Cancer is but a chapter in my life…not the whole story

white paper with yeah signage

I didn’t sleep a wink last night anticipating my appointment today with the surgical oncologist. At 2:30pm I received the news that the pathology report shows that all cancer was removed with the mastectomy and there were no signs of cancer in my lymph nodes! I couldn’t have asked for better news. I am elated. My surgeon said to me however, that given the type of cancer I had and the fact that the tumor when removed was 16cm if I was living in the U.S, I would be prescribed an oral chemo medication for a year to ensure nothings grows back. In Canada, the protocol is to do nothing?! My surgeon then asked would I like a second opinion? I found this strange that she even told me that in the U.S they do things differently and she prompted the second opinion. Does that mean that she thinks I should have this oral chemo? I agreed to the second opinion and I guess I will find out more when I talk to another oncologist. This hasn’t affected my extreme pleasure with the news I was given, it has just given me pause for thought. I’m not sure what I should be researching given the fact I don’t know what the drug is and the fact it is not an option in Canada.

The oncologist was concerned however with the swelling and my ever growing lump and said I should contact the reconstructive surgeon asap. I took a chance as I was already at the Juravinski Cancer Centre and went to the clinic where he has office hours. I explained to the receptionist what was happening and that my oncologist wanted me to see him asap. She listened intently and then told me to wait a moment. She returned in minutes and told me that if I could wait, he would see me! Of course I waited. If he could relieve me of my football size lump I was all in.

After a 30 minute wait, I was ushered into an examining room. The reconstructive surgeon came in, took one look and started to give me my options:

  1. do nothing for the time being and see if my body will eventually absorb the fluid
  2. schedule an ultra sound to see if there are areas that could be drained via syringe through the middle of the breast tissue
  3. have another surgery to remove the build up of fluid and hematoma

He explained that he did not want to have a syringe inserted through my breast as it may interfere with the tissue expanders and the chance of infection was a real concern. Obviously having another surgery is very low on my list of preferences. The thought of going back into hospital just three weeks after leaving is NOT something I want.

He examined me again and said that since the biggest buildup of fluid is under my arm and not near the area where the expanders have been inserted he suggested using a syringe right then and there to see if he could drain out the fluid. Now, this is no ordinary needle folks. This is a very large syringe that is the size of a turkey baster with a six inch needle attached. I lay back and counted the dead flies in the flourescent light overhead and tried to breathe. Four times he inserted and re-inserted the needle to try to drain fluid but could get nothing. OW!!!!!!!

I have another appointment Tuesday. Hopefully the swelling will have started to subside by then. If it hasn’t then surgery may be the only option. Needless to say, this will delay the reconstruction process as they can’t add fluid into the expanders if they are being compressed by the fluid build up in my chest. Yet another setback, but given the news that my pathology report was all clear, I will accept the setback as just a bump in the road on a my journey to recovery. Today is a very good day and no amount of swelling can take that away.

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President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.

6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Patti, I was away during this post for a family wedding, and offline. When I returned, the first thing I checked was to see how the appointment went, and learning that there was no sign of cancer brought me to tears. I have been following again daily ever since, but just wanted to come back and comment on this one, to say you are in my thoughts and making great progress (in case the reality of it all makes that hard to remember). Hang in there! You got this!

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