Friday, June 28, 2013

Coming to a decision...

The past several days have all blended into one long day.  I have stewed about what to do with my breast cancer surgery.  I weighed all the pros and cons and just kept seeing red flags with every option.  It was ALL CONSUMING.  It was on my mind every second.  When I went to bed at night, I wrestled all night with it.  It was usually in the 4 o'clock hour that I would wake up....and be up, for a long time.

I had a couple of choices to make...
  1. I could have a lumpectomy with some lymph nodes removed.  Then after surgery I would do 6 weeks of radiation 5 days a week.  After that I would need to have reconstructive surgery to fix the...I can't even think of the word to put here.  Mangled boob? Hole?
  2. Or I could do a mastectomy with some lymph nodes removed, and not have to do any radiation. 
The problem with the first scenario was the radiation.  I have been on the phone hours and hours talking to several different people who have dealt with breast cancer.  The radiation was so hard on their skin that it almost made the reconstruction impossible.  I think my lump is big enough that reconstruction will be necessary.  They also complained about how horrible radiation was on there skin and how tired they were.

The second scenario...cut my entire boob off?  Was that really necessary?  If so, yes, I would do it!  But, was it over-treating?  And, how do you match up the reconstructed breast to the real deal.  One...(once again not sure what word to insert) breast, boob, "lady" would be at fully attention sitting up nice and high.  The other breast would be sad, saggy, and just look different.  So do I just cut both of them off and make them match?

John brought balloons and pies home
when we found out it was a
treatable cancer.  We had a little
celebration.  Riley took it upon
herself to position them and take
a picture.  Oh Riley!
I have been trying not to stress so much that my kids feel nervous.  I know they are worried and I don't want them to also be losing sleep at night.  We have tried to keep it light by cracking a few jokes about cutting your boobs off.  Have you seen the Muppets Movie?  Do you remember the song, "Am I a man?, or am I a Muppet?"  We have changed the words when it comes to a double mastectomy, "Am I a man, or am I a woman.  If I'm a woman, I'm a very manly woman."  Poor Jace, (the only boy in the house) is constantly cringing with all the "boob talk" going on around here.

I've prayed, fasted, thought about it, done lots of research--and I have finally come to a decision.  In all my studying, I found out that there is a hospital that does the lumpectomy--and then does the radiation right then during surgery.  The radiation is done under the skin and only done one time.  A one time radiation under the skin!?  I like the sound of that!!  Then while you are still under anesthesia, they do the lymph nodes and breast reconstruction.  Everything is done at one time.  I really liked this option, but didn't think it would be possible.  The hospital is in southern California...and I am not.  I was certain that I couldn't afford going there. 

A couple days ago, I was standing in my kitchen and I had the impression to call my insurance company.  I found out that this amazing hospital with the Breast Cancer Clinic was in-network.  My conversation with the girl at the insurance company was hilarious.  It went something like this.  "Hi I was just calling to ask about coverage at a hospital outside of my state."  When I gave her all the information she said, "Yes, it is in-network."  I was like, "It's IN net-work?"  To which she replied, "In-network".  Once again I said, "IN net-work?"  Then I called back the next morning and did the same thing to another girl.  I'm sure they noted my account that I was a crazy lady with a short term memory.  It was a no-brainer to go there!

I have not even mentioned that the CEO of this awesome hospital is my brother-in-law.  Bob has notified all parties involved that I am coming.  They are rolling out the red carpet for me by helping me get it all scheduled as quick as possible.  I think I will plant a big kiss on each of them when I get there.

So, I am scheduled to go have the surgery in the next couple of weeks.  I feel like I am making the right choice and doing what is right for me.  I am just anxious to get this done.  I decided to wait and have the surgery until I get the results back from the BRCA gene test.  The test will tell me whether or not I carry a breast/ovarian cancer gene.  The doctor thinks it is highly unlikely that I will test positive because all my sisters, aunts, grandparents and my mom have not had breast cancer.  But, just to be safe, I am waiting.  It would change the way we would do surgery.  I'm certain I would do a double mastectomy if I tested positive.  In the meantime, I am biting off all my fingernails and eating every last thing in sight.  Oh boy!

We have done a few things to help relieve some stress.  All of the girls went and
got a pedicure.  It was the first time for the girls and they were in heaven.  They
just kept giggling.  It was so cute!
My super-lady cape that my friend gave
me to help me through this!  Thanks Sydne!  This
picture makes my legs look so short! Ha ha!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons...

Recently I found a lump in one of my breasts.  I just happened to brush that area with my hand, and noticed that something was not right.  I had been sick with a sore throat and a few things, and my first reaction was that maybe it was related to that.  I told my mom about the lump and she told me to immediately drive to my doctor's office and demand to be seen.  Such a sweet over-protective mom.

 Last Thursday I had an appointment with an OBGYN to have a routine check up, and also have her check the lump. She didn't act totally alarmed, more concerned about the lump, and told me to make an appointment for a mammogram.  I left the office and immediately made an appointment.

I was scheduled to be seen on Monday the 17th.  When my friend Britnee found out that I would be waiting over the weekend to be seen, she called her boss at the hospital and asked if they could squeeze me in. What a great friend!

So, I went in the next day for my first mammogram. First they did a mammogram, and then an ultrasound. After a few minutes of getting an ultrasound, the girl went and got the Radiologist.  He came in to also do an ultrasound.  I watched both of their faces very carefully to see if I could read what they were thinking.  I could see looks of concern on both of their faces.  The Radiologist then told me that I needed to have a biopsy on the lump.  He asked me how soon I would like to have it done, and I asked him if I could do it right then.  I was SO nervous for the biopsy.  I am NOT a fan of needles, blood, cuts, scrapes, ETC., and I was so afraid of what they would find.  First they gave me several shots to numb that location, and then put a long needle in the lump to take several different samples of the tissue.  I kept my eyes closed tight the entire time.  They then sent me on my way, telling me that I would receive a call probably Tuesday, maybe Monday with the results of the biopsy.

 THEN THERE WAS THE WAIT.....Saturdayyyyyy, Sundayyyyyy, Mondayyyyyy (I called them 3 times on Monday--what a bugger I was), and then Tuesday (called again and they told me it would be the afternoon)....

 Tuesday I knew that I would be receiving a call. Every time the phone rang, my heart skipped a beat. Every call, every text, just about everything would just about send me to the ceiling.  I tried everything to keep my mind occupied, but that was ALL I could think of.  I knew they were doing to tell me that it was cancer.  I wasn't trying to be negative, my gut was telling me that it was probably true.

 I was at Haley's baseball game Tuesday afternoon when my cell phone rang and I saw the doctor's number. I tossed everything in my hands to Riley and jumped off the bleachers and went away from everyone. Dr. H told me that it was cancer. I was immediately joined by John, my kids, my sister Monica, and my Mother-in-law. I almost felt like I was spinning. I asked Dr. H if she would talk to John and explain more to him, because I just simply couldn't process what she was saying to me. I think I was in shock.

Dr. H set up an appointment for us to meet with a surgeon the next day.  We spent about 2 hours in her office.  She kept telling me that I looked overwhelmed.  Words like oncologist, radiation, surgery...I was still trying to process that I had breast cancer.  Now were discussing my options.  Days later I am still trying to figure out what I am going to do.  I think I have a couple of options...

1- Lumpectomy, remove some lymph nodes, and radiation for 6 weeks 5 times a week.  PROS and CONS have been weighed.  My friends mom had a lumpectomy and the lump showed signs of protein---so then she had to do chemotherapy.  We looked at pictures today of ladies that have had a lumpectomy and radiation.  It ain't pretty.  So, do I have one crazy boob and one normal?  I think the lump is big enough that it will be noticeable.

2- Mastectomy.  SO final.  Cut of my breast or breasts.  Those babies just don't grow back ya know!  Do I cut off one?  How do they match a fake breast (all firm and perky), with an old worn out tired saggy one?
Do I cut them both off?  Oh the pain!  I will do WHATEVER it takes to get rid of it.  I just hope and pray that it is not moving to other parts of my body.

I meet with my oncologist on Monday for blood work and hopefully more answers.  Then surgery, maybe as early as Wednesday.  What a difference a week can make.

I have had so many sleepless nights this past week.  It finally caught up with me.  This morning, I didn't wake up until 10:00.  Oh my!

A lot of the time, I have a knot in my stomach and feel like I am full of anxiety--an anxiety like I have NEVER felt before.  I simply feel like I cannot breathe!  I have also felt times that I am calm and not as worried.  I know that the times I feel calm, people are praying for me.  I have felt the prayers.  What a blessing to have some many family members and friends.  I have received many kind notes, calls, and gifts.  I feel loved.  I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and will continue to help me through this trial.

Please keep the prayers coming!

 “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."  -Jenkin Lloyd Jones

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Last day of school

Today is the last day of school for my 4 little stink weeds.  I'm sitting here in my quiet house wondering how we are going to manage the summer.  Dealing with chaos and total messes is not my forte.  I can do it!  I must be strong!  hee hee!  (Do you like my little pep-talk?)

Riley is finishing 10th grade and will be at the same school with Brynn next year.  (Both at the High School.)  Brynn is finishing her 8th grade year.  Both Riley and Brynn are finishing with straight A's.  They work hard and I'm so glad for that.  They are both planning on taking some online classes this summer.  Riley is signed up for Economics and Brynn is signed up for a math class.  They are doing it because they WANT to...what the heck!?  They would like to get those classes out of the way.  Riley has done online summer classes in the past...History and Health.  She was glad that she took the classes.  This summer Riley also wants to take Calculus and Trigonometry online in addition to her Economics class.  Where in the heck did this math wiz come from?  That is a stupid question...COMPLETELY from her dad.  I am about as smart as a fence post when it comes to math.  I think I must give some of the credit to all the crappy math teachers I had along the way.  Oh, I had some doozies!  And one of them still teaches at the High School.  I hope my girls are not biting off more then they can chew in the way of classes this summer.  It may be WAY too much, and we may be pulling our hair out over here.  But, it will keep them productive (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE)!

Jace graduated from 6th grade yesterday and will be heading over to the Junior High, which happens to be the same Junior High that I went to, MANY moons ago.  I will only have one left at the grade school next year.

Haley just finished second grade and will moving to 3rd grade...AND a different school.  Good thing she is not in the least bit shy and will probably march right in without giving it a second thought.  She has the ability to talk to just about anyone without being nervous.  I find it SO entertaining sometimes.  I'm not sure if she gets that from her mom, or her dad.  She will stop people that are walking by on the street and talk to them.  Usually because they are walking a dog, and she loves dogs more then anything.