So Thursday, 9 days after surgery, I went in to see the physio and get my results. The physio was very happy as I have been rigorous about doing the exercises and from her point of view all is well.
Half an hour later I was in with my consultant who is a very nice man. Now the official name for my operation was Mastectomy and Sentinel Node Biopsy. This is necessary to know for what I am about to tell you.
The sentinel nodes are the first lymph nodes the blood comes to as it leaves the breast and runs to the lymph nodes under the arm. They inject the breast with a radio isotope on the morning of surgery and watch where it lights up lymph nodes. In addition they inject the breast with blue dye during surgery to also locate how the lymph drains and identify the sentinal node. This is the operation I had and consented to. All good so far.
When I went for my results he told me that I had cancer cells in my sentinel node and that I would need ANOTHER operation and chemotherapy. Now all along I have tried to be informed. What he was telling me was that he would have remove all the lymph nodes under my arm and have another drain put in. Now no one has said to me that this could happen. No one said that after the surgery I may have to go back for lymph node clearance. They told me and I had it in my head that what would happen is that they did the op and then I would have radiotherapy and or chemo.
I was gobsmacked. I was gutted.
It is the logical follow on but somehow I missed it and somehow they didn’t give me a warning. I am OK with a bit of a warning. It is no understatement to say it was bolt from the blue and that I was more shocked than when I had the cancer diagnosis, which I had planned for in my head.
The day coincided with the start of anaesthetics blues and suddenly I couldn’t stop crying. Even now I am feeling a bit tearful.
That night I went out with a friend and had a McDonalds and talked about stuff, not just me, and about how to manage make up (which I don’t routinely wear) and possible hair loss from chemotherapy. Of course I am doing my usual thing of thinking ahead, not too far; I am not looking up drugs and stuff, but maybe try on dome wigs and headgear. I am not a hat person and can’t stand any tightness on my head.
On a positive note, all treatment will be over winter which will give me ample time to recover before the growing season starts and I can get away with more head wise than in summer. Of course who knows what will happen next.
So here is the current EXPECTED plan:
2 weeks time – lymph node clearance
4 weeks time – results of clearance. If I have more than a few cancer cells in my lymph nodes they will investigate whether I have secondary cancer anywhere which will mean CT scans, bone scans and anything else they can think off. Fingers crossed for this one.
8 weeks time – start of chemo and ongoing for a long time
Later on radiotherapy
later after that Tablet therapy.
I’ll no doubt pop in to update you further in the next few weeks.