This is Me!

This is Me! The good, the bad, and the bald. You get it all! But I have hair now. This spring I'll be rockin the pixie.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Breast Laid Plans...

I have already confessed to you that I had set a goal for the year which I will be unable to keep.  I also had plans to hold a baby shower this spring for my sweet sister who is expecting her first baby. One would have thought that upon hearing the "C" word, I would stop making plans.  That just isn't who I am, but it looks as though I will again be adjusting my plans for the spring and summer as well. 

I spent another long evening with my Dr. to have the stitches taken out last night.  I had been quite nervous about this appointment thinking it meant raising my arm above my head.  Still a very bad idea.  I was again amazed at his gentle touch and great bedside manner, not to mention his sense of humor.  On a quick little side commercial, if anyone in the Bellingham area ever has to experience this very unfortunate hiccup in life, Dr. Kaufman is your man.  He is amazing!  Commercial over, back to our regular programming.... So he removed the bandages said everything looked as it should.  Then with one fluid motion and a tiny little clip, the whole first set of stitches easily out.  OK.  I can handle this.  He then gently moved my elbow up just a bit and followed the same steps on the second surgical site.  One quick little clip and he easily pulled them out.  He gave me another piece of good news.  I am a triple +.  This isn't as common but means good news for me.  The more aggressive cancers are triple - and only respond to chemo.  The triple + means my cells will respond to all the treatments which I will tell you about in a bit.

One of the natural things that occurs after a surgery like this is a collection of serum (fluid) that pools in the surgical sites.  This had happened in my darn teleporter station.  It isn't a bad thing.  Its very normal but adds to the discomfort.  Being as it was still partially numb in several spots, he selected the area where I didn't respond to his touch, used additional local anesthesia and aspirated the liquid.  Sounds fun huh?  Even more exciting is that this will happen again 3-4 more times, with the next one being this Friday. 

Many of you know that I am a bit of a math nerd, (no tally marking Shelly), and that I never minded tests.  Well it's a good thing cause next week will be full of them.  I will be having a CAT scan of my liver and lungs with dye to light up any potential criminal invaders.  Then it's on to x-rays with more die for the same thing.  Then its inject the dye, wait 3 hours and do a full body bone scan.  You thought I was going to say full body massage didn't you.  I know, I know what your thinking.  Wow!  Isn't she lucky.  And yes, yes I am.  I am fortunate that I live in an era where we have the technology to look inside and check out other areas to make sure we get it all.  But hmmm, I wonder if I can sell those images to someone in the medical community... could make a buck?

The kids and I watched the movie "Big Fat Greek Wedding" the other night, just for some laughter.  I have decided that cancer is Greek   It comes from the Greek word pin which means to poke repeatedly with needles and pins, as in a pin cushion or to stab repeatedly with a cane, hence the word cancer.  So there you go. 

After I take all my tests, the oncology team will give me the detailed plan to ensure I come out with flying pink colors.  I already know part of the plan and it is different than what I have shared with you in the past, but it is a good plan and one I feel confident in.  Beginning in about 2 weeks I will:

1) be undergoing chemo and immunotherapy for an undetermined amount of time (the length of time will be determined by the test results next week)
2) phase two is the 7 weeks of radiation, and
3) finally, the hormone therapy
Hopefully I got that all correct.

I know what you're all thinking right now.... oh dear her long, beautiful, wavy, luscious, golden curls.  Except it's not very long anymore or even really golden unless my friend gets a hold of it.  Besides, it will grow back.  I am prepared for my spring with God's agenda for me and have set mine aside. 

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

So be on the look out this spring for a beautiful brunette :0) or a tough looking biker gal with a neon green bandanna on her sweet bald head.  Both will be me.  I will probably need to laugh, so tell me some great jokes about my cancer (Sam).  I might look like I went on a bad diet, bring me dark chocolates or anything with chocolate and peanut butter.  I may look tired, come sit and visit with me. I might be quiet, enjoy the stillness with me. And you will probably see me in my pjs on several occasions, so feel free to join me in yours (Rachelle).  But no matter how I look, know that I will be fighting so don't ignore me, please fight with me.

My kids are fighting with me.  They, along with some really great friends, surprised me Friday night with a "pink" party.  My son had custom ordered some really cool pink bracelets that say "Team Tami In God We Trust"  Tons of you made donations to get a bracelet to show your support.  Thank you.  The extra money they used to buy us 40 lbs of chicken breasts.  The perfect gift for someone with a mal-functioning breast.  One of the highlights of the evening was right before the prayer when a  14 year old friend so eloquently summed up the truth of it all.  He said "Who needs breasts when you have friends like us."  Let me tell you we laughed, and laughed, and plan to keep on laughing.

I continue to be grateful for all of the prayers and support you have poured out. I also am so appreciative of the space you have allowed me to process this with out trying to answer all the questions until I know more.  You have been great.

If you want a bracelet but didn't know about it, Gavin ordered another 100 so message me and he will get one to you. 

Jeremiah 29: 11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Just the Facts

The call came. The details are in.  For some of you this might seem alarming to add specifics to the surgery but the Dr. didn't seem any more alarmed and that was good enough for me. 
So, as the title says, today is just about the facts.  I over did it a bit this week which means nothing more than I tried to put on my bra and typed a bit longer than I should have.  Per my Dr. I am back to arm at my side, elbow pinned in place. 

The lump in my breast was completely removed.  Upon further investigation, they found it was in fact two.  It was the main offender and then apparently she was having so much fun she brought what they call her "daughter" with her or a satellite tumor.  The initial one was larger than they thought and the daughter was very small.  He said so that was that and we got it all taken care of. 

The teleporters.... well they are why I can still barely move my arm with out hitting the high notes in the soprano register or mummbling a few not so G rated words.   They knew there were two teleporters infected.  They took a larger chain of them to create a clean margin. It was 9 to be precise.  Of the 9, 5 showed traces of cancer.  How I translated that was, "I went in your armpit, traveled up to your shoulder, played scramble, worked my way slightly towards your back to find the nerve directly connected to your elbow, pinched it, played a bit more scramble and then left."      He proceeded to say, so this is kinda what we already knew we would find and we already have our plan so we just go to the next step now.  The next step being 7 weeks of radiation starting in about 3 weeks.

While it is hard to hear detailed numbers when they are higher than your thinking they should have been, my peace remains steadfast.  The immediate next step, stitches out next week and they check to see if any fluid pooled around in the surgical areas.  If so, they will aspirate that.   Would love prayer specifically for the nerve pain.  I am to go get these stitches out on Tuesday and I can't even imagine raising my arm that high without wanting to punch something or someone.

I do want to thank everyone that has gone out of their way to help our family with this.  I am not a big New Years Resolution gal, but I did make a goal this year and I assure you it had nothing to do with cancer.  I am willing to adjust my goal and my attitude about the whole thing as I see God's hand so clearly apparent in all of this.  We have received meals from people who know us only through someone else, containers of freshly juiced veggies, and gas cards. We have gotten financial gifts the same day we received an unexpected bill from people that would have no idea of the need other than that they were responding to a prompting of the Holy Spirit.  And the beautiful cards of support, prayer and encouragement are all in a special basket to remind us all of the provision of friends and family.  I could go into great details of all the blessings we have received.  I think instead I would like to just offer a sincere and humble thank you to everyone.  You know who you are and you are loved. 

Finally, thank you for giving me space regarding phone calls and messages.  I find for me it is difficult to get on the phone and answer questions repeatedly especially when I don't have all the answers to the questions.  As social as I, and you all know I am this has been an area where I have pulled back a bit out of necessity.  I promise to keep you all as up to date as I can, but again I ask for your patience.

Joshua 1:9
"This is my command - be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting..... NOT!

Biopsy )  Check!
Surgery)  Check! Check! 

Well, I got that step out of the way.  The surgery itself went well.  It even provided me with yet another opportunity to be a "dork".  Sorry, but stickers are big fun, even for big kids.  Now, don't be like that.  You know it made you chuckle.  

The surgeon did the lumpectomy and reconstruction and that area has been minimally bothersome.  It's those darn teleporters however, that continue to be the problem.  He took the Sentinel Node and biopsied it during surgery to see if it was compromised with cancer.  If it is, they follow the culprit to the end of the line and where ever that is, they cut a wide berth beyond to ensure clean passage ahead.  For me, there were two nodes junked up.  They do another test and then give you those results 2 or more days later.  So here I am, Monday, waiting for those results except I am not.  I find for the first time in a very long time, I am not afraid.  I have been surprised at how I have responded.  In the past, I think I would  have panicked and gotten very anxious.  Sleeping would have been a luxury my wandering mind would not have allowed, my future would have been written in morbid writing and I would have allowed a foothold to all kinds of destructive thoughts. 

I am not there today.  I am not afraid.  I feel tired yes, sore, for sure, tingling from unexpected nerve involvement, what is this about? But afraid, no.  I am still resting in the peace that God has this.  When the phone call comes, I will proceed down whatever path is most appropriate knowing I won't go it alone.  Don't misunderstand.  I will go fighting!!! and who knows, there may be more stickers involved, but I won't get backed down that road with fear and anxiety. I will fight for my mind and to keep it steadfast. I will go forward with chin up, gloves on, and pillow at the ready.  I will fight cancer and I will win.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

And so Begins the Fight

So this initial post will be simply to give you all the details.  Yes, I can post them on face book, but this way people can sort out how much they want and need to know.  For those of you who have followed my blog or writing in the past, I do intend to get back to that through out this process but again, today is simply to answer the pile of questions that are coming in. 

After speaking with the surgeon last night, I continue to feel peace about this.  He explained that this lump was still with in the small range.  An unexpected blessing last night was that the MRI results were in.  We didn't anticipate those until later in the week.  What they showed was that this is an isolated lump.  There are no others.  As I may have mentioned, the ultrasound showed an enlarged teleporter, the MRI did not.  So while they will still go in and take that first one, I would ask you to continue to pray with me that God is just in the process of healing that area and they will find that there is nothing of any concern there.

I am scheduled for a lumpectomy this Thursday, Feb. 14th at 10:00. It is an out patient procedure.  He feels it will be a simple procedure and had no cause for concern.  Several of you have asked about stages.  This is not something he has discussed.  He has shown me a diagram that says stage 1-2 but that's it.  I don't think he puts much emphasis on that. 

Something that I did not know before is that while it is true, that if you have a history of breast cancer in your family your more likely to get it, but 80% of women who get breast cancer have no family history.  I am one of those 80%.  So I trust that God has his own reason for allowing, not causing, allowing this to occur in my body at this specific time.

The only negative piece of this is my age.  The sweet news is, he called me young.  The not so sweet news is he called me young.  Because I am youngish, they treat more aggressively for long term reasons.  They are much more about future prevention with us youngish types.  What does that mean for me?  It means instead of 3 weeks of radiation for you 55+ ladies, I get 7 weeks of DAILY radiation.  No, I will not be glowing like Ginormica in Monsters vs. Aliens in case you were wondering, and Brian, I think that will qualify me keeping a portion of my super powers. ;0) 

So I am initially looking at about a 12 week time frame.  I say initially because they will also be checking out the three other areas that breast cancer can spread into, liver, lungs, and bones.  Feel free to be praying for a clean bill of health in those three areas but again because of my age, he said they tend to respond aggressively rather than passively, but that is information coming further down the road.   

One step at a time, one day at a time, one uncertainty or question at a time.  That is all God wants us to process.  We need not borrow tomorrows worries, as all of you know from personal experiences, today has enough of it's own. 

 I want to again tell you all how grateful I am for the incredible prayer support you are providing.  I would have never guessed that I would get that diagnosis and feel so unbelievably peaceful.  Our home continues to be a haven of rest and I know that this is by the grace of God.  I would be lying if I said there haven't been moments of sadness or tears that snuck out, but God has truly prepared my hands for war for this season and I am feeling strong in him and ready to fight.  I welcome any and all of you on my team.  Please understand that any un-returned phone calls or messages are not a personal affront to you or your family.  I will do what I can, when I can but I appreciate your patience and understanding if I don't get back to you.  I will keep you as updated as I possibly can, as I know everyone wants to know what is going on and this will be the quickest way to get the word out to as many as I can. I am truly blessed by all the prayers, meals, gifts, and the general attitude of help that you all have poured out on us.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, cause you don't want a thank you from the bottom of my breast.  Trust me.      

This verse has been my covering so I want to share it with you now.

Isaiah 26:3,4

You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in the you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.