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.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The surgeon said WOW

John and I met with my surgeon this morning, a pre-surgery appointment. The dr wanted to see how things were progressing, so he could plan for the lumpectomy and get a feel for how big a chunk he'll be removing from my left breast. When he examined me, his first word was "WOW!" I am pretty sure he followed it with a "This is better than I had expected!"

My doctor had trouble locating the tumor, so he did an ultrasound. Even then, he couldn't get a good reading to determine the size. It was smaller than he had expected it to be, he said. Because he doesn't want to go in "blind", he is scheduling me for a "localization" the morning of my surgery. I still have to look it up for more details, but my understanding is this: the radiation doctor/technician will do an ultrasound or mammogram before surgery, and insert wires (or some kind of marker) at the "top" and "bottom" of the cancerous region. These markers will help guide the surgeon when he performs the lumpectomy, so he won't have to go in blind.

It didn't all sink in until John and I were leaving the office: This is the best news! There really is very little to remove! I thought my oncologist was just trying to be upbeat when she said that sometimes chemo shrinks the cancer so much there's nothing left.

I wonder if this is normal, or if maybe I'm just a freak of nature? Medical miracle? Something like that. My doctors (oncologist and surgeon) always seemed to be amazed with my progress. In addition to the tumor shrinking so rapidly and the once-swollen lymph node nowhere to be found, they've been amazed that my hair stayed with me longer than everyone had expected, I still haven't lost my eyebrows (knock on wood), my eyelashes only recently started falling out (much later than most), I escaped anemia (though I was borderline that one week), my white count dipped only once, I didn't have any horrible side effects from the first chemo drug, and I haven't had any horrible side effects (yet) with the second chemo drug. (The stomach issues and the achy issues are normal; I avoided the mouth sores and the loss of feeling in my hands and feet, so far....)

I realize I've been very lucky through this whole ordeal. Things could have been a lot worse, and could have gone a lot worse. I'm very close to the end of this great adventure, too, so I don't want to brag too much and jinx it all. I've done that before, bragging that the baby has been sleeping through the night only to have him keep us up for a week afterwards! So enough for now. I'm off to enjoy a cup of tea and think about how great it was to hear my surgeon say "WOW!"


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