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Reeka's blog: "Cancer stuffs"

created on 10/29/2008  |  http://fubar.com/cancer-stuffs/b255577

Well, I made it through my surgery yesterday.  It went better than the plastic surgeon expected, even :)

Details for the not-so-squeamish:

They replaced the tissue expander with a saline implant after removing a bunch of scar tissue that was causing the area to be very hard.  It feels much more natural now!  And there was so much scar tissue there that when it was removed they were actually able to go with an implant bigger than the amount I'd been expanded to.  This means they didn't have to reduce the other side very much at all, and it appears to be a D or DD cup.  Hard to say before it heals, though.

The only problems I have is that the Norco's not helping my pain much, and I have a drain on the right side that is leaking a lot and not really working so well.  I'm waiting for a call back from the nurse at the surgery clinic to see what I should do.

Well... the good news:

She doesn't know why I have the pain in my chest when I sneeze or take a deep breath.  She says the fatigue I'm having is normal and to expect it to continue another 3-6 months from the radiation treatments.  The extra soreness I am having is totally normal and is because the nerves are healing so I'm feeling it now when I wasn't before.

The not-so-good news...

She did a breast exam on both sides and ordered an MRI for Friday, and was tight-lipped about why.  *sigh*

I went back to my plastic surgeon today.  He agreed that my skin had healed enough to resume attempts to do tissue expansion on my left breast.  Following that, his nurse did a session of expansion, so now I'm sore as heck as an extra 90cc's of saline was added to push out my pectoral muscle and skin.

The most unfortunate thing is that since it's now been nearly 4 months since my mastectomy, I now have feeling in the area of the breast where they have to put the needle into the tissue expander port.  So... OUCH!!!!  Next week I definitely will be taking painkillers before I go in.

But all in all, I'm glad to have the process going again.  If my skin / muscle turn out not to respond well after the radiation, they will need to take a graft of skin & fat from my back to use as the breast skin, with an implant behind it.  *crosses my fingers that won't have to happen*

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Yeah, this is another negative one, GTFO now if you don't wanna read it.

I'm sure most of this has to do with stress and not my radiation treatments.

But I'm losing hair in clumps, I have irritable bowels, daily headaches, and now besides the itchy, red, blistery skin, the entire left chest / armpit area feels like a massive bruise.  I don't know how much of that is related to my raking mulch around in my landscape beds, and how much might be some kinda radiation side effect.  And I'm nauseous, and have some nasty reflux going on.

Thank goodness I only have 8 more days of treatment left.  I'm crossing my fingers until May 15, and hope I'm doing better a week later on my birthday.

I found out yesterday that my tissue expansion has to go on hold due to my radiation.  Once the radiation is done, I may not be able to have any further expansion.  At best, it will be several months before my new boobs will be worked on again. 


I went out last night to the bar... wore a cami tank with a loose shirt over it.  Apparently it was either too loose or not loose enough cuz I ended up getting stared at everywhere.  Which led to me drinking more... which led to getting royally drunk, which I guess I needed.


I've been trying to find work... I've finally resorted to pulling the survivor card and writing cover letters that say I was out of work fighting breast cancer and want to start a new challenge... I figured it's the only thing that will really set me apart from the competition.  I've gotten no calls back from any applications over the past 7 months, so it's not like it can make it any worse - and maybe I'll get lucky and find a hiring manager that's been touched by it and will go to bat for me.  *shrugs*


I'm feeling blah.  I think I've forgotten to take my meds for a few days now.  I did take them now; hopefully my mood is just the result of my weaning off my antidepressant.  Or PMS... I guess that's one thing I won't have to worry about once I'm done with the radiation and start on Tamoxifen.

Today I went to do my radiation simulation and get all set up for starting next Monday. Daily treatments, 5 days a week for 6 weeks... the good news is they say I shouldn't feel the side effects until around week 4, and they should be over with by a week or two after they're done. But I've been also recommended to see a shrink as well as potentially massage therapy - and since I've already met my max out of pocket for the year, the insurance is supposed to pay 100%! And also for a nutritionist to go over a high protein diet that should help, but can also sneak in some weight loss tips for after my treatments are done (they've asked me to stop trying to lose weight for the next couple months so the side affects don't hit me even worse). I only got 2 hours of sleep last night, worrying about today and the possibility of uprooting the family if my hubby goes for this job in MA. I was able to get about 1.5 hours of nap in, but I'm about to drop.
I've been at the breast care center for an hour now... still waiting for the radiation oncologist. Yes, I need radiation treatments. This will involve 5 days a week, for idk how many weeks - they say it's usually 5 or 6. More details after I actually talk to the guy. I'm sitting in this stupid hospital gown waiting... waiting... waiting... --------------- Update: 6 weeks of radiation monday through friday then tamoxifen or equivalent to produce early menopause - just in time for my 36th birthday.
I finally heard back from my surgical oncologist, who apologized and hadn't realized nobody had called me yet about my pathology results. Soooooo.... good news and bad news. The good news - my lymph node came back negative, meaning the cancer did not spread. The bad news - there was apparently a bit of tumor very close to where they were removing tissue during the mastectomy. The radiation oncologist will determine whether they feel I need radiation or not. He says it's VERY small and sometimes they radiate, sometimes they don't. I'm to go in for a followup at the Breast Care Clinic on Monday 3/23. -------------------------------- Update: Just heard back from my primary care doc, who I called this afternoon after not hearing back from my oncologist. She says the margin of resection was positive in the lower outer portion of my breast - this is what may cause them to do radiation to prevent recurrence. She also said all the tumors were confirmed DCIS and NOT invasive. And they were all estrogen and progesterone positive, meaning I will probably have hormone therapy to induce early menopause to further improve my chances of not getting it back.

I found a website for breast cancer patients and caregivers to post their stories on. Here is my personal page . This is where I'll be posting my updates so I keep the depressing stuff off fubar as much as possible.

who have status set to wanting boobs. *turns off bartab*
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