The very not-fun day

Yesterday was a very not-fun day. From arrival at the Breast Center at about 8:45 am to departure at almost 9 pm, it was a very long “unpleasant” (doctor-speak for shitty) day. But I’m alive to tell about it and, surprisingly, feeling infinitely better today. Very little pain, mostly just fatigue. Best of all, the surgeon said, based on the preliminary path report while I was still on the table, that she got clean margins on the mass she removed, and the sentinel nodes (to her) looked … Not done yet >>

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The team in Boulder

After meeting with the doctors at the CU Breast Center in Aurora last Tuesday, the next stop was a meeting with the medical oncologist in Boulder on Friday. He, along with the first surgeon I talked with, were among the doctors at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center’s tumor board meeting on Tuesday (at the same time I was down at CU).

You’ll recall the first surgeon proposed chemo before a lumpectomy, with the idea of shrinking the tumor prior to its removal. The oncologist explained that this would mean starting with a baseline PET scan. After chemo/hormonal treatment began, the efficacy of the drugs and changes in the tumor would be tracked with successive PET scans. If it appeared a particular drug wasn’t working, this would provide an opportunity to change to a different drug or combination of drugs. I could see the advantage … Wait, there’s more >>

The team in Aurora

Last Tuesday, the 5th, my son picked me up and we headed for my appointment down at the CU medical center — known as the Diane O’Connor Thompson Breast Center at the University of Colorado Cancer Center in the Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion (AOP) on the UC Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Not sure what its call name is among employees. Maybe just the Breast Center.

Pulled up to the front door on a rainy morning and happily availed ourselves of the free valet parking. I was impressed before I even got into the building. Followed the instructions to take Elevator C to the 2nd (or was it 3rd) floor and there we were, fifteen minutes early. I was greeted immediately and the paperwork started — insurance info first, naturally. All of five minutes. And just as I picked up the clipboard with the questionnaire, we were called back to an examining room. What? No waiting? … Continue reading >>

They’re called navigators; I call them angels

The feeling of being in control of my life comes and goes these days. Tough for someone used to having full control of every minute in her day. Things are settling down a bit now and it’s hard to remember, much less describe, the two days that followed my MRI on Weds., April 29. Two days before the weekend, two days in which to decide what to do next, who to call to get which records sent to whom, two days in which to make appointments (with five different doctors in two different locations almost 50 miles apart). And while no one was saying it was an urgent situation, nobody wanted to waste time. The first doctor had said whatever decisions were made, treatment should begin within four to six weeks. And several weeks had already passed. But hey, no pressure …  There’s more >>

The MRI and I

As previously noted, after seeing the (first) surgeon on April 27, my next stop was with the MRI folks on Weds., April 29. With mammograms useless and ultrasounds apparently just so-so, MRI was the obvious next step.

I’d heard enough about the procedure over the years that I was not particularly concerned about it. I can be pretty calm about procedures that don’t hurt. I’m not claustrophobic, and although the machine is loud, they provide ear plugs. I didn’t think it was any louder than … Than what? Read on >>

In came the doctor, in came the nurse, in came the lady with …

Isn’t it odd that after more than 60 years of never hearing or thinking about it, a child’s jump rope rhyme should suddenly pop into my head. But I suppose these days are destined to be full of surprises and my mind doing odd things (like that’s never happened before).

So there I was, finally, in the surgeon’s office on April 27. After seeing several doctors and enduring all sorts of tests in the preceding two or three weeks, I was finally going to see the results of it all, get everything explained, and hear a proposed treatment regimen.

What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time … More of my bad news day >>

It started six months ago

Unsure about what I might find and not needing any downers about this breast cancer thing, I’ve deliberately avoided many open forums on the subject. Consequently I don’t know if a lot of women write about how they came to discover their cancer, but this is what led to my diagnosis. Every case is different, of course.

October 2014 — It started last October, when I first felt some odd little twinges in my left breast. No big deal, I thought. I’m 72. New aches and pains are to be expected. Sometimes they were sharp enough to make me wince, but I still didn’t think enough of it to mention it to my doctor Continue reading

A is for anxiety, C is for cancer

(This post originally appeared on PiedType.com)

Anxiety by LIthiumFX

It’s now the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. Not to mention most of the time in between.

Cancer. You see, a phone call Thursday confirmed that last Wednesday’s biopsy was positive for grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer. And that’s all I know until I talk to the surgeon at 4 pm tomorrow. Don’t yet know how serious it is, how big, if it’s spread, etc.

But by the time that brief phone call ended, my head was pounding, I could hardly breathe, and I felt like every cell in my body was about to explode. I had almost convinced myself that the biopsy really was just a precaution, and that there was only about a 20% chance they’d find anything. Worse, I had thought doctors only delivered good news on the phone. I was wrong on both counts. Continue reading