I did decide to go with the surgeon there because I really felt comfortable with her knowledge and personality. We have scheduled the surgery for Thur, May 3rd. The decision is for a partial mastectomy/lumpectomy. She is fairly confident that the tumor can be removed and hopefully the area with clean margins without causing too much damage (from the outside). According to the scans, this tumor sits VERY close to the chest wall, so it means that there will be some muscle (pectoral, I believe) as well which will mean a little extra effort in terms of recovery as I am right-handed and the tumor is on my right side.
The chemo would probably begin about 3-4 weeks after the surgery, so I'm thinking late May or early June. The plan is to manage chemo and radiation in Knoxville at UT Hospital. We really were amazed by the staff and doctors there during our visit. I'm told that the hair loss usually occurs around the 14th day after chemo begins. This is still one of the scariest parts for me. I know that this cancer won't kill me. But living without hair will be hard for someone with self-image issues. I've almost always had medium or long hair and the idea of cutting it off is pretty terrifying. The kids seem to like my hair also and I wonder how they will handle mommy's new "look."
I asked the medical oncologist (did I mention that I LOVED her?!?! Seriously amazing.) about it because she has a 4 y/o and an 18 m/o and she encouraged cutting it short soon and possibly including the kids in order for them (us/me) to get used to it a little more gradually. I've also read that cutting it ( and even shaving it) sometimes seems to throw the control back to the one with the cancer, rather than the cancer controlling when the hair comes out. I can sort of understand that right now since I feel like things are completely out of control and definitely out of my control!
While visiting Vanderbilt, I was confronting my fears when I passed more than one relatively young woman who was wearing a scarf or cap and was obviously bald underneath. The number of YOUNG women I have read about or noticed while going to these appointments has been unsettling and upsetting to me. Many are much younger than me. And I tried not to stare but it was hard not to because that "look" is just around the corner for me.
Just around the corner. Cancer is here and there are so many new things waiting just around the corner for me. Surgery for a lumpectomy and hopefully only the removal of two lymph nodes plus the addition of a port. Hair cuts. Chemo. Hair loss. Nausea. Weight GAIN?!? (I thought this was a chance to get skinny - as I was trying desperately to find the silver lining in this - but now I've heard that most younger women gain weight because of the anti-nausea drugs.) Beyond chemo, there will be infusions of Herceptin every 3 weeks for a year. Plus radiation will begin after chemo. Then there are the visits to be sure that the cancer hasn't come back. Being afraid that cancer could once again be just around the corner, but I have to find a way to keep that fear at bay. Life is just around the corner. It's a new life. But it is life.
Tomorrow we celebrate that Jesus has risen. He has risen indeed and HE gave His life for me. Me? I can't imagine the torment He went through knowing he would have to die. Just these last few weeks have been enough for me and I knew that this cancer wouldn't be a death sentence. But He KNEW HE WOULD DIE.
Yes. Life is good. He is my savior. And this cancer is NOT going to kill me.
Two friends posted this link on my Facebook page. It was a good reminder.
Thank you to friends and family who have been praying for me and have sent messages of encouragement. It means more than you could ever know.