Where to start -- with the news you've all been waiting for or a description of my surgical journey that brought me the news? Perhaps a bare-bones account of where I've been and how I'm doing.
Surgery was just a little over two weeks ago, and it has definitely been a couple of weeks of ups and downs since then. I do not like being helpless. I do not do well when relying on others for what I need. I thought I had gotten a lot better about this since I got cancer, and maybe I have, but that doesn't mean that I'd reached a level of acceptance when it came to the basics, such as being able to dress myself.
I stayed in the hospital one night. I did really well both before and after surgery. The meds helped I'm sure, but I also reached a level of accepting what was to be that I never thought possible when it came to me with medical stuff.
I'm squeamish. I don't like the ick factor, and I especially don't like it when it relates to my own person.
But I wasn't nervous about surgery at all, and I think that helped tremendously. The hospital TV programming sucked. Since we don't have a television and we only watch shows on demand, I was sort of looking forward to the mindlessness of turning on the boob tube and letting it suck me in. But the channels were very limited, so I mostly watched the clock (conveniently located on the wall directly opposite me) and thinking. Not a bad way to pass the time, but not what I had expected.
I also didn't expect to have a roommate. Don't get me wrong, she was decent enough if a little strange. But I had sort of been thinking I'd have a private room, since my father-in-law had surgery at Vandy a few years ago and he had a room all to himself afterward. But life goes on and it's not like I was actually using the bathroom or anything since I had a catheter, so it all worked out in the end.
Sean has taken awesome care of me, fixing foods that I like and that I could easily eat by myself. Helping me in the shower. Walking me from the bed to the couch and back to the bed again. Sleeping on the couch so he wouldn't disturb me. He's a great guy.
I've been going on walks most days since that first week passed. Our condo is located in a building that is directly in front of a set of three other condo buildings that are laid out around a circular parking lot with a big grassy patch in the middle for all the pet owners. Sean and I have been walking around that, usually making four or five circuits. The weather has cooperated most days, and when it hasn't, he's driven me to the local mall.
My surgeon had someone call me last week to give me the pathology results after they did their slice and dice routine and looked at my cells under the microscope. She actually had a couple of people call, once as soon as the report came in, and a second time after they all sat around and had their pathology conference. From what I understand, that's a weekly thing for her and her staff.
I got the same news both times, and it was fairly good news. I had a 1.1cm foci in my right breast and a 2mm foci in one of the 35 lymph nodes they pulled out. That means that my cancer had shrunk to a third of its original size due to treatment.
Now, here's where things get weird. I saw my oncologist on Friday. She told me that the cancer was completely gone from my right breast and that there was only a 2mm foci in the lymph node that had previously been mentioned to me. My husband and I left confused. I thought maybe she'd skimmed the report and misread something because part of the report also stated that I had no cancer in my left breast (as was expected).
Then I met with my surgeon again yesterday afternoon for my post-operative follow up exam. Everything is looking good, by the way, but she then told me that there was no cancer in my right breast. I mentioned what I'd been told on the phone and she looked over the report again and remembered that the way the report had been written was a bit hinky. She reiterated that the pathology report declared that there had been a 1.1cm foci in the right breast and a 2mm foci in the one lymph node.
I was satisfied with her explanation and with her assertion that the report would be amended and I'd get a copy of it afterward. She took the time to type up notes and a message to the pathologist right then so that she could be sure the problem would be addressed.
My surgeon's office called me again this morning. The report stating that I HAD NO CANCER IN MY RIGHT BREAST at the time of surgery IS CORRECT. The mention of the 1.1cm tumor was referring to the previous mammogram and ultrasound reports that I had done back in December. The pathologist just didn't make that clear when he wrote up his own report.
I still have to go through physical therapy and radiation, I still have to take Herceptin through September, and I still had that 2mm foci in that one lymph node, but the cancer was totally responsive to chemo and Herceptin.
The news doesn't get much better than that, folks, because it means that if any cancer cells had escaped to other locations anywhere in the body, they aren't likely to be able to survive the treatment course that I'm still following.
And for those of you who don't get it, the title is in reference to the band Queen. Nothing like a bit of feel-good music to help you celebrate. I'm floating around in ecstasy, so don't stop me now.