With the exhausting array of tests completed, and surgery scheduled for Monday, February 24th, I decided that we all were overdue for a respite from bad news, stress and mid-polar vortex sadness. I booked a room at Country Springs Water Park, so I could have one last, pre-surgery fun weekend getaway with the kids. It was exactly what we needed. Our fun weekend began with, what else, PIZZA!! We devoured huge slices at Classic Slice, then went to watch the Brewcity Bruisers tear up the floor. Alyssa even got to participate in the half-time race, where, apparently, everyone’s a winner!!
The next morning, it was off to the water park, with a detour to buy swimsuits so my rapidly growing children would be properly clad in public, since last year’s suits no longer fit that description. Though it wasn’t quite the equivalent of a Caribbean getaway, it was just what we needed. A whole weekend to focus on nothing but fun, waterslides, junk food, and fu fu fruity drinks. I hit the slides with the kids and floated down the lazy river, and warmed up in the hot tub. Worn out, we fell asleep, cuddling, with a movie playing in the background.
Sunday night, with the kids content, and settled in at their dad’s house, I turned my attention to preparing myself mentally for the difficult surgery I was about to face. I made a big pot of soup, put on a CD called “meditations to promote successful surgery”. I have to say, it was a bit corny, yet comforting in many ways. I had a good night’s sleep. I was ready.
Monday was going to be a long day. I arrived at the hospital at 8:30am to register. There were still tests to be done. Ironically, the geneticist called while I was in the waiting room to inform me that I was BRCA 1/2 negative, which gave me a moments doubt about my decision to proceed with a bilateral mastectomy. In the end, I felt it was still the best decision I could make to prevent a future recurrence of breast cancer from derailing me at an unexpected point in my life down the road. I plan to fight this battle, hard. Once. No turning back.
At 10:30, I was taken to Nuclear Medicine for sentinel node mapping. This would make it easier for the surgeon to find which lymph nodes to biopsy during surgery. Everything was on track and I was ready. Unfortunately, my surgeon was delayed due to the surgery preceding mine, so all I could do was wait, dreaming of food and coffee. Finally, at 4:00, they knocked me out and took me off to the operating room.
I was in surgery for around 7 hours. I’m told everything went well, I think. I was quite out of it that night. I have vague memories of confused conversations. The first clear memory was the fact that the nurse wanted me to stand up at 4am to put on a camisole. Really? I wasn’t having any part of that. They said they would come back at 6am. Barely able to focus, dizzy, and nauseous, they somehow stood me up and pulled a camisole up over my body racked with searing pain. I almost puked on them. Instead, I sat back down and passed out. The next time, standing up wasn’t so bad. I think I made it to the bathroom to struggle with that seemly simple task of using the toilet. I improved rapidly through the morning and was able to get up, stroll the halls, eat some food and the desire to be in my own bed started taking over. By 4:00pm I was cleared to go home and ready.
My first few nights at home have been a challenge, brightened by visits from my kids and good friends bearing flowers and treats! I am gradually beginning to feel better.
The doctor called me yesterday (Feb 28th) with results of the pathology report. The sentinel node was cancerous, so they did a complete lymph node dissection, removing the nodes. 5 out of the 16 nodes removed were cancerous. Because of this, they want to begin chemotherapy as soon as my body heals from surgery. It turns out the tumor, which they suspected to be 5cm, is in fact, a whopping 9.5cm bad boy. Remember, this sneaky, Invasion Lobular Carcinoma barely showed up on my mammogram… They did get clear margins around the tumor, but close, barely meeting the minimum margin. For this reason, I will be undergoing radiation treatment for 6 weeks after completing chemotherapy.
So the worst of step one is behind me now. I am ready to tackle step two, aided by a great support network of strong family and friends keeping me positive. I got this!