29 July 2010
Today was originally the day I was scheduled to receive my pathology report. But when my outstanding report was given to me Monday night, the game plan for today changed. Here is what I now know.
First, the most impressive news – yesterday a team of 8 (yes, I said EIGHT!) UAMS physicians met to review my file. The group included Dr. Klimberg (my surgeon), Dr. Makhoul (my oncologist), Dr. Kent Westbrook, and others like pathologists, radiologists, and plastic surgeons. WOW! How impressive is the UAMS approach to medical care, the gathering of many brilliant minds to review your file and determine the very best “next steps.” This is care at its finest and I feel very secure in all the decisions that we are quickly making.
The updated news about my medical status is this – originally I had been told that reconstructive surgery was likely not an option for at least a year, maybe two. However, with my positive pathology report (i.e. no cancer cells present), that has all changed. I will meet next Tuesday with the plastic surgery team and could have surgery scheduled as early as next week. My medical team of eight agrees that with my pathology report as it stands, there will be no oncological risks associated with this decision.
A few weeks following reconstructive surgery, I will then begin radiation treatment for six weeks, as they said, “every school day” – thirty total treatments.
What does this mean? For me, the ultimate goal is to be pretty much finished with cancer by the end of 2010, other than the oral chemotherapy required for the next five years and regular monitoring for possible recurrence. How great that would be! I could record 2010 as one of the worst and best years of my life, and possibly put this cancer behind me.
While reconstructive surgery is certainly not a requirement, some women make this choice for various reasons: to return their body to its original shape, for body image and self-esteem, to regain a sense of balance and eliminate the need for external prosthesis. Whatever the reason, today I learned that the sooner reconstructive surgery happens, the easier the recovery. So, I’m going to take the plunge and get it over with. While it might have felt more comfortable to have had more time to consider, the truth of the matter is this – time is not always on our side.
As is usually the case, I don’t know everything right now, but will know more next Tuesday. As I told my boss earlier today, my thinking is this – why not have everything done now and recuperate from two surgeries at the same time. Yes, there is more pain and discomfort associated with this decision. But better to get it all over with now.
Again, my medical team is brilliant. And while they give me lots of hugs and pats on the back for the awesome progress, it is my UAMS team that has created this miraculous recovery. I will be forever grateful to them.
Since February I’ve said that I am hopeful to be here when great minds find a cure for cancer. The truth is – they have already found a cure as they have cured me and thousands and thousands of others just like me.
So today I change my wish. I am hopeful to witness the day when NOBODY must experience cancer, that we find a way to prevent its very presence. Cancer is a dreadful disease that no one should have to endure.
Posted by Stacy Sells at 3:45 PM