Friday, October 17, 2008

Surgeon Update & Please Allow for My Feelings

Well, we really liked the surgeon and he does do most of the breast surgeries in town.

What I liked about him especially was that he was the only one so far who told me that there was a chance to shrink this tumor down enough to just do a lumpectomy. He's seen it happen before with chemo where the tumor does respond well. It's rare but he's seen worse then me disappear to nothing. So, hearing that changed my whole perspective toward having to undergo chemotherapy. Now I was feeling like, "OK! bring it on!!!"

He also said that my cancer type does respond well to chemo.
And he has done this procedure that I heard about where you test the tumor first to see which chemo it responds to best. Whether I get to have that procedure or not will depend on another discussion with the oncologist.

Looking at my mamogram slides, he doesn't think anything's going on with my right breast at all. The MRI next week will tell more.

On another positive note, my mother-in-law's friend (who's daughter went through this) gave me a great book! "Just Get Me Through This! A Practical Guide To Coping with Breast Cancer". It's really great and answers little questions that you don't even realize you need to ask. For example, now I know I'll be sucking on a Popsicle while undergoing chemo so I won't get mouth sores.

Next week on Tuesday is the CT scan and the breast MRI and I'll write again after those.

P.S. I hesitate to write this because I know everyone means well but I need to take good care of myself now. So I have to vent to you all. First, thank you so much to those of you who've let me just be with whatever feelings I have. (You know who you are and you have helped me tremendously.) The hard part for me about this disease is the same thing that happens with having the awful disease of migraines. If I had diabetes, no one would tell me how important it was to stay up and positive and happy - that somehow staying upbeat will heal the disease and having depression or sadness or anger may cause or exacerbate the disease.... Of course it's important for anyone in life to be positive and upbeat. But somehow the undercurrent perspective about cancer and migraines is that our feelings cause these dreaded diseases or make them worse. What I know is true for absolute certain, is that when a person is sick, the brain may not function optimally and the illness can cause depression. When the body is healthy, the depressed thoughts may go away. I saw that happen to me with my most recent cold in fact. So I am indebted to you for not judging me when I go through whatever feelings I go through. And it helps me when you keep the faith that I'm going to be OK and I will survive no matter what I have to go through. Because it's really true. I know that now. I may have to go through 5 or 6 months of literal hell. But one day it will be all over and this will be behind me and I will be just like everyone else and get myself checked for cancer on a regular basis. This is a disease and not a death sentence. Knowing that you care and feel for me is really all I ask. And keeping the faith in your own heart - not necessarily reassuring me when I'm down, but just offering your sympathy, empathy and compassion is really healing for me. Letting me vent, talk, complain, rant and rave, if I need to and still remembering that I will be OK without having to remind me of that is the most healing way you can be with me right now. Thanks for being there. I'm making my list of who I can call and what you offer and what we may be needing in the times ahead. Right now Geoff has been doing it all and he's been great and he loves to cook and going through this hasn't made a whole lot of difference in what he's been doing already. My mom's getting me house cleaning. I know who can take Aimee or Jason in a pinch. I know who will bring food for me if Geoff needs a break and who I can turn to for bone broth. I also know who will go with me to doc's and who would run and get me anything. I know who will take over this writing if I need to hand it over at some point. I also know who can come and help with Geoff's parents if they need him when I need him at the same time. I feel truly blessed to have such a strong circle of friends and family who I can count on and who love me and want to do for me. Thank you. I'm sorry but I just had to get the "feelings" stuff off my chest. I don't want to feel like I have to be upbeat at the times that I don't feel upbeat. And I don't want to feel badly about myself when I'm not able to be upbeat and I don't want to feel worried about hurting myself if I don't feel upbeat. And I don't want to be told by anyone else that going through cancer treatment turns negative people into positive ones. (no one said that but the implication is there) I know I'll get healing from this and of course it will make me stronger. But truthfully, I have had lots of physical challenges already in my life - though this one takes the cake - and I know how strong I am, have been, and can be. And my diet has changed many times over the years trying to help myself with my migraines so this is just one more time. I don't want to focus any more on what I could have done, should have done, and what caused this and how maybe it was my personality and my denial. I just want to focus on getting through the next round on this journey. So I hope that gives you some idea of how you can help me in ways other than the ones I know I can count on you for.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Settled on an Oncologist

Hi All,
Just giving you an update. BTW, it's much easier for me to email than to talk on the phone. Especially since I caught a cold on Saturday.

The oncologist we met with todaywas excellent. Her practice specializes in breast cancer which is 60-70% of what she sees. I liked her more than the Stanford tumor board. She was thorough and pointed out a couple things that even the Stanford guy didn't. Which was that there was a spot on my right breast in the mamogram that they dismissed as benign and so she's going to look at that closer with the further tests I will be taking. (CT, MRI) Plus, she's going to get permission from the insurance co. to cover a blood test to rule out the Ashkenazi gene. Being that my mom had it and I'm under 50, (barely), it gives me a 12% risk of having the gene. 10% risk and the insurance company will pay for it. Anyway, that would just mean a double mastectomy - which would settle my mind since dealing with just one breast seems like it could be a total drag.... Yes, I know, I don't need to make all these decisions right now, but that has been on my mind.

So, I'm looking forward to getting appointments for the CT scan, bonescan, and MRI to rule out any nodules being anywhere else in my body. I should get those tests done within the next week. And then I get to meet with the surgeon this Friday. Supposedly he does the most breast surgeries in this town. Plus, according to my oncologist, she's heard he's got good bedside manner.

Anyway, that's the update and I'm feeling better now that I've got someone like my doc overlooking my case. She spent a lot of time with us. We were in her office from 2:30 - 5. As we were waiting, I kept having to remind Geoff that she'll spend as much time with us as she was doing with whoever she was taking her time with before she got to us!

So, thanks again for all your thoughts, prayers and offers of support.