Well, it’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t updated my blog since September…ummmmm….well…..I’m blaming it on chemo brain!! :o)
A lot has gone on in the last few months, so I’ll try to sum it all up without writing a complete novel in one post.
I had an AMAZING time on the retreat! I met so many truly amazing women and it was a very uplifting experience that I didn’t even realize I needed. My friends and family are wonderful and I absolutely can’t complain one bit, however there’s something to be said about being surrounded by people who actually understand what you’re going thru. I explained it to my mom by saying, Imagine when you were pregnant that you were the only person you knew who had ever done it. You could tell people what it felt like and the emotions, weird pains, etc. and they could do their best to understand, but no one would truly “get it”. I did the same type of scenario with my husband – only I used his military experience. I told him to think about the difference between talking about the war with a civilian vs. another veteran…big difference. Well that’s what it’s like for me. I have all these amazing people around me who help me and listen to me and basically do whatever it is that I need, but I didn’t realize how much different it was to be around people who “got it”. And the weird part is – OK don’t think I’m kooky when I say this – but I actually went thru about 3 or 4 days of depression when I got back. It was like I was on this high or something while I was gone, and then when I got back to reality it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t even know how much I needed it or what “it” really was until I got back and didn’t have the support of my “Boobie Sisters”. I did a lot of soul searching and a lot of much-needed crying, and it was amazing how much better I felt! Thru this whole cancer fiasco, I don’t think I’ve ever truly processed everything – I’ve been concentrating more on surviving – and the retreat allowed me to do that along with so much more! Here’s a link to view my pictures from the weekend: https://picasaweb.google.com/artangel74/WomenRockForTheCureRetreat
My tissue expanders (i.e. brick boobies) are doing really well. I will end up being a little smaller than what I wanted, but my right side was really tight from all the radiation and they just didn’t want to risk any tearing or botched surgeries just to get a little bit bigger implant in. I had 6 fills and I’ve got 350 cc’s of saline in them now. I’ll sit for about another month (more on this later) and then they will replace the tissue expanders with my permanent silicone implants. I’m scheduled to have that surgery on the 27th of December, and based on how well Sadie did with her final surgery, I should only need a few weeks to recover. Once that is done, I’ll have a few more minor surgeries to get my headlights and then I should be done with the girls!
So when I said I had to sit for another month – well that’s just been more drama…I swear I have more than a 16 year old girl! The last month or so, my hip has been hurting, and it’s been progressively getting worse. My oncologist is out of the country for about a month, so I scheduled an appointment with the doctor who is taking care of her patients while she’s out. I can’t remember his name, but I lovingly refer to him as “Dr. I Don’t Know” b/c I swear those are his three favorite words! Anyway, they did an x-ray on my hip and it showed a spot pretty much in the same area as the tumor that they just did radiation on. So since Dr. I Don’t Know didn’t know what it was (I’m tellin’ ya…he seriously said it like 300 times…well, I just don’t know…ya know, I’m not really sure…huh, I don’t really know…yeah, you get the point) he ordered a CT scan. He did that b/c the most recent scan he had to compare it to was a CT scan from right before they started radiation and he wanted to compare apples to apples, so to speak. Anyway, the CT scan did in fact show a tumor in the same spot and it was bigger than the one from a few months ago. Well this was really confusing to me b/c when they originally found the tumor, Dr. Burt had me go in and get a biopsy done before they did radiation b/c she wanted to know if it was ER/PR positive (grows b/c of estrogen). The biopsy showed that it WAS in fact ER positive, which is why I had the emergency hysterectomy b/c that’s how we knew the estrogen inhibitor wasn’t working. Are you confused yet?! Basically, the original tumor in my hip was there b/c I had estrogen, so they took out all my estrogen and radiated the little sucker so in theory, it should be gone b/c I now have NO estrogen in my body (no more girl parts AND I take medicine to make sure any traces are gone as well). So the question now becomes – is it a NEW tumor that maybe isn’t related to estrogen or is it the old one that never went away? And if it’s the old one that never went away (kind of suspicious b/c it’s literally in the exact same spot) what in the H – E – YOU – KNOW – WHAT is making it grow?! Well this is exactly what I asked Dr. I Don’t Know and guess what he said…no really, guess…yep…I don’t know. Sigh. So this is the point where I officially became DONE with Dr. I Don’t Know and I went to visit an orthopedic oncology surgeon, Dr. Rosenthal.
Dr. Rosenthal is kinda old, but he’s cool. He gets my twisted sense of humor, so we get along great! He walks in the office and an entourage of what looked like 12-year old doctors followed him. I asked if I won the doctor lottery or if I was really that jacked up that I needed 5 doctors and he just kinda laughed and introduced them. I don’t remember their names; I just called them the Doogie Howser Club. Anyway, he had read my scans and my charts prior to our meeting and so he spent the next 20ish minutes going over all my options. I won’t bore you with all the options (most of them sucked anyway); I’ll just tell you what we’re doing. I go in next week on the 7th of December (this is why they had to reschedule my last boob surgery to the 27th) and I’ll have a partial hip replacement. The tumor is on the side of my acetabulum (the ‘cup’ part of your hip) which is good news b/c if it was in the center it would be in the ‘weight bearing’ area and they would probably have to do a full hip replacement. So what he’s going to do is make an incision thru my butt-cheek and he’ll go in and cut my bone open, take out the tumor, fill the bone with a synthetic bone material and then stitch me up. I asked him if he could pick a different place to cut me open b/c I’ve got a really cute butt and when you’ve got boy-hair and bricks for boobs, a cute butt is really something you’d like to hold onto. He didn’t even break stride and he responded with, “you’ll still have a cute butt; it’ll just have a cute little scar to go with it”. See – this is why Dr. R and I get along great! The Doogie Howser Club kind of had horrified looks on their faces though. I don’t think they knew exactly how to take me. And now that I think of it…I never did figure out why exactly they were there. Huh, weird.
So obviously the bootie-scar is kind of a bummer, and I’ll have to use an old-lady walker for about 2 – 3 weeks (I can’t use crutches b/c of all the lymph nodes they took out) but those are really the only “con’s” to this option that we went with. One of the big “pro’s” is that they will be able to get the tumor completely out. When cancer cells attack the bone they ‘eat it’ from the inside out – kind of like termites in wood – and it turns the bone tumor into a jelly-like substance so all he has to do is just scoop all that stuff out. Another pro is that he can then send the cancer-jelly to pathology and they can hopefully tell me some details about this tumor – why it’s growing, if it’s a new one, etc. The final “pro”, and this one is by far my favorite, is that my sister Kelsey is going to come to the hospital and bedazzle my walker! SAAAWWWWEEEETTTT! I’m gonna be rockin’ those halls during physical therapy…those blue-hairs are going to be SO jealous of my bling.
So, I guess that’s all for now. I know I say this every time, but I really will try to not wait 3 months before I write again! I’ll try to update on my recovery, however I don’t think ‘sitting’ is going to be a very comfortable position for awhile (and the whole stairs thing probably won’t be happening for awhile either), so unless someone wants to buy me an iPad or something I can type on in bed, it’ll probably be a few weeks at least before I venture downstairs to the computer.
Keep your eyes open for pictures of my rockin’ walker…I’m telling you…it’s gonna be amazing. :o)