Next Plan: Treatment – & more test results…and me breaking down tonight
So, pretty much my entire left side of my clothes are wet right now…I’ll get to that at the end of tonight’s blog.
Yesterday I was so excited to meet up with my oncologist again, Dr. Chowhan. Learning my treatment options and what’s to come, what’s the plan..all that..I like that. As much as I LOVE to fly by the seat of my pants..I love to plan. I like to know ahead of time what I’m up against so I can educate myself (properly..no more midnight internet searches…ugh). So we head to The Cancer Center of Indiana this morning for my appointment. This appointment was a follow up to many things. Today we would find out what my treatment would be, results from the BRCA genetic test, results of my CT scan (didn’t tell you guys that one cause I didn’t want to cause worry..I get migraines often, so I asked Dr. Berg (my general surgeon-at the post op follow up visit) if we could get that checked out as well).
I go through all of the mandatory check-in procedures..weight, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, blood count and then the paper gown to put on..then sit and wait. Man, have we learned a ton of patience since November.
When Dr. Chowhan enters in the room, I am instantly soothed. I have loved this man from the first time I saw him. Not a weird way, a very nurturing “gonna take care of you with all of my patience and extreme knowledge” sort of way. He has this ambience, an aura if you will, around him that just makes you feel better. Here’s a photo of him and I from this afternoon By the way, not only is he the Medical Director at the Cancer Center (which is a part of Floyd Memorial) he is also the president of the Oncology Society! I am very happy to have him as my chosen oncologist.
Why I’ve been looking forward to meeting up with him again, is basically for clarity. I have an extensive cancer team, but since he is the oncologist and will be help healing me during my chemo treatments, I wanted to know every spec of detail in his brain about what he thinks about me and my breast cancer.
Let me sidetrack for a moment…going into this, I had no idea even what an oncologist was. I had heard the term before, and just wasn’t really sure anything more than something related to cancer…What an oncologist is, is a doctor who is qualified in diagnosing and treating cancer.
His explanation to me was like this (in my words of course..lol): “The invasive cancer that was found in your tumor was so small, we would normally STAGE this cancer at a “1″.”
(Remember back a few posts me telling you I have stage 3 cancer??!! frick ) ”..But, this tiny bit of cancer has spread into your lymph nodes..which is rare. Stage 1 cancer in a 60 year old woman is not the same stage 1 cancer in you. So this we will be treating differently. Because of your age, your hormones and metabolism are so much higher than of a 60 year old, that cancer spreads and grows and all of that much, much faster-making this a very aggressive type of cancer. What we would normally do in this scenario with an older woman, would typically be radiation to your lymph nodes (since they already removed all of my breast tissue). But again, this is a different and more rare type of cancer we are facing. Removing the lymph nodes is how we want to treat this because of how aggressive this cancer is at your age.”
I have been wondering how many people out there have been wondering about this about me…I wonder if anyone thinks about all of my decisions as radical. Removing a healthy breast, “just incase” the cancer goes to the other…I doubt many would wonder this about my choice of reconstruction…but now I wonder how many out there will be thinking how radical this is for me to have all my axillary lymph nodes removed. Now understand that if anyone does have a query about my choices, I am fine with that. But in the end, please remember these are my choices. I am not going into this blind folded. I am like a sponge and reading EvErYtHiNg I can about cancer in general. I am totally on board with MANY holistic approaches to nearly anything in life (I went to school for massage therapy!) but when it comes to my cells mutating like crazy…I honest to God do not believe that changing my diet will change this. I don’t believe prayer will stop them from mutating. What I do fully believe in is where God is laying my path out for me. He is holding my hand and guiding me to all of my doctors who HAVE the best knowledge and medical capabilities for ME. I believe eating healthy and certain foods, DO help you stay strong, alert, mobile, etc..I believe in exercise to keep your body healthy (HOW FREAKING BIZARRE IS IT THAT THIS SUMMER I RANDOMLY AM LIKE>>”Hey Alyssa, Let’s go running nearly every single stinking day!!!???”) I believe everyone’s prayers are helping my healing process, helping all of my family keep a calm mind and trust in each moment..that everything WILL be fine. God has a reason for me. I am a hard-ass fighter and He knows this. I have a purpose here on this earth and I am fully aware of this now loud and clear..My body is ready for this challenge, and I am up for it. I don’t want to call it a “fight” necessarily…because like I stated in an early blog entry..that these are my cells. This is my body. What it is doing to me isn’t trying to harm me…for some reason, it may be trying to make me have super-powers and my body just isn’t reacting they way they want. Sorry to say cells, breasts and lypmh nodes…I am choosing to remove you so I can have my “super-powers” as a Mommy for a very, very long time.
Okay…long winded there..Let me show you a photo of my incredible nurse navigator, Kristy Helm…who really is the freaking GLUE of all of this. She is the one to set in motion ALL of my appointments, calling each doctor/nurse corresponding schedules and getting me in to my appointments as fast as possible. Kristy, I love you too. Please, if you have a moment, read this beautiful article about how she becomes each patient’s advocate and point person.
EFF YES!! What I was facing with the BRCA test IF it had come back positive, would be to have a hysterectomy. WOW. I know right? It’s because that type of gene if you have it, and get breast cancer…it goes hand in hand with ovarian cancer..Enough about that, I get to keep my baby maker and I’m pumped!!!
Treatment: 4 weeks after the removal of my lymph nodes is when I will begin my first chemo treatment. This is what chemo is: Chemotherapy (also called chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Basically, poison. This is an awesome site all about chemo and is laid out nice and simple if you would like to read more in depth about it. Click here
I also have a very angry lymph node under my right armpit. If you were to take a golf ball and walk around with it there all day, and sleep with it..that is what it feels like. It’s big. This more than likely occurred after the bi-lateral mastectomy. BUT, Dr. Chowhan wants to get an ultra-sound of it to see if it is fluid filled (good!) or solid (bad..more icky cancer). Either way, next week sometime will be my surgery of the lymph node removal. Next week, Monday the 14th, is also my 28th birthday! There was no doubt in my mind I would be cancer free before then…but again..God has His plan for me.
SO…with all of this positivity I guess you are reading from me tonight..You wouldn’t guess I had a severe breakdown. Bad. Worst in a long time. Just built up all day, and I’m not sure why. I guess honestly, the human side really needs to come out..I’m honestly still scared and Bj told me he thinks I may be ignoring that fact about myself, tonight when he found me in the bathtub tonight…yes. The bathtub. I went to the bathroom because I felt that deep, drowning wave coming up..if you have depression – you know exactly what wave I’m talking about. It’s inescapable. So I sat on the floor and went to pinterest to try and read all of my positive bits that inspire me…but it didn’t help. The wave was really strong. It was coming at me very fast..I started to cry. I started to really then cry hard. And it hurt. My “breasts” are still tender and my chest still aches. So crying, you use a shit ton of muscles all up and around there…I needed to get this wave out. So I put a song on and got into the tub, fully clothed and curled up and bawled the shit out while listening to one, in my opinion, of the most beautiful song’s in the world…”After the Storm” by Mumford & Sons. This song shouldn’t really make anyone sad, but I’m an emotional wreck..and Marcus rips through my soul when he sings. Please, please listen to this song for me. The lyrics go through as he sings.
“And I won’t die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I’ll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.”
My friends…up until tonight was the first time I have “for real” thought about myself dying. I cried not about being afraid of death. But for my children. My husband. My parents, siblings, cousins, all my family and all of my friends. I cried for how sad you all would be. How many prayers you prayed for me. How hard you fought along with me…and somehow God would need me sooner….I can’t see my screen right now cause my tears are filling up again..but you get the gist.
Bj comes in (most of you know my husband as Will-but personally he goes by Bj) and finds me bawling in the wet tub. He thought the dogs were howling outside..I started to laugh, big snotty laughs. He asked if he could take a photo of me so we could laugh at this part later when I’m stronger. I am sharing this to show you how bad it gets…the depression..the helplessness. God bless this man who has been dealing with my roller-coaster for about a decade now…knew exactly how to snap me out of it..I’ve never, however, crawled into a bathtub like this to escape. I hated everything that has been happening so bad..I just wanted it all to end.
Here is me mid sob mid laugh at the whole thing..I’m insane, and it’s okay!..I hope no one shows up at my door and takes me to the hospital for words shared tonight..I’ve really got my depression in control, believe it or not…just the cancer wave and everything really, really fcking hit me hard tonight. Hence, why my entire left side was soaking wet. I didn’t care that the tub was wet
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.