The Port is IN!!!

July 3, 2017

I was planning on arriving at the Ambulatory Surgery Center at 8:45 but they called me just before 8:00 and said the doctor was running ahead of schedule and I could I come on in?!?  So, I got out of bed, called Sue who was ready to go and we arrived about 8:20 or so.  By 8:45 I had checked in, had vitals taken, and was dressed in one of those little hospital gowns that are open down the back!!  Pretty soon, I had seen the doctor, had an IV in my hand and was being wheeled into the operating room.  I remember moving over to the other bed but that’s about it.  Everything went well and I was able to dress myself, get into Sue’s car and off we went to the main event of the day – Waffle House!!!  We were both hungry and we had a nice breakfast.  How can you possibly go wrong with a waffle and bacon???  It was very good tasting and I am glad to report that it didn’t make me sick at all.  One of the nurses said not to eat anything greasy – thankfully bacon is not greasy!!!  Yeah, right!!

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Sue dropped off my pain pill prescription and then we went to my house.  We watched a program on Netflix that is like House Hunters except that it’s in England.  We saw some of the most beautiful houses and countryside.  Actually, Sue saw more than I did because I kept falling asleep but I still enjoyed the shows.  Sue went back and got my pills and then we decided that since I was doing just fine she went home.  I spent the rest of the day napping and watching television.  It was a nice day and I was not even very sore.

This photo shows the lengths I go to in order to be part of the holidays.  I was red, white and blue just in time for the 4th of July!!  I had gotten a little sunburned the day before, the site of the incision was pretty much white and evidently I had some bruising below the incision site which looked pretty blue.

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By bedtime, I planned to take the pain meds to make sure I slept well, but after looking up Hydrocodone on my phone, I decided I didn’t really need them.  Those things look kind of dangerous and I wasn’t hurting too badly.  I did have to sleep in my bra since I had gotten another biopsy for the research study.  I did not have a great sleep but I did okay.  This morning I was more sore than I had been yesterday but it has never gotten really bad.  I did pick up a plant waterer and quickly put it back down since it seemed to ‘pull’  on my sore spot!!  Won’t be doing that again.  I can do things with my right arm and hard, including driving, but I just make sure I do it pretty slowly.  The doctor said no lifting of heavy objects, including grand kids, for two weeks so that’s going to be sort of tough.

I’ve decided that I should get a little more active than I have been, so I went for a walk.  It was only about 1/3 of a mile, but I sure was worn out at the end of it.  I expect the chemo treatments to make me tired, but I think that staying somewhat active won’t hurt me at all but might help me.  If I can keep it up – I’m a naturally lazy person, for sure.  Then Sue and I went to Longhorn to some supper but we won’t ate pretty healthy and refused any bread.  Now I’m more concerned about gaining weight throughout the process than I am about not eating enough – I figure laying around and watching tv is not what I need to do.

I am getting kind of nervous about the whole thing.  Twice today, I had minor issues – a stiff, tender finger and a fever blister – and immediately mentally blamed them on the chemo!!!  I know I haven’t had any chemo yet, but my mind is ready to blame everything on it.  I think it’s going to be an ‘interesting’ mental journey in addition to the physical journey. I still have one whole day before the chemo starts on Thursday morning and I am not looking forward to it.  Sue got me a nice fuzzy emoji blanket to take with me to the chemo session, so that’s something to look forward to.  I guess I can also look forward to enjoying just nicely sitting there reading or napping for 3 hours or so on Thursday morning.

Here are the photos of my gifts I couldn’t put in the last post.

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A sentence I’ve never said before and gifts from friends

July 2, 2017

I have heard from so many friends and family who have sent such nice greetings that I have been overwhelmed with positive thoughts.  I did not realize that so many people I knew had had cancer at some point.  They all sound so promising that I can get thru this that maybe I can.  I think I can, I think I can, etc  I will, I will, I will!!

I have even received many nice gifts to help me along the way.  A group of ladies I quilt with gave me a gift bag with a gown and other goodies.  A cousin who survived breast cancer sent me a book that really helped her out.  Other friends have given me fancy earrings and head coverings to keep my head decorated and warm.  Course, I think they may have given me the nice earrings just to get my regular earrings away – trying to make me look stylish!! I totally refused the lipstick ideas tho!  I really do appreciate all the support everyone has been giving me.

I’ve been trying to get my almost bald head a little bit tanned.  At the pool today, Paula and Sue convinced me I should put some sunscreen on my head or it would probably get burned, so I did.  When I got back into the pool, Sue said she smelled gardenias but there were no gardenias nearby.  I thought she might be smelling the sunscreen so I told her to “Smell my scalp!”  I had never, ever said that sentence to anyone before!!  She did and it was the sunscreen.  Now I wish I had used sunscreen on more than just my scalp because my face is quite red.  Hopefully  it’ll be back to normal by tomorrow!

Tomorrow will begin the real journey, I suppose.  I will go to the ambulatory surgery center to get my port installed.  I can’t help it, but whenever I hear the words ambulatory surgery I just picture lots of patients slowly wandering up and down hallways while doctors and nurses try to do surgery on them!!  I think my mind is a fairly warped place to visit!!  My first chemo treatment will be on Thursday – that’ll be the next big step.  Not really looking forward to that.  They tell me I may get ‘chemo brain’ – I just wonder if my brain can get much worse than it already is!!!!  We shall see.

I was going to put photos of the gifts I’ve received in here but I am on my iPad and I need to use my laptop to put photos in.  Maybe I can put in the photos when I tell you about my ambulatory surgery experience.

Guess I am as ready as I’ll ever be to start this experience.

 

My Hair is GONE!!

June 27, 2017

i did it!!  I had Frank shave my head so that my scalp could get some tan before all my hair is gone.   We decided to cut Coen’s hair first and he was happy to stand still the entire time Frank was using the shaver.  This is a photo of the three of us just before my haircut began and you can see how long my hair was.

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This photo is about when we were getting close to finishing  I kind of liked the Mohawk but I doubt I’ll ever have another one  then again, I never thought I’d ever have even one so maybe I’m ahead of the game!!

 

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The very top photo is after we had finished.  The nurse said to leave some stubble so I don’t get any ‘ingrown’ hairs.  I guess that means I will still have my hair fall out but this will still be better than handfuls of it coming out.

I did put some photos and info on Facebook and I’ve had so many very nice and supportive replies.  That makes me feel really good to know so many people support me.

I have to say that I know I should proofread these posts but I find that very difficult to do.  I like this program, WordPress, that I am using except that I have to manually add the period at the end of sentences, but I am having a great deal of trouble doing that.  I’ve been spoiled by my iPad I suppose.  When I forget to put a period, that means the first word in the next sentence will not be capitalized.  I’m trying to put those periods, but I know I’m not doing a very good job of it.

Also, several people have not found the button to be able to “follow” me – I’ll try to find that and point it out.  I might update each time by making this appear on Facebook, but I will have to figure out my password for Facebook before I can make that happen!!

That’s it for now!

ps  I have not yet figured out how to add photos so I will continue to work on that.

 

 

My first meeting with my oncologist.

June 26

I went to Dudettes, a quilting group I love to meet with twice a month, in the morning and then met Sue at the oncologist’s office to start the chemo experience.   Of course, I had to fill out paperwork and give vials of blood before I got to see the doctor!!  I like the doctor – she seems to have a good sense of humor and she seems to know her stuff. She was very matter of fact but she was able to laugh about things too. I think she was quite thorough in her explanation of my situation and she explained things well.   I will be taking two chemo drugs once ever three weeks on Thursday. I will be going to have lab work done on the two thursdays in between chemo days.  There will be four chemo thursdays so the entire chemo process should take about 11 weeks.  She said I should expect nausea, black nails, hair loss and fatigue as my major complaints and the problems will intensify as the treatments progress  I will be taking steroids and nausea meds and another med to build my white blood cells up.  I was surprised about the black nails, but expected the other side effects.

I’m a proactive type of person and the idea of pulling out handfuls of hair horrifies me.  Frank is going to shave my head tomorrow and then give Coen, my grandson, a haircut too.  I was thinking I was ready to shave my hair off, but the closer I get to it, the more nervous I am about it  I know it’s going to look bad but I just need to get look at it.  I want to get some than on the white baldness before I begin chemo cause the doctor said I might get sensitive to the sun during chemo.

I was a little pushy toward the doctor and asked her to get the process started as soon as possible.  So she got a little pushy to the nurse who was speaking to the surgeon’s nurse but they did speed up the process some.  I will be having my port installed next Monday, June 29 and beginning chemo that Thursday, July 5.  A different surgeon will be installing the port since my first doctor will still be on vacation on Monday.  I expect that will work out just fine.  I do have to go to an appointment with the new surgeon this Thursday to fulfill requirements for the port surgery.

After meeting with the doctor, I went to Hamilton Diagnostics and they took blood for a genetic test for cancer.  If the test comes back positive, then I will probably get a double mastectomy after the chemo is over and I won’t need radiation.  If the result of that test is negative then chances are that I will have a lumpectomy and the radiation.  Of course, it’s really way too early to make that decision yet.

It seems that this whole process is getting more and more real as it gets closer!  I have lots of friends who have been through cancer before and although I listen to hear their experiences, I expect my experience will have lots of little surprises for me.

I have been surprised to hear that some people gain weight during the process.  I hope that won’t happen to me because I’ve been trying to eat the right foods and the right portions since my therapist helped with the arthritis in my knee.  He suggested I lose some weight to help my knee and I’ve lost about 35 pounds since last August.  I plan to continue eating good food and cutting down my portions.  I hope the chemo process doesn’t make me too sick and interfere with my fairly healthy diet I’ve been on but we shall see about that.  I hope any readers won’t be offended but this, but in order to really document this journey, I am going to include my morning weight with each entry if I can remember.  This morning’s weight was 213!

 

 

 

 

The beginning of this adventure

I have recently been diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer and I’ve started this blog to record the adventures as I go through this new journey in my life.  I thought I should start at the beginning of this journey so I’ll go back a little way

May 12, 2017 I had an appointment with my doctor, KS, and she asked when I last had a mammogram.  I didn’t remember, which indicated it had been quite a while, so she set up an appointment for me to have a mammogram.

June 2  I had my mammogram and the lady took 3 shots of my left breast. I figured she was just having a rough day.

The next week, the nurse for KS called and said I needed to have another mammogram.  When I asked why, she said the shots did not come out clear. I thought that was kind of strange but figured it had to do with the lady having to take so many shots.  Maybe it was a malfunction of the machine!!

June 8  I went for my second mammogram but it turned out I was getting an ultrasound instead.  I was surprised but decided to pay attention since I had never had an ultrasound before.  After I was on the table and she put the little nozzle type thing on my breast, I kept waiting for her to move it around but she just kept it still.  Evidently there is no movement required.  She then put the nozzle thing back on the machine and said she would be back soon!  I was surprised that that was all there was to it. A few minutes later, she came back – with the doctor !!  He turned the machine around so that I could see the picture on the machine and there was obviously a black spot in my breast!  I knew it was not good news but he said that he would bet his house on it being just a simple type of cyst and that I should not be too concerned, but I should see a doctor about it.  He said they would set up an appointment with a doctor and they did. I wasn’t too concerned since he was willing to bet his house on it!!

June 15. I had an appointment for a biopsy with EM.  But actually it was an appointment to just decide if I needed a biopsy.  He did another ultrasound and said that I did need a biopsy and they would try to schedule it for the next week.  I suggested we do it right then because I like to get things done asap.  The nurse did some computer work to precertify me with my insurance and then we did the biopsy.  The worse part of that experience was getting the numbing shot.  I mistakenly thought the numbing shot was the actual needle for the biopsy but boy, was I mistaken!   I saw him holding what looked like a basketball pump and got a little perturbed when they told me THAT was the needle for the biopsy!!  However, thanks to the numbing medicine, I didn’t feel a thing, so that was good for me.  I’m a little (or a lot) of a coward when it comes to Pain! That experience was soon over and it was no big deal.  He said I would get results on Monday, but that it was probably nothing to be concerned about. The nurse said to call her the next day, Friday, and she would give me the results.  He had Friday off so I guess that’s why he said Monday.

June 16 I called the office to speak to the nurse, but I had to hold a long, long time before I got to her.  A lady kept coming on the line to ask if I wanted to just leave my number, but I said I’d just keep holding. The nurse finally came on the phone and said the results were not back yet but she would call me if they arrived that day.  No big deal!  I had been looking at the patient portal and noticed they had set up an appointment for the next Thursday.  I thought that was kind of strange but after hanging up with the nurse, I clicked that I confirmed it. A few minutes later, I got a call from the doctor who was in his car at the time.  He said he had the results and they indicated that there was something in my breast that needed to come out.  He took several minutes explaining that I probably needed a lumpectomy and then radiation to make sure they got it all.  He said that the biopsy was being sent to Atlanta for more in depth tests which would arrive the next Wednesday. I was surprised, again but said okay.  I told him about the appointment for the next Thursday and he said that was great and he would see me then.  Well, okay!

June 22 My friend, Sue, went with me to this appointment and we both took notebooks with us to record notes.  You can tell that we are still teachers!!  He looked at the bruising on my breast and say that was nothing compared to what he has seen.  It got dressed again and we all went to a conference room to discuss the results  I was totally floored by the results and he explained the results with great deal that I won’t bore you with.  Basically, the type of cancer I have is called a triple negative (that’s bad) and is considered to be aggressive.  He said the best way to treat this type of cancer is to use chemo on it and then cut it out.  Then he suggested using radiation after that.  I agreed to be part of a clinical study to advance knowledge of trying cancer so I will be having another biopsy for that study.  His nurse had already scheduled  an appointment with an oncologist for the following Monday and I was glad that was already taken care of. We also discussed whether I should get a port or not, but I think the oncologist will be the one to make that decision.  EM was heading out on vacation with his family the next day and won’t return until after July 4 but I’ll be working with the oncologist during that time scheduling tests and so forth.

Needless to say, I have been taken off guard but all these events but I recognize that millions of women have been through this process so I will deal with it as best I can.  I don’t want to read too much online about chemo because I think the ‘horror’ stories there would just scare me and I don’t need that right now  I have been thinking about the fact I’ll probably lose my hair in this process and considering what approach I will take for this  at this time, I’m not hinting I’ll just get my head shaved asap so that I can start getting it tanned  I may tape bows to my bald head if my friend Paula really makes me some!!  I expect that when the weather gets cooler, I’ll wear some type of hat cause I don’t like to be cold!!  Until then, I don’t plan to use wigs or unnecessary coverings but I reserve the right to change my mind about this at any time.

I decided to record all this information now before it gets too hazy in my mind.  I don’t know how this will progress but I guess it’s just another adventure to enjoy.  I’m sure that’s not the correct word, but I figure I may as well enjoy what I can of it and just see what happens.  I have never written a blog before but I have written journals of some trips and I’m very glad to have those to look back at so I decided to keep a journal of this trip too.

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