Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cancer Free!

My recovery is going. I move around fairly decently and have unexpected flexibility on my right side. I made it to Harrison's baseball and Maddie's softball games on Saturday. Yesterday, I went to see Maddie compete at Green Elementary's Junior Olympics. Drains in tow for all. (I look a little bit pregnant - who'd thought they would attach these drains so they would hang across my belly?) My brother, Darin and sister-in-law, Kelly flew in from Portland on Wednesday night. It has been very comforting for me to have them here and my parents around as well. All have been fabulous. Kelly says my incision looks great. I miss her already and she only left yesterday. Darin leaves tonight. Thank you all for the phone calls and visits. They really brighten my day!

Today, the house is quiet. I am sitting by our front window. Regardless of the clutter remaining from our remodel, the new design of my front room looks beautiful in the morning light, as I sit on my new comfy couch. I am actually sitting in the space next to the window which our dog Cooper, considers his spot, to my parents' chagrin. (I can see why he likes it - the fresh air and view out the window is outstanding.) I have my coffee and both phones should someone call. I am at peace.

The phones are amazingly silent. I mean this in a good way. Yesterday, I received a fantastic report from my surgeon - all pathology reports from my mastectomy returned clean. The phone did not stop ringing for the rest of the day. When I heard the results, the first thing I wanted to do was tell the world, hug someone, jump up and down and scream. I was by myself in the house - but I made a fair attempt.

Before my mastectomy, I knew chemo had been approximately 75% effective. After the surgery, I knew that three of the "seven or more" lymph nodes that looked concerning in my PET scan (November, 2009) looked unhealthy. While I did not dwell on the pathology report too much, I knew it would be the determining factor in what happens next. I also knew that know matter which scans are performed, physicians cannot really "stage" cancer until they perform surgery and receive the pathology report. So, even though my surgery went well, the skeptical side of me could not celebrate the milestone until the pathology report returned.

That being said, I was not prepared for my emotions yesterday. I compare it to the emotions I felt when I found out that my second child was going to be a baby girl. Having my baby boy (Harrison) in 2000, I learned that while I am a "girly girl", I really love everything about my son. Boy clothes are cool. Boy toys are cool. Harrison was an easy baby. When I got pregnant for the second time, I had resolved myself to the fact that we would inevitably have another boy because Steve was essentially the determining factor in the sex of our child and we have five nephews and one niece on Steve's side of the family. When I found out that we were having our Madison, uncontrollable happy tears streamed down my face and I felt an overwhelming sense of emotion that I never knew was there. I guess I wanted a girl more than I knew.

This is exactly how I felt yesterday, after speaking with my surgeon. I never considered the fact that I could be "cancer free". I was OK with that. I knew radiation and time would take care of any residual micro-disease and honestly, I was really more scared that they would find some lurking tumor that did not show up in scans. Crazier things have happened.

Now, I can focus on healing and prevention. I will likely still have radiation. I will also have my second mastectomy at the time of reconstruction, some time this fall, I presume. The reality is that the type of cancer that I just fought (and beat) is still a puzzle to doctors - they do not know its cause, unlike other forms of breast cancer. This makes it a bit more of a threat for a repeat visit in the next 2.5 years. At the same time, if I can keep it at bay for the next 2.5 years, then it is unlikely to return. At least, this is the way I understand it. Either way, I still have some work to do. A lot of it also involves changing my diet and adding supplements geared towards cancer prevention. I can do that. Easy, peasy.

For now, I just want to relish in the the words "cancer free". Wow. In the words of my good friend Doug, "That is something."


  1. Praise God! It was so good to see you the other night Marsi. You look great! ~Michele