April 11, 2015 I received the results of my genetic test. BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, PALB2, PTEN, STK11,TP53 were tested and found NO MUTATIONS!! My summary of results were: Low Risk Luminal-type (A), Low Risk of Recurrence, Molecular Subtype: Luminal-type and Receptor Status: ER+, PR-, HER2 -. This was excellent news! The only positive result was estrogen +. That meant taking a medication to reduce the amount of estrogen I was producing. The test also concluded: No expected benefit from chemotherapy!! That was a first hurdle. The second would be if my nodes were positive, a decision would have to be made about treatment.
April 19, 2015 The day before my surgery was a hard day. As it got dark and closer to my surgery, the more scared I got. I was given 2 bottles of Chlorhexidine Gluconate scrub to wash my neck, chest and arms with. I showered with the first bottle. I had to sleep on clean sheets and use clean linens. Juan kissed my face over and over until I cried myself to sleep.
April 20, 2015 I had to wake up at 4:30 AM to shower with the second bottle of the scrub. I cried in the shower. The tears turned into sobs. Juan held me and let me cry it out when I came out of the shower. I was already mourning a part of me.
We arrived at the hospital at 6 AM. We didn’t wait long. I was called back. I changed into my gown and socks. An IV was started. The anesthesiologist came and explained his part. I signed the consent form. Dr. Hill, my surgeon came to see me. Juan and my sister came to stay with me for a little while. I was concerned because I hadn’t seen my Mom yet.
I was taken to nuclear medicine where my breasts were cleaned and prepped for the radiologist. Dr. Fallucco, my plastic surgeon, came in to do his markings for the incisions. I looked like a road map! These markings were a little different than we originally decided on. He was now taking in to account my stretch marks–they would be removed as much as possible! He asked if this was okay. I told him that I trusted his expertise. The radiologist arrived and gave me two injections of dye in each breast. Gauze was placed over my breasts and massaged so the dye would spread.
I was wheeled into x-ray where the technicians tried to get the dye to light up. I was placed in the machine and had to hold very still. It was almost claustrophobic feeling for me. At this point I had to zone out. I did this by meditation. I felt such a peace and calm, almost as if I had been medicated. But, I had not at this point. The technician kept working with me, turning me in different positions trying to get the sentinel nodes to light up. I had gone back at 7:30 AM. I was moved to a different machine–still nothing!
The technician called my doctor to explain that the dye was not working. He told her to wait 20 more minutes and try again. Ruby, my nurse navigator came in at this point to check on me. She brought two pretty, pink pillows with the breast cancer symbol and John 3:16 written on them. These are to support my arms after surgery.
The technician brought my Mom back for the 20 minutes. I knew my Mom was praying because when the technician tried to get the reading it worked! The radiologist came in to mark the nodes.
Mom walked with us as I was wheeled back to the holding area. Juan joined us. I was given meds through my IV to relax me. I was given a shot in my stomach to prevent blood clots. I was going into that twilight phase. I remember being wheeled to surgery. We went one way….Mom and Juan went the other. That was the last thing I remembered. That was 11:30 AM.
Needless to say, my surgery was delayed about 4 hours because of my time in nuclear medicine!! This is NOT typical. This was my doctor’s only surgery that day.
My surgery took 6 hours!