Seems like yesterday that I completed my last chemo, and it’s already time for surgery! I figured I would give everyone an update before things get crazy this week. (I’m composing this on my phone so forgive the inevitable grammar errors).
Tomorrow morning I’m scheduled to have a Liver MRI (we are praying that my liver is still clear and we have no reason at this point to think otherwise) BUT prayers in that regard would be appreciated for SURE! 🙂
The day after tomorrow (Friday) I’ll be having a double mastectomy (for those that aren’t familiar with the terminology- that means my surgical oncologist will be removing both breasts). At the time of surgery, a plastic surgeon will place “tissue expanders” which are basically empty bags with a magnet on them. (The magnet is why I need to have the liver MRI BEFORE surgery….since an MRI machine is basically a large magnet). You can imagine the conflict on that one 😉 The magnet on the tissue expanders helps the doctors locate the “port” for expansion.
A lot of people have asked…..but I will not be having breast reconstruction at the time of surgery. (I will be having 6-7 weeks of radiation post surgery which shrinks your skin). The tissue expanders will serve as place holders and the doctor will gradually fill them with saline solution over a period of about a month or so to stretch my skin depending on how things go. Breast reconstruction surgery will not be until about 8-9 months after radiation is complete, assuming all goes well.
Admittedly, I’m a little nervous about ALL of the above. But, compared to chemo….honestly how bad can it be, right?! 🙂 However, I do feel more grateful than nervous at this point. There was a time during this process I was told that because I am “Stage IV triple negative”, I likely would not qualify for surgery…..ever. So this is a good thing! God is good folks, all of the time 🙂
One thing I’d love some prayers about is the surgery pathology results. The tumor is still present in my left breast but we do not know what the “make up” of the tumor is. We are hoping and praying that it’s a bunch of scar tissue with NO active cancer. That would be ideal! I actually don’t care what in the world is in that tumor…..as long as it isn’t cancer 🙂 I meet with my medical oncologist on January 18th to go over the surgery pathology results and discuss the next steps with my treatment. Naturally, my hope is that God’s plan does NOT include more chemotherapy for me. But, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be here. Perhaps if chemo is needed, it will be in pill form. There has been mention that I will need to continue the Zometa infusions every 3 months for the next couple of years (Zometa is a bone strengthener that has made me sick every time I’ve had it so far).
We really don’t know anything for sure at this point though. I get the impression that our next steps will depend on the surgery pathology results. If there is any active cancer left, I pray it is a minimal amount. Based on my Pet CT Scans, the “brightness” of the scans have continued to decrease over time (which is good!)….but I haven’t been able to achieve that coveted “NED” status…..YET! (NED= No Evidence of Disease). But like we’ve said all along, God is the ultimate healer AND is still in the miracle business!
I have no idea how long it takes to recover from a surgery like this after so much chemotherapy. My white blood cell count was still low on Monday, but my “nutraphil” numbers (which is what helps wound healing) were at the minimum level needed for surgery. I plan on getting more details from my doctors soon re: recovery time. I’m guessing the answer will be something to the effect of….”it depends on each individual”.
Moving on, most people that I talk to (that have not had breast cancer) are understandably a little uncomfortable about the topic re: a person’s boobs….especially men. As a result, I’ve noticed the “go to” response has been “At least you get an upgrade at the end of this, right?!” That’s a fair point….but for me, an “upgrade” isn’t on my radar right now. First, my main concern is to get rid of this stupid cancer and second, I’m wayyyy to lazy to buy new clothes! My husband was/is mildly disappointed with this news. I can’t say I blame him. Sorry Mark! 🙂
My Radiation Oncologist said that if everything goes perfectly with the surgery/healing process and there are no “surprises”, I should be able to begin radiation in about 3-4 weeks. My friend Stacie has been wonderfully open about her experience with radiation post chemo….and I’ll share more about that when the time comes. Right now her poor skin looks like she ran through an open flame……literally. But, I’ll cross that (flaming) bridge when I get there.
The video below seemed appropriate for today…..I’m READY for this surgery on Friday….and I’m READY for the next step. Bring it on.
My amazing team of family, friends, doctors, nurses….and our faithful God make me confident about what’s ahead. For those wondering, I’m tossing a coloring book in the video…..which might be less humorous for the people who haven’t been through chemo. 😉
As always, THANK YOU for the continued support, prayers, and love. I definitely feel it 🙂
⭐️Holly Hollis Stars⭐️