No, this is not me, just showing what tingling spidey senses may look like.
I don’t know why this stuff stresses me out so much (I lie, I actually know why, but I sometimes wish that this wasn’t a roller coaster I had to ride, but that is life after cancer treatment. Watching, waiting, worrying and being thankful for every moment). I didn’t sleep at all last night, I didn’t feel like I was actively worrying (I started to stress out a bit more the past few days while I was waiting to get my appointment). When the nurse called to tell me when my appointment was I verified that I had had Mike verify that the lump was in fact there and that I wasn’t completely crazy – she agreed that I wasn’t completely crazy, but maybe just a little crazy in other ways… oh, she knows me so well.
I went in for an ultrasound today on my little lump. The radiologist poked around and identified that it did feel like a lymph node (which it does), but that it does not LOOK like a lymph node with cancer in it. He felt that the lump did not look like cancer and it was hard to get it to show up on the ultrasound. When he did see it he didn’t directly identify what it was, most likely a scar or even more fat necrosis, but that he wasn’t openly worried about it. My mom thinks it is about 2 mm (which is pretty tiny), it was just odd because the placement and shape felt lymph-node-ish.
He told me to check on it every two weeks and to come back if my spidey senses are tingling and they will look at it again.
So I have 3 quiet months until my next appointment as long as I don’t get bitten by an irradiated spider, not that I haven’t had sufficient radiation exposure (still waiting to get those darn super powers, I refuse to give up!).
For those subscribed to my blog. I am probably going to branch out and write more about going through treatment, advice, tips and tricks etc (like my post on taking care of a mastectomy patient). Writing is soothing for me at times, so I will continue to write and update what life is like “on the other side” of breast cancer treatment. Please feel free to unsubscribe if that is content that does not appeal to you.
I got a phone call this week reminding me about my appointment the next day with my surgical oncologist (Valentine’s Day appointment anyone?). Appointment!? I admit that I had not added the appointment to my Outlook calendar. If it isn’t in my calendar, it doesn’t exist (my calendar is kind of scary these days, I would kill for a day without any meetings). I didn’t realize it had been 3 months already!
My mind has evolved from thinking about cancer regularly to random moments of reflection on some of the events related to my cancer treatment. As time goes on I am certainly thinking about it less and I can’t remember when most of my cancer anniversaries are, I would have to look them up, but frankly I don’t want to keep track of them. Two years have passed since my bilateral mastectomy. The daily reminder (scars) don’t even really bother me all that much anymore except now and then pondering another minor surgery someday to remove the lumps in left side and take down some of the latissimus bulk from the right side.
I waited in the waiting room for a little while, busy day up at the good ‘ol Huntsman Cancer Institute. I was surrounded by lots of chatty people, but wasn’t feeling very chatty. I was tired, I had had a particularly long week at work and probably would have moved my appointment had I realized it was coming up. I just sat with my handy dandy iPad and answered emails.
Once they took me back to the room, this visit’s medical resident came in with nurse Vicki. The resident found 4 lumps in her exploration. 3 were known by me, the 4th was a bit of a surprise. When my surgeon came in, she talked to the resident about the 3 obvious lumps, that I think are fat necrosis. She then felt deep in my armpit for the lymph node lump that the resident had reported. My surgical oncologist actually missed the lump by about an inch when she checked (it was more on the side of my breast, just over an inch from where I had a positive node). I didn’t push it at the time, but when I got to work after my appointment I realized I should have probably had her specifically check that spot. When I got home later that evening I had a chance to check for what the resident was talking about. I found a round lump.
I wanted to just avoid it and deal with it when I had my next check up in 3 months, but no one would let me (something about not being able to ignore lumps in circumstances like mine, I really didn’t feel like getting that first one checked out… and look where that landed me ). When I called, the nurse felt like I should monitor it for a week, and if the lump was still there they would schedule an ultrasound. I have had lumps before that went away. I think my lymph nodes like to get a little rambunctious. My pessimist and my optimist are fighting.
The optimist in me:Bah! Like there is any way some cancer cells survived in my lymph nodes after that beating from chemo and radiation.
The pessimist in me:OMG, that is right next to the lymph node that had a tumor. Lovely.
My optimist: Well, if it is, at least it is local and can be treated more easily. Nothing I haven’t been through before… but it isn’t going to be anything because I have had some weird lymph node lumps before.
Not sure who is going to win. I have been trying not to make a ridiculous big deal over the whole thing because every time I make a big deal it turns out to be nothing to get excited about. Of course, when I have tried not to make a big deal I find out it is serious. So I may let my pessimist win for just a bit. We will see in a week…
My friend sent me this video. Don’t watch it unless you have 15 minutes to shed some tears. It is eery some of the similarities (I had 5 surgeries and lost my expander due to infection). I lost it at the part where she mentioned being diagnosed the day before her birthday (this may be somewhat graphic for some):
So.. I have been pretty good about sticking to a routine of doing yoga or pilates for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Which has been great. It has elevated my mood and I feel much stronger. The part that has made me sad is that I put on FOUR POUNDS. I managed to maintain my weight throughout treatment, but I suddenly found myself gaining weight. The weight gain is most likely muscle (I was MUCH weaker than I thought). Due to this kind of exercise, my back is stronger, and I don’t feel like I could pull it out at any moment. I discovered some muscle weakness because of my reconstruction surgery. I am not able to do certain moves (push ups and one that is essentially the same thing but you’re body faces outward and you hold yourself up with your arms). I have built some strength in this area, but I think that this weakness is likely surgery related. I may eventually convince myself to go see a physical therapist to learn how to compensate for the muscle weakness.
Pilates doesn’t burn that many calories (but you feel excellent after you do it). I am battling the battle of belly bulge (I blame Tamoxifen, but you can blame it on me getting older. It is entirely up to you!). So I determined that I need to add more cardio back into my life. I gave away my old elliptical to a friend because my mom has a nice one that I plan on moving into that space. I just need to go get it (and right now I have more space in my home office for pilates). I hate love cardio…
My friend showed me a really cool device her husband bought her in her adventures of getting more fit. It was the coolest gadget I have seen in awhile. It is a pedometer that turns walking, running and doing stairs into a bit of a game. After so many steps they will donate money to one of three charities. It also has a “Farmville” type of game where you can play after you earn points exercising (an island where you need “energy” to grow trees). You can compete with your friends that have the same device (extra points for beating their bests). It just sounded cute and I am a gadget junkie. I am also willing to come up with something/anything that will motivate me to fit more cardio into my life. So I just picked one up today. It is called a Striiv, with accessories it is about $130 (so not cheap), but I imagine I will get my money’s worth. Mike has one too and the competition IS ON. We will see!
The Breast Cancer Survival Manual
So I guess this is going to be a bit of a product-ey post. The publisher for The Breast Cancer Survival Manual sent me a copy of the book for free. It didn’t include any requirement that I write about it (but they probably hoped that I would). I did read the entire book within an afternoon (so I guess that isn’t tough reading, but I like medical jargon-y stuff).
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer several friends bought me books which I appreciated. I have Lance Armstrong’s book (I know there is all sorts of drama with him these days, but I still think he put together a pretty darn good organization that does a lot for a lot of people). A book on nutrition for cancer treatment. I have Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Suvivor’s Soul and a few more.
I know several women who had written memoires on their experiences. I probably should get around to reading them one of these days! I read a bit less about cancer and a LOT more about marketing in my spare time lately.
I thought the manual was a good book for a woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is packed full of medical information in one place. It isn’t exactly a “survival” manual, it is more of a “understanding” manual. I found a lot of similar information by spending many many hours searching “Doctor Google,” but this book was a much more reputable source than most.
For someone like me (done with acute treatment) it did have a couple of tidbits that I found interesting (I have some questions about my tumor and it’s makeup beyond what I can find in my lab reports). The book is written to help you understand the types of breast cancer cells and what treatments may be effective for those kinds of cells. The book guides a breast cancer patient through the decision making process of selecting a doctor, getting second opinions and making medical decisions in the whirlwind of a diagnosis.
Disclosure: All links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something I get a small commission. No, I am not going to get rich off of linking to Amazon, but I figure if I am linking to a product why not use an affiliate link. If I actually make a few bucks I am most likely going to donate it to a charity anyhow, because that is how I “roll” (I can’t convince Mike that I am can totally sound gangster, but he doesn’t seem to believe me *sigh*).
Yes, that is me climbing about 8 or 9 years ago. No you can't see the ground in this photo.
I have been thinking a lot lately about where I focus my energy. Work is always a main focus, but beyond work a woman needs her hobbies.
Hobbies change with interest, age and ability. Once upon a time I was an avid rock climber and I spent 5+ days a week working my way up some vertical (and sometimes horizontal) rock faces. The love of my life (aka Mike) turned out to not be a huge fan of heights, and in turn rock climbing (although he bought us both a membership to a climbing gym for several months as a gift to me and made a genuine effort – it was the best present ever), was not in our future (which is also why I no longer fit into size 0 jeans… I can’t believe I ever fit into size 0 jeans. This semi-menopausal-who-knows-what state from Tamoxifen certainly makes weight loss a wee bit more work).
Sports have never really been my thing beyond climbing (I am uncoordinated and don’t react fast, slow and careful worked for me in climbing. Plus I seem to pull out my back if I look at anything heavy sideways (lifting 5 gallons of paint Sunday was smart, SMRT). My husband loves video games. I sort of picked up video games at one point in time. Which is fun, but I find them to be stressful, thus I don’t play them much anymore.
My hobbies these days consist of photography (not so great at this) and cooking (so-so, I give it a grade of needs improvement – you can make fun of my cooking adventures on my cooking blog I actually have a few recipes on there that I really like, so I am a little less shy about it). I can gauge my energy level based on my cooking, not so much my photography (I get enthusiastic and then behind). This past week my energy has been up (it may help that I am attempting Pilates, I say attempting because I am working really hard at beginner stuff). Beginner Pilates looks nothing like real Pilates, I made an attempt at the real thing yesterday and was mildly panicked by the pain in my muscles and the crazy stuff I couldn’t quite do. Pilates should be good for building my back strength back up (still avoiding physical therapy… you know, more doctors…).
Today I went in for an ultrasound of my uterus (not your usual ultrasound of the uterus, the nonbaby kind). The tech had me giggling in fits because I was a little surprised about what the ultrasound would involve, she let me know that she has never lost anyone during this procedure. I survived… sort of. Driving back I realized that I have had tests for at least 3 additional kinds of cancers this year, yeesh. I am addicted to the hospital or something… (more likely my doctors are overly cautious). This one I didn’t lose an ounce of sleep over, not one once. So I guess I am learning about this whole “worry” and “overstressing” and such. Yay me!
I had the ultrasound because the doctor didn’t feel like she got enough of the right kind of tissue sample in the biopsies and wanted to do an ultrasound just to cover all of her bases. My thyroid test came back normal, I am not anemic and my uterus is completely healthy as far as they can see (apparently it is about 2 CM longer than they expected, but big is good right?). So, maybe last month was just a bit of a fluke. The only time I have ever done that was when I was coming out of menopause, so who knows.
Normal is good.
Now enjoy a photo of gummy bears on my desk that I took trying out my new camera (this camera was my 5th anniversary present from Mike, a camera that takes photos you can change the focus on, they are called “living photos” – click on the gummy bears, the monitor, the keyboard and watch it refocus… not that I was eating gummy bears… or anything like that…):
Get ready for me to kill a euphemism and talk about my uterus.
I shudder whenever a doctor tells me they are going to biopsy something. Apparently anytime one part of my body or another decides that it doesn’t want to work I get a hollow needle or a punch tool pulling at my wee bits. I was actually a bit surprised today when the OBGYN opted to go ahead and biopsy my endometrial lining. I am actually not a ball of nerves about this particular biopsy. I expect it to come back normal.
I went to go see my doctor because Aunt Flo came to visit and refused to move out. Three weeks of Aunt Flo and I am ready to kick her to the curb. I have been having mood swings, dizzy spells, depression and a whole slew of fun things. We did another test today that seems to point to the more likely culprit for Ms. Flo’s nonstop partying at Mandi’s house – checking my thyroid. Mike and I have mutually admitted that something is wrong with me, we just didn’t know what, so finding some solution to my hormonal mood swings would certainly be a blessing (…for Mike, I still think I am a ball of fun, even when I am crying over a toothpaste commercial).
According to Dr. Google my symptoms are a pretty close match. So, honestly, I am just hoping I get a phone call that involves a prescription for thyroid medication. The alternative is that my uterus may get an ultrasound based on the biopsy results. Tamoxifen is known to create issues with your endometrial lining (and potentially cause uterine sarcoma, but I am at the lower end of the risk spectrum on that one, plus it doesn’t happen this quickly).
Guess what they normally use to treat my condition? Birth control pills. Those pesky hormones that I am not allowed to have.
Dr. Google also informs me that there seems to be a tie between thyroid issues and breast cancer, but they haven’t distinctively identified exactly what is causing what. I swear my thyroid was in my radiation zone. I may need to double check with my radiation oncologist (but I don’t see her for 9 months). I remember someone somewhere told me that thyroid issues could be a potential side effect, luckily it is very treatable with medication these days. I will just be happy to find out what has been causing me to feel a bit crappier than normal.
PS. The good news was, I am not pregnant (yes we tested, ectopic pregnancy also has some similar symptoms). Silver lining I tell you. Silver lining…
Yesterday I went in for my quarterly, not-coming-with-bumps-or-back-pain check up. I came in with nothing more exciting than the fact that I have been having some strange dizzy spells off and on for the last month. I am thinking I need to get my blood sugar levels checked since I had a reaction to Metformin (a diabetes medication) that was being used in a study on helping decrease cancer recurrence.
I forget how much fun the nurses are at the Huntsman. After the nurse checked my weight, blood pressure and oxygen she offered me a designer hospital gown. My choices were Gucci or Armani. I chose Gucci of course.
I love residents. Seriously. You can tell who is brand new and who has been around for awhile. It makes for great entertainment, you get checked by the resident, they report, and you get checked by your doctor. Huntsman Cancer Institute is a teaching hospital, so residents are a regular part of being a patient there. Once in awhile they test you patience, but I am happy to help them learn the trade. The one I had yesterday was brand new bless his heart. He asked me if we had children (I told him no, just doggy furballs…) and if we were planning on having them, which I have never been asked at the hospital and it kind of threw me off a bit (we aren’t sure I can after chemo and still couldn’t test the theory until after I finish five years of Tamoxifen). There was also some confusion on why I have lumps in my cancerous side (which is confusing because I shouldn’t have much tissue in there to create lumps) luckily the lumps have been checked and are fine. He was sweet and I really think it is amazing that great doctors go in the oncology medical field, I am not sure if it is ever a job I could handle.
They did some simple tests to verify that I don’t have brain damage (I got an A+) my brain works just fine (this could be debated). The doctor felt that I was good to go and could go ahead and wait three months for the next appointment (remaining NED – no evidence of disease). We planned out my next three appointments which has me scheduled every three months with one of my doctors through May of next year.
Today is close to the one year anniversary from the day I started radiation for breast cancer. It still sort of amazes me that it hasn’t even been a year since I finished treatment. It feels like a year since I finished. In fact it feels like a few years… I guess that is a good thing.
Yesterday, June 3, marks exactly one year from my final chemo infusion. Life is full of strange anniversaries after cancer treatment, some good, some less good, but each anniversary is a cause for celebration in its own way. I find myself in a strange transition between moving past everything, but knowing that everything can turn itself upside down unexpectedly. I have been putting my life back together even though it never truly fell apart. Bits and pieces just had to go on pause for awhile. We all cope with life and its ups and its downs in our own little unique ways.
I didn’t realize it would take as much energy as it has to recover emotionally from the improbable possibility that I had metastatic breast cancer to my spine and the relief that comes with the news that something isn’t cancer. I guess I didn’t realize how truly afraid I was deep down inside – life in active fear is not a good life. So you learn to tuck that fear back down, put one foot in front of the other and go on.
Recently I was thinking about how much I love my husband and how we have planned to get old and gray together. We have random plans about where we are going to live and what we will do when we retire together (the typically involve the ocean, a boat and a beach house). Today I was able to visualize myself there again, sitting on that porch, watching the waves in ocean, breeze blowing my gray hair about, sipping a beverage that several of my loving relatives wouldn’t approve of and just being together. Cancer has a way of strengthening a relationship or destroying it, and I was lucky enough that ours really did result in the life lesson to not “sweat the small stuff.”
So, I love my husband tons, my family is amazing, and I love my job (and my four-legged children Zack and Dante). My friends are awesome, I miss some of them as I see some less because life is a bit busier again. Life is good.
I am a different person than than I was two years ago. I am o.k. with that. I have always been in a hurry in life, I needed things to happen NOW. Patience is a virtue, and when you learn to spend hours and hours jumping from an appointment, to a test, to a REALLY long chemo infusion you realize that sometimes you just can’t be in a hurry. Slow down, enjoy the moments and stop focusing on tomorrow. The day goes by too fast in my opinion. I want to savor more moments (yes, I am cheesy).
My back has improved. I imagine it is related to my decrease in stress, a doctor hasn’t poked it hard recently, more exercise, changing chairs at work (no new bed yet…). I can tell that it can easily be pulled/hurt/upset. I am pulling weeds by sitting down instead of bending over (which I think is a major improvement, weeds have been pulled!). Mike and I figured out that planting the garden is when I aggravated my back, so I am a bit more careful as I build up strength. I have not gone to physical therapy yet… the decrease in back pain has loosened my resolve to go, but if the pain comes back I promised myself I would go. I am tired of appointments (it took me four weeks to make a hair appointment to tame my wild mane – I go in Thursday for haircut number four).
With anniversaries come memories. Other items and situations also stir up memories. I was giving my mom some of my radiation burn medications/ointments/sprays today (I have handy dandy stuff if you ever get a sunburn or any kind of burn) and I told her it was stirring up memories of radiation (I guess I have most of that blocked out along with most of my chemo experience). I keep the good memories, good memories are good…
Here are some photos of my progression since diagnosis:
1/9/11 – Just before surgery at Mike’s work party. I called it one of “their” last evenings out on the town…
I am completely amazed that it has been an entire year since my final chemo treatment. Life is so incredibly different this year than it was last year, and it will continue to be marked with strange anniversaries, which I will celebrate on the inside or the outside. Each new day is a blessing.
PS Today I found a Gatorade in the freezer and I asked Mike why he left a Gatorade in the freezer. He laughed and said I had stuck it in there on one of my “chemo days” (which means I was out of it) insisting that I needed my Gatorade really cold and I forgot about it (chemo brain). The Gatorade is thawing on the counter so that I can pour it out. One year later…
As much as I want to insist that I have been completely calm and relaxed and haven’t thought about cancer at all this past week I would be a liar. Staying positive is hard work and pretty much impossible. You feel like the bringer of doomsday, but these days, EVERYTHING is cancer. Acne = cancer. Sore toe = cancer. Mole = cancer. You name it… luckily I only panic about things that realistically could become/be cancer (at least I tell myself that). I am not sure when things stop being cancer in your mind. I really couldn’t actually believe that the lump I had was going to be cancer (the statistical possibility, at 30 years old, was extremely low, but someone does always have to be THE statistic). This is maybe why I overreact about every other lump, bump, ache and pain. I can’t discount this type of experience though, women who find out that they have mets (metastatic disease) find out in these kinds of circumstances, which is why it can be super scary.
I forget people aren’t obsessed with researching breast cancer online like I am (fascinated, seriously, fascinated…). If you are diagnosed at stage I even if you have treatment you can have a breast cancer tumor show up somewhere else in your body. This now means you have stage IV or metastatic breast cancer, not stage I anymore. No one dies of stage I cancer, people die of stage IV cancer, which means the cancer eventually moved elsewhere in the body and took up residence. Metastatic breast cancer does not have a cure at the moment, treatment has improved, mets patients live longer and more comfortable lives than they did 10 years ago, but it isn’t a life you would personally go out and choose for yourself. Mets patients live from scan to scan and one chemo drug to the next. If this ever becomes my fight I will certainly take it on, but at the moment I really think it would be cool to someday be declared in remission.
We treated the cancer in my breast and armpit, there is very little chance it will ever grow back there. The teensy chance is my lungs, liver and bones. So a four week back ache becomes a pretty serious concern, even though the chances are still low that it is actually caused by cancer. I have never had a back ache like this that has lasted this long with medication.
One of my employees told me to stay away from “Dr. Google” and explained that they look up everything related to their young daughter and freak out because according to Dr. Google she has had about 72 fatal illnesses. So true… I try to be careful what I look up and how much I take it seriously. I am not a medical professional, and every ache and bump is probably going to freak me out. Mike and I decided that we will have a scare regularly every few months and hopefully they get further and further apart or less and less intense. It just complicates things when the results of a test, no matter how low the possibility is of it being cancer, mean life or death.
Don’t worry about me dying from cancer, I am probably going to die of a heart attack at this rate. YEESH.
I went in this morning and got my radioactive isotopes injected. The radiation tech that injected me was wearing very little protective gear, so it seemed that my assumption about the level of the radiation involved may have been a bit over the top. PET CT, they tell you not to hug babies. Bone scan – meh – do whatever, hug ALL of the babies. The machine was exactly like the one they use for the mugga scan. Between injection and scan we barely had any time to run a few errands, eat lunch and get back to the hospital to get scanned.
You can see my hip bones on the monitor. Creepy.
I asked the tech when they expected to have the results, she told me my doctor would have them at 5:00. This means I called at 4:30 and left a message for my oncology nurse that I heard they may have them this afternoon (hint hint). After the scans were done I went home and curled up in bed and took a nap. The emotions wrapped up in these tests are exhausting, and it is impossible to not take in “all of the possibilities.” Plus it seems to be that when we are overly optimistic it doesn’t turn out, so pessimism has paid off the last few times… sort of.
The nurse called and told me that my scans came back perfectly clean. In fact, they were freakishly clean, I had no “uptake” of the isotopes at all anywhere in my skeleton. I have never broken a bone and I have no spots on my bones mending themselves anywhere. AWESOME news for my skeleton, but now I have to figure out which one of the 1,000+ things that cause back pain (thanks Dr. Google) is causing mine. Right now I lean with the surgeon’s opinion, the pain is awfully close to where they took the muscles out of my back to be “coincidence.” Now that we know it is a soft tissue problem (even though the previous soft tissue treatments weren’t fruitful), we have narrowed down the possibilities. Hopefully we can come to a conclusion, resolution or a miracle.
I actually had three days with little to no pain, so maybe I am healing, but I ended up sore again Tuesday and it could be a combination of stress and sore back that make a super sore back, maybe I just need a hot massage… Now I think I definitely “need” a massage. I am new to the world of back pain (I certainly have pulled out my lower back a few times, but the mid-back is foreign to me). I guess we will see, but the “worst” possible cause is ruled out, so now we can look for solutions and hopefully get everything back in order.
I am also getting a new chair at work and we are going to replace our ten year old mattress at home. We will figure it out.
The view of Huntsman Cancer Institute from the breast cancer wing.
I don’t know where I come up with these titles I swear… So… the pain in my neck got better, but the spot in my mid back got worse. Mike and I swore at the internet yesterday because there is just way too much available information when it comes to cancer, side effects and all other lovely things from Cancertown.
I had my appointment this morning. I had called the nurse a couple of days ago to see if I should see my Medical Oncologist rather than the Surgical Oncologist that I was scheduled to see. She suggested that I see whoever could see me first. I was already booked with the surgeon because of the weird lumps, so I opted to go in and see her, even though my lumps had all gone away. She looked at me and felt like I needed to go to physical therapy because of the location of the pain on my back the back pain (a couple of inches below my back incisions), she wanted to see what my Medical Oncologist thought about it and went to consult with her.
She came back and made me bend in different directions and poked along my back and I discovered that bending backwards was a good way to set off the pain (any other direction and I was fine, poking I was fine, but bending backwards…). YOWZA! After bending me backward she held my arms back and pushed on the spot. My back is super pissed this evening.
My Medical Oncologist was busy seeing new patients today so she had to sneak over to see me in between appointments. She is such a fun lady. She gave Mike and I each a gumball and she asked me a few questions (Mike got stuck with the pink gumball because SOMEONE took the white one, not sure who, *cough cough*). She told me that normally she would tell me to go home and take IB Profin for two weeks, but I had already done that. I had sincerely hoped that IB Profin and muscle relaxers would do the trick, but they didn’t even touch the pain. So she opted to go ahead and order a bone scan. She noted that the chance that my back pain was cancer was minimal, but that we would check to be sure.
Quote from WebMD:
Just before the scan begins, you will probably be asked to empty your bladder to prevent any radioactive urine from blocking the view of your pelvic bones during the scan.
I got to work and found a cute present and note on my desk.
Radioactive urine, you heard it. Apparently bone scans are a hot commodity at Huntsman and they couldn’t get me in next week so they set up an appointment at the U of U to get it done Wednesday. I go in at 10:30 for the injection to make my bones glow and at 1:30 for the scan. So it will be a full day at the hospital (maybe we will sneak out and do some shopping while we wait for me to become properly radioactive). I do figure that I am still owed some super powers after all of the nuclear medicine that has been injected into me and along with radiation treatment. Certainly I will be able to fly by the end of next week!
So I am hopeful to get the test done and probably head off to physical therapy as my next step. I am open to whatever solution gets my back to stop aching and gets the gnawing worry out of my mind. Life has been awesome, and I want it to keep being awesome! I have a trip to Hawaii to plan. Mike won free hotel and airfare to Hawaii at work this week!
Seriously. This is ridiculous and the whole thing just makes me tired. Tired to my core, so much stress, waiting, and never-ending surprises certainly knows how to wear you down. First off, I had a bilateral mastectomy, I am not supposed to get breast lumps anymore.
This is another one of those moments where I question about whether or not to blog about something. This time I had to wait until I knew what was going on before making a fuss. Two days after posting that my cervical biopsies came back fine, I found two large lumps in my left breast (cancer side). They were near the bottom of the breast and you can see them visually (I guess I need to look at the bottom as well as the top). They are surrounded with what looked like maybe bruising or thicker patches of blood vessels. I had a dream about my breasts having a dimpled appearance (which is how my aunt found her breast cancer, a dimple) so I looked more closely in the morning, and sure enough a couple of dimples were there. Upon further inspection I verified two distinctive hard lumps (maybe three). I showed them to Mike shortly after. They were all in the part of the breast that had been bruised and darker for most of the healing process over the last six weeks, so I hadn’t really felt around that area and the appearance had been a bit mottled.
I just saw my surgeon and oncologist two weeks ago. So if two large lumps showed up within two weeks, the chance that it would be cancer is pretty low. I would have to have the world’s fastest growing breast cancer (the lumps are large, I had one of the faster growing varieties, but I just had surgery in there seven weeks ago). Online research indicated that the more likely scenario is that my silicone implant has ruptured or that I have fat necrosis (yes, dead fat) from the latissimus flap reconstruction. A possibility that occurs from reconstruction alone and reconstruction on a radiated breast increases the risk.
I have avoided the whole “why me” experience until recently. Now I am starting to get frustrated with the things popping up that add to my inability to really just try to move on. I run on raw anxiety and have been for the last year, this is also incredibly unhealthy for me, so I must find some way to balance this tension somewhere and find ways to cut back on the things that cause additional stress and tension.
Is it a lump under there?
You know you have a lot of doctors when you aren’t exactly sure which ones you need to see for this problem. I called and asked to see my surgical oncologist (who was the one who ordered all of the initial testing they did) or my oncologist. My surgeon is at a conference for a couple of weeks and my oncologist was able to squeeze me in the next day (yay for less time to freak out while waiting for the appointment). So I did get to go in today. She found the lumps without my assistance (she told me not to sway her judgement) and the third one she wrote a question mark on because she was as uncertain as I if it was a mass. The question mark made my mom and I giggle a bit (so mature).
The radiologist took a good look using an ultrasound and a few pictures of the thin amount of skin and muscle on top of the implant abyss (the implant is a dark void in the ultrasound). No one questions that the lumps are there (there were three), but they don’t look like cancer. The most likely option is that they are fat necrosis as I had guessed before my appointment (they didn’t appear to be scar tissue). Biopsy would be a bit dangerous (big needle, little room for error), but the radiologist didn’t feel like it was necessary.
I now see my oncologist in three months instead of six to keep an eye on them and having lumps makes it harder to find new lumps (breast cancer can recur locally on the skin or scar after a mastectomy and radiation). So here I am, post mastectomy, and I still have lumpy boobs. I guess I will take my lumps, as long as they decide not to be cancer.