Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Cheer, after Cancer

December 31, 2010

My Christmas present

The day before Christmas I had a ProMedica envelope in the mail….and I thought, the news can’t be too bad.  Dr. E wouldn’t mail really bad news, and in fact it wasn’t.  On November 27th I had a big battery of blood tests, and almost a month later have finally received the results.  The news was all basically good, but the one I’d been waiting for was:

“No sign of hypercoaguability inherent in your blood chemistry.  OK to stay off the blood thinners”

Whew….this is good.  At least I think I’m not going to keel over under the Christmas tree of a blood clot this year, and maybe not ever if I stay away from long surgeries and long periods of inactivity.  That threat of blood clots though…it is a sneaky insidious thing. You can be nice and relaxed one moment and then the next, you freak out, “Have I been moving enough? Am I moving too much?  Are my ankles swollen? ”  And then when my left ankle, the site of the last blood clot does get swollen, I wonder….is that it?  Is there a clot down there right now blocking flow? Can this kill me?  What should I do?   And because I can’t keep calling a doc  with every little thing, I just run for the bottle of baby aspirin and chew up a little tart orange blood thinning agent (having no idea if I am doing the right thing or not.)

Lump-Bump update

So.  For those of you who really care, here is a brief history of  my big hard lump/bump on my left breast, site of first cancer, and the resolution (for now).

10/6/2010  Felt a hard round lump (imagine a medium sized marble under your skin) about the same spot as the original tumor…..but how? why?  Ostensibly, there is no breast tissue there, and no fat positioned there from the tram-flap surgery. The only person I could see quickly was Nurse S (from B2) who thought it was my rib.  Hmmnnn.  I tried to believe her, but just couldn’t.  Too round, too “sticking out” from the long curved shape of my rib…I think……..so began a ten week trip into medical test land.

10/19/2010  Dr. S – concerned, ordered the first ultrasound, results inconclusive, but probably not a tumor

10/27/2010  Dr. B2 – not sure, ordered CT scan

11/5/2010     Nurse S (from B2) – good news, CT result: mass consistent with “fat necrosis”, probably not a tumor

Meanwhile, lump/bump changes in size, flattens out, covers more real estate on my chest.

11/11/2010  Dr. E – felt results of CT not definitive.  Could be fat necrosis, but not willing to gamble on that.  Suggested PET scan or biopsy.  Picked the PET scan card.  (On the positive side, he recommends coming off  the blood thinner, Coumadin!)

11/16/2010  Met the nice folks at the POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY department at Flower Hospital, where they inject a radioactive cocktail into your vein (ewww) then you have to sit real still.  Easy test, but gives rise to creepy thoughts.

11/21/2010 Dr. R – felt it was ‘stupid” to get a PET scan.  Too expensive and results inconclusive.  No idea if tumor or fat necrosis.   Recommend a trip to Dr. B1 and biopsy.

12/1/2010  Dr B2 – felt no biopsy needed.  Only fat necrosis.  Plan the second reconstruction surgery in late January and then we’ll cut it out, whatever it is and send for testing.

12/6/2010  Dr. B1 – long time with ultrasound wand in hand, positive the growing lump is a “rib”. Recommends not having it “cut out”.  Brings up new concern re/ blood clots, thinks going off Coumadin is risky, and recommends I see Hematologist-Onco ASAP.

12/16/2010  Dr. S – Not concerned about discontinuing blood thinners…felt four months followed standard protocol, and clot was the result of surgery, and probably not inherent in my chemistry.  On the lump, probably a good idea to move ahead with the second reconstruction surgery, and Dr. B2 will clearly know what to do regardless of what the lump is.  Still thinks it is probably not a tumor, and probably not a rib.

 

So there.  I’ve asked every doc along the way, “am I overreacting??” and they have this standard line about  “Well, once you’ve had cancer, you have a hyper sensitivity to anything out of the ordinary in your body and your anxiety level…….blah, blah, blah………”

 

So there it is.  I have had to force myself to stop feeling the lump/bump a hundred times a day.  So much mental wrangling, this dealing with the aftermath of cancer….it is exhausting.   I’m cautiously accepting that it is probably not a tumor.  It is real hard for me to accept optimism, and that make me sad.  I used to live life completely, unabashedly optimistic, believing the universe held only great things for me, and I want to find that girl again, but she is being elusive.  I don’t have to look far to see how lucky I am to be alive, as stronger women than I…. have not made it through this trip.

 

In the meanwhile, I’m planning for the next step, the removal of the expander implant and placement of the “permanent” implant.  January 27, 2010.  More on that later.

 

Hoping for a happier 2011.

 

 




 

quick update

December 8, 2010

I’ve been remiss in not updating my progress here.  Sorry.  Fulltime work, going to PT and medical appointments along with motherhood and life in general…keeps me busy.

PET Scan – Radiation Oncologist said, “stupid test, too expensive, inconclusive..”  Also said he’d make the appointment for me to see Dr. Butler….the queen of all docs, the “Surgeon” and I say that with a mix of both fear and respect.  Butler has more experience than anyone else in town with breast cancer and has seen plenty of fat necrosis, tumors, and all things foreign in breast tissue.

My appointment with Butler was this past monday, and her opinion on the lump, after a considerable amount of time wielding the ultrasound wand was…………the lump is “rib”.  The lump will not have a needle stuck in it. Too close to the heart and the lungs, and risk of puncturing a lung or worse is too great.  Great…good news, right?  Wish I could get my mind to believe that.  In my heart I don’t believe it, but I guess I have to believe it.   I’ve had Medical Onco, Plastics Guy, Radiation Onco, and now the Surgeon all say, “nah….probably not tumor.” 

My Supreme Surgeon did, however, express great concern with the decision of GP to take me off of blood thinners after only three months.  Concerned enough to insist that I call the Hemetologist/Oncologist at U of M to get another opinion, and while I’m at it (she said in her most authoritarian way) get her opinion on the method and plan for the finish of the reconstruction (which is currently planned for late January.)  She didn’t like the PS plan to just remove the lump….because after all, she thinks it is my rib.  My rib grotesquely contorted out of shape.  From the plastic surgery. 

*Sigh*