Finally, after 6 months, I have been scheduled for the surgery to remove this damn tumor from my breast. Thursday, August 2nd. I'll need an EKG, and a few other things but I can finally get this show on the road. I know there will be other things to do after that but I can handle anything they throw at me.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
I finished the Abe Lincoln book. It was quite good. (I hear the movie is a disappointment though.) Fascinating how the author wove actual history with fictional vampires. I finished it in two days.
My next doctor visit is Tuesday, the 10th. Final consult before surgery. I hope. It's hard to believe this whole process has taken so long.
Typing is difficult and I'm too lazy to click to open my dictation software. Awful, aren't I? ttfn.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
EXAMINATION: PET/CT imaging skull base to mid thigh.
INDICATION: 64-year-old female with newly diagnosed left breast cancer.
PET/CT REQUESTED FOR: initial treatment strategy and detection of possible metastatic disease.
CORRELATIVE STUDIES: mammogram Feb 1, 2012. Demonstrates a 3 cm mass in the left upper outer quadrant.
TECHNIQUE: following the intravenous injection of 13.8 mCi 18 – fluoro – 2 – deoxyglucose (FDG) and a 70 min. delay to allow for uptake of the tracer, images were obtained from the skull base to the midthigh on the GE Discovery LS Fusion PET/CT scanner, along with 3-D reconstruction. Oral contrast was administered and CT scanning was performed through the same area for the purpose of attenuation correction utilizing a GE Lightspeed Multi-detector scanner. Blood glucose at the time of injection was 88 MG/DL. The SUV – max of the liver is 2.7.
FINDINGS: there is normal physiologic uptake of the FDG radio tracer identified within the tonsils, salivary glands, liver, spleen, myocardium, genitourinary and gastrointestinal tracts.
HEAD/NECK: there is a 1.5 cm focus of mild hypermetabolic activity in the right lobe of the thyroid gland, SUV 6. There is no hypermetabolic lymphadenopathy in the neck.
CHEST: there is a 2.5 cm hypermetabolic mass in the lateral aspect of the left breast extending to the skin, SUV 11.3. Bilateral apical fibrosis is present. There are no pulmonary nodules. There is no hypermetabolic axillary, mediastinal, or hilar lymphadenopathy.
ABDOMEN/PELVIS: Cholelithiasis is present. The right kidney contains a 1.7 cm parapelvic cyst. PET and CT images of the left kidney, liver, spleen, adrenal glands, and pancreas are grossly normal. There is no hypermetabolic lymphadenopathy or ascites in the abdomen and pelvis.
SKELETON: there are no areas of abnormal hypermetabolic activity in the skeleton suggestive of neoplasia.
1. The hypermetabolic left breast mass is consistent with neoplasm.
2. The hypermetabolic focus in the thyroid gland may be an adenoma or carcinoma.
If you've made it this far, I congratulate you on slogging through all the multisyllabic words that they include. I do find it all rather fascinating, though, don't you?
The future looks like this: first, I need to get a needle biopsy on the thyroid. I'm hoping that it's benign. If it's not, then I need to find out what my options are for that. I'll also have to schedule with the surgeon to get a lumpectomy done and have the tumor in the breast removed.
Are we having fun yet?
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
I arrived at 10 min. to 1 and only had to wait a few minutes before they called my name. Bob and Angie had gone with me and were allowed to come in with me through the whole process. First we went into a very tiny little room with one of the employees there. She turned on a space heater near my feet and told me that it was very important for me to be warm. I don't really know why.
She also gave me a tall glass of something red to drink. It tasted like a cross between Hi-C fruit punch and Kool-Aid with a definite undertone of something bitter and medicinal. I had to drink the whole thing. She asked a lot of the usual questions about allergies and previous illnesses and surgeries, and filled out a lot of paperwork for me.
When that was done, a very pleasant young man named Willie came in and lead us to the actual room. My first view of the device was that it was impressively large and it looked like an elongated doughnut. There was a cylindrical opening through the center area and on the other side was a bed, very narrow with uplifted sides, I suppose to hold a body in place, and supports for the head and shoulders so that nothing moves.
Again, I was given something to drink. It was vile! But like a good little girl, I drank the whole thing. He explained that it was necessary to expand the bladder so that they could get a good look at it inside of me. I'm not sure why I couldn't have just drank some water for that.
Oh, I nearly forgot. Between the first room, where I filled out the paperwork and the third room where the actual scan was done, I was put into another small room where Willie injected a glucose solution into my vein, and I had to sit quietly for about 30 to 45 min. waiting for it to be absorbed into my body. The glucose molecules adhere to certain cells in the body and most especially to cancer cells. I had been instructed that the day before my scan I was to only eat high-protein meals, meaning only meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and dark green vegetables. No sugars or carbs at all.
Which I did. And didn't. The morning of the scan, I was told not to eat anything for six hours before the scan, which meant that I didn't eat anything at all that day, so when I went in there, his little glucose molecules were the only ones in my body and were easily able to attach themselves to the areas that they needed to.
After strapping me down to the bed. He left the room to work the controls and allowed Bob and Angie to stay in the room with me up near my head which was at the far end of the cylinder. I was able to talk to them and listen to them during the process.
The scan took about 25 min., during which time Bob and Angie kept me occupied with their chatter and at my request Bob recited Jabberwocky for me, which I absolutely love. He does it was such feeling. LOL.
When it was over, I asked if I could see the scan results myself. It was fascinating! I was able to see my body from mid-brain to mid-thigh, in a vertical orientation, and spinning 360°. It was very obvious where the cancer was in the breast. It was a large glowing area. He also told us that the scan had taken photos of hundreds of "slices" of my body and he let it run through that rather quickly so I could see my innards all the way from head to hips. Again, fascinating.
Willie said it would take two or three days for results to be read by the radiologists and sent to my doctors. Because his job was just to take pictures, he wasn't able to give me any kind of diagnosis. That's understandable. To my untrained eye, the only area of concern that I could see was the glowing lump in my breast. But I didn't get to do close-ups of any of the areas and I only had a minute to look at everything before we had to leave
So now I'll wait to hear from my doctor and make an appointment for another follow up. Maybe now we can make some decisions about how we're going to deal with this. And if you've been reading this far, you have the patience of Job, and I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
That's the link to a video that was made about an event that happened at the store last week.
The news was about the cash mob which was really good for business and was even covered by the Daily Press. Bob is doing fine but as for me, well, not so much. I will have a PET scan tomorrow so we can try to find out where the hell it is in my body. Rachel has mostly been working the store because I'm feeling kind of weak, and have been at home a lot.
Business hasn't been that great, even with the move out to the college neighborhood. Combine that with my health problems and I think it's time for me to let it go. I know the business can be profitable if someone takes over who can work full-time, which I never could, and do some advertising, and some networking and schmoozing. Until recently, it always paid for itself, paid its bills, rent and utilities.
So, I've put the word out locally that if anyone happens to hear of someone who is retired and likes to read and is looking for a small business to keep busy at, please let me know.
I'm handling all of this pretty well, actually. I'm more annoyed than anything else by the fact that I have to traipse off to all these different doctors and have all these different tests and – it's just irritating how it takes over your life. And Bob's life because he has to drive me everywhere. I've known since around the beginning of February, so it's been over three months of dealing with getting approvals from the insurance company and making appointments and having tests and waiting for results etc. etc. I'll get through it okay. If it hasn't metastasized too badly yet, I'll be fine. I'm a fighter. I've been doing it all of my adult life. Not much can get me down. So don't you worry, okay?
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I'm waiting for a return call from our local imaging facility so that I can have a PET scan done for him. I will not be returning to the oncologist I saw a couple of weeks ago, and I hope my insurance won't have a problem with that. I know that everyone says to get a second opinion. So I hope my choice to use that second opinion instead of the first is going to be okay.
It's a long drive to Yucca Valley. And, as a matter of fact, Dr. Phil's main office is all the way down in Rancho Mirage. That's okay with me. I need to work with someone I have confidence in and have a rapport with. Someone I can talk to easily and comfortably. This man seems to be that person. He spent a long time with us yesterday. I hadn't realized how stressed out I was about the former oncologist and how relieved I was to find Dr. Phil, didn't realize just how much until I broke down and wept on the way back to the van after my meeting with him. Tears of joy, tears of total relief. Yes, I hate doing all this medical crap. Tests and needles and appointments and all of that stuff that I really can't stand. But I have to do it, and with Bob's help and this Dr. Phil, maybe I can get through it okay.
Monday, April 02, 2012
For two months, I've thought I had breast cancer. I don't know what to think now. It would be wonderful if they made a mistake but frack, this is bullshit.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
I'm so angry and frustrated with the oncologist that I can't see straight. Didn't want to answer questions, was abrupt and seemed uncaring. I won't be going to her again. I'll find someone else.
All I got out of it was that although all my labs and vitals are perfect, I have a very aggressive cancer and the tumor is large. She wants to start chemo and then "take it off." Mastectomy. No options, and she seemed in a hurry to leave.
Frack that. I don't need hand holding or pity but a little respect would have been nice. I'll be calling my primary tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I still haven't gotten used to this new routine of being home so much of the time. I'm catching up on my reading and even reading a manuscript for a friend, a fellow writer. I'm hoping that the muse, my own use, will return soon so that I can continue to work on two books that I had started some time ago. I think it will be difficult to get my head back into that place where it was when I left off on each of them. One is a novel that I had started but with no idea where I was going with it. Not a smart move.
The other was autobiography in the form of fiction. Very revealing. I'm not sure that I ever want to finish that one, lol. I would have to change all of the names to protect all of the guilty parties involved. My own included. And because the events happened so many decades ago, I'll have to fictionalize much because I've forgotten so much and I'll need to fill in the blanks with whatever works.
So, the latest news is that the oncologist called yesterday to postpone my appointment, which would have been today. On Friday, March 30, I'll finally see her and I hope to learn some things then and maybe get this damn show on the road. It just sucks big time to not know any more than that I have cancer. As serious as cancer is, I think I haven't been hit with the full impact of this knowledge, mainly because I don't know how serious it is. How large is the tumor? How quickly will it grow? Is it possible to remove the tumor by itself? I have a dozen other questions at least.
Maybe I'm nuts, maybe I'm really wrong about this but if there's any way to deal with this without surgery, I really want to explore those possibilities. Surgery is not a good idea for me. My body is weak and I'm not sure I would survive it.
Enough for today, right? We are promised a couple of days of warm sunshine. I think I'll take advantage of that by soaking up some rays and working on my tan. Yeah, yeah, I know. Ask me if I care. LOL.
Monday, March 19, 2012
I just got a call from the oncologist's office. They've asked me to postpone my appointment until Friday, the 30th. While I'm not feeling too badly, physically, I do hate the waiting, not knowing. Am I in trouble? Does this need to be dealt with asap? Or can it wait?
I suppose it will have to wait. Still in limbo.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
It's hard to describe what this feels like, not knowing what kind of cancer or what stage of cancer I'm at. Yes, I know it's breast cancer. But my research indicates that there are kinds of, and degrees of, and stages of, and I am clueless about my own. I play the waiting game. But impatiently patient.
I'm rather surprised at the amount of pain that's involved with this. It has escalated in the last few weeks and I'm taking more over-the-counter pain medications each day. But I also injured my shoulder and my back on that side. So that's probably compounding the intensity of the pain.
I waited too long. My fault. I should have had a mammogram a couple of years ago when I first got suspicious, but I procrastinated. Denial is more than just a river in Egypt. Stupid joke, yes, I know. Anyway, here I am, making excuses when there are no excuses. I should have had it checked out long time ago. And now, instead of the little dot on an x-ray, I have a large mass. It's grown from just a few cells to a tumor that can be seen and felt on the surface of my skin.
So I float around in limbo. I get a little bit of work done from home but not a lot. Oh, I'm not bored by any means. I do a lot of research and reading and learning. And I'm probably getting more sleep now than I did when I was at the store. That's got to be a good thing, right? But until next Tuesday, I remain ignorant, uninformed might be a better word. In limbo.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
I just want to thank you all for your words of encouragement and support, your good thoughts and prayers. Those are the kinds of things that will help me get through this.
While you are here, on the right hand side you'll see a place where you can click to follow this blog so that you will be notified when there are updates. Also, please leave comments here rather than on Facebook. Thanks so much.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
I don't really know how long it will take for the approval to see the oncologist. I hope it will come in this week and that I can make an appointment for later this week or sometime next week. I'd like to find out more details about how large the tumor is and how much it may have already spread. With a tumor this large I'm anticipating that it has more than likely spread, at least to the lymph nodes.
In the meantime, I'm nervous about using Tylenol all day every day since I know about the adverse effects of acetaminophen on the liver if it's used too much. So, dear, sweet, Bob is at the store right now purchasing ibuprofen and naproxen for me so that I can alternate between them, and only when needed.
Someone on Facebook just suggested spiritual cleansing and Reiki as possible alternatives in treatments. Come to think of it, one of my cousins is a Reiki healer. I think I'll give him a call.
The journey ahead is likely to be difficult. I know I will lean heavily on the love and support of Bob and Sharon and Beth and Lois and Angie and so many others of my family and friends. I have apologized in advance to them for my future whining and complaining about the pain and weakness, and the frustration and anger I will feel. But I know that without them, this will be so much harder.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
There is so much information on the web about cancer, its causes, how it manifests itself, and the many treatments for it. I'm spending time every day reading and learning as much as I can. I will have decisions to make and I want to be prepared to pursue the best choices for me.
On the other hand, I just spent an hour on PlayStation in the casino playing poker. Two tournaments back to back and I came in second on each. Too bad there isn't any real money involved. I bought a pink T-shirt for my avatar to wear. It says "Save the Tatas." Proceeds from the sales of these caps and T-shirts go toward breast cancer research. I think this is a pretty cool thing that Sony and PlayStation are doing. If you find yourself in the Paradise Springs Casino, look for AuthorLouGrantt in the pink T-shirt at one of the tables, come and say hello.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
As they say in the movies, flashback to the day of the biopsy. I didn't know what to expect. Would they do a needle biopsy? Just stick a needle into the lump in my breast and extract some cells to look at under a microscope? I was not so lucky. They made a small incision and snipped out a chunk of tissue about the size of a green pea. As they dropped it into a clear solution in a small jar, I asked if I could look at it. I'm not sure what I expected, perhaps something black and ugly and gross to look at but it wasn't. It was creamy white with a little bit of red on it and although I only had a second or two to look at it, it might have had a little bit of dark around the edge.
Fascinating stuff. My apologies if you are gagging on your lunch right now. If you have a queasy stomach, perhaps you shouldn't read any further.
It took a few stitches to close it up maybe three or four. And then they shipped my precious little body part off to the lab to be analyzed. As per their instructions, I called in a few days for results, only to find out that the cells had then been sent off to UCLA in Los Angeles. They told me to call everyday to find out if the results were in. This morning when I called, I was told that they have results and that the doctor would call me back in the afternoon.
He sounded so somber. I suppose that's his normal modus operandi when giving the bad news to his patients. So, I am told I have a large tumor in my left breast. He wants me to see an oncologist next. He suggests chemotherapy first to be followed by either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. I will be looking into and discussing other options. I'm not sure that chemo and surgery are survivable for me in my weakened state.
Tomorrow I will go and get the stitches out, and I hope to get more information. I don't know specifically what kind of cancer or what stage of cancer or anything except a very large tumor. I'm hoping to get an appointment with an oncologist within the next week or two.
My wonderful sister Sharon, a five-year breast cancer survivor, has suggested a couple of good things for me to consider, including support groups. I'll be looking into those things over the next few days and weeks.
And so it begins...
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
They tell me that everything looks okay. After testing my blood and the secretions from various orifices, nothing negative has been discovered. This is all good news of course.
Then there's the bad news. I also had a mammogram, sonogram, and chest x-rays. I have a large mass in my left breast. So later this month, I will be getting a biopsy and then seeing an oncologist.
I'll have more news after those events. Not to worry, I'm doing fine. As I've said, I am prepared for what ever happens. So tata for now.
Monday, January 30, 2012
It doesn't seem quite fair, does it? We live long, fruitful, healthy lives. We spend decades loving and caring and helping. We try to do the right thing. We want to be good people. And we are repaid in our old age by saggy wrinkled skin, achy, arthritic bodies and illnesses for which there is no cure. Nor will we see a cure in our lifetimes, no doubt.
I have lived all of my adult life with an incurable disease. But Muscular Dystrophy has been more of an annoyance and irritation than anything else. I suppose I've been fortunate that it hasn't been any worse then it is. Although I've been in a wheelchair since I was 26, other than that I've been relatively healthy. Now, at 64, my body is aging at an accelerated rate. That tends to happen to the severely disabled among us. Do you know how they say that 60 is the new 50? In our case 60 is the new 70. I fully expect to get some bad news with my test results this week and next.
I'm not worried about it. I am a realist. I have always been philosophical about life and death. My ultimate demise may come sooner rather than later and, frankly, I'm okay with that. When I was 17, I was given a year to live. Of course, I've outlived all of those doctors and I'm still here at 64. Knowing that I filled my life with all the wonderful things I could do. I'm very proud of going to university in my 30s, of the businesses that I have run, the volunteer work that I've done, and my close ties to my family and friends. I have no regrets. I have no bucket list. Everything that I would have liked to have done, I have done. As I said, I'm a realist, so I never put surfing on my bucket list. Neither did I include climbing Mount Everest or running a marathon.
So if the news is not especially to my liking this week, I think I'll mostly be okay with it. Not that I am eager to shuffle off this mortal plane any time soon. I'd like to stick around and do more fun things, eat more chocolate, enjoy the company of those nearest and dearest to me. But I'm old. And my body is failing. It doesn't seem fair, does it? Work hard, be a good person, yet end your life all too often weak and in pain.
Kind of sucks.