Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on" I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thanks, Virginia!

I saw my surgeon again yesterday. It's a long story as to how I got there:
At my appt last Wednesday, I had asked him a lot of questions about the surgery. Last week he was pleased with how the tumor was responding to chemo, but was on the fence about lumpectomy vs. partial mastectomy. It depended on a few things, including whether the tumor continues to respond as I go through the rest of my treatments.

Being the planner that I am, I asked if I should find a plastic surgeon now, in case we do go the partial mastectomy route. That way, if there's a long wait I'd have a better chance of getting on his calendar for February surgery.

My surgeon thought that was a good idea, but I think because of all the questions I had that day, he requested that I drop off my mammograms so he can re-evaluate where I was before treatment started. He was going to repeat the mammogram at my mid-December pre-surgery appt, but wanted to review my films now. He said to hold off contacting the plastic surgeon until he could review them.

So I called the next day, to make sure my dr would be in the office so I could drop off my films. (They have been in my possession since my diagnosis in September. The radiologist let me check them out indefinitely. I wanted to have control over them, was afraid they'd get lost in the shuffle between the various doctors.) He was not in, so the receptionist put me through to Virginia, his nurse. I was a little frustrated because Virginia made me an appt for Monday (yesterday), even though I kept telling her that the doctor just wanted to review the films at his leisure. I didn't want to sit around the waiting room for an hour just to hand over my films to him! It was ridiculous. But Virginia said something about not wanting to be responsible for films left in the office, said it was better to see him while I can. Grrr. I didn't see the point in arguing any more, so I thanked her and said I'd see her Monday.

That brings me to Monday's appt: When I showed up on Monday, I was pleased that there was a very short wait. And that my favorite receptionist was there. She always asks how I'm doing, loves my ponytail and was surprised it was a wig. I think being a 41-year-old breast cancer patient, I stand out! Or it could be that I talk way too much, I don't know. Anyway, I again asked the receptionist, "I just wanted to drop off my films but Virginia said I needed an appointment. Are you sure I can't just drop these and run?" She checked with Virginia, who actually was right there listening to me question her judgment, and confirmed that Yes I do need to see the doctor! Oops.

Well, it turned out that Virginia was steering me the right way after all. My doctor met briefly with me after reviewing the mammogram and decided to repeat the mammogram right then and there, and not wait until mid-December. The mammogram showed the tumor had indeed shrunk significantly, enough that he could do a lumpectomy NOW! But we decided to wait and go through all of the chemo as discussed last week, in hopes that the tumor will shrink even more. I'm glad I listened to his nurse. Even though it didn't change my plan, it did give me peace of mind knowing that the way things look now, I will not need a partial mastectomy (or a plastic surgeon for reconstruction).

I'm so encouraged by everyone's reaction to my tumor's response! I don't want to get my hopes up too much, but I've heard that sometimes the chemo can shrink a tumor so much that there is nothing left to take out. Wouldn't that be cool if it was my case? Although I'd insist they remove something, just because. I guess they'd have to go in and take something from the general area, and my lymph nodes would have to go too. Hey, since they'd have to go in anyway, maybe they can do some liposuction while they're there. My hips and calves have plenty to spare! I'll have to ask my surgeon next time I see him....


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