It’s been about 3 months since my last follow ups with the brain radiation oncologist and the neurosurgeon, so today I had both of those. I had my routine 3 month head CT last Monday so both doctors were happy to report that my head is stable. Yay!!! Happy dance!! 💃💃💃 My CT looks the same as it did 3 months ago so, as my neurosurgeon said, stable is a great word in their world.
Since I will be having my surgery to remove tissue expanders soon, we talked about how my 3 month follow up will be an MRI instead of a CT of my head. This is a much longer exam, about 45 minutes inside a machine, and uses magnets to take the pictures instead of xrays like the CT. Since it uses magnets, that’s why my tissue expanders need to be removed prior to having one done. I haven’t had an MRI of my head since all of this began, so it’s a good thing to have this as – hopefully – a baseline for what my head looks like now. He indicated that it wouldn’t be surprising to find 1 or 2 very small tumors inside my head on my first MRI. Obviously we are praying for NONE but he indicated that if those 1 or 2 showed up and are not symptomatic, it’s ok, just something that he would want to know and keep an eye on.
Since the morning was filled with appointments, I decided that it would make sense to use the rest of the day for appointments as well. The radiation oncologist who handled the radiation to my chest was next, where we discussed the never-ending open wound. When she first asked me about it, I told her I didn’t know what to do anymore because it didn’t seem to be doing anything. I showed her and she was excited that it, in fact, did look smaller than it had a month ago. Whew, I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear that! So although it stinks that it’s still there (stinks is totally not a strong enough word!), at least it is slowly healing even if it doesn’t appear that way to me. She checked out the rest of my radiated field and then commented that the breast cancer on my skin appeared to be stable as well. I had actually had a similar thought this past weekend but it was nice to hear a doctor state that, especially with my rising tumor markers.
Next up was my plastic surgeon. This appointment was a pre-op for my upcoming surgery. My tissue expanders will officially be removed on Thursday, March 9. It was a lengthy appointment and we discussed the pre-op procedures, the actual surgery and the post-op instructions. I’ll have a drain on each side, similar to last year, that will require draining about 3 times a day for about a week (hopefully). No shower for the time that I have my drains, blah, and no changing the bandages until I see the plastic surgeon for my 1 week checkup. I’ll have just the surgical bra and underneath some bandages, steri-strips and internal soutures.
My plastic surgeon decided on a different approach to my incisions over the last 2 weeks. Because he wants to be conservative, he is obviously staying away from the open wound on my chest and has decided to go through my original mastectomy incisions. His initial decision was to create new incisions, under my breast, to stay away from the scar tissue that will have formed on the area of my original incisions. Since there was an extra boost of radiation given to my scars, there is likely significantly more scar tissue formed there. After thinking it over more, he decided that he does want to cut the original incisions, likely close to the original size as well, so that he can remove the tissue expanders and close up my chest without having extra skin leftover. Honestly, neither is ideal and although I didn’t cry today when we talked about it, the idea of no reconstruction makes my heart hurt. I get it and I understand the medical rationale behind it, it just stinks.
We went over the risks of the surgery, with the most significant risk being that I don’t heal – potentially at all. This is obviously concerning , especially after this open radiation wound, and I asked him to go into more detail so that I fully understand. He indicated that there were certain things that he did not want to get into because he is optimistic about them not happening but did discuss some of the potential issues that I could have if I don’t heal. There is the potential for additional surgeries, infection and even that I quite literally never heal & have open wounds forever. Yikes. Double yikes. My head was swirling a bit and I couldn’t help but second guess the decision to do surgery. But…at the end of the day, the ability to have MRIs is important. The ability to detect cancer at its beginning stages in my brain is extremely important.
I did have another appointment to end the afternoon but I canceled it previously, knowing that today would be exhausting – which it was.
Since I had so many appointments today, I didn’t have the home health nurse come (the times didn’t work out) and instead Joe drained my lung for the first time. I am always nervous about pain now but he did awesome and stopped as soon as I mentioned that it was starting to hurt. Another 725 ml drained this morning – ugh. But, I at least feel better for a bit!
Todaybwas a bit long. Thankfully, I am blessed with an amazing husband that was by my side for all appointments. This man never ceases to amaze me and I continue to be reminded of his unwavering faith in me. I can’t imagine anyone else helping me to make these impossible decisions.
I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! Enjoy this day and snuggle your loves!! 💚💚💚