July 30, 2020 – I Am Finally Home!
It is a beautiful morning. It is very peaceful as I sit by the pool, drinking my coffee and watching Jamie swim laps. The weather is nice, almost balmy. It is hard to believe that 1 week ago, I was admitted to Northside in a dire emergency. It is hard to believe that we were away from home for 10 days. It is exceptionally hard to believe that I had brain surgery 6 days ago. I am finally home!
I had to reread the last few posts as I was under pain meds when I wrote them. I am trying not to repeat stories, but it may happen. Just indulge me
This week has been a blur. I was released from the hospital on Saturday and endured most of the pain on Sunday and Monday. Jamie placed calls into my oncologist and my new neurosurgeon as we were both concerned that I was not released with enough pain meds. Honestly, we were pretty frightened of the pain as we weren’t sure what was “normal” from the surgery. Both Docs wanted to make sure that I was not having any complications, such as swelling, that would cause the pain. I am on a steady diet of steroids, pain meds, and muscle relaxants. Each day the pain is subsiding, which is a good thing!
Before we left Atlanta, my oncologist wanted to “lay eyes on me”. I love that. Trust me, I wanted her to as well. It is a little unnerving to have a tumor removed on Friday, be released from the hospital on Saturday, and then NOT see a doctor the following week.
It was good to see her. It was comforting, and it gave both Jamie and I a chance to speak to her together. All my other conversations with my doctors last week consisted of me alone in the hospital with copious amounts of drugs. That is not good for recollection – trust me. COVID makes you go through the motions alone, but the reality is that many people are alone without COVID intruding. I couldn’t imagine facing cancer reality without my family and friends.
She confirmed that the tumor had clean margins and that when the neurosurgeon removed it, it just “popped right out”. There was little to no disruption to the cancer cells, which is a good thing. They did confirm that the tumor had been there a little while, but there is no way to no how long. It’s not like there is carbon dating or age rings to a cancer cell, LOL.
The location of the tumor was in the middle of the cerebellum, which means it was blocking the spinal fluid flow from my organs to the brain. In other words (or her words), “religious or not, someone was looking out for you last week.” It gave me goosebumps. She shared that when the radiologist called her last Wednesday from the brain MRI, his voice was trembling. He was frightened and didn’t know what to do, thus the “get to the emergency room STAT” order. Apparently, that tumor was precarious in timing and location. God was looking out for me, no question. I am blessed, so very blessed.
We still have not learned the full pathology of the tumor, which means the cancer markers of the tumor in the brain. They basically sent samples of the tumor for different tests. They wanted immediate confirmation that it was breast cancer that metastasized, which we received on Monday. When cancer metastasizes (appears in a secondary location) it is still considered the original cancer. So, even though it was a brain tumor, it is considered breast cancer that metastasized to the brain. When cancer appears in a secondary location, it also means that your cancer is now considered Stage 4, meaning incurable. Incurable. It doesn’t mean an immediate death sentence. It just means that we must be vigilant in the possibility of additional spread. We must stop it early and often.
Last year, I shared that I had HER2- and ER+/PR+ cancer markers. When my new pathology returns, we will know if the Brain Mets (metastasized breast cancer) has the same markers. It is fascinating to me that the cancer can change characteristics, but it can. The markers (genomes, etc.) will direct my oncologist on the appropriate drugs and therapy going forward.
Oh, and yes, I did include a picture. I’m sorry for the squeamish, but I had to share. I did include other photos to soften the blow. 21 staples. Mason says it is not freaky or gross, but it is a little strange. Yes, it is. I will say, surgeons really don’t care how they leave your hair. I mean really, couldn’t they have attempted a somewhat “even” shave of the area? They don’t really think about vanity and the little orphan hair strands they left around my cool new scar. I’m just glad that I didn’t pay $$$$ for a cute pixie cut before surgery and then have my surgeon give me a shoddy haircut!
What’s in my immediate future? Jamie and I speak to my Radiation Oncologist today. She will be performing the Gamma Knife Radiation on the 18th, so I am anxious to speak to her. By the way, what a scary awesome name – Gamma Knife Radiation. There is not a knife involved, so I am not sure how it made it in the name. I will find out and report back. Mason did ask me if I was going to turn into the Hulk after it – Love him. I told him that Mommies already had superpowers and that this procedure was just going to strengthen them. I did promise not to turn green, LOL!
As I learn more, I will update and share my findings. There is a whole new world of language when it comes to Brain Mets and treatment. I am in the infancy of knowledge. I am learning as I go, so all mistakes are mine. Remember, I’m not a doctor, I just play one on TV. Until the next episode…