Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The next thing...

Perhaps it was the red pants that led me to know for sure. She popped into my mind the other day- Kathy- my research nurse that managed my care for almost my whole first year of breast cancer treatment.

She almost always wore black but with some pop of color mixed in.  Sanford blue was not part of her wardrobe.  She was young, attractive, organized, and a great problem-solver.  She really was a liaison between me and Dr. P., and the infusion nurses.  She'd schedule my tests, remembering I needed sedation, or, early mornings, or not on Mondays, and then hand me a well thought out and organized schedule of appointments that always worked for me.  She came to see me at every infusion, every appointment. 

When I got booted off the study, she no longer was involved with my care. Losing her, left such a huge hole for me to climb out. I had to learn how to navigate cancer world all on my own and it was a big task.

For some reason, I was thinking about her the other day.  She left research, for another position and I haven't seen her in the last two years.  

Yesterday, at infusion, in a sea of nurses adorned in blue, I caught sight of a slim woman entering an infusion room, wearing a black cardigan, with striking red pants.  Could it be?

So I asked one of the nurses I know.  Is that Kathy?  It was.  She's back.  And while I didn't get to talk to her, I have a feeling I will somehow, again soon.  I can only shake my head at the seeming coincidence of my thoughts of her that led to seeing her.  



It felt good to see Dr. Panwalkar yesterday.  I'm not sure what it is, but I think part of me absorbs the positive energy he often exudes.  I also feel entirely in sync with him at times- with only a minimum of verbal exchanges between us.

There were only slight changes in my blood work and tumor markers.  Even though my WBC is really low, there was simply not enough movement to warrant any scans, or changes in treatment.

Besides, other than some intense hot flashes, some swelling in my arm, hormonal headaches at times, really- I'm tolerating the Arimidex fairly well.  

I grinned and told him, "its so much better than Tykerb," and he got a good laugh at that.

He also asked how the lymph node under my arm was doing… and I told him I had no idea… the thought doesn't occur to me to check.

He said "Ahhh, that is great!  That is what I like to hear, you shouldn't be worrying about that." He checks under my arm. "I feel nothing he says," sounding pleased, patting the top of my shoulder a few times before he sits down again. 

Its these tiny moments that I take with me.  I scoop them up and carry them with me like a bag of tools, that I can reach for, when my own voice doubts, or becomes uncertain.  Sometimes, I'm stuck worrying about what is to come, and forget to acknowledge the tumors we've conquered, the battles fought, and won.

And then we conclude with a quick discussion that yields the biggest new thing yet.

He says "and your wound?"

"Oh…" I say, "that."  "Not good."

That poor mastectomy wound from 2 years ago, just won't heal.  I've given up going to wound care.  I can no longer afford the 188 dollar for 2 boxes of 3 bandages, that my new insurance won't cover.

Plus, we got sent to collections for 11 dollars.  Yep- eleven dollars - in finance charges when we were trying to figure the whole mess out-got us into trouble.  Its a fact that we still giggle over.  (We're fine, one more phone call cleared the whole thing up, finally.) But I'm surrendered to a jerry-rigged garment thingy with all kinds of folded stuffing trying to double for the semblance of a breast shape under my shirt.  That and, not having showered in over two years. 

So Rick and I both shake our heads at the mention of that wound.   I explain to him how its a constant process of scabbing over, then the scabs peeling off slowly, only to have the "hypertrophic granular skin," start to weep all over again.

So I dare to ask… "Is a hyperbaric chamber too extreme to consider for my wound healing?"  Its the only treatment left, outside of surgery. Its hours away from here and usually requires weeks of treatment at Mayo Clinic. 

He thinks maybe yes.  But then, he wonders. "Should we discuss surgery again? You're not doing chemo, so surgery might be a good option for you right now."  

He offers to get in touch with Dr. Antoniuk, the plastic surgeon I've seen before.  She had offered to do a pretty amazing reconstruction procedure once before, but I had too much treatment I was doing first.

As Dr. P walks me to infusion, 
suddenly I realize, the doors to the next thing- a very big new adventure, are bursting wide open.












31 comments:

  1. So glad for good stuff from Dr. P, and familiar faces back around, too. That makes the not-fun stuff a little easier. Life is good, for two more weeks and three more years :)

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  2. So true Marcy, so true! So great to see you here- hope all is well with you too :)

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  3. Mmmm, you have me very curious!

    Glad for now changes in the one direction - I am praying for changes in the other direction!!

    xoxo

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    1. Thanks Tiffany- oh I didn't mean to leave you curious or wondering! Which part? I'd gladly give more detail if possible :) Thanks for the prayers as always- love to you!

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    1. Smiling right along side you Joan :)

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  5. My original chemo nurse is very dear to my heart as well. I can't imagine going through it without her, and when my doctor quickly changed offices, it was SO hard to not have her around.

    Good news from Dr. P - even though surgery might be in your future, it sounds like maybe it will help??

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    1. Exactly Melissa- if you could see the wound and all I've been through with it- fixing it or at least trying would so ease your mind.

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  6. There seems to be a peace in your words.

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    1. Nodding my head and agreeing with S. - peace is layered between each line, and hope. :-)

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    2. Susan and Susan- so astute of both of you to pick up on that- I like the sound of that- peace- yes :) Blessings to both of you :)

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    1. Indeed, I would say so- thank you Francis :)

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  8. Dear sweet Vicky,
    What an answer to prayer..."There were only slight changes in my blood work and tumor markers." Hurrah! Bravo! I find that when I know you have an upcoming appointment that I kind of hold my breath a bit until the results are in and I pray double time asking for two more weeks, three more months and forever.

    And of course dear Dr. P, bless his heart, came through with his usual encouragement and hand on your shoulder. And now even a suggestion that surgery might be a help. As you head to "the next thing" know you are held up in prayer daily by so many of us who love you dearly.

    Love you to the moon and back!
    Linda

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    1. Thank you Linda- while I never feel like I can fully let out a sigh of relief, or let my guard down long enough to "celebrate," it does feel like a praise worthy time- and I am glad you both felt it and can say it with such conviction. And those prayers- feel like they are heard time and time again! Love you sweet one~

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  9. "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul- and sings the tune without words- and never stops at all....." ~Emily Dickinson~ For reason's unknowen when I read this post...this poem came into my head...so I went with it :) Bless your heart Vicky! Once again I learned a thing or two...It never occured to me that showers have not been a option for you for over 2 years!!! or the why of not having reconstruction done! I think the door opening to this next adventure is huge! more then Huge!....It's like spring arriving, a newness and change unfolding...and perhaps showers on the horizon and your very own "new breast' so that you can feel more whole again! I will be keeping this new journey in my prayers...because to me, this is a positive one...one that will make your soul sing! Much love to you Vicky!!! loved this!

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    1. Peggy Sue- I just love that quote- so true :) It does feel like a chance- and a chance to do something to bring things back to more of "normal" in a way. Maybe it fits with my word "become" somehow? Hmmm, I have much to ponder it seems :) Much love to you!

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  10. I am so glad to hear that there is something available to help with your wound. I know you have been dealing with that for a long time! Praying along with you that this surgery is the answer you have been looking for.

    Sending thoughts, love and hugs to you,

    Eileen

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    1. Thank you Eileen- I appreciate your well wishes and prayers. Am hopeful a new solution can be found- love and hugs to you sweet friend!

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  11. i always love seeing your blog posts in my RSS feed!! so good to hear this latest news. i love that He is giving you perspective to see that there is a door opening! hope spring has sprung up there too--spring is always encouraging.

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    1. Ahhh- and my heart equally leaps each time I see your sweet face showing up here :) Spring sprung for a couple of days and then the rain and cool temps came back- but no snow here yet, so we're encouraged for sure. Hope you are well! Hugs to you :)

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  12. I just see lots and lots of good news for you on the horizon -- it just makes me smile to see you happy and able to have a semi normal life within your new normal! :-) Just keep dancing in those glorious pink cancer kicking boots!!!

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    1. As do I :) The boots are definitely kicking- all sorts of things and all over the place- whew!

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  13. So many news Vicky! It looks to me that the way ahead is full of promise and it make me smile. I am sending you big hugs and keep you always in my prayers xo

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    1. Thankful to have you here, smiling with me :) Hugs and love to you!

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  14. As always, Vicky, your positive attitude is SO inspiring.

    (Really though ... no showers in two years?!!! ... Oh ... I get it ... you have been taking baths! Phew!) ;)

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    1. Bonnie- so good to see you friend! Such kindness in your words that I value so- thank you. Yes- baths are the answer- many, many baths :) And hair washed in the sink- its really become second nature to me and I hardly give it any thought at all.

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  15. I love Dr. P and I don't even know him. But it appears you two are a match made in heaven, literally. Grateful for the beautiful people God continues to put into your lives - including the one wearing red pants, my favorite color - and for the hope you continue to grasp for and share. XXOO

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    1. HE does put exactly the right people in our lives when we need them most- and am so in awe of that and grateful too. Plus- that includes YOU and all that you have brought to me life. Love and hugs to you!

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  16. You write so incredibly, Vicky. I find myself nodding the whole time I'm reading (at least in my heart) and I feel as though I'm right there with you. And right when I'm getting annoyed at getting sent to collections over 11 dollars, you're surrendering, and letting go, and laughing again.

    I just love you, your attitude, your gifts, your peace.

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  17. Now THAT's exciting, Vicky! I'm SO sorry that stubborn wound won't heal but maybe this is the answer. Dropping in for a catch up after being gone with the fam. Glad to read the first post full of hope at seeing old friends and the possibility of resolving that stubborn wound. On I go - next post!

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