On Monday my Mum, Polly & I flew down to Brisbane to stay with my Aunty Marie who loves doating on her loved ones. We’ll be very comfortable here for the next couple of weeks, which makes me happy. Aunty Marie cooked us scones when we first arrived, a yummy lamb salad last night and lasange tonight. Eating yummy food has always made me feel better not just physically but also emotionally. Derek found out early on that the quickest way to my heart was through my stomach.
Derek and Rosie are on a road trip driving down to Brisbane. Hopefully they make it here calm and serene, although it’s more likely Derek will be slightly stressed and Rosie will be hyper active. I won’t be here when they arrive as I have plans with some radioactive material and another scanning machine. I’ve had to cancel my afternoon of pampering so I can once again become radioactive woman. I am going to the shops for some retail therapy in the morning though. More about radioactive woman shortly.
So today was spent at the Wesley Hospital again. I saw the breast surgeon (I’m going to call her K) this morning and she confirmed that the lymph node under my arm is cancerous as well and there are a few other suspicious looking nodes under the arm (this is from the ultrasound and FNA done on Friday). Because of this she is going to remove all of the lymph nodes under the arm, levels 1, 2 & 3. Before having the FNA done she said she would most likely just need to remove levels 1 & 2 and leave level 3 in there. There is a higher risk of lymphodemia when removing all of them but there’s also a higher risk of the cancer returning if they’re left in there. Once again it’s a no brainer, take the little suckers out.
K also referred me onto a number of specialists to add to my team of medical professionals. A medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and a physiotherapist who specialises in lymphodemia and cancer treatment. I’m going to try to see each of them before I head home in a couple of weeks. I’ll see the medical oncologist once my pathology results are in (hopefully by next Tuesday). It’s likely I’ll have to come back down for the first chemo treatment with her but then I’m hoping most(or the rest) of the treatments can take place in Rocky. Once again, I’d prefer to see someone more qualified in my specific problem, rather than settling for someone just because they’re close to home. There are no oncologists located in Rocky, just visiting ones. The medical oncologist I’ll see down here is doing a clinical trial for patients with HER2 positive tumours and my breast surgeon is sending all her HER2 positive patients to this oncologist. It will be good to find out more about it anyway once resutls are in. I also found out tonight that she was my Aunty Lyn’s oncologist and Aunty Marie tells me that I’ll love her.
K has spoken to the radiation oncologist in relation to my results so far and also about reconstruction at the time of mastectomy. The radiation oncologist said it’s definitely much harder to do radiation on anything but a flat chest. I assured her that I’m happy with my decision to wait until after treatment for the reconstruction. K thought it was a good idea to have a chat to her while I’m down here anyway to find out what I can expect. I’ll wait until after results are in.
K explained what I can expect before during and after surgery. I have to fast from midnight Wednesday until around 10am (hopefully surgery isn’t much later than this, I’m second on her list for the day). This is going to be extremely difficult for me. I won’t even be able to drink water! I can’t believe I’m sitting here complaining about not being able to eat or drink water with what I’m going through. Talk about priorities! Surgery should last a couple of hours and pain shouldn’t be too bad upon waking. It’s more likely I’ll feel numb around the surgery area, including the armpit (which could be permanent). I’ll have two drains in. This means a couple of bags with tubes under my arms to drain off fluid from the surgery site. Yukky. I am not looking forward to this bit. I’ll be in hospital for only two days. The first drain will come out whilst in hospital, I’ll come back to Aunty Marie’s with the second one still in for 7-10 days. It’ll be nice to be here rather than in hospital but I am concerned about what Rosie will make of the drain. She not so gentle with me a lot of the time… She’ll have lots of distractions so hopefully there’ll be no grabbing and pulling of drain bag and tubes. I’ve been given a lovely handmade handbag to put it all in to keep them hiddenn. The breast care nurses at the Kim Walters Choices program at the Wesley gave me a bag of goodies which includes a trendy drain bag, a jelly bean pillow to put under my arm when sitting, sleeping, reading, being for the first couple of weeks plus a temporary prosthesis which I can stuff my mastectomy bras with. They’ll also organise a free pocketed bra for me via BCNA and Berlei. Anyway, they’ve been great at Choices and I’d love to say at this point that if anyone was thinking of sending flowers, I’d love you to make a donation to the Kim Walters Choice Program in place of anything like this. Or any cancer charity for that matter. Just let me know you’ve done this and that will brigthen my day as much as flowers, if not more.
After speaking to the radiation oncologist K decided she’ll definitely be trying to get to the internal mammory lymph node which looks suspicious and sits underneath my ribs. In order to do this there is now another test I need to have done which will happen on Wednesday. I’m writing this Tuesday night so it’s likely by the time I post this it will be Wednesday. The test involves injecting radioisotope into me to try and find this naughty little node. They take photos and pin point it during this 2-3 hour procedure. If they find it then blue die will be injected during surgery so K can find it and pull the little sucker out, hoefully without knicking my lung, which it sits against. The blue die will make my wees and poos green plus make me look grey for a day. That will be a bit strange! It sounds like the radiation oncologist will most likely want to radiate there no matter what but we can only wait and see at this stage.
K gave me a prescription for some tablets to help dry my milk up as I’m still quite engorged. My last feed with Polly was yesterday afternoon although at the time I didn’t realise it. The plan was to give Polly her last feed tonight (Tuesday), take the tablets and then also pump lefty before surgery. Unfortunately that plan was foiled by the evil radiologist who has banned me from breastfeeding as radioactive woman (insert evil laugh here).
After seeing K today I went to have blood taken for numerous tests then onto have a CT scan plus a bone scan. I think in my last post I said the bone scan was to check my bone density. I was wrong. It was actually to check to see if the cancer has spread to my bones. The CT scan was of my chest, abdomen and pelvis which was also to see if the cancer has spread anywhere in these regions. Currently awaiting results which should arrive on Wednesday. The bone scan involves being injected with radioisotope, letting it run through my body for 2 hours and then going back for a 30 minute scan (I even had a little nap while they were taking pictures of me, they make you very comfortable). After they injected me with radioactive liquid, they also injected me with a contrast for the CT scan. The contrast made me feel like I’d wet myself plus left a horrible metallic taste in my mouth. The CT machine then proceeded to take pictures of my warmed up chest, abs and pelvis. What a strange sensation it was – the warmth of the contrast running through my torso. These tests were a breeze, especially after the MRI where I had to lay very still for 45 mins. I’d say I’ll become very familiar with these scans over the next 5 years. Not sure what to expect for the one tomorrow (on Wednesday) but hoping it’s also a breeze.
It’s Wednesday morning and I’ll pop this up now and report back as radioactive woman later.