"Let's kick cancer's booty and take some names."
LORD, after this suffering, let it be said that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, make my Savior clear to all those around me. Because of my suffering and willing perseverance, cause others to be encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
(Phillippians 1:12-14)

About Me

God is walking with me. This I know.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lumpectomy and Sentinel Node Biopsy

Yesterday I had my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy.

I haven't talked to Dr. Cooper, but evidently he was able to take the tumor, which he said was a little smaller than he originally thought, and the node biopsy was negative. Praise God!

The surgery itself went fine. I'm still very sore and drowsy and a little dizzy this morning. I have 2 incisions: 1) where the lump was removed and 2) where the lymph nodes were tested up under my arm. That one is very sore and I have a feeling it will give me the most "trouble". The dermabond they use to close the incisions is very sticky and every time I lift my arm, it tugs a little. And yes, it's painful. Thank God for pain meds. :)

The node biopsy required an injection of isotopes (a radio active material) so that when Dr. Cooper went in, he could see the lymph nodes that would accept any drain off from the tumor. The theory is that cancer spreads in an orderly fashion, and therefore would be carried to other parts of the body via the lymph nodes. And since the lymph nodes were clear, that is evidence that the cancer was contained in the tumor and has not spread. The injection wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, but it was bad enough that I'd rather not do it again. It stings and burns and for a few seconds feels like someone is pressing very hard on you. But they give you Valium before the injection to help calm you. Dr. Beata Panzegrau (pronounded pan-ze-graw) did the injections. She's Polish and I love to hear her talk. ha! She was very gentle and kind and explained everything in great detail.

My next step is a follow up appointment with Dr. Cooper on Tuesday June 8th. He will go over the pathology report and then direct me to an oncologist to get my marching orders.

Scott and I were talking on the way home and wondered if, since the cancer has not spread, I would still have to have chemo. I think it depends on the type of cancer it is and the actual tumor size. I will know more once I see Dr. Cooper and the oncologist.

I will continue to keep everyone posted.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying, and for all the text messages, calls, cards, facebook messages and status announcements on my behalf. You are all very special to me and am so thankful for you all. I feel like Moses when Aaron and Hur held up his arms during the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites. You all are holding my arms up and standing in the gap for me. And I will never be able to tell you how much it means to me.

MEMORIAL DAY:
As you celebrate this weekend, please keep our American servicemen and women in your prayers. I would especially like to thank those currently serving, including Kyle Oakley (my nephew) and Derrick Mumphrey (my niece's brother in law), as well as those who are retired, especially including my Daddy, Edwin Jenkins and my Uncle Bill and if I'm remembering correctly, my cousin Cressie was in the service for a few years (this was SEVERAL years ago, and my memory is a little foggy!). Thank you all so much for fighting for this country and our freedom.

A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO MY NEPHEW JAKE:
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR GRADUATION TODAY!!! I love you and we are so very proud of you. I'm sorry I can't make it to the actual ceremony today, but you are in my thoughts today.

Have a great and safe weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tumor #2 Good News!!

Tumor #2 came back benign. Praise God!!

Now we can focus on Tumor #1.
The tumor is located at the 12:00 location on the right side. I am scheduled for a lumpectomy on Friday May 28th at noon. I have to be at the hospital at 9:00am.

One small hitch could occur, but prayer will get us through it. Before this surgery, they will use isotopes to test the sentinel lymph nodes. This will determine if any cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The hitch is that isotopes are in high demand right now. Why? I have no idea. It COULD delay the surgery if there are none available. Ashley (Dr. Cooper's nurse) said she has not had to cancel a surgery yet this month because of no isotopes, so we are praying that it doesn't happen to me either. So....pray for available isotopes! :)

Once the surgery begins, an incision will be made, the tumor will be removed. If the sentinel node test comes back positive, they will have to take a larger sample of the lymph nodes. If it comes back negative, then only the tumor will be removed. I will either get to come home that evening, or at most be in the hospital 1 night.

June 8th is my follow up visit. He will check my incision and go over the pathology results with me. Following that, I will schedule an appointment with an oncologist for further treatment.

Dr. Cooper said I will most likely have chemotherapy, then radiation, then start on tamoxifen, which is a drug that blocks the estrogen absorption (I think I'm explaining that correctly) which causes cancer cells to grow.

I'm expecting the treatments and entire process to last at least through the summer, and possibly up until Christmas. However, it will be gone in the blink of an eye and it's completely worth it to be cancer free.

I covet your continued prayers and am praising God today for no cancer in the 2nd tumor and no mastectomy. Thank you all so much for holding my hands and lifting me up in prayer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Surgical Biopsy

Hey everybody! Hope everyone has had a great week!

Let me start by saying thank you to Scott for getting up early and taking me to the hospital and staying with me today, Ted and Greta (my brother and sister in law) for coming to the hospital and staying through the procedure, Momma and Daddy for bringing me supper and Angie, Eddie and Megen for the waaaayyy cool balloons you brought me. And thank you to everyone who prayed and had good thoughts for me today. And most of all Praise God for bringing me through the procedure with little pain.

I had my surgical biopsy today on Tumor #2. I got to the hospital at 6am and had some lab work done. Then about 7:30 they called me back to a room. I was hooked up to an IV and given a motion sickness patch that I was VERY thankful for after being pushed around 2 floors of the hospital in a wheel chair and then on a gurney!

I was taken to the Breast Center and had to have another mammogram. They took 2 pictures for reference. Once they were in the correct spot (again, this thing is tiny and deep in the tissue so it's a little difficult to find), the radiologist came in to explain the remainder of the procedure.

The mammogram paddle on the machine had a square hole in it, roughly 3" x 3". The hole was placed over the location of the tumor. It was painful. Ladies, if you've had a mammogram, you know how when they lower the paddle it is uncomfortable. But after a few seconds it is lifted. During a needle insertion, it doesn't lift for several minutes. Like I said.....painful.

After the paddle was placed in the correct location, I was thankful for a shot of lidocaine with epinephrine (numbing medication). It helped the pain a great deal. Once the lidocaine took effect, another hollow needle was inserted into the spot of the tumor.

After the first needle insertion, they took another picture. It needed to be adjusted slightly, so they took the needle out and reinserted it. They did this about 5 times. Once they were happy with the needle placement, they inserted a guide wire into the needle. A guide wire is what assists Dr. Cooper during surgery, showing him where the tumor is so that he knows the best place to make the incision. The guide wire is shaped like a check mark. The bent end goes through the end of the needle, into the breast and once it comes out the other end, the bent end pops open, therefore holding it in place. The needle is then removed, leaving the guide wire in place. A sticker was placed on the wire and my skin, to further hold it in place.

More mammogram pictures are taken with the guide wire in place.

It all may sound a bit confusing, but these ladies are good at what they do. And besides being uncomfortable, the procedure actually went very smooth. They explained everything they were doing and continuously asked me if I was doing ok. They were very compassionate.

Once all the pictures were taken and the guide wire was secured with gauze and tape, I was taken back to my room, then taken to pre-op. I met my "Pain Pusher". And yes, she was my best friend today. haha! Shortly thereafter, I was taken into the operating room. It always makes me a tad nervous when I see the operating room, but was out of it in no time. I was asked 2 questions and the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery. I was in recovery for about 45 minutes, then taken back to my room.

The nurse brought me Sprite and graham crackers. I never realized how much I like graham crackers. Could be that I hadn't eaten in 18 hours? I was also offered a pain pill:
Nurse Holly: Would you like a Percoset?
Me: Aaaabbbbsolutely......

I was in the room for another 2 hours or so, then was released.

I am now at home, watching Merlin (anybody else watch that on the SyFy Channel?) and am feeling good tonight. I have only taken 1 more pain pill since the one at the hospital, so I'd say that's pretty good.

Dr. Cooper told Scott, Ted and Greta that I came through great. He said he took the tumor out like a boiled egg and that when he got the results he would call me. Pathology has 72 hours to get the results to him, but they could get to him earlier. And they don't work on the weekends, so the earliest I'm expecting any information is Monday. I have an appointment scheduled to see him this coming Wednesday at noon, if I don't hear anything before then.

The incision is not stitched or stapled together. It is closed with Dermabond. Evidently it's kinda like a glue. Pretty cool.

The radiologist recommended that Dr. Cooper take a "generous" sample of tissue around the tumor, so right now, the area looks a little bit distorted and dented. I'm hoping that will go away. I will ask him about it when I talk to him if it doesn't get better.

I cannot express how much I appreciate your prayers, thoughts, cards, facebook messages, etc. I truly do not know how people go through this or any other "out-of-the-comfort-zone" circumstances without God, family and friends. I praise God for His goodness, love, and mercy, and for everyone of you.

I will keep everyone updated as soon as I hear anything else.

I'm hoping to go to the Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides walk tomorrow at the zoo in memory of Leigh Allyn Tucker. She was a beautiful young woman who was taken from this earthly life too soon for our liking, but is now in God's lap, with her head on His shoulder and praising His name. Please say a prayer for the Tucker family, that God will continue to give them peace and strength and that Leigh Allyn's life and death will continue to serve as a reminder of God's love, His timing, His sovereignty and mercy.

Hugs to all!! -

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pre-Registration

I went to the hospital today for Pre-registration for Friday's surgical biopsy.

I thought it was funny that they called me last Friday and wanted to 'pre-register me for Monday.' Pre-registration for pre-registration? Translation: "We called your insurance company and this is how much you owe us."

Anywho......I got there and was told to wait in a very small waiting room with the TV blaring out today's episode of the Young and the Restless. At this point, I nearly froze. This is the first time during a doctor's visit when my blood pressure goes up and my anxiety level rises and I instantly feel socially retarded. I don't really like talking to strangers. And for some reason, the Ward girls (me and my sister Angie) display a large sign across our foreheads that blinks in big neon letters : "PLEASE TALK TO ME." It happens everywhere we go: the grocery store, the doctor's office, Walmart, the post office, etc. So I looked for a seat away from the other patients. There was also an elderly man who was talking very loudly to the person next to him. I'm certain he was talking loudly because he was sitting right in front of the blaring tv. The nurses and techs coming through there were all very chatty too. One was bringing 2 plates of birthday cake through there and I was sooo hoping she was bringing a piece to me. No such luck.

I was finally called back to a small office where the desk looked like a metal teacher's desk from the 1970's. I felt like I'd been called to the Principal's office.......not that I know what that's like.
The lady proceeded to give me an anesthesia brochure, surgery instructions: no eating after midnight the night before, don't swallow the water when you brush your teeth (do people actually DO that??), don't wear makeup or jewelry, etc. I signed some paperwork stating I would be under some sort of anesthesia and another one stating that I understood what type of surgery Dr. Cooper would be performing. I also received a "Pain Intensity Scale". No pain is a zero. Worst pain is a 10. They are identified by "smiley faces". The No Pain face is a regular grin from ear to ear. The Moderate Pain face is 2 eyes, a nose, and a straight line for the smile. Worse Pain is a very large frown and tears streaming from it's eyes. I was told to familiarize myself with this because after surgery they would ask me my pain level.

Then the words I'd dreaded all day............"Let's take you over to the lab." Which just means, "You're gettin' stuck with a needle today." After what I'm assuming was 1 vile of blood (I say assuming because truth be told, I had my head turned) I was sent on my way. At that point, I had the face that is frowning, labeled "Severe Pain." But they didn't ask me to rank my pain for that part. So off I went.

I'm now reading the "Pain Intensity Scale" sheet. It lists the most common pain control methods. Under Non-Drug options it lists "Distraction". I should have no problem with that one. Once when I went to the doctor................OH LOOK! A chicken!
Another one listed is: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. HUH??? It has a word in it I can't pronounce along with the word "electrical". I'm pretty sure that's not gonna be my non-drug choice.

Friday will be here before I know it, as will 6am when I have to be at the hospital. I will keep everyone posted on the procedure and the results the following Wednesday.

Have a great week!








Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Where did you come up with that?"

"And He sat upon the throne and said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' " Revelation 21:5

I thought I would address the question of where I came up with the blog name since I have no medical news to share this week.

Who likes new things? I do! I do! There's nothing like a new pair of shoes. My favorite Imelda Marcos quote is, "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes; I had one thousand and sixty." Or how about a new purse, a new dress, or even a new bottle of shampoo or new eye liner? (Sorry guys...I can't relate to a new season of football or a new mower). There's just something about something new. But sometimes, the new is scary. You have to get used to it. You have to break in something new. A new pair of jeans isn't quite as comfortable as that old pair of jeans.

So when I found out about the cancer diagnosis, it was the scary new. A friend told me, "You will find a new normal." A new normal? I like the old normal. I'm comfortable with the old normal. No thank you. I wanna go back to the way things were. As I tried to put a screeching halt to the news (picture Fred Flintstone stopping his car with his feet) I realized I would have to get used to it and as my friend said, find a new normal.

I came across the above scripture and decided to look up the original text. Lifeway's website has a great online bible that has a KJV with Strong's translation, so I went there. Here's what I came across (for those of you who are Greek and Hebrew students......cough, cough, Mark Adams.....bear with me while I stumble through this):

1. "And He sat"---kathemai (pronounced kath'-ay-mahee): one meaning is to dwell or sit down. Don't you feel better when someone sits down with you? Especially when you're sitting all by yourself? God is sitting down with me. He is dwelling with me.

2. "I make"----poieo (poy-eh'-o): to commit, cause, bear, fulfill, perform, to make ready. And my favorite meaning: to make a thing out of something. Can God make a thing out of this something I've been dealt? Yes He can! By the way, "thing" in that sentence is actually pronounced "thang" if you're from the south!

3. "all things new"--kainos (kahee-nos'): recently made, fresh, unused, unworn, uncommon, unheard of. I made the comment last week that I was "worn out". How would you like to be "unworn"?

God IS making all things new.