Category Archives: Complete Response to Chemo

July 2009…A Wonderful Time

Surgical Drains Removed

The surgical drains were finally removed on July 1, 2009.  To put it in perspective, my first surgery was June 3, 2009 and my second surgery, margin revision, was June 16, 2009. So for almost a full month, I had surgical drains.  I was so glad to be done with the drains! Goodbye drains…Hello radiation!  During July 2009, I continued Herceptin weekly and asked to be changed to a treatment plan of once every three weeks because I would return to school at the end of July. As an Assistant Principal, I had to report to work a couple of weeks before the teachers.

Wedding Plans Continued

Wedding plans continued during July.  I was trying to get all of the details together such as: programs, invitations, wedding favors and menu cards created or ordered because my eldest daughter was going to be married the following January.

 Kelsey Goes to UF

July 2009 was also full of preparation to send Kelsey, my youngest daughter, off to college. She was preparing to join the Gator Nation at The University of Florida (UF) in August, 2009.  In retrospect, July 2009 was the last month that we were all in the same house as a family unit and yet excitement for the girls future was the focus.

Kelsey at UF Orientation...Go Gators!
Kelsey at UF Orientation…Go Gators!

Radiation

I met with the radiologist who was also a female doctor along with all the doctors on my team. As she reviewed my chart, she said something along the lines of…you should do well. You had a ‘complete response to chemo’ to which I replied, “I call it my miracle”.  She smiled politely and went on to tell me that’s when the chemotherapy completely attacks the cancer cells.  Then we discussed the radiation plan.  I would have 35 rounds of radiation. That ends up to be 7 weeks, 5 times a week, give or take a holiday with the center closed.

I was scheduled for radiotherapy.  At that appointment I got two small pencil dot tatoos.  Those markings would be used to line me up under the machine so that the radiation would most effectively target the right area. The next day, I came back for a walk-through so that the technicians could set the machines and the following day radiation began.  I will admit that I was scared but as I drove there and laid there, I prayed continuously that it would work.

Once the preliminary visits were completed, it took me longer to drive there than it did to receive the treatment.  I was back at work and the Cancer Center scheduled me at 6 AM or 6 PM. I drove myself to and from radiation.  If it was the early morning appointment, I went straight to work from radiation.  I would joke every now and then that I was ‘glowing’ to ease the awkwardness in the office. When I was about 3/4 into treatment, I started to get sensitive skin but they gave me some cream and it was not a significant problem. I was a little tired but as a school administrator in August and September, it is expected.  I could not differentiate if it was caused by radiation.  I just kept going…one day at a time.

People always ask me…How did you do it…work through chemo, port complications and radiation?  My answer is…I was not alone.  I have a personal relationship with the ‘Great Physician’ who is God.  I trusted God to direct my doctors and to give me strength. Long before cancer my life verse was Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you…

I invite you to follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

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.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed!