Well, another year has passed and Patty and I are about as healthy as we can be! Patty got some amazing news just a week ago…
December 14, 2015 was Patty’s 5 year anniversary from her last Chemo. Five years! My how the time flies by. She just had an appointment with her Oncologist for her final check-up of the year. She has been seeing her every six months for the past couple of years. This was a big one for her since hitting the five-year mark post chemo gives her a greater chance of survival and being cancer free for many years to come. In addition, she was taking the medication Arimidex which lowers estrogen levels in post-menopausal women, which may slow the growth of certain types of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow in the body. Patty experienced a number of side effects to the medication such as tingling of the extremities, joint pain and, one of my personal favorites… hot flashes! Not just one or two a day, but we’re talking hot flashes anytime of the day, night or morning! I’ve been wanting to get her a super hero costume with a cape and call her The Hot Flash! Poor Patty… she is the only woman I’ve known that will turn the air conditioner on in the car when it’s 32 degrees outside! If things turned out well with her appointment there was a big hope that the doctor would take her off the Arimidex! So this was a big appointment for her… and us. I generally go to every appointment with her,but unfortunately she had to do this one on her own as I had “things” to deal with at work. As usual, about a week before her appointment Mr. Elephant in the room dropped by for his semi-annual visit as I could see patty starting to withdraw a little. If you look back in past posts I’ve described how she gets about a week before any appointment so I go into my routine of trying to keep her mind off of things… I go into “stupid mode!” I joke… laugh… just try to keep her entertained. It never works but why not try.
Her appointment with the Oncologist was December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. She gave blood samples the day before and had a bone density scan. So, December 23rd finally arrived and fortunately Patty was really busy with work so that kind of kept her mind off of things… Patty went to her appointment as scheduled, apprehensive as to what news the doctor would have for her…
December 23rd at about 2:30 my phone rang. I saw it was Patty when I answered it… Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: “Hi Honey… How’d it go???
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m taking it that it went well?”
Patty: “The doctor said I graduated!!! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m so happy!!!”
Patty: “No more Arimidex! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “That’s great!
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
That’s pretty much how it went! Not recommended, but she was driving and doing her happy dance at the same time in the car!
Yep… the doctor gave her a clean bill of health! She graduated! The doctor also took her off the Arimidex! No more hot flashes! No more air conditioner in the car when it’s freezing outside! No more needing to wear a wetsuit to bed! I know it all sounds selfish of me, but all I can say is: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
We hope 2016 brings everything good to you!
Today is a very important day for Patty! Today is the CAT Scan! Poor thing is pretty freaked out about it. I don’t blame her. I’m confident things will be fine. I think what’s weighing on her is that damned faulty PET Scan she had last June that showed the cancer had spread to her chest. The doctors proved it to be faulty with other tests and a CAT Scan and as a result they have been treating her for “cure.” I try to look at this in a logical manner, with facts to back up my decision. The CAT Scan in July showed the cancer to be localized in her breast and nowhere else. She had the mastectomy in late July which removed the tumor. There were no “margins” which is the area where the breast was removed that could still have some cancer cells that they missed. There was only one lymph node involved, the sentinel node which is the node closest to the tumor. They took the next 11 lymph nodes in line from there. Then she went through six grueling chemo treatments with TAC which is the strongest treatment they have. I look at all those facts and to me, I can’t see how the cancer could have spread. Maybe there’s more to it, but it just seems logical that they got everything.
Remember in previous posts, I talked about the “Logical vs. Emotional?” The “emotional” always wins over logic! Here we are again. I wish I had the right words to say to her to make this better, but I don’t. I don’t even think there are words to make this better for her. All I can do is be understanding of her feelings and support her as much as I can.
So, all I’m doing here is asking that you have positive thoughts and prayers for Patty that this test comes out with great results! Her appointment is this morning at 10:40 and we get the results on Thursday at 11:00 a.m.
Wish us well!!! Thanks!
1/18/2011, 12:40 p.m.: OK, as they say in the movie business, “This one is in the can!” Amazing how quickly they can do this scan! We were there at 10:15… they called her name… Patty left with a nurse and she was back in 15 minutes. Done. She was doing much much better when the scan was over. She said the anticipation of the scan was just killing her. Now it’s the waiting game for two days. 11:00 a.m. Friday can’t come soon enough. But, it’s done. Whatever the results are, are in God’s hands now. I’m confident the results will be great!
Keep those prayers coming her way! Thank you so much for everyone’s support!
We met with the oncologist this afternoon. As with the other doctors at Scripps, we have 110% confidence in her! From our first meeting, you could tell she was a fighter! She was very matter of fact with us. “Due to the aggressiveness of the tumor and the fact it did spread to one lymph node, I want to be aggressive with this and treat it with chemo!” You know what? We expected this would be the treatment so there were really no surprises when she made the announcement. I know my wife and I can honestly say that Patty is truly ready for this fight, mentally as well as physically! She’s really ok with chemo. Sure, there’s going to be some side-effects… but she’s ready to take them on! Just like the t-shirt I had gotten her that reads: “Hey Cancer! You picked the wrong broad!” Cancer really did!
So… unfortunately Patty has two more “tests” to do before the chemo begins. A bone scan and some type of heart scan. I think having the “tests” is bothering her more than the chemo. But, what can one do? That just means two more tests and “waiting” for the results! Waiting is never fun!
Patty will have her first treatment on Tuesday, August 31st. She’ll have a total of six treatments, three weeks apart. If everything goes well, which it should, her last treatment will be on her daughter, Nicole’s, birthday on January 4th. (notice I didn’t say how old Nicole will be!)
Now we get to go wig shopping… hat shopping and scarf shopping! (God, the things I do for my wife!) Gotta love her!!!
This afternoon’s appointment was with the Nurse Practitioner for our surgeon. Another woman we just love! They were running about an hour behind so we sat in the waiting room “people watching.” You really know that you’ve been going to the doctor way too much when the employees start knowing who you are!!!
Two good things came out of today’s appointment. #1: There is NO cancer in Patty!!! All of the cancer has been removed! #2: Patty will never have to have a mammogram on her left breast for the rest of her life!
The Nurse Practitioner was amazed at how well the first step in the reconstruction was looking. She said: “Oh Patty… this looks great! You’re going to be very happy when it’s done!” Then she made a comment about what great work the reconstruction doctor does and how she was thinking of having a “lift!” (Way too much information for me!)
She did say that most likely Patty will need to go through chemo since there was a lymph node involved, but then again, that will be the call of the oncologist. So, the next appointment is with the oncologist on Wednesday afternoon.
So here’s the latest… I ran down to the store a little while ago to pick up some things for dinner! Patty stayed home with her sister, Kathy. I was gone about a half hour. I returned and opened the front door and there was Patty, standing on the other side of the door. She was doing her “happy dance!” If you haven’t witnessed the “happy dance” it’s something that you have to see… describing it does the dance no justice! Anyway, I asked why she was dancing… she replied “One in Twelve! One in Twelve!” I had no idea what that meant, then she said: “The doctor just called and said only one out of twelve lymph nodes had cancer!!!”
This is HUGE news! This determines how the treatment will go! This doesn’t change anything about her being in a Stage II cancer. We’re ok with that! What it DOES mean is that the survival rate for a “One in Twelve” is very high! And Patty, being the fighter that she is, can kick this cancer’s butt!!!
This is HUGE news!!!
Ok… so we got through the surgery! Phew! Now we’re back in the waiting game to hear the results of the biopsy! The surgeon told me that the biopsy only determines what kind of treatment Patty will need for the remainder of the fight. Let’s just pray that other than the one lymph node we know of that had cancer cells, the others are clear. That would make the treatment phase for Patty much easier. As Patty said last night: “Either way, it is what it is and I just have to deal with whatever treatment they want me to have!” Patty really has a good positive attitude which is so important right now. Like I’ve said so many times before in this blog, she’s still terrified, but she’s also ready to fight.
Patty only spent one night in the hospital and came home on Friday afternoon. She was in quite a bit of pain Friday night going in to Saturday morning. Needless to say, we had a long night. But it was still good to have her home! Then Saturday afternoon rolled around and suddenly she got her color back and it was very obvious that she had turned the corner! Since then, she’s been getting better and stronger every day! She even had part of a cocktail last night which definitely tells me she’ s on the mend! I think one thing that has really helped in her recovery is the fact that she’s an avid Jazzerciser! She Jazzercises at least 4 times a week (must be nice to be retired!). She in really good shape!
Patty’s sister, Kathy, came out from Prescott, Az, to give us a hand this week! She’s been such a huge help! “Alone time” has not been a good time for Patty. This is when her mind wonders and she get’s scared. Kathy is keeping her busy, and in doing so, she’s keeping those “demon’s” at bay!!! Thanks Kathy!
So… Patty’s next doctor’s appointment is Monday, 8/9, sometime in the afternoon. Hopefully we get good news!
Look at that girl! The love of my life! Who would ever think that something like cancer would have attacked her. Like I said in an earlier post… breast cancer can pick anyone as their victim!
OK… so, the surgery was scheduled and we counted down the days until it would happen! I just kept thinking… “She’s being treated for cure!!!” That sounded so much better than the earlier prognosis! Patty had a few meltdown’s on the days before the surgery… she’s still terrified and she’s also doing the “what if’s?” “What if…. it spread? What if… they find it’s in the lymph nodes?” Hey, I don’t blam her for thinking about those things. (OK… I’ll admit, those “what if’s” crossed my minds also!)
So the day finally came… Thursday, July 29th! The day the cancer comes out and the cure begins! Patty slept really well the night before! I was surprised but she really did. I was the one who woke up at midnight thinking it was time to get up. I also woke up at 4 a.m. and layed there in the dark and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I got up at 4:30 a.m. and started my day. Patty actually got up around 7 a.m. We had to be at the hospital at 9 a.m. and surgery was scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
We got to the hospital a little before 9:00 a.m. They took us into a “pre-op” room shortly thereafter. The room was really small, but the setup is great. It’s just a room to hang out in before surgery. They wanted Patty there early so they could inject some type of radioactive dye into her breast that would allow the surgeon to see exactly where the cancer was located and be assured she got it all out! (that’s pretty important!) Patty had the injection around 10 a.m. which took maybe 20 minutes. She came back in the pre-op room and we just hung out waiting for surgery time. Nicole (Patty’s daughter) showed up around 10:30 a.m. and helped me kill time and keep Patty busy until surgery time. I could feel the anxiety in the room watching the clock tick, tick, tick to 12:30. I know Nicole felt it also but she was a trooper and wanted to keep her mother’s mind off of things so she (who is 7 months pregnant) told us stories about her birthing class and how she was worried about her maternal instincts kicking in! She had us laughing about how her gag reflex would most likely kick in when her baby has “ugly/stinky poo!” Well, it turned out that the surgeon was at another clinic that morning and was running late! The scheduled 12:30 surgery was more like 1:15! But we patiently waited. She showed up a little after 1:00 p.m. She was just her happy self as usual! She was just what Patty needed to see. I could see her anxiety level drop the second the doctor walked in. So, it was time to go… I gave Patty a kiss and she walked off with the doctor. Before she left, the surgeon told me that her part of the procedure would take an hour to and hour and a half to complete then the reconstruction surgeon would come in and that would take another hour and a half. She said she’d meet me in the waiting room. So I walked over to the waiting area and did what I was supposed to do… wait! Damn, that seems like all we’ve done is wait. But what’s another three hours after the last three months? My sister, her husband and son came to wait with me, so I wasn’t alone. But when talking to them, my mind was in the surgery room wondering how things were going. An hour past… no doctor. An hour and a half passed… still no doctor. Ok, so my mind was starting to play games with me… a little. Of course I was making excused in my head why the surgeon wasn’t out yet. Now two hours had passed… no doctor. Ok, I’m really starting to freak out. I’m normally not like that… but this was my wife, my best friend in the surgery room having a mastectomy! I wasn’t feeling good about this. I tried having a “normal” conversation with my sister, but looking back right now… I have no idea what I talked to them about. About two and a half hours into the surgery, the surgeon came walking down the hallway. She looked at me and apologized for the time but she said she was stuck waiting for the biopsy results. She said the surgery went great… they did find one lymph node that had, as she said, “a little cancer” in it. But the one next to it tested negative. She also said they biopsied 14 other lymph nodes and wouldn’t have the results for at least another 5 days or so. Whatever the results of the biopsy are just tell them what treatment Patty will need. She did say she wouldn’t be surprised if Patty will have to go through chemo or radiation or both. It was kind of a stupid question I asked, but I asked: “Will Patty be alright?” She smiled at me and said: “Patty will be fine.”
Things have been moving so fast since the doctors are now “Treating for Cure!” We met with two more incredible doctors over the past two weeks! First was with the surgeon who will remove the cancer.
Patty and I had an appointment with the surgeon on Wednesday, July 21st. She is the kind of woman that you just feel comfortable with the moment you meet her. She’s probably around her 40’s but has a bio that’s a mile long. She has a great bedside manner and had Patty laughing harder than I’ve seen her laugh since this whole nightmare started! She explained that she could “try” to do a lumpectomy but felt a mastectomy would be best to minimize reoccurrence. Patty agreed with her suggestion. She also suggested that we start the breast reconstruction at the same time as the surgery. The doctor explained that once she removed the breast she would biopsy some of the lymph nodes in her breast which would determine what type of post operative treatment she would need… chemo… radiation… hormone therapy or a combination of treatments. She said they’ll biopsy two or three lymph nodes and if they come back positive for cancer they’ll keep biopsying them until they find some that are clear. Once they find the clear ones, they stop. Hey, she’s the doctor. At the end of the appointment, she said if everything works out, she could have the surgery by the end of the following week! She obviously knew the urgency of this situation we were in, which the doctors at the other hospital failed to see! (Hmmm.. do I sound bitter?) It was close to noon and she said: “let me see if I can get a hold of the the reconstruction surgeon and see if he can see you.” She left the room and came back a couple minutes later saying: “he’s just eating his lunch and I told him to put his lunch down and see you. So he’s waiting for you right now!” We thanked her and went downstairs to the reconstruction doctors office. There he was, standing outside in the reception area waiting for us. He took us in and conducted an exam with Patty. He then sat us down and explained how the reconstruction procedure would work. He was very thorough and made us feel very comfortable. He then introduced us to his office manager who put things in motion for the surgery. She coordinated both doctors schedules and whamo… a surgery date of July 29th! We actually had a surgery date! You don’t know how much we’ve wanted this date!