Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #7

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and have decided to blog about my journey.  If you need to catch up on my story, please check out this page for the chronological list of posts.

This has been a very LOOOONNNNGGGG week, and as you’ll find out here pretty soon, I’m needing to get to bed.  So this update might be void of my normal amount of detail. Sorry!

As I mentioned in my last post, I went into Portland for my first saline injection with the plastic surgeon.  I was pretty curious about how all of this was going to go.  Was it going to hurt?  How will he actually get the saline into the tissue expander?  How does he know where to poke?  Turns out that the “target” for injection on the expander is made of metal, so the first step was for the surgeon to run a magnet thing over my breast and find the right spot.  After marking each breast, he injected 50 ccs of saline into each expander since it was the first go-round.  The actual injection for both sides took about 30 seconds. The surgeon chose to inject only about half of what he will normally inject at each expansion appointment (75 to 100 ccs).

Afterwards I wasn’t too uncomfortable (I followed the advice of my nurse navigator and took a muscle relaxer before the appointment). However, I can definitely see how things might get a little bit more tender the next time around.

Wednesday brought my post-op consultation with the radiation oncologist.  Since my sentinel node biopsy came back positive for micro metastases, I knew that the doctor would be presenting radiation as an option for me.  He presented a lot of statistics about side effects and recurrence to help me make a decision.  Mr. Blue Eyes and I had talked a lot about it prior to the appointment and we knew that, if radiation was presented as an option, I would go for it.  As I told the doctor, if this cancer comes back, I want to have the peace of mind that I had done absolutely everything possible to prevent recurrence.

So my radiation plan is that I will have 25 rounds of daily (Monday through Friday) radiation, for a total of five weeks.  This will start about three weeks following my last round of chemo.

Immediately after my appointment, I went across the street for my PET CT scan in a mobile PET trailer (because that’s how we roll in a small town, sometimes).  The procedure went as expected and, as the technician joked as he placed my IV, it is a pretty lazy test.  After getting the injection via IV, I sat in a recliner with a blanket and read a book for about 45 minutes.  After a trip to the bathroom to flush out some of the radioactivity, I laid on the table and glided in and out of the tube for about 25 minutes.  I was out of there immediately afterwards.  No biggie.

Thursday brought several things mashed into one appointment at the cancer center.  We are lucky to have this wonderful building that provides “one stop shopping”, so to speak.  But it also lends itself to pretty long appointments, since I take care of several things while I’m there.  So this day was my chemo teaching, but I also had my baseline bloodwork done for chemo and my shot of Zoladex (to reduce my estrogen production).

I don’t know WHAT my problem is, but when I hear the word “shot” or “injection”, I think of a simple shot to the arm.  Poke and done.  Remember my injection prior to mastectomy that turned out to be a horrible shot to the nipple?  Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that.  So for my Zoladex shot, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it would be in my stomach, but I was a little surprised when they told me they were going to use Lidocaine to numb things up first.  Turns out the Zoladex needle is pretty big, but once I was numbed up things went just fine.

Then chemo teaching started.  RIGHT before my nurse navigator came in to start the teaching, the in-house massage therapist came in and offered her services.  So I had a lovely neck and shoulder massage for the first half of the teaching.  I’m not going to go over what we talked about too much, I’m just going to tell you about it in my chemo recap next week.  Basically, we talked for about an hour and a half about the various drugs that I will be taking, the side effects, and the extra drugs that I can take to help with the side effects of the drugs. #theresapillforthat.  Seriously, though…so many pills!  My head was about to explode by the end of the appointment.  I. Was. Exhausted!  But after all that, there was one more surprise.  My chemo is starting on Monday morning, not on Wednesday like I had thought.  Although surprised, I was grateful to get a little space between my first day of chemo and Mini-Me’s big birthday celebration next weekend.

So on Thursday evening, with this long journey of fatigue and possible sickness looming, Mr. Blue Eyes and I booked a hotel and took the kids on a surprise (and quick!) trip to the coast.  It was a bit chilly, but watching my kids play in the sand while I listened to the ocean waves was just what my soul needed.

So there is my crazy week in a nutshell.  Watch out, cancer cells…chemo starts tomorrow!

Keep Reading – – >  Weekly Update #8 (March 6, 2017) {First Round of Chemo, First Neulasta}