Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The final straight

G'day all!

I'm most of the way through this part of the cancer journey. There's more to go, but I truly hope that the worst is done.

Today I got my drain out. Very happy about that! Hooray for getting the drain out cos it was getting pretty annoying, lugging around a bag of ew. (Actually it wasn't that oogy at all, cos after the first day it was pretty much just extracellular fluid/plasma looking straw coloured stuff, but it was annoying!) Plus they took the dressings off. I just have tape over the armpit wound. The boob scar is very neat and tidy. Dunno about the armpit though - it is still disguised.

Wasn't happy about having to wait for over 2 hours - the surgical registrar I saw had to perform a "procedure" and it put her well behind time.

Got the results of my pathology too.

I am in a very mixed mind about the pathology.

a) they got all the lump out with clear margins, though they were scant on one side
b) it was still cancerous (high grade = aggressive)
c) the lumpy lymph node (which was one of five sentinel nodes) was cancerous, and
d) the other 17 nodes sampled were not.

I didn't know that when they do an axillary dissection, they just take out a lump or two of fatty tissue from the armpit. I think the sentinel nodes are dissected separately. (Did I say that when they tested the sentinel node injection on me, the probe made a Space Invaders or bad 1980s SF movie noise? It was fantastic!)

Anyway, the size of the lump was a little smaller than after FEC but that node came back up again. It is sorta making me think that the taxotere didn't really do much. It was supposed to knock this thing on the head but well it didn't. It rather annoys me because it really knocked me around (and cost a bomb to boot, just didn't cost me $$$ directly) and yet doesn't seem to have had much effect. However, if I had had the surgery first, I would have one less boob and would be given the same chemo treatment with no knowledge of its efficacy. I hope it has provided the study I'm in with some valuable data. It has to have done someone some good!

In a month or so I'll be starting radiotherapy and hoping it knocks off anything that remains. And I'll be hoping no nasty little cells got away and are breeding someplace else in my body. People will say, "You'll be fine," but they don't have cancer and they don't have a particularly aggressive form of cancer with no specific treatment for it (unlike ER+/PR+ or HER2+ cancers). It is pretty freaky having to trust to luck and modern medicine that I'll still be here in 5 years. As far as I can tell, it's even odds that I will live that long, let alone have disease free survival. I just have to wait and see what happens. I'll be on three monthly monitoring and six monthly CT scans I believe. It will drive me nuts worrying about every little ache and twinge and headache and wheeze, so I'll have to learn how not to worry. Guess I'd better get better at meditation and chilling out, eh? You'd think with all the knitting, spinning and sewing I'd be gold.

It makes me somewhat more determined to get as much stuff done as I can for the nonce!

Alas, since I am still recovering from surgery, it is hard to get much done. I can knit quite easily. I can potter around the house quite well enough. I can potter around shops if I can get to them. I can do some cooking but am having difficulty cutting some vegies up. My finger tips are getting much happier and even my nails feel a lot better (they still look awful though and will for some months to come). The water retention problem is nowhere near as bad, thanks to the DVT stockings I had to wear in hospital, so I am increasingly mobile. My muscles and tendons are not as sore, though they are still quite vocal and tell me all about it if I do something they don't like! I have a fair whack of hair now - some of it is nearly 2cm long, but it is pretty thin. I hope more grows back. I still can't sing - am wondering how much longer I will sound like a crow. I can't lift heavy things or do overhead work and if I twist suddenly, YIKES! Poor armpit whines. Boob is fine with everything bar leaning over or pressing it. I can't wear any bras that press on the armpit scar - very glad that I am not well endowed. The irritation and wobble is bad enough with a b cup (and when we hit a speed hump a little too fast today? Ouch!) Can't do any machine sewing yet or prepping fleece/tops for spinning. I can spin though. I just don't have anything prepped and ready to go. And of course I can't drive a car for probably another two weeks, certainly not little Helmet with his manual steering. Even lightweight power steering is beyond me currently. Thank heavens for public transport and the odd willing friend! (and for the next three days, DH, before he goes to Sydney.)

Thank heavens also for knitting, even if the grumpy district nurse told me that I should be resting! Resting is for the dead. I have no idea how much time I have left on this planet and I want to get cracking with making stuff and doing stuff. Heck, I might have another 50 years or I might have two. Who knows? I've got to live whatever time I've got left. If things get dire then I'll hope that I'm knocked on the head sooner than later. I've watched two people die slow horrible deaths of cancer and hoped I wouldn't get it too, but the worst has happened. Now I have to deal with it!

But it is good to know that I am ostensibly free of cancer. It is a pity that I don't know about the little gorbers that may be lurking in my bone marrow or lungs or brain. I'll just have to take things day by day and see how I go.

Thanks for your support. I don't always answer the comments I get from people whose email addies I have - my bad. Sometimes I just don't cope or it's beyond me to reply. And I can't answer some people's comments at all cos blogger does not supply email addresses unless you set it up in a certain way and without an email address or a blog, I can't reply to you. But it doesn't mean I don't appreciate the support 8-)

anon!

8 comments:

  1. Answering comments?? Well it took me so long that that some were almost 5 months old!! Do whatever you feel up too.
    It is hard when people say 'you'll be fine' because it is different looking from your side. Still ambivalent though they are, your results look OK and I'm glad you are feeling somewhat better and can kit in the face of District Nurses!!!

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  2. So glad you got rid of that bag and that you are feeling a bit better. I can understand that you are worried about what's to come or what's not to come. You don't know, but then, who knows what their future holds. That's something we all have in common. Maybe some have better odds than others, but that doesn't mean it can't happen to anyone. Thinking of you.

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  3. That's a huge hurdle to be over - yay! My sis had an aggressive breast cancer, and while it had not gone to any nodes, she did need to have the whole kit and kaboodle (chemo, surgery and radiation). She finished her treatment almost 8 years ago - and no relapses! It can happen!

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  4. Wow, eventful week, Lynne. So glad the drain is out...that's gotta feel better!

    The pathology worries are upsetting, I know, but your fantastic spirit will see you through this, too. As others have said above, life is uncertain, no matter what the circumstances. Your attitude is the only one for any of us: live your life, do the things you love to do, and try not to worry. You are an inspiration to us all...big HUGS from here!

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  5. I never expect you to answer any comments --- just want you to know that some one across the water is looking out for you and learning heaps about this journey you're on. I've developed a huge admiration for the way you are handling this. Thanks for taking the time to blog and share your experiences.
    Big hugs and keep on knitting.

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  6. I thought knitting *was* resting!

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  7. Knitting is resting for the mind even if not for the arms. She was obviously not a knitter and that is truly her loss.
    Glad that your de-lumping was successful and that your drain has been removed and ever hopeful that this is the worst of it and the best of life is yet to come.

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  8. Hi Lynne,

    Best wishes from Olav and me. It's really hard that they can't give you a definitive all-clear at this stage. I hope that the upcoming radiotherapy isn't too rough.

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I enjoy getting comments but if I don't have your email address, I may not be able to reply 8-\
I'm trying various commenting things so that I can reply to your comments within blogger itself.