Saturday, September 25, 2010

One reality at a time..

It's been a little over 2 weeks since Penny's surgery and she is doing really well.  She was able to shower on her own this week and she was also able to put on a t-shirt for the first time which she was pretty proud of.  Until now she has had to wear a sweatshirt that zipped up in the front.  Arm mobility is still limited and this week she has been dealing with muscle spasms in her chest.  She says it reminds her of a braxton hicks from pregnancy except in her chest.  I'll take her word for the braxton hicks thing and stick with calling it a charlie horse.   Hopefully they won't last long.

This week we met with the plastic surgeon and the oncologist.  The plastic surgeon will begin the process of expanding her chest wall next week.  The expansion process should take 4-6 weeks and be followed by another surgery several months from now (after chemo) to replace the expanders with implants.

Chemo will start in 3 weeks and will take place once every 3 weeks for a total of 6 treatments.  My math without a calculator says that's about 4 and a half months.   She will be on another drug (Herceptin) for over a year that will also require an infusion once every 3 weeks.  Evidently there is a drug currently in clinical trials that the oncologist says she can get her hands on that would reduce the chance of anything spreading to the brain.  When asked about the odds of losing her hair the Dr. said with confidence "100%". 

The oncologist feels she should have radiation which is not what we wanted to hear.  If we understood her...she was saying without radiation there is a 25% chance of recurrence (surprise...seemed high to us) and radiation would drop that by 1/3rd or to 17%.  Seems like the logical thing to do however radiation will damage the skin and have a negative effect on the reconstruction results.  We plan to meet with a radiation oncologist to get a better feel for her options but for now it appears she'll have another difficult decision ahead.

If I'm being honest this has been a difficult week.  It's like you are in a dream but getting hit with one reality at a time.  Each meeting with a doctor brings a realization of what lies ahead...none of which are very pleasant.  This week was just a busy week for reality I guess.  We visited some friends last night who lost their daughter to H1N1 last year which definitely helped put things back into perspective for us.  Back to being positive...

"The task ahead of us is nothing compared to the force of God behind us."


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Test Results and Recovery

Well, it's been nearly a week since surgery.  Penny's recovery has gone as planned although she will tell you she underestimated the pain she has experienced.  She had 5 different tubes removed yesterday which wasn't fun for her but I know she feels much better having them out. 

We received some good news today and an answer to prayer.  Test results indicate there was no cancer in the margins around the tumor (meaning they got it all).  The opposite breast had no cancer cells and only 2 of 15 lymph nodes tested positive.  We meet the oncologist next Thursday but there is a decent chance no radiation will be required.  We'll at least hang our hat on that for now.

She wanted me to thank everybody for the wonderful meals, flowers and cards.   She loves checking the mail. :-)  We are so blessed to be surrounded by such a caring group of people.

 We received a quote from a friend that has become our motto.. "The task ahead of us is nothing compared to the force of God behind us."  (Thanks Diane)


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back Home

Penny made it home Friday evening.  It's amazing they can send someone home so soon after a major surgery.  She is in a great deal of pain and is dealing with a bad headache..probably from the morphine.  We switched pain meds this afternoon and that seems to be helping.  I've never seen so many tubes and such coming out of someone.  Right now a low grade fever has us a little concerned but hopefully it stays just that..low grade.  Overall though, she's been a real trooper and seems to be getting better by the hour.  She is an amazing person!

A great buckeye win along with an awesome lasagna dinner (from friends) made for a pleasant afternoon. :-)  

Thanks again for all the prayers, cards, flowers and offers of help.  God has blessed us with great friends.    --Ryan

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Surgery update

This is Ryan...I'm going to try to update Penny's blog.

It's been a long day but surgery went well.  She was in the O.R. from 9:45 until 3:30.  She's in a great deal of pain but in good spirits and dealing with things in her usual positive and humorous sort of way.

The procedures both went as planned however they had a positive test on her Sentinel Lymph Node..meaning the cancer had begun to spread.  In her words "That stinks."  As a result they removed all the surrounding nodes and sent them in for further testing.  The results of those tests will determine whether or not she will need radiation treatments.  We are hopeful those tests will come back negative.  The tumor itself was 4cm (golf ball) in size. 

The game plan is for her to come home tomorrow.  I can see it's going to be a rough few days, which is all the further I can look ahead at this point.  One day at a time. :-)

We want to thank everyone for the prayers and words and letters of support.  It really means a lot to her.   --Ryan

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First of all, thank you for all of the prayers!

Tomorrow is the big day.....nervous.....yep that about sums it up.  I guess it seems more real now. 

So, here's the scoop...

Surgery is at 9 a.m.  I will be having a double mastectomy with the start of reconstruction.  Why a double you ask?  I want to reduce the possibility of EVER having to go through all of this again.  Hospital stay should only be overnight. (crazy, I know!)  After the healing I will undergo chemo, as of right now, no radiation. (Keep your fingers crossed.)

I am blessed to have great friends and family who have all been very supportive and encouraging.....thank you all so much!

I will have Ryan make a post after surgery.