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 13, 2007

Let's get up to date

I've been so busy writing about other things that I haven't posted anything about my status. Don't worry, I'm fine!

My scars look fantastic, to quote my surgeon. He is very pleased with how they're healing.

I have my mobility back: My arms move as well as they did before this surgery. I can even do those wacky windmill arms Miss Kim has us doing in our Thursday night jazz class! My left arm doesn't quite make it to vertical (leftover from having my lymph nodes removed in February), but it's close enough, and there's enough space between us dancers that I don't worry about whacking the girl to my left in the head (unless she's the one who squeezed me out of my spot at the end in our June, I'm kidding. I don't carry grudges. But she did squeeze me out!)

I have my energy back, for the most part. No more falling asleep while sitting up! I'm back to being mother-of-4 tired, not post-surgery tired. That's a big milestone. I still need an occasional nap, I won't lie about that, but I'm feeling great most of the time.

I've met with 3 of my important doctors:
1) Last week, my gynecologist checked my oopharectomy scars, talked a bit about the menopausal process (this could last years), and gave me the go-ahead for everyday activities. A good thing, because I've been walking and lifting baby for weeks now.

2) Yesterday morning, John and I met with my oncologist. She wanted to see how I was doing after a month on Femara. I'm doing well with the new drug, no side effects that I've noticed. There are hot flashes, but that could be from the oopharectomy. My body is really noticing that the ovaries are AWOL.

We talked a little bit about how we'll ever really know if Femara is working. I don't think Tamoxifen worked for me, and one of the hints was the absence of side effects (mainly, no hot flashes). So, although I do have the hot flashes, I don't feel anything else out of the ordinary. So how do I know maybe the Femara isn't working?

We also talked about my checkup schedule. Looks like checkups and bloodwork every 3 months, with some sort of mammogram/scan every 6 months to a year. As for checking to see if the cancer is really "all gone", I was disappointed to learn there is no standard "feel-good, follow-up" scan after surgery. If I have a problem, such as bone pain, a headache that won't go away, chest pain, etc., then they'd order a test accordingly.

But my oncologist is very understanding. I reminded her that earlier this year, everyone told me I was cancer-free. No MRI or scan confirmed it, just a pathology report, completion of radiation, and one tumor-marker blood test. And after my doctors assured me I was fine, within 3 months I ended up with cancer again!

So she understood why I wanted proof this time. We'll talk at my next checkup about a scan, maybe a PET scan.

3) Yesterday afternoon, I met with my surgeon. He has seen me twice since my Sept 25th mastectomies, and is so pleased with how my skin is healing. Even the sickly-looking radiated side. During the previous checkup I complained that my skin looks like it has adhered right to the bone. He suggested I massage that side, with horizontal movements, to help give the skin some elasticity. Well, it worked! It's not cover model material, but it's looking healthier.

The point of yesterday's checkup was to discuss next week's "touchup" surgery. I don't think I mentioned this before. During the mastectomy, my surgeon was afraid to take too much skin. Remember, the skin on that side is still pretty tender/sickly-looking from radiation. So he took what he felt comfortable with, so as not to stretch the skin too much and risk it breaking. Now that it's healing so well, and has regained some elasticity, he'll go in next week and take a little more skin and cinch it together more. Sounds gross, I know.

This next surgery will be done with a local anesthesia, yikes! I did request a valium or something for that morning. He'll have an anesthesiologist on hand in case I need some twilight stuff. I have a feeling I will. I can be brave: I've had multiple moles removed with just a local, I've had all 8 fillings (plus 2 refillings) with no novocaine, and I love to remind everyone that I birthed 2 of my 4 babies with no drugs (even though it wasn't my choice). BUT....I'm a little anxious about this one. Go figure!

So that about wraps up where I am. I'm healthy, energetic, and loving how things are getting back to normal. Just need a little touchup and I'll be done! Until reconstruction, that is....but that can wait until next year.

P.S. Tuesday November 20th is when I go in for my touchup. It will be an outpatient surgery, so I'm told. Aside from being a little uncomfortable for a few days, supposedly I can resume lifting Jesse and other activities.


  • At 11/13/07, 2:32 PM, Blogger Jenster said…

    When I saw my surgeon for a routine check up six months after my surgery she told me I had nice flaps. No one had ever told me that before. lol

    Glad you're healing so well and feeling good!!

    And wanting something to relax you before an outpatient has nothing to do with bravery or a lack thereof! I'd do the same thing. :O)

  • At 11/13/07, 3:50 PM, Blogger Sherry said…

    Oh what a wonderful post Katie!!
    You also have your sense of humour (love the bit about the dancer pushing you...flap that arm baby, flap away...hey things happen, right? No grudge, just your arm has a mind of it's own!!) LOL!

    You are resuming your life and your body is letting know how far it has come which is just great!!

    Touch up surgery and you're anxious about a local...for sure. You're body has been through the wringer with surgery and even though this is straight forward touch up, you're not out like a light in la-la land. But you are going to be fine, I just know it. And once you're there and doing it you'll see that yourself. A little valium would go a long way for sure!!

    I'm also pleased that you told your oncologist you want "proof". Good for you!! Enough of taking people's word for did that and saw what happened. I'd be insisting on 'proof' myself and you have every right to that. You go Katie!!

    I'll be thinking of you next're gonna do just fine!!

  • At 11/13/07, 3:51 PM, Blogger Sherry said…

    by the way Katie, you've won a giveaway on my blog. Pop over to get the email address (it's in my profile) and drop me a line with your home mailing address. Thanks!

  • At 11/13/07, 11:47 PM, Blogger lahdeedah said…

    I don't have time during the week to respond as I'd like to people's blog posts. Please know I'll be thnking about you next Tuesday, Katie.

    You're obviously a tough chick, but you don't have to prove anything to anyone. You just need to keep on doing what you're doing, which is learning as much as you can, speaking up for yourself and taking care of yourself, your husband and those (gasp!) four kids. (How do you do that?)

    Big hugs and powerful vibes to you, darling! :)



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