Sunday, August 9, 2009

2 weeks post op: not all is dark...

...literally & figuratively.

1 -- As to the final pathology report on my lymph nodes, there's some potential discrepancy. Seems that there can be displacement of cells at the time of the sentinel node biopsy itself that may account for the micrometastasis of cancer detected in that first node. This is of course different than if the cancer cells migrated there themselves. It is also a strong possibility in my case, strong enough infact that the surgeon doesn't want to remove any more lymph nodes, which is the usual practice if any cancer is found in the sentinel node.

In addition there are two different methods to test nodes and one is more sensitive than the other, which it is believed accounts for picking up these misleading micrometastases. Not to mention the current prognosis/treatment protocols are based on the less sensitive method.

Guess who is calling the pathology dept ASAP and hounding the pathologist with multitudes of questions?

This link explains everything for those interested or needing info.

Bottom line: According to my researach I should have my specimens retested by a breast pathologist. Yup, doctor search, here we go again. More on all that as the situation progresses.

2 -- The other HUGE piece of news is (drum roll please):

I finally looked!!!!!
The good: The shape of my breast is amazing -- even tho it's a little perkier due to swelling you can see that once the swelling goes down it will probably darn near match Lefty perfectly. And even if it didn't droop one bit more it's pretty darn close already. Michael was right, it does look exactly like me only really, really beat up. This is SO not what one thinks a mastectomy looks like. Only the colors of my skin show the signs of my ordeal. Truly, the breast shape itself looks totally normal. The visiting nurse was aghast, she didn't believe I'd had a mastectomy.

The bad: The skin is dark and it's freaking me out. It's every shade of purple and wine you can envision. The very center of my nipple is particularly dark, almost but not quite black, and a little hardened. The plastic surgeon says there are no topical ointments, no treatment -- and she can't judge or predict if it's going to get better or this is the beginning of the end either. And then even the end isn't necessarily the end -- sometimes when skin dies new skin underneath is healthy and pretty. We just have to wait....there's nothing to be done but wait and see.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm not real good with the whole wait and do nothing bit.

So, I've been on the Google prowl for everything and anything I can do to increase blood circulation and improve skin health. No lotions or potions -- I'm following doc's orders there. But food & vitamin-wise, I'm on it. From beta carotene to licopene to protein and diet is getting stuffed w/as much nutrient dense food as I can stomach and a few carefully chosen supplements tossed in too.

I'm trying not to get discouraged while at the same time bracing myself for the worst in terms of losing some/all of my NAC. Honestly? Not sure I can handle it if the worst happens...just the thought of it is too much right now even as I write. After all this to lose it would feel so unfair I can't even go there without falling apart.

Which brings me to the third and final issue...

3 -- Putting the above aside, otherwise my emotional state actually seems to get a little less dark day by day. There are still periods of true despair, but I also can now see them punctuated with some vague sense of normal moments. Like now, as I write this...I probably feel as good as someone in my position could. Yet hours ago I was completely lost and beyond hope. "Mood swings" doesn't even begin to cover it! But at least there is some light creeping in...a thin glowing sliver through the cracks.

So, I'll end for now on that positive note, only to add a thank you to each of you reading this. I know that flicker of light is in no small part fueled by my readers, friends & family.


~Tessa~Scoffs said...

This is such good news! Matchy-matchy! Mood swings, while a little exhausting, can be a positive thing. Oh, Kayleigh, ups and downs is SO much better than down and downer. As I type this my husband is playing the piano and I send all his beautiful sentiment to you...with a prayer.

Mervat said...

You are so amazing to be back in the swing of things (well, as far as the googling is concerned!!). And I hope those small slivers of glowing silver turn into a bright beautiful light show with some music thrown in to boot.

I hope you enjoyed your vege- chilli....sounds absolutely delicious! Keep up those lycopenes, carotenes and any other '-ene' you fancy.