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Dates and Details

2010:
February 25-Mammogram
March 15-MRI
March 19-Core Biopsy
March 23-Cancer Diagnosis
April 14-Double Mastectomy
May 24-Oncologist Meeting
June 7 - Starting Tamoxifen Therapy
August 25 - Reconstruction Surgery
August 27 -Yale Second Opinion
August 31 - "Reconstruction" Complete

It has been confirmed:
No Chemo or Radiation is required

Feb.1 The Story Starts
December 2017
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    Archive for the ‘Procedure Related Info’ Category

    An inspiring breakfast

    I have asked myself, “Why Me?” ….but in maybe a different way from  other people. 

    My questioning was more in a way that is in control and positive tied to great things that can come out of this for me, our family and many, many others.   Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to use my new found “cancer patient” eyes to identify gaps in the overall process.  Areas where maybe something could help the “next” to come. 

    First in my thoughts were ways to impact moms and their caregivers.  Perhaps,  a family suitcase program that would arrive to give the family support and at the same time help the mom.  When googling this idea, I came across a program that delivers a “Necessities Bag” to women to help prepare them for their mastectomy surgery.  I just had to reach out to them.  I was curious to know what it was all about and in general, what started the idea.  I quickly received an email from the founder who was excited that I had contacted them.  As luck would have it she lived just a few towns away from me in Connecticut. 

    At my next doctor appointment, my nurse said there was a Necessities Bag for me to take home.  If was an attractive tote bag embellished with a tasteful nondescript purple imprint design…all jammed packed with “things”.  I took the ribbon off the bag and started to dive in.  Quickly I felt the “hands” that had all been in this bag. Hands that had sewn the perfectly sized pillows that would be heaven sent to comfort me post surgery..down to the perfect tapes and bandages  to the perfect tees ..a ribbon to tie drains too, a nail file, lip balm, note pads, pens, facial clothes…you name it.  Each item clearly labeled with what and why. Sort the most bizarrely wonderful gift basket and the most perfect assortment you could want!..that is if you are going in for a mastectomy.  I got a crash course in what I never knew I’d need.. a blessing I know in advance for sure.

    This morning, I had the grand opportunity to meet the founder of the Necessities Bag over breakfast.   

    Deep in her heart was the mission to help each woman, one by one.  She has given in so many ways and continues to give from within down to straight from her wallet.  After hearing how the program has developed and flourished in the past 5 years since, I knew that I might not need to start my own  program yet.  But to be part of a program that can scale the one to one delivery from 5 states to a national program.    So, for those of you that would like to do something to help me, you know I just want to help others and I’m be most touched if you sponsored a bag or two.  http://www.necessitiesbag.org/general-donation-p-33.html

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    The New “Figure”

    We met with a plastic surgeon who was absolutely the utmost lovely lady.  Someone that specializes and only does post breast cancer surgery work.  Again, I cannot stress how wonderful my entire “breast cancer team”.  At each step along the way, the level of care and compassion has been outstanding.

    We were immediate at ease as we went through the details of the surgery and options for reconstruction after my double mastectomy.    I could not help to exclaim “That’s great news” when I first heard that it’s a double procedure surgery.  So same day, the old breasts are removed and the new ones put into place.  Things like that are such “great news” when you had prepared your self for two surgeries, the time in between and two rounds of healing.  Great news that it’s all done in one day and I’ll just keep the recovery stages out of my mind for now.

    What did we decide?  We’ve opted to go with saline implants and the same size that God gave me, albeit they’ll just look like a younger set.  As an aside, I do have to say the glimmer of humor in “Sue getting a boob job” has been a smile and laugh out loud for both the men and ladies…and at many points throughout the weeks! So, check the box, one more thing taken care of.

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    Genetics Testing

    Because of my young age, a next step in the testing and screening was to see if genetically I was pre-disposed to this.  After a in depth counseling session, we understood that my DNA would be sequenced to find the presence of cancer markers and abnormal chromosomes.  This would have a tremendous impact on our family, and on a positive note, leave a wealth of health information for many generations to come.

    Given the rushed schedule of events, my blood tests were put in a rush process.  The outcome of the testing would be a factor in my treatments in terms of chemo and radiation.

    One week later, I found out that my genetic testing came back normal.  Which puts my back into a lower risk category for cancer to develop again.  Phew, one less thing to think about now! Back to the other 1,000,0000 things :)

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    “D-Day”, The Confirmed Diagnosis

    With the rounds of mammograms, MRIs, biopsies, needle aspirations and scans, we knew the news would be coming.  An appointment had been set to meet with my doctor in a few days, but in advance, I received a personal on March 23 call from Dr. Provonost.  With outstanding grace and compassion she gave me the news. I had breast cancer.  Not fully known but considered to be between Stage 1 and 2.  All information tied to the aggressiveness or spread of the cancer will come after the breast is removed.  But, the unknown period was now over. 

    I had my questions ready and rattled them ..

    Was my cancer hereditary tied to my mother’s breast cancer?..Answer was no, as mom was 70 at diagnosis and my cancer was a different form. 

    How long would I need to plan to recover?  Answer was 4 weeks to recover from the mastectomy, but the treatments of chemo and/or radiation could not be determined until after the breast removal.   

    What did this mean in terms of risk to our daughters, my sister and others in the family?  Answer was – I’d be tested for genetically links and then we’d take it from there.

    I hung up the phone.  I was home alone and surprisingly not in shock, but quite scared as possible reality which now became complete reality.  Wanting to tell Bruce was immediate to let him know, but I waited until he came home as to not disrupt his day.  Upon arrival that evening, I shared with him all the details.  His strength in his denial stages vanished, but his new found strength grew.  He was still able to look me lovingly in the eyes and say, we’ll be OK.  You will be fine, you know that.  I know that and you will never know. (You will never know has been his  line for  over 13 years — tied to the amount of his love to me).

    I did know I would be fine and will be fine.  I would now go through the text book standard procedures of addressing and combating cancer.  Doctors would take care of me and I trusted my circle of care tremendously.  But I worried more about Bruce, my husband who would watch from the sidelines and hurt more as a by stander watching what I would go through. 

    We’ve never been closer and if we could possibly could ever get to the next stage of soul mates bound in love and faith…cancer brought us that beauty.    Bruce, YOU HAVE NO IDEA!

    The Biopsy Day

    Just tell me! I quickly became exhausted of the tests and the “drip feed” approach of things weren’t looking too good.  The soft direction to start planning from some procedures and treatments.  OK, tell me it direct.  I can take it, I’ve planned for the worst, bring it on. 

    Really, it sounds a bit cold hearted, but after three – four weeks of planning and reversing downward spirals I was more than ready.  My plan was mapped out, I felt in control and just need to know. The biopsy was the last step before getting final confirmation…and that was Friday, March 19th. 

    As a avid keeper of my medical records now, I personally had read all the documentation, and of course googled it all.  Too much information can be a bad thing, but in this case, it prepared me.  I knew there was a slim to none chance that cancer was not in the cards.

    So, I was admitted to the hospital, prepped for a core biopsy…actually two.   Not terribly painful as they numb up all the bits they work on.  Slightly awkward in how you need to lay on the table, breast through a table cut out and just a bit uncomfortable.  I’m tough, so not a big deal.

    After about an hour, both biopsy sections were complete and I moved to the next room for a lymph node needle aspiration.  Uncomfortable poking and prodding, but again, not terrible. 

    It was at this point where my doctor started the serious planning conversation.  Never confirmed that is was cancer and noted the biopsy would tell us that, but to prepare…….I was happy I prepared for the worse weeks back, and the message came across as just a next step in the plan.

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