Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chemotherpay Treatment #5: A Happy Day

Well, once again our plans have changed. Thankfully this time the change is for the better!

I went in this morning for my fifth chemotherapy treatment. After waiting about an hour in the waiting room, we finally went back and met with my oncologist. He sat down and said, “Alright – what have you got for me?” meaning, “Is there anything we need to talk about before you have today’s treatment?” I began to go through the list of my list of questions, etc. One of the things that I brought up was the difficulty I have had throughout my chemotherapy treatment, particularly with my most recent treatment. I told him that it seemed like I was having a harder time with chemotherapy than most other people I have talked to. He reassured me saying that there was nothing wrong with me and that chemotherapy simply affects everyone differently. So we talked for a while about my side effects and managing the nausea. The next issue I brought up was the pain I had been having in my right arm where I usually get the IV for my chemo drugs. I told him it felt like my whole vein was bruised. He looked at it and said that the chemo drugs had essentially fried it. He was worried about that happening again, but did not want to put a port in for only two more treatments. He told me that I am one of the more challenging patients he has had because since the beginning of my chemotherapy treatment pretty much every thing that could go wrong has (allergic reactions, side-effects, fried veins, and the list goes on). So then he did an exam of my tumor and did not feel anything. He said, “Give me just a minute,” and called my surgeon.

Matt and I listened to his end of the conversation as he talked about my chemo treatments, my surgery plan, etc. Then he uttered some of the best words I have ever heard: “So what I am thinking I am going to do is not give her chemotherapy today. Let’s get an MRI done and move on to surgery.” I turned and looked at Matt with wide eyes of disbelief and excitement. I tried to contain my joy as he finished up the conversation. After he hung up he explained that between the apparent reduction of the tumor and the hard time I have had with my treatments that there was no pressing reason to do my last two treatments. Of course, he’s going to have me get an MRI to confirm that the tumor has decreased in size. But assuming it has, I will go ahead and plan for surgery before the end of February.

For my surgery I will head up to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina (about a three-hour drive from Savannah). The reason I will need to go to Charleston is that the surgery I am going to get is a relatively new breast reconstruction procedure that is not performed by any plastic surgeons in Savannah. In one six-hour surgery, I will have a double mastectomy, a biopsy of my sentinel lymph node, and reconstruction using my own abdominal tissue. I will have to stay in the hospital for about three days afterwards followed by a recovery time of about six weeks.

Obviously, I am very, very excited to not be sick and in bed tonight and am looking forward to getting on with my surgery. After so many weeks (and months) of chemo-related issues, I am thrilled by the prospect that progress really is being made. Lord willing, the MRI I get later this week will confirm my doctors belief that the tumor has almost disappeared and we can really move on. 

We would appreciate your continued prayers as we move forward into the new phase of this journey.