After spending the afternoon hanging out with my high school BFF Lisa
(we power shopped and went to see Black Swan-so awesome!),
I met 4 of my Bunco friends for dinner at On the Border.
Unfortunately, 3 members of our group couldn't make it, but we had a great time all the same. We got there early enough to enjoy happy hour (yeah Maragritas!) and had a few hours of laughs and conversation.
Judy & I wearing our crowns. Aren't we divine?
Kirstie, Brenda & Karen
Judy loves to dangle things from her glasses :)
Kirstie, Brenda & Karen again
The whole lot of us.
Kirstie brought Christmas crackers for everyone; only Brenda & I knew what they were. They are an Brittish tradition (Kirstie's Brittish), so it was really fun to share it with all of us. At least 4 people asked us what we were celebrating and where did we get the crowns. We were the talk of the restaurant.
I will be meeting with the medical oncologist on December 29th
and the radiation oncologist on January 3rd.
There is no rush, and I have so many things to take care of before we leave for Florida next week. I didn't want one more thing thrown in the mix.
Now that I've had a few days to process the information, the diagnosis isn't so bad. There are far worse things to have happen than DCIS, and from everything I have read, almost totally curable. My gyn called the other day while I wasn't at home and spoke to Bart for a bit. She had the same diagnosis 15 years ago and has come out of it with no further problems.
So while the diagnosis is 'cancer', I don't really call it 'cancer'. That word gives it too much power. And I want to be the one with all the power.
Well, the news isn't what I'd hoped for, but it's not worst-case scenario either.
In my right breast, I have DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ. The earliest form of breast cancer. It's not life threatening, but can develop into cancer if left untreated.
From the Mayo Clinic: Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. In DCIS, abnormal cells multiply and form a growth within a milk duct of your breast. DCIS is noninvasive, meaning it hasn't spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast.
My type is classified as cribriform, or low grade. I can't tell from the report if my margins are good or not good enough.
I will meet with an oncologist, a radiologist & my surgeon to determine my course of treatment. It may be radiation. It may be tamoxifen. It may be more surgery, up to and including mastectomy. I will most likely need radiation on my left breast as well, although the phyllodes tumor and the DCIS are completely different diagnoses. It seems really weird to me that two completely different but distructive things are going on in my body at the same time.
I am a little freaked out. I mean, the news isn't good but not the worst either. Almost 100% of treated DCIS cases are cured. Good odds! I guess what's freaking me out is the constant thought in the back of my mind as to whether it will come back. I want to treat it and be done with it. I don't want it lingering around to torment me.
I know I say this every month, but seriously...how is it December already??
I think I am going to do a December daily album starting tomorrow. I have the main album ready to fill; I just need to take the time. I figured this would be a good year to commit to it as we have so much going on this month. It's exciting and a little daunting. I have to have all my Christmas stuff done before we leave on the 17th for Florida. I have made some headway, but nothing is done. The decorating, the cards, the shopping. The baking. Ack. Now I just want to crawl under the blankets until then!
I am feeling pretty good. No pain; the incisions are healing nicely and I have been resuming normal activity. Still haven't gotten the pathology reports, but I do see the doctor on Monday. I don't have time to be worried!
My surgery was on Wednesday and wiped me out way more than I thought it would. I had the idea that I was going to be out of it the remainder of the day on Wednesday, then fine for the rest of the holiday weekend. This turned out to not be the case. I learned 2 very important lessons:
1) Vicodin is not my friend.
2) Your body needs more time to recover than you think it will.
The pre-surgery prep was standard. No less than 2 dozen people asking what you've come in for. Sign this form. Talk to this person. Change into a gown. Sign this form. And this one. Get your IV. Here's another form. A quick visit from the surgeon. Sign this form (I think in total I signed 16 things, and Bart signed several more for me. Crazy.)
I mentioned that I had to get some wires implanted to help guide the surgeon to where he needs to cut...ultrasounds are impractical while in surgery. This was by far the worst part. I started by getting a new mammogram on my right breast. While my breast was still clamped in the machine, I had to stand there for 5 to 10 minutes while the doctor inserted the wire. With a fishook on the end. While I'm clamped. It was awful. It felt like it was poking all the way through me.According to the doctor, the pain and difficulty were due to scar tissue from the previous biopsy. I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to take it. The left side was much easier. No mammogram, no clamping. He did it by ultrasound. The position of the tumor did not require the 'digging' that the right side did. Plus I think this doctor numbed it better. It was quicker and much less painful.
By now I just wanted to be done and on my way home. Ha.
I remember them wheeling me to the operating room, and skooching over onto the table, and that's it. I woke up in recovery feeling really tired and with a dull pain in my chest. About an hour later I got to go home. I wasn't feeling too bad, but I slept for hours and hours. Bart would wake me every 4 to take vicodin and make me drink water. I tried to get up and watch some tv and eat a little something at 8pm, but I just ended up throwing up and going back to bed.
Thursday morning was more of the same, except now I had a headcahe and backache to contend with as well. My sinuses were killing me, so I took some sinus medication in the hopes that it would releive some of the pressure in my head. I've had enough headaches and taken enough medication to know that part of the problem was 'rebound'. I stopped taking the Vicodin and switched to Tylenol. And more sleep. More water.
We went to my dad's house for Thanksgiving dinner, but I ended up sleeping almost the entire time. I was able to eat and keep down a tiny bit of mashed potatoes and turkey. The more time that passed, the less sick I felt...just tired. After sleeping 36 hours it seems ridiculous to be so tired! I still feel the tired, but am awake much more. My back and legs were cramping up from too much laying down, so I make sure to get up and walk around all the time. My chest aches a bit, but Aleve takes most of the pain away. I need to start taking it before bed though...the last 2 nights I've gotten up in the middle of the night after flopping over onto my stomach to sleep. My breastbone hurts from the mammography machine.
The incisions are looking pretty good. No stitches, no staples...I am held together by glue, of all things! I finally got the Sharpie off my right side. I will wear a bra 24/7 until the glue is gone and the ache stops. I will visit the doctor in a week. I will wait patiently for the pathology reports and a clean bill of health.
Thanks to all of my friends and family for their kind words of support and love. It does make the entire process so much easier. Thanks for lifting me up when I've been feeling down.
The worst part is fasting before surgery. No food or drink after midnight. I wish it was going to be earlier for that part alone!
I will be going in early to get some wires inserted into the incision spots. I don't know how this helps the doctor, but it does. And then I'll put some big 'X's' on them with Sharpie, just to be sure. Wouldn't want someone to take out my spleen while I was under. You never know.
Thanks for all the kind words and well wishes! They are greatly appreciated :)
Last Thursday night I got a call from the surgeon telling me that they found somethng on my MRI, and he would like me to come into the mammography center on Monday to do another ultrasound and possible needle biopsy.
What I did not fully realize until I was there was that they were now discussing my left breast.
I had the ultrasound & needle biospy at 11:00 on Monday. 3:00 the pre-surgical screener called me to set up my surgery time. 3:30 the surgery was cancelled by the surgical coodinator. The doctor now wants to see me in his office on Thursday morning to discuss the findings. In the span of the 3 minute phone conversation, she called me 'honey' and 'sweetie' 5 times. And come to think of it, the pathologist and tech both wished me luck and touched me before they left the room.
Those were the longest 72 hours ever.
The good news is, I don't have cancer. Not today anyway. I have what is called a phyllodes tumor. It's rare. It's the same tumor that was removed in 2003. They are aggressive and resilient.
Here is a little more information on them:
Phyllodes tumors account for less than 1% of all breast cancers. Even though the tumor may be benign, it is still considered a type of breast cancer, because it has the potential to become malignant.
Phyllodes tumors are not all cancerous. Many will be classified as benign and not require further evaluation. A skilled pathologist is needed to distinguish a benign phyllodes tumor from one with more aggressive malignant potential. In any event, women who undergo surgery for removal of a phyllodes tumor require close surveillance with followup mammogram and physical examination at regular intervals. Malignant phyllodes tumors are best managed with a wide excision of normal breast tissue around the tumor to obtain clean margins. In most cases, radiation therapy is not required. Very large malignant phyllodes tumors may require complete removal of the breast for management.
The less than good news is that now I have to have bilateral surgery. The atypia cell mass on the right and the phyllodes on the left. They will do a wide excision, which after having done once will leave me with very little breast on the left. I can live with that. They will test the cells and hopefully not come back with any malignant ones.
I'm having the surgery the day before Thanksgiving. It was either that or wait until the middle of December. We're going to Florida for some of the holiday break, so I didn't want to put it so close to the travel time.
In short, I am very relieved. I won't feel totally safe until after the surgery and I get the all clear from the doctor. But I am optimistic that it will turn out ok.
BTW, the phyllodes was only detected by the MRI. Not the mammogram.
This kid turned 11 a few days ago. He's pretty much been doing this since.
His big gift from us this year: his own cell phone. Heaven help us. The kid loves to be on the phone. He loves to hold it in his hand. He loves to open and close it. He loves to text. We are very glad for unlimited texting.
We had the family over to celebrate last night after his first indoor game (they won!)
This cake might not look that impressive, but don't let my frosting skillz fool you. This is truly the best chocolate cake you'll ever eat. I've made it twice now, and it's received rave reviews both times. Gather ingedients and make it immediately. You won't be sorry.
I only had 10 candles, so we used this tall one in the center. It was blazing away right after I snapped this picture. I thought we were going to have cake flambe.
Lola was very into Max, especially when we pulled out this squeaky giraffe. She kept leaning forward and trying to take it from him, ever so gently.
Max was waaaay over tired so this was the best shot of the three I could get.
He started getting silly and laughing/hiccupping at his Grammy, which made us all laugh.
Evan had a good day, and got pretty much everything he asked for.
That almost makes it sound like a vacation, right?
The MRI I had today went very smoothly, I'm glad to report.
My total time in the tube was 12 minutes (which seemed like 30) but wasn't nearly as 'confining' as I thought it would be. Having the scan done on a breast is totally different than on other body parts. For one, I was laying on my stomach. I was supported up on a ramp like device. There is a round pillow where you put your face, and your boobs dangle down. I'm sure it was super attractive! The most uncomfortable part was that the ramp hits you in the rib cage, so breathing was hard. And I may have been hyperventilating a bit. There is no moving air around your face or anything, so it got warm in my little pillow very quickly. By the time I was done, I was all sweaty and my hair was plastered to my face.
I also had to lay with my arms extended straight up, so my shoulders were achy and my arms were tingly. But the MRI itself wasn't painful. It wasn't even as loud as I thought it would be. I don't know how they get an accurate read of the breasts though, with as deeply as I was breathing!
Glad to have it done. One less thing to worry about.
I think it's safe to say that I dislike going to the Doctor more than the average person. And when I say dislike, I really mean loathe to my very core. But I made a promise in 2010 to take better care of myself and my health and the occasional doctor visit was part of the plan.
Without doctors, I don't get the meds which help my head stay in balance and I have terrible headaches that make life unbearable.
Without doctors, I wouldn't have gotten the miracle IUD that reduced my monthly flow to a reasonable level. *best thing I ever did, BTW. Highly recommended.
Without doctors, I wouldn't have discovered the lump in my breast.
Let me back track...
After the miracle IUD which took 4 visits to the GYN to become a reality, the last thing I wanted to do was go get a mammogram. So I didn't. I made excuse after excuse, and hoped that the passing of time would make everyone forget.
Bart didn't forget. He hounded me to make the appointment.
The doctor didn't forget, because I got bi-weekly automated reminder calls to make the appointment.
And Bart still didn't forget, going as far as to threaten to call the doctor himself. He's a pain in my ass sometimes. And because I didn't want him to call the doctor, I made the appointment.
Fast forward a week when I get a call from the hospital saying that they would really like it if I came back in for a re-scan because the tech saw something he couldn't identify.
Another few days later and another call; there is definitely something there and you need to make an appointment. My doctor calls with the number of the specialist she would like me to see.
Fast forward a few weeks and I meet with the specialist, who orders a needle biopsy. He is a very soft spoken, gentle Asian man. Kind. I like him. I've seen him before, in 2003, for a different lump.
The needle biopsy is uncomfortable at the least, but not terrible. The pathologist and tech are very nice. In fact, from the moment I got the first phone call, everyone is very nice and accommodating.
The call from the specialist comes quickly. No cancer, but atypia. Bad cells. Need to schedule for open biospy. One more appointment where he explains to me again that there is no cancer, but a mass of cells that need to come out. Different from before. Not urgent, but he wants to take it out.
He's ordered an MRI, the 'gold standard' in breast care. I have no family history, but my risk factors are high so I qualify.
And here we are.
Tomorrow I am having my MRI. I'm not nervous, but can't stop fidgeting when I think about it. I hope I can hold still long enough for the scan to be effective.
This weekend, I told my kids. I didn't want them to find out from someone else. I didn't want them to come home one day and not find me here, because I'm running late from a test.
Next week I am scheduled for the open biopsy. I'm not scared. I'm confidant that the doctor will remove all of the bad cells and not find anything else lurking in there.
I'm feeling very lucky.
Lucky it's not cancerous.
Lucky that I was approved for the MRI.
Lucky that I have so many people who support me.
Lucky that the tech took a closer look at the first mammogram.
Lucky that my husband didn't forget and nagged me to get the mammogram that started it all.
Let me be a lesson to everyone! Get your mammogram!
Self exams don't find everything.
Doctor exams don't find everything.
You don't have to have a family history to get breast cancer.
One benign lump is flukey. Two is a pattern. I will surely have to get mammograms every 6 months for the rest of my life. And I will consider myself lucky every time.
Another fun year of trick or treating in the AP with Greg & Tracey...and little Max too!
Evan the bull rider. He dressed as a hippie at school on Friday, but I love this costume.
Angel and devil. Seriously, she ate 2 pairs of devil horns.
Max looking good in his skeleton suit :)
Max, Greg & Emma
Looking very angelic...
Max did not want to sit on the Great Pumpkin. Poor Binkster.
Bart came out of the house dressed to kill. Literally.
Time to re-fuel with a little True Blood!
Emma didn't trick or treat...she was all about walking around with Lola. They were going to dress the same, but Lola really did eat 2 pair of devil horns, so at the last minute Em pulled together the angel costume. They were very cute. I still can't believe she didn't get one piece of candy. I take that back...she ate from Aunt Tracey's bucket but didn't get any of her own. Brat. That means I don't get to raid her stash.
Emma's team had a game this past Sunday in Grand Haven, which is a three hour drive from our house. Which, any way your look at it, is an all day trip, basically. Her teammate Kayla rode with us. It was the most gorgeous October day ever; just below 70 degrees, sunny and crisp. Outstanding. We got to the fields with 50 minutes to spare, so we drove off in search of the beach, knowing that it was nearby by not wanting to venture too far away.
Less than a mile from the fields we found a sign announcing Rosy Mound Nature Center and decided to give it a try. No water was visible, but there was a sign saying 'No Lifeguard on Duty'. Bingo!
Nowhere on any of the trail markers did it indicate that the trek to the beach was around 3/4 mile, Nor did it mention that it was up and down flights of stairs over dunes! The girls ran ahead while I did my best to keep up with them. I failed miserably. I was huffing and puffing and moving by sheer will to see the Lake.
The water wasn't nearly as cold as I thought it would be in October. The sand was gloriously warm, and the waves were quietly lapping the beach. There were tons of boats on the Lake and many people enjoying the beach. I wanted to stay all day. In hindsight, we would have left 2 hours earlier so we could just hang out there. Emma had no problem running right into the water, even though her shorts were getting all wet. I was sort of surprised that she didn't jump all the way in!
The harsh reality was that we could only stay 10 minutes because the trek back was so long. They ran ahead of me and I just kept climbing. I would have given anything to just be able to sit for a bit and rest, but the clock was ticking and they had to be on the field in 15 minutes. I didn't account for how hard the trip back would be, but I didn't stop. Not once. They played at the most beautiful high school complex I have ever seen. The field was huge. They have their own soccer stadium with bleachers. Seriously.
We were massacred. Of course I felt we should stay at the beach but did the responsible thing by bringing them to the game. After, they both wanted to go back but there was no way I'd have been able to do that climb again. And we still had a 3 hour drive home to deal with.
I finished these in August and completely forgot to share them!
My friend Jen was looking for a little motivation to run in Central Park in a tutu. I promised her that I would knit her a pair of socks if she did. And did she ever!
So this pattern was called 'switcheroo socks', but for me they ended up being a double switcheroo. In knitting, you read the pattern from right to left, and I was 75% of the way finished with the first sock before I realized that I was reading the pattern backwards. Yes, I am a rocket scientist, why do you ask? I also catch on quick!
They have a fun heel pattern that I've never attempted before, and the lace pattern was very easy to handle.
My favorite thing about this pair is that I hand dyed the yarn, and I think it came out very pretty. Very fall, with a few bright bits of green, just like in nature.
I hope she enjoys them now that it's cool enough to wear them :) I know she has some awesome shoes that will show them off!
I haven't had time to blog about the second tournament weekend in September. Here's a little bit about it!
This tournament was for Evan's team, in Dublin Ohio. It's a pretty nice tourney, and not too far. It has the added bonus of being in Ohio, which means I cen generally talk my BFF Heather into visiting me. The weather was really nice; mid 70's to 80's while at home was raining and miserable. Not too shabby.
Our games were at the crack of dawn. The fields were barely light when we got to them.
The first game was against the best team on our playlist. And they were good. Took an early lead and continued to school us for 30 minutes. Then we rallied. We tied it up. We went ahead. They tied it up. In the end, they beat us by one goal, and that cemented our place in the tourney...no place. We automatically wouldn't go to the finals after losing to this team, which just sucks. To travel all that way and to know by 9:00 on the first day that you are done, well that just makes for a really long weekend.
Evan played goal during the second half and made some amazing saves. He just needed his defense to be strong and they got a little too confidant. It happens. They went on to lose the second game after lunch. Losing is weird for Evan's team...they don't do it often. Losing twice on the same day is just...weird. Here's the birthday girl on the morning of her big day. Between games she opened gifts (we totally had her fooled that we didn't bring any), with her major gift being a laptop of her own. She's tickled pink and totally loves it.
Heather came after the second game, and we girls headed over to the mall across the street from the hotel. I had only slept 1 hour and 20 minutes the night before, so I was beginning to get supertired. We got Starbux and wandered around. Em didn't want to go into any stores...she may be the only teenager who won't shop when offered carte blanche...until we found a doggie boutique. She was all over that. We ended up with a new collar for Lola and a Halloween costume to debut later. But it's Awesome, trust me.
Went to Graeter's for ice cream, Noodles & Company for dinner, and had cherry pie from GTPC (E's fave), not to mention gourmet cupcakes that Heather brought. We were in a food coma, but it was all good.
The boys won their game on Sunday morning, and we hightailed it out of there. Made it home just in time to go to most of Emma's game, which we hadn't planned on. Picked up Lola at the dog park and went home. Whew. It was a crazy fast weekend!
I know! I could hardly believe our good fortune. We could feed tens of people with bounty like this! There are 11 whole tomatoes on these plants. That's almost 3 tomatoes per person in our household. I suppose I ought to be thinking about canning or making sauce with the leftovers. We have been growing tomatoes for more than a dozen years, and never have we had such success in the garden. Mere amatuers shouldn't even bother to try and replicate our large plot. Start small, or you'll have so many tomatoes you won't know what to do with them all.
I have no idea what the hell happened here. Some of these were grown from seed, some were established, hearty plants from the nursery. All turned into rejects better suited to "That's a Swell Garden, Charlie Brown" than sauces and caprese salad. Needless to say, we won't be planting here again next year.
We made it nice and early to our hotel in Dublin. It's a beautiful night. Evan is running around the hotel with his teammates and we are catching up online. In a minute I'm going to head to the bar for a margarita with a friend. Early early games tomorrow and BFF Heather visiting in the pm. It's gonna be a good day!
Last week and this week are so incredibly busy. On the list of things that I have done/will do:
open house at school for both kids
rented a trombone for Evan
team photos for Emma
team photos for Evan
cleaned out one refrigerator and two freezers, and transferred all food to our new fridge
returned items to three different stores
shopped for things to replace the returned items
make plans for Emma's 13th birthday
56 loads of laundry
drove to Dearborn to get Buddy from my in-laws house
2 soccer games
all of this while being gone from noon Friday to Sunday evening, two weekends in a row. In addition to all the regular house work.
I thought things were supposed to slow down once school started?
Anyway, we were in Petoskey last weekend for the Autumn Blast.
This photo is not altered in any way, the fields really are this green! You are practically out in the middle of nowhere, and the grass is nicer than most golf courses. Crazy. We had 2 games on Saturday, 2 on Sunday. The team is having a hard time gelling. I don't know why exactly; maybe combining the age groups was the wrong way to go. I see a lot of effort on the field, but it's not translating into winning games. By Sunday Emma was ready to quit. She doesn't see that she really is improving...she keeps moving up in groups by twos, so she doesn't get a chance to feel like she is matching her opponents' skill, y'know what I mean? Losing is hard. This one went to stay with our new friend Bill and his three dogs. Let me tell you, she was in doggie heaven. Bill and his wife Carol took her to the dog park for hours every day, not to mention there was a festival in Plymouth where they walked her around all three days. When she wasn't out socializing, she and Bentley here were tearing back and forth across the house, romping and playing. She was so wiped out that she slept all day Monday. And she gets to do it again this weekend.
So now we are headed to Dublin, Ohio and the OP Invitational for Evan's team. We will be celebrating the big one-three while we are there. Oh boy.
So somehow it's the 7th of September already and the first day of school. Yeah for school! Yeah for routines and schedules and having something to do on weekdays other than bug mom! This year the kids are back at the same school again-6th & 8th grades. Both had a good first day. Both brought several pieces of 'homework' for me to do. And even though they were fighting like cats and dogs yesterday, last night found them the best of friends, and Emma helping him pick out his first day of school outfit.
And there you have it. It's all good.
We had a really nice Labor Day weekend, with lots of relaxing, laughing with the cousins, staying up late and spending time together. The next two weeks will be really busy: in addition to all the usual day to day stuff, we have a tournament in Petoskey (Emma), a tournament in Dublin Ohio (Evan), and one 13th birthday. I'm not prepared for any of it!
I haven't had a lot of positive things to say, so I decided to just stay away and wallow in my bad mood. The good news is that it's beginning to lift...I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I hate this last month of summer. Everyone is bored. Soccer training begins and messes up the day. It has been too hot and humid to enjoy anything, even the pool, that is if we get time to go. I'm sick of the kids watching their inane TV shows (I swear I am going to scream if I hear the iCarly theme music one more freaking time) for hours on end. I'm sick of the songs on the radio. I'm sick of there being nothing on television. I'm sick of the garden. I'm sick of everyone being home and yet not being home. I'm sick of not sleeping well, of eating poorly. Of not being able to go to the dog park because it's too damn hot.
I can't wait for fall. For cooler temps. For schedules. For a little time to myself. For long walks with Lola. For chili and stews and bundling up at soccer games. For cider mill trips.
You might wonder what the kids did to occupy their time on the island. Let's see...
They posed sweetly for pictures on top of large cliffs... They slept up in the loft of the bunkhouse... She overcame her fears and kayaked... He sat still for approximately 15 seconds... They built inukshuks and frog huts... They spent quality time with Dad... He pretended to fall off the cliff to freak me out... They scaled great heights... They boated... And hiked... And laughed themselves silly playing games... And canoed... And kayaked like he had been doing it forever... And snuggled... And took leaps of faith into chilly waters... And had one of the best vacations ever!
The kids were the perfect age for this type of vacation. There were enough things to do on the island and fun places to explore, yet they wouldn't ever be too far away from us and I didn't feel like I had to watch over them all of the time. They would disappear for an hour or two and come back with handfuls of wee blueberries, or a story about a rock formation they saw, or yet another kayak trip. Evan was even pulling out and setting up the kayaks by himself.
I thought they might miss not having a television, but it really was a non issue. The weather was nice and we did so many activities, they didn't have time to miss it.