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Another Reason to Celebrate

So I told you I’ve been feeling pretty awful the last few days. Well, if I weren’t, I would be doing a little celebrating!

Can you believe THIS original post was a year ago!

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I copied the original below to make it easier to read.

I’m going to tell you a bit about what is going on right now, in present time, before I continue to recap my story. Even with this news, I am going to continue to tell the story chronologically as it happened. I’m currently about four months behind. If you need a refresher on where we are, please reference the Starting Line page. I hope that in sharing my story in full it will help someone someday.

As you may have seen, I had surgery over the holidays. It took a little while, but just a little over a week later, I received a phone call from the surgeon with the pathology results. And nearly a week later, I had a follow up appointment with her to check my healing and go over the results in detail. I needed to hear it from her in person before I really shared it in this way, which sounds crazy I am sure.

Long story short, I am now considered “cancer free”!

To start, let me tell you a little bit about the day of surgery. Someday I will tell the story in full. The day was full of little coincidences of people showing up who weren’t supposed to be there under normal circumstances, but were such a comfort to have show up. More examples that they have been a part of my path for a reason. Plain and simple.

The morning of surgery, I had some mammograms to guide a wire placement to the original metal marker placed during the biopsy. When they took the first images to get an idea of where to start, they found that the metal clip had separated from what they called the calcification. The separation could have been from my breast changing after pregnancy and nursing or the cells’ healing process brought about by the chemotherapy treatments or both or who knows what. They said the clip and the calcification were far apart, but not so far apart that it was clear if they would need to use two wires to mark each spot. That distance isn’t a number I think I ever heard, but my understanding is that at some point it becomes “better to use two wires” apart and the distance they saw fell perfectly in between using one wire and two. They ended up placing two. To place the wires, they used local anesthesia to numb my breast once they knew where they were going with the needles/wires.

Anyway, the good news was I heard the words healing! I asked the radiologist if she could tell what was left. She couldn’t for certain. Since I had been pregnant and original imaging was by ultrasound, it was kind of like comparing apples and oranges. She thought it was definitely improved, but couldn’t tell me anything really beyond it being a good sign. Prior to that day, I had debated if I wanted to know what they saw before I had surgery. Once I heard healing and calcification, I kind of knew we were headed down the right path and I would hear positive things and just wanted a better idea.

Once I went in for surgery, I don’t remember much beyond being wheeled into the room. Even that is foggy! The actual procedure took about an hour from what I understand. Afterward, as I woke up, I remember the surgeon being there telling me the lymph node was clear from what she could test during the surgery. She told my family the same thing and also that she did not see any cancer in the original mass. She told my family she would call with the results. Silly people didn’t ask how long it would take! We sat on pins and needles the first few days until I found out it could be a total of 7-10 business days!

It took about 7 business days before I actually got two phone calls with the results! First, the radiation oncologist called. I had seen her the day before and she knew I was anxiously awaiting the news. Wouldn’t everyone be??? Apparently when she said the results had just come in, she meant “just”. Within a few minutes, the surgeon then called. The surgeon said that the lymph node was clear. My understanding is that they took one lymph node, the first one in the path, and it never had cancer. She went on to say that the original mass was taken with clean margins. It was all dead. She said, “You didn’t have any cancer cells when you went into surgery, and you didn’t have any when you left”. She also gave some other colorful language, but in the end she said it was a complete pathological response. The chemotherapy had done it’s job and killed it all. When I saw her in person, she had a resident with her and she told him I was a walking miracle. I guess with all the things that have happened in the last year, the SVC clot I had, that I am telling you about in the past tense currently when I swelled up and stayed in the hospital, makes me a walking miracle.

When we met with the surgeon the very first time, I had asked if they ever got in there and found nothing in situations where they do chemotherapy first. At that point, we didn’t know anything about my plan. I had asked her that question again here and there, I was always told that it happened, but I couldn’t ever get a good idea of how often. Obviously, that is the best case scenario, but let’s be honest, when am I really on that side of random statistics. I’m That Girl, remember? Well, as I told a friend, I feel like I finally ended up on the good side of a “fat chance in hell” chance of something happening. My oncologist also called to check in and celebrate by phone if you will, and I was able to ask him more about the percentages. Again, he reminded me no matter what the studies say, there is only one me, you, and the girl down the street, but there was a 50/50 chance of a complete pathological response. Some studies put the percentage up to 65% he let me know.

So yippee! And again, I’ll share the story in full, but for now know I am doing well. Recovery has not been too terrible physically. The most difficult part has been limiting what I do with that side of my body. With the sentinel lymph node biopsy, I am unable to hold That Baby Girl, obviously that Little Girl as well, or anything weighing more than a couple of pounds. So that’s extremely frustrating. Another situation that makes us so fortunate to have a support system in place!

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