Here's the scoop - I am going back in for surgery tomorrow. Two weeks ago I had a CT scan that showed one of the titanium clips they put in during the biopsy (one in the tumor, one in the cancerous lymph node) is still in my body. They don't know if it fell out during surgery (possible), or if the node they biopsied (and tested positive for cancer) is still in my body.
During surgery, they injected a dye into my breast and watched the way it traveled, simulating the path cancer would take to the lymph nodes. 90% of all cases follow the same route through the Sentinel nodes and mine did just the same. They removed them (three on the right, one on the left), biopsied, sent to pathology, and all came back clear. Awesome, I was good to go. Cancer free! Now, with this clip hovering by a node, there are just two possible scenarios. One, the clip is IN the lymph node and my cancer took the path less traveled. Two, the clip is "floating in the breeze", having fallen out during surgery and missed when they vacuumed up the leftovers. *My apologies to all surgeons reading this thread, vacuuming up the leftovers is not a medical term. I will not know until I wake up. I could go home Monday night after a successful surgery and get back to healing at home. Or, I could wake up with 15-20 more lymph nodes removed, another drain, and spend the night at the hospital. Oh, how I love a good surprise.
The real bummer about all this for me was that, for the first time, I lost a little bit of faith in Yale. Was this a mistake? Did they miss something? Doubting my dream team even the slightest was painful, it still is. There was a lot of anger two weeks ago, but never did my trust waiver. I was pissed this happened - it shouldn’t have happened. But it did, so now what? Would I change hospitals or doctors, no. Never. But the questions remain. I look forward to hearing the answers and then really forming how I feel. Right now I just don’t know and am not really feeling anything. Another big blow is the pending physical recovery...brutal. I am finally at a place where I can stand up straight, lie down flat, stretch my arms over my head, straighten my arm, the list goes on and on. I was about to start the first of my 25 radiation treatments. I was moving forward, cancer free. But now I am not. That is all delayed, even the cancer free bit. I can no longer say that, at least not for now. We just don't know what they'll find in there. They are optimistic though and so am I. Honestly, I have reached a point where I don't really care why it's there, or that I need another surgery. I decided a long time ago that I was donating my body to science for this ordeal and this is just another bump in the road.
So, I had a double mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction. Without getting too graphic, they removed all breast tissue and replaced it with my own fat tissue. Sweet, right? Eh, sorta. I am completely numb, from the back of my arms down to well below my new belly button. Actually, they just cut a hole in my skin and flipped my old belly button up through it and sewed that bad boy back together. Pretty cool stuff. The pain was close to unbearable but has subsided greatly over the last 7 weeks. My breasts feel like two slabs of meat on my chest and may be like this for quite some time. There are random and very painful twinges of pain every now and then while my nerves regenerate themselves. My belly looks as if I'm four months pregnant and if I move in certain ways and contract the muscle, it feels as if I am too. In the beginning of recovery there were a lot of muscle spasms which really felt like a baby kicking. Before I panicked, I quickly calmed myself down with the reminder that it's only cancer surgery, not a baby. ;-)
My hair is starting to grow back and resembles a bit of a new duckling, soft and airy but damn well determined. It has taken an unusual shape, growing itself into a bit of a faux hawk. It is fun to have it back and a buzz cut in summer is definitely the way to go. I am surprised at how hard it has been for me to have hair. I really began to identify with being bald, a way to show people what I'm going through without having to explain. What I feared would be a source of embarrassment for me quickly became a source of pride. Chris has been such a wonderful partner in it all, always reassuring me and reminding me to look at the big picture. He did at one point say, "some eyebrows would be nice" and he wasn't wrong - eyebrows are definitely nice.
I could go on and on. Right now I am positive about it all and ready to do what I have to do. As with this entire process, there is no alternative. I don't have much of a choice and would never question my doctors at this point. They have to go in there and figure this shit out. I will demand plenty of answers upon my awakening.
Since surgery, I have had amazing visits from family and friends. The incredible support is beyond my wildest dreams and is certainly getting me through right now. Also, the Gettysburg women's lacrosse team won their second consecutive national championship!! I couldn't be prouder of my coach, the team, and all my ladies that were there before. You inspire - Forever a Bullet.