Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breast Cancer Journey - Top of the Ninth

A little rain today, the air smells fresh and I'm on one of my inexplicable tears about the house: cleaning out drawers, rearranging my studio, switching pictures on the walls and delivering a Jeep load of cool stuff to our VNA Hospice Thrift Store.

I'll bet you're saying to yourself "What is she thinking she just had surgery on Wednesday?" Well the first couple of days I took care to keep my left arm close to my body. I'm mostly a "pullover shirt" kind of girl but I inherited some beautiful button up shirts, so like Napoleon (wrong arm, but you get the picture) I was able to tuck my left hand in between the buttons and be good, at least for a couple of days. 

I have felt really good, none of the side effects listed as possibilities ever showed up. For me it has been therapeutic to be doing what I've been doing, albeit very carefully. Ye olde sports bra was the best discovery of the journey: it applied pressure, shielded me from ice packs, protected the area from arm movement and kept my tatas from dancing around on my daily walks.

The highlight of my Saturday was a long hot shower ~ four days is a long time for this Pisces to be out of water, but I did okay. Camping has educated me on the art of the sponge bath. There are stitches and steristrips holding the incisions closed and then a huge patch of sterile gauze for cushioning and protection. The stitches and steristrips stay in place and you remove the pad to shower. The part they don't tell you about is that the tape to keep that pad in place is seriously akin to duct tape - Everyone should have a roll in their toolkit!  Ouchamaymucho!

Update: My surgeon called this afternoon to say that my lymph nodes and vascular system are clean as a whistle which is excellent, cool beans, and just plain outstanding news. 

However, though the pathology report doesn't come out and say it directly, she said there is some concern that the margin, the extra area around the tumor that is removed, was not clean, that some of the cancer cells could be at large. We talked about it and decided the best approach is to go back into the incision and remove additional tissue. Since I already have an appointment on Thursday we'll take care of it then. Get to skip the dreaded radio-tracer bee sting and needle localization and go directly pass go to surgery for a gentle sleep and a little more tuck and roll.

I will still need to follow up with radiation in a month or two, but feel I have been dealt an amazing hand. I owe a lot to the women who took this journey before me, including my mother and a number of friends. I stand strong with my sisters around the world who are now on the same journey. Remember attitude is everything and don't hesitate to ask questions or get a second opinion.

A Promise to Pay it Forward: 10% of all my Etsy and craft fair sales this fall will be donated to Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Their website at has a lot of helpful information and ways to get involved.