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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Buy 3 get 1 free

Did I mention my bonus surgery? In addition to the bilateral mastectomy on Tuesday, I also had an oopharectomy. That's doctor-speak for "removing ovaries".

Guess I was the 1 millionth mastectomy served, so they threw in the "ooph" for me.

Actually, I have my surgeon to thank for this bonus surgery. On Monday (the day before surgery), he learned from my oncologist that I had wanted to get this done and said "why not do it all at once?" He didn't want me to be under anesthesia twice, and he knew I'd have a recovery period after the mastectomies which would delay getting the ooph.

He also knew I felt a certain urgency to get this done. Estrogen is very bad for many breast cancers, mine included, because it encourages it to multiply. So naturally, I want as little estrogen in my system as possible. Removing my ovaries surgically would eliminate the estrogen permanently and put me into menopause. Being menopausal opens up a whole new world of drugs that are tons better at preventing recurrence than what I was on. Between that, and considering how quickly my cancer came back, I wanted the estrogen to stop N-O-W.

I really wanted to do the ooph procedure this summer, but my oncologist suggested I try shutting them down chemically instead. So I let them inject some Lupron in my right buttock. I was to have these injections every 3 months.

The Lupron has some wacky side effects, and there is question as to its effectiveness toward the end of the 3 months. And, of course, we're not really sure it did its duty, and it shares the blame with the Tamoxifen in failing to prevent a recurrence.

So thanks to my surgeon, I was able to have the surgery I wanted to do in the first place.

The ooph was a laparoscopic procedure, requiring 4 little incisions just below my bellybutton. My gynecologist did the procedure after my surgeon did his thing. That was another surprise: my gynecologist originally was unavailable, since it was scheduled last-minute (as in the day before) and he couldn't free up his schedule. One of his partners was going to do the procedure. We had met her before, 6 years ago when she was the on-call doctor when Leah was born. But Leah arrived quickly, 20 minutes after I got to the hospital, and the on-call doctor never made it in time, so the nurses and a doctor who happened to be in the hospital delivered Leah, and we met the on-call as she breezed in during baby Leah's weigh-in. She was very nice, I remember. Just not very punctual.

After I woke up from Tuesday's surgeries, and they wheeled me to my room, John told me I had had a special guest surgeon. My regular gynecologist had done the procedure! I was so excited to hear that. He is a great doctor. Not that I didn't like the other one, and I was asleep the whole time anyway so it's not as if we had this sparkling conversation, but I felt good knowing that a doctor who's known me through 3 of our 4 babies did the surgery. A real bonus for me!


  • At 10/1/07, 10:10 AM, Blogger Sherry Smyth said…

    KT, you are blessed!!! You were able to get the ooph "right away" which will have given you peace of mind, and you had your own GYN perform the surgery. That's a marvellous extra...that little bit of "magic" that someone was watching over you and seeing that you had only the best, only what you deserved with you on that day. Prayers that this is the way to proceed. You'll rest easier knowing now that you have done all you could to give yourself the best chances.


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