What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Dreaded Mastectomy

It seems as though cancer is rearing it's ugly head over and over again in my life. I walked with my good friend the other day, and I'm sure she was getting tired of hearing me say, "and then..." But then, I know she understands fully. 

My uncle's second wife passed the other day in Tucson from lung cancer. She had been ill a couple of years, but I had been led to believe she had a miraculous improvement recently. Even though we were far in distance, and I really didn't know her very well, he is my mom's brother and there are so many fond memories of us all together with cousins and getting into trouble. Then the father of the coordinator of the group we get together with each Valentine's Day passed -- he had been ill with pancreatic cancer for just a short while. Again, a recent diagnosis, and he passed a few days later. Of course there is also my brother-in-law,  with colon cancer. It just goes on, and on, and on.

And on top of all that, to bring you up to speed on me. While it is not cancer, it is still cancer related. The fatty necrosis at the site of my lumpectomy is larger, harder, painful, and downright ugly. It takes over most of my breast, which is now looking larger than the normal one -- not the case after the lumpectomy. Anyway, this is the site where I had the biopsy last May as the very small peanut scar tissue appeared to have enlarged so we did some preventative scans and then decided that a biopsy would be safest to rule out cancer. Apparently that biopsy may have instigated the fat necrosis to get down right mad and angry and flare up. Hence the infection, 25 days of antibiotics, and its continued growth and the pain that ebbs and flows -- some days not bad, others sharp twinges of reminder it is there. So I saw Dr. Elboim a couple of weeks ago to move forward with the mastectomy. I think it was Denise's passing that night and me realizing I needed to move on with this as nothing good was coming of waiting. It never drained as I had hoped it might, and massage became out of the question as the skin is breaking down and blistering. It looks like several large brown warts (radiated skin) all kind of overlapping and gathered around the edges. I think this gives you the picture and probably TMI.

Anyway, this is about the 4th visit to Elboim. Surgery is March 14th. He decided he wanted to do a needle core biopsy the week before to be sure there is no cancer. If cancer is found, surgery will be slightly different as they will do another sentinel node biopsy to see if any lymph nodes are involved, and remove them if they are. Then pre-op will be sometime between the two. 

Mind you, when we left there we felt very good that he is being very thorough about cancer and such, but it definitely gave Mark and I a pause over the whole situation. Elboim went over EVERYTHING. Reconstruction is still out of the question due to my radiation, and now with this example of problems with my tissue healing, it just confirms this is the best choice. And I've been good with this all along. There will need to be an ICD tech there to turn the ICD on and off since it is right there adjoining that same breast. And he will do his best with the scar considering how abnormal a good portion of the breast is with this mass. Medicare may kick me out of the hospital the same day, but Mark and he both hope he can work it so I get one night there. I will come home with a drain, but I'm familiar with this from my lumpectomy, so no worries there. And then recovery should be quick and easy, should my incision heal normally, which he warned could be risky with this latest history I have.

So I came home resolved with the next step and happy to have made the decision and have it all in place. And to think I could get it in right after my few days needing to watch the grand kids in early March, and before some plans we have in mid-April. Win-win. But then I was upstairs in my sewing room, working on my quilt blocks, watching the White Queen series (Starz TV), when I couldn't peal my eyes from the screen, and the phone rang. Julie, Dr. Elboim's nurse assistant called to say that since we had so little time between biopsy and surgery, he wanted to calendar a PET Scan in there, but only if the biopsy showed cancer. Someone would be calling to do so and she didn't want me surprised when the call came in. A few moments later, she called back and we scheduled it for a few days before surgery, followed by the pre-op appt. And if the needle biobsy is clean (benign), then we sill skip the Pet Scan. Of course, this got me thinking and wondering, AND worrying. I'm sure he is just being precautionary. But your mind goes to dark places sometimes, and I thought, "what did he see that might have him more alarmed". Regardless, I am ready and he is the best.

So onward we go...

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

THANKS for visiting! Comments are good. I look forward to your comments.

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