Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A plan for the second quarter

Today I had an appointment with a surgical oncologist in at the University of Iowa hospitals and clinics.  She specializes in breast surgery and is quite wonderful.  I brought files totaling the size of a dictionary, and she and her resident carefully went over everything.  Without hesitation the most aggressive surgery was decided:  left mastectomy with full lymph node resection.  I thought that the most aggressive surgery plan would include the right breast, or at least lymph node mapping on the right, but she disagreed.  There is no evidence from the PET or MRI scans that there is anything wrong with the right breast.  She said that she'd prefer to focus my healing energy on the diseased breast, or the region remaining after the removal of the diseased breast, and this seems like sound logic to me.  Since reconstruction of my left breast is not possible in conjunction with the mastectomy (because it's inflammatory cancer, because I might need a skin graft as it is [lots of affected skin has got to go], because I still need to do radiation), I can always opt for mastectomy + reconstruction of the right breast at the potential future date of reconstruction of the left breast.  This is fine with me.  Emotionally, I could have handled loosing both breasts at this time, but keeping the right one won't increase my nervousness about metastatic disease.  T9 has pushed that emotional limit already.  And what is "at this time?"  Monday, March 7th.  I will be in the hospital at least one night.  I will spare other gorey details at this time.  I'm sure they will all be revealed in due course, unless I am suddenly overcome with modesty.

So what of the T9 vertebral biopsy?  Still up in the air.  I received a call from the nurse at 3pm with yet another question from the radiologist.  We'll talk with Dr. Oncologist at chemotherapy tomorrow and come up with a new plan for that biopsy--before or after the mastectomy?  Here in town or in Iowa City?  I am happy to report that I am no longer loosing sleep over it.  What will be will be.  In the meantime, I have diverted some of my healing powers from the left breast to T9, and Uncle Rod's famous lentil soup will help strengthen those healing powers.  So delicious!!!

I probably haven't answered all of your questions, but I am SOOO done thinking about this crap for the day.  Just ask questions in the comments and I'll answer them in the next post.  Time to go jump on the bed, brush my teeth with princess toothpaste, and read Hand Hand Fingers Thumb before I fall asleep.  Now.  


  1. Glad you are adding yet another wonderful health care professional to your team. Go get some well deserved rest.

  2. Heather, It sounds as if you have a plan and can move forward. The picture of the girls is fantastic and it was so much fun to see their little faces. I love it! Keep on moving forward.

  3. Thanks for the update! I was thinking about you all day and so was Torey. We'll be thinking good thoughts for you on the 7th and we'd be happy to help in any way that we can... babysitting, food delivery, etc! Big hug!

  4. HK, so nice to see you, the Darling Ladies of Burnett Street, and Master Chef/Mack Super Daddy (and all the before and after 5pm titles you can add)...and if I may, quote Alabama Worley: "You're so cool"...Ian.

    Pretty A-M-A-Z-I-N-G watching team Allen in action...fo sho!!! From the glorious finger painting on the floor (who needs this Pollock character, right Eleanor??) to the puzzle/shall we poop?/ticklefest loving juggle that only YOU all do so well. You guys are freaking amazing. Gawd do I love you guys.

  5. I totally agree with Rod. You guys are an amazing team and we are cheering for you all the way. I'm so glad you have a plan of attack. I have no doubt you will be amazing at this next step as you have been this whole time.

  6. I am so glad you will have some calm before the "storm" (surgery). Yesterday I was sitting at my desk thinking of you in Iowa City and lo and behold Wilson Phillips came on the radio. (For those of you who don't know, this song has been our Sister Trio since dancing/singing to it in the upstairs of the Stuart Tru Value Hardware Store while Mom was working. It was our only chance to catch glimpses of music videos. I sat at my desk and smiled thinking of the last time we rocked this song at your 30th Birthday Bash in Dad's shed:

    I know there is pain
    But you hold on for one more day and
    Break free the chains
    Yeah I know that there is pain
    But you hold on for one more day
    Break free, break from the chains

    Love you Sister!!!

  7. A plan! A plan! So much better when there is a plan!

    Was thinking about you and your family all day yesterday. You are in excellent medical hands, and it is good to see that you still have such a positive attitude.

    Did you get your Masala?

    Can Matt and I take the girls for a play date this weekend? You and Ian can have another nice morning of coffee, french toast, and asparagus tartlets!

  8. We think about you every day...

    xo - Becky and Aaron

  9. Heather, like Holly's comment, I can't wait to grab a wooden spoon and rock out with you to some Wilson-Phillips on the beaches of the Caribbean :) We are so there!

  10. "Hand Hand Fingers Thumb" - one of the classics of great literature. Dum ditty dum ditty dum-dum-dum.

    I understand if you get overcome with modesty at the risk of breast-related oversharing (there is no such thing, of course), but I don't care how agressive any hypothetical modesty might be - you better post an Asman Sisters "Live From The Beach" Wilson Phillips performance video to YouTube. Or else your faithful commenters will revolt.

  11. Uh, I think I forgot to mention today, how you are amazing.