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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prepping for surgery

I talked with a pre-surgery nurse today and watched a couple of their "this is what to expect" videos,  Here's what I know so far:

Night before - take a shower / use clean washcloth and towel / wear clean pjs in a clean sheets bed.

No food or drink after midnight. Not usually a real biggie for me, but one side effect of the anti-estrogen med I'm taking is that it makes me thirsty, so my current norm is to get a drink of water 1/2 way through the night. I have a feeling I'll be REALLY thirsty on surgery day.

April 4 - Surgery Day!
Take another shower / use clean washcloth and towel / wear clean clothes.

9:00am - check in at St. Vincent's Hospital.

All times after this are ESTIMATES, they are careful to keep emphasizing.

Sometime after check-in - go back to short stay unit / Jon can come with

10:30ish - get a wire put into the tumor (since the tumor isn't super large, the wire (a teeny thing) is a clear indicator of exactly where the tumor is). Don't know if Jon comes along - sorta thinking "not."

11:00ish -get nuclear dye put in - this shows which lymph node the tumor drains into; then during surgery, the surgeon will remove the first node the dye reaches (the sentinel node) and send it to be tested. It's a big improvement from the "olden days" when they'd just remove ALL the lymph nodes. Again, don't know if Jon "gets" to come along for this. Back to short stay (with Jon) to wait for...

1:00 - surgery scheduled - they tell you to bring a book and that there's a TV in the room. I anticipate lots of waiting.

Length of surgery - anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours - "ish."

Recovery room and then home. Lots of water please!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Turning crabbiness into laughter...

Well, that didn't take long.

The day after I got the re-scheduling of the surgery news, I was treated to brunch by a friend who beat breast cancer 17 years ago. I told her that I'm doing some freelance proofreading and copyediting, and she told me of woman she knows who is also doing that, and who is coming to Portland next week for a national copy editors conference.

Cue the light bulb moment!

I had signed up for that conference in January but then had to back out because of my surgery date on March 30th - the conference starts on the 31st. But this new surgery date means I can go to the 3 day conference next week. They were quick to let me re-apply at my initial "early bird" rate and now I'm all set to go. I was just laughing the whole rest of the day.

Quite the lesson I'm getting in trusting God's timing...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Surgery Date Changed - and other timing tales...

Got the word from the surgeon's office today that we have to move the surgery date to Monday, April 4th.  It's not that much longer to wait, but I have to admit it makes me a bit crabby. The reason for the change is that the Tanasbourne Surgery Center is "out of network" for our insurance plan, so I'll be having it at St. Vincent's Hospital instead. It will still be on an outpatient basis and I report there at 9:00am.

It just seems so crazy. I'm sure that the costs of doing it at the surgery center instead of the hospital would be significantly less for the insurance company, plus it's run by Providence - the system that both my surgeon and St. Vincent's are a part of. So why...? Who knows.

But there's some amazing timing things that have taken place already so I'm trying to remember those and "possess my soul in patience."

When I was first diagnosed, I was sorting out all the potential treatments and schedules. Carol, my boss at Graceworks, was completely understanding and flexible. I was scheduled for a 2 day workshop with her in Ohio (which took place last week) and I wasn't sure if I could/should do it. I hoped to, but didn't know if it was medically "ok" to wait til after that time (turns out it was) and didn't know if, by waiting, I might compromise my ability to be at my brother's wedding in Florida in June (learned that post-op treatments can flex around that date if need be).

In the meantime of course, Carol was working on backup plans. One trainer (Jen) was already booked for those dates, and the other (Rich) graciously said he would do it, but I knew he'd be giving up some commitments that are near and dear to his heart.

Then the booking for Jen got moved to another date so she was free to step in for the Ohio gig. Interesting. Should she do it instead? Carol said it was up to me. And it turned out that doing ultrasound and MRI to chase down the "spots" were going to take me pretty close to that workshop date anyway, so I said, "Yes, I'll do the Ohio workshop!"

Turns out it was such a good thing I did - for a completely unexpected reason. In my last post, I asked for prayer for one of our trainer's daughters. It was Jen's daughter, and because Jen was home and NOT in Ohio, she was able to shepherd her daughter through all the ER / hospital / "now what?" craziness that ensued for the next several days. Thankfully, her daughter's doing fine now. We are all so glad that Jen was able to be there with her.

But wait - there's more! I had hoped to do the Ohio workshop and then have surgery early this week.  But that didn't work because the surgeon is out of town. And we couldn't do it on next Monday either. Yep, I was crabby about it.

But.... Jen was scheduled to go to San Diego early this week to co-lead a 4-hour workshop and we realized it really didn't make sense for her to get on a plane to go across the country for that, when it would be just as easy for me to do it. And since I wasn't having surgery this week, why not? I just got home tonight from leading a workshop with Carol as part of the N3A conference - North American Airline Audit conference. Lots of different airlines represented - great people! And there was sunshine :-)

Yes, that's the Hotel Del Coronado. And no, the conference wasn't there. Wouldn't that be something!

So that's why I'm trying to be "non-crabby" with this most recent "push out" of the date. Maybe there will be more timing tales to come...

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Spots" are benign!

Literally moments after we had touched down in Columbus, Ohio, and I had taken my phone off airplane mode, I got a call from the radiologist saying that the spots they checked are benign. GREAT news! That means I'll just have a lumpectomy, which can be done as day surgery - March 30.

Super grateful.

A bonus of this trip was that I got to have lunch with Ted and Jeannine Nordlund  in the Minneapolis airport. Funny thing is that there are ZERO restaurants outside of security. So they brought in a lunch and we had a grand old time :-)

Praying friends - please lift up Carson, the daughter of one of our Graceworks' trainers. She fainted several times yesterday and today, including at the ER, and though they are sending her home, my understanding is that they haven't truly isolated the cause.

Two days of workshops here in Ohio - looking forward to it!

Friday, March 11, 2016

And more waiting, with a few appointments sprinkled in...

Three appointments this week. I'd hoped to have results from the MRI to report on today, but looks like it will be early next week before we get those.

I had an MRI-guided biopsy this week, which was quite the opposite of fun. If you don't want more details about that, skip to the next paragraph (and I don't blame you!) I had to lie face down with my arms stretched out above my head, staying very still for over an hour, while I was shuttled in and out of the MRI machine. I'm not claustrophobic, and had my eyes closed most of the time, but after 20 minutes or so, my shoulders started to ache. "Don't move," they kept telling me, but oh, how I wanted to. The basic plan is that they figure out the location of the "spot" they want to biopsy by doing the MRI, then shuttle you out to numb that area (like at a dentist's office), then in again to check something (I don't remember what that was), then out to have the biopsy done. It shouldn't hurt, right? 'Cause they put the numbing stuff in, right? Somehow he hit a nerve on the last "poke" and I definitely moved ;-( Ow, ow, ow!!! Yelps and tears. Then he put in a tiny titanium marker. Then back in to the machine see that it was in the right spot. Then finally DONE! Except for a quick mammogram to see the marker on those films. While I was waiting to hear that I was really done for the day, I texted Jon - "Please find a good ice cream place on the way home - I need a treat!"

We met with the surgeon on Tuesday and today with a plastic surgeon, whose services I hope I don't need. In both cases, we talked about what the surgery would be if the spots are benign (pretty simple lumpectomy) and if they aren't (essentially breast reduction surgery - a bit more complicated but not as much so as a mastectomy). Still aiming for surgery on the 30th, or maybe a day or two later if we have to go the other route.

So more waiting.

We did learn a couple of interesting facts about the anti-estrogen pills I'm taking:
   - the initial biopsy showed that 100% of the tumor cells reacted positively to estrogen, so that means 100% of them will react to not getting any more.
  - the medication doesn't "kill" them the way a chemo drug does, but it basically tells them, "Your job here is done," so they start the pre-programmed routine of "it's time to shut down now."

I'll be co-leading a presentation workshop in Ohio next week - gone from Monday through Thursday - and I'm looking forward to it. Nice to focus on something else :-) And no doctor's appointments - woo hoo!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Baby Steps

I keep getting great analogies from people about what this time in my life entails. Right now, it really does feel like we're taking baby steps as we head towards surgery and whatever lies after that...

Since the MRI showed a couple of "spots" which they think are benign but want to confirm, I had an ultrasound this week, which unfortunately was not ultra-helpful :-( They couldn't see the spots clearly enough to make a judgement call, so now I get to go in for an MRI biopsy next week. As I understand it, they use the MRI technology to guide them to exactly where those little "spots" are, and do biopsies of those.

Also next week, I have an appointment with my surgeon, and since the biopsy results won't be back by then, we'll talk about what the options are if the spots are benign, and if they aren't. And just to add to the fun, I'll have an appointment with a plastic surgeon, just in case that might be called for. I think I've had more doctor's visits in the last few weeks in the last 10 years!

Surgery is scheduled for March 30th and hopefully will be on an outpatient basis.

So current prayer requests are still the same:
Clear results from the MRI followup tests
Clear direction for chemo/no chemo decision

Grateful for you - my support and prayer team!!!