MD Anderson – Final Day

Just a really quick update while we are driving home…if I’m not quick, I just know Alan will get upset that I’m not singing 90s hairband songs to him while he drives. I’m positive it is the only thing that keeps him awake and focused while he drives. I tell myself that his increased focus is not because he feels I’m torturing him and wants nothing more than to get home and out of the car.

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MD Anderson – Day 2

We expected it to be a short day, but it turned into a long one. That’s good.

I started bright and early with a mammogram. I feel like my younger years in gymnastics served me well for this. The tumor is so high up that there were some creative acrobatics involved in getting a clear picture.

Representation of how my mammogram felt today

(Representation of how my mammogram felt today)

From there, we met with the surgeon. Here are things we learned from her:

1) She thinks I would be fine to get a single mastectomy; however, if a double would ease my mind, that is an option.

2) While I will most likely need radiation, she would like to begin reconstruction during the mastectomy. She will do this by inserting an expander which will allow her to preserve the skin in preparation for the reconstruction. They will fill the expander, and I will have it during chemo. Prior to radiation, they will deflate the expander. They will re-inflate for the six months after radiation while I heal, then we would do reconstruction.

3) We really loved her. I think she might be18 years old, but we really liked her a lot. She seems to be walking into this already planning for reconstruction. Dr. Talbert in OKC was walking in with the anticipation of reconstruction being talked about in a year or more. Maybe Dr. Talbert had intentions of using expanders … but, if she did, she didn’t mention them at all.

4) Dr. Gainer wants to get a plastic surgeon in the room with us before we leave. We are hoping for her to be able to coordinate schedules so that can happen before we leave.

We left her not knowing what would come first, the chemo or the surgery. We needed to see if we had any troublesome lymph nodes before we could decide. That would be seen via ultrasound. The ultrasound that we still couldn’t get into until next Tuesday. Boo.

We had a couple of people trying to get us in for the ultrasound today or Monday – both of them were unsuccessful. However, Dr. Gainer had more pull, I suppose, because she got us in today. That was GREAT news.

So, I headed from Dr. Gainer to our previously scheduled echocardiogram. Dr. Moulder (aka Chloe aka oncologist) wanted to get a picture of my heart because the chemo we will be doing can affect the heart so she wants to be able to monitor that as we go. This was a baseline echocardiogram. It was easy. So easy that I almost fell asleep.

Next up, the infamous ultrasound (*insert mystery music*). The plan was to get the ultrasound done, and if they saw anything suspicious, they would biopsy right then. She took a million pictures during the ultrasound, and I feel like I pretty much bathed in ultrasound goo. At one point, the mostly full bottle actually exploded on me. The doctor came in shortly after the tech was done and looked some more. He apparently saw one semi-suspicious lymph node so they quickly set up for a biopsy. It was pretty easy compared to the other biopsies I’ve had. The needle was much smaller.

My favorite part was that instead of waiting 24 hours (and it is the weekend so make that 72 hours) for results like I had to at Mercy, they were able to take my slides directly to the microscope and test them.

Is the suspense killing you yet? It was killing me.

Negative. Clean. No cancer in the biopsy. This day just got better.

This doesn’t mean I’m in the clear. They will still test them at the time of surgery…but it sure does feel pretty good. While I shouldn’t get my hopes up, the oncologist even mentioned not doing chemo if it hasn’t hit the lymph glands. Not likely, but maybe.

As a side note on the ultrasound: the second area that they were almost unable to find on the ultrasound a few weeks ago was very clearly there this time. It is also easily felt now too. The surgeon said that wasn’t anything to be too worried about … so I won’t worry.

Next steps:

1) Meet once more with Dr. Moulder (oncologist) on Monday. Now that we know we will do surgery first, then chemo, we will finalize our plan.

2) Meet with Dr. Gainer (and hopefully a plastic surgeon) on Tuesday. We will plan for the surgery. At this point, she has not confirmed the plastic surgeon’s availability; however, we are looking at November 12 to be the official day. I will spend one night in the hospital, one night in a local hotel (upon her recommendation), then head home.

So November 12 seems ages away, but at least we have a plan. I’m 95% sure that we will do it all down here … and honestly, the other 5% is held back only because I haven’t really discussed it in length with Alan since we got all of this info.

In the meantime, we are headed to our good friends’ house here in Houston. We will spend some time with them this weekend, watch the Sooners win and maybe we will drink a celebratory adult beverage or two in honor of kicking cancer’s butt.


Workplace support: An unexpected blessing

I broke the news to my co-workers a few weeks ago.

This is not the ‘cancer’ talk. It’s just a photo that we posted on Facebook.

(This is not the ‘cancer’ talk. It’s just a photo that we posted on Facebook.)

I was going to be in and out of the office. It was highly likely that I would burst into tears in the first few days (BTW: I’m pretty proud that I actually didn’t have any MAJOR meltdowns!). We are a small company, and this was going to be felt.

I hadn’t even been there for six months.

I’ve had such an amazing mixture of support from everyone there — each in their own way.

But, the common thread is that they have all rallied around to create a team of support. For instance, within minutes (literally ‘minutes,’ as in less than an hour) of me telling them, they were already creating the Koch Comm team page on the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Did I mention that I have only even known these people for six months?

Then came October 1. Koch Comm turned pink on Facebook.

And, then came these:

My boss and my coworkers are truly more than I deserve.

And this is just a teeny tiny glimpse of the support I have been given.

It is so strange to look back at the last two years of our lives and see so many things that have happened to prepare us for this next year (more on that later).

One of those things was Kym Koch Thompson calling me last March. She is a great leader who always sees the best in people, and her team is reflective of this – a team that has poured out care, concern and support.

Words cannot express how grateful I am to have been invited to join this team.