About a month ago, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've created this group as a clearing house of information and ideas regarding Kate's progress in her fight against breast cancer.
We are truly grateful for all our caring friends and want to keep everyone up to date on what's going on. However,it can be a little daunting to make sure that all of our friends are caught up on where she's at, so I decided it would be a good idea to just update in one place. Everything is developing so quickly that it's hard to answer everyone's questions, so hopefully this will be a good resource for our friends to check in and see how things are going.
I'm also fielding some of the discussion to give Kate a break from having to think her situation all the time. This doesn't mean she doesn't want to hear from everyone, because she does. The warm wishes and good energy's really been incredible. It. just helps cut down on the repetition.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kate's cancer III

Here's the update:
Good news and bad.
The bad is a reiteration, so it's not really news. Kate will have to have chemo as they found cells in her lymph system which means they broke away from the original site. Again, they not metastatic, so right now they pose no immediate threat, but without the chemo to kill 'em, they could either metastasize or lodge somewhere and grow as a breast cancer tumor at that location.
I've done a bit of research, and in places they're trying cold helmets just prior and for a couple hours after being given chemo to help patients keep their hair. It's not written in stone that one will lose their hair, but I think it better to prepare for the eventuality and be surprised if it doesn't happen.
Personally, I don't think it will be a major shock if Kate loses the hair on her head, but the eyebrows and eyelashes might take a little getting used to. However, as long as I can keep seeing her big blue eyes, I'm a happy man.
Here's the good news:
Kate's going to have another lumpectomy. There were 2 discrete spots of cancer remaining after her first surgery, which we were certain meant a mastectomy. We were quite prepared for that when we met with her surgeon last Wednesday, but during that conversation she introduced the possibility of another lumpectomy. She said she had to check the slides to see if she thought she could do it.
Check the slides?!?! You mean you haven't looked yet. For us, we want everything to happen yesterday. Kate can't get to treatment soon enough. So after waiting a couple days (we expected a call the following day, but it didn't come 'til Friday afternoon) we got the word that her surgeon, Dr. Gadd, was confident she could get the remaining little bits.
If Kate were to have a mastectomy, again she would have to have reconstructive surgery right away or she wouldn't be able to have it at all because she's so slim and petite. And with the reconstruction, there's a risk that the radiation therapy could damage the implant and cause complications.

On a more personal note, this thing definitely makes one moodier. Some days I'm just waiting for someone to step out of line, because I know this is not their fault, no one is too blame really, but I'm loaded for bear and want an excuse to unload. That's tempering in the past week or so, but still a pretty typical response I guess. My patience is a lot thinner and I'm willing to be a bit snippy if someone deserves it. I'm taking a bit of a holiday from being the reasonable guy.
I also feel bad and guilty that sometimes I get tired of thinking about Kate's cancer. I resent the amount of attention Kate's cancer gets.
Don't get me wrong, I don't resent Kate getting attention, I resent Kate's cancer getting attention. I'm always happy to do for Kate, to be there at every turn, to carry the load but there are the occasional time when I think, "You know, give it a rest. Let's go live while there's some non-Kate's cancer time."
It's a little hard to go do stuff that moves us forward. It's a bit all consuming and there's a tendency to want to put everything on hold until the end of the treatments. We have to keep reminding ourselves that s#$t happens and we have to make the most of our time when we can.
I'm also super vigilant about trying to keep Kate from feeling sorry for herself or getting in too much of a funk. Maybe a little over protective of this. It's such a fine balance trying to be supportive and encouraging her to have her emotions, and making sure she doesn't wallow in self-pity (not that she's even coming close to that, but knowing how easy it could be for me to feel sorry for myself, I project).
Fortunately, our communication is great so all these things are out in the open where we can face them together as always.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kate's Cancer II

Just the Facts
I'm working on the lead up to where we're at now, but I'll spare everyone the narrative for now and tell you where we're at:
Kate's cancer is Invasive Ductile Carcinoma in her right breast, non-genetic based, Estrogen Response Positive. The tumor was right at about 1 in or 22mm. She has had a lumpectomy which required day surgery so far, but it looks as if there is two little arms of the thing left which we're waiting to hear if she'll now need a mastectomy.
They found some cells in her sentinel lymph node near the site which means that some cells have broken away. These cells are not metastatic, which is very good news. However, finding them elsewhere means she will have to have 8 weeks of bi-weekly chemo and will probably lose her hair (it'll grow back).
If she needs a mastectomy, she has to decide weather she will have reconstructive surgery. If she doesn't now, she probably won't be able to in the future. She will have 6 weeks of radiation after the chemo which in a fraction of patients can have complications with saline implants.
She was quite worried that she would have to have more lymph nodes removed, putting her at risk for stiffness and pain in the area and her arm known as lymphedema. This could have hindered her work as a photographer. However, now that she's guaranteed to be receiving chemo, they do not need to take anymore lymphs.
After all is said and done, 6-8 months and she'll be done with this BS.
Kate's currently looking for a cool hat.

Kate's Cancer - I

A quick background
About a month ago, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. For a few years there had been an anomaly showing up in her mammograms causing her to have to go back for a second screening every time, but it was very small and disregarded. At this time we don't know if it was or wasn't the cancer.
In late June of 2011 she went in for a second exam and this time after studying the results they said they wanted to do a biopsy. There was a mass and they wanted to take a closer look. Kate had delayed by 6 months her screening this year to which she's feeling bad that she didn't go on time, but I reminded her that we don't know when it was big enough to bent able to be detected. For all we know, it might have been too small to be seen if she went her normal time of the year in which case it would have had a year and not 6 mohs to grow.
Kate went in for the biopsy and it came back positive for breast cancer. I got home from work and she told me. My guts dropped.