A Surgical Success Story

The beautiful outdoor terrace at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge where we’re staying in Midtown.

We did it!  With the love and support of my husband, friends, family, and blog readers (not to mention my skillful surgeons) I made it through surgery successfully!  Yay!  (knock on wood :-) )

The day of the surgery itself is a total blur to me.  I remember the prep.  I remember the chats with my surgeons Dr. Bernik and Dr. Friedman and the anesthesiologist before I went into the OR.  I remember the doctors sticking up for me and my right to have my iPod during the procedure right before I went under (despite some resistance from the nursing staff).  I remember waking up and feeling like total crap.  I remember throwing up multiple times.  I remember the pain when they transferred me from the OR stretcher to my bed.  I remember the persistent nausea that clung to me for hours upon hours – preventing me from talking or even opening my eyes.  I remember asking the nurse when I woke up at 3am when the nausea would end and her telling me I had to sleep it off.  I remember the beauty of the sky outside my hospital window as the sun rose up into the sky and shone its light onto the magnificent architecture of the buildings across from me and I realized I wasn’t nauseous any more.  (Hubby later told me he made sure to grab the bed closest to the window knowing I would want to see the Manhattan skyline when I finally came to.  Thank you my love!)

Most of everything else about the day of the surgery is a blur.  I was told the surgery itself took about 2 1/2 – 3 hours.  The sentinel lymph node biopsy they did led them to remove just one lymph node that tested negative for cancer and reaffirmed the scan findings that showed no more cancer in my lymph nodes.  So thankfully we did not have to remove a ton of lymph nodes for testing which means my chances of getting lymphodema down the road are pretty slim.

Now they are sending my breast tissue to the lab for testing.  It’s important to find out the make-up of the tumors (especially the new one that appeared since my last set of scans) so we can properly target any future treatments.  Of the three tumors that were in my left breast, each could require a different targeted therapy.  I will find out the pathology results at my post-op meeting with Dr. Bernik on Wednesday.

I will also be meeting with my plastic surgeon Dr. Friedman at some point this week.  I saw him the morning after the surgery and he told me that he was very pleased with how everything went and that he was able to put a sizable amount (120 cc’s) of fluid into the tissue expander already.  Then for the next 3-6 months I will be required to travel back to NYC every 2 weeks or so to visit Dr. Friedman while we stretch the skin to the desired size for my new implant.  Which will require yet another (albeit less intense) surgery down the road.

Today I’m just happy that I am feeling better and the pain is lessening.  Today is the first day I’m going without pain meds since the surgery.  It’s only 12:30pm – but so far so good.  And all in all, the pain really hasn’t been as horrible as I thought it would be.  I think having a c-section was way worse!

I still haven’t looked at my chest (or what’s left of it).  Not quite ready for that yet.  I’ve been crying a lot the last few days.  Just frustrated with this never ending cancer journey and so wanting to be done with it already but realizing it will never truly be over.

On a positive note, Hubby and I are enjoying the time together.  The surgery has only helped us grow closer and more secure in our love for one another.  Which is great.  But we both miss our darling Miss M like crazy.  I don’t know how I’m gonna wait another 5 whole days to see her, kiss her, smell her, hold her.  But we are just so thankful that during this time she is surrounded by the love of some of her favorite people and we know that she is being well taken care of.  We get videos and pictures with mini updates on what she’s doing all day long.  It puts a smile on our faces and takes a lot of the worry from our hearts.

Again, I want to thank everyone for your healing prayers and encouragement.  The day after my surgery I awoke to over 40 different emails, texts, and facebook messages from people all over the world wishing me well.  It made me feel so loved and supported amidst the hell and pain of life immediately after my surgery.  Thank you.  Really.  Thank you.

Big hugs to everyone.  And much gratitude for everything that you do for me and my family.

Peace.  -T

The view from our room!

26 Responses

  1. I am so happy you are feeling better…and with each new day you will become stronger and stronger. Sending blessings your way.

  2. Congratulations! ^5! (high five)

    I don’t want to keep harping on this point, but it bugs me every time I hear you say that you’re going to have to keep dealing with this ridiculous cancer crap for the rest of your life! I mean you plan to stick around to watch miss M take over the world, right? Which will probably en up taking another 10 years or so, at least. By which time they MIGHT HAVE AN ACTUAL CURE FOR THIS SHIT. No, really.

    You’re probably always gonna miss your original boobs, but smaller and lighter might actually turn out to be kind of nice in the long run.

    And like I said, you may yet have a long long run to look forward to…

    Much love!

    Tea*

    • Hey darlin’,
      I hear what you’re saying about having hope for the future… But I’m not so sure they’ll ever find a “cure” for cancer. Call me a pessimist – but I don’t think people are spending much time or money on figuring out the causes of cancer… Plus, there are just so many different types of cancer… And the powers-that-be make too much money off us cancer patients… Hopefully it’ll end up like AIDS – a chronic treatable condition that doesn’t always kill you.
      So yes, I plan on sticking around for a VERY long time. But imagine my life will always be connected to cancer in some way – whether it’s the scans that I will continue to have, the diet/exercise/supplement regime I must continue indefinitely, or the complications that may arise from all the treatments I’m undergoing… I refuse to define my life as being a cancer patient. But I know that having cancer has set me on a new trajectory & woven itself into the very fabric of my existence.
      Thanks as always for the love & support. xoxo – T

  3. …forward, ever forward and onward to the all the things that life has in store for you. So glad that this part is over with and you can move on to simpler days filled with mundane moments that add up to an extraordinary life. Thanks for sharing…wishing you a speedy recovery.

  4. Wishing you a swift recuperation, — and a joyful reunion with Miss M.! Thanks, too, for the wonderful pictures! Much love to you and Heron and your whole loving family — John

  5. Wonderful to hear directly from you! Did appreciate the Facebook news right after surgery as well… It’s standard to have “surgery blues,” usually 2nd, 3rd days post surgery; that passes.

    Rest and grow strong! Be happy!

    Love & Light

  6. I’m glad to hear you’re out and back up to posting again.

    Be gentle with yourself – it’s *hard* to see a body alteration. As I’m sure you know, it’d be weird if it wasn’t freaky – so don’t feel bad if it’s hard to deal with.

    And remember: you’re just as beautiful, just as womanly, and just as sexy as you were – it just might take some time to realize it.

    • Thanks. I’m working on getting my ‘sexy’ back. I know it is not lost forever. Still, thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m sure my husband would agree with you. Make sure you keep taking care of yourself as well! Take those meds, eat right, get rid of the stress, and just love yourself unconditionally. Hopefully, you’ll feel better soon. Hugs, – T

      • Well, it’s interesting – “caring for myself” includes staying stressed and stabbing myself in the thigh. See, I’ve got a good clue for the reason I’m chronically fatigued, and fixing it (right now) includes IM shots. (I live alone – is it better to have to stick one’s self, or ask a roomie to do so while you drop trou? I think there are arguments both ways, but at least the thigh is less snicker-worthy than the euphemistically mis-named “hip”. )

        And I think it’s working – I hope it’s working. But if it’s not working, the fatigue will come back, and so I need to stay hypervigilant about that, because I’ve learned the awful thing about fatigue – there’s *always* an excuse, and after a while, it all seems normal. I mean – if a person is fatigued for 3 months, the first month it was a shock, and the second months it’s a worry, but the third month, it’s hard to remember what was different. That’s when you need friends to say “something is wrong, and it’s not getting better!” And … well, fatigued folks don’t tend to hang out a lot :-).

        So I think I’m finding an answer to a long term problem (at least 18 years old – that’s when I decided something was wrong, so this problem is old enough to vote. Thankfully, one’s self has a majority interest over one’s problems, and can always outvote them, but the noisy voters sure do look scary before an election, don’t they?)

        And that’s why I think I told you earlier that I hope healing joy increases as it’s shared as well – both the healing and the joy.

        (Hugs gratefully accepted and returned)

  7. Happy to hear all went well with your surgery!! I pray this journey will soon be over & only memory soon! Prayers & healing thoughts being sent your way 😉

  8. Since your mom’s passing I hadn’t read any further about your family until I checked BoingBoing today and I caught a mention of your family having been struck by cancer twice. Fearing the worst I went to your dad’s site and found out about your tumours.

    I’m happy and relieved to see that everything is going as well as it could be going given the circumstances. I’m not a believer in any deities or higher powers and I do not pray, but I’m sending you hugs and good wishes all the way from Spain (Barcelona, to be more precise). I’m aware that it’s not much, especially since I’m a complete stranger, but I hope your recovery is fast :)

  9. None of what you are going through is easy (in fact it bites big time) yet the Warrior Woman has risen triumphant. Yay! You have so much support and warmth surrounding you. What a fabulous and thoughtful husband. Keeping you in my thoughts each day. *hugs*

  10. So very pleased to hear it all went so well Teri. Sending you much love in your recovery – you’re an absolute trooper and such an inspiration. Thinking of you.

  11. 10000000000 YAY’S
    my family is sending love to you and your family!!!!!!! And then we’re sending more love on top of that love!!!!!
    kat

  12. Ever since your father told me what was happening, I have been trying to think of something to say other than “My wife and I are thinking good thoughts in your direction.” But other people have been more eloquent than this, and I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound somehow awkward to my own ears. So I’ll just say we are crossing our fingers, toes, etc. for you. And we will keep doing so.

  13. T, so glad the surgery went so well. Haven’t responded to your blog in a while but have read them all and have kept you in my thoughts and prayers. In May my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Uterine cancer…small cell to be exact. For a woman I. Her 70’s not a great prognosis…they gave her 6 months to a year. She went through a surgery to remove her uterus and surrounding lymph nodes…when they went in found it all over her abdomen, outside of the colon, etc. New prognosis 3 months from diagnosis date. She went to rehab to recover, got through the lack of strength and loss of appetite so thy gave her her first round of chemo and she came home! She was home for a week and by Friday was not eating again. By Sunday night she was back in the hospital. I was going in to see her on Thursday but we got a call Wednesday night to come in…by Thursday morning the doctors who ran tests all night told us she wouldn’t make it through the weekend…she passed away Thursday night. 2.5 months from diagnosis! This is an ugly disease, we have learned how important our relationship are and how important it is to say the things you need to and do it now! Of course you know all of this!
    I wanted you to know that in the past few months through her illness your blog gave me hope. It does every time I read about your next steps!! Keep fighting this war! I know you must be tired and exhausted…but you are a warrior! May all blessings be with you and your family!!!

    • Oh sweetie… I’m so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. Cancer really sucks!!! And I’m starting to get supremely pissed off about how many people’s lives it continues to take away!! I hope you & your family were able to say what you wanted to say and enjoy a few precious moments together before she passed. Thank you for sharing your story.
      Sending blessings and love back to you… I promise to keep fighting. Hugs, -T

  14. That’s so wonderful, Terry. I knew it would go fantastically well, and didn’t write sooner as I wanted to see how the surgery went, and didn’t know how soon you’d be back on the computer. Been thinking about you lots. Love you, girl. Vic

  15. Sending hugs – oh so tender, gentle, hardly there ones – to you…. but so large and soul encompassing you feel the care, support, kindness and loving, healing intention sent to you from your favourite island. You are in many hearts here. Thank you too, as always, for your ever present grace and reminder of what is good and what does work. They are always timely for me and poignant too. Thinking of you lately and sending healing wishes. I can imagine your reunion with your daughter will be such a joy! Love to you Terri, from Sam (now Caroline’s friend too thanks to you!)

  16. I’ve been thinking of you, Terri, and SOO happy to hear your surgery went well, and that it’s behind you now.you’re in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there!

    Hugs to you.

    Gigi

  17. good news! I am a friend of a friend from toronto and rooting for you. I wanted to pass on some info……….I absolutely agree with you when you say the mind body connection. It is certainly a huge part of illness.and a part of my recovery(therapy, meditation, exercise, breaking old patterns, massage, reiki) I also believe that modern medicine plays a huge role in treating people. the things they do are truly amazing. you are a shinning example. i also believe that alternative medicine is really important………..i partake in all of these. but when i was not getting better from my incapacitating chronic fatigue and severe digestive issues that had me lose 45 pounds in months, i saw a FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE doctor. I realized I had genetic mutations and polymorphisms and all kinds of prblems with my detoxification process in my body which 30% of the population has. Clearing up these issues have given me my energy back, my life back.and hopefully will keep me healthy in the future…it’s a slow road to recovery but worth it. food intollerances and detox issues were at the core of all my many many ailements and problems…………and modern medicine was missing them. Functional medical doctors are real doctors. medically trained in university. but then they graduate and leave and train again as functional medicine docotrs. The most famous of them all is dr mark hyman. I urge you to read a few of his articles. I think a functional medicine workup could really solve some of your genetic dysfunctions as you and you mom most certainly suffer from the same cancer. Which even modern medicine will not deny is genetically linked.

    http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/breast-cancer-how-to-reduce-your-risk-now/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/glutathione-the-mother-of_b_530494.html

    http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/is-your-digestive-system-making-you-sick/

    http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/maximizing-methylation-the-key-to-healthy-aging/

    sending you good vibes and healing energy that smells like roses…………….alyssa.

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