Monday, December 28, 2009

Meeting with Hemotology Oncologist

I have a sheaf of papers to read through and hopefully understand. Mostly it seemed to me the meeting was about internet resources and worst case complications. However, despite all that, I came away feeling reassured that chemo is doable. My first session hasn't been scheduled yet but I expect it to be after the 1st of January. If all goes according to the schedule, I will have a session every 3 weeks totaling 6 sessions. The first session will last 6 hours, the rest should last 3 hours. The herceptin drug will be administered concurrent with the chemo but will continue possibly up to a year.

My meeting with the radiologist is next week on the 5th, and that will be another schedule to keep, though I understand the radiology will be administered after chemo is finished. I also have a physical therapy session scheduled on the 7th.

Enough about medicine and doctors! How about this Florida weather? We've kept our little wood stove going since it was installed. Cary still keeps the TV on, but I'd just as soon just sit and watch the flames as they dance in the stove. Anybody want to come watch the fire with us?

Happy New Year, and don't forget to make at least one New Year's resolution!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

That Dress!

I wore my "lost" dress today to church. Made me feel great. Why do we rely on the outward appearance so much? Have an idea I will learn not to rely on it as time goes by and I continue to adjust to my new "figure".

Cary, Si and I watched "Julie and Julia" this afternoon on pay TV. Some of Julie's remarks about keeping a blog struck home. Projecting into the ether does make one feel rather narcissistic! That's okay, because in the ether I believe there are ears listening with their hearts.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas is Past

Our family get together was on Christmas Eve. Bobbie brought white chili and Mexican cornbread. Sandy brought a pumpkin/ginger snap souffle'. I had made lots of eggnog. All of our children and grandchildren were here except Ana and Olivia, who are celebrating Christmas with their mother in New York. I've talked to Ana a couple of times and she is thrilled with the snow - wants to move up there! Most everyone made it to a Christmas Eve service. I stayed home. I was tired and due to the change of weather, I hadn't felt very well all day. That was kind of a bummer since I had been feeling great all along. There was no pressure on me to do anything, which made the day easier.

Our little wood stove burner has been a real source of comfort for both me and Cary. It's amazing the space it warms in the house.

Our grandson, Jay, gave Sandy a beautiful diamond ring and we expect wedding bells very soon. As a couple, they compliment each other beautifully. So now we can realistically begin to look forward to becoming great grandparents. Not rushing them or anything. LOL!

My sister's biopsy came back positive for ductal carcinoma. They have not checked her lymph nodes yet and we don't know if her cancer is invasive. Please pray her cancer can be managed with a lumpectomy, period. I plan to talk to my doctor about genetic counseling now that there are two of us with cancer.

Cary and I visited Mother yesterday, Christmas Day. That has been our tradition now for 8 years. We had lunch with her and I took a gallon jar of ambrosia to share with everyone on her unit. She was in good spirits and enjoyed her stocking which Katie and Maggie had stuffed with special items for her.

To all our friends who have brought little gifts of food, flowers, cards,e-mails, and called, we thank you all! We are very blessed to have each and every one of you. I would love to hear how all of you celebrated Christmas.

Love to all,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jib Jab from Ana

This is fun and cute. Grand children do add extra touches to life.

A special discovery.

To those of you whom I have not lamented to, I discovered a couple of weeks ago I couldn't find a favorite dress of mine. It's a Jessica Howard, very warm, which I have had for several years. I only wear it once or twice each winter, if I'm lucky, because it is so warm. I wanted to wear it to a special church dinner the first of December. I looked high, I looked low, but couldn't find it. I finally decided I had taken it to the dry cleaners and forgotten to go get it. I was sick about it. In fact, I remember thinking how inappropriate my grief over the loss of the dress was, considering I had weightier matters on my mind.

Anyway, today I was rummaging through my chest of drawers, and there in the bottom was my dress! It's hard to express the elation I felt. It was a gift, truly a gift, to find that dress! The kind of gift that reaffirms that the spirits are out there, working on my behalf, even for something as materialistic as a dress. Actually, it isn't materialistic. That dress made me feel good when I wore it and it was that loss I felt.

Okay, I'm enclosing a photo of the dress. I must admit it doesn't look like much on a hanger.(May I say, it looks a lot better on me?) I can't find a photo of me wearing it, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Like so many things we take for granted, we don't truly appreciate it until it's gone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Care Plan Meeting

Our meeting today wasn't exactly what I expected. I saw Dr. Grobmyer again, but will have to wait for appointments to see the radiologist. I need some PT on my shoulder, so after Christmas I will be visiting a physical therapist.

My cancer is stage 2. I may have shared that already. While I won't know for how long and how often, I do know I will have chemo therapy. That comes first. Then I will have radiology and last but not least, I will be treated with a drug called herceptin. For anyone interested in learning more about the Her2 positive factor, the following link that Lindy found should offer some insight. There are all sorts of websites out there about Her2.

My sister had a needle biopsy done today and I am anxious for her results to come back. I am praying hers are negative. She is 70 years old, 71 in January, and is helping her youngest son make a home for his two children. So, please pray for her.

I participated in our church Christmas music yesterday. We had a "Bluegrass Christmas" with all members who could play an instrument participating. It was fun and we had eggnog in the fellowship hall after the program.

I'm looking forward to a few quiet days through Christmas. No doctor appointments, just family, friends and rest. I wish the same for you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I never realized how difficult photographing a fire is! So, in the event you can't make the image out, that is a cozy fire in our wood burning stove which my son in laws recently installed. It is now one of my greatest sources of tangible comfort. I've asked Cary to allow me to occupy his place at the dining table so I can glance over at the fire while dining. The other seats don't offer this view. He has sat at that place for as long as we've lived here. Think I'm over using my new found power? Well, maybe we'll trade off!

So many kindnesses have come my way. It is very humbling, yet encouraging, to know how many people are concerned for me. All this causes me to reflect on the past, when other members of our community have been ill, or had some sort of concern, and I try to remember if I have been as kind and like minded as I find my neighbors and friends to be. Especially at this time of year when everyone is dashing madly about preparing for Christmas, it amazes me how people take the time to show their love and concern.

I will be able to report later on the care plan. I have a few questions for the doctor. I have tried to study Susan Love's Breast Book and find myself distracted because I want to be doing projects for Christmas also.

Mama Hen decided to rejoin her sisters and "The Sultan" yesterday. I'm glad, because all through that howling storm the other night I thought of her out somewhere sitting alone on her first nest, on eggs long since past reviving.

Linda Gail

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Drainage Tubes are out!

I can't tell you how glad I am those two little tubes are gone that were running out from under my armpit. Now they are HISTORY!

The pathology report showed no other cancerous tumors in the breast. It revealed that two lymph nodes did have cancer. 10 nodes were taken, so that translates to 1/5 of the nodes had cancer.

We have a meeting on Monday with my team to hear what their recommendations for treatment are. They will meet separately before we get there. I expect chemotherapy and perhaps some radiation, though I did receive a small glimmer of hope the radiation might not be necessary. I'm not building on that too much. I'll just wait until Monday.

Lindy and I went out to dinner after the appointment and did a little shopping. We were both tired so didn't do a lot of shopping. When we got home I asked Lindy to help me candle the eggs under the hen that's been faithfully sitting on eggs for 22 days now. Not one of the 9 eggs had a pip in it so we removed them and put her off the nest. She raised some kind of holy cane. I hope she will forget about those eggs and get on with her life. Cause biddies ain't happening this time. Poor Mama Hen.

Love to all
Linda Gail

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everything is A-Okay!

Sorry to be remiss in posting. My sister left yesterday so I'm on my own for the most part today. Cary left today for the hunting woods. He needs the solace. In many ways this has been much harder on him than it has been on me.

Sis left me with lots of individual packets of home made soup, different kinds, so I'm all fixed up on that score. Someone else brought tons of meat, cold slaw and beans. Yum!

I am beginning to receive visitors. Just call ahead and we'll work out a time. I've been spending some time reading, enjoying the lights of Christmas and taking photos as you will see. As a friend recently pointed out, it is a good time to be recovering with the Christmas lights to cheer me. I agree!

I hope the Spirit of Christmas is alive in your hearts. It is a blessed time of year!

Mark with Santa

Christmas Bouquets

Lights & Scenes

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Playin cards and winning!

My sister, Yvonne, and her husband, David, are here. We just played a game of shanghai rummy and I won! I only had to remind them two or three times I have cancer! It works like a charm! :>)

I have felt very well today. Didn't feel the need of a nap, though I did rest for a while.

We have been running the AC while my son-in-laws have installed a wood burning stove. Does that make any sense at all? I'm looking forward to a cool spell when I can sit and just watch the fire. Sis brought me a raft of books to read, so it could stay cold for a while and I wouldn't mind.

I still have the drainage ports but hope to have them removed this week. Lindy and Katie take turns measuring the drainage and taking my temperature. They are both very loving and fun to be with.

Love to all,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home Again

December 12, 2009

Well, they won't even let you lay up in the hospital and receive visitors like royalty anymore. I spent the night of my surgery in the hospital and was released to come home by noon yesterday!

I am doing very well. I walked around the hospital some the night of my surgery and have kept moving ever since. When I got home yesterday, however, I crawled in my bed and snoozed all afternoon. One thing, it was MY bed, and the weather was overcast making it a perfect day to sleep. Also, I didn't sleep well in the hospital. The anesthesia made me so sick, I kept waking up.

I am sore, but have not been in real pain. I took a tylenol last night and slept all night except to get up once. My two local daughters, Lindy and Katie, are taking turns emptying the drainage ports. We have to measure the fluid and when it has subsided to a certain amount in a 24 hour period, I will return to the doctor to have them removed.

We won't know what my treatment plan is until all the pathology reports come back and the team handling my case get together to decide what they recommend. I expect chemotherapy since the cancer had made it to my lymph nodes. Other than that, I don't know what else they will recommend.

Your prayers have held me up, dear ones. I have felt elevated beyond the reach of worry and fear. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person availeth much." That's in James somewhere, I think. I had the confidence I could come through the surgery well, and I did. Now I need confidence for whatever is ahead of us. This is the harder part of cure and recovery - the treatment plan. So please pray that I will be strong enough to face this, too, with confidence.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Mom is resting comfortably at home. I can only surmise at how she is, as I haven't seen her yet. What I heard is that she was up and walking around this morning! I can hardly imagine that after her surgery yesterday. I guess I should have known that Mom would be resilient.

She is still resting and we will post when she is ready to take calls or visits. We feel so blessed at the prayers, well-wishes, calls and cards of so many of you. Please keep praying. God is good and faithful to hear the fervent prayers of the righteous. And if you don't think you are righteous, remember the Cross. He died once for all of our sins and you don't have to hang your head anymore!

Enough with the sermons, more information later.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Surgery

Hello all. This is Linda Gail's daughter, Lindy. Mom asked me to share news with you of her surgery today.

First, we ask folks to hold off on phone calls and visits for the next few days... We'll keep you posted on everything and will let you know, via this blog, when mom and dad feel ready to take callers. That doesn't mean mom and dad don't appreciate your outpouring of love. Quite the contrary, they take great strength from it. We all do.

Mom, dad and I arrived at Shands this morning for mom's 7:30 appt for a second attempt to identify her sentinel node. With another injection of dye in a different location, the sentinel node was identified, and we were escorted from the CT clinic to the new Cancer Center, which is very beautiful and modern.

Mom was admitted into pre-op at 9:30, and Dad, Barbara Ann, Pastor Lane and I were allowed to come into the pre-op room to visit and pray with her before surgery. I don't know which friend it was who told her this, but mom took great pleasure in sharing her friend's visualization for mom of a fierce angel standing over her with a sword, "yes, a sword," held high in his hand. The angel said, "Cancer fears me!" She loved that image, and took strength from thinking about it. Mom also shared with us the verse she chose for her surgery: Psalms 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." She loves the imagery of that too.

Mom was wheeled away to surgery at 10:38 a.m. with a smile of encouragement on her face for the people she knows fear for her. But she was safe in the shadow of the Almighty, and took great strength from the mighty outpouring of love from her friends and family leading up to that moment.

Dad, Katie and Mark, Bobbie, Pastor Lane, Donna Weiseman and I sat in the waiting area, waiting for news of the surgery's outcome, while many, many people called dad and mom's cell phones, anxious for news. That finally came from Dr. Grobmyer, mom's world-class surgeon, at 1:30, immediately following the conclusion of mom's surgery. He said mom had done well during her surgery and was in recovery. He said he removed all the breast tissue in the breast cavity to make sure he got everything out, and that mom was recovering just as he'd expected. That was the good news.

The bad news is that the sentinel node came back positive for cancer cells, so he removed the lymph nodes under her arm. The lymphs came out in a mass with much connective tissue, and he wasn't able to visualize anything, but he palpated the tissue and one of the lymphs felt hard. He feels that one may also be positive. It and the removed breast tissue will be examined by the pathologist -- the breast tissue to make sure all the margins are clear of cancer to verify nothing bad was left behind, and the lymph for cancer cells. Once that is completed, the results of which they will have by Tuesday, he and his team will map out a plan for follow up treatment, which he believes is likely to include radiation and chemotherapy.

I realize this was not the outcome we all hoped to have, but I don't think it is unusual. Many, many breast cancer survivors have had this exact situation and have survived with great outcomes and excellent expectations of long futures. It's just going to be more difficult path with uncomfortable treatments to reach that goal. Mom's been dreading chemo, but she's also a brave and practical woman, and ready to do what she must, especially with that angel standing over her with sword drawn.

We were finally able to see mom at 4 this evening, by which time she'd been settled in her private room and was awake, though a little groggy and nauseated from the anesthesia. Mom's surgeon, surgical residents and nurses at Shands are outstanding, and we all feel incredibly confident in their expertise, knowledge and concern for Mom. We're expecting that mom can come home tomorrow, but we'll play that by ear.

Mom has always been my role model... When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be beautiful, like her. When I was a young mother, I drew on my own experiences of being parented, intuitively knowing by her example when to be tender, when to be tough. Now, as a middle-aged woman, I know how to face the frightening unknown with great strength and bravery, because I've seen her do it. She is amazing.

So, keep praying for her and for dad and for our family. We love you and will keep the information flowing.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pre-op appointments

Cary and I started today by being at Shands by 9:30 a.m. The first part of the day went very well, lab work, ekg, interview with anesthesiologist, chest x-ray, etc.

The afternoon appointment was with the nuclear medicine department. They injected a radio active dye near the biopsy site and started taking pictures of it to see where the sentinel node is. The dye didn't move so I was asked to do some exercises, rubbing the tissue, etc. It still wouldn't move into place. Finally, at about 4:30 p.m. I was told I would have to report to Shands at 7:30 a.m. in the morning to have it checked again before surgery. Still no time scheduled for the surgery.

So, my specific prayer request tonight is that the dye find it's way to the sentinel node in order for Dr. Grobmyer and his team to find it easily. The plan is that during surgery the sentinel node will be biopsied and tested while I am still under. If the cancer has made it to the sentinel node, then they will remove that node and possibly others.

A friend of mine sent me the following message tonight. I find the image very comforting and will hold it in my mind as I fall to sleep. She said,

"I use images to help send my hopes and wishes to people whom I care about when they are in need of a little support.

My image for you is a glorious angel with flashing eyes and a big sword. Yes, a sword, because this is no wimpy little cherub. This angel is a force to be reckoned with, a guardian worthy of a beautiful petite woman who has more power and determination and will than most linebackers. This is an angel who states, calmly and with clarity… “CANCER FEARS ME!”

Another friend sent me a note saying she felt the 91st Psalm was written for me. Actually many of the passages in Psalm 91 refer directly to Christ, even so, if we be in Christ, we are one with Him, so I believe this Psalm certainly applies to me and all those found in Christ. I had circled the first verse some time previously. I shared this on face book, so please overlook me repeating it. Vs. 1 "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Dwelling in His shadow most assuredly means that He is covering me! This image also will be with me as I go to sleep tonight and tomorrow before surgery.

Well, it's a little glass of red wine and early to bed for me tonight. Hopefully Lindy or Katie will be able to post something tomorrow night.

Love to all.
Linda Gail

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Last Fling before Surgery

Thanks to Laurel and Frank for hosting our book club Christmas Party. We had a great time together. I enjoyed dressing tonight - I guess we take dressing for granted. But it gave me cause to savor the experience, knowing my body won't ever be the same. If you think about it, our bodies change all the time. I certainly don't have my 16 year old body anymore, nor my 8 year old body, etc. I guess it's just the thought of losing a part of my body that evokes these feelings of how great it is to dress up for a party and feel good.

Hope no one feels I'm being morose. Just thinking out loud. Don't take anything for granted. Enjoy what you have while you have it.


Tomorrow I meet with the anesthesiologist and the nuclear medicine clinic for preoperative consultation and procedures. The nuclear medicine clinic will inject a dye to help the doctor locate the sentinel node. The sentinel node is called the "gate keeper" of the lymph nodes and is considered the best place to check to see if the cancer has spread beyond the breast area. I have copied a short piece about the sentinel node below.

Key Points

* A sentinel lymph node (SLN) is the first lymph node(s) to which cancer cells are likely to spread from the primary tumor. Cancer cells may appear in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes.
* SLN biopsy can be used to help determine the extent or stage of cancer.
* Because SLN biopsy involves the removal of fewer lymph nodes than standard lymph node removal procedures, the potential for side effects is lower.

I still don't have the pathology reports on two other tests that have been performed from the biopsy. These, as well as the report on the SLN, will determine the stage of the cancer and the treatment plan after surgery.

Bomber Hats are the Bomb

Okay, enough about bomber hats. Just wanted you to see a photo of them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bomber Hats

Our day together was pretty successful. Both girls now have really cute bomber hats. They are made from the wool sweaters we felted and are lined with them also, which makes them warm enough to make it through a real northeaster comfortably. How often they will wear them here in sunny Florida is anyone's guess. I expect they will both wear them to school at least one day to show them off. It was a good experience, though, and instructive in how to recycle and use something that perhaps had been discarded.

I have lost the keyboard on my pc so am writing from my laptop. If I hadn't already downloaded the picture I took of the girls in their hats, I would load it for you all to see. Perhaps if I get time later I can load them onto a thumb drive and put at least one photo up.

Today is Sunday. I wish each of you a restful, peaceful day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Plans for Tomorrow

While I was on vacation I bought wool sweaters at thrift shops to bring home and felt for projects to do with my grand daughters. We felted the sweaters weeks ago and hopefully will complete a project tomorrow. The girls want to make bomber hats. They are really cute and I hope we'll have time to make all three of them a hat. I'd like to make smaller ones for Mark and Olivia, but will just have to wait and see how it goes.

Anyone want to come help?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friends, Near and Far

Earlier this week a friend wrote from Jerusalem offering to light candles for me in the Church of the Sepulcher. To my knowledge no one has ever lit candles for me before, much less in the Holy City where the Light of the World offered Himself so light would shine through all of us! Thank you, dear Rich, for this beautiful gift!

Calls, cards, and e-mails are coming daily with friends pledging their support in their thoughts and prayers.

My McIntosh Undercover book club friends brought me Gregg Mortensen's new book on his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His book, "Three Cups of Tea" changed my conception of what one person can do to change the world. I recommend it to anyone who truly wants to gain a better understanding of how to combat the problems that exist in the Near East and our western mindset.

Tonight my dear yoggi friends offered deep meditation and healing life forces toward me as part of our yoga class. This group of women have truly been a source of encouragement for me in building my own physical and spiritual strength. Together our energies nourish each other and that energy goes with us when we leave class.

We all have close friends who have endured losses many more times difficult than what I am facing. Let us pray for them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Surgery Date

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Surgery Date

I have just talked with Dr. Grobmyer. He has talked with the radiologist who did my MRI yesterday. The right breast is not involved. His recommendation was to go ahead with the primary surgery which is to remove my left breast. I was considering having reconstruction done at the same time as the mastectomy, and was in a real state of agitation trying to decide whether that was the right thing to do and what type of reconstruction should I have, etc. etc. I was reading Dr.Susan Love's Breast Book and thinking none of the options appealed to me.

Dr. G does these surgeries all the time. He knows what he is doing. I believe when you have an expert on something you must allow that expert to guide you through the process. One good thing about not having any reconstruction done is that it will give me time to decide whether I really want it or not. The methods I would consider for reconstruction would involve taking tissue from my back or abdomen which would weaken either of them. I have worked awfully hard to build up my core strength and don't want to compromise that. surgery date is a week from Thursday, December 10th. I do plan to talk to the plastic surgeon just for my own information, but I am going ahead with the surgery as planned.

The Pink Glove Dance

You will have to copy and paste this to your browser. It's a little long, over 3 minutes, but if you get into the mood of it and enjoy the music as I did, it's fun and makes you want to get up and dance with them!

daisy lady said...I placed this post last night under comments. Sorry, I just haven't gotten the hang of this blogging thing yet!

Yesterday we met with Dr. Stephen Grobmyer, the breast specialist at the new Shands Cancer Center. He will be looking at all my imaging results, including an MRI I had today, plus the slides with tissue from the biopsy will be examined by the Cancer Center's pathologist. Basically the immediate prognosis is the same - I will have a mastectomy. Where it might diverge from my previous recommendations from my biopsy surgeon is that a Signal node biopsy will be done at the time of surgery which will determine what treatment I receive after surgery. Also, they will examine the right breast thoroughly to determine whether it may be involved also. From my conversation with Dr. G and his staff I don't feel the "fear" factor and feel we have plenty of time to make informed decisions. If only the left breast is involved then I must decide whether to have reconstruction at the time of surgery. I feel right now that I will probably opt for that. On the other hand, if both breasts are involved, I will probably opt not to have reconstructive surgery. Hey! I was a young person through the hippy generation and still chafe at having to wear a brassiere! Just think of the money I will save not having to buy one of those damned contraptions ever again! Is that too much information? :>) I am confident that a competent, measured assessment will be made on my behalf by Dr. G and his associates and feel comfortable placing myself in their care. The cancer has not been staged yet and we are still waiting for two numbers to come in from pathology. One is the Her2 and the other the hormonal response test.