Tag Archives: surgery

One year CANCER FREE!!!

One year ago today I was in a hospital room recovering from a single mastectomy.  Apparently, I wrote a blog post that evening, but I have absolutely no recollection of doing that!    It was one year ago that the surgeon roomed my right breast ridding me of the cancer trying to take over my body.  It was one year ago that I became CANCER FREE.

In the past year I have overcome so much.  hundreds of blood draws, surgery, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, loss of my hair, neuropathy, 28 rounds of radiation, and all the side effects that go along with all of these treatments, but I did it!

I celebrate my one year anniversary with all of you as you are who helped me through this past year.  Thank you.  Thank You.  THANK YOU.  Those words will never be adequate enough to truly express the gratitude I feel.  I am horrible at thank you notes….I do plan to sit down and write them….but please know that absolutely nothing went unnoticed.  From the smallest of things to the absolutely incredible things.  I do believe I cried more tears of joy than fear this past year because of my support system!

To celebrate this year, I told Chris that I wanted a charm bracelet that I could add charms to each year symbolizing another year.  For my birthday he took me to Pandora where I was able to get the bracelet I had my eye on. I had no real plans of getting a charm as I figured my first charm would come today…Chris and Isaac convinced me I needed a birthday charm. I told the clerk my favorite color was pink and she showed me several great ones and then she said, I have a daisy. My mom’s favorite flower is a daisy and mu favorite color of pink, it seemed like the perfect first charm!

I had been searching a while for a “1” to add for my cancerversary. Of course Amazon had it! Below is a picture of my charm bracelet with the two charms. I look forward to adding many more milestone and cancerversary charms! (Yes, I totally made that word up)

My New Accessory

When I had my surgery back in September the doctor had to remove two lymph nodes to determine if my cancer had spread. Thankfully, my lymph nodes were completely clean!

What I never realized was that removing two lymph nodes would leave me with a reason for a medical alert bracelet!

Let me start with a brief description of what the lymph nodes are. All throughout your body you have these bean-shaped nodes. They are part of the immune system and act as a filter. The lymphatic system also contains white blood cells that help your body fight infection. Everyone has a different number of lymph nodes under their arm. The breast empties fluids through what is know as a gateway. One fluids pass this gateway they enter the lymphatic system and circulate through the body. Just like bad cells in the lymphatic system there are white blood cells that circulate through the body to fight infection. The lymphatic system is critical to immune health! It is why when you are sick you might have swelling in your neck, under your arm, or anywhere else that infection is present.

I recently learned that my cancer had spread to within the lymphatic system of my breast, but never made it to the “gateway”. The cancer was in route to the exit and has it gotten through the “gate” could have quickly spread through my entire body. This is one of the reasons my oncology team has been so aggressive in my treatment. They want to make completely sure nothing got through.

With the removal of the two lymph nodes under my right arm, I am at a greater risk of lymphedema or swelling associated with a blockage is the lymphatic system. This can be painful and cause circulation issues. Due to this risk, I cannot have any type of tourniquet on my right arm. They cannot use that arm to draw blood, give shots, or check mu blood pressure. I am able to tell doctors this, but if something were to happen, medical staff would need to be aware. For this reason I ordered a fun medical alert bracelet.

Before my surgery I had no idea this was a thing for breast cancer patients., cancer patients in general. I am not a medical professional and Googled info to write this blog. This is my layman’s understanding!

Did you know this was a thing or did you learn something new? What else would you like me to talk about in future blogs. Comment below and let me know!

Surgery Day

It has been nearly a week since I have blogged. My week was busy but in a good way. Once getting the news that the CT scan and bone scan were clear, we prepared for surgery day.

My AMAZING mother-in-law flew in from Arkansas and helped us get the house cleaned and ready for me to come home. I cannot even begin to explain how much that means to me. I have never been the greatest housekeeper so having her come in and deep clean was a huge blessing. I know that going home to a clean home will provide less stress and a safer environment for me. On Monday, before taking her to the airport, I was asked to come to the hospital and be tested for COVID. It was the final barrier to surgery.

The test was easy. They had told me that their test didn’t require them to “poke my brain”. I have heard many stories about how painful the test is, but thankfully mine was not. They came out to the car and swabbed the inside of my nose, both sides, and that was it. Took all of about two minutes. We found out Tuesday morning it was negative and that surgery was a go!

My nerves were through the roof. Not because I didn’t trust my doctor, I completely did, but because I had never been put under general anesthesia for a lengthy amount of time before and I was scared about how my body would react. I knew that without some help, I would not sleep Tuesday night. I took a Xanax and slept for about 7 solid hours. I woke up Wednesday feeling good about what was about to happen. We had to be at the hospital at 7:30 to check-in. By 7:45 I was in my pre-op room answering a million questions associated with having surgery. I was given an IV and an EKG and was told that the surgical nurse, anesthesiologist, and a doctor would be in to speak with me before surgery. One by one they came in and explained their role in my surgery. All of them had a wonderful bedside manner. We discussed our kids and animals, which greatly diminished my stress level. I was also allowed to keep my belongings with me and was in communication with Chris and so many others while I waited.

The rest of the day is a bit foggy. Just before taking me out of pre-op, they gave me some medicine to calm me. I remember them unlocking my bed and saying we were heading to the OR but I don’t remember the hallways. I then saw several people, including Dr. B standing over me. She was holding my hand and talking to me, but I have no clue what she was saying. A mask was put on my face and the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.

The recovery nurse said I had already been in there for about 30 minutes and that I would soon be going to my overnight room. Chris was allowed to wait in my room, which I am sure was much more comfortable for him. Pretty soon after waking up I was brought to my room. Again, I don’t remember anything but my wheels being unlocked and then entering my room and seeing Chris. What a welcome sight that was! With COVID we weren’t sure until a few days ago that he would be able to be here with me through all this.

I don’t remember much at all about the rest of the afternoon. I was brought some food and remember not being able to eat because my mouth was so dry. They did tell me that I was not required to be incubated, yay! They were able to just use a mask and something that goes under my tongue to maintain my airway during surgery. I remember getting sick one time and feeling like my body was on fire. I was so hot. Everyone else was fine, but, I was sweating to the point my bed was wet. They gave me a small fan and a cold rag for my neck and I finally started cooling off. Chris will have to fill in the blanks of the day for you. I don’t know if there is video evidence or not, but if there is I am sure you will eventually see it.

They brought in dinner and it was good! I still wasn’t super hungry so Chris finished my plate. Chris then went home to get a few things and I FaceTimed the boys. Both here so happy to see me. That smile from Eli was the best medicine. We talked for a while and I watched them play. Eli then broke my heart by full-on crying when I said those dreaded words, “Bye baby”. I had to hang up super quick so I didn’t break down.

My pain level has been low and completely manageable. I am trying to stay on top of it with my pain meds. The hardest part is not using my right arm when I get out of bed or try to rearrange myself. They are coming in every four hours to empty the surgical drain and check vitals. I was able to sleep for a good four-hour stretch. I have been awake since the 3:30 nurse visit and decided now was as good a time as any to update you.

I have not seen the doctor, but she spoke with Chris following surgery. We got GREAT news. While in surgery they checked the “gateway” lymph node for cancer and it was clear! As far as I can tell, that means she got ALL of the cancer when she removed the breast.

The plan is to go home later today. I will be on lifting restrictions until the drain comes out. That should be in 10 to 14 days. That is all the updates I have at this point. We will update again once I see the doctor this morning and we make it home. Thanks again for prayers, text, and Facebook messages. I love getting them!