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  • Raelene

Cancer? What cancer?!

Well I might as well start this off with the good news! I AM NOW CANCER FREE!!! You read that right but go ahead and read it again! The pathology results of my surgery showed no cancer cells at all! I got that news yesterday and to be honest it has not sunk in at all yet. Look at me though starting at the end of the story and giving away the happy ending!


Lets go back to my surgery. As I mentioned in my last post I decided to get a lumpectomy. My surgery was on March 4. On the morning of the surgery, I had a wire inserted into my breast where the clip was. The clip was a tiny piece of titanium they placed into the tumor prior to chemo so they would know where the mass had been if it were to be killed by chemo. So they lined this wire up to the clip using a mammogram. If you were counting that would be the third time I have had my breast frozen. The needle honestly isn't that bad though (I mean at this point I've experience way worse). Once they had the wire in they left a piece of it out and taped it down so I could see it which was a bit weird. When I say wire it was like the thickness of a guitar string so not as scary as it sounds. After the wire was in I then had a radioactive injection done for the sentinel node biopsy under my arm. The sentinel nodes are the lymph nodes directly connected to the breast. The biopsy of them was to ensure they didn't need to remove more lymph nodes as they assume that if the sentinel nodes have no cancer it is highly unlikely that any others do. Instead of just removing lots they take these sentinel nodes and test them. The injection helps them locate them with a tool that looks like a tiny metal detector. Once that was done we went up to the day surgery unit in the Cross Cancer Institute.


My surgery was scheduled to be at 11:15 am. We were told sometimes they may bump you depending on how fast the surgeon works and when he is ready for the next surgery (he was doing six surgeries that day). We were well prepared to sit and wait for a while. However, I barely got changed into the hospital gown and they said that they were ready to take me down to the operating room. I was not completely ready to go so fast but I was also relieved I didn't have to sit and wait. They wheeled me down, Ryan by my side as always and then we go to the door to the operating area so we had to say our goodbyes. Of course we were both trying really hard not to cry. Once in I was put in the pre-op room where the surgeon came and gave me this super motivating speech that made me cry and then the anesthesiologist came and went over everything to do with being put under and gave me my IV since they didn't even have time to do that in the day unit. I was rolling into the operating room shortly after 10:00. This was the first real surgery (not dental) that I had ever had so I was pretty nervous. They started the anesthetic and I was instructed to take five deep breaths, I got to three and then the next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery area. I felt pretty out of it still but not as bad as I expected. After about a half hour there I went back upstairs and they called Ryan to let him know I was done. He went for lunch with a friend which he said he was glad he didn't just sit worrying. He said when he was driving back he was stressing out about why they hadn't called yet so probably for the best he was somewhat distracted.


Waking up all the way was hard and I felt pretty fuzzy but after an hour I was able to get up and go to the bathroom by myself so they said I was good to go home. I was already feeling some pain so they gave me more painkillers and we headed out. I was able to walk to the car, I just held onto Ryan to be safe. He drove like an old lady all the way home to not hit any bumps. I was laughing and told him he could at least go over 40 but he said it was fine we would get home eventually. My Mom was at our house with Clara so I talked to her when we got home and finally got to eat. I felt much better than I thought I would.


Recovery has been good. The days after I had some pain but I only needed to take painkillers for the first three days, after that it was more just feeling uncomfortable but not all that painful. My Mom stayed with us for five days after which was nice to give Ryan a bit of a break and so that he could help me without worrying about Clara. By day five after surgery we went for a walk, I pushed Clara in the stroller and felt pretty good. We have been walking almost every day and if we don't walk I go on my treadmill. I'm working on getting back in shape now that my energy is slowly coming back. I've been cleared to try running on Monday and I'm actually really excited. Being able to exercise makes me feel a little more normal and I mean I've gained over 30 pounds from chemo so its time to do something about that! All in all I feel pretty good, every day I have a little more energy and a little more hair!


Yesterday I finally got the results from the surgery and I as I mentioned they found no cancer. The tumor was gone completely and the tissue around where it was that they removed had no cancer cells. No cancer was found in the sentinel nodes they removed either. The surgeon said he found and removed six lymph nodes in total and one of them was one that had cancer but it was completely clear. This was the best news though. We cried a lot! Finally though it was with happy tears.


I'm not sure why but I hadn't prepared myself for this. I guess I'm just getting good at not getting my hopes up when it comes to cancer. It hasn't really sunk in fully that I am cancer free. I still have radiation to do so my treatment journey is not over yet and maybe that's part of it. I guess I just kept expecting the worst and now hearing the words "cancer free" sounds surreal. Which is so crazy after the words "it's cancer" were so surreal for such a long time. I am relieved though. Everything that we went through during chemo was worth it. I had what they call a complete response to chemo. I'm so thankful for that and that the only treatment still required is radiation and not more chemo.

I know I still have a lot to work through and deal with from all of this but right now I am not trying to focus on that (I am starting to see a psychologist next week though). Instead I'm focusing on knowing that Clara is still going to have her Mom and we will soon be back to a more normal life, the life she deserves and the Mom she deserves. She is the reason for all my strength. She gave me the will to fight and has been the best distraction from all the bad. So to her, my baby girl, my tiny savior - I love you so much and I would have done anything to be there for you. Mommy isn't sick, nope not at all, she fought and she won. To cancer I just want a say a huge FUCK YOU, nice try but I'm stronger than you.


-Raelene

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