Saturday, May 24, 2008

Surgery plan

Hello dear readers. I’m still around, just SO TIRED and not finding a lot of energy to write posts. Chemo is definitely getting harder each time. The 3rd session, I was expecting to be feeling “normal” by week 3 after treatment (which was last week) but found I still needed naps most days. Friday May 16 I had lunch with some friends from work and stopped by Fidelity’s offices to say hi to people. I felt fine while I was there, and it was great to see my colleagues, but when I got home again after 7 hours out of the house, I was exhausted and collapsed in bed. This week I had my 4th round of chemo, and not only am I fatigued and crabby, I’m also feeling more nausea than I have previously. Haven’t thrown up yet – some kind of weird honor I’m holding myself to – but feeling closer to it than ever before. Thank goodness for anti-nausea drugs and my latest sainted visitor, Larissa, who’s doing a marvelous job encouraging me to drink more water and helping with the kids. By now the kids are pretty used to a stream of visitors arriving and immediately offering to read to them, play legos, do puzzles, etc. so at least they’re quickly warming to each new person. When we had our first visitor, Andrea, it took 3 days until Martha would even talk to her. Thanks to her pioneering, however, the stranger anxiety has been worn right down! And for all of you who are still wondering how you can help, too, if you’re local you can invite a tyke or two out for a playdate, and if you’re not, come be a visitor during one of the future 8 chemos, between July – October! Now some of you might be saying, “I told you I’ll come visit, but when?” The next rounds of chemo won’t be scheduled until my surgery is successfully completed. I *will* let you know when I know more.

As for surgery. I finally met with my surgeon again last week. We discussed the pro’s and con’s of lumpectomy (tumor only) vs. mastectomy, and decided on lumpectomy. Since the tumor has been shrinking it is of a size that can be removed without taking too much additional tissue. I didn’t want to have major surgery if I didn’t have to. And studies show that doing the lumpectomy, combined with 6 weeks of radiation after chemo ends, is equally effective as mastectomy at reducing the chance of future recurrence. So, fingers crossed! I did have a bit of bad news along with this appt – the doctor sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound so we could have updated images before surgery. Up until now the doctor has been measuring tumor shrinkage by hand, and this was the first more scientific measure of the tumor size. The ultrasound showed the tumor to be 2.5 x 1.5 cm, as opposed to 4 x 3 cm before chemo. A very respectable reduction in size, and the doc is very happy with the progress, but not the 1 cm size that was estimated at my previous appointment. Also the tumor is less dense than it was originally, and there is some healthy tissue growing amongst chunks of tumor. Another good sign. I’ll be very glad when this sucker is out of my body. Surgery is now scheduled for June 11, with a bunch of pre-op tests and appointments coming up.

I still have my hair, but just cut it again. My old hairstyle was getting out of shape – not only am I not bald but my hair is growing! – and I was tired of it hanging in my face, so a few days ago I got a SHORT haircut. I’ll try to post some pictures soon. I’ve been told repeatedly by several docs and nurses that even though I’ve dodged a bullet on Cisplatin in terms of keeping my hair, when I switch drugs to the post-op chemo, I will go bald for sure. So I got it cut to a style that matches the wig I’ve picked out, to help the kids and me adjust to what I’ll look like come July anyway. Frankly, I don’t like the new hairstyle but too late now! Maybe I’ll start wearing hats and scarves early. The other day a friend sent me a lovely scarf (thanks Rachel!) and I had wrapped it around my head to try it on just as Ethan came home from school. He asked, “are you bald now Mommy?” and seemed kind of excited about it. We have set the expectation with the kids for so many months now that they’ll be shocked when it finally happens!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bye Bye Chucky...

Getting back on my feet now from a week of naps, and another exhausting rainy weekend being jumped on by a toddler.

In last Monday's exam before chemo treatment #3, Chucky was estimated to be 1 cm in size - another dramatic reduction! That's pea-sized, people! At this rate the surgeon will only have some microscopic cells to go fish for - and yes, I'm still waiting for it to be scheduled.

p.s. I want to give a shout-out to my new visitors from HBS Section C, hi guys! A special thanks to Grace for driving up this weekend from NYC and enthusiastically taking the lead role in my budding reality TV show (without the cameras - yet), "mom-of-3-for-a-day." Hope you get a nap too, Grace!