(And does anyone else get flashes of The Simpsons when they hear that song? Just me?)
I have rewritten this post three times in the past two days because things keep changing, but we’re overdue for an update so I’m going to hit “publish” and get this out in the world.
Last week’s MRI: Another area of concern in the same breast was spotted, so testing had to continue, and a “second look ultrasound” was ordered and booked for this morning. What was spotted at the MRI could have been (insert big benign words here) or could have been cancer. This would definitely have an impact on my surgical options, so we couldn’t proceed until the next ultrasound was done.
PocketHealth: Speaking of the MRI, on the advice of my case manager (the oncology nurse from CAREpath) I signed up to access all of my diagnostic images online (our hospital uses a service called PocketHealth; there are others that are similar) which has been so fascinating! (I may have distracted myself for a few minutes by going back and checking out the girls’ prenatal ultrasound images!) Of course I have no medical background and will always continue to talk about reports with my doctors, but I’ve never been given much of an opportunity to see the imaging and I don’t always get copies of reports so this seems very empowering as a patient.
Today’s ultrasound: Yet another turn with the cold goop and the wand, but I’m not complaining because thorough is definitely good. I don’t want any surprises in surgery or afterwards, so I’m grateful my surgeon is getting all the info he can upfront. After a long look by both the technician and the radiologist, I was given the excellent news that none of the more vague areas on the MRI warranted a biopsy, so we’re forging ahead dealing with one tumour!! I went to the appointment having been warned by my surgeon that they would likely try to biopsy, but if not able to get to the right spot(s) I would have to wait for another MRI and an MRI-guided biopsy, so this really did feel like amazing news. It’s so relative when you can be happy about having cancer in just one spot.
(Also of note: there was a fire drill in the middle of my exam, with the “fire” located right outside the room I was in. Thankfully I didn’t have to evacuate and just stayed on the examining bed with a hand towel draped over me, but a man did come bolting into the room in error. He seemed much more embarrassed than I was.)
Surgery update: The surgeon’s secretary (who is amazing) called me less than an hour later to check in and see if a biopsy was required, and since the answer was no, actually got me in to see the surgeon this afternoon and guess what??? I now have a date for surgery! I need to get a few ducks (read: school paperwork) in a row before I share the details, but watch this space as it’s coming soon!
Some other updates…
Family: The girls are doing well. As they ask questions I give them honest answers, which is a good thing since they have been seeking out these posts and reading them on their own! Maintaining routine has been great, as well as a sense of humour – thanks to so many caring family members, friends and colleagues we have a well-stocked area in the kitchen we have named the “Cancer Candy Cupboard”! I also know they are blessed with great teachers and school staff who are watching out for them during the day – something else I am incredibly thankful for – and their friends’ moms have been very kind and generous with their offers of help too.
Support: I continue to love all the emails, texts, etc., that come in and I was glad I mentioned in a previous post that it’s okay to reach out to someone again even if you already have. On Thursday afternoon I received the call that more testing was going to be necessary, and was feeling pretty disappointed and then a lovely email popped up in my inbox from someone who had already sent good wishes the week before, and in that moment it made a world of difference.
While you definitely don’t want to talk about anyone who has died of cancer (or even stories like “but then her cancer spread…”) when you’re trying to support someone, survivor stories are awesome and I loved the email I received (from a board colleague I don’t know all that well) with a photo attached of her 80 year old mother, 25 years post-breast cancer. Hope.
Another work-related acquaintance, who has had multiple surgeries, read about my OR fears and messaged me to say that at his last surgery, he asked when it was going to begin and got a good laugh from everyone in the recovery room…since it was already over! I’m holding on to that one every time I start to freak out about being on that table. (I also need to shut down the Grey’s Anatomy but Eva and I are watching the latest Netflix season together and it’s so good…)
Moving forward, a couple of upcoming topics I plan to write about:
Surgery options: I have been given a choice between lumpectomy (followed by radiation) and mastectomy. I’ve already done a ton of research (with my surgeon and case manager, through conversations with breast cancer survivors, and on reputable medical sites) and I’ll share all that and the reasons for my decision in the future. (The decision has been made, by the way, so too late to try to sway me.) There’s also the issue of breast reconstruction which could come into play – something else I’m delving into so I can be as well-informed as possible.
Faith: This is playing a big role in my mindset as a cancer patient and is worth its own post.