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, November 28, 2007

OK, can I heal now?

I saw Roz at my surgeon's office yesterday, and she took the steri-strips off from my touchup surgery. My skin is healing beautifully, she said. And my scar looks great, for a scar.

Roz (the nurse) is not my doctor's nurse. Virginia is his nurse. But whenever I've had stuff removed post-surgery....drains, staples, whatever....Roz is the one who sees me. No wait, that's not entirely true. Virginia removed the drains after my lumpectomy in February. Roz removed the drains and staples after my mastectomies in September. They're both really nice women, but Roz is a lot gentler than Virginia.

Thanks to Virginia, I spent most of my post-mastectomy time dreading having the drains removed. When Virginia took the drain out in February, she yanked and it hurt like you wouldn't believe. I remember that pain better than childbirth. I had only 1 drain in February, but 3 in September!

So in September, while I lay in my hospital bed with not much to do, and later at home whenever I had a quiet moment, I remembered that awful yanking and prayed that the drains would fall out on their own....painlessly, of course, and preferably while I was sleeping.

Fortunately, I saw Roz for my post-mastectomy visit and she talked me through some visualization while she eased the drains out. I felt a wee bit ridiculous, talking with her about my "happy place" (in the garden), but I felt no discomfort from the drain removal process. All 3 of them!

Same thing on Tuesday when Roz took the steri-strips off. I was afraid my skin was going to go with it, but as she peeled them off my skin remained. In fact, I didn't even know she was going to take them off. We were just talking and--boom--they were gone.

Amazing what a difference a calm, gentle personality makes!

And the best part of the visit: my pathology report showed no residual cancer! Just a well-healed scar and some normal tissue. That was a big relief. (The recurrence was on my lumpectomy scar, and the whole reason for this touchup surgery was so the surgeon could get a wider margin around the first scar. When he did the mastectomy on the left side, he was afraid my recently-radiated skin couldn't take a wide excision, so he took the minimum to get the cancer and see how the skin took to the stretching. He told me at my post-op visit back in October that he'd feel better taking a bigger chunk around the mastectomy scar, once he was certain my skin had enough elasticity. That's why we waited until November for the touchup. Sorry if this is too much information!)

I also learned on Tuesday that I can't lift Jesse for another week. He's almost 35 pounds now, and at 19 months he is definitely a mama's boy so he's not too thrilled about Mommy not lifting him. But he's big enough to climb up into his highchair, with a little boost. And I can help him out of his crib without hurting either one of us, so we get by. John's working from home this week to be available when I need some muscle. Emma has helped, too, by lifting him into his crib or playpen for me.

So other than enlisting family members' help with baby, I'm back to normal: I can drive, I can shower, I can do whatever I want within reason. And I even got permission to go to my dance class (I was going anyway, I just asked out of curiosity) but only after I promised not to do any crazy arms for at least another week.

Now, for the 3rd time since February....all I have to do is heal. Hooray!


  • At 11/29/07, 8:03 AM, Blogger Sherry said…

    (((Katie))) I just wish I was with you in the same room to give you a huge hug and a kiss to say I'm so happy for you that there is no residual cancer!!!!!!!! Oh your heart must have just leapt with joy when you heard that!!!

    Roz sounds like a peach...really. There is such a thing as gentle touch and those who "know" the best way to help with the difficult parts of surgery, bandages and drains. The visualization appeals to me so much because I believe so strongly in that aspect of healing...the mind is an incredible tool and it we keep it focussed on something pleasant and lovely, we are likely to feel pain. You have been blessed to have had the bad experience so you can really appreciate the good one..the good one wouldn't have meant as much to you had you never had Virgina take out your drain (and I loved you hoping/wishing the drains would fall out on their own!! There is such a "pluck" when they come out!!)

    As for not being able to lift the littlest one..he'll adjust and adapt and with you being unable to lift him, it allows others to step up to "who they are"...husband works from home to help which makes him feel needed and capable and certainly Emma is having the opportunity to learn caring, giving and helping because she wants to and because it's a good thing. Always so many opportunities.

    Dance, dance, dance and trip the light fantastic..but keep those arms down!! :)

  • At 11/30/07, 10:52 AM, Blogger Jenster said…

    Prayers to you for quick healing!

    I'm glad your post-op appointment went well. I always thought the actual surgery was better because, you know, you're asleep. Wish they'd put me to sleep to take out drains and pull off steristrips. OR REMOVE MY PORT! Didn't like that, though it didn't really hurt. Just an icky thought.

  • At 11/30/07, 1:18 PM, Blogger bella said…

    How happy I am for you right now. What welcome and wonderful news.
    And I'm happy for you, not just for no residual cancer but for the kindness of a nurse who could make things less painful.
    As for the not being able to pick your little one up, I know it is hard. I couldn't pick LEo up for a long time after my surgery (abdominal incision for ovarian cancer) and it was hard. Especially because I think they know, get it that we are not well or are hurting and so they want closeness even more, as reassurance that we are oka nd life is ok.
    And yet, they are resilient and do adapt. I remember making extra time for cuddling on the couch, being close in other ways. And though it ached inside when he started crying when I wouldn't pick him up and carry him, he is fine. I think it hurt me more then him.
    Thinking of you today and celebrating your victory.

  • At 11/30/07, 7:20 PM, Blogger lahdeedah said…

    This is fabulous, wonderful, joyous news, Katie! I am so happy for you, for your family, for your friends--and for me, since I so enjoy your online company :)


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