Thursday, October 23, 2014

Surgery 101.

So many details...

Maybe sometimes sharing too much is a bad thing but in this case there have been a lot of questions regarding my surgery, post surgery procedure, reconstruction etc. So to try and fill in some gaps I am going to try and explain some things below. This as well has become a therapeutic way for me to share:

November 5, 2014, two weeks from yesterday I will be admitted to the hospital around 11:30 am. I will first undergo an injection of fluid (glowing fluid of some kind). This fluid will then we placed into my body so my surgeon can see which lymph nodes light up. This will help her determine which lymph nodes she will remove during surgery.

My surgery will begin at 1:30 pm. My breast surgeon will first remove all breast tissue, left side first then right side. On the left side only, she will complete the sentinel lymph node biopsy. (The removal of the lymph nodes to see if the cancer is found in them). The lymph nodes they remove are underneath my left armpit. Should cancer be detected in them..... she will remove an even larger amount of lymph nodes for further testing. This could mean two things...... that the cancer is in my left breast and in just my lymph nodes or it could potentially mean it has metastasized (moved to other parts of my body). Based on my pathology report they do not suspect this to be the case however it is still a possibility. So we are hoping the cancer is restricted to the tumor on my left breast and my lymph nodes are clear :)

Once she removes all breast tissue of one side, the plastic surgeon will come in and immediately begin constructing my new breasts. I will be doing this through tissue expanders. The expanders are to hold the place for the implant. Over a period of weeks, I will go in while they (insert saline into the expander) make the space for my future implant. The actual insertion of my implant will not take place until a later date.

Unlike a traditional breast augmentation I lose close to all (minus the 1% they cannot guarantee) breast tissue. My breasts will be built from nothing with just an implant. In my case specifically my tumor is too close to my left nipple so I am not able to keep it. At a later date the breast surgeon will reconstruct nipples and complete with tattoo of the pigmentation. The decision to not keep my neeplra is part of the great that should by keeping the nipple, I am keeping part of my breast tissue so breast cancer could come back that way.

Surgery all together should take place in around 3-4 hours (I wrote this originally and it is more like 6 hours) . Once they know whether my lymph nodes are clear or not, they will go out of surgery and inform my family.

This would be huge :) So we are praying hard for this.

I am expected to be out of work 4-6 weeks. Depending on my recovery, my healing and whether or not the cancer is found someplace else. My time away from work is very dependent on my surgery so I have tried not to speculate what that will look like but otherwise be present in the now....... like  at this moment eating the homemade apple pie my roommate made last night and grateful for long nights sleep.

As for today, I am heading to my pre-surgery appointment at the plastic surgeon in an hour. My roommate and dear friend Candice, along with my cousins wife (practically my cousin) Samantha are coming along. I have made a vow that I will not attend one appointment alone. I have learned that I need people in this and having people sit in a waiting room with me is just a small part of that.

Never mind all this nonsense though..... Next Thursday, I land in Louisville. I get to have one last weekend with family and friends. I cannot wait :) I fly back to Denver on Sunday before my surgery and my parents will be joining me in Colorado on Monday. Time, although at times I wish would move quickly so I can get this process started, is also so dear to me these days. I don't mind if it doesn't slow down. I am soaking every last bit of life out of the changing season and warm weather.......I have reunited and connected with so many of you in the past few weeks and for that I say "thank you cancer". Although you (cancer) have broken my heart and instilled fear in my day, you also have been the giver of so many gifts because of this diagnosis and for that I cannot say enough thanks.

Warmest to all of you, sending love and prayers my way. The cards and gifts are so appreciated as I have them displayed in my room. I know I am not alone and as a friend who has become so dear said to me, "we" are going to do this. Because all of you are on my team..... and I am grateful.

Sending so much love to you from sunny Denver and a Broncos victory tonight!

Mt. Evans on my morning bike ride to work.

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