Wednesday, 30 March 2011

And Now.... A Sigh of Relief

To cut to the chase, the Reader's Digest version of my post-operative appointment was very routine.  I am healing well and, now for some great news:

1. The tumour aka Griswold (1.4 cm) and its margins (6.9cm x 7.5cm x 2.9cm) were successfully removed.  There are no cancer cells at the tips of the margins that were taken. That means, "they got it all!"  Thank G-d!

2. All 4 lymph nodes that were tested are clear! Yey!

3. On the aggressiveness of the cancer, from a scale of 1 (meaning not aggressive) to 3 (meaning highly aggressive), my cancer is a 2.  Not bad at all!  Combined with the other factors, I am still at a Stage 1 Cancer (pT1cNO (i-) (sn); 1.4cm, Nottingham Grade II/III for you science/medical nerds.

4. As far as the cancer's receptive cells are concerned, I am both estrogen positive and progesterone positive.  Kind of unusual in my family.... as no one else has been positive to hormone receptors.  Not a bad thing, just a weird thing.  But, then again, I've been told that I am a little weird.  In the cancer world, this is very common actually.... and nothing to worry about.

5. The HER2 receptors have not yet been identified.  So, we are waiting for these results.  Plus, I qualified for the government to pay for oncotype testing of the genetic qualities of the tumour in the States.  That means that Griswold will be vacationing in California for a few weeks with $4000.00 as spending money courtesy of socialized medicine!   Information gathered from this testing will help determine what type of chemotherapy would be needed, if any... we'll wait and see.  I'll report back as soon as I know.

TREATMENT

1. I will definitely have at least 5 weeks of radiation but AFTER chemo, if chemo is deemed useful.  Thus, if no chemo, I'd start in May sometime. If chemo is needed, I probably wouldn't start until late summer....

2. I will likely remain on estrogen or other hormone blockers (e.g. Tamoxifen or something in that family) for a number of years.... Not a bad thing at all.... Lots of positive research and great outcomes from this!

3. Chemo, if the oncotype testing proves this will be useful. Time, amount, etc. are yet to be determined...

IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS

1. I consult with the Radiology Oncologist at Princess Margaret tomorrow morning.  This is just so that I can become part of their patient roster for later treatment.  Don't tell the boss.... but I think I may play hooky later on and, possibly, go to the One of A Kind Craft Show after my appointment tomorrow :)

2. Genetics meeting on Monday, April 4.  They seem very keen to figure out how I link to the cancer picture in my family.  Good luck to them.......

3. Medical Oncology meeting at Mt. Sinai with Dr. Christine Elser the end of April to review all info (including HER2 and other genetic markers) to determine full treatment plan.

SO......

It's business as usual... No disruptions to Passover!  I will be up to full strength and armed with Pema my secret weapon to help out!  Can't wait!!!!  I'll be working full-time for the next month and then, we'll see what happens in May!  My goal is to definitely attend David's bar-mitzvah in New Rochelle!  We have to break this cycle of missing certain Rosenstein functions due to pregnancy/final exams and/or an appendectomy!

In closing, I feel great. Had a wonderful lunch with Jordan. Kids feel like a weight has been lifted off them. The sun is shining, I took Lacy out for a long walk and I am so, very happy and relieved.  Sure, there's stuff ahead to deal with, but in the grand scheme of things, very small.  Just inconvenient really.

Again, thanks for your notes, expressions of love, gifts, food, prayers and everything else.  I am truly blessed!

With love to you all!

Melissa/Missy

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

On to Post-Op Appointment

Tomorrow marks the day when I'll be checked and, hopefully, hear the full pathology report.

Actually, I am looking forward to this as then I should get some sense of my schedule over the next few weeks...

I am back at work although privileged to work at home... I actually get lots done provided that Lacy doesn't snore too loudly and that out parrot refrains from singing "Oh Canada" off key!

I will post the results tomorrow so that you will be kept informed. In the meantime, I will ask a favor of you to email rather than call me as it is hard for my family (kids especially) to hear about this constantly....

Thank you again and again for all that you do for me! Your kind thoughts, food, gifts, books, jokes nourish my spirit and I feel so blessed!


xoxo Melissa/Missy

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Going Back To Work

After a little setback from an infected incision, the wound is finally better! I stayed at home yesterday but managed to get a lot done on the computer!

Little Doggy Nightengale couldn't be happier that I'm actually going in to the office today as she needs to catch up on her beauty sleep! As I type this, she is by my side on the kitchen floor... One eye on me and one eye on the pesky squirrels outside who keep taunting her!

Nibbles (our parrot) is happily munching away on his breakfast and being quiet for a change.... He has been bugging me a lot. When I go upstairs, he yells, "Mom.... MOM!" and I think it's one of the kids... If I come downstairs, he innocently says, "oh, hello" or "hi little fella, how are ya?"

Jordan has been great at cooking and keeping me company. He's been hard at work networking the house and getting lots of TV shows and movies. Amanda has been shopping, running errands and also cooking.... All this and finishing Grade 12! Little Superwoman! Jonah is hard at work with exams and final papers and presentations due... He moves out of Guelph the end of April for good and graduates in August! Time flies! Can't wait to have him home!

So, a few more sips of coffee and I'll be off to work! Now it's business as usual! This is good!

Thanks to you all for your car and van loads of food, gifts, flowers and warm wishes! I appreciate it so much!

xoxo Melissa/Missy

Friday, 18 March 2011

Patient Status - Friday March 18, 2011

Our patient is still quite sore but it seems to be a question of positioning. As long as she doesn't apply pressure against her underarm, she is ok.  Missy is eating breakfast on the couch in the den as she surfs the net with her iPhone.  Lacy the dog is bringing her kibble into the den (one piece at a time) and is joining Missy for breakfast.  It's amazing how dogs sense that something isn't right.
 
Once the pathology results arrive at the end of the month, we will have a clearer idea regarding next steps. 
 
I am going to shut up for a while and let Missy maintain her blog as she is feeling better. 
 
Thank you all for your support and for sending email instead of phoning.
 
Love,
 
J

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Patient Status - Thursday March 17, 2011


9:40 AM - Our patient had a good night's sleep and a good washing this morning - she smells much better.  Missy is sore but Advil is more than sufficient for pain.  She has started borrowing my shirts for comfort.  I have downloaded seasons one through seven of House for her and so far she has slept through three episodes.  Bubbie just dropped off a "small" dinner.  The first 50 people who reply can come join us  for dinner.....  oye.... 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Melissa's Turn

I am not sure what went on with Jordan manning the blog yesterday as I was out of it! And he was bored and getting a little punchy! So,... Do I need to apologize at all?

The surgery was very routine... It took about 90min. Initially, it was quite painful when I woke up but the drugs provided instant relief... Gotta love them... But I haven't needed more than Advil today....

I slept while eating my soup last nite at home and then slept for another 10 hrs. Woke up, had some more soup and Popsicles and went back to sleep with Lacy Nightengale by my side (see photo). In fact, I think I'll have another nap after this blog entry....




I had a crazy dream last nite that Jordan had an addition put on our house to surprise me... It was for some extra office space... I told him, "Great, but it needs better doors and then this will give us more room for guests at Pesach!" So, you can tell I'm well on my road to returning back to my old self....

Jordan has been terrific. Right by my side (nudging Lacy to get there) the whole way, making sure I eat, fielding calls and ensuring I don't fall when stumbling around the house...

Amanda came to visit me in the hospital which was a big step for her knowing how much she hates them! She supplied me with 4 kinds of soup at home as well as frozen yogurt from Menchies yum! Jonah has been in constant contact with us and has an exam today! He has continued to keep me laughing and my spirits high! Even from afar I feel his presence...

And then there is my treasured community of family and friends...

With such an outpouring of support from you, I am truly blessed, grateful and humbled by it.... So, please know how much each of you mean to me and,,,,,

Thank you!


xoxo Melissa/Missy

Patient Status - Wednesday March 16, 2011

Our patient had a long shluffy and is eating and up and about.  Amanda brought home lots of soup and it is slowly being consumed.  Missy is quite sore under the armpit but the pain is  manageable. 

The phone is off the hook.  Please don't call.  Emails and comments on the blog are appreciated.

Lacy the dog is carefully guarding the patient.

How the heck do you post comments on this blog?

A few friends and relatives have written to me explaining that they are having problems leaving comments on the blog.  Here are some simple instructions:

1.  Click on the comments.
2.  In the "Post a Comment" section there is a box to type in your text.
3.  Comment as:  Name/URL - you don't need to leave a URL but type your name in the Name section
4.  Hit post.
5.  It will ask you to type in a funny looking word. 
     (This is to prevent computer programs from doing this automatically).
6.  Type in the word they show you and then hit post.


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Discharge

We are being discharged now (6:00 pm) but we will happily leave Grizwold the tumor behind in the pathology lab. He has now been evicted from Missy's body and g-d willing, all of his offspring are also evicted.

J
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Spoke to Dr.

The radiologist confirms that they got it all with a good margin. The 3 sentinel lymph nodes were identified and extracted. Now we wait for pathology results. This will take until the end of the month.

J
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Sleeping Beauty Awakens

Missy is awake but still a little groggy. She says her armpit is sore (removal of lymph node). I don't see a drainage tube so I am hopeful that she is going home today.
Amanda is with her now (one at a time).

Haven't heard from the doctor yet.

J
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Surgery is Over

We are told that we have to wait an hour for Missy to wake up before we can see her. I have asked to speak with the Dr. to find out how things went. Missy was the last surgery of the day for that Dr. and I am concerned she will take off.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Waiting...

Well, Amanda and I stuffed a vegetarian lunch down our throats and we are back in the surgical waiting room waiting for surgery to end. I think we should have left a trail of bread crumbs - na, I was too hungry to waste em...
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Away We Go

Melissa is off for surgery. Amanda is here and we are going to eat. Decided not to wrestle the big lady for her coffee after all...
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Tim Horton's Coffee

There is a patient recovering in the chair beside me. Her daughter has a large Tim Horton's coffee. I am thinking of wrestling her for it.... She looks pretty tough -hmmmm
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Show Time

Just met with Anaesthetist. Getting started soon. Approx one hour surgery and two to three hours recovery...
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Met the Surgeon

The surgeon just checked in with us and said we should get started soon.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Organization

Some poor staff shlep who speaks broken English keeps trying to give Missy back her clothes. One of the nurses had to explain to him that she hasn't had surgery yet... What a shlep...
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Scrubs

As we sit here waiting (looks like we are moved back to 1:00 pm), I can't help but notice that our scrubs at Chrysalis are much nicer than the scrubs the hospital staff wear....
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Pre Op

All the targets are placed and lymph nodes marked. We are sitting in a surgical staging area. A room full of lazy boy chairs. We are the input queue. There are 17 beds on the other side of the room - recovery... Melissa is starting her IV antibiotics.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Targets etc.

It seems I had things slightly out of order. Step one was the ultrasound so that the wire could be placed as a target. According to Melissa, it was like a silk thread.

We are now getting the special dye injected so that the surgeon will have a better view of the lymphatic system.

The admissions nurse sent us to the wrong place when we first arrived so surgery has been bumped from noon to one pm.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Preparing for Surgery

We were up at the crack of dawn to arrive at the hospital before 7:00 AM. So far, Melissa has been dressed in a lovely cap and gown (not quite like graduation) and is having some preparatory ultrasounds. She will soon be injected with a dye that will allow them to pinpoint the problematic area and set up a target (with wire) so that her difficult tenant / tumor (who she affectionately refers to as "Grizwold") can be evicted.

J

Monday, 14 March 2011

Original Lottery Email for Those Who Asked

To my treasured family and friends,

A few weeks ago, I felt that I had won a lottery. The 1 in 8 chance. As it turns out, a routine mammogram that I completed in January detected a small cancerous growth. If left undetected, this certainly would present as a potentially serious problem. However, it was caught in its infancy state and so the doctors told me, "it's not treatable... it's curable". That's the piece about actually winning the lottery.

As you may or may not know, I have a long and inglorious family history of breast cancer. Many of my family members did not have the technology I've been fortunate enough to benefit from. With this in mind, I am moving forward and brimming with optimism... and maybe, I will spend some time to get past a few long work hours and sniff some roses!

In the meantime, please do not worry about me. This coming Tuesday, March 15, I will have a lumpectomy. After that, the tumour will be genotyped (I wonder if there is an "APP" for that on my iPhone). The genotyping will help direct the course of follow up treatment (i.e. radiation and probably several months of chemo). Things are really cool now in science and meds now can be targeted to specific cancer receptor sites.

The bottom line is I consider myself lucky. If there is one lesson to be learned (and I urge you to heed my advice for yourselves and/or pass this on to other loved ones) is, please make sure that your/her breasts are routinely checked. Don't be afraid of the "C" word any more.....

I love you all and am going to get through this with flying colours.

From the bottom of my heart,

Melissa



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Getting Ready For Tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is the big day! I am ready and brimming with optimism. I want to get rid of this tumor and start the journey toward recovery! I have been overwhelmed by the number of phone calls, emails and pep talks I've received and I want to thank everyone for their support!

Love, Melissa


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