For some reason, I’ve been having a hard time sitting myself down to write for the blog. Big news items have been posted on Facebook, and I just don’t seem to get past that. However, I want to keep this up… after all, I don’t post everything on Facebook.
The countdown to surgery has begun. I will be having a single mastectomy with complete axillary lymph node dissection (all my lymph nodes in my armpit are going to be removed). This is about a 2.5-hour surgery and I will be spending one night in the hospital, then sent home the next day. Most people I talk to are surprised at how quickly they discharge you from the hospital, but if you think about it, it’s not that invasive a surgery as other types. Basically, they mark your breast, cut off the bulk of it (including skin & nipple), grab all the breast tissue that goes up under the skin towards the clavicle, grab any breast tissue that creeps to the side of you, then stitch you up and then they do the same for the lymph nodes (except there is even less to remove since they only want the nodes).
I’m having a single mastectomy instead of a double mastectomy because the genetic tests results were finally available (long, frustrating story that I won’t go into here) and I do not have any of the known genetic variations for breast cancer or ovarian cancer. That’s a great thing! It doesn’t mean that I still won’t have the left breast removed in the future, in fact, I’m thinking of having it done next spring, but I just won’t have it done now. Basically, my surgeon will not perform the surgery. Because I have inflammatory breast cancer, they won’t perform any “unnecessary” surgery on me because they don’t want to take the chance that my left breast surgical site gets an infection and it prevents me from starting radiation therapy ~4 weeks after surgery. The trimodal therapy I’m receiving (chemotherapy before surgery, surgery, and then radiation therapy) works best when there are no delays. So I can deal with having another surgery at a later date.
Surgery is July 20 and my birthday is July 21. I knew it would be before my birthday and that I would be recovering on that day, so Jim and I went to Asheville, NC for a long weekend getaway and left Finn and the pups are my parents’ house in SC. We had a lovely time, even if I am not up for as much walking on steep hills as I used to be before chemo… I just took breaks, drank plenty of water, and enjoyed the things I did get to see and do. We bought a beautiful painting that we already hung up in our living room and I also bought a couple small paintings to hang in my craft room. I have to get them framed and then they will be joining some paintings and prints I have from an artist I met when I was traveling in Spain who is now my friend, Lauren Sebastian (check out her website! http://www.laurensebastian.com)
Let’s see… what else? I became aware of this organization called Knitted Knockers when I saw a video about it on Facebook. I think that video was filmed in Scotland. I googled it and found a website (www.knittedknockers.org) which turns out to be a US based organization. Initially, I downloaded the free knitting pattern to make my own, however, I have been having difficulty concentrating on some tasks and most knitting patterns fall into that category. I found out that the organization gives away these items and all you have to do is complete a form online with your specifics and the knockers will be sent to you. Today, I received an email from the woman who knitted my knockers. She belongs to Knitted Knockers of NC and she wanted to let me know that she sent my knockers to me in the mail today. I should be receiving them soon. Her email was so full of love and hope that it made me a little emotional. I am so thankful for people like her and organizations like Knitted Knockers.
I wanted to run a breast cancer marathon and found one in sunny Florida next February, and then I decided that since I can’t start to run until mid-August (and I’ll be getting radiation therapy for 6 weeks starting around then) that I probably wouldn’t be able to train enough to actually complete a full marathon, so I registered for the half-marathon instead. I think I can totally do 13.1 miles, especially since I have no shame in run-walking it. In the couple weeks after announcing my intention to run the half-marathon, I have had several family members and friends express interest – or outright commit – to running/walking either a half-marathon or 5K (the Donna Breast Cancer Marathon takes part over 2 days and has a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon). There were two ways to register – either pay the fee or sign up to fundraise (with the fundraising option you need to raise at least $500 and you have no registration fee). I’m pleased to say that my sister and I have both reached our fundraising goals. I’m happy to exceed my goal though… so if you would like to contribute please let me know and I’ll provide you the link to donate. The money goes to breast cancer research, so the more that goes there, the better! I have a plan to have shirts printed for my supporters who will be in FL, either running or as support people, and will post pics and more details when I have done more research on screen printing companies and availability of shirts that I like/want.
Well, this ended up being a rather long post. But let’s see what else I have to say. My hair has slowly been regrowing (VERY SLOWLY) but you can really start to see it and you can definitely feel it when you rub my head. I can’t wait for it to get longer so that I can see what color it is going to be! I also can’t wait to not have to worry about getting my head sunburnt. I like wearing hats, and always have, but I would like to not be required to wear a hat when I go outside. I had my lab work done last week and my red and white blood cells are going back to normal so that is great. Also, I had a repeat bone scan of my whole body. Before I started chemo, there was a spot on my spine that the doctor didn’t think was cancer but they weren’t 100% sure so I needed to have it checked after chemo finished to make sure that the spot was still there. And the spot is still there… yay! That means I DO NOT have cancer in my spine and I just have arthritis. I never thought I’d be so happy to hear that I have degenerative changes associated with getting older!
I think that’s enough for today. I can’t think of anything more. The house is coming along nicely – still waiting on the fence installation (which will make the dogs and Finn happy – who am I kidding, it will make me happy too!) and then we need to get electric run to the garage so we can use the garage door opener without an extension cord and we can also get a separate freezer to stock up on local produce and freeze for winter. I’m still thinking about the curtain (or lack of curtain) situation in the living room and have pretty much decided that I’m going to make my own because I can’t seem to find a print that I’m in love with. I think I’d have a much better selection if I go to the fabric store, in fact there is a huge home decor fabric store about 20 min from my house, so I might have to do that next week.
Lastly, we will be having friends from up north coming down for a few days to visit us. They will be arriving next Thursday. I feel so lucky to have had friends visit us in May, June and now July. I’m also very thankful for my family who comes to help out very often and who will be here in time for my surgery so that they can be a part of it and they can take turns on who takes care of Finn and who takes care of me 🙂