, there is a 50% chance of reoccurance, this time as Stage 2 or 3 within 2 years. With treatment, chances are 10% within my lifetime.

So to summerize – for the next 3 months, I'm going to be a mess. I'm having surgery on June 23, with stitch removals 1 week and then 2 weeks later. Then an appointment with the Cancer clinic in London (about 30 min away) for treatments for 4 to 5 weeks, 5 days a week (M-F).

In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep my normal activites. It seems that the radioation side affects are mostly a lack of energy and a sunburn look to the area being treated. There is NO chemo involved!

As for what you can do –

John, Katie, and Robby are great cooks and know how to clean and care for pets.

What I need from all of you are prayers and good thoughts, and patience with me when I seem short-tempered or can't keep up with my activities.

But mostly – and my main reason for writing all this – is to make all of you aware of how suddenly things can creep up on you. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!! If it hurts – check it out! After talking to the doctor, and reading up online, if I hadn't gone it, I would be facing a fast growing, aggressive disease. So – I've lucked out. But it's still going to take time and energy, so I'm going to take this Day to Day.