I broke on through to the other side…
After the four-hour surgery, hospital stay and recovery, and my first two post-op visits, I finally have some time to update the blog on my breast cancer status.
The morning of the surgery, I was frantically trying to leave everything clean and organized…. but I should have just chilled because my mom showed up nice and early and she did what mamas do… she organized my fridge, did some laundry, and made me the yummiest soup ever.
When we got to the hospital, I saw my former student Angela again!
She was happy she could find me and wish me luck before the surgery.
I met the anesthesiologist, who told me they’d take care of me during the procedure “like a little baby”. Strange, but I certainly appreciated the sentiment. I also saw Dr. Dudak and Dr. Becker, who used a marker to draw all over my boobs. Right before being wheeled away, I freaked out a bit and I barely remember making it to the OR, so they must have seen my anxiety and decided to “give that bitch a sedative- STAT!”
The next thing I remember is opening my eyes in the post-op area, not quite sure of where I was until a nurse came to greet me. My first question was, “what time is it?” It was 5:45 PM. She said all had gone well with the surgery, and they were going to call Eric to come see me. When he walked in, the first thing he told me was that the lymph nodes had tested negative during the OR pathology test!! I immediately started bawling because that was my biggest worry- nodes so full of cancer they’d show up in this test.
Dr. Dudak gave him the good news after her first half of the surgery, which he shared with my family—and the news rapidly spread before Dr. Becker was done with his portion of the surgery!
We had to wait quite a bit for the hospital room to be ready, but I was definitely in zero pain (I got some morphine!), and Eric and I were just basking in the fact it was over, I was awake and alert, and the cancer had been cut off successfully.
As they finally wheeled me into my room, the first thing I saw after getting out of the post-op area were these double-doors with a huge sign labeled COVID UNIT. No joke, what a scary thing to see. I wasn’t scared for me, but I was definitely scared and sad for anyone who might be in there, on a ventilator, and unable to see family or friends. What a wake-up call.
My room was a private room and super cute and tiny.
By the time I was settled in the room, Eric was pooped and I begged him to go home and relax. He did. The night was not very eventful. I had some pain, I was given major drugs, and I had to use a bedpan because I had strict orders not to get up before the morning (no need to elaborate on that further).
Right around 7:00 AM, I begged the nurse to let me get out of bed. My wish was granted, and I was able to walk around the room, which felt so good. They told me Dr. Dudak likes to see her patients up and sitting on the chair. So I thought it was a good time to post this on Instagram. I was super drugged up and feeling pretty great!
Dr. Becker came by first and declared that everything looked good. Dr. Dudak came by about a half hour later, and after sighing that Becker “always beats her to the hospital” she also said the post surgery incisions looked great.
My recovery at home has gone well. I won’t lie- I’ve been in pain. But it’s also been very manageable. My mama had been busy making everything at home cozy, my dad drove up to hang out, Austin was so sweet and ready to get me water, fetch me pillows, take the dog out, hand me my phone… It’s been so great.
So, to end this post, my post op appointments both went well! I saw Dr. Becker the plastic surgeon yesterday. He had two FAU med school students in tow, so he was in full teaching mode. I was “Display A” and it was encouraging to hear him explain how well things had turned out (even though on day 2, to an untrained eye, newly operated boobs look rather gruesome…)
This morning, Dr. Dudak met with Eric and me regarding the pathology. Good news: the biggest of the tumors found measures 1.7cm. No nodes were found to be cancerous. They will be sent to yet ANOTHER lab to triple-check that there are no micro-metastases, but in any case, I am considered node-negative. I believe that makes my cancer a Stage 1. I also asked for a copy of my Mammaprint test:
I am so fortunate for many reasons. I am lucky I kept my women’s wellness appointment despite COVID craziness. I am lucky Dr. Thompson my gynecologist suggested a mammogram. I am lucky this mammogram could be compared to my last two, and that the early cancer could be detected. I am lucky it was early! I am lucky I found a great medical team. I am lucky I have such an amazing husband, parents, and extended support network. Flowers, gifts, and dinners have just been showing up at my door since I’ve been home. I’ve even gotten some awesome “Fuck Cancer” socks from a mystery gifter. I’m just lucky! Should I play the lotto?