October 5, 2007

Yesterday was a very long, tiring day. I didn’t realize just how long and tiring until this morning, when I woke up after sleeping 12 hours and still felt as if I needed more sleep.

The first appointment was with the reconstruction surgeon, who saw the tote I was carrying and immediately bawled me out – I said “but it’s way less than 10 pounds. . .” and he said ‘doesn’t matter, make your husband carry it!” He specifically mentioned some things that I hadn’t even considered – I’m not supposed to open self-closing doors, because they have enough force behind them that I’m probably pushing more than 10# of force; reaching for something that is well under 1# and picking it up, because essentially it weighs more held away from your body than closer to your body (obviously not the technical physics explanation for this, but it gives the basic idea); and combining actions, such as pushing and reaching at the same time, when you’re overtaxing muscles because they’re having to accommodate both demands with the same muscles, which might be perfectly fine if you’re only doing one of them at a time.

But he admired his work, and said that everything was looking as it should – there’s swelling, but it’s normal for this stage of the healing process. In addition to removing the drains, I got my first dose of expansion – 50 cc’s per side (roughly a quarter of a cup, but the syringes looked like something with which you’d give a horse a vaccine). I could definitely feel the pressure as the fluid went in, and even this afternoon the chest muscles are still protesting at the stretching a bit.

The final pathology confirmed that there was no lymph node involvement, and that the two identified cancerous masses on the left were indeed cancer, but as well, it seems as if there was some cancerous component to the third mass on the left side – the original biopsy showed it as benign, but apparently some cancer cells were identified in the final examination. All were invasive ductal carcinoma, but the largest mass was 1.6 cm – I keep hearing different numbers for the different types of imaging (mammography, ultrasound, MRI – the largest lump went from being less than 1 cm to being 3.5 cm, and now back down to 1.6 cm), but I imagine that the actual physical dissection probably provides the most accurate result. Each lump was determined to be “primary”, which means that they each arose individually, rather than that the other lumps spread from one of the others.

The mass on the right was totally benign, which is definitely a relief – riddled with cancer as the sinister side was, the right side was dexterous enough to avoid it all together ;-}

Taking all the results into account (amongst the factors, the size of the largest mass, the estrogen and progesterone receptor status (positive on all masses), whether it entered the lymph system, the fact that it was multi-focal), the cancer was grade II (because of the mass size being over 1 cm, but less than 2 cm), but my overall stage is only Stage I. There is actually a Stage 0, for “in situ” types of cancer, that are contained within the duct or lobule (I think that’s the right word), a single mass that is smaller than 1 cm, and that is removed by excision and has clean margins – originally they had me pegged as a Stage II, which was because they thought the mass was larger than 2 cm, and because they didn’t know if the masses were part of the same tumor or not. So all in all, I had nearly the best possible outcome I could have had for having multiple lumps in one breast.

I have an appointment next Friday with my oncologist – the surgeon, who had already indicated that it was extremely likely that I’d have to have chemotherapy, said that the downgrade to Stage I probably didn’t change that likelihood, because of the increase in primary lumps.

In the meantime, I’m working very hard at not doing things – I even have Brian cut my food for me, unless it’s soup or something. But as soon as someone tells me I can’t do something, I absolutely *need* to do it!

Brian reminds me that at this time last Friday (6:00 p.m.), I was still in surgery. I’m very glad that I’m home this week!


1 Response to “October 5, 2007”

  1. 1 David S.
    October 10, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Hey, just a quick note to let you know I am reading these posts. Thanks for keeping us up to date. Nice to know things are going as well as could be hoped for. This is really good news! And yeah, let Brian do the lifting; that’s what us guys are for! p.s. Recommended song for your convalescence: “Slow Life” by the Super Furry Animals.

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October 2007

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