As much as I love my doctors and modern medicine, I have to truly give thanks to the big guy upstairs for this latest news. Thank you God for hearing all of our prayers and allowing these steroids to do their job so that I could avoid surgery! My prayers - and all of your prayers - have been answered and I couldn't be more grateful. Surgery has officially been cancelled!
I called Dr. M's office last week and asked if I could move up my appointment from next Monday to today because I really needed to know if I was headed to the operating room or not. I was done with my course of steroids last week and could tell that they obviously helped decrease the swelling but wasn't sure it was enough for Dr. M to think that we could cancel surgery. Well, I saw him first thing this morning at 8am and he was extremely pleased with my response to the meds. He said all along that he really didn't want to have to operate on me and it posed all sorts of potential problems to go back in and open me up. So, when he saw me today he was very happy and said that the risks of the surgery don't outweigh the benefits right now. He said that there is a 90% chance that the steroids have calmed things down enough that my body won't have any other reactions to this mesh device he implanted. On the other hand, if it flares up again and I notice more swelling, I definitely have to have the surgery. But, we will cross that bridge when (and if) we come to it. As for today, I am just rejoicing in this good news and thanking God for giving me the break that I so desperately was praying for. I know I could have handled the surgery but I was definitely praying that it wouldn't be necessary. Now I will pray that my body starts to accept this mesh tissue as it's own and that no future problems arise.
These last few weeks have been filled with many tough moments for Mike and I. Any time something like this comes up with my health it reminds us of the demon we are fighting. Not that we ever truly forget but we got back into the rhythm of our busy lives and started planning for the future and didn't let this disease dictate each and every move. All of that comes to a screeching halt when a complication arises. This latest course of events brought a lot of emotions, fear and worry back to the forefront of our minds. It reminded us yet again that the future is unknown - for all of us. It reminded us that we need to be thankful for each and every day because we don't know what is ahead around the next corner. It reminded us that although we can try to plan and set goals for the future, this disease has the potential to rear it's ugly head and interrupt our lives at any given moment - and that is a hard pill to swallow. As much as I feel like I have handled this roller coaster pretty well since March 23, 2011 - there are many moments along the way where the sadness and despair could easily take me over.
I truly thank God for Mike every single day for riding this storm out with me and for being there for me in my darkest hours. I truly don't know how he does it - how he holds it all together for me - how he watches me break down and then he ever so gently puts the pieces back together and makes me feel whole again. In my heart I know that we were put on this Earth to be together and that if I have him, I can make it through anything. Mike - I love you through the depths of my soul in a way I never even knew possible until my ability to grow old with you was threatened to be taken from me. You are the light through this darkness and it is because of you that I can see my way to brighter days.
Thank you to everyone that has kept me in their prayers. I am so, so grateful for each and every one of you and so blessed to have the amazing support system that I have.
I am off to Vegas this Thursday to celebrate my college roomie, Nikki's wedding! I am so excited to spend the weekend with my Miami ladies and now I feel like I have even more cause to celebrate. Watch out Vegas---here I come!
One of my very best friends (thank you, Meg!) encouraged me to sign up for these daily inspirational and uplifting emails back when I was first diagnosed. Some days they are about relationship drama or working out issues with friends, or something that doesn't necessarily apply to me. But, more often than not, I feel like the messages couldn't be more fitting and this one in particular really resonated with me this weekend. I think it is something we could all strive to be better at. I know I will refer to it often as I continue to ride out this roller coaster....
Well, things haven't really turned out as I had hoped since my last post. I am far too exhausted, physically and even more emotionally, to go into every detail - but let's put it this way - last Thursday was one of the worst days I have had since the initial days of my diagnosis. My ultrasound was completed but then when it came to having the needle aspiration, literally, all hell broke loose. The few hours spent at the hospital ended up being in a small exam room accompanied by my mom, 3 physicians, a radiology tech, and my plastic surgeon on the phone (who thankfully stepped out of surgery to call me and acknowledge my frustrations, and try to reassure me that he will take care of me and figure this out).
What set this entire drama in motion was when the tech informed me they wouldn't be doing the aspiration because there wasn't enough fluid - before the radiologist even looked at the report!!! I simply lost it...I felt blown off...I felt that I wasn't being taken seriously....I felt like I wasn't able to voice my frustrations...I felt angry, upset, furious...I felt like, once again, the exact department that told me nearly 3 years ago I was fine and had nothing to worry about after my initial ultrasound and mammogram, was once again failing me. I could have screamed....and nearly did. I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn't help but sob.
If I hear the words, "the chances are rare that this is anything serious" or anything to that affect every again, I will absolutely lose my mind. I am so sick of those types of words. Those words and that mentality from the medical community is how I even got in the stage IV position. I feel like the medical community failed me and that if they took my concerns seriously and didn't blow me off because of my age, I could have been diagnosed at a much earlier stage. I blame them for my stage IV status and I blame them for what will likely be my shortened life expectancy. So, to make a long story shorter - upon feeling those same emotions once again, I unravelled and voiced my extreme frustrations through an uncontrollable stream of tears. I ended up literally storming out of that room after we talked in circles and realized there was nothing else they would be doing for me that day.....needless to say, I didn't make it back to work as expected.
So, today (well, actually yesterday - now that it is 1am) it was back to Dr. M, my plastic surgeon, to figure out where to go from here. The ultrasound showed some fluid accumulation but not nearly enough to account for how swollen I have become. The swelling is actually in the tissues and cannot be aspirated. Dr. M is fairly confident that my body is having a reaction to the collagen mesh piece that he had to insert during the surgery in May to help support the left implant. The most likely cause of the swelling is an irritation or sort of rejection of this mesh piece, rather than my body recognizing it as it's own and absorbing it into my own tissue as intended. There is still the chance that the swelling could also be an infection, a rare lymphoma or some sort of lymphedema that has developed in the mastectomy pocket.
After discussing the various options, and after more tears of frustration, this is the plan....I will complete a course of steriods to see if that takes care of the swelling. I started the steroids today and will continue taking them for one week. Bring on the jitters, uncontrollable snacking, lack of sleep and all the other fun that comes with 'roids. ;) I will see Dr. M on 9/24 to see what the result of the steroids is. If the swelling persists, surgery is scheduled for October 4th. This will be an outpatient surgery to remove the collagen mesh tissue and to take out the existing implant and replace it with a new one. A sample of my tissue will also be taken at that time and sent to the lab to determine if everything is A-OK or if there is any sign of lymphoma.
I am obviously hoping that the steroids help, but I feel like surgery is a very real possibility this time. I once again broke down at my appointment today just out of pure frustration. I am just tired. I am tired of the constant issues and although I am aware that things could always be much worse, I just really wanted a break for awhile. I am grateful that these issues aren't directly cancer related and that I am still stable as far as my disease is concerned. Speaking of which - I will head to Karmanos tomorrow morning for my 8 week follow up. My oncologist, Dr. F is on vacation so I will just see Lynette (his nurse practitioner) this time and have to fill her in on all the latest and greatest drama.
I will obviously keep everyone updated and let you know what the plan is after my appointment with Dr. M on the 24th. Please keep me (and especially Mike and my mom) in your prayers. We are all just feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted - not only with this current issue but there are always other things going on too and it all piles up sometimes. I pray that whether I just need medication or if it has to be surgery, that it will be effective to deal with this problem and that there won't be any other complications or side effects.
Thank you for your love and support.
ps. We had an amazing weekend up north at Torch Lake with dear friends and I am so grateful we had that chance to get away and decompress. It was much needed!
Our precious Goddaughter, Alice....
Sweet Miss Emma enjoying the gorgeous Torch Lake summer day!
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