Thursday, January 15, 2009

Treatment is Finished!

Yesterday I had my 30th and FINAL radiation session. I am DONE with all my cancer treatment! The marathon is over and it only took 10 months to complete (ha ha). I am so, so happy.

Of course, there are still next steps. I’ve got several doctors’ appointments in the next months to check up on me. And I need to recover from the whole ordeal. I am still very fatigued, but try to nap as much as possible (hurray for the fabulous au pair who is still with us). I have a radiation burn that I need to apply cream to on a regular basis – for the next year! I should only be red for a few more weeks though, with some peeling like a sunburn. And then, once I have my energy back (at least 6 weeks says my doc), it’s back to work and life as normal-before-cancer. I can hardly remember those days but am looking forward to it too.

My hair keeps growing in the wrong color. Definitely light brown, I can no longer pretend it’s an indiscriminate color. Let’s have a moment of silence for the fallen tresses. On the plus side, my eyebrows are back and I can go out and about looking like a semi-normal person who just has really short hair. I call it the GI Jane or the Militant Lesbian hairstyle.

As I’ve said before and continue to mean it, thanks everyone for your support during this long journey. It’s good to be on the other side of this huge milestone with you. Sometime soon we’ll have a big party to celebrate.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I’ve had 8 days of radiation already. Time is flying by. Do enquiring minds want to know what it’s like? Every week day I have an 11:48 appointment on LINAC Machine #2 at Mass General’s Radiation Oncology department. That time is falsely specific, however, as they are usually running 20-60 minutes late. One benefit is that I get to use valet parking for only $5 a day. And I am fortunate that I live so near to several excellent hospitals – when I had my first radiation prep appointment a while ago, they gave me an info packet that included a list of less expensive local hotels and charity organizations for patients who live far away and need housing. I hadn’t previously considered what it would be like looking for treatment if you lived in the boonies. I can drive to the hospital in half an hour, or take the subway which goes a few blocks from my house. So, hooray for Boston.

After I’ve been sitting around the waiting room in a hospital gown for a while, addressing Christmas cards or chatting with the lady who has the standing appointment in the time slot before me, I get called into the room by one of a team of about 5 technicians who always take care of me. It’s a bunch of women and Barry, whom I have assured my husband spends all day with half-undressed women, most of them quite old, so Colin has nothing to be jealous of. I lie on a table on my back, with my arms over my head in “surrender” position. There are special arm rests as well as a cut out area for the head and cushions at the butt and below the knees for comfort and to keep me in place. I get to wear my iPod during treatment, so I am listening to a series of lectures on Byzantine emperors that Colin found somewhere. First they spend about 5 minutes lining me up on the machine, aligning my blue tattoo dots with various beams of light. They shift me, jiggle me, and poke me until they have it just right. They also inevitably whip out their Sharpie pens and draw more blue lines and red dots on me to help direct them. The machine is about 10 feet long and 6 feet wide, floor-to-ceiling, with one or two “robot arms” that move around me. The table lifts and lowers too. I get 4 beams of radiation each day, lasting from about 5 – 30 seconds each, but it takes about 10 minutes to do all of them and I have to lie very still the whole time. Each one is a set position with the robot arms moving to different angles and the technician coming in to the room between each beam to do something that I can’t see. I feel alternately like a car on an automotive assembly line or like I’m in a giant expensive tanning bed, if you desired to tan only one breast. And it’s working: I’m turning pink in the areas they are targeting. I am supposed to apply special cream 3 times a day on my front AND back, because the beam enters from the top and goes out all the way through and out again.

After the last beam is done, someone comes into the room to tell me I can relax my arms, which is good because I am always at the point of becoming quite uncomfortable by then. Then I get dressed and get the heck out of there. Some of my days there are longer, though. Once a week I get checked by my doctor, once a week I have to stay in the machine a few minutes longer for X-rays, and once a week I get a free 20-minute chair massage from the in-house masseuse. Yes, really. I received her services in the chemo ward as well. I told ya Mass General was good.

Current side effects felt are continued fatigue, pain in feet, and my body just feels like it’s been through a lot, which is hard to describe. My irritability is getting better, likely due to happy pills and getting further and further away from chemo. My hair is about a half inch long now, dirty blonde, but Colin swears he sees red highlights when I’m standing just so under a bright light. I’m not convinced yet. Strangely, while my hair has been growing since October, my eyebrows continued to fall out through last week. The last of the old ones just disappeared, and now I just have a little bit of pale wispy growth. Eyelashes too. I am not very thrilled by this, I think I look freaky. Picture of new hair has been posted.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sayonara Chemo!

Once again I’m overdue for a post here…

I finished my last round of chemo on October 20. I am, of course, thrilled to be done. What I’m not thrilled about it that I’m still feeling the side effects. I am still very fatigued. I have had a sore throat for 3 months straight that just now seems to be abating. I am getting hot flashes due to early (and probably temporary) menopause. My feet hurt from the neuropathy (nerve damage) there, so I hobble around when I walk. That’s also hopefully temporary. My oncologist thinks my continued irritability is hormonal, because the chemo makes the ovaries suddenly shut down, causing estrogen to plummet. She finally sent me to a psychiatrist for it who’s got me on Ambien for sleep and Celexa for mood adjustment and hot flashes. It seems to be starting to help. Other good news is that my hair is starting to grow back! I have about a quarter inch of peach fuzz, and it’s soft like a newborn baby. Too early to say what color and texture it will have, but it’s not unusual for people to have their hair return a different color or curly instead of straight. I have a lot of new-found sympathy for bald men because my head is cold most of the time, so I mostly wear hats.

I’ve had an end-of-chemo heart scan and hearing test, both of which I passed with flying colors. No more scans are planned as part of my treatment. From now on, I’ll get either a mammogram or a MRI every six months to keep an eye out for the cancer returning, and I’ll see my oncologist every three months for a checkup. As I don’t need any more IVs, my port was removed last week. That is really a milestone! No more foreign object in my body! Though it was yet another minor surgery and I’m left with yet another inch long scar and a prohibition against lifting things for a while, it feels great to have it out. When I got the port put in, Sarah needed to be carried around a lot and the original scar stretched way out. Now she’s much more mobile. Fingers crossed this scar will fare better.

Let’s see, what else… today’s drama. Two days ago I saw my PCP for an annual checkup, and because my natural immunity is decreased from chemo, she wanted me to have 2 vaccines in addition to the flu shot I already had a little while ago. One was a tetanus booster, one was a pneumonia vaccine. Yesterday I noticed that the pneumonia vaccine arm had a 2-3 inch red, sore, raised mark extending from where the shot went in, and I was even more exhausted than usual. Today it looked worse, so I went to the urgent care doctor. She thinks it’s infected and now I’m on antibiotics for 10 days. Just my luck that something that is meant to prevent me from getting sick does the opposite.

In my recent posts, I groused quite a bit about childcare problems. That’s now much better. The temporary nanny for afternoons in late October was a very nice help, allowing me to rest again (thanks Gwen, Ernie and Sarah). Then our new au pair, Tina, arrived on Halloween. She’s 19, from Germany and just wonderful, patient and creative with the kids, and she won’t stop cleaning up even after her working hours have ended. I still don’t get a complete break because some combination of kids are often in the house at the same time I am, and they seek me out even if I’m hiding in my bedroom, but overall things are greatly improved.

Currently Colin’s dad and his wife are visiting. Thanksgiving is 11/27 and I start radiation on December 1. I had been hoping I would no longer be so tired by the time that starts, since it is supposed to wear me out as well, but it seems I really won’t be over chemo at all by the time it arrives. I asked my oncologist when I was going to feel myself again with all my old energy, and she said it could take up to a year. Ugh!!!

The kids are doing well. Ethan is active in Cub Scouts, has just finished an enjoyable soccer season, and is now beginning skating lessons. Martha is 100% princess, wanting to wear pink frilly dresses at all times. She gets compliments from her preschool teacher on how smart she is. Sarah is a great talker for her age (2 yrs 3 mos), able to express anything she wishes and just a little sweetheart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things are Looking Up!

Here’s the best news I’ve had in a while – after seeing my depressing previous blog post, two friends in California wanted to help so they have arranged a temporary nanny for a week and a half after next week’s final chemo session. They’ve just sent me Meaghan’s bio and she looks terrific. Hurrah! I’m very excited to be able to get daytime rest again! Thanks Sarah and Gwen!

The hot air balloon trip Colin and I took last week was fantastic. The weather and foliage was absolutely beautiful. We flew at sunset, 8 people squeezed into a wicker basket with very little wiggle room. We didn’t go as high as I expected – after a brief ascent to about 500 feet, we spent most of the time about 100 feet off the ground, and brushed tree tops several times. We brought Ethan back some leaves from the top of a tree, and he was thrilled. After flying for about an hour, we landed in someone’s backyard in the suburbs, and became the hit of the neighborhood children as we packed up. A few photos are posted, as well as (due to your requests, dear readers) a close up shot of my wig, and some recent ones of the kids, thanks to my parents who were here last week.

Strangely, I am actually looking forward to Chemo #12 on Monday. Because then I will be DONE FOREVER! Yeah! Even though I’ll be feeling crappy, it will be so nice to be on the other side of this huge milestone, knowing I’ll be getting better and better – at least until radiation.

Speaking of radiation. A few days after my first visit with the radiation oncologist, I went back to the department to get set up on the machine. They tattooed 5 blue dots onto me which they will use to position me in exactly the same place each time I go, and took a CT scan which the doctor and the physics department (!) will use to calculate exactly where they want the radiation beams to go. While I was there, the doctor unexpectedly asked to see me. She told me she’d talked to my medical oncologist and surgeon, and they were all concerned about me. This is not what I want my doctor to say. She said she was considering radiating a larger part of my chest than would normally be done, due to Chucky’s original size and fast growth and not reacting fully to my early stage chemo. Basically even though they don’t think it spread because my armpit lymph node was negative early on, there is also lymph that goes up (toward the throat) that she wants to radiate, just in case. This is controversial, as it goes beyond the standard of care and increases the risk of future arm swelling and some other yucky stuff, and my other two doctors had differing opinions on if it was necessary. She just presented my case at a tumor review board in order to have lots of doctors discuss me and try to get a consensus on what my treatment plan should be, though I haven’t heard back from her yet on how it went. So let’s recap here – I had extra chemo, extra surgery, and now am looking at extra radiation. I would really much prefer going to the doctor’s office and hearing “we know just what you have, exactly how to treat it, and we’re going to take care of it completely.” I’m a little tired of being special.

Friday, October 3, 2008


On my birthday yesterday, I received a number of messages from people wishing me well and wondering how the heck I am. I’ve been meaning post on my blog for a while now, so your messages are the motivation I need to get me to sit down and write. The short answer is that things are pretty miserable. I’ve now completed my 10th round of chemo, and continue to be extremely fatigued all the time. Other side effects that come and go are prolonged bruising and bleeding, including frequent nose bleeds; neuropathy in my feet; hair loss (I still have stubble that is falling out, and other body hair is going too); sore throat; runny nose and coughing; sensitivity in the intestinal tract; and lots and lots of irritability.

I’d like to thank my latest helpers – Sarah Brydon visited for Chemo #8 and my brother Bob Rhode visited for Chemo #10. I really appreciated having both of you here. Thanks also to my local friends for their periodic assistance, in particular to my great neighbors, Karen, Michael, Olivia, and Max for lending many hands in the evenings when Colin travels. And thanks Colin for keeping up your patience and doing so much with the kids when I need to rest.

My biggest problem right now is childcare. Many of you know that we hired an au pair, Nadja, to stay with us for a year, to help with the kids. Because an au pair works 45 hours a week, I had reduced all the kids’ daycare / preschool / after school care schedules so they would be home with her much more. What you may not know is that 3 days after she arrived, she decided she couldn’t stay with us because she couldn’t sleep in our house. It turns out she’s afraid of heights, and her bedroom was on our 3rd floor, up 2 flights of winding stairs, which gave her vertigo. She was only getting one or two hours of sleep a night. Otherwise, she was great with the kids and we liked her. She was with us Aug. 29 – Sept. 26, and has now resettled with a new host family in San Francisco and reports that she is sleeping fine now. Unfortunately the au pair agency was not as quick to find us a new au pair. They spent 3 weeks offering us other au pairs who were already in the country but wanting to leave their current host families for various reasons, but these reasons often meant the au pairs were duds – bad drivers, not engaging with the kids, can’t handle the work, etc. Finally we were offered a brand new au pair, Tina, who is still in Germany. We like her and have decided to take her, however she won’t arrive until October 31. This leaves me with 5 weeks of almost full-time childcare to do on my own (except next week, when my parents are visiting for Chemo #11), during the hardest part of my treatment. Because chemo gets worse over time, I can expect to be the most tired during the month of October. But I won’t be able to rest because I will have little Martha home every afternoon, Sarah all day twice a week, Ethan after school, swim lessons for the kids, and I’ll be running around picking up and dropping kids off at varying times. Plus the Newton Public Schools annoyingly close for the Jewish holidays and Columbus Day, meaning there are 3 school vacation days in a 3 week period, but Colin doesn’t have any of these days off. Add to all this my previously mentioned extreme irritability – I find myself getting irrationally angry at the kids and yelling at them way beyond the level of their “crime,” and I feel bad afterwards, but I can’t help it. It’s all completely horrible. If anybody still wants to come help out in any way, your assistance will be gladly accepted…

Let’s see, in other news, today I have my first visit with the Radiation Oncologist. This is the doctor who will oversee my six-week long radiation treatment, the next and final phase of treatment. Previously I had assumed that radiation would begin two weeks after my last chemo, since chemo has been happening every 2 weeks, and from this assumption I calculated that I would finish everything the week before Christmas. Well, I was wrong. Usually they wait a month between the two phases, so I’ll be in treatment straight through the holiday season (every week day except the holidays themselves) and won’t finish until some time in January.

As for how my birthday was, let me say I’ve had better. Even though I’m 37, with the cancer I’m feeling old before my time. 40 is looking closer and closer. Colin was on a business trip so I was solo with the kids in the morning, had Sarah home all day and Martha home for half the day. Ethan and Martha both made me birthday cards, which was cute. I received delivery of flowers which are brightening up my dining room (thanks to both Jess and Anne). My neighbors helped me in the evening, which was really great because at the last minute I decided to take Ethan to join the Cub Scouts and their first meeting was last night. When we got home from that, Karen had already put the girls in bed, loaded the dishwasher, and cleaned up the kids’ toys. I think that was the best part of the day! Now Colin is home so we will celebrate next week. We have planned a flight on a hot air balloon in western MA so keep your fingers crossed for a clear day and beautiful foliage.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Sorry it’s been a little while, gang. I’ve been SUPER tired! But, I’m still plugging along. Here’s all the latest.

Post-surgery chemo resumed in mid-July. It was the first round of the new drug combo, but round 5 overall. That one seemed like a breeze. Colin went to the hospital with me, and when we left, I didn’t even feel sick (yet). Our TV had broken a few days before and he was about to leave for a business trip the next day, so I insisted that I must have a TV for my lying around pleasure. We went straight to Circuit City and bought the only non-HD one they carry. Wow, TVs are fancy nowadays. While there, the nausea began to kick in (due to the sales tactics or the drugs, we’ll never know). Fortunately they had a faux living room set up that I could sit in while Colin got the TV in the car. I felt kind of crappy that night, but no other nausea for that round. Just the old, familiar fatigue that lasted a week. Plus I’ve started experiencing neuropathy, which is a tingling / numb feeling in my toes. Very annoying as it is present 24 hours a day, and is likely to last until a few months after I finish all my chemo. Thanks to the multiple friends and neighbors who helped out in shifts while Colin was away!

Chemo 6 was on July 29. Both my parents visited that week, so not only did I get great helping around the house a la mom, we also got the handyman services of my dad, who installed 3 ceiling fans, fixed a lopsided floor, and moved heavy furniture. The weekend prior to the chemo we took a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard, my first time there. It seemed only fitting, as we had 3 Marthas (me, my daughter, and my mom) all traveling together. As for chemo effects, this one was much worse. The nausea was off and on for a week, and the fatigue has not yet abated. I think it will probably be a constant effect for months as well. As I keep saying, thank God for Fidelity’s wonderful disability leave policy, as I don’t know how I could possibly work and go through this at the same time.

The big side effect has finally kicked in as well. I had been warned over and over that hair loss begins 15-17 days after starting this new chemo type. I’m an overachiever, so I made it to 18 days. I would run my fingers through my hair and get dozens of strands in my hand. It began falling out all around the house. Not in clumps, but just enough to be a real nuisance. When I found it in the kids food, I knew it was time. Two days ago, Colin set up our electric shaver in our driveway, and he and the kids took turns cutting my hair. I had a short-lived Mohawk, but am now bald! I’m not as shocked or horrified as I thought I would be. Probably because I knew it was coming for a long time. I’m actually kind of enjoying my baldness. I ordered a wig yesterday, and the wig lady said I had a nice shaped occipital. So I've got that going for me.

For all of you who read this via email, go to my blog now and check out my newly posted photos. I finally posted my short haircut (bit late now), there’s one of the Mohawk, and one bald-o. There is also a link to the You Tube video of the family shaving my head.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chemo, Part 2: The Re-poisoning

When we last left our heroine, she was giddily enjoying a sunny day on her chemo vacation, happy to be feeling just fine physically as her surgery has healed nicely. Alas, she knew all too well what dark days lay just over the horizon (cue scary music) - someone was planning to poison her!!! She fled to Crane Beach in Ipswitch, she ate dinner with friends, she attended childrens' parties, she had a massage, she even rode roller coasters and water slides, but nothing could shake the looming appointment with the dreaded Chemo Nurse, who roams hospital corridors in full body protective gear, brandishing bags of Adriamycin and Cytoxin, determined to find the woman with short red hair and send these poisons into her bloodstream. WILL Martha submit to Chemo Nurse's ministrations? WILL they team up to vanquish Chucky for all eternity? HOW will Martha look as a finally bald person? Stay tuned as our story unfolds...

Do you like my entry for worst first paragraph for a novel? What are those awards called?

Anyhoo, chemo starts back up again tomorrow. Now I'm doing the regular course of breast cancer treatment, Adriamycin and Cytoxin, plus Avastin again which is one of my trial drugs. It really sucks to be feeling just fine right now, but knowing the misery that awaits me for the next six months. I just have to remember that I was able to finally feel like my old self again about a month after chemo finished the first time, and trust that I will again in the future as well.

Meanwhile, bad news #1 is that our adored live-in babysitter Rachel has gone home to Montana so we are without as much help for the summer. On the upside, we have just made arrangements for an Austrian au pair to join us in September as the school year begins. And bad news #2 is that our TV has just died, so we're scrambling to get another one by Thursday, before Colin has to go on a 2-day business trip, because TV is about all I'll have the energy for in the post-chemo days.

That's it for now. I'll post how I'm feeling after treatment within a few days.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clean Margins

Surgical success! I heard from my surgeon, and the tissue removed in the 2nd surgery was negative for cancer, so we've achieved the clean margins we were looking for.

Next step, resume chemo, with a new drug mix: adriamycin and cytoxan (the standard breast cancer treatment) paired with Avastin (trial drug), starting July 16. The date was pushed out by 2 days because we couldn't start chemo until at least 3 weeks after surgery to allow for healing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2nd Surgery

Second lumpectomy was completed today, and again we need to wait about a week to find out if we got clean margins this time. Keeping all my fingers and toes crossed! Using my port was once again a drama. I absolutely insisted that they use it, though the anesthesiologists suggested several times that it would be easier to just run a new IV in my arm. Yeah, for them, maybe. The nurse in the surgical unit who was supposedly experienced with ports tried to poke the needle into it about 4-5 times, but couldn't get it to work. This was with 1 other nurse and 4 anesthesiologists observing so they could learn how to do it. I don't mind the observers (all of whom had a good feel up of the port as well), because I know that's the only way they can learn, but I felt like a sideshow attraction. Eventually they called my regular nurse in the infusion unit (where I get my chemo), where they do these things all day long, and she agreed to send someone over to help. The audience reconvenend and she got the job done in one try with a lot less painful poking, to many oohs and aahs of appreciation. Hooray for oncology nurses! All my advocating for myself paid off, and hopefully for future port patients as well. The infusion nurse offered to give a port education talk at a future surgical nurses' meeting, and also said she could arrange for the surgical nurses who were interested to spend a day in infusion getting more port practice. I'm feeling good that I didn't back down and let them give me an IV this time.

Not much to report on the actual surgery as I was asleep. I assume something happened because I woke up bandaged and sore.

Assuming I get a good result from this surgery, we're now planning to resume chemo on July 14th. Any ideas for how to celebrate Bastille Day in the hospital?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Surgery: Somewhat Successful

Lumpectomy was performed June 11th by my surgical oncologist, Dr. Michelle Specht. Adding cruel insult to injury, Colin and I were required to check in at 6:00 a.m. for a 11:15 a.m. scheduled surgery. This followed a hot night in which we slept with the windows open for some breeze, and our stoopid neighbor decided to set off fireworks at 11:00 p.m. Naturally Sarah woke up and cried off and on for the next hour, requiring me to go into her room about 20 times. Plus I couldn’t eat or drink after midnight, so I arrived having a head start on being tired, hungry, and grumpy which would only worsen over the course of the morning.

The first event after check-in and changing into a hospital gown was a lengthy disagreement over whether they would use my port or place a new IV line. I insisted to the day surgery nurse that I wanted them to access my port and use that for any IVs. First she said that the anesthesiologist wouldn’t want to use the port (out of fear it would get ruined – huh?). Then after talking to a few people, she changed her story to say that since I needed to get a mammogram after having the line placed, the people in radiology told her we couldn’t use the port (which is on the upper right side chest) because it could get in the way of the machines. I gave in and let them put in an IV in my hand, but made it clear I was very unhappy about this. Since I was being a difficult patient, at least they called in an anesthesiologist to do it, and he did a beautiful job. As opposed to the other nurses who’ve tried IVs on me, he took 4 extra steps: first he warmed my had on a bag of heated saline solution, then he put the rubber tourniquet around my wrist instead of the usual arm location, he injected me with Lidocaine first (ow, but less so than otherwise), and finally choose a smaller than normal needle for the job. If they ever talk me out of my port again, I’m demanding this luxury treatment!

Next came the worst part of the day. I was sent via wheelchair (hospital rules) to radiology to have wires placed on either end of Chucky so the surgeon knows exactly where he begins and ends to aid in removing it entirely. On smaller tumors they may put one needle right in the middle of the cancer, but on my last MRI they had spotted some calcifications next to Chucky that “are probably nothing, but we’ll take them out too just to be sure.” Picture this: I am in the mammogram machine, undergoing “compression,” in other words with a squished flat left boob and no way to escape, and then they start poking more needles into me! The doc put in some Lidocaine, followed by a needle with a wire inside it. But the wire part hurt so much I began to cry so she gave me more Lidocaine. Now, why wouldn’t she just give me a crapload (this is a technical term meaning “lots”) of Lidocaine in the first place, just in case? So then I was miserable and scared and in pain, but wanted to get it all over with so we continued. She poked the two needles in – way way in – and then went and took a picture to see where they were inside my breast. Then she came back to me, jiggled the wires around a little bit, and took a picture again. Repeat about 6 times until she had them exactly where they were supposed to be. After about 20 minutes in the machine I was finally released. At the end of all this, I asked the nurse who was still in the room why my port couldn’t be used for my IV, since that part of my body was really not near the mammogram machine after all. She said, “oh, it would be fine to use your port, we have people come down here with them accessed all the time. Who told you it couldn’t be used?” This injustice set me off again so I was wheeled out to a waiting Colin all weepy and undoubtedly scared everyone in the waiting room.

Back upstairs to day surgery, where we had to let the wires sit for 2 hours before we could do the surgery, I’m not exactly sure why (maybe it’s like Jello). I read my Janet Evanovich novel which nicely fit the escapism bill. Dr. Specht came to talk to me about the surgery and warned me that there was about a 20% chance with this procedure that we wouldn’t achieve clean margins, which means that when the tissue is looked at under the microscope afterwards, they find that the tumor reaches the edge of the tissue, which means some of it could still be left in the body and they have to try again. Finally another anesthesiologist arrived to ask me what kind of sedation I wanted for the surgery – something that would let me be awake and talking while it was going on, or something that would knock me out entirely. He didn’t even get the question out of his mouth before I said “I don’t want to know or feel a thing!” Really, who would? Especially after the horrors with the wires. I was wheeled into the OR, given a mask, and woke up about 2 hours later, groggy with a chunk of missing breast.

Colin took me home and I napped the rest of the afternoon. He stayed home with me for 2 more days, and though I was sore, I wore a sports bra 24-7 and took lots of painkillers so I was capable of getting around and we even went to movies during the day, a rare treat (“Zohan” – good, “The Happening” – didn’t). When the weekend rolled around each kid managed to bump me on the surgery breast at least once, which was mighty painful.

Now, just as I’ve been on the mend, Dr. Specht called this evening. The pathology results are back on the tissue they removed from my body. The good news – there was dead cancer in there, showing that the chemo was working. The less good news – there were also live cancer cells, which we’d prefer not to see. Also the tumor was 4 cm across, larger than the 2.5 cm we thought it had shrunk to. The rotten news – while there were clean margins on almost the whole thing, there was one little spot of dirty margin. Therefore I am going back to the hospital next Tuesday to do this all over again. At least we get to skip the wire thing next time.