Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breast Cancer Journey - D Day

Yikes, lumpectomy surgery is tomorrow but my proverbial ducks are lined up and my questions asked so I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Taking notes really helped! Kaiser staff and doctors played a huge part in preparing me for this journey and lessened my fears of the unknown. There is the great interactive program on their website that walks you through each step and what to expect at https://my-emmi.com/

The X Factor: The biography I wrote for my 40th Tamalpais HS reunion (2003) was entitled "My Middle Name Should Have Been Serendipity". If you've read any of my blogs you'll begin to understand this cosmic force of nature has been a huge part of my life's journey. I found out today that not one, but two of my friends had the same surgeon and said she was the best. Works for me!

My knight/chef will be there at every turn and has promised to spoil me rotten and give me foot rubs while I heal. Friends from near and far have checked in with good wishes, healing thoughts and humor. What more could a girl ask for?

D-Day starts early

At 7:45am I head to Nuclear Medicine for an injection in my breast of a blue and/or radioactive tracer that travels along the same path cancer cells travel as they spread. I've been told the injection can be uncomfortable (might sting a bit, uhuh!) and asked if there was something available to mitigate the discomfort. Found out there is topical compound that will numb the area and asked for a prescription. Never be afraid to ask about options!!!

That done, I'm off to the mammography clinic. My tumor is so small it cannot be felt so I'll be having something done called a "wire localization". The area will be numbed with a local and then using ultrasound or x-ray images a very thin wire will be guided to the tumor. My surgeon can then follow the wire to the tumor during surgery. When the tumor is removed the surgeon will also take a margin around it to be tested.

My cancer is called "invasive ductal carcinoma" which means it has escaped the duct wall and may have moved into the lymph system. If it has reached the lymph system, the sentinel lymph node, the one that is the brightest blue or has highest level of radiation from the tracer injection will be removed for biopsy along with a few others. 

The ideal scenario would be to find that: (1) the margin will test negative, meaning no cancer cells have spread from tumor and (2) sentinel node will confirm no cancer has reached the lymph nodes. I'm voting for this one. A possible scenario is that the margin is positive and/or nodes are involved. If that is the case additional surgery may be required. I'll know stage and next steps in a few days. Surgery will only take a couple of hours, then a couple of hours in recovery and I can go home. I can't wait for Thursday because that will mean Wednesday is history!

Yes, I'm a little nervous, but whatever the outcome I know I have a dedicated posse riding shotgun. This is just a bump in the road, or maybe one of Petaluma's infamous potholes, but my ponies have always been 4 wheel drives, so out of my way world I'll be back in the saddle in no time.

Original Posts:
A Journey of Another Kind 08/23/11
Nobody Told Me There’d be Homework 09/06/11
Required Reading:
Just Laugh Out Loud 09/09/11