No News is Good News

Well, I have not received a phone call from either Women’s Imaging nor my doctor, so I think that the mammogram and ultrasound must have been okay.That is a relief. It is always in the back of one’s mind, that – maybe – this time – the cancer will return. Of course, with HER2, according to my oncologist, the cancer often returns as bone cancer. I do not at the moment know what symptoms would be. I assume pain in the bones.

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That Wasn’t So Bad….Not

Well, the mammogram and ultrasound is over and I am glad it’s done again. Fool that I am, I forgot to cut back on my caffeine use for a couple of days prior to the testing, so even with a Tylenol 4, the pain of the ultrasound, especially the right side (the “bad” side) was excruciating. At least it was over relatively quick. The mammogram went well, with no pain, thanks to the Tylenol.

There were no gasps from the tech when she did the ultrasound, so hopefully all is well.

I expect if there are any problems, I will hear from either the clinic or the family doctor within a week or two.

 

 

Another Mammogram

And here I thought I would have to get a mammogram in a year. Instead, I received a letter from the imaging center reminding me to book one. Soon.

So…this Wednesday I go in for both a mammogram and ultrasound. I told the staff that the family doctor had marked “mammogram” and not ultrasound, but she said the clinic automatically does an ultrasound as well. Ordered by doctor or not.

I have my prescription for Tylenol 4 so will take one prior to the visit. Those ultrasounds hurt so much! They are far worse than the mammogram. Tylenol 4 works to lessen all the pain, and I am grateful that my family doctor prescribed it.

Still losing hair from the Armidex, but I still have lots, so by no means am I balding, at least not yet.

I have had no issues with the Fosamax so far. I found out that the body can only absorb up to 500 mg of calcium at a time, so I take one calcium pill along with vitamin D at lunch, then the other calcium pill about two hours later, midafternoon.

All Okay

I have been remiss in not keeping this blog up to date. Thankfully, the second check (mammogram and ultrasound) was alright. It does give a person a scare though, and I hope this doesn’t happen again….

Good bye Port

I finished the Herceptin infusions at the end of May, had a mammogram in May, plus an ultrasound. The staff said the mammogram looked good, as did the radiology center’s doctor.
Then I had an ultrasound a couple of weeks later. I was told the results would be sent to the oncology doctor within a week. Well, she phoned me just the other day to ask about the ultrasound that I was supposed to have! She had not received the results!

I haven’t heard back from Dr. S. so I hope that the results are indeed alright.

Also in May was one last MUGAscan as well as the port removal. I had no IV, and it was removed under local anesthetic. It took only about 15 minutes to remove and then I was sent to recovery for just over an hour, then came home. The stitches are dissolving, so no need to return to the doctor for that.

Here are photos of the port in place. I actually thought to take these photos so maybe my ‘chemo brain’ memory is getting better.

 

Port shown under skin.

Port shown under skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am pleased that it served its purpose and is now out.

You can read more about ports at the Bard site (they made the port I had)

http://bardaccess.com/products.php

and at the Canadian Cancer Society’s site on this page

http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/tests-and-procedures/subcutaneous-port/?region=ab

I continue on the Tamoxifen with some night sweats and hot flashes, occasionally. The doctor said good, that shows the pills are working! She says the symptoms may lessen over time. She doesn’t want to prescribe anything to control it at this time. Some women apparently have 5 night sweats a night, so I am not doing that at least.

 

 

Day of Surgery

From midnight on, the night before the lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy,  I was told to not eat or drink anything.

At 8:30 am I arrived at the Women’s Center, where the needle localization would be done. This is a wire placed, with the help of ultrasound, at the tumor area, so the surgeon has a guide on where to begin. Compared to the previous day, the procedure went well. The technician used a local anesthetic, so that, while I was able to identify the object “That feels like it’s been inserted” there was no pain at all. I was warned to not raise my arm above my head, “as the wire inserted has an end a lot like a fish hook, so you don’t want to disturb it.” I was then brought over to the mammogram room. I waited for the developed pictures, so that I could bring them with me to the hospital.
The drive over to the hospital was uneventful. We arrived in good time, and once I was checked in, we were brought by a volunteer up to the second floor Day Surgery area. I was sent to a bed, given a nightie, and my height and weight was taken. An IV was started. I half dozed until the orderly arrived to take me into a room where I met the surgeon again, as well as the anesthesiologist. Soon, a nurse arrived, and I was wheeled to just outside the operating room. I was handed two warmed blankets, and led into the room on foot. I climbed onto the narrow table/bed and another staff inserted something into the IV.

I woke in Recovery, feeling good. A short while after, I was wheeled back to Day Surgery, and soon given water and juice to drink. The IV was removed, blood pressure checked a few times, and late in the afternoon sent home.
I remembered that the nurse navigator and the surgeon’s nurse had both told me to “be sure and ‘take your medication, even if you are not feeling any pain. Don’t let the painkillers wear off.” I took the Percocet I’d been given at the hospital, for three days, then switched to my Tylenol 3 which had been prescribed by my family doctor much earlier for something else. That worked well, although I was not able to sleep on my right side – even today, May 3, I cannot rest completely comfortably yet on that side, but it is getting better. I did move on to 500 mg Tylenol for a few days, after the pain lessened, then to no meds.

The tapes covering the three inch wide incision on the side of my right breast, and the one inch incision under my arm, where the two lymph nodes were removed, were soaked and taken off in 10 days.

At 14 days, I had an appointment with the surgeon. He said the incisions looked good. He told me that the tumor had not spread, that the edges looked good. The lymph nodes were also negative for cancer.

That afternoon, my nurse navigator called, to say that I would soon hear from the oncologist’s office for my next appointment, this one for treatment plans. She told me that because I have HER2 I will probably have to have chemotherapy, radiation and Tamoxifen. Since I’d originally been told  ‘surgery and radiation’ I was devastated by this news. I have done some reading on HER2 and it is described as very aggressive.

The next day, the oncologist’s office receptionist called to say my appointment is for May 6 at 8:45 am. Hopefully, I will learn a lot on that day, about treatment and prognosis.

In the meantime, I have attended a (free) class on post-surgery, and learned that I must massage the incision 2 or 3 times per day, for the next six months, to prevent adhesions. That means, to avoid having the scar tissue adhere through the fat, to the muscle, the skin must be lightly and gently moved towards the scar, on both sides, for about 5 minutes each session. So far, I have been able to avoid looking at the scars, as my  husband has been caregiver and helper through all of this. I know that soon I will have to steel myself to have a look.

I am learning far more than I ever cared to about having surgery and about having cancer.

If you are facing surgery etc I hope that what I am writing will help you as you move forward on your journey.

More soon!

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