My first 3-month check up went really well on Friday! It was great to see my nurse, Angela and Dr. Litton. She examined my entire body and basically went through a list of persistent symptoms that I could be having, and nothing worried her. She completely agreed with Dr. Villa that the spot under my left breast was the expander and that was definitely a relief. It is so weird when you know longer have your own breasts anymore and really have no clue what anything is supposed to feel like. I have this foreign plastic thing in my body and am supposed to let the doctors know if I feel anything weird…um that would be everything!!!! Haha. But I was so, so thankful that it did not concern her at all. My body completely relaxed.
I told her about the clicking in my chest that I told you all about, and she confirmed what my physical therapist thought it was- something with my ribs. Dr. Litton said that it is very common with mastectomies and reconstruction, and especially radiation, for ribs to be pushed out of place and even broken. So, I’m not sure if some of my ribs are broken or just pushed out of place, but they should heal themselves regardless and I felt MUCH better after hearing that was common. It already feels much better and is not clicking nearly as much as it was. The things that one might typically push aside as "nothing" are on super high sensitivity for me.
After she got done examining me and going through the typical “symptom” questions, we asked her many questions about how our future appointments with her will look. I will continue to see Dr. Litton every 3 months for 2 more years, and then it will move to every 6 months. I have still yet to have a body scan, and I've learned that is a good thing! It still seems weird to me to not have a body scan, but once you are deemed cancer free at MD Anderson, routine scans are not performed. Scans are only performed if you are having a persistent worrisome symptom. We asked Dr. Litton why this is the case because I have had several breast cancer friends have clear PET scans and Cat Scans and I want my turn to say mine is clearJ!!! She explained to us why this is the case, and it is somewhat scary to think about. She said that if a routine scan caught something really early that spread to an organ, the chances of survival are no different than when doing a scan when a symptom comes up. More harm can be done through the radiation that scans give, rather than only doing scans with a symptom, which I will never have to do in Jesus’ name.
Dr. Litton was very positive and kept reiterating how she hoped and expected to never have to do a scan caused by a symptom. She reminded us that the only time she does any type of scan not caused by a symptom is before getting pregnant. So, we agreed that we would have my first scan next year around this time before we started trying for a babyJ. We left feeling very positive and thankful to God that he gave us such a great first visit. We greatly miss Dr. Morrow, but we are thankful to have Dr. Litton who remains positive with us and joins with us in the hope for a family.
Psalm 128 "How joyful are those who fear the Lord- all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive tress as they sit around your table. That is the Lord's blessing for those who fear Him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!"
We are striving to fear the Lord and follow ALL of his ways. Not only for his benefits, but we are believing we will be joyful, prosperous, have children who sit around our table, and grandchildren. And peace! I am so thankful for God's word.
We were supposed to go to the beach with my family the week of my unexpected lattisimus dorsi surgery, and of course missed that trip, so we made a last minute decision to go to the beach this past week. We had such a wonderful time and were able to relax and rest. We both spent some good, much needed time with the Lord, and resting in Him. The Stanfills were actually at the beach at the same time we were, and we hung out with them some while we were there. We joked that they just can’t get away from us, even when we aren’t crashing their house in Houston. My mom came and met us on the last day too and we had a great day on the beach together. I love my man, my mom, and my Houston family!
On the first night of the beach trip, I noticed a small spot on my left breast (the radiated side) where my expander was somewhat poking out. It looked much like what my right expander looked like in the beginning stages of the expander becoming exposed. I showed Josh and he agreed with me. We both spent the majority of the week praying and seeking the Lord, asking Him to heal this spot. To supernaturally touch it and for it to be healed. We have trusted him completely and know he will heal me whether it be through surgery or that it will just heal up on its own. It continued to get slightly worse each day of the trip, and we have just continued to pray and trust. I emailed my P.A., Alisha, and she told me that she would see me today, Thursday, and we would evaluate it then. Dr. Villa is out of town and will be back on Monday.
Well, we saw Alisha today and she feels like the exposure of the expander is imminent. She told us today that she thought it was imminent ever since seeing it after radiation. She made a tentative plan, pending Dr. Villa’s approval (since he is out of town and will have to agree with her on this). She has planned for me to have the lattisimus dorsi surgery on my left side on this upcoming Wednesday, August, 22. I will see Dr. Villa on Tuesday to confirm or deny that, although she feels like he will agree. They typically do not like doing any form of reconstructive surgery this soon after radiation, but with a “complication” like mine, they really don’t have much of a choice.
We asked her many questions about why it is more risky to do this type of surgery soon after radiation and she said it is simply because the skin hasn’t had time to heal yet. I love Alisha. She is so blunt and to the point, but in a super sweet way. She said, “Your skin was burnt alive every day for 6 weeks. Your immune system is probably still affected from chemotherapy. Your body has been through the ringer and to have another surgery is a lot.” She spent an hour with us today answering our questions, laughing with us. I really feel like outside of the doctor’s office we would be friends. She is awesome.
Alisha explained that most of the risks come in with wound healing. So, if I have the surgery on Wednesday, we need to pray that it is successful, as painless as possible, and that there are no complications whatsoever! Before I left, Alisha put some special cream on my spot and covered it and we won’t look at it again until I see Dr. Villa on Tuesday.
If the surgery has to happen, I have complete peace about it. Josh and I have prayed this week for our faith to increase and we have come to Him in faith for me to be healed and whole- from cancer, from expanders failing, from sickness, from wound healing, from everything. Once you have cancer---or maybe not everyone is like this. Let me rephrase- once I have had cancer, everything else pails in comparison. Especially over these last few weeks, anything other than cancer doesn’t feel like that big of a deal. Don’t get me wrong, I know this possible surgery is a huge deal, but it isn’t life pending and I will be absolutely fine. Perspective is an amazing thing.
So, Josh and I are on our way back to West Monroe and will head back to Houston on Monday afternoon. After over 10 months of driving back and forth to Houston pretty much weekly, we are tired of driving!!! I think we are about to invest in some books on tape and some other entertainment to help the time pass by. Up until now, it really hasn’t been too bad, but the last couple of drives have seemed long. I am still so thankful we have the option of driving. Even when I wish I could snap my finger and be there, I run into people from other countries or someone from New York that has to fly in, and I am put in my place once again. There is that perspective again!
School and work were supposed to start up for me on Monday, but obviously God had other plans. I plan to stop by work and school on Monday to get a few things in line before we leave to head to Houston on Monday afternoon. I will meet with Dr. Villa on Tuesday. If I end up having surgery on Wednesday, I will probably be out of commission for another 2 weeks. Of course this setback has had us scared and frustrated, but we are trusting the One who sees the whole picture and he holds His world in our hands. He cries with us and He rejoices with us. We are blessed because we mourn. He loves us more than we could ever know or imagine.
Zeph. 3:17 "For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
Matthew 5:4 "God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Oh, and I almost forgot, I got a drain out today and just have one left. Hallelujah! Hopefully it will be ready to come out on Tuesday. If I have surgery on Wednesday, I will have 4 more drains on the left side. I know more about drains than I ever cared to know. I am thankful for them though, because without them, I would be having some major problems. It is amazing how God has equipped doctors and medical field with wisdom in surgeries of how things can be done. The human body is amazing! I know I have said that I can’t understand how someone could go through cancer without depending on God… I feel the same way about seeing what all the human body is capable of and how people can believe there is no God. I pray others won’t have to go through what I’ve been through, but it seems impossible to me to see what your body can do and not see the very divine nature of our Father.
"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13
Ok, wow, I’ve written a lot and you are probably tired of reading. I can ramble on and on...if you didn't already know:) Last part- I got expanded today on my right side and that went great. It is looking really well. I got deflated on the left side to see if deflating would help slow down or stop the exposure process. We are both tired of my body being manipulated, but we know the Lord is being glorified through my suffering and healing process. He is sovereign and worthy of praise.
Here are some pictures from the beach this week. We had such a wonderful time. Please, please pray for me and I will update you all on Tuesday after my visit with Dr. Villa. We have been shaken with all of these "complications", but we will not be moved. We stand and depend on the one who never changes. We love you all!
After dinner one night with the bay behind us.
Glad to eat dinner with my mom!
Ms. Tammy, Audrey, Erin, Aly, Josh and my mom
This was me at the beach modeling my drains. Early practice at looking somewhat pregnant:)