Fertility Specialist

Well.

Well, well, well.

Today was indeed, a hard one.

Let me start with this- I want kids. I have always wanted kids. According to my mother I cradled my baby dolls before I had ever saw someone hold a baby. I teach preschool AND LOVE IT. Nuff said.

Chemo and the hormone suppressive therapy are, apparently, hard on the ole lady parts. I may also be doing the hormone suppressive therapy for up to 5 years. That brings me to 38 years old on the other side of this which in the baby making profession is apperently on the “late” side (never mind my mom had me at 42 and my grandmother and great grandmother had babies in their 40s). So, knowing I want children, my oncologist sent me to a fertility specialist. She was a very nice woman, she listened, she was kind, and she overwhelmed the pants off me.

The technology is out there to extract and freeze my eggs and hold them indeterminately. The problem, for me, lies in how they make this happen. At the just the right part of my cycle, I would get shots of something that would suppress my egg production. Then, again, at just the right time, I would be given something to surge the production. I would also take some drug that would keep my estrogen levels from rising (my cancer thrives on estrogen, remember?). I would be in the office every 3 days or so to keep an eye on this process. Then when the stars align, surgery to remove (harvest- ew) the eggs. All of this is done in a real time crunch and in-between and around the other major surgery I am preparing my mind and body for this month. I should start the chemo 3-4 weeks after the surgery and this would need to be done before that process. Sound complicated? Stressfull? A GIANT pain in the ass? Yes to all and more. Do you know how much all this will cost? I will tell you- all said and done, with financial assistance, close to $9 grand. Then $500 a year to store the eggs.

I can’t do it folks. The money is, surprisingly, the least of my hesitations. I just can’t add this level of stress to this next month. Neither to my mind or my body. Part of what is keeping me sane is braking the cancer battle into smaller bites. Decisions about the surgery were first- got that, now I’m getting ready for the surgery (and my party- what what. yeeeaah!). Next, getting the surgery and healing. Then, prepare for chemo, and so on. I can focus and prepare for the next step, the next battle in the war, if you will, but the fertility stuff is a whole different battle and too far off for me to even wrap my head around. I think I just need to focus on me and my health right now.

My mom (wise as she is) pointed out that it was good that I had this consultation. Now I don’t need to wonder what my options were. I am educated. I now know what it would take and I know, deep down, it is beyond my personal limits at this point. I think knowing one’s limits is an important part of knowing one’s self. Not something I’ve always been good at, but important. Its important not only to know where those suckers are but also when they can and cannot be pushed. I love me some limit pushing but I don’t think this is one of those times.

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Plastic Surgeon

I feel good, decisions are made. I am going with a spacer immediately after the mastectomy. A spacer is a temporary implant that goes in and is only partially filled. Then every few weeks I go to the surgeons office and they fill it a little more until it is back to it’s old self. That will give my body some time to heal up and let the skin stretch gradually. Then after all that chemo crap and my body is strong enough I will do an outpatient surgery to replace the spacer with a permanent implant. They will also do some cosmetic stuff that is not all that necessary to discuss in mixed company. That won’t stop me of course, it is fascinating, but for now I will keep it off the Internet.

It’s so strange thinking about all these surgeries. Ive never had one surgery before and now I’m planning months of them. Thank god I got insurance 5 months ago. Yup, less than a year ago I was not insured. I’m sure it won’t cover everything but seriously this would be 100 times more stressful without it.

Tomorrow I face another big fear- the fertility specialist. She is going to talk to me about the effects of all the medicines and what my options are for my child bearing future. Sigh. I know, I know, just get better but … sigh.

General Surgeon

The surgeon had less new information than I expected, but he too is proclaiming “good” news. I have options! That is news that, unfortunately, not all women get. I can opt for a lumpectomy and lymph node something or other with radiation or a mastectomy. Now look people, we’re all friends here, I am not what you might call “well endowed” if you know what I mean, so the difference between the two surgeries is not much. As nice as it would be to keep some of the breast, there would be the potential for more surgeries after the initial lumpectomy not to mention radiation.

I am well aware that in radiation holds the potential of becoming a super hero (or super villain). I know it is an effective and widely used treatment of cancer. I also know, and have known for a very long time that having radioactive iodine as a child is what caused my mother’s cancer. Back in the dark ages (sorry mom) “they” thought radiation killed germs so she, and many others, were treated with it after having their tonsils out. She developed cancer in her thyroid at 19, and again at 21. She is most likely the reason I have not “why me”-ed all this crap. (Don’t hold your breath though, I make no guarantees for tomorrow let alone the years of hormone treatments). She got through it. She got through it and still achieved her desire of having a family and a full and very active life. Because of her I’ve always known people get cancer. Can’t say I thought it would be me, now, but what can you do? I’ve always known people get cancer and then they move on with their lives. Wow, I got miles off track there, sorry but tomorrow is her 75th birthday. The point I was attempting is that even though, logically, I know radiation is not all that bad, I can’t get it out of my sub-concious that it CAUSES cancer. I think I am willing to trade a bit more tissue to gain a bit of peace of mind.

If I don’t need the radiation there is a good chance then that I can get a “one step” reconstruction. This is amazing to me. I go to sleep with a tumor-boob and wake up with. . . well a franken-boob for a while but still- a new breast! I go monday to talk to a highly recommended plastic surgeon to see what all that will entail.

I continue to be blown away by all the love that is coming at me. My co-workers are giving me their paid time off hours, my school director and community are putting together this totally rockin benefit. My boyfriend. . . I could fill pages and pages of what wonderful man he is. There is no way I could be this ok without him. You rock team Lynn. Thank you times a million.

The results are in

I got a lot of news today and am still letting it all sink in. Explaining it all seems to help thought so if you are interested, here it goes.

I was tested to see if I had the genetic structure that predisposes women to breast and many other types of cancer. This mutation would severely raise my chances of getting cancer again. Luckily I tested negative for the mutation which is very good news.

The other good news is that my liver and the rest of my body seems to be functioning normally so it is more than likely that it has not spread.

The type of cancer that I have is invasive ductal cancer. The tumor is hi-grade and poorly differentiated. bla bla bla, don’t bother looking it up, it’s a nasty ole cancer but it’s early. Further testing of the tumor found it to be Her-2/nu + and ER +. The Dr. assures me that this is good news as being positive for these things mean it will respond to specialized therapies in addition to the Chemo. (yup it took me this long to drop the C-bomb) I’m still learning about the Her-2/nu but the the ER+ means I will be receiving hormone therapy every 21 days for the next year. Surprisingly to me this is the part that scares me the most.

Next step is meet with the surgeon and make some decisions. He may want to start the chemo first then do the surgery or vice versa. If we go surgery first I will do it in the next week or so and start the Chemo 3 weeks after. I will do 6 rounds of chemo, 1 every 3 weeks for a total of 18 weeks. Totally Lame and inconvenient if you ask me.

That is pretty much that as of now. Thank you so much for your concern and kind words, thoughts and prayers, I am going to horde them all because they really do help.