January 15, 2000 - Choosing (and Rejecting) Physicians
Thanks for keeping in touch and for caring what's happening!
My 2nd opinion appointment on Tuesday went well -
he agrees I do need a mastectomy, but says reconstruction
might need to wait depending on whether the chest muscles
were involved or not. Set me up for a CAT scan, bone
scan and chest x-ray to insure there's no cancer elsewhere
in my body. Confirmed that the chemo will probably throw
me into menopause (hooray!!!!) and that I will probably
lose my hair (bald is beautiful, right?).
Thursday I saw the plastic surgeon - his record is
impressive - does about 4 reconstructions every 10 days.
That means he's very experienced, but isn't it sad that
so many women need them? He did not tell me anything
that I had not already discovered through research except
that the reason they use part of the rectus abdominus
muscle with the TRAM flap is for the blood supply to
the flap to keep it alive and healthy. The reconstruction
surgery will put me in the hospital for about four days
and keep me pretty inactive for about two months.
Friday was hospital day. First of all I saw the surgeon
who did the biopsy. I will not be using him for further
surgery as he really couldn't answer some of my questions,
seemed surprised at all the questions I had, and hadn't
really thought about the possibility of delaying the
recon because of the location of the cancer. He did
say that now that he thought about it, it was probably
a good idea. Don't think I want him doing any further
Had to drink 24 oz. of contrast fluid (sort of orangey,
chalky flavored) before 12:30. Then off to Florida Hospital
for tests. First the interminable paper work. Next an
IV site placement and an injection of mildly radioactive
fluid for the bone scan. Third, a chest x-ray. After
that, drink another large glass of contrast fluid, then
hop on the table for the CAT scan of abdomen and pelvis.
No pain in all of this except when they injected still
more contrast fluid into the IV - that burned like crazy
for about two minutes! Then wait some more and finally
at 5 PM, the bone scan. That was painless, too, except
I had to lie completely still for about 20 minutes -
my muscles kept jumping!
On Monday I see a radiation oncologist and on Friday
a chemo oncologist.
Hopefully, during the week I'll have my second appointment
with the surgeon so that I can get surgery scheduled.
I have decided to not do the reconstruction until after
the chemo regimen is completed - probably a year from
now. I hope to have the mastectomy sometime the week
of the 24th of January. The recovery time from the mastectomy
is about two-four weeks.
I won't be able to go to the NSA Western Workshop
this year, but should, if all things go well, make the
Eastern. Had a speech I had to back out of, but one
of my NSA buddies is perfectly equipped to step in,
so the client was happy. One of my other bestest NSA
buddies is taking over my session host chair responsibilities
So how do I feel? Absolutely outstandingly excellent!
I just happen to have breast cancer and need surgery,
but otherwise I'm great and planning forward. Thanks
to all of the love and prayers and good wishes I've
received, I am feeling no anxiety about this and know
that all will turn out for good. Of course, a couple
of my "friends" :-) have remarked that some speakers
will do anything for a good speech!!!
Please continue to treat me "normally" (whatever that
is!) and don't tip toe around my feelings. I don't mind
talking about it and, in fact, think the message should
get out about breast cancer so more are aware of it
and how it can be caught early and sometimes prevented.
Please, please - all of you women make sure you're getting
a mammogram every year! Men - make sure your wives and
daughters do. Secondly, if you're still using stamps
instead of a postage meter, go to the post office and
invest in the Breast Cancer stamps - they're $.40 instead
of $.33, but the additional seven cents goes entirely
to breast cancer research.
Keep in touch - the good words keep me positive. Call
anytime, you know I love to talk!! Hugs!
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