Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pin Cushion and a Plan (of sorts)

Pin Cushion. That's what I feel like at the moment. My left arm is covered in track marks and I'm sure on a bad hair day I look like a junky (and not a very good one as one of my 'tracks' is quite bruised)

They won't use my right arm for needles because of the surgery so all needles go in the left. But my veins are skinny and deep so they poke and prod and rub and strangle the life out of my arm just to get the vein to pop out.

Since Friday I've had a bone scan, another CT scan and an MRI.  And all came with needles.

I don't mind needles. They hurt but I don't look when they are going in and that makes it better. Once it's in, I'm fine.

So the bone scan entailed being injected with nuclear something or other. There  was a sign in the bathroom that said if you were injected for a nuclear test to sit when you pee. I guess they didn't want any radioactive pee splatters around the bathroom. That test wasn't so bad, much like the CT Scan only without the warm, peeing my pants feeling.

The CT scan, still a mystery as to why I had that.  The oncologist today didn't understand why I had that either. Interestingly enough, and I'm just noticing this now, I called the surgeon to call me back today and I've not heard from her. Hmmm. Fishy. I may call again tomorrow.  That was another one with contrast aka the stuff that makes your throat burn and feel like your peeing your pants

The MRI - let's talk. I was nervous about that. I'm not claustrophobic but I am under a lot of stress and things that wouldn't normally bother me are so I was concerned I might be bothered by that. Combine this with the 'why-am-I-having-this- again- CT-Scan' and the rushing from one hospital to another. Actually we have tons of  time (Ajax hospital is really nice since I was last there with Emily in 2000) and they were relatively quick with the test. We went to Timmies and WalMart and I bought Connor a copy of Despicable Me (his favorite movie).  Anyhow, I'm getting off topic. The MRI also had a contrast. But this one didn't feel like anything and they assured me that it wouldn't react with the contrast from the CT Scan.  So after what felt like an endless wait, I got my IV and was brought into the MRI room.  It had a special attachment on the bed because since this was a breast MRI I was laying face down with my boobs in holes and my head resting on this little head rest thing. (Think cow udders hanging below them)  They gave me ear plugs and slid me in.

It really wasn't that bad, the least scary of all the tests I've had so far. It was noisy but it was rhythmic, almost a white noise and it gave me time (forced me) to relax, be calm and think. I thought about how this is not going to beat me. I thought about how all these tests suck but they are a necessary evil and that they will only benefit me. And I made a mental list of what I wanted to ask the oncologist today.

I've also decided on my next tattoo. (as a funny side story, I had been thinking about this before and my friend was over and telling me about another friend of hers who had cancer and got a very similar tattoo to what I'd been thinking about)  When this is all done and over with I'm getting either a ribbon (I'd like it to be pink but I honestly don't remember if they have pink ink so if not I might go for a light purple which is the general cancer awareness colour) or possibly a daffodil. And under it it will say "survivor". I'm thinking I will get it on the inside of my right wrist.

So, on to today.

I was nervous as hell going to see the Dr. He's the expert and would be able to decipher more of the report. The thing is, he didn't have the report from the pathologist. So I made sure to tell him, we already heard back that it was cancer and were looking for a clearer picture and a plan of action.  He went to his secretary and computer and got all the info available thus far.

So, in a nutshell, he says it is most likely breast cancer. He'll know more positively when he sees the MRI report which he said I can call for tomorrow afternoon. He explained it this way. Think of the cancer as a seed. It needs fertile soil to grow. So it started in the breast but it wasn't a fertile place, that's why it's not showing up in the mammogram or by touch. But the lymph nodes were more fertile so it went there to grow.
At any rate he said we'll do surgery to remove the rest of the lymph nodes, whatever tissue in the breast is cancerous and if need be, the whole breast. He said recovery from that will be about a month. From there we move on to about 4 months of chemo (guess I'm going bald!) and then radiation.. After that it will either be another medication or a hormone treatment but it will depend on the type of breast cancer it is.

Either way, it looks like this will be a roughly 6-7 month road ahead of us. And while that seems like an eternity, it's a plan and I'm happy about that.

So, it's not all sunshine and lollipops but it wasn't the worst case scenario either and I call that a good day. I came out of it feeling good, feeling hopeful and feeling as happy as can be expected given the circumstances.

I do, now, have to figure out how I handle things on the job front. I've emailed my union rep to see where to go from here. I not only want to keep my job but I want to be able to keep my school. Fingers crossed. It's going to be a tough road economically. The benefits of our health care system is that none of this will occur at any cost to me and any medical costs I do have (medications) will be covered by Sean's insurance but with my not working, I'll only get Employment Insurance for around 20 weeks as of September (I qualify for 29 weeks of EI but since I'm on EI right now for 'lay off' those 29 weeks are counting down as of now.  And Sean will likely be taking a stress leave to be home with me to help me with going to and from treatments and appointments. My mom has got the kids. I guess Sean will take as long as he can and once he's got to go back I'll have to rely on family and friends. I know they've got my back and would drive me to and from the hospital. 

So, that's it for now.  A lot to process but today I feel great (though I'm still stressing about that pain in my sinuses) I'm feeling hopeful and strong.

I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.

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