Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Keeping Abreast (Pun Intended)

Lots of good news!  Friday's meeting with SCCA was amazing.  The surgeon was awesome.  She spelled everything out mentioning (and celebrating) that my case was not as serious as they originally thought when my oncologist from Yakima called them.  The lump they found by my collar bone has disappeared and the other lumps were considered normal on the ultrasound, and I believe it's through the miracles of blessings, fasting, and prayers.  The surgeon specializes in breast cancer surgery and we feel very confident in her abilities.  She feels a lumpectomy after chemo will be more than sufficient.  Statistics show that a mastectomy does not decrease the chances of cancer returning, at least in my situation.  The chemo will shrink the tumor so she won't have to take as much tissue leaving my breast looking fairly normal.  During the surgery, they will be doing a sentinel node biopsy which will determine if there is cancer in the nodes.  If there is, she will take out the infected nodes then.  There is another check they do, but the results don't come back from pathology until after the surgery.  If the cancer cells are too close to the edge of the tissue she removed, she will have to go in and remove more just to be safe.  The oncologist assured us that chemo treatment would be the same whether I received it in Seattle or at home and talked about the treatment plan she administers to her patients as well as the anti-nausea drugs available.  She said, "If you're at home throwing up, then I'm not doing my job."  That gives me a lot of hope!  The radiologist explained the procedures they have available in Seattle, from the calypso which tracks your breathing so they can keep as much of your vital organs from being exposed to radiology as possible, to the team of physicists that work on each patient's case, to the dummy they use to try your radiology plan on before they try it on you.  We decided I will have chemo in Yakima, surgery in Seattle, and radiology is still up in the air.  It feels good to finally have a plan, and I have an appointment for my chemo consult tomorrow and first chemo treatment the day after.

They did tell me I would lose my hair during chemo treatment.  We've heard shaving your head makes losing your hair a little easier emotionally.  My daughter has a friend who went through all of this a couple years ago and she had a hair party.  She, some friends, and her sisters all shaved their heads.  For those who didn't want to shave their heads, they had pink extensions available.  My daughters thought it would be fun to do the same thing for me, so Nini and Becky, along with some other friends, helped plan this event and it was a blast!!  We had three hairdressers, snacks, lots of people, and lots of smiles and laughs.  One of our Zumba® students, Monnie, decided to go out and collect pledges for shaving her head.  She ended up raising $350 and donated this to my medical expenses.  Not only did she shave her head, but her hair was long enough to donate so someone is going to get a nice wig out of her hair.  When she came down and told me, I was astounded.  I had no words.  Another one of our Zumba® students, Holly, has a six year old daughter, Abby, who donated her hair as well.  She now has a cute little bob cut.  There were so many people who supported me by having pink extensions put in their hair.  We had 60 pink hair extensions, and they were gone by the end of the night.  There were many people who showed up to support with their hugs and love.  I know there are many of you who couldn't be there but still sent your love and support.  I am thankful for each and every one of you, for the love, prayers, thoughts, support, hats, donations, scarfs, bracelets, necklaces...everything.  I feel very blessed.  We are attaching a little slideshow of the hair party AND my husband, Jim, wrote this letter to all of you:

To Our Valued Family and Friends,

This night, November 15, 2013, will forever be with me.  The love by so many for my wife's support is huge.  I have told our kids that our family pays it forward.  I stress to our family that it is a priority to add value to others every minute, every hour, and every day.  By the outpouring of affection shown tonight, I know if everyone there has friends like you, this world would be much better off.

Friends reach for our hands and touch our hearts.

On behalf of my family, we thank each and every one there and those who could not be there.

Thank you,

Dad Statler

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quick Update and Humor Along the Way

Yikes!  It's been two weeks since the last blog…time goes by when you're having fun (or going to appointment after appointment).  Since my last blog, I've had an MRI, bone scan, PET scan, and ultrasound.  Awesome news first - bone scan was normal!!  Thank you for the prayers and fasting.  It works.  The MRI showed a couple of questionable spots, but we were told MRI's are highly sensitive and tend to show areas that may not be of concern.  The PET scan showed nothing new.  We met with the nurse practitioner, Heidi, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  She was very informative AND adorable.  She's British with a heavy accent, and we loved it.  After the test results came back, the doctors at SCCA wanted me to have a biopsy on the questionable spots revealed in the MRI.  They did an ultrasound first and determined, due to the shape and coloring of the nodes, they were normal or clinically benign and didn't need to do the biopsy.  Yay!!  I think I reverted to an excited child when the doctor told me I may not have to have the biopsy.  We are meeting with the specialists at SCCA today where they will give their findings and recommendations.  Today is the day we hope to choose a definite treatment plan, understanding that things may change a little along the way.  Oh, I also met with the radiologist in Yakima last week and he went into more detail and gave me an 80-85% cure rate with neoadjuvant chemo, lumpectomy, and radiation.  Not that statistics matter.  I have Faith, I Believe in miracles, and I Believe that God will heal me.  I have no doubts.  And Jim says I still have more Candy Crush to play.  LOL!

Speaking of Jim, he's going to lead off the humor part of this blog.  For those of you who don't know him, he's a warm-loving person but when he is worried or stressed about a situation, especially with those he loves, he tends to verbally snap.  He's the kind of person that focuses on the solution, believes wholeheartedly in miracles, and could care less about the details in between.  I think the details make him worry, so he'd rather not know.  When I discovered the third lump, I came downstairs and Jim was sitting in his chair.  I said, "Honey, I found another lump."  And with frustration, he said, "Well, then QUIT looking for them!"  We still laugh today when we talk about it.  He couldn't remember saying it, and when we told him, he started laughing uncontrollably.

For this next story, we're going to leave the doctor's name out so as not to embarrass anyone.  This story is entitled, "What Not To Say When Doing A Breast Examination."  Needless to say, I've had numerous breast examinations over the last month.  This one is definitely the funniest.  The doctor examined my right breast first and, while he was covering that side and getting ready to look at the left side, he said, "Well, nothing lights me up over here."  My husband better NEVER say that.  As we're typing this up, Jim says, "I've never thought it and never said it."  Good answer.

So when we were meeting with Heidi, we were talking about staying positive and upbeat.  We told her about the "What Not To Say When Doing A Breast Examination" story and she thought it was hilarious, or unbelievable.  She couldn't believe the doctor said that.  We thought about not sharing it, but she said in her strong British accent, "Oh, you absolutely MUST share that one!"  She then proceeded to tell her own funny story and gave permission to share it.  She herself is a breast cancer survivor.  After she found out, she grabbed a beer and sat on the couch sobbing and drinking her beer.  Her husband felt bad and wanted to make her feel better, so he said (not being in the medical industry), "Don't be upset.  Wait 'til we get the autopsy."  She stopped crying, looked at him, and said, "Autopsy?!  That's too bloody late!  I'll be dead by then!"  And then she started laughing hysterically, just as we were.

You have to keep laughing, smiling, and enjoy life to the fullest.