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.