The Plan

So, brief post yesterday about my follow up appointment with my GYN Oncologyst.  It was a real party in the room as my husband was there, as was Dr. Rao, Beth (the Nurse Practioner) and Dr. Spencer – the resident who assisted in my surgery.  My husband and I have both determined that you have to be young and gorgeous to work at UMM.  Dr. Spencer is hands down one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.

Anywho, the staples are out, and my incision is itchy.  I did finally get to sleep in my own bed last night and it was delicious.  I hadn’t been sleeping there because of the staples, but last night was great.  And even better, when I woke at 5:30am to take my meds, Boo Boo Kitty got up in bed with me for his morning snuggle.  Best kitty ever (next to his sissy Mattie – who does not snuggle in the presence of Bob).

Dr. Rao explained that my diagnosis is Endometrial Adenocarcinoa – Stage III (meaning it spread outside of the uterus into my lymphatic system) 2C (meaning it was deep into the muscle under the endometrium).  Scary.  He gave me a copy of my pathology report.  They removed 15 of 19 lymph nodes that were involved (all on the right side) and there was no spreading to the lymph nodes near any of the major organs.  My Chest X-ray last week was clear.

So, next steps.

Next Thursday, I have a full body CT scan.  This will tell them if I am in remission or not, and if not, it will allow them to target the radiation to the areas that need it most.  I meet my Radiation Oncologist next week – Dr. Navesh Sharma.  He is going to explain to me my sandwich therapy.  I will do three cycles of chemo, 1 of radiation, and then three more chemo.  Provided I am in remission next week, I will be good to go on treatment, aside from some follow up appointments as necessary.

My goal is to get to remission, and stay there.

They did explain, the chemo is the kind that both will make me throw up, and make me lose my hair.  In prep, I will cut my hair tomorrow into a pixie cut.  I have purchased a fabulous fedora, and will get some scarves.  I have also been promised excellent anti-nauseau meds.  Yay.

And, I might add, I’m scared shitless.  But that probably goes without saying.

Anyway, that’s the plan.

My mother says I’m brave.  Hopefully soon, I’ll believe her.

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Quick Update

Staples are out.  Stage III endometrial adenocarcinoma, and no obvious progression past lymph nodes.

CT scan next week and then I meet my radiation oncologist, Dr. Sharma.  My therapy will be what they call “sandwich therapy” meaning 3 cycles of chemo, 3 of radiation, and 3 of chemo.  Next week we will know if I am in remission.

Keep prayers coming.

Weighing Heavy In The Mind

I am up early today.  I am debating a dose of pain pills.  I am really tired of being constipated but not quite past the “Oh good they make drugs for that” kind of pain.

I have my follow up today with my oncologist, and a bazillion questions I want to ask.  For anyone going through this, I recommend a small notebook to take with you to appointments so you can write stuff down.

I want to know exactly what the found.  What stage is it?  What are my next steps?  How do I beat this?  And seriously, can I put something on my scar to make it less itchy?

Hopefully we will get answers.

My Hospital Hero

So, University of Maryland assigns two employees to you when you are assigned to the regular floor after surgery.  First, you are assigned a nurse.  The nurse has three or four patients to keep demands low and patient care doesn’t become compromised.  The nurse brings you meds and can act as your doctor liaison.

You are also assigned a tech.  The tech takes your vitals, helps you in and out of bed, brings you water, etc.  The tech is assigned to a part of the floor.  I was assigned to the transplant wing (lots of abdominal surgeries in that wing) instead of the cancer wing (they were full up).  My night tech was named Melinda.

Melinda is my hero.

Melinda had a bedside matter that rocked.  She was caring, considerate, and firm when she acted as my advocate.  And she didn’t ever talk down to me just because I was sick.  She dried my tears.  She argued for my pain meds on a regular schedule (I had a nurse who decided I didn’t need pain meds if I was sleeping – don’t EVER get behind on your pain meds).  Melinda was all around fantastic.

I was speaking with Melinda the morning I was discharged.  Now at that point, I didn’t know I was going to be discharged.  I had a rough night thanks to my night nurse, and Melinda had made sure I had my pain meds and made sure I was comfortable.  My pain score (which was rarely above 4 when I was medicated) had gotten to 15 (on a scale of 10) during the night.  While Melinda and I were talking, she was telling me that this was her third career choice.  She was going to school to be a nurse, and was working as a tech for experience.  I told her I thought she had really found her calling.  We talked and talked – and I could honestly feel like outside of the hospital, Melinda and I could have been friends.

Finally, Melinda asked me where I worked.  When I told her, she said, “Oh, my sister-in-law works there – I wonder if you know her?”  And she told me her sister-in-law’s name.  And I do, in fact, know her.  Very well, as a matter of fact.  Her sister-in-law is the VP of our department, and I work quite closely with her.  I smiled and Melinda that Donna is one of the many women in the company I admire and she advocates for me quite a bit at work.  I told her that I don’t know how Donna does all she does (Donna has two teenaged daughters who are competitive figure skaters, and serves herself on the board of many womens networks).  Melinda laughed and said they called Donna and her husband the “overachieving Timlens.”  I laughed somemore with Melinda over this, and then she left, saying she would be sorry to see me go, but she wouldn’t be back on until next week.

Yesterday, I got online to check a few work emails.  While I was on, I sent Donna a quick email.  I told her that I had the pleasure of having Melinda as my tech in the hospital, and that she had done a wonderful job, and really made my stay less horrible than it had to be.

Donna wrote me right back.  She said my email had brought tears to her eyes (she was printing a copy to take to Melinda), that Melinda was trying so hard to find her place.  There is no doubt she has.  This job is a perfect fit for her.

Melinda – if you ever see this, thank you.  Thank you for the care you bestowed on me.  You are one of those “overachieving” Timlens as well.

Cancer Diagnosis

So, surgery was scheduled at 11:45 on Wednesday morning.  They called and told us to be there by 10:15, but then they called back and told us to get there earlier, so we ended up getting there at 9.  They actually took us right back.  I was placed into the presurgery room, given a gown, my eleventybillionth pregnancy test, and they started a line.  Then they brought back my husband, mom and sister.

A doctor came over from the cancer center and asked if I’d participate in a blind study.  I agreed.  They would take two vials of blood and some tissue samples while I was out.  No problem.

Then Dr. Rao came in.  He hugged me, asked me how I felt, and told me that he was there to take care of this.  Somehow I was put at easy when he came in.  He is really a great doctor.

Next came in anesthesia (my god they were 12), the surgical nurses, and the resident who works with Dr. Rao.  I believe it is a condition of the University of Maryland to be totally hot to work there because they were all gorgeous.  Finally, it was time to take me back.   I remember kissing my mom, sister and husband goodbye, and then they wheeled me down the hallway to the operating room.  They moved me over to the operating table, strapped me down, and that was all she wrote.

When I woke up in PACU, I had a catheter and a bunch of monitors.  I had an 8” incision.  Other than that, I was fairly comfortable.  They finally brought my family down about 6pm.  I had not seen my doctor yet.  My husband looked at me, and started to cry, and that’s when I knew.  It was cancer.  It was worse than what they anticipated.  And my husband was crying.  He never cries.  Ever.

I wanted Bob to spend the night with me, but he couldn’t because they didn’t have a room.  They didn’t move me into a room until 2am.  And like clockwork, they moved me in with an 82 year pain in the ass.  Everything she’d hear them ask me something, she whined, moaned, etc to get attention.  It was ok at first, but after two days I wanted to KILL her.

The residents came in to talk to me the next morning, and they told me what they had found.  My uterus was full of cancer.  My surrounding organs were fine, but the lymph nodes on my right were cancerous.  Those on my left and those leading to major organs were ok.  This means (probably) stage 3.  I cried again.

Dr. Rao finally came to talk to me about all of it.  He said he didn’t want to tell me initially because I’d been through enough (I guess I had).  But he’s going to take “care of me.”  And I believe him.  He is a wonderful oncologist.

They finally released me yesterday.  I had some issues with pain, but if I stay on schedule with my pain pills it is not so bad.  I’m napping, a lot.  And Bob really is the best.  His hugs have never felt so good.  He just keeps looking at me and telling me how very much he loves me.

Funny thing – my night caregiver at the hospital was wonderful.  She couldn’t administer meds, but she made sure I had what I needed, let me cry when I needed, helped me to the bathroom, whatever.  We got to chatting at one point and she asked me where I worked.  When I told her, she said, “Oh, my sister in law works there.”  I said, “Really?  What’s her name?”  Turns out, her sister-in-law is my VP.  I knew there was a reason I loved her.  I’m totally sending her a thank you note.

Keep the prayers coming.  Love you guys.  This is a bump in the road.  I’m going to fight the hell out of this.