Surgery

I had my second surgery in late May. Technically, it was an axillary node dissection, but I only had the tumor removed and left everything else alone.

I got to the day surgery center and got settled in. I discovered that they didn’t have anyone on staff who could who could tap my port for the IV, so while they were calling around to find someone, they wheeled me off to the breast clinic to have a wire placed to guide my surgeon to the right spot.

When I got there, they parked my wheelchair outside of a room and a technician came out to introduce herself. She said that she would be doing my mammogram today. I just sort of looked down at my flat chest and looked aghast. She laughed and explained that she knew that I’d had a mastectomy, but that she was indeed going to try to get an image of the wire after it was placed.

I then went into the treatment room and got set up. They numbed the area, then using the ultrasound machine, located the tumor and guided a wire into. It took a little while as the tumor wasn’t really attached to anything so it was hard to brace it to get the wire into place. When it was done I was brought back to the mammogram room and I did indeed get my flab stuffed onto the platform and some shots taken. It was uncomfortable from a position standpoint, but she didn’t compress very hard so it wasn’t too bad.

Then it was back downstairs to pre-op, where they still hadn’t located someone to tap my port. My surgeon decided that he could do it, so they got all the gear out for him. I usually get a blast of a numbing spray but they didn’t have any, so Dr. S decided to use some lidocaine to numb the area. I didn’t tell him that getting the shot was worse than the needle prick to access the port, but it was all ok. Then into surgery, a pretty quick procedure, then waking up in the recovery room. I was told that they had a hard time getting the breathing tube in and I can believe it, based on how sore my throat was for the next week.

I was able to go home after a few hours in the recovery room, which was great as I was able to get a good night’s sleep in my own bed. The incision was quite small and not too painful, and it healed quickly and easily. Unfortunately, about a week later I developed quite a bit of pain in that arm, which my oncologist thinks is lymphedema, so it’s back to the Physical Therapist to get that dealt with.

The final pathology report came in as expected. A single lymph node was fully consumed by cancer, and an extrusion had broken through the wall of the node. It was the same cancer as before. The final measurement was 2.8 cm in its widest dimension, which was quite a bit less than the original size.

So that’s another step done. I am just trying to get through it all. After I finish radiation, my oncologist plans to do another PET scan and repeat it every 3 months for the next 2 years. Fair enough. I know that my prognosis isn’t the best on the planet, but every step I get through successfully gives me a better chance, and I plan to keep fighting hard.

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