The Next Stage of the Journey into the Unknown

https://www.touro.com/blogs/2017/july/hidden-scar-breast-cancer-surgery-at-touro/

Stage One Diagnosis

You find out you have cancer, do all the research, schedule treatment and wait. I love my doctor in Fresno, CA, Dr. Hadcock. She moved me up so that between diagnosis and surgery there were only seventeen days!

Stage Two Treatment

For me, the beginning treatment was surgery, a lumpectomy, biopsy of two lymph nodes, nuclear medicine, a gamma probe and placement of a Biozorb.

“Intraoperative gamma detection uses gamma particles emitted by radioactive isotopes from within the body to pinpoint tissue during surgery. By targeting specific tissue, treatments and procedures can be minimally invasive, are associated with lower complication rates, and can lead to better patient outcomes. ” https://www.mammotome.com/procedures/gamma-detection/

Less is better as far as I am concerned!

Biozorb https://www.thehealthjournals.com/biozorb-leaves-mark-breast-cancer/

A Biozorb looks like a spring with metallic markers that is placed where the cancer was, a little marker. It allows the doctor to keep an eye on things, so to speak. Eventually, it deteriorates leaving only the markers behind. They promised me I won’t set off any detectors at the airport.

During the first step of surgery, a doctor and technician marked Dr. Hadcock did surgical area by inserting two wires on either side of the tumor. Then they took four mammograms. The numbing agents weren’t entirely successful, but it was liveable – as evidenced by the fact I am writing about it twenty-four hours after surgery.

By nine-thirty a.m. Hector was wheeling me into a bright, operating room crowded with equipment. The surgeon and anesthesiologist awaited me as Hector helped me scoot from his cart to the operating table. Since I have old twisty veins, the anesthesia entered me painfully, but within seconds I didn’t care.

The next time I saw a clock it looked like two in the afternoon, but it was actually only ten after twelve. Vince told me that I had asked to come home. (Who knows, I thought they were nuts letting me leave so soon after I woke up.)

By twelve-thirty the nurse and my husband had dressed me, bundled me in a blanket, and loaded me like a sack of potatoes into the car. Anesthesia can make you do strange things and it still had a hold on me for quite a few hours. I cried all the way home and had a panic attack when my dog came out to greet me.

Stage Three – Recovery

My advice is not to text anyone while under the influence of the anesthetic. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I moved my finger some random way and when I listened to my voicemail messages. Every message was from my brother. Then I finally got one without his voice from my surgeon. After that, every message I pressed was her voice.

When I tried to show Vince, the voicemails on my phone belonged to the correct people.

One message I received was a call from a reporter at the Visalia Times-Delta asking about the Kiwanis July Third Blast. Wisely I did not to return his phone call. Instead, I texted Linda about it, got the phone number mixed up and couldn’t figure out his name because his voicemail the second time was my brother’s voicemail. So don’t text while under the influence!

It has now been exactly twenty-four hours since surgery. I’m able to think again. I can eat and drink normally. My dog is no longer traumatized by my lack of attention and is sleeping on her chair next to the window. Vince is out running errands, and I am blogging.

Some people have to wear a drain. I was lucky. https://mastheadpink.com/product/elizabeth-surgical-bra/

Other than being totally inactive except for walking around a bit, life is back to normal. I’m wearing a cute pink velcro infested bra that holds me in rather than making me look voluptuous. I have a cute heart-shaped pillow printed with kittens under my arm at all time which I carry like a handbag filled with a million dollars in cash.

Best of all, I thought I was cancer-free for the moment.

Then the surgeon called back today and informed me of the biopsy results. The lymph nodes are clear of cancer, but the tumor was three centimeters instead of one and that the margins were not all clear.

That means that the cancer is now categorized as stage two, grade one, but slow-growing. It also means that I will have to go back into surgery and have a mastectomy.

Stage Four – Helping Others

Those of you who have had breast cancer have helped me go through this last seventeen days with calm assurance. Thank you especially to Jean Butler, Linda Hengst, and Donna Davis who have been through this before.

Thanks to Vince, for hanging in there with me and caring for me. And thanks to all my friends who have come by, called me and wished me well.

I can only hope that I will offer as much support to others when the time comes, as my many friends both with and without cancer have done for me.