8/7/21 Radioactive

The past week and a half has been a whirlwind of emotions, doctors appointments, scans, and treatment planning. 

My first appointment was with the cancer surgeon. Everyone that I possibly know that had ever seen this doctor forewarned me that the surgeon was extremely blunt, may make me cry, and did not sugar coat anything. 

After the initial diagnosis (which I essentially found out via text message when I was getting appointment reminders for upcoming cancer surgeon appointments) my information was minimal. I didn’t know the staging, prognosis, etc. I literally was scared sh*tless, had zero information, no plan (doesn’t work well for me.. I need plans) and felt like I was walking into a dark hole of death.. until I met with Dr. Mai. 

Dr. Mai was a straight shooter…

Me: “Do I likely have the worst type of breast cancer? “

Dr Mai: “Yes”

Me: “Uhm.. Okay, great! Next question…”

But more than anything, Dr. Mai was EXTREMELY knowledgeable. She is clearly a powerhouse of a woman and was rattling off statistics like it was nothing! I left her appointment feeling SO much better, like I had a plan, and really felt like I was in GREAT hands. Also.. she did not make me cry! 🙂

I already knew that I had an amazing army of people behind me.. but everyday I am reminded that there is so much more kindness in this world than I could have ever expected. I wasn’t supposed to meet with my oncologist until 8/6. However, a dear friend of mine contacted a friend, who contacted a friend (who happened to be my oncologist’s nurse) and she asked the oncologist to get me in sooner. My appointment got moved up from, 8/6 to 7/31! 

Dr. Gupta, the captain of my ship, was equally as amazing as Dr. Mai. He listened to every concern I had about my body and outlined a series of plans that I could expect based upon some additional testing that he wanted to run. I left that appointment feeling even better than I did the day before! I had a project plan fully outlined and mitigation plans in place for my concerns that I had expressed. 

The first test result that I was waiting for came back early the following week. It appears that the type of breast cancer that I have is triple negative. In a nutshell that means that the cancer does not feed off of estrogen, progesterone, or the HER2 protein. It’s the worst type of breast cancer to have because there isn’t a targeted therapy for it. However, it is still VERY treatable and curable! PRAISE BE!

The remainder of the week consisted of scans. First up was the MRI. I was fully prepared to have a claustrophobic heart attack, even though you are on your stomach for a breast MRI.  Luckily, they gave me some medication to ensure I didn’t have a freak out in the tube. I told my hubby if they backed me into the machine, I would do much better than if I went in head first. He told me that I most likely would have to go in head first.. but LUCKILY they backed me in, turned on some country music and I did just fine! 

When I walked out of the MRI room… a sweet friend and neighbor of mine was standing in the hallway! She had seen that my oncologist had scheduled a PET scan but that it wasn’t scheduled until the following week. She told me not to get my hopes up but to start eating low sugar/low carb in the event that she could potentially help me get that appointment moved up too! 

The next morning, I got the news that my PET scan was moved up to be 3 days earlier and would be 6 am the following morning. If you know me… you know my patience is basically non-existent. So, these acts of kindness to get this process moving quicker for me means SO much! I am forever grateful! 

The next morning, I arrived at Springfield Clinic so early that the receptionists weren’t even there! The PET scan process was not what I expected. They started an IV for me and injected me with some sort of radioactive glucose. Then they gave me a warm blanket and told me to take a nap for 45 mins (give or take) so my body could absorb the radioactive glucose “stuff”. I don’t know if this is like everywhere but I felt like I was getting first class service at the doctors office! A warm blanket? Dimmed lights? AND.. the chairs were HEATED…like the type of heated seats that are in my car! Seriously- hats off to Springfield Clinic. My 45 minutes in that little room while my body absorbed radioactive material was blissful. 🙂

After that 45 minutes was up, the nurse brought me to a room that had a massive sign on the door that read CAUTION RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL. Jokingly, I asked her if I was the radioactive material and she said YES!!!! It is absolutely amazing how far medicine has come! 

The PET scan was much easier than the MRI. The tube was much wider and much shorter than the MRI machine, much quieter… and… I got another warm blanket to cover up with while I was laying on the table! They scanned me from my “eyes to my thighs”. Apparently, cancer reacts to glucose. When they inject you with this radioactive glucose, it makes everything that is reacting to this glucose light up on the scan! When I arrived at home following the PET scan, my family had the song Radioactive playing! 

The goal of getting the MRI and the PET scans were to double and then triple check that the cancer had not spread. By the end of the day, I had my results! ALL the glory to god.. the cancer seems to be contained in just the breast! 

My last appointment of the week was with the plastic surgeon. In true Nichole fashion, I couldn’t end the week without some sort of mishap. On the way to my doctors appointment, I got pulled over for speeding on the off-ramp of the interstate. I mean.. I was TRYING to slow down but apparently going 68 in a 45 is frowned upon.. even if it is on the off-ramp.

The police officer was very nice. I told him I was on my way to a doctors appointment and told him if he was going to write me a speeding ticket to please do it promptly because I was late for a doctors appointment. After going to his car for a few minutes, he politely returned with my citation and a reminder to renew my drivers license… 🙂 

Silver linings.. these days you get to go to zoom court!

Next up: Echocardiogram, port placement, and the beginning of chemotherapy! 

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