Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update

Hey all, it's Brittney. I know you're all curious about my mom's condition. For those of you who called, thank you for your calls. I apologize for not getting back to you. Neither Mike nor I have been home much today.

The surgery went without a hitch, clocking in at about 4.5 hours. Unfortunately there is lymph node involvement, so it looks like she will have to undergo chemo. We won't have the results for another couple of weeks regarding whether she will have to do radiation.

Right after surgery she was in a lot of pain. Shortly after, they gave her a morphine drip which hopefully will drastically reduce her pain. However, she is experiencing nausea as a side effect of the morphine.

As far as her emotional state, I think she is too damn tired to really feel anything. Tomorrow will be a difficult day for her - the day she will really have to come to terms with everything that is happening. Please keep her in your thoughts (only positive ones, folks ;) ). I know your support means a lot to her, as well as to the rest of us. I can't thank you all enough for your overwhelming encouragement and aid.

Either I will keep you updated as necessary, or she will be posting a blog of her own soon.

Who Needs Sleep?

I think if I count all the times that I fell asleep as I was reading, it amounts to about 3 hours. I doubt that I will need much anesthesia today, I will probably just sleep through it all...

I had my last sip of coffee at 11:59 PM and I have already had my first sniff of coffee this a.m.. They only said "nothing by mouth", they didn't say I couldn't inject it, sniff it, or make it into a paste and rub it on my skin.

I guess I am as ready as I will ever be. I am going to go for my morning swim and do a few laps, then it is off to the hospital to get poked, prodded and mutilated. (See I told you I didn't get much sleep... I am a wee bit cranky)

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Like Coffee....

....no, I LOVE COFFEE! That is the most pressing thing on my mind before the surgery... "What do you mean I can't have my morning coffee??!!" I figure if I can't have anything after midnight, I will stay up and have my last cup at 11:59pm. I was thinking of putting some coffee grounds in a paper bag, so I could sniff it. I can hear them now.... "Are you hyperventilating?" "No, I am inhaling coffee grounds."

For my last surgery, which was 10 years ago, the one thing I remember is the throbbing headache. The anesthesiologist offered to give me either caffeine IV or Ativan. I figured I was too far gone, it was already 1PM, so I chose the Ativan. It definitely took away the headache, but I would rather sip coffee. My mother said instead of giving me ice chips, they should give me "shaved coffee". Now THAT is a great idea, and don't think for one minute that I have formulated a plan to get it.

I think Starbucks is nice, but I can do without the "FooFoo" coffee, that's not coffee, that is desert. Give it to me black and strong, forget the "room for cream", if I wanted cream, I would go to Arby's and get a Jamocha Shake. Decaf!? That is for sissies!

I don't get sick very often, but Mike can gage how sick I am by whether or not I am drinking coffee. If there is no coffee made, and I don't have a cup sitting around somewhere, then it is time to order pizza.

So, this is what I am thinking... I will drink my last cup at midnight (make it a double), then before I go to the hospital, I will get the coffee ready to brew. Mike can come home while I am in surgery and make the coffee, put it in a thermos and bring it to me. I realize that they have coffee at the hospital, but have you ever tasted Farmer Brothers coffee? I think putting dirt in a cup and adding water would have roughly the same taste. I also realize that they have the little coffee shop down in the lobby, which is probably great, but I can't see spending $5 for a cup of coffee when I can get a canister of Folgers Colombian Dark for about the same price......

Okay, enough about my coffee obsession. In all seriousness, I feel that I am ready for the surgery and I figured I would have Brittney post an update on my blog after the surgery to keep you informed. I will post when after I get home and get my first cup of fresh coffee.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Surgery Date Scheduled

I have my surgery date scheduled for next Tuesday, April 29. I will be getting a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, and I also opted to get my hernia repaired at the same time. I was told that I would probably have to be in the hospital for a couple of days. I am relieved to finally feel like I am moving forward rather than in limbo, but also scared. I am still a little apprehensive about staying in the hospital, maybe I should take down the Mortality Rate Chart for surrounding hospitals that I have taped to my cabinet...
Okay, I am just joking, I don't have it taped to my cabinet, but it is pretty well ingrained in my mind.

I go from being positive and wanting to have everything in order and clean, to being apathetic and wanting to crawl into a very dark place and never come out. I am not sure why I want to clean, must be the obsessive compulsiveness and wanting to make sure everything is in order. It seems as though I am unable to think through a project and get it completed, so at least I can have a clean desk.... kind of...

I keep on coming across the word "Hope". I am guessing that it has a deeper meaning than I am seeing right now.... Like - I HOPE I didn't make any grammatical errors and come across as a complete idiot since I don't seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment. I also HOPE I don't break anything rollerblading around the island. :) Swimming really is much safer...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Swim One for Coach Susan...




The Havasu Stingray Swim Team swam their Swim-a-thon on Saturday... 99 miles in all! It probably would have came out to an even 100 if you included Leslie, Aubrie and my laps!

When I showed up at the pool, I noticed a lot of people were wearing pink....hmmm, then I saw little Gracie with her pretty pink bandanna on, okay, now I know something is up. And the clincher? Well Coach Mike, did anybody ever tell you you look lovely in pink? Oh, and Wayne walking around with a bunch of pink balloons... all I could do was smile and go along with it. So, Mike tells me that him and I are having a pre-swim meeting with the parents and timers, and Coach Lauren is taking the swimmers to talk to them. Alright, I will play along, but you can't make me stop smiling! We get done with our "meeting" and I look up and here come the swimmers all wearing bright pink caps.... now I really didn't expect that. I resisted the urge to turn around and run before I started crying, mostly since the only way to get out was behind me and that would have been the pool. (I did have my suit on)

Sherry came up and said something... I don't really remember much, I was still in the fight or flight mode, but basically it was, "when you feel that you just can't do any more laps, swim one for Coach Susan", okay, now I thought I was really going to lose it. Wayne had painted a huge sign (very nice by the way..) that said "Swim one for Coach Susan". They hung it up at the end of the pool, I guess it worked, because the team did an awesome job!

I have to say that I am overwhelmed by the support of the team and parents. I am sure it is hard for the younger kids to understand that I am "sick".... I am sure their thoughts are..."Coach Susan is just as cranky and mean as she was before, how can she be sick?" It is true, I expect just as much from them now, and I will continue to expect them to perform to the best of their abilities at practice and during the meets.

I will just have to remind myself as I go through treatment....

.........."Swim one for the Team!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Got it Right.....?

Well, I don't know about getting it right, but I did make a decision. I have decided to stay in Havasu with my original physician and have my surgery done. I do want to make sure that they can do the Oncotype Dx test, but I do not know of any reason why it can't be done. That is VERY important to me. If there is a chance that I don't have to do chemo, then I want to know... wouldn't you?

I have an appointment with the surgeon next week, so I will find out then when the surgery will be.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Just Can't Seem to Get it Right Today...

This is kind of how I feel today...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Everything is Just Great!


I really am doing fine. I still haven't heard from the doctor, and I still haven't made a decision.

I have decided to use positive thinking to shrink the cancer, and by the time the physician calls back, either the tumor will be gone or I will be dead. (How is THAT for staying positive! I am just joking- of course- Sherry RELAX!)

I have been running and swimming, so when I do have surgery, I will be in excellent shape. It is harder to run, not because I don't like it, but I have to sneak past Tina (my dog) in order to get outside. If she notices my running shoes, then she gets very excited, and thinks it is time to go on a walk. Have you ever tried to explain the difference between "walking" shoes and "running" shoes to a dog? She hears "blah blah blah blah, WALK".... and thinks "Yippee, let's go!" So, since I have overwhelming guilt and I can't leave her home, I end up taking her for a walk. I have started leaving my running stuff out in the shop. As long as I don't see her pleading eyes, I can go without guilt.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Saturday!

I love Saturday! Today, I don't have to get Hailey to school or work on a websites. I do still work on websites, but I have less guilt if I don't. AND I can "sleep in" if I want to (I usually don't, but I can). I think I once slept in until 5 a.m.. What a waste! Ahhhh..... I can smell the fresh coffee.... BRB

I still haven't heard from the doctor. I really like her and I think she is a great doctor, but I am getting a little concerned that maybe she is "too busy"? I don't know... I feel guilty that I am wasting her time by asking questions, which I know that is my own insecurity. I also know the final decision is mine, but I just have some questions and I am not finding what I need by looking at disfigured fat old saggy women on the Internet. I just want to talk with her and reassure myself that I am making the right decision.

I am not only looking at pictures, I am also getting educated on cancer, and cancer treatments. I took the test for CME credits at Medscape. I have been a member there for several years, mostly for the business aspect of medicine, but as a member you are able to go to other specialties and take the tests. I don't think I will be a doctor anytime soon.... I only got half the questions correct. :)

Have a wonderful Saturday!

BTW - I read the financial chapter of "The Secret" and if anybody feels like sending money... well go right ahead!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Left, Right or Both?

Just because I don't blog at 3AM doesn't mean something is wrong... :) It is almost 3PM, I am just a few hours late.

I think that I don't know what I am thinking... I am not sure if I want what I want. I am starting to second guess my decision (the internet pictures certainly didn't help much) and I am thinking that maybe I should be conservative and just get the lumpectomy, deal with the radiation, and if the cancer comes back, then deal with it again.

So... again I am waiting for a call back from the doctor. I am usually not this "wishy-washy", I normally decide what I want and do it, but I think this deserves a little more attention. At first I thought that breast cancer treatment was pretty straight forward, but I am finding that to be a false assumption. There are many different ways to treat it, and although I do appreciate input from friends, in the long run I have to do what is best for me. This time, I think I deserve that. If I make the wrong decision, it won't be the first time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Don't do this...

I decided to look at mastectomy breast reconstruction pictures..... ummmm, not a good idea. I think I am going to puke. I am feeling very thankful for what I have. (Only problem is it won't be for long)
The guy that was shown actually looked better than most of the women, just a little hairy.

Surgery....

I ended up calling the nurse back. I was tired of waiting... she happened to be the one to pick up the phone when I called, so this time I didn't have to wait for a call back. They were still working on the paperwork for the authorization, but she said that they would be sending it in to the insurance company. I also called the insurance company. (This is my health, I am not going to be a passive bystander.) The surgery probably won't be scheduled until the first part of May due to Dr. Ihde's busy schedule. I guess it is good that she is busy.... right?

I have a month to get the Pre-Stinger swimmers up to Stinger level, get in the best shape of my life, make sure all my financial books are in order, clean the house, groom the dog, make a central data base with every password that I know, and update all my websites. Seems attainable to me!

I guess I better quit blogging and start jogging! Gosh I am SO funny early in the morning..... I woke up at 2am today... I was really happy when I woke up, I was thinking "yeah, it is Saturday, I don't have to get up", but then I realized I was wrong...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nightmares....

I hate the nightmares when I am trying to scream, or run and I can't. I am either running in slow motion, or paralyzed. I had a couple of back-to-back nightmares last night. The first wasn't so bad, I was at a party, and this guy was sitting in this large rocking chair smirking. I wanted him to leave, but he just kept rocking back and forth smirking at me. I tried to punch him, and he laughed at me, then I tipped him over backwards in his stupid rocking chair. The person throwing the party said I should be nice to him because he was really important and was going to help them get into the movies.... or something. I just thought he was a jerk and needed to leave.

My second dream was horrible, I am surprised I didn't wake up screaming. It is too confusing to tell the entire dream, but basically it was about a dead person that came back to life. He wanted to kiss me, but his teeth were gross and his breath smelled bad, so I told him I would hug him. I ended that dream by kicking the bed... good thing I didn't hurt Mike. :)

I was glad when I looked at the clock and it was time to get up, because there is no way I would have tried to get back to sleep after that dream.

I skipped swim this morning. I will have to take a walk or go on the treadmill later to make up for it. Anybody up for a walk around the island? I would "blade", but the pavement is so messed up on the island, it is more of an effort to stay upright, then go forward.

Have a B-E-A-utiful Day! I know I will!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Secret

I started reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret, really isn't a secret, many people utilize it, it just isn't called "The Secret". It is called "positive thinking", "Imagery", "Neuro Linguistics" and so on... " An image by any other name would still look as sweet...." Basically it is saying that you are what you think. The book was recommended by Brittney, and recently by a breast cancer survivor that I talked to the other day. I think it is a good book, but it is one of those books that I start reading, then I immediately start to think about how I can apply what I just read. I proceed to read, but don't have a clue what I just read because I was too busy thinking about what I could do with the information from the first sentence. Are you totally confused by what I just said? That's okay!

As you may have noticed, I posted later today. I actually slept in until 4:30. I still had some funky dreams, but they weren't good enough to get me out of bed.

I am going to use the "Secret"... I wonder if I can still grow a few inches taller?

.....Life is Good!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Waiting Place....

....waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
OR THE PHONE TO RING......!!!!!

(Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss)

I have always had somewhat of a dislike for the telephone... I don't usually get calls from people that want to talk. I get calls from people that want something. And my cell phone, well before the cancer, I liked to have it available, but if I forgot it (more like forgot where I put it...) it wasn't a huge deal. I just went on with my day. Now I feel like I can't be away from the phone. I walk out to the mailbox with the cell phone in one hand and the home phone in the other. It makes it more difficult to carry mail. I also dislike "call waiting"... "You have a rare form of BEEP. We are able to treat that with BEEP But some people tend to end up with BEEP".... I realize that it can be turned off, but I am not going to remember to press #Whatever every time I pick up the phone. I can't even remember what number I am supposed to press. I have to look it up in the handy dandy manual each time.

So anyway, what I am trying to say is that I am still waiting for the doctors office to call back regarding the surgery. I don't have a date set, I don't have any idea when it will be. I am just waiting....

Friday, April 4, 2008

Got Boobies?

I have made a decision to have a bilateral mastectomy...

I didn't realize I could be so infatuated with breasts. (Guys- now I know how you feel!) I am checking out other women's breast, checking my own and making sure they are still there and dreamt about breasts all night. My dreams weren't Pamela Anderson running on the beach.... I don't remember all the dreams, but I think they were more like breast nightmares. That is the reason I flew out of bed at 2:30 this morning. My brain told me I had to go look something up on the Internet.... too bad my brain doesn't remember exactly what it was that I was going to look up.... at this point I say "What Brain?".

Okay, back to treatment... I spoke to several people yesterday. I am really amazed with the people that are so extremely supportive and willing to help me and those heroes that have been through their own trials. After talking to others, and hearing both sides, I decided that a bilateral mastectomy would probably be the best avenue to take. I am not completely comfortable with the idea, but I believe it is the best way to go.

So.... I made another call to the surgeon with the "Golden Scalpel" award, and I am waiting for a call back from her nurse. I am a little concerned about the insurance aspect, but I have made my decision and will have to work on that today. I also have to make a decision on the reconstruction aspect... (no, not what size!) I would like to get the reconstruction done in havasu by somebody I know, but that would mean a second surgery.

As a side note.... I had a extremely successful day with all my swimmers yesterday. I have a 9 year old that started out last week not knowing any strokes. Yesterday, after just 3 sessions, she was swimming a decent backstroke and freestyle! It seems like a small accomplishment, but when you see the swimmers start out at the beginning level, then move up and compete...... it is PRICELESS! ;) I get satisfaction for myself knowing that before I started coaching, these are kids that wouldn't have been able to make it on the team. I have a 4 year old with the heart of the Energizer Bunny. She never says "no", everything I ask her to do, she says... "okay". I am going to really miss getting in the water with my kids...

Okay, I think I remember what I was going to look up on the Internet. I better go and do it before I forget....!!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Onward Ho!

I got my much awaited call from Dr. Ihde last night at 7 p.m.. She said that she reviewed the MRI report and it said that the cancer was "3 cm Multifocal". Which means that that there is more than one and all together they measure 3 cm. Dr. Ihde said that we could still go ahead with the lumpectomy, but the cosmetic results would not be favorable and I would need to follow-up with radiation. She recommended a mastectomy to make sure that she gets all the cancer and I don't get dented boobs. (She didn't say that last part, I just added it...)

I am doing some thinking - "Multi-focal" thinking that is, my mind is everywhere! I am leaning towards the mastectomy for a few reasons, but there are still a couple of people that I want to talk to before I make that decision.

BTW- Thank you everyone for your prayers! If all the people that say they are praying for me really are, then I think God is really getting tired of hearing my name. :) Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Up to Speed....

Since I have short term memory loss (early onset of "Chemo Brain" without the medication), and I can't remember who I talked to, I have decided rather than try to keep people up to date verbally I created a blog. This will take some of the pressure off Sherry....

Just to get everyone up to to speed....

February 5th 2008: I found a lump in my breast . I wasn't too concerned about, since I am healthy, I don't drink alcohol or smoke and I don't have any immediate family members with cancer. I figured I better get it checked out anyway. So my saga begins...

February 7, 2008: I haven't been in to "really" see a physician in several years. When you work for doctors, you try to avoid them as much as possible, plus you get the benefit of having a physician when you need them, without the office visit. So my first call was to the new office where the PA that I had seen before was located. I told them why I needed to be seen and set up a date to get in. The earliest they could see me was April 2008. Do you realize if I would have kept that appointment I wouldn't have even been seen yet. Then I would have still had to wait to be seen by a surgeon.... and on and on.

February 8, 2008: I talked with a friend and she suggested her husbands partner. I set up an appointment with him for February 20. I guess 2 weeks is better than 2 months.

February 20, 2008: My first appointment with the surgeon. He did a sonogram and saw 2 cysts and a mass that "looks suspicious". He wanted me to get a mammogram and do a biopsy on Friday, February 22.

February 21, 2008: I went in for my mammogram at HRMC. Very cute cape, but it doesn't stay closed very well. That was a bit uncomfortable, and the room was a little chilly! The tech was pleasant....

February 22, 2008: I went back to the surgeon to get the biopsy. The biopsy was a lot easier than getting a cavity filled. Although I would rather have another cavity, than have breast cancer. He drained the cysts and did a core biopsy of the mass. I set up an appointment for March 3 to get my results.

March 3, 2008: I got my results back, and as you already know it was positive for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 2, ER+

And so my story begins. It seems as though I have lived on year in just a few short months. The initial shock has worn off, but I still feel like I am just going through the motions. It is hard to think that your body is fighting against you, especially when there aren't any symptoms. Everything about being sick is having symptoms.... headache, body aches, pain, tired.... and so on, but what is a lump in my boob have to do with being sick? So I don't act sick (except maybe a little whacked in the head...) I still get up at 3 a.m. and do my work, go swimming, and coach in the afternoon. I lead the same life I lived before, but now I do research on breast cancer and go to doctor appointments a little more than I like to.

After doing some research and talking to local cancer patients, I decided to follow-up with Dr. Ihde in Palm Springs, CA. She was with the Comprehensive Cancer Center, but recently opened her own office. My appointment with her was set up for March 13. It was much easier to get in to see her, then anybody in Havasu. She basically verified what I already knew and referred me to Dr. Cynthia Leichman, the medical oncologist at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center.

My most recent appointment was last Thursday March 27, 2008 with Dr. Leichman. I had an MRI done the day before my appointment, and the results weren't available to her, so she went over some options. If the MRI showed positive lymph node involvement, then she suggested chemo first, then a lumpectomy. I asked her about the Oncotype Dx test, which is done when there is not any lymph node involvement. It can tell to a certain extent whether or not you can benefit from having chemo. I am scared to death of getting "Chemo Brain" and getting fat. Dr. Leichman spent about an hour with Mike and I discussing options and made sure all our questions were answered. She said that she would call me when she got the results of the MRI.

Dr. Leichman called me with the MRI results on Friday. She actually called the home phone at 5:15 pm and spoke Hailey. Hailey told her I would be home around 6:00 pm. I received her call at 6:02 pm. The good news was that there wasn't any lymph node involvement and she would call Dr. Ihde's office on Monday to let them know I would be scheduling surgery. The "not so good news" was that they saw a second tumor. The second one was in the same breast and smaller than the first. It was in close proximatey to the first tumor, so she said that they may still be able to get it out with a lumpectomy.

So.... here I am. I am waiting for a call back either today or tomorrow from Dr. Ihde to set up the surgery. If the surgery results still show that there isn't any lymph node involvement, then I will have the Oncotype Dx test done. If the lymph nodes are positive for ca, then I will go ahead with the chemo.