Archive for February, 2008

What a difference a drain makes

Got my last drain out yesterday, and boy, does my arm feel better.  Don’t get me wrong.  It still hurts like crazy, but I’ve been able to cut back on the ibuprofen (which I’m sure my stomach is thanking me for) and my range of motion has improved a ton.  I went in today for the ultrasound of my thyroid and yes, I have nodules.  Woo.  Most women my age do, especially with a hypothyroid history.  They will take a look at them and if they are big enough, there will be yet another biopsy.  Woo.  So here’s the thing.  I could really use a test with nothing suspicious on it so let’s get a big internet wide prayer/energy/good thoughts to NO THYROID CANCER.  I think I’ve been kicked enough, you know?  No more kicking. 

On a positive note, it is BEAUTIFUL outside and I think I might go talk a walk since I’m no longer burdened by drains.

PET scan results and another visit from the Yarn Fairy

So does anyone know what PET stands for?  People keep asking me and although I’m beginning to sound like a medical professional when I talk, I have no idea.  Anyway.  No metastatic disease.  Hooray!  BUT.  Why is there always a but?  I swear.  There is something funky going on around the thyroid.  Hopefully it is just my hypothyroidism which I’ve had since L was born.  So I guess that makes it just a Hoo.  Genetic testing was cancelled on their end and will be rescheduled soon.  Second drain is to come out tomorrow.  AND now I have an ultrasound on Friday to check out said thyroid.  I’m doing my best not to go to the dark place.  My Other Mama (My friend’s mom who has known me since I was 4 and also breast cancer survivor) always says, focus on the now and take each day as it comes.  So I’m trying.  And helping me with that is another visit from the Yarn Fairy, who this time comes in the form of Sylvia who not only gave me some lovely yarn and patterns for hats (which I’m going to need in a few weeks) but a signed copy of a knitting trashy novel.   How can one not be excited about a trashy novel in which the murder weapon is a pair of size 19 Addi Turbos?   Thanks so much Sylvia, it was so great to see you today and all the other Tenn Street Ladies.

posh yarns

Cactus Cuties sing Star Spangled Banner

I spent a lot of my high school career singing the National Anthem at just about every sporting event offered.   A friend of mine sent me this and although I have all sorts of music teachery reservations about young people belting, I have to admit they’re pretty good.  Very young to be able to hold harmonies like that.

1 out, 1 to go :)

Got up this morning at 4:30 ish for my PET scan.  As far as nuclear tests go, this one’s not to bad.  They inject you with a radioactive sugar and you get to sit and watch a movie for an hour.  Only bad part about that is now I need to rent Bridget Jones 2 so I can see the end.  I did read the book though.  Anyway, then you have to lie on your back on yet another very skinny platform while a circular machine whirs about your body.  After that it was off to the surgeons where they were able to remove one of my drains but not both.  I’ve been having some problems with what feels like super tight muscles in my shoulder/clavicle area and the nurse told it me it’s probably caused my the drain that had to stay in.  Bummer.  So it’s back to the surgeon’s on Thursday afternoon to get the other one out.  Hopefully.  They’re getting kind of gross as my body is trying to heal around them.  Thursday morning I’m off to Porter to do some genetic counseling.

On a not medical note, I drove the car today.  It’s funny how something as simple as putting gas in the car and getting a carwash can help bring a sense of normalcy to the world.  Many people have commented on how well I’m doing with the cancer crap and I should let you know that I usually don’t blog when I’m down and that I definitely have my “poor me” moments/hours.  But as I was telling a friend of mine, I read every one of your comments and just knowing that you all believe in me; that I’m strong enough to get through this, helps me to believe it too.  So please, don’t ever feel like I might get sick of hearing from you.  It won’t happen.  You guys are the wind beneath my wings.  Oh man.  I just quoted Bette Midler.  It’s probably time to end the post now.  🙂

It’s a yarny day, Mama!

is what my 5 year old exclaimed as I came back from my outing to Knit Knack today.  Cathy was kind to drive me as I was going a wee bit stir crazy here at the homestead.  The lovely ladies from the Arvada Knitters, Knit Knack and I believe Posh as well, got together to make sure I have plenty to keep me busy during the chemo.  Mary-Kay even dyed some special for me.  There were stitch markers by Claudia and one of Ruth’s clever crochet hooks.

 yarn bouquet

Also, they made sure I have a snugly afghan too!  And there are two on the way for the kids!

 friend afghan

Books, books, books!  Some of them signed!  Thanks Miss Marly!

 books

Nachaele also gave a black shirt to match the pink one she has (Don’t have picture yet) and my friend Valerie made me a special bead bracelet.

But mostly it reminded me how truly lucky I am to have such wonderful friends to help me get through this crappy cancer thing.  There were way more people involved than I mentioned and I thank you as well.  A woman’s wealth is not measured by how many yarn skeins she has (though it’s pretty darned cool) but instead by all the love and support from the people who gave them to her.  Thank you so much.  I’d say I was speechless, but you all know me too well.  I’m never speechless.  I am however so grateful for all of you.  I can’t imagine what this would be like if I hadn’t met you.

Oh yes. One more thing.

It’s been about a month since diagnosis so it’s time for everybody to do their self exams!  I was trying to come up with a catchy phrase but “Feel Yourself Up Friday” was all I could think of.  Too vulgar?  Any ideas?

The Plan

So I saw the oncologist yesterday and here’s what I learned.  There is a 60 to 70 percent chance that the cancer may have spread somewhere else in my body.  Not great numbers, but they could have been much worse.  (Sort of seems like my theme.)  I get a PET scan on Tuesday to see if we can find any.  Starting March 11, I start my chemo by entering a drug trial.  I’ll get the same drugs I would normally get with the possibility of an extra drug called Avastin.  It’s not new and has been used with success in Stage IV cancer.  Apparently cancer makes new blood vessels to feed itself and Avastin limits the body’s ability to do that, thus starving the cancer.  I’ll be on a dose dense regimen, getting chemo every other week, as well as another drug to help my bone marrow to make white blood cells.  The only downside to the drug trial is just having to wait so long after surgery to start the chemo.  But then, I still have my drains in.  Darn it.  And although they are slowing down, they are still not slow enough to take out and my oncologist isn’t that keen on starting chemo with them in.  So it really only delays chemo for a couple weeks.  After the chemo, I will get radiation and then 5 years of hormonal therapy.  I may or may not return to normal afterward; some people do and some people don’t.  It will also depend on results from genetic testing that might be done.  (Depends on the insurance company.)  My oncologist feels very strongly that I should get tested.  If I am positive for the breast cancer gene, it may be prudent to remove my ovaries.  That’s down the road though.  Anyway, I guess I get to keep my cute haircut for a little longer.  🙂

The rest of the pathology

Got the full pathology and hormone receptor report today.  Didn’t get the drains out though.  Darn it.  So the only info I didn’t know for the last pathology post was that I had heaps of precancerous stuff going on the left breast.  Had I waited or not found stupid lump this whole experience could’ve been much much worse.  So once again we all shout “Yay Mastectomy!”  The cancerous lymph nodes mean radiation as well as chemo but I will find out more on Thursday.   The hormone receptor thing is interesting.  During my first visit with the surgeon, she sort of glossed over hormone therapy because it’s apparently very rare that cancer in a young woman has those receptors.  So here’s the bittersweet: stupid lump and all it’s family members are actually positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors.  This is good news.  It means that the cancer can be fought, sort of like a battle is, on different fronts.  The bad news is this means I have to go into menopause and all the lovely things that goes with that.  It also may mean no more kids.  I’m a little annoyed at this, mostly because I don’t like being forced into decisions, but DH and I have two wonderful children and the receptor thing gives me a better chance at beating this.  It’d be a lot different if I were 20, you know?  But I’m not.  And I’m ok.  🙂  Still have my drains.  Darn it. But ok.

 Grins.

So what’s a girl to do?

After countless hours in waiting rooms, hospital rooms and and living room gliders, what’s a girl to do to pass the time?  Knit!  Knit like the wind!  🙂  So far I’ve made:

Gaiter for BIL out of leftover Giunco

Pink Banana Republic Knock Off for me out of Bernat Softee Chunky

Ribbed hat for SIL out of Bernat Softee Chunky

Cabled hat for sister out of Bernat Softee Chunky (it was a big skein…)

Hand warmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts for sister for her birthday (she already saw them so no secret) out of leftover Cascade 220

Hand Warmers

And I just started a toque from One Skein Wonders but the lace is kicking my butt.  I’ve had to tink at least 3 times.  I HATE tinking lace.  Bleah.

So let’s see.  What else?  Things I’ve learned this week.

The little pillows that the volunteers give you to take home from the hospital are awesome.  I’ve been walking around with them under my arm for 5 days now and I’m loathe to give them up anytime soon.  Sometimes it feels like there’s been a cave in on my left side and the pillows keep my arm from “falling in the hole”.

Oxycodone is lovely.

Oxycodone is also evil.  Made me SO sick the first few days.  Now I’m mostly on ibuprofen, but again, I’m loathe to give up the drugs quite yet.

5 pounds is practically nothing in the weight world.  I can’t even lift the milk jug, much less anything else. 

I’m going to miss my parents and my husband being home with me next week.  Kind of freaking me out.  Maybe I can go all Misery on them and imprison them in the house with me.  Heck, I’ve already got the flannel.

Well here goes.

Pathology is back.  It’s a good thing we did the mastectomy because the other suspicious areas of cancer were cancer.  All in all there were 3 tumors, a 3.2 cm, 1.3 cm, and a 1.7 cm, all of which are grade III.  The margins look good which means they got it all out.  As for the lymph nodes, she took out a total of 14 nodes, 4 of which were cancerous.  I know this looks alarming, but it really just means that we need to do aggressive chemotherapy, which we knew already.  So the treatment hasn’t really changed too much.  Mostly it just reiterates that we did the right thing.  I won’t have the hormone receptor info until later this week.  🙂

As for recovery, I’m doing OK.  Percoset is both my best friend and my worst enemy.  And unfortunately there’s not a lot they can do about the nerve pain that is left from surgery on the lymph nodes.  So far that’s been the worst.  At first I thought it was something pulling on my drains (which are now hanging from a crocheted belt I made because the fanny pack hit me right where the drains attach.)  I’m so crafty.  Heh.