Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why Don’t You Just Fry Already?

Nobody can say that the last week or so hasn’t been a bit stressful. On Monday, I found out that they were going to start chemo soon and that I do not need to have a bilateral mastectomy. This was welcome and fantastic news. On Wednesday, I met with the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon. This all seemed kind of pointless, more about me checking in with them and telling them what I knew about my treatment plans so far. My conversation with the breast surgeon was short and pleasant. He checked in on me and made a suggestion to have a clip or mettle insert placed in Sven. This way if the Sven shrinks or disappears during chemotherapy, we will know where he was. The conversation ended with a smile and a handshake. I then quickly skipped over to the radiology department and got a quick chest X-ray. Mom and I had a lovely lunch after that and then it was time to meet with the plastic surgeon.

The plastic surgeon was a nice woman, but somehow she rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was the constant comments about how unfortunate it is that my breasts are so small. I believe her exact words were, “If you had nice, perky DD’s this wouldn’t be so hard.” Aside from that, and the fact that she seemed to spend more time talking to my mother rather than me about my condition, she was very nice. She seemed enthusiastic about her job and it was very reassuring to know that she had worked on so many reconstruction jobs and to see pictures of some of her work. I feel that if I end up needing her services I will be in good hands.

On Thursday, I went in to meet with my oncologist. My parents and I were hoping that I would begin chemotherapy on this day, but alas, this was not to be. The oncologist only wanted to talk to me and make sure that I was physically capable of having chemotherapy. My blood work had already come back in grand shape so we know that there’s no cancer there. Another good thing to note is that my liver is in great shape (a surprise after successfully making it through my last week of college). During this process I happened to mention that Sven had grown over the holidays. The Oncologist looked concerned. Upon seeing the look on her face my immediate thought was, “Oh, shit.” She had me get up on the examining table. She proceeded to re-measure Sven with a measuring tape. Sven now sticks out of my chest and makes my right breast look noticeably larger than my left one (much to my dismay). According to her measurements, my darling tumor had now tripled in size. Also, one of my lymph nodes is now swollen, meaning that my cancer has definitely started to spread. Enter in Minerva, the cancerous lymph node. Cue the need for a CT scan and bone scan to see if my cancer has spread anywhere else in my body. My mom begins getting weepy on one side of the room while on the other side of the door I can hear my doctor arguing with the insurance company over the phone. Nobody likes to hear the phrase, “I’m just trying to help this poor girl” and know that you’re the poor girl that the person’s talking about. After some awesome haggling on the oncologists’ part we finally get the insurance company to approve the procedures. I am then informed that I will no longer be doing “chemo light” (Yes, they actually used this phrase), but instead take much stronger chemo drugs that my doctor is certain will, “shrink that right up.”

Honestly, I have never felt more like a princess than I did at the radiologists that day. They were wonderful. They escorted my mother and me into a private waiting room. I was offered warm blankets and everyone was very kind and helpful. I was taken into another room where they put in an IV port into my arm, injected me with saline and some radioactive stuff and sent me back to the waiting room. I then enjoyed the witty banter of my friends while chugging three large Styrofoam cups of gross, yellow, pasty Kool-Aid. After about an hour they took me to get my CT scan. They had me lie down while they attached a solution to the port in my arm. The CT scan was actually pretty cool except that the solution they put in my arm burned like hell. The nurse explained to me that this was because I had such tiny veins (If one more person tells me I’m tiny or that something in my body is tiny….). I was returned to the waiting room and given a fresh blanket. An hour later, I had my bone scan. The bone scan was easy. I just had to lie there while this flat block glided slowly over my body. Mom and I then packed up and headed back to our hotel.

Friday was a pretty easy day. We found out that my bone and CT scan were both normal Sven had only doubled in size and that the cancer had only spread to Minerva so far. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and took a long, hot bath. Later, Mom and I headed back to the clinic so that I could have an echocardiogram. This has been my favorite test so far. The nurse was really nice and had also had cancer (When she was 18). She was pretty down to earth and one of the few people I have talked to that had cancer at a young age. That’s one thing that has really bothered me about everything so far. All of the information I have been given so far is obviously geared towards older women. Every time I talk to a doctor they start out with, “We usually do _______, but your young so…” It was such a relief to talk to someone who really seemed to get it. She was also awesome about explaining everything that she was doing while she performed the procedure. I got to see everything on a screen while she was working (Heart valves are so cool!). The results of this test also came back normal. Overall, I’m pretty damn healthy. Except for, you know, that whole cancer thing…

My oncologist at the clinic scheduled me to meet with a new oncologist with an office that is located in my hometown so I wouldn’t have to drive so much. Mom and I met with him today. Unfortunately, chemo again eludes me. I just want Sven and Minerva to shrink and/or die!!! However, it was good to meet with my new doctor and get the game plan. He also discussed some of the common symptoms of chemotherapy and what he was going to do to help make everything go as smooth as possible. Although he’s not grandfatherly, funny, or super sweet like my other doctors, he is very down to earth and “let’s get to business.” It was nice to finally meet someone to give me a straightforward answer as to what is going to happen to me. He looked me straight in the eyes when I asked him to give me his honest opinion about needing a mastectomy. Although I don’t need a bilateral mastectomy, no one has been able to answer my questions about a partial mastectomy. Everyone avoids making eye contact a gives me vague wordy responses full of maybes and we’ll sees. Needless to say this has been very annoying. However, this oncologist looked at me directly and said that I will most likely need a mastectomy. We are doing the adjuvant care to see how I respond to chemo and if Sven shrinks a great amount. If Sven shrinks a lot then I will have a lumpectomy. However, if Sven stays relatively big in comparison to my breast, I will have a mastectomy. He says that my breast is simply too small and my tumor too large for him to be too hopeful. Although, on occasion, the Svens of the world do shrink down to nothing and so we are going to go ahead and put a clip in. At the same time they are putting the clip put in they are going to put a chemo port put into my chest. Yet again, my tiny self and my tiny veins are a bit of an inconvenience (I have never really considered myself tiny until after this experience. Short maybe, but not tiny.). The port allows them to administer chemo treatments and draw blood without repeatedly stabbing me. Also, because my veins are small and tend to roll this will ensure that they don’t accidently rip/burst any veins. So, two minor surgical procedures to come this week and Chemo finally starts next week. It’s been a long week, but I imagine it will be one of several to follow. This is not so bad. I’m looking forward to moving along with treatment and even more excited for Sven and Minerva to get hit, and I mean hit, hard. I have never been more excited to have poison pumped into veins in my life.

1 comment:

  1. You are a fantastic young lady . I am in awwww of how mature and the way you are handling all off thing. You are my hero