Wednesday, March 31, 2010

OK. I guess part of this blog thing is that I have to keep posting new information. So, here goes. I met with the plastic surgeon today. Talk about a lesson in breast re-construction 101. Construction makes it sound like we are building a house. Anyway, I went in thinking it was a fore gone conclusion of what was going to happen. Boy was I surprised. I have learned all about breast implants and about implants using your own body tissues. Actually, that appealed to me more because it would be more natural. It is a much longer surgery and longer recovery time, but it would last me for the rest of my life. You also get a tummy tuck out of the whole thing. That would be fabulous! With silicone implants they have to be replaced after about 10 years. I can't imagine having another boob job at 67 years. But, to my surprise he told me that I was not a good candidate for the own tissue job because I don't have enough fat in my abdomen and they would have to add implants anyway. Dang!! I lost all that weight for Laura's wedding and look where that got me now. So, for any one who wants to know, Janet is getting breast implants. It is about a 5 hour surgery. I will be in the hospital 2-3 days and a couple of weeks of recovery. The actual whole process will take almost a year to complete. They begin by putting in deflated empty balloons. Over several months they fill the balloons with saline. After several months they take out the temporary implants and replace them with permanent silicone ones. There are a couple of outpatient surgeries to finish the job and then I will have perky new 16 year old boobs. If this is more information than most people want to know, sorry about that. I have tried to condense it and not be too graphic. Now the next big question is when will all this happen. I still don't know. The plastic surgeon is out of town all next week, so it won't be then. I have another appointment with the regular cancer surgeon next Monday. I hope that at that time she can give me a date. I just have to get in line and wait my turn. Waiting is horrible. I need to get back to my life. I remember when I was pregnant and having babies, you get to feeling like there is no modesty left. Well, we are back to that same feeling. My body is just a piece of meat. I guess the only way to get through this is to keep a sense of humor and laugh about it. So, that is what I am trying to do.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A little comic relief...

Hope nobody is offended by this...if so, blame my brother...he won't care.

We had dinner together at my parents' house 2 Sundays ago, thinking that my mom would be having major surgery in the coming week...this would be a sort of "last supper," at least for a while. I planned dinner and brought the food, but at the last hour my brother texted me that he had the cake...this is what he brought...

"Thanks for the mammories"

We had a good laugh...and I mean a GOOD laugh...the poor 16 year-old, minimum wage-paid teenager at Baskin he'd never had this sort of request before :)

I won't tell you who was begging for the ice cream scoop...but she's 3 and it rhymes with "pa-tate"

Mom's meeting with the plastic surgeon Wed morning to discuss re-construction, so there will be an update shortly thereafter...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010
Well, here I am about to embark on one of the most frightening and scary adventures of my life. It all started on March 5 when I went to see my internist for a routine physical of blood work and to convince her to get a scan of my entire back from top to bottom. I have had a lot of neck and back pain for many years and I finally decided that it would be a good idea to get it officially looked at. During the course of this routine physical she said "let's do a breast exam". I figured I was already there so why not. She had already handed me the usual forms for a mammogram and blo0d work. All of a sudden she stopped and said "you've got a lump. I'm changing this to a diagnostic mammogram and an ultra sound on one side." OK. So I dutifully made an appointment and went in. My appointment was for Wednesday, March 10. After the normal mammogram and the ultrasound they came back in and said I needed an ultrasound on the other side. OK. Then they came back in and told me I had a mass on each breast and it really looked like cancer and they were really sorry and did I have any questions. All I could even think to ask was "on both sides?" There have been very few times in my life when I have felt like I was kicked in the stomach but this was right up there at the top of the list. I think the last time I felt that way was when I was called to be Relief Society President.
Before I left I had to make an appointment for biopsies on both sides. That was done on Monday, March 15. On Tuesday afternoon, March 16 they called me to tell me that the biopsies were positive for cancer and I needed an MRI. On Thursday, March 18 I had the MRI. The next day they called me to tell me that they had found more cancer on the left side. I have no family history of breast cancer. There is really very little history of any cancer on either side, so this was just not something I every thought I would have to deal with. I figured I would die of some other old age disease, but not this. And definitely not at the ripe old age of 57!! Talk about your mortality hitting you between the eyeballs.
So, here I am on Thursday evening, March 25 trying to write about this experience. It is amazing how many people I have run into who have either had this, are in the middle of it, or had a good friend or family member with breast cancer. I have come to the conclusion that it is almost epidemic. I have received so many words of encouragement and comfort I am speechless. Everybody started sending me the names of doctors and hospitals for me to contact. One thing I have come to realize is that in this day of modern medicine, it is up to you to pave the way for your own treatment. One of my good designer friends who is in the middle of this told me that, and I didn't quite understand it, but I do now. I went over to St. John's hospital in Santa Monica last Wednesday, March 17 and met with Dr. Rengal. He is a cancer surgeon. He answered a lot of my questions and gave me some things to think about. I also made an appointment at City of Hope with Dr. Laura Kruper. Both of these doctors came highly recommended. I am so grateful that I live in southern California with several premier cancer centers, all within an hour's drive. I have decided to go to City of Hope. They are only 20 minutes down the freeway, and as one person told me, they are a one stop shop. I will be able to have the double mastectomy, the reconstruction, the chemo, and whatever else I get to have all right there. I met with Dr. Kruper last Monday, March 22. She was great, and explained a lot more things to me. I went back on Wednesday, March 24 for an ultrasound of my lymph nodes and possible more biopsies. Fortunately, I did not have to have the biopsy. They will not know for sure how much involvement is in the lymph nodes until after surgery, but at least they decided that they didn't have to do the biopsy. I am grateful for small favors. I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon next Wednesday, March 31. Then I see Dr. Kruper again on Monday, April 5. I really hope at that time they will schedule the surgery. I really need to get this done. One thing I am being reminded of is that I need to learn "patience".