Officially Scheduled

After meeting with the surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon, my surgery is officially scheduled for February 27. It seems like it’s coming up so soon, I can’t believe how quickly this treatment is going by. Both surgeons have made sure that I know what to expect, and while the surgery is supposed to take the better part of the day, the plastic surgeon assured me that it is not major surgery. When I wake, my body won’t have to recover from significant physiological trauma, so recovery shouldn’t be too tough. I’ll stay in the hospital overnight and may have a nurse check on me at home to make sure that I’m healing well until I start my weekly visits with the plastic surgeon. They’ve also made sure that I have prescriptions for pain medication and physical therapy so that I can be ready when I go in for the surgery. The physical therapists will also visit me in the hospital, but visiting with someone ahead of time will make sure that I have an idea of what I should and should not be doing post-surgery. Apparently, while it is important not to overuse my arms or lift anything heavy, it is equally important not to sit around with my arms folded across my chest. By the end of two weeks, I should be able to resume most normal activities, though I imagine there will still be some lifting restrictions for a while. I was also cautioned at one point against blow drying my hair, but I’m thinking that’s not going to be such an issue!

In the meeting with the surgical oncologist, she did discuss the possibility of radiation. Given the results of my PET scan from October showing that the tumor seemed localized to the breast, I wasn’t thinking that radiation was very likely. She will still do a sentinel node biopsy– to check the first lymph node(s) from the breast. Cancer in these nodes would indicate a need for radiation, though again, it seems unlikely. However, the MRI did indicate that the initial tumor was close to the chest wall. (I still can’t decide why I didn’t know that before last week…) While the chemotherapy has shrunk the tumor to the point that it is no longer palpable (my doctors are all thrilled with that!), if any tumor remains close to the chest wall, radiation may be necessary after all. Clay keeps telling me that I should mentally plan on radiation so that I won’t be disappointed if I need it. And of course, it would be a nice “surprise” if I were able to skip that step. I’m having a little harder time with accepting the possibility of radiation, though. Going through additional treatment means more time spent at the hospital, potentially more fatigue, and more time away from my goal of just being normal. And because irradiated skin takes more time to heal, the reconstruction process will take much longer, too. I’m so thankful for all the prayers for my strength– I feel confident that God has continued to make my body strong enough to withstand so many of the ill effects of chemotherapy. And so now I would ask for your prayers that I might not need radiation, and that if radiation is necessary, that I will be able to keep it in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, a few more months to normal isn’t really all that much…

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