Surgery Time

Tomorrow is my big surgery day.

The reality of this has been slowly sinking in since we left Ohio on Sunday. I’ve got nervous energy coursing through my veins… random twinges of discomfort in my breast… and this aching pain in the pit of my loins – like my lady parts know they’re about to lose one of their own.

Miss M and I took a 2 day long road trip from Ohio to Massachusetts – arriving at Auntie L’s house late Monday night. Auntie L, her hubby Uncle M and the rest of my family have agreed to take care of Miss M while I’m in NYC for the surgery. God bless them. This morning I had to say goodbye to her. Knowing I won’t see her for a full week (the longest we’ve ever been apart) adds more angst to my already anxiety full body. Sigh…

Thankfully I am now safely in my beloved NYC… Sitting in Astoria Park, looking out over the East River & the Manhattan skyline… Having some lunch and writing this blog. It always feels so soothing and comforting to be here. NY will always be home to me. The place I feel most comfortable. Most at ease. Most like myself.

And in 1 hour hubby arrives into Laguardia airport. And we get to spend one glorious afternoon & evening alone together in the city – wandering the streets, going out for dinner, & maybe hitting up my favorite spot – Washington Square Park – for some people watching & music. Some quality tIme to enjoy each other and enjoy the city.

Interestingly, I just received an amazing text from hubby. He said on his first flight today he sat beside a woman named Jeanne (the same name as my mom) who is a Buddhist, dancer, and writer (just like my mom) and a fan of my dad’s work. How about that for serendipitous events and reassuring messages from the Universe??!!?

I know in my heart of hearts that my mom is watching over me. That the Universe’s energy, which is in all of us, and always surrounding us, is channeling good energy my way. I feel it radiating from the pores of the Big Apple and embracing me from afar with all the love and good energy you all are sending my way.

Thanks again to everyone for your support in this journey. I am in the midst of a very difficult chapter in my life, but I know that this too shall pass – as everything does.

As my mom always said, “The only constant in life is change.”

Love to all. – T

Pulling It Together

Miss M and I have arrived.

After a hellish flight from Dayton to Vancouver (including a 6 hour layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and an arrival time of 2am into Vancouver – 5am Ohio time – thank God Auntie ‘Cole was there to pick us up) we are now happily settled at Grandpa’s house on Bowen Island. Miss M and I are overjoyed to be spending time with some of our favorite people… The sun is shining (a rarity around these parts)… The air smells delicious… The birds are chirping… The views of the ocean and mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. It feels good to be back.

The latest news on the cancer front, is that my most recent echocardiogram showed a decrease in my heart functioning (from 60-65% down to 50-55%). Any lower than that and I may want to consider discontinuing the Herceptin. But for now my oncologist Dr. K says not to worry – So i’m trying not to. Apparently my base level when I was first diagnosed was close to the level I’m at now. Guess I have to bump up the cardio and interval training a bit. If anyone has thoughts about how to keep my ticker healthy please send ’em my way.

Dr. K also mentioned that if, after surgery, I remain tumor free for the next few sets of scans we may be able to stop with the Herceptin anyway. Although metastatic patients are often on Herceptin indefinitely, earlier stage breast cancer patients usually take the drug for just one year post-surgery. Apparently, now that I have responded so well to treatment, I could possibly be treated in a similar fashion. Sounds good to me!

The other news is that I have a date for my breast surgery: Thursday September 13th – at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC.

Between now and then I have to do a ton of things to prep for the surgery, including a PET scan, bone scan, MRI, EKG, complete physical, and extensive blood work. All of which will be done in Ohio when I get back from my trip to Vancouver at the end of the month.

Plus I still have to coordinate all the logistics – travel plans, care schedules, Hubby’s paperwork to request medical leave, recovery aftercare… But I continue to trust that the details will work themselves out. That the Universe (and my mom) will help me pull it all together.

And as I contemplate all these details, I am once again reminded of just how amazing my support team is. As I prepare for the next chapter in my breast cancer journey I am so appreciative and grateful for the people in my life that continue to help me (and Miss M and Hubby) through it all. I know that a big part of why I am still alive today and feeling healthy is because of your support. Thank you!!!

I also understand that support is a two-way street. Even if someone wants to give support the other person must be willing to receive it. And having breast cancer has definitely challenged me to let go of a lot of unhealthy behaviours – One of the biggest being my ability to ask for help and openly receive it. But also to not try to do it all by myself… To speak my mind… And say ‘No’ to the things that bring me down instead of lifting me up.

I encourage us all to take stock of our lives and the energies that surround us on a day-to-day basis. To work on letting go and distancing ourselves from the “haters”, the negativity, the people and things that drain us and bring us down instead of lifting us up and contributing to our ability to be the best and most authentic person we can be.

It’s an ongoing task but one I am committed to making. And I thank you all for supporting me on this journey of self-discovery.

Peace. – Terri


Surgical Considerations

Another amazing trip to NYC is coming to an end.

Tomorrow Miss M and I hop on a plane to go back to Ohio. While I’m sad to leave my beloved NY, I’m also excited to see hubby again. I wanna try to spend as much quality time with him as possible over the next 4 days before Miss M and I leave for Vancouver (our last leg of the ‘summer of thanks tour’).

My meetings with the surgeons here in NY went really well. Both were recommended by a friend of mine (who claims to have fantastic breasts now as a result of breast cancer surgery). My oncological surgeon Dr Bernik seems kind, caring, flexible and honest. My plastic surgeon Dr Friedman is a top dog on Park Avenue with a great sense of humour who appears genuine and committed. All in all a great team.

Despite my own reservations and fears about having surgery (that prompted a minor teary meltdown in the plastic surgeon’s office today) I’m feeling a lot better about the whole thing after meeting with them.

As it stands right now, the two surgeon’s offices will compare schedules and get back to me with a few potential dates for surgery sometime in September. The procedure will involve having my left breast surgically removed and tissue expanders put in. I’ll be in the hospital for a few days, and then I go home to lay low and recoup. Of course, where exactly I will be recouping is still yet to be decided. I imagine I will have to stay in NY for at least 2-4 weeks.

After that, I return once every 2 weeks to have the skin on my breast slowly stretched out to the desired size (which Dr Friedman told me I can decide on as we go along). Then we do yet another (minor) surgery to remove the expander and put the implant in, as well as do any “touch ups” to the right breast (a little reduction or maybe just a lift) to make the two breasts match.

There is also the question of what to do about my lymph nodes. We have no definitive way of knowing if there still is cancer in the lymph nodes closest to my breast until they cut me open and check it out. So Dr Bernik is asking me to consider either a sentinal lymph node biopsy or an axillary lymph node dissection to test the tissue and remove any cancerous nodes. Needless to say, I have to do some serious research on my options before I make up my mind.

But before any of this can start, I have to go in for yet another set of scans (MRI, PET, and bone scan). My plan is to schedule those for the end of August, when I return from Vancouver.

In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of thinking and research to do…. About the surgery… About the reconstruction… About where I’m going to live immediately following my surgery… About who is going to take care of me… And who is going to take care of Miss M…

I have to admit I’m still a bit freaked out about the whole thing. The pain. The recovery. And the potential for complications – because that’s exactly what a stage 4 breast cancer patient doesn’t need – more drama.

But I am doing my best to keep living each day as it comes. Focusing on the here and now. Trying to remain open to what life has to offer. And not getting stressed out about the things I can’t control.

This new approach seems to be working really well so far. And it sure is making life a hell of a lot more fun to live too!

Peace. – T