Thursday, June 28, 2018

Chemo Worked

I had my post-chemo ultrasound on Thursday, and...

There was NO CANCER there to be measured.  They had a hard time finding the biopsy clips in my breast and lymph node.  The tumor bed (scar tissue, basically) could be seen, but nothing measurable.

That is an amazing response to chemo!

I grinned when the radiologist told me the news, and then started crying when I came back to the waiting room to let Jamie know the results.  Chemo was hard.  It'll take me some time still to recover from it, but it was worth it.

Jamie and I met with my PA and Surgeon this morning (love them!) to go over the results and discuss my upcoming surgery.

On July 20th, I'll have a bilateral mastectomy and complete (right side) axillary lymph node dissection.  This means that both my breasts will be removed - tissue and skin, but no underlying muscle - along with all the lymph nodes in my right arm.  Dr. Miggins will make me as flat as possible both for ease of radiation after, and so that I'll have an easier time living with being flat for the next year/year and a half until reconstruction can take place.

We discussed the possible complications from surgery, what aftercare will look like, and what my lymphedema risk is.  I ordered a lymphedema bracelet to wear (no blood pressure cuff, blood taken, or injections given in that arm for the rest of my life), but can hold off on ordering a sleeve unless I develop actual lymphedema in my arm.  Surgery will take 4-5 hours on that Friday, and I'll go back for a post-op appointment about a week and a half later.  We should have the surgical pathology results at the time.  I was also given referrals to a couple of reconstructive surgeons.  I'll set up appointments with them pre-surgery to see who I like and what their recommendations are for me for reconstruction post radiation, and then won't see them again until after radiation is complete.

Yes, radiation is still a go, even with the great response to chemo.  The reason is the same as that for continuing to take all of my (right arm) lymph nodes - to give me the best chance of a long, healthy life with no breast cancer recurrence.  I'm young and my oncology team wants to do everything they can for me.  I'm good with that.

On to phase 2!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Quilt

I've received a few different blankets while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, but the one I'm going to tell you about is one of the most special gifts I've ever received.

When my sister-in-law, Natalie, heard about my diagnosis, she put the call out to my siblings, parents, nieces & nephews, and grandparents, and collected quilt squares from everyone so that she could put this together.

I love it.

Here it is, from left to right, starting at the top:

You can tell they know me well - not only can you see music notes on there, but my favorite quotes, Harry Potter squares, and even a nod to Starbucks.  My family is amazing. 

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Family Outing

I still have a few days to go before my next (last!) chemo, so I'm feeling "great!"  To celebrate, we had a family outing today that was completely unrelated to my health.  It was so nice to get out of the house and not be headed to the hospital or a doctor's office!

Out first stop was Ahi Sushi, where we blew through 5 rolls.  Luckily, the kids are fans of both sushi and the use of chopsticks, so a good time was had by all.  My appetite is still low, but I really enjoyed lunch.

Next, we swung by Blendin for coffee, and I got a delicious iced caramel latte.  I finished that while we drove into Houston to the Galleria area, where we went to...

Crate & Barrel!  It had been at least 5 years, probably longer, since we had been there.  We browsed the entire store and picked up a few kitchen items before deciding to finally replace our decade-old water and juice glasses.  Jamie waited at the register for everything to be wrapped up while I watched the kids jubilantly ride the escalators.

After stowing our new glassware in the car, we headed over to Sprinkles and enjoyed cupcakes for a sugar kick before going down the street to...

Central Market, our favorite grocery store to browse.  (Yes, when you're in your 30's you have a favorite grocery store to browse.)  We walked the entire store, giving the kids and Jamie a chance to sample everything on offer.  We picked up some yummy cheeses and a baguette for dinner, chocolate croissants for breakfast, and plenty of other goodies as well.

Pretty peonies at Central Market

Now we're home and I've taken my painkiller and am resting my very tired body.  It was so, so nice to feel normal for the day.  I may not look like I used to and my energy may be low, but at least we're still able to go out and do some fun things as a family.  It reminded me that this cancer treatment stage won't last forever.  Chemo is almost done, surgery is coming up quickly, and then it's time for radiation.  I won't worry about reconstruction for another year and a half from now, but with chemo coming to an end, I'm finally able to see that there will be a time when my life does not revolve around treatment.  I'm ready to be me again - not the cancer patient version of me.  And I will be me again.  Today reminded me of that.  

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Only One Chemo Left

I'm finally coming out of the fog after my third AC (chemo) a week and a half ago.  It seems like my entire life is chemo/appointments/recovery right now.

It's strange to think about actually finishing up and moving on to the next stage of treatment - surgery.  But that will be happening, which means my thoughts have been turning more and more to my upcoming mastectomy.  The plan right now is for it to be a bilateral/dual mastectomy with port removal.  Speaking more plainly, toward the end of July, both of my breasts will be amputated.

I don't know how much I can do to mentally prepare myself for the way my body will be changed by the surgery.  I'll be coming out of surgery flat (no reconstruction until 9-12 months after radiation), so I'll have a long horizontal scar where each breast used to be.  I'm also having all the lymph nodes removed from my right arm, so I'll have a long scar in my right armpit, and a scar where my port was removed from my chest.

I've had my breasts for a long time.  I'm used to them.  I'm used to the way they look, the way my clothes fit, the way my kids fit against me when we hug.  I like them just the way they are.

You know, except for the cancer.

But before all that, I have one chemo left!  My next appointment is on the 20th, and as long as my counts are good, I'll have my last chemo on June 21st.  Onward! 

BTW - with chemo brain, I post more often on Instagram and Twitter than in longer blog posts.  If you'd like more frequent updates, please follow me there (@trishwhimsy for both)!  

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