Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cancer Update

I still can't seem to get my head to accept that I have cancer. Life goes along, and then, all of a sudden, "I HAVE CANCER" hits me over the head. So very odd -- this is not what I had planned. I don't have time to have cancer! But, alas, I will find time to beat cancer.

I saw my surgeon last week. He believes that I'll have radiation and chemotherapy. ugh. Probably radiation first (every day for 5-6 weeks), then the chemo. The pathology report did confirm that the tissue margins and the lymph node were negative for cancer cells. It did show, though, that the cancer was on its way to the lymphatic system. My cancer is considered stage 1 (best possible) and grade 3 (worst possible -- most aggressive on a scale of 1-3). Good news and also scary news.

When my panic rises, Don reminds me of the surgeon's words: "the cancer is OUT of your body" and the treatment is to make sure it doesn't come back. That helps. When I can't sleep at night (every night), I try to remember Jesus Christ's words "Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me." The Psalms are also so helpful.

I have been so worried about my girls through this. I don't want them to have to experience the pain of Mom having breast cancer. But then I realized, if I had my desire, they would be robbed of seeing what God has for all of us in this -- the joys as well as the pain. They would be robbed of the strength they will gain by walking through this fire. I think one of the hardest things in life is trusting God with the lives of my children. He is able, and does, care for them more than I could ever.

I have appointments on Wednesday with two oncologists -- one a radiation oncologist and the other a regular (?) oncologist. That day will be overwhelming, I am sure. So if you think about me on Wednesday, please pray that I'll have a calm heart and clear mind so that I can hear and process the information I receive from the doctors, and that my questions get asked and answered.

So now I am thinking I should have joined the "Biggest Loser" contest at work -- the contestant who loses the most weight wins! I would be ahead, I'm sure. Stress is a great weight loss inducer. I'd rather stay fat.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breast Cancer, Part II

I am home from the hospital!

Yesterday's MRI apparently showed my left breast is a.o.k. whew. This morning, a phone call from the hospital to come earlier than planned so that they could do more stuff to me. So I got through the insertion of two "guide" wires into my breast - not fun, but hey, who cares. The wires were to help guide the surgeon, one wire at the front of the cancer, one wire at the back. The wires were about 7 inches long sticking out of my breast. Blue dye inserted into the cancer to stain the tissue. Radioactive something injected to find the sentinel lymph-node. a bit early to surgery (amazing -- and a wonderful thing). Making the anesthesiologist (sp?) stop in the hallway as he wheeled me to surgery..."I didn't get to say goodbye to Ellie, just Rachel. Get Ellie". So the Dr. left me in the hall, went back to the waiting room -- "she wants to see Ellie". Ellie came to the hall, and I can't remember what I said! Hopefully, I told her I loved her.

In the recovery room after surgery, I was ECSTATIC to hear that two pathologists and the surgeon believe the entire cancer was removed, and the lymph-node was negative for cancer. PRAISE GOD. That is the prelim report, final pathology report due on Friday. If they do find more cancer cells (not uncommon), I will probably have a mastectomy at that point (if I understand what Don told me correctly). And let me add just a quick note about my most wonderful husband. Don has been a rock for me. He has been my helpmate and my best friend. I love you, Donald Kent Howatt!

The outcome of the surgery is the best possible, as far as we know without the final pathology report. I am so thankful. so thankful.

Thank you, each one of you, who have offered such tremendous encouragement and support over these last few days. Just a few days, but also a lifetime. The journey is not over, but I do believe a major step is behind me.

Hug your family tonight and tell each one how much you love them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Breast Cancer...

is the pits. I found a lump in my right breast last week and after waiting an agonizing 4 days, received the diagnosis of cancer on Thursday evening. I am scheduled for an MRI tomorrow to make sure the cancer is really only in my right breast, and then surgery on Tuesday afternoon. It seems the cancer was found early, as the tumor is estimated to be 1.5 cm. We'll know more about the extent and stage of the cancer after surgery. So, yes, I am scared. I am tired of crying. I am tired. But, I am not worried anymore. I am not worried because I know God is in control, and I rest in His hands. I know He is able to heal me, and I know that He is able to take care of my family. "blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction..." He comforts me.