A few things I discovered today...
-Sunshine makes everything better!
-Singing as loud as you can in the car is a great way to start the day :)
-My patients are amazing - even while dealing with their own devastating injuries and neurological illnesses, they show me such compassion and caring. It truly felt great to be back at work today- caring for others instead of constantly thinking of myself feels so much more "normal" to me.
-My family at The Recovery Project is the best. They couldn't be more supportive right now and it is so appreciated!
-If cancer doesn't kill me, the roundabout/traffic circle at 18 1/2 and Van Dyke will! Good Lord, that thing is treacherous!
-Lastly, this is no new discovery, but our friends and family are incredible! The amount of people from all walks of our lives that are reaching out to us is nothing short of extraordinary! We continue to feel so grateful and blessed by the outpouring of support for us. We are the luckiest!
This was the wonderful view I had as I approached my front door today once I got home from work. (Not to mention a mailbox full of cards!) I am starting to get spoiled by all of this love ♥
Mike's friends from work sent this beautiful cookie bouquet - that was so thoughtful and sweet. They are wonderful friends to Mike & I. Thank you to the Dunlop family for the beautiful tulips! They are gorgeous and make me smile every time I look at them.
My dear friend and college roomie, Julie sent me the sweetest care package! It is full of wonderful goodies, pictures of the good ole' days, inside jokes, and other great treats to brighten our days. love it & love you Jules.
So far we officially know one thing for certain...we all hate waiting for these results! Waiting is just so frustrating and as much as we try to distract ourselves - it's always there, looming in the back of our heads.
The alarm went off at 5:20am and we headed to Beaumont for the MRI and lymph node ultrasound and biopsy. My yoga instructors at the Yoga Shelter would be pleased to know that I practiced my deep breathing techniques while in the MRI machine :) If you haven't had a breast MRI before, you are actually on your stomach, face down. At first, this made me feel even more claustrophobic, but it actually ended up being okay and I tried to just relax and try to sleep. Yeah right, it's so loud in there! Truth be told, when the loud noises started, I pretended I was playing video games in my head! haha! I envisioned Jeff and I playing Atari like the good ole' days. Whatever works, right?!
The lymph node ultrasound showed two enlarged lymph nodes that were extremely vascular and the radiologist debated back and forth whether she should do the biopsy or not because of fear of too much bleeding. I was like, "listen lady, I need to get these results so put some compression on there and let's get this party started. And the bruising...that's the least of my concerns!" Okay, so I am kidding and didn't really say it like that - but in so many words. They are all terrified of how much I will bleed because everything is so vascular and if you saw what my breast looks like after that biopsy...well, you would understand why.
The biopsy was pretty uncomfortable and tricky for the doctor because my lymph nodes sit very high up in my armpit and the two in question are right behind my pec muscle. They ended up taking four samples, and I will have those results within the next 2-3 days. For now - no working out, no lifting, no walking the dog, no nothin'! I actually smirked and sorta laughed when the nurse said that. When she questioned me about my reaction, I informed her I am a physical therapist and heading back to work for the next three days where I work with all neurologically impaired patients - many of which require me to physically transfer them. Needless to say, work will be pretty interesting as I navigate my way around how I am going to give the best care to my patients, while also taking care of myself.
After about 4 hours at the hospital we headed home and Mike & I spent the rest of the day trying to relax and catch up on our sleep. Wrigley is loving that his mom & dad are spending so much time at home these days and has become an even bigger cuddle bug - all 85 pounds of him!
I finally heard from Dr. B (my surgeon) about an hour ago with the CT results. Some good news, some questionable news. The CT scan did show the two enlarged lymph nodes that we already had biopsied this morning. It also showed a "suspicious" area at my T12 level of my spine. That means the twelfth and final thoracic vertebrae before the lumbar vertebrae begin. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/1116.htm
Dr. B said that it could be nothing...or it could be a metastasis. Which means the cancer has spread from my breast to my spine = bad news. So let's pray that this spot they see is nothing. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/metastatic
Dr. B said that because I already have cancer, any suspicious areas will definitely be noted and full follow up will be required. Dr. B is calling us back at some point to let me know if this means an MRI of my spine, or a biopsy. Ugh-spinal biopsy does not sound like a walk in the park but I guess I need to get used to being pretty uncomfortable.
The good news is that the rest of the CT scan looked crystal clear...so thank you all for your prayers because I am pretty sure they helped :) Oh, we also found out the exact type of cancer cell is what is referred to as "estrogen positive". This is actually a good thing because it means that it will respond well to hormone therapy. After my surgery and chemo, I will be on hormone therapy for 5 years. I don't know a ton about this but I know everyone says this is a good thing - and that's all I need to know right now. I will take any good news I can get at this point.
Thank you again for your blog messages, texts, emails, phone calls, flowers, food, thoughts, and prayers! We are seriously beyond blessed to have you all in our corner! Off to go have some yummy leftovers from our mexican dinner Saturday night with some of our very best friends, Katie & Justin. For all of you that know them, you know it was a perfect way to spend Saturday night --laughing to the point that my stomach hurt :) It was exactly what we needed. Hope everyone's week is off to a good start! "Talk" to you all soon!
Beaumont does a great job of giving you a ton of information and in a very organized binder. They put all of your info and resources into this nice canvas pink tote. As nice as it is, I immediately felt like it was a billboard saying, "Hey everyone, I have cancer!" So, as soon as I got home last Thursday, I switched everything to my cute green bag and now feel less like a patient, and a little more stylish while I go to all my appointments :) I won't publicly embarrass my mom on here about what she called this pink bag, but feel free to ask her yourself sometime if you want to make her laugh:)
Check out little baby Bella! Is she not the sweetest thing ever?! This little cutie was one of the models at the photography workshop I took today with my dear friend, Kyle. She and I had a great time learning all about photographing these little bundles of joy and it was definitely a nice distraction. Once I got home, the fam came over and we ordered pizza, watched basketball and teased each other just like any other night. Can you believe VCU is headed to the Final Four?!
Well, we are up super early tomorrow for the MRI and lymph node biopsy starting at 6:30am. Looking forward to getting that out of the way and gaining more pieces of the puzzle so we can establish our game plan on how we are gonna take this cancer down!
I cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of love and support. I seriously look forward to reading each and every message and it totally boosts my spirits! Sometimes Mike and I get a little choked up at how amazing everyone has been -- we are so grateful! Hoping to get the CT scan results tomorrow and will definitely update the blog then. Sweet dreams!
Aren't these roses gorgeous? A beautiful birthday delivery received last Monday from one of my very best friends, Brinley......hey Brin, can you send some of that Floridian warmth and sunshine our way please? We are all incredibly sick of winter!
This is my new mantra...every day is a blessing! Because although I have always tried to be a positive person, those five words have an entirely new meaning to me now. Every day that I get to look into those stunning blue eyes of Mikes, every day I get to fall asleep beside him & wake up next to him, every day that I get to hear my mom tell me she loves me, and every day that I get through (whether good, or bad), is a total and complete blessing.
Before I get into the latest update, let me say THANK YOU!!! You guys are AH-MAZING! I am so happy that I started this blog because it means the world to me to read your messages. I feel the love and support pouring through and it makes me smile so big and I love you guys so much. Mike and I are so blessed to have so many people love and care about us and it really means more to me than you will ever know. So keep it comin' :)
I want to also say that I am going to be completely truthful on this blog. It makes me feel better to get it all out there, whether it's good or bad. So buckle up kids because I think it's going to be a pretty long and bumpy ride.
So, Thursday was a long day spent at the hospital & really just involved a lot of talking and getting familiar with how this whole process is going to work. We met with my surgeon, Dr. B and she explained the initial biopsy results. Although we don't know a lot yet, I'll be honest when I say that it wasn't encouraging. She said that I have Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer - I would provide a link about this but I have made an official promise to myself that I WILL NOT be searching anything on the internet. It will only freak me out and I would rather just focus on what my doctors are telling me. Anyways, this form of cancer makes up about 10% of all breast cancers and it is more common in younger women. Dr. B said it is "very sneaky and very hard to detect". My heart sank when she said she suspects it was there the entire time when I had an ultrasound and mammogram in January 2010. That was a tough pill to swallow.
The biopsy tissue is rated on a scale of grade 1, 2 or 3 from least to most aggressive. This is different than actual staging of the cancer. My cancer has been rated a 3. This lobular form of cancer, and the fact that I am so young, tends to mean this thing is going to be aggressive. I am not going to lie - it is scary. But, we will just be aggressive right back...and I am pretty sure you all know that I have no problem being aggressive:) Apparently, this cancer doesn't realize that I am a red-headed, Irish, Aries with a fiesty and stubborn spirit and I don't back down easily!
We also discussed many things such as where I should be treated...Beaumont, Karmanos, Henry Ford, U of M...so many choices and so many opinions- it can get overwhelming. The great thing is that my surgeon at Beaumont used to work at Karmanos up until 2 years ago so she has a lot of great insight. We really like her and feel comfortable with her so we have decided to stay at Beaumont's Breast Care Center with Dr. B and then my oncologist will be Dr. F from Karmanos. We have heard from numerous people that, "he is the best!" So that is very encouraging. The bad news was that he is booked solid and couldn't get me in until April 28. ugh! Heart sank again. I don't have time to wait that long. Well, my surgeon and the man upstairs pulled some strings and Dr. F is now going to squeeze me in on April 1, which is next Friday. Dr. B and Dr. F used to both work together at Karmanos and they both respect each other very much and continue to work very well together, so we feel like they will be a great team! Other members of my team are Nurse Linda- she is awesome and my mom loves her already - which says a lot since my mom has been a nurse for over 30+ years - she is a good judge of a great nurse! Heather is the nurse practitioner I first saw that referred me to get the ultrasound - she is young like me and super sweet and helpful. They have all given me their direct phone #'s and are always willing to talk and answer questions. I feel very comfortable in their hands.
The rest of the day consisted with meeting with the genetic counselors. For those of you that don't know, the cancer history on my father's side of the family is nothing short of frightening. Out of 10 children, 6 have had cancer - and all but one has had more than one bout with it. This has always been a red flag for my doctors-even before this diagnosis. So, the genetics people wanted to go over every little detail of each family member all the way back to grand parents and their siblings. To say it was exhausting and terrifying to see it all on paper is an understatement. They took 5 vials of blood and will be completing tests to see if my breast cancer is the genetic form. This is important because not only is this information vital for my other family members, but it also impacts what my treatment might look like. If I have the genetic form (which I am guessing it is), there will be a 60% chance I will eventually get breast cancer on the left side. The likely course of treatment that I have decided upon if it's the genetic form, is a double mastectomy. Get rid of everything and get me as healthy as possible, for as long as possible! I am not worried about how I will look or if I have hair...I don't care about any of it. I just want to beat this and LIVE!
This morning I had a CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis to see if this crap has spread to any of these places. If you are going to say any prayers, please direct them to this CT scan and pray that it shows NOTHING! I am so nervous about this test and I am praying so hard that this cancer has not invaded anywhere else. I should probably get the results Monday afternoon at the earliest. Monday morning I have an MRI of both breasts to see what else is going on in there, and I also have a biopsy of my right axillary (arm pit) lymph nodes. They are pretty sure the cancer has spread there already but let's hope it has stopped there. Then next Friday, I meet with Dr. F (oncologist @ Karmanos) for the first time and at that point we will have all the test results and can start figuring out a game plan. I will definitely have surgery, and definitely have chemo. Not sure which order or when but we all think things are going to be moving pretty fast from here on out. Who knows how much time we have already lost.
I am looking forward to a fun weekend with friends and going to a photography workshop on Sunday called, "Babies, Babies, Babies" where we learn how to photograph newborns:) I am sure it will be the perfect distraction. I plan on heading back to work Tues, Wed, and Thursday and Mike is planning the same. Thank God we both have such supportive work environments that are making this as easy for us as possible.
Well, I think that covers it for now! Sorry for being so long winded here but I really just want to get it all out there so everyone has all the details. Thank you again for all of your love, support and prayers. Keep us smiling and laughing - it really does help!
A few things that made me smile today: my adorable pup who is cuddling more than ever - I swear, he knows his Momma is sick. And my tulips, they are coming up strong! love it and can't wait to get out in my garden soon!
I bought this little pillow in a cute boutique while we were just visiting Seattle. "Life is Good...Enjoy the Little Things"
Well, I am not really sure how to get this started....
I guess I should start off by saying that I am so incredibly blessed to have so many people in my life that love me so much! I have a truly AMAZING husband that is the absolute love of my life (please excuse the cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff- I can't help myself sometimes), a mother and step-father that are the best, and a brother that has put up with me for 29 years and loves me anyways. (Yep, turned the big 2-9 on Monday and then found out about the big "C word" 2 days later...happy birthday, huh?!) In addition to these wonderful people, I have the most loving aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and grandmother ever!...and my friends...let me tell you, I have the most incredible and supportive friends ever! It is because of all of you, that I know I can get through this and it is because of all of you that I wanted to put this blog together. I know that I have the most amazing group of people surrounding me physically, spiritually, and emotionally and I want to let you all know what is going on, while also realizing that I may not always have the energy to return phone calls and emails.
I hope this blog will serve as a place to share updates on how I am kicking cancer's booty, a spot where you can leave some love and encouragement, and also a safe haven for me to put my feelings down on virtual paper --the good, the bad, the ugly and the in between. I know it will be therapeutic and I am sure there will be times along this journey where I will need it!
So, let's get you up to speed.....I am going to skip some of the background info for the sake of my sanity since I am little pooped at the moment. Basically, I have been worried for some time now about lumps and pain in my right breast. I have had a tumor here before (which was benign), and had it removed a few years ago. Last January I had an ultrasound and mammogram which resulted in a diagnosis of Fibrocystic Breast Disease
So, it was good news and nothing to be alarmed about- so I was told. Over the past year, I have noticed some changes and fast forward another few months & weeks and here I am after more appointments, another ultrasound, another biopsy, more worry and waiting, and finally the diagnosis...."Meghan, it's Breast Cancer." These are the words the surgeon spoke to me earlier this morning. We don't know much yet and we are all trying our best not to get ahead of ourselves. My mom, Mike and I are meeting with the doctors tomorrow and will know more then. Until then, I am focusing on this day only....one day, one hour, one minute at a time.
I hope that this blog is short lived and I will be cancer-free in no time so I can get back to planning my future with Mike, figuring out where we want to travel to next, jogging through the neighborhood with my pup, and getting back to the busy life full of friends, family and fun that I have been blessed to live for the last 29 years!
My blog to keep you all