Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hello from the Thompson Peak Spa........

All I can say is the last few days have been a complete blur. I was admitted into the hospital via the emergency room on April 22nd. I had an IV placed in my arm along with a slough of other tests.........all to make sure that I was fit enough for surgery. Apparently I passed the test, I was scheduled to go into the OR around 1:00 PM on Friday afternoon. By Thursday I had met 2 out of the 3 surgeons that were on my dance card. The mystery surgeon was Dr. Mike Janiseck, apparently he is very popular at this hospital EVERYONE, and I do mean EVERYONE had wonderful things to say about him. He is and OB/GYN Oncologist, apparently there are not to many around in this specific field. I got to meet him at 8:00 PM on Thursday, I gave him CD's of the PET scan and ultrasound. We went over a few possible surgical scenarios, Dr J said he would get back to me in the morning after he reviewed the results from my tests.
He had a great bedside manner and worked up a little flow chart of my possible surgical outcomes. All I could do was wait, at least I had Kerry here to pamper me, and remind me to drink water and breathe.
Dr. J came to see me 1st thing Friday morning, good morning was followed with it "pretty much looks like cancer on your ovary" . I actually left Prescott planning to have a hysterectomy, it doesn't make it any more fun to hear those words from yet another surgeon. They were going to try to get me in a little earlier, which makes for a little less waiting. I took my pre-op shower with Kerry assisting. My dad and step-mom Diane showed up, as well as my good friend Liette. Then we waited.....which has got to be the worst part. They did come for me early, about 10:30 Kerry and Liette were aloud to go into pre-op with me. A few last minute tests and some final waivers to sign for the Dr.'s. I remember the anaesthesiologists was Dr. Stearns and my plastic surgeon Dr. Berardi marked all over my chest nip-tuck style with a BLUE SHARPIE.......CAN YOU BELIEVE A SHARPIE? I was wheeled out of pre-op in an orchid colored paper gown, that is temperature controlled by an air hose. Nice little hairnet on my head and purple surgery socks.
Dr. Stearns gave me a little injection, and Regina a nurse from the Phillipines wheeled me off to the operating room I think it was around 11:30. I said goodbye and I love you to Kerry and Liette, I remember being wheeled in to the large Operating room, and then it was lights out. My next memory is a recovery nurse asking what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10, ten of course being the worst. I don't even know my answer. I was returned to my room sometime after 7:00 I think. That part of the story belongs to Kerry or Liette. I think I underwent about 6 hours of surgery........that thought is so damn creepy to me, it is like a period of no time, I can't quite explain it. I know I had surgery I have the drains and the scars to prove it but it doesn't make that time feel any less surreal.
When life brings you this kind of crazy all you can do is drink water and breathe.....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sarah is sleeping in her room

She has some abdominal pain but otherwise seems alright. I haven’t talked to her yet but will in the morning. Stressful day for the rest of us who were waiting on word, over 6 hours on the table. Friends are there and I wish I were too, I’ll write more in the morning when I hear from her. Have a good night!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This is Sarah's brother Sean

Sarah is in the hospital tonight and goes into surgery tomorrow around noon and she wanted me to keep up with this till she was able to get back to a computer, I posted the below over at my place Doc in the Box

If you would have told me a couple of years ago that my luddite little sister Sarah would have stepped in the world of blogging. I wouldn’t have believed you. But she has, in some part of her mind, like me, she wants to leave a mark on the world in case something happens. I know the feeling, it’s the same feeling I had before heading out into a far distant and scary war zone. In case I died, I wanted to leave a record of me behind so I wouldn’t be forgotten.

Now she is going into her personal war zone, she went in last month to get an excisional biopsy (which means they take out all of whatever it is they found) on a mass in her right breast and when she woke, the doctor told her in that gentile voice they use to say such things, that she had cancer. On April Fools day she drove down to Phoenix for a follow up and learned at she had stage II or III ductal carcinoma which is the most common kind of breast cancer. Weeks pass and more tests show that it has moved into some lymph nodes and there’s something on one of her ovaries.

Suddenly, she is scheduled for surgery and tonight, she’s alone in a hospital room taking blood thinning medicines and she’ll be under the knife tomorrow where that kind sounding M.D. is going to put her on the chopping block and core her like an apple in hopes of getting that alien presence out of her body.

Just yesterday she turned 36 and it seems like it was just yesterday when I was letting her drive my car for the first time and the day before that when we used to sneak out of the house together. I love you sis and we are all pulling for you to pull through this, I’m here for you as I have always been but this time, don’t crash the car.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preparing for departure from P-town

I just wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate your love and support. Everyone should have at least one birthday where they know just how much they are loved by those around them. To be honest this has been the most gifted birthday of my life.
I will leave for Scottsdale tomorrow on the Kerry Express. The afternoon will be filled with pre-op testing with surgery scheduled at 1:00 PM on Friday, April 23rd.
Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers.
Drink water and breathe.................
I will be in touch with you all after the surgery.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Change of date, what exactly I meant

I will be leaving to Scottsdale with Kerry Thursday afternoon for pre-op testing. The surgery is still scheduled for Friday at the new location.

Change of venue, change of date, PHASE 2 IS A GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It seems I got a birthday present 1 day early. The old adage is careful what you wish for, had I known it was going to be granted I may have opted for the powerball ticket.
I spoke with Dr. Bornstein this morning and it sounds like the hysterectomy is going to be a go. To what extent the it will actually be (full, half, or partial) I am not sure of at this point. I am now going to be admitted to Thompson Peak, 7400 E. Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale, Arizona 85255 480-324-7000. Surgery starts around 1:00 o'clock on Friday April 23rd and I will be on the table for around 4 or 5 hours. I don't think there is going to be an intermission :)
I will probably be admitted to the hospital for 4 or 5 days.
Thanks so much to all of you who sent positive thoughts and love my way it makes a difference. I have a lot to get together to be able to leave in time for surgery I will try to post along the way but may not have the time to do so.
The universe brought to me the exact conversation I needed tonight. I have a new friend named Kathy that is a breast cancer survivor. She has had the surgeries that I am about to have and her sharing her experience stopped the shaking of my insides. I realize my journey will not be the same as hers but to hear a voice full of love, hope and strength that has been on this path is exactly what I needed. I am not alone in this new club, it seems as if I am destined to be a joiner. Even though hospitals suck, I need to remember that I am in the care of wonderful medical professionals, receiving some of the best medical care in the world. No matter how strange and surreal surgery is, I am thankful to at least have the option to fight this disease.
Today it seemed a little easier....I guess it might be working....drink water and breathe.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Catching up to the present

I am new to the blogging world and unfortunately the speed at which I get my thoughts to screen is not that great yet. There is still a lot of story between April 2nd and today I however am opting to do a quick re-cap of the past 3 weeks.

I did have a PET scan and an MRI on April 7th. I received the results on April 9th, another suspicious mass was found on my right ovary as well as a few lymph nodes. This meant biopsy of my ovary as well as a recommendation of bilateral mastectomy being the best option for treatment of my breast cancer. Prior to this information I had pretty much decided on mastectomy over lumpectomy (even if it was an option). I am a balance person and felt that I have gotten great use out of the breasts that I have. This option seemed to give me more piece of mind. The cancer door being opened in my life has me hyper focused on every nerve in my body. At least with the mastectomy I could heal evenly, and maybe in the end come out with some nice perky size C's. Someone once said every cloud has a silver lining, maybe they meant saline??

The possible ovarian cancer has not been so easy to adjust to. I have yet to consult with an ob/gyn oncologist to actually give me specific options. I believe they are partial or complete hysterectomy. I will have a consultation for my ovaries when I am hospitalized for my mastectomy. Which may extend my stay if they decide to operate again. The unknowns are kind of getting to me and I am running out of patience.

I spoke with an oncologists office today and am scheduled for a chemotherapy consultation on May 6th. They anticipate I will start chemotherapy within 4 weeks of my surgery. Thankfully this part of my treatment will be in Prescott Valley so I won't have to drive to Scottsdale quite as often.

So the specifics so far are: I am scheduled for a Bi-Lateral Breast Mastectomy (PHASE I), with the reconstruction process beginning at the same time. They will remove quite a few lymph nodes as well. This surgery is scheduled for Friday, April 23rd at 12:30 AM, I will be admitted to Scottsdale Health Care Shea sometime between 9:00 and 10:00. If I only have the mastectomy I will be released from the hospital Saturday or Sunday. If they schedule the hysterectomy(PHASE 2) I could be in the hospital until Tuesday or Wednesday. My friend Kerry is taking me to the hospital and is signed on until my release from PHASE 1. If PHASE 2 occurs other arrangements will need to be made for my return trip.

On a more personal note, today I started to break down. The pressure I am under is so great, that I am driven to tears by the slightest things. Time feels like it is standing still one moment, yet I know Friday is just a few short days away. I could use a valium or a martini, both of which are frowned on prior to surgery, along with vitamin's C, E and every other pill you could imagine except tylenol, go figure. For those of you who know me well, hospitals are my least favorite place to be. I am going to be spending a lot of time in medical surroundings so I am just going to have to learn to adapt. This is the biggest fight of my life, I need a place to share this with others, and I also need the love and support of those around me. I feel like a warrior that is gathering troops to take into battle, in some way I have been gathering troops for a long time. To all my warriors out there thank you for all you have done, and all that you will do, know that I am grateful for each and everyone of you.
That's all for tonight folks, I will have some time on my hands in the near future and a new notebook (courtesy of my awesome big brother) hopefully I can fill in some of the blanks of my journey.
Until then drink water and breathe..................

April Fool's Day

Dani drove with me to meet with Dr. Alan Bornstein We arrived at his Bell Road office (I think he has a total of 4)around 3:30. I have got to hand it to Dr. Bornstein and his assistant Taska they run a really tight ship, I have yet to wait for a scheduled appointment. We bustle in to the exam room and Dr. Bornstein pretty much just lays it out I have ductal carcinoma, the good news is it's the "most common" breast cancer, probably staged around IIb or III. I will need a few more tests for a specific diagnosis. Possible treatment options are a lumpectomy (at this point my lump had been removed), he would remove margins around the mass and lymph nodes to check if the cancer had spread. This option would be followed by radiation and chemotherapy. This option also depends on if there is enough good breast tissue remaining so that I would not be severely unbalanced (my breasts anyway:). Option #2 is a bi-lateral mastectomy with some kind of tissue saving procedure???? He would also take out a few lymph nodes, more if they are determined to be cancerous. The reconstruction process would begin at the time of the surgery. I would not need radiation with this option, I would however still need chemotherapy. The good news at this point was it was not an immediate death sentence which my overactive imagination had dreamed up. The bad news was that this is going to take a year out of my life, and of course we needed the information provided by a few more tests.
Dr. Bornstein ordered a PET scan and a breast MRI to be done the following day. This would help determine if there were any other "issues" that would effect the surgical options.
I left the office feeling scared, but informed I had options none of which were going to be particularly fun but it gave me a hope.
I was to return home to Prescott and have these tests completed at local facilities, no problem or so I thought.
I got up early on April 2nd to schedule my tests. I headed to Prescott Medical Imaging around 7:30 AM I was going to get these tests completed and make it to work by 9:00. PMI only does the breast MRI well that's 1 0f 2 so I give the scheduler my order and she say the dreaded words....."do you have prior authorization from your insurance carrier?" I tell her no but they did approve a stat ultrasound and a biopsy, so I was more then likely in the approval loop. I thought all this with my logical non-medical insurance company brain. I talked the woman into scheduling me for the MRI the following Tuesday at 2:30 saying my approval would be here by then, coincidentally they only do breast MRI testing on Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. I would have to wait a week or longer to get the test rescheduled if my approval did not come through.
They inform me I will need to go to the hospital to schedule my PET scan...I had this sinking feeling that things would not be going as easy as I thought....drink water and breathe.....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I have to start somewhere

On March 29th, 2010 I had an excisional biopsy on a mass in my right breast. Upon awakening from anesthesia, my surgeon Dr. Alan Bornstein informed me that the mass was indeed cancer. Note this may have not been the best time to be informed of this news considering I was totally nauseated, doped up and completely out of my head. This was however my choice because I hate waiting. I am also learning that when dealing with anything in the medical field, if they are willing to give you an answer take it. There will certainly be plenty of times where waiting will not be optional. I started bawling and the Dr. said I will need additional surgery and treatment. The remainder of the day is kind of vague do to the anesthesia, the only thought that kept recurring is CANCER. I vomited in the car as soon as we started driving, then slept most of the way home. Upon arriving home I curled up on the couch completely devastated, only to be interrupted by another wave of nausea.
I would not have survived this day without the love and support of so many people around me. My dear friend Dani drove me to my outpatient surgery in Phoenix, Arizona. She has also been with me at every doctor appointment so far. I don't know what my state of mind would be today if not for Dani's strength and support (I will never be able to thank you enough, I Love you!). Dani handed me off to Matt on arrival home, unfortunately we all have to work. Matt's job was to help with the boys and try to comfort me. He did both with great ease, and compassion. Matt also stayed the night on the couch that night. I was so vulnerable and raw. Trina picked up Corbin from school. Jessica picked up Mason from school and brought both boys home by late afternoon. Kate showed up with dinner for us all, and Jen came by to assist with homework.
I am so lucky to have the love and support that I do. All these people stepped into my world and took over all the details of my life that must go on, feed the kids, pack lunches, do homework, clean the kitchen, make dinner. My friends are all action people and they just don't hesitate when something needs to be done. I am eternally grateful to you all for the love you bring to my family.
March 30th, 2010..........Cancer really????? I had recovered from the anesthesia only to wrap my head around cancer. How do you tell the people in your life? I couldn't even tell my mom at this point. I felt so angry, scared, there was so much unknown. I had an appoint with my surgeon on April 1st, this coincides not only with April Fool's Day but also the 1st scheduled court appearance for my divorce trial. Timing is everything and I just didn't have it that day.
At this point I decided to keep things quiet about my cancer until I learned more. The American Cancer Society web-site was my resource at this point. Words like lumpectomy and mastectomy were flashing before my eyes along with chemotherapy and radiation. How am I going to go through all this? work? and take care of the boys? I also wondered if I was going to die soon? I am young with two young boys this could not be happening to me. I went about my normal routine until my next appointment with Dr. Bornstein. April Fool's Day was not that far away until then I told myself to drink water and breathe.