On Tuesday I had a Sentinel Node Biopsy. They shoot dye into the lymph nodes in your breast to determine if there are any cancer cells left after chemo to FURTHER determine if I need radiation therapy. They removed three lymph nodes and sent them off to pathology. The surgeon said she would call me Friday with the results and as before, waiting is the most harrowing, frustrating and frightening part of this process. In the interim of a biopsy and the results the brain refuses to be logical; do not think about anything until you have the results, do not worry it will do no good, do not think what if–it is a waste of good brain function and time and will get you neither closer to the answer, nor more centered, one must just wait. Tell my brain.
I went into the surgery with a positive attitude thinking I would still have my mastectomy and reconstruction on January 7th. Will I ever learn nothing about cancer is straight forward, logical or anything you can depend upon. At least not in my case. I was forewarned, the breast surgeon mentioned before surgery if I did need radiation they would need to put in a skin expander to keep the skin stretched until reconstruction at a later time. Skin expander could be the topic of another blog post, lets just say I don’t want one. If I have learned nothing else, I have learned one thing, medicine is totally segmented and partitioned where the breast surgeon doesn’t know all the answers and one must ask the plastic surgeon, or the radiologists, or the oncologist. Medicine has become so fractured and “specialized” a simple question requires an appointment with a specialist to have it answered. I drifted off in the operating room thinking we’ll see about skin expander…its not over till the plastic surgeon, or the oncologist or the radiologists sings!
Each day passed much the way molasses drips out of the bottle with the lethargy only reserved for those on vacation, or those counting the days until something wonderful, or awful is scheduled to occur. Why wish time away, why lose any precious time in this truncated journey we call life, why not fill every moment with that which we most enjoy. I guess I’ll never learn I wanted to get to Friday and get results.
I was surprised by a phone call Thursday AM from the surgeon, this couldn’t be good. It wasn’t Friday, the results were supposed to come back on Friday and on Friday I could deal but not on Thursday. I wasn’t prepared on Thursday, Thursday was supposed to be a fun day of getting stuff done and maybe seeing the kids, going out to a holiday party. I was prepared for the results on Friday, mentally, physically, emotionally, but not Thursday.
The news was simple, there is still cancer in the lymph nodes, I need radiation and this changes the course and planning of surgery. I needed to see both surgeons again to go over our course of action and see a radiologist. I hung up the phone stunned, immediately tears pooled and anger and frustration simmered. It is Thursday, I was supposed to deal with this Friday.
I had this little voice in the recesses of gray matter, hiding behind the memory file and the flight or fight response synapse, “you knew you would need radiation, the way this has gone, your Mom, the battle is not over, the dandelion roots are deep, you will survive.” Oh crap!
Once again I am at a loss for what will happen next- until next Wednesday and Thursday when I see the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon and we discuss “options” whatever they might be. It’s a control issue again, I wanted my life back and control, I’d hoped by March to start traveling, getting back to normal- healing. I know for certain on January 7th I will have a bilateral mastectomy…I know I will need radiation, when I don’t know, reconstruction, when I don’t know.
I know Thursday I became depressed. I got some errands run, went to the holiday party where three people I’ve known didn’t recognize me, even as I said my name, they shook my hand and said, “nice to meet you, and how are you affiliated with UPMC,” and when I said I am Tom’s wife were taken aback and mortified they didn’t recognize me. Ordinarily I would have reveled in their embarrassment, but it made me feel sad and added to my depression.
This morning was no better, all I wanted to do was sleep. I had Pilates at 1 pm and seriously considered canceling but knew if I did all I would do is sleep and become more depressed. I went, Lynn was wonderful as always, and it got me to sit down and write which always helps.
It was Thursday instead of Friday oh well, I will keep plugging. Maybe I should focus on my hair growing in and starting to look crazy, I can do something about that…hair gel anyone?