Category Archives: Breast Surgeon

Cheryll’s Story , Part 2

Cheryll's Story... The cross is for my faith in God. The pink heart is for my compassion for others with breast cancer. The word 'hope' stands for always having HOPE. The pink ribbon is in honor those who lost their lives to breast cancer. The pink crystal is my reminder to stay grounded and stay in faith that God has this and every part of my life in his plan.
Cheryll’s Story…

This is part 2 of my sister’s story.  I admire her courage.

“Two days later, my gynecologist was calling me. The nurse told me that the doctor would call me, but I know something wasn’t right when I had a message from my gynecologist office. They called me on the 16th of Oct. to come into the office the next day. I told her that was impossible, I had started a new job in June and I can’t take the time. I told her to just let me know now. She kept saying you need to come in, after going back and forth she finally relented and said again, you know I don’t want to do this over the phone.

I told her I had cancer 23 years ago and I am going to act fast and attack, so… I said, ” Tell me now!!! ….I have breast cancer, right?” she said, “Pathology confirmed that you have breast cancer and I have an appointment set up for you tomorrow to see the surgeon”.

I thanked her.  I was shocked, but there is an underlying story and other things which are converging into this story which I can’t go into right now. I knew in that moment that the Lord was with me, without a doubt.  I was at work when she told me and for a brief second a tear came to my eyes and a big lump formed in my throat, but it was very short-lived. I shook it off, my boss asked if I was okay, I answered with a shaky voice, yes, are you sure she said,  and at that moment my yes was firm and sure, I was quite sure that all would be fine and I told her so. I had such peace, such knowing and no fear that I knew everything was going to be fine.

Later, I would end up telling my sister the same thing and she recognized that I had no fear. Again, other things were going on in the background, so I was confident and not fearful.  The next day I was in the surgeon’s office with my husband and my mom to discuss procedures. We reviewed options and a lumpectomy was a good choice. My cancer was stage 0 and had not broken out of the duct and had an intermediate growth rate. I really didn’t want surgery since the cancer had not broken out of the duct, but the doctor stressed the point that we can’t be sure that it didn’t spread. Cancer being what it is in microscopic form it could have traveled.

So far I felt that the news was fantastic and that proceeding with the surgery is the best precaution.  We met with the scheduling nurse and told her to get started with everything right away, I wanted this lumpectomy to be done before year-end. We set up the test within 2 weeks for the mapping, blood work and such on Nov 9, 2014. They also reviewed my lymph nodes to be sure we didn’t have to remove those also, which turned out to be fine.

The surgery was scheduled 3 weeks later for Dec 2, 2014. Everything went well, and again within a couple of days we found out that the lump had no cancer, not only within the ranges or the margins as it is called, but there was no cancer in the entire lump. This was of course a marvelous blessing.

There were many things going on in the background and I know that the Lord God had everything under control and that He had touched my body. I had a close friend pray for me and we claimed my healing in the name of Jesus which was towards the end of August after the initial meeting with the radiologists and I know again that all would be well.  A few weeks later as I was lying in bed praying, I felt the Lord touch my body and a beautiful sensation went through my chest and I knew without a doubt that I had been wiped clean.

Being human, we seem to wait to be told the news from doctors, surgeon and various professionals that all is well, but I knew all was well.  Now I had to go thru radiation to make sure that there was definitely no residual cancer left behind.  Precaution is the important word here. The surgeons nurse described this procedure as necessary, like using all the ingredients for a cake.  You cannot leave something out and get the recipe right, so radiation is the rest of the recipe.

Many things happen on several different levels in our lives, and it’s God working us, proving us, sharpening our faith , walking and talking to us , preparing us, so.. so.. so many things go on that we are blissfully unaware of until we see it all come together. Again these are the under currents in the Christian life.  They go on in the unseen spaces of our lives. I was shocked at first and there was a reason for that, yet I automatically knew all was going to be okay.

My sister Cheryll
My sister Cheryll

It was shock, then knowing immediately, no fear, no problem, I will be victorious only because the Lord God is in control and it’s all okay.  It is very simple, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, I am going to be okay. The resolve was simply, I am okay whether I am in heaven or I am kept here for a while longer on the earth by His grace. I did not allow fear to disrupt my home life, my husband came home, I told him about the news, told him it’s going to be fine. He had a shaking in his voice, I said,  “ Ugh ugh, no It is going to be okay” and didn’t miss a beat, prepared dinner, sat down and continued to say It’s all okay. I am an attacker, we are going for it, so let’s not worry about it. That is just what we did and my husband was with me all the way. I am thankful and grateful for my mom who was a tower of strength. If she ever doubted, she didn’t let me know.  I am thankful for my husband.  He handled it well, and he did well because I handled it well, and I did well because God already handled it well. God handled everything to perfection.  Be blessed. Cheryll”

Thank you, Cheryll for sharing your story. I am so thankful that Cheryll shared her story.  I hope it helps someone you know.

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Be blessed.


Just One More Surgery


About the time I hoped to return to work part time, I was scheduled for a surgery known as a margin revision. In my post-op visit, the breast surgeon explained that there was one cancerous spot on the border of the clean tissue.  The goal of the surgery is to leave a margin of at least 1mm of normal, cancer free tissue.

I arrived that the Surgery Center at 7:00 AM on June 16, 2009.  I went through the usual details: financial responsibilities, Nurse #1 and then back to the holding pen where I changed my clothes and got ready.  I asked the nurse to pull the curtain so everybody couldn’t stare at me.  I was hoping that the surgeon would take the drains out during the surgery.  The breast surgeon stopped by to see me and reassured me that she was going to get clear margins.  She previously asked me if a pathologist could attend the surgery.  She confirmed that the pathologist would be attending the surgery and would be able to examine the tissue immediately.  The breast surgeon would gain access through the 3 incisions in the right breast from the surgery on June 3, 2009.  She explained that the plastic surgeon could not be here and she would do her best to put me back together.  The anesthesiologist also stopped by and I told him that I had past issues with nausea after surgery and he assured me that he would give me something to prevent unnecessary nausea.

I was ready to go back.  Doug kissed me goodbye.  This time it was just Doug in the lobby because this was supposed to be a shorter, uncomplicated surgery.  The nurse took me back to the operating room where everyone greeted me and introduced themselves.  The surgeon came in and I told her, “Let’s do this”.

The next thing I remember was that I was in the recovery area.  I was trying to wake up but it wasn’t working.  I could hear the nurse asking Doug if I opened my eyes yet. The nurse kept saying, “Okay Laura.  It’s done.” The nurse told the doctor as she came by that I wasn’t awake yet. They were standing at my bed and I could hear them but my eyes would not open.   I could hear her talking to me but I couldn’t move. I wasn’t scared, though.  I did tell God that if this was my time to go that I would be okay with it as long as I was going to heaven.  (Obviously, I didn’t speak that but I was praying silently.)

After another surgery, the doctor came by again.  I heard the nurse and doctor talking about my vital signs.  They looked good so the doctor said to give me time.  I was trying to open my eyes and they all told me to relax and take my time.  They assured me that I was okay.  The doctor completed another surgery and came by to check on me and this time I opened my eyes a little and gave her a half smile.

How ironic! After the 6 hour surgery, I was in recovery 30-40 minutes and this surgery was supposed to be so easy (1 hour) and I was in recovery 2-3 hours. Eventually, I walked out of the surgical center and went home to go to bed.

At the post-op visit, the surgeon gave me great news that the pathology report was clear.   the surgical drains had to stay in place until the drainage slowed down.  I started Herceptin, the good chemo, one week later.  Plans for Paige’s wedding would begin soon.

My Miracle Report

On 12/26/14, I will be a 6 year breast cancer survivor.  Thank God!
On 12/26/14, I will be a 6 year breast cancer survivor. Thank God!

My first week of recovery went well.  Victory church, my home church, provided meals the week after surgery and that was a great blessing.  Doug, my girls and my mom took turns checking on me.

Post-Op Visit

My post-op visit was scheduled approximately one week after my surgery.  During that visit, I saw the plastic surgeon and the breast surgeon.  First, the plastic surgeon’s nurse removed the gauze, mummy bandages.  Then, the plastic surgeon examined 8 of the 10 incisions.  Everything looked good so the nurse removed a few stitches which wasn’t the most pleasant experience but all in all, I was making great progress. Then the pain pump was removed.

Next, the breast surgeon came in to examine me.  She looked at the incisions and focused on the right axilla, underarm.  She asked me to lift my arm as high as I could so I hesitantly lifted my arm about half way in the air.  Then she took my arm and pulled it straight up.  I just knew my stitches were going to burst but they didn’t.  She gave me some exercises to do every day to help me regain full range of motion.

Pathology Report

Then she began to explain the pathology report. In the right axilla. she removed all lymph nodes that she could see and she dug around in there to get as many lymph nodes as she could reach. Below is a summary of the conversation:

  • Dr. “I didn’t find anything.”
  • Me “You didn’t get the cancer?”
  • Dr. “It was gone.”
  • Me “What do you mean?”
  • Dr. “I removed 20+ lymph nodes and there were two that were necrotic.”  “They were the size of a regular lymph node.”
  • Me “I don’t understand.”
  • Dr. “I found the two lymph nodes that were tagged during the biopsy but the cancer cells were dead and the lymph nodes were the size of a normal lymph node.”

(First, in case someone has not followed the entire blog, when I was diagnosed there were two tumors in the right axilla.  One was the size of a AA battery and the other one was the size of 1/2 of a AA battery. Now, they not only contained dead cells but they were the size of a normal lymph node, which was a significant change.)

The news really didn’t register with me at that time.  My Hematologist-Oncologist (Dr. Wonderful), refers to it as a ‘complete response to chemo‘. Every time a doctor says that   I say, “…or a miracle.” Some doctors give me a smile and other remain stoic.

One More Surgery

Next, the breast surgeon explained the results from the lumpectomy/reduction of the right breast.  The tumor in the right breast was busted into small pieces.  The pathology report reflected that it looked like buckshot in the tissue, scattered everywhere. They were just the size of little pencil dots.  So there was no lump to remove.  I am still amazed at the outcome.  However, the pathology report did not confirm that there was a clear margin of healthy tissue so I needed an additional surgery known as a ‘margin revision’.

The surgical drains remained in place and the nurse wrapped me in a garment similar to a tube top except it had to be very snug to hold the drains in place. Doug and I went home and processed all of that information.  Now I realize why the ultrasound technician was shocked with my progress.  It was a truly unbelievable response.  It was MY MIRACLE.

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Be Blessed!

Get The Cancer Out!

Me in my favorite fuzzy hat.
Me in my favorite fuzzy hat.

Five months had passed and I made it through chemo.  It had been a busy time full of school events for my youngest daughter and a few plans here and there for Paige’s wedding.  I said goodbye to my kids at home.  Kelsey went to school and Paige went to work. I wanted to continue that sense of normalcy that we had worked so hard to maintain.

First Stop…Women’s Center

At last, the day had come…surgery day. Doug, my husband, drove me to the Women’s Center to have a procedure known as: Pre-Operative Needle Localization.   In order to locate the tumor, a mammography technologist and radiologists secured my right breast in the mammogram machine using a special piece of equipment to hold my breast in place.  That part did not hurt like a mammogram.  It was imperative that I hold still.   Next the radiologists positioned a needle in my breast which was used to locate the tumor.  The video screen guided the location of the needle.  The tumor was marked with a metal clip during the biopsy which made it easier to locate.  Two pictures were taken to ensure that the needle was positioned at the point of the clip. Yay! Success on the first try.  Then, a wire was inserted through the needle and the needle was removed.  Two more pictures were taken to ensure that the wire was at the point of the metal clip.  Woohoo!  Success two times in a row.

Off To The Surgery Center

The technician put a surgical gown on me, so as not to disturb the wire and I was ushered out the back door of the Women’s Center and into the car.  I arrived at the Surgery Center in that lovely surgical gown with a wire sticking out of my right breast.  The wire that I was not to move at all.  I was shown to a room that reminded me of a 6×6 box. A nurse entered the room and began to ask me all of the usual pre-operative questions: medications, allergies, etc…  then she asked me, “Why are you here today?” I began the list:

  • Lumpectomy right breast
  • Partial Bilateral Mastectomy (both breasts)
  • Lymph Node Dissection – Right Axilla
  • Port Insertion

WOW! After five long months, I could rattle off all of those medical terms.  I became very informed as an advocate for my health care.

Holding Pen

After a few minutes, I was walked back to the holding area where the nurses start the I.V. and ask you all of the same questions you just answered for the first nurse. The place where you sit totally naked except for the thin surgical gown covering your body and where the person across from you can stare at you until you are totally uncomfortable.  Can you tell that I hate the ‘holding pen’? It reminds me of the SPCA!

Both doctors, breast surgeon and plastic surgeon, came by to talk to me and review how this procedures would take place.  Then the anesthesiologist came by.  I told him to make sure that he gave me plenty of anti-nausea medicine because with past procedures nausea was a problem.  Doug was the only one allowed to wait with me in the holding pen until they took me back for surgery. My mom, Uncle Leon (from Ohio), mother-in-law and sister-in-law (from New Mexico) were all waiting in the lobby.  My sister-in-law had come for Kelsey’s graduation and just happened to be able to be here for the surgery.

Here We Go!

It was my turn. Doug kissed me before I went back to the operating room.  As I was on my way to my special room, all I could think of was, “Please God, let them get it all, whatever it takes”.  I also said a prayer of forgiveness and prayed for every member of my family.

The breast surgeon previously explained that she would work simultaneously with the plastic surgeon during my procedure. There would be three incisions in each breast. They would start with the right breast.  Locate the tumor and remove all surrounding tissue and all tissue in front of the tumor, similar to a breast reduction.  The plastic surgeon would put the right breast back together and then she would do her best to make the left side the same size so that they would be symmetrical.  They would also place drains in the surgical sites, one on each side, to allow fluid to drain. The drain was inserted through a one inch incision site and held in place by stitches.

After the breast surgery was completed, the breast surgeon made a three inch incision, cutting through tendons and muscle under my arm, right axilla.  Her goal was to remove as many lymph nodes as she could.  Next, would be the port insertion.  She used the same incision site as the last one where the infected port was removed in March. Six hours later, everything was completed and my upper body was wrapped like a mummy, holding the drains in place and I was sent to recovery.


I gave clear instructions that after the surgery, my fuzzy hat was to be put on my head before Doug was allowed back to the recovery room.  I’m not sure that happened.  When I began to wake up, Doug was there and my fuzzy hat was on.  He sat with me patiently as I tried my best to wake up and get out of there.  They made me drink some sprite.  I was feeling good and I almost dressed myself. The cancer that tried to kill me was finally cut out of my body and I was alive!

I walked out of the surgery center with 10 incisions in my upper body and too many stitches to count.  I had a pain pump and medicine for the nausea. When I needed meds, I took my meds.  I remembered what Jerry, my first chemo nurse, told me…”Don’t be a hero.”  I slept most of that day and remember my sister-in-law the next morning telling me that she wished she could stay and take care of me but she had to leave.  Doug drove her to the airport and his mom left a couple days later.  Doug, my mom and my girls took care of me the first week.  In a week, we would find out the results from the surgeon. Regardless of the medical report, I stood in faith and on God’s word that I would live and not die.

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Be Blessed.