You know those camera shots of tennis matches where you see hundreds of heads in a stadium shifting back and forth in unison to follow the action? Well, I feel like my emotional head has been swiveling so violently back and forth with all the developments in my medical journey that my emotional vertebrae are developing hairline fractures!
I lay in bed last night (the most comfy bed EVER–found in the home of wonderful friends in Ann Arbor) and had a little conversation with God. It went something like this: “You know, I wouldn’t mind it at all if I got to the hospital tomorrow and my doctor told me that the whole chemo/mastectomy scenario wasn’t needed. Really. I truly wouldn’t mind.” I might even have looked toward the ceiling and sent up a little “Aren’t I cute?” grin, hoping to manipulate God into an extra nifty miracle!
Well, I spent another 45 minutes or so getting really friendly with the mammogram technician this morning. She apologized multiple times for each of the 8 xrays to which she submitted my still-healing body. Given the fact that my last surgery was just 10 days ago and that I am still very much bruised and battered, she had reason to feel sorry for me!
Then came the most “huh?”-inducing consultation I’ve had so far. When I spoke to her on the phone last week, my doctor made it clear that the results of my last surgery/biopsy indicated that my total tumor dimensions are larger than originally thought. She also made it clear (I triple-checked) that I needed to begin to make my peace with the concept of a mastectomy and/or chemotherapy. As you know from my previous two entries, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing…painfully and trustingly.
Yet when Dr. Diehl walked in this afternoon, my case having gone once again before the large Tumor Board of interdisciplinary specialists, it was with a hopeful smile. “Let’s try another lumpectomy,” she said. And pretty much knocked me on my keester by doing so! This excision will have yet larger margins, enough to remove the last traces of the tumor site discovered last week and apparently somehow “conjoined” with the first. She wants to do one more round of this less drastic operation before “settling” for a mastectomy, and suggested that we could shrink the tumor first by doing some chemo. I graciously (not!) declined. Just take a bigger chunk! My statistics have changed now that the total tumor size is closer to 2 cm (rather than the .7 cm first discovered). They’re not as comfortably in the “low danger” range as I’d like them to be, but I still feel strongly about not doing chemo and approaching the prevention from a more naturalistic direction. A sample of my tumor is being sent out for further tests that will determine with a little more precision just how likely a recurrence is. As for the new surgical plan, it is in a stunned and somewhat disbelieving state of mind that I left the hospital. No mastectomy. Not yet. Looks like my “aren’t I cute” grin might have worked after all! Given the certainty of my doctor’s opinion last week, the sureness of her prediction that more radical action was needed, I consider this a miracle–another reprieve. But as much as I love the reprieves and praise God for them (praise, praise, praise Him!), I must admit that they’re also just a tad exhausting! This roller-coaster is giving me a headache…which is fine.
My mom bought me a GORGEOUS “journey pendant” today in honor of the twists and turns of this medical adventure. At this rate, we’re going to have to get it lengthened if it’s going to be a true reflection of the convoluted road I’ve taken!
What comes next? I wait for a surgery date and pray (please pray with me!) that, this time, the lumpectomy/wider excision will work. If it does, we’ll be back to the old plan: radiation in Germany, Tamoxiphen and a miracle to prevent recurrence. If it doesn’t, plan B will once again be in effect.
The major God-moment of the day came in the waiting room. When my name was called, I heard someone say, “Did she say Michele?” I figured there was someone else with my name waiting to be called, but the next thing I knew, a wonderful woman called Elaine had introduced herself to me. She is a fellow breast cancer patient, a member of one of my supporting churches, and has been following my journey from afar for a while. She wasn’t at her church on Sunday when I spoke about my experiences and about the treasure of “community.” But for reasons God knows, we were both in the waiting room at the same time today (she was just there seeking a second opinion), and she somehow knew that I was the “Michele” she’d been reading about… It was a brief but wonderful connection, a heart-connection, and I instantly felt drawn to her optimism and enthusiasm. She is fighting a much tougher battle than I, and I stand in awe of the courage she has shown so far. What a blessing to have crossed paths with her. Please pray for her as well as you remember me. She is a softly glowing light and I’m sure she touches all she meets.
That’s all for now! I’m now safely back in Port Franks after a long week of traveling and visiting friends. These have been exhausting, but galvanizing days full of encounters that have deeply affected me. Just a handful of them are pictured below.
My deep gratitude to each of you for your prayers…..
My beautiful, 95-year old grandma. She’s an amazing woman!
With Don and Cyd Storrs (former BFA staff)–what a memorable evening with
Not sure who this dude is, but he seemed to be part of the authentic Colorado scenery, so I snuck a picture when I thought he wasn’t looking. I was prepared to dodge a bullet or a baseball bat if necessary!