Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

mastectomy

Monday and Tuesday AM it looked like we were going to glide into an easy recovery….

That may be why Tuesday was crash day for me.  Late Monday night I hit a  wall of stress after we did her first shower.  Surgery drains, newly uncovered stiches, plastic to keep things dry etc.  Once we finished the stress of not “breaking” Tina hit me and then some. Pretty sure I am releasing stress I felt very little as I managed the last few days.

I slept hard.. and then Tuesday morning was mentally exhausted.

Tuesday AM Tina was up and doing chores.. I told her not to….

Then something got pulled there was sudden pain and the last two days have been tougher.. Periodic pain spasms etc.  I seem to remember my triple wisdom teeth extraction was like this… it got better for 4 days then I had 1-2 days where it was really bad.

She is healing and we are in communication with the DRs… but right now pain management seems to be #1.   Her surgeon thinks it may be that she didn’t keep ahead of the pain..  from what I see.. pain hits. creates stress .. creates more pain…  Lesson of the day.. when you get a body part cut off.. its ok to take pain meds for a few days and not worry that you don’t really need them..

Thursday AM.. I am getting a bit better sleep but needing to use ZZZZQuil tabs to get down the last three nights..

I totally checked out from work…the last two days (which I hate… but I was mentally useless for intelligent work)  watching email for emergencies etc. but I thought we were on track for an easy recovery week one…. not so much..

Michaela is sleeping on the couch to be close to mom.. and has been doing a good job letting me know if Tina needs something.. What good kid.. but I worry she is stressed and not willing to talk about it.

At some point we might get her some time with a consoler ….just to make sure.

Tomorrow we see Dr Javid who has been great this week.. even dealing with a problem where her resident didn’t return 3 calls in a row.. (she dealt with that pretty fast and it never happened again…)

And for those keeping score at home and who have bets pending with Vegas bookies… pathology game back…

  • Tumor… 12 Centimeters (5 inches!) Sorry for those who bet on a more normal size…
  • Single Mass… Good…
  • Clean Edges Good…
  • No skin or chest wall involvement.. good..
  • 2 lymph nodes of the 24 removed affected good given the size…

That makes the final stage  3A which is where we were last week….   Sorry I have checked with Vegas and no one had all it all right.. so no jackpot winners this week..

Joking aside it was big hummer..that came from no where and was undetectable 10 months earlier by a DR doing a breast exam, and was even hard for them to spot on imaging when they were looking for it… Get your tests.. do your monthly exams etc.and get weird stuff looked at right away people!!!

That said it appears to be a lazy SOB of a cancer which is good..content to sit in one boob and get fat vs going out to explore.. so in general pretty good news..  Given SCCA’s stats on all stage 3 cancers.. I think we still have a very positive prognosis…

Ok..

Our daughter has been sick this week.. Cold and upset stomach.  So I took over doing stuff, when the “Mama!” call came.  Switched to paper towels in the bathroom.  Trying to be careful to make sure Tina doesn’t get sick.  Being sick would delay her surgery and we are so ready to move on and get that thing out of her.

We had our first visit to UW Surgical Center.  What a nice building.  Parking costs and system not as good as the SCCA, but better than Virgina Mason.  (You knew a parking update was coming…)

We met with the reconstruction surgeon.  Interesting twist…  Tina is back to the type of mastectomy that Virgina Mason recommended.

After seeing Tina and her assessing her size and taking into consideration that she is scheduled for radiation, he has recommended not doing the skin sparing mastectomy.

Pros:

  • Less pain ongoing from the expander and fewer Dr visits to get the expander cared for
  • Fewer complications
  • easier surgery and faster recovery this week
  • And will use skin from her “tummy tuck” that has not been compromised by radiation
  • Easier to model and match with the other side for her
  • He was specific that the “hang” of the breast that is seen standard necklines will be more natural

Cons:

  • Larger scars where the skin sparing would take everything though the removed nipple, this one will have long scars.. but they fade and will not be were most clothing (especially Tina’s style will how it.  Out side of DRs there are only two of us that will ever see them.. I am fine and I like that her initial surgery will be easier to recover from.

We learned two new things. 

  1. After all this is over.. some times the feeling in the rebuilt breast can return.  This is different for everyone.. but interesting to note.
  2. Also if after her mastectomy if signs of arm swelling (Lymphedema) are detected, as part of the belly flesh transplant they can take a few lymphnodes too and improve the proper lymph draining from the arm. Cool

This may have been in Virgina Mason team’s initial thinking.. but it was not communicated as a recommendation / choice. we felt very much steared and not really hearing about options.. AND since we had read about them.. I think this added to some uncertanty that we were getting all our options.   It might be that we know more now it or that there was just not as good of communication.  In general communication and a feeling of involvement is where I think the SCCA team and affiliates seem to excel.  Nipple sparing has never been an option for Tina… but we did touch on it this week in the discussion.  Skin sparing and nipple sparing was never mentioned at VM so we could never really understand why it wasn’t being considered.

On the lighter side

Tina got an unexpect bonus at work.. So we we replaced the long dead and ratty family room sofa and rock hard futon with the first furniture we ever bought together outside of a new bed.  Leather Sofa and Recliner all with power reclining.. mmmmmmm

This will be good for Tina as sleeping partly elevated is where she will want to be for the first few days.. so consider it a medical expense..

Also visiting family will find a night in the reclined ends of the sofa or the chair much nicer then what we had before.

Life keeps moving forward.. though one night as I went to sleep.. I did realize this is one of the most permanent things ever in our life, expecially in hers.

Marriage, kids, jobs, mortgages are commitments and it is possible to walk away from them.. and too often we see that… even when kids are involved.  But this is not commitment.. it is enforced change.. We have had discussions about it and dealt straight on with the fears.  I am not going anywhere.. but I also know that the coming year is going to be tough and build or test some character. Tina needs to be ok with what she is feeling as this happens and I need to make space for her to do that.  Love.. it’s about times like this..  not just the lovely hormone frenzy that cements it all at the start and makes it fun along the way.