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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A New Plan of Action

When you have cancer, things change from one day to the next. As I have mentioned before, throughout this entire process I have been very proactive in finding out information about my condition. I have been responsible for my own well-being and the gathering of information. My oncologist was on vacation all last week which made things hectic for me. Once I had my surgery scheduled for this Friday, I called the oncology office so they could let Dr. Hoos know of my plans. I also mentioned that three weeks after surgery, Dr. Geter, my plastic surgeon, would be putting in my expanders so that throughout chemo he could slowly expand my breastless chest. It was then that she informed me that having the expanders put in three weeks later would delay starting chemo and that I would not be allowed to have any injections during chemo because of the risk of infection. This was very discouraging to me. What's the point in having the expanders put in before chemo if I can't even have them expanded?

Monday of this week I put a call into Dr. Geter's office. I explained to Dr. Geter what I had been told and thankfully, he gave me another option. The reason that he did not want to do the expanders at the time of surgery is because my skin needs to be able to scar to my breast muscle. If he were to put the expander in immediately following surgery and my muscle were to contract, it would create a ball in my breast that would never go away. Allowing the skin to scar to the muscle first, prevents this from happening once the expander has been put in. However, there is a procedure that Dr. Geter can do at the time of surgery to prevent this from happening. After my breasts have been removed (that still doesn't sound right) he is going to take a piece of cow skin, yes...I said cow skin, and stitch it to my breast muscle. Now, before I go any further, let me explain this. First, the cow skin has been stripped of all it's cells and is very sterilized. It serves as just a collagen. That is then stitched to my breast muscle which keeps it from contracting. At the same time, he can go ahead and put in the expanders and even expand them somewhat. This will all take place at the same time as my bilateral mastectomy. Then, after I have healed some, Dr. Geter will be able to fully expand me before I begin chemo. This will eliminate the injections during chemo and means that after chemo is finished, I will be able to have my permanent implants put in.

Dr. Geter's schedule was already full this Friday, so my surgery has been pushed back to next Wednesday, July 15Th. Since this procedure is obviously more invasive than just the bilateral mastectomy, I will be in the hospital for more than just one day....thank goodness! I am very anxious to have my surgery. That will be a huge step in the right direction. I can hardly believe that it was just one month ago that I was having my biopsy done. Who would have ever thought that one month later I would be preparing for mastectomy's and chemotherapy? Oh, how your life can change in just one day.

On one final note, my genetic test is back. I have to go into the office tomorrow to get my results. Both Ryan and I know what the results will probably be. However, we also know that God is bigger than any gene test. Please pray that the test would be negative. I would love to not have to worry about whether or not I might have passed the gene to Charley. God is so good and I know he will continue to carry my family through this process. I like to imagine myself being carried by God's arms to each appointment and each procedure. Once I arrive, He puts me down and stays with me until that part of the journey is complete. When it's over, He picks me back up and takes me to the next destination. I don't have to do anything. He does it all.

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