Saturday, July 27, 2013

Surgery Part 2

Tuesday, July 16th-- John and I got up early and headed to the hospital for surgery.  I was so incredibly nervous.  We had to be at the hospital at 8:00 am.  The hospital was right next to the ocean.  The beach was surrounded by big yachts.  I wish I could have enjoyed a little beach time while I was there.  The hospital had valet parking (which I am definitely not used to in this small town).  Bob and Lisa were just so good to us.  We drove Bob's nice Mercedes to the hospital and valet parked and went to get checked in.

Before going upstairs for surgery, they inserted thin wires under my skin to mark exactly where the tumor was and where they would be cutting.  They would use the wires as a guide.  Once again, they gave me LOTS of shots (did I mention how bad I hate shots?) and they also did another ultrasound and mammogram.

Shortly after, we were taken upstairs to get ready for surgery.  It's funny how I can't even remember all the events of this day.  I think I was so nervous that I was starting to go into a little shock...and after surgery, I was just drugged up.

Bob was good to come check on me every so often.  It seems like things just happen a little quicker when the CEO is around. :)  Before going into surgery, Doctors Silverstein and Savalia came in the room and marked up the front of my body with a permanent marker.  Another map as to where they would be cutting and such.

Next, I met with the anesthesiologist.  They inserted the IV and moments later, they were wheeling me down the hall.  Holy panic!  I was out-cold before they even made it ten steps down the hall.  What a relief that I was not aware of my surroundings when I entered the operating room!!

I believe the surgery was a little over 3 hours.  Bob gave John a key to the Garden Room so he could wait somewhere nicer then the waiting room.  He was able to sit in there and visit with Lisa before she headed home.

I don't remember much else about this day.  Just lots of morphine.

I stayed in the hospital for 2 nights and went back to Lisa and Bob's house on Thursday, July 18th.  John flew home the next day (Friday).  While Lisa was driving John to the airport, Dr. Silverstein called to tell me that they had taken a total of 18 lymph nodes and that only one of them tested positive for cancer.  It was such a relief!  I just bawled when I hung up the phone with him.

The next few days I just laid around and took it easy.

Monday, July 22nd-- Lisa and I had 3 different follow up appointments that morning.  First we met with Dr. Savalia and he just checked to make sure everything looked good. 

The next appointment was with Dr. Silverstein (surgeon).  They removed a drain that they had inserted during surgery.  It was gross and hurt like HECK coming out.  Once again, I felt like I got the rug ripped out from under my feet.  Dr. Silverstein explained that they had found cancer in the other breast when they tested the tissue from the reconstruction.  It was just in the beginning stages.  It felt like it was just a bad dream that kept on going.  I just wanted to yell, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?"

I walked out of there once again in a daze and we headed for my last follow-up appointment.  The last appointment was with an oncologist, Dr. Vandermolen.  He was very good to sit and explain things on a very basic level.  He explained to me that I needed to do both chemotherapy and radiation.  I knew that he would tell me that, but I was SOOO hoping to avoid chemotherapy.  The plan is to do a full body scan, 18 weeks of chemo (6 rounds...every 3 weeks) and then 6 weeks of radiation 5days a week.  After that 5+ years of a pill that will help with Estrogen / Progesterone.  This cancer likes both of them, and the pill with help take care of that.  Not totally sure what that means.  Dr. Vandermolen told me that I will no longer be able to have children and will probably go into early menopause.  Oh that is just fabulous!  I asked the doctor if I was going to grow a beard.  He smiled and told me no.  So then I said, "well then just a goatee?" 

When we were done meeting with him, but before we could make it out of the office I had a break down.  I just couldn't hold back the tears.

Right after that visit we headed to L.A. to catch a plane home.  It was such a whirlwind trip full of so many emotions!  I was glad to be home.  When I rounded the corner I could see so many family members waiting there for me.  Once again, Lisa and I were crying.  John and my kids, my sister Lori and her husband Clay and kids, Lynette and her kids, my mom were all there to greet me.  I'm so glad that I am not doing this alone.  I have so much support and love from family and friends.

It is so humbling and wonderful to feel so much love and support.  I have been the recipient of so much kindness!  It's almost overwhelming.  Food, flowers, cards and notes, phone calls, people offering to help in anyway possible.  What a blessing!!!

The last couple of days I have been very sore and not sleeping well at night.  I can hardly wait until I can sleep on my side.  Sleeping on your back all night is a killer.  Next week I meet with my oncologist here.  He is being contacted by the oncologist in California.  Then a plan will be formulated and I will be thrown into a few months of hell.  I am hoping and praying that in the near future I will be getting some good news.

In the meantime, I am just trying to stay sane. 

Surgery Part 1

So much has happened in a month since I last posted.  What a roller coaster ride....and not a fun one.

Before I left for California, there were lots more tests done here.  I had a chest x-ray, EKG, and blood and urine tests.

July 12th-- I left for Southern California with my sister, Lisa, and three of her kids.  We stayed a couple of days at her in-laws house in Utah before we headed on our way.  Lisa's awesome husband, Bob, flew in to Utah to drive back with us.

July 14th-- We left Utah, Sunday morning the 14th at 5:00 am, and got to Lisa's house probably around 3:30 pm.  I felt knots in my stomach the entire way there, thinking about all my appointments the next day.  I had a hard time sleeping that night, knowing that I had a lot to face in the days to come.

July 15th-- Lisa and I left for the hospital early Monday morning the 15th, and arrived at the hospital a little before 8:00 am.  It was a long day, full of lots of pre-surgery appointments.  We met with Doctors from 8:00 am until 6:30 pm.  My brother-in-law, Bob is the CEO of the hospital.  So, of course we were treated SO GOOD!  I think we would have been treated so good regardless.  Just great people!

My first appointment was with Doctor Chen (radiation oncologist).  We talked all about the Intraoperative radiation, along with other types of radiation.  He was good to sit and explain things, and answer all my questions.  The original plan was for me to have all radiation that was needed to be done, done during surgery.

Following Doctor Chen, I went to the Hoag Breast Center and met with several doctors there.  At first they had me do a breast MRI.  They took approximately 2000 pictures of my armpits and breasts.  The results from the MRI showed that my lymph nodes looked swollen, and they needed ultrasound and take several biopsies of tissue from my armpit.  They had to deaden the area several times and it was quite painful because it is such a sensitive area.  The Doctor taking the samples was Doctor Levine.  He was very friendly and had we had lots to talk about.  When Doctor Levine was finished he took the sampled tissue to get the results, and I had a few more tests done.  A very short time later, I was walking down the hall past Dr. Levine (to see the next Doctor), and he wouldn't even look at me.  My heart sank, as I knew that it must be some bad news.

When I entered the room with Doctor Silverstein (surgeon), he asked me if Doctor Levine had given me the news.  When I told him no, and then he dropped a huge earth shattering bomb on me.  The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.  I was so stunned that I could hardly speak.  Finding this out changed everything!  I was no longer able to do the radiation during surgery.  Radiation was now going to have to be done when I returned home.  When Doctor Silverstein was finished with the consultation, he gave me a hug, and left the room.  My sister and I just hugged and cried.  The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.  I could hardly believe it.  I just felt sick.  Where else was the cancer?  Is it spreading throughout my body?!  Still unsure of these questions.

We had a short break before the next Doctor appointment and we went to get some lunch in the hospital cafeteria.  We just sat in there stunned.  We spent the next few minutes eating and crying.  I was SO grateful that my sister was there with me.  (John was not able to fly in until Monday night).

The last appointment for the day was with Doctor Savalia (plastic surgeon).  I felt like I was in a fog going into that appointment.  Doctor Savalia was very nice.  He walked me through what would be done the next morning during surgery.  The first part of the surgery would be Doctor Silverstein removing the cancer and some lymph nodes.  Then Doctor Savalia would step in and do breast reconstruction on both breasts.

The doctors and staff at the hospital were so good to me.

It was late when we finally arrived home at Lisa's house.  Bob drove to L.A. to pick up John from the airport.  They didn't get home until probably 10:30.  Lisa and I waited up for them, so I could have them give me a blessing before going into surgery the next morning.  I think we went to bed after midnight.  I was still in a daze.