Not AGAIN!

You may remember my post from a back in December when I was passing the time while waiting to get in to see Dr Schmidt.  I was actually sitting down the hall from his office, outside the boutique in a little area where there are computers, and a reception desk.  I’m not even sure what the reception desk is for, but I think they may do some kind of counseling down there or something. 

 As I’m sitting there writing, all of a sudden I hear footsteps coming around the corner, and then an agitated voice says, “The breast model is missing—AGAIN.”  Heh heh.  So, me being me, I’m thinking, “Well, where did she run off to this time?!”  I figure the breast model must be like a hand model or something, only with her around, the doctor can talk about where incisions will be, etc. without the patient having to suffer the discomfort of being half naked.  Now, I guess they only have to suffer the discomfort of being in a room with someone else who’s half naked.

 The voice and the receptionist then proceed to have a conversation in which they lament their lack of ability when it comes to keeping track of breast models.  Seems they’re running away left and right.  I guess being a breast model must not pay very well.  Or maybe they just get cold.

 At one point, I could have sworn I heard the receptionist ask the mysterious voice if she checked in the closet by the Depends.  I guess that’s where breast models hang out.  When they’re not modeling.  Or something.  But apparently the breast model was nowhere to be found.  Breast models do in fact, possess both great speed and great stealth.  Have you ever seen one?  No you haven’t, because they’re so doggone stealthy like that. 

 I don’t know if they ever found the breast model or not, as I was soon called back to Dr Schmidt’s office.  But as much trouble as they seem to have keeping track of her, I’m wondering if the breast model is our old friend Lacey Baum.

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Misty Watercolor Memories

Occasionally, I blog out of sheer boredom.  This usually happens when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office.  Like today.  Actually, I’m not even at Dr Schmidt’s office.  It’s down the hall.  And it’s full.  Totally full.  That’s okay though.  There are no computers in there.  Instead, there is a TV that’s not always broadcasting something inane, but sometimes is.  I prefer to avoid that if possible.  So here I am.

The computers are located next to the boutique.  You remember the boutique, right?  It’s where I got to try on my Aunt Phyllis’s hair before ultimately deciding I didn’t want a wig. 

The boutique is also where I first met The Foob.   It was like something straight out of an episode of The Young and the Breastless.  There I was…looking for a boob to replace the one I’d lost.  Oh, not a permanent boob.  You know, just a rebound boob.  And there he was—all flesh colored, and triangular, and French.  I knew as soon as I saw him that I must take him home.  Because, without him, my cup would be empty. 

For a while, we went everywhere together, he and I.  I took him mushroom hunting, and he took me to Cirque du Soleil.  Eventually, however, something began to come between us.  Indeed, it was my expander.  And while we continued on, trying to ignore the obvious signs, in the end we had to admit that it wasn’t going to work.

Tasty Thursday

Went to see Dr Schmidt the other day.  Of course, I’d already had my official post-op check-up back in February when my sutures were taken out, but because I coordinated that with a visit to Dr B it was on a day that Dr Schmidt wasn’t actually in the office.  So, when the nurse called me back, she said, “Okay, refresh my memory…what are we doing today?”  Apparently most people only come see the doctor when they’re told, rather than telling the doctor they want to come see them, which is what I’d done.  I explained that since I hadn’t actually talked to him since I got my surgery results, I wanted to discuss reconstruction.  When Dr Schmidt came in, I explained to him that I’d decided I didn’t like the idea of the latissmus dorsi flap reconstruction because I didn’t want to lose the muscle in my back.  I told him that I was seriously considering DIEP reconstruction, which is the one where they make a new boob from your gut fat.  I told him that Dr Haerr had said I could have reconstructive surgery as early as June, and so I wanted to get the ball rolling now.

Dr Schmidt is so cool.  Gotta love him.  He told me his concerns about the DIEP surgery—mainly that it’s a 10 hour procedure as opposed to a 2 hour procedure, with makes it inherently more risky.  But he also added that it gives the best cosmetic result. Then he said, “We’ve got you scheduled for another mammogram in June.  In between now and then, do your research.”  Then he added, “I’m going to refer you to a local plastic surgeon, because your skin looks really loose, and I think they might be able to do a tissue expander and implant.”  Believe it or not, loose skin is a good thing in this case.

Keep in mind that the tissue expander was my original preference because it’s the least invasive option, but as a general rule it isn’t done after radiation.  Dr Schmidt continued, “Talk to the surgeon about doing a tissue expander and see what she says.  Now, when she sees you’ve had radiation she’ll probably immediately say LD flap, but ask her about the tissue expander.  If it ends up not working, you haven’t lost anything and you can pursue whatever method you like.”

It never fails.  Whenever I go to see Dr Schmidt, I never hear what I expect to hear.  I’m just thankful that this time it was GOOD news.  So, I’ll be meeting with a plastic surgeon in a few weeks.  I’ll keep you posted. 

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Okay all you BC survivors out there.  You’ve got a little less than a week left to send me your stories of the most insensitive comments you’ve received.  (See original post HERE) Deadline is March 18th.  

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I’ve decided to start a new tradition here at In The Pink.  Those of you who know me in real life, know how much I love to cook.  And not only that, but I love to talk about cooking.  So, from here on out, each Thursday shall be known as Tasty Thursday.  On Tasty Thursdays I’ll post something food related.  Maybe a recipe.  Or a story about food.  Maybe my Ode to Mayonnaise.  This week, I’ll kick off Tasty Thursday with a recipe I made recently that was very, very yum.  This one comes from the April issue of La Cucina Italiana. 

Portafogli Imbottiti

1 lb pork loin

2 oz pancetta, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

finely chopped parsley

mozzarella cheese

flour

olive oil

¼ c white wine

1 Tbs tomato puree

½ c chicken broth

1 Tbs lemon zest

portafogliCut pork widthwise into four slices and butterfly each slice to create a pouch.  Open each pouch and pound both sides.  Combine the pancetta, garlic, and a bit of parsley, and place inside each pouch, then top with mozzarella.  Close the pouch, and gently pound edges to seal.  Lightly flour pouches.  Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat.  Brown pouches until browned on both sides.  Transfer to plate. Pour off and discard any excess fat from the pan.  Add wine, puree, and broth.  Bring to a boil and return meat to the pan.  Add 2 Tbs finely chopped parsley and lemon zest.  Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate, drizzle with sauce and serve.

Hot Flash Rage

Wooooooo Hooooo! The genetic test results came back negative for both breast cancer genes. Praise God! That’s good news not only for me, but also for Mini Me, Garlic & Bagel. Aside from the obvious good news, I’m just thankful that I don’t have that hanging over my head anymore. One of the most stressful parts of this whole deal is all the waiting involved.*********************************

We met with Dr Schmidt yesterday and I got a date for my surgery: October 9th. They tried to give me October 2nd, but I had them push it out a week so I could do the Race for the Cure. Sometimes I think Dr Schmidt doesn’t quite know what to think of me. Keep in mind that the vast majority of his patients are at least old enough to be my mom, if not my grandma. Most of them aren’t asking questions like, “Hey, can I go to the Mellencamp concert a couple weeks after surgery?” Although he told me no firmly, but nicely, the expression on his face told me that what he really wanted to say was, “Are you smokin’ crack?! No, you can’t take your freshly stapled together self into a crowd of 7000+ people! Sheesh!”

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Remember how I said that I was on the verge of an episode of hot flash rage? Well, it almost happened in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Because Dr Schmidt is The Man when it comes to breast cancer, he’s got about 652,000 patients, at least half of which can be found in the waiting room on a given Monday or Thursday. This means that you’re pretty much guaranteed a substantial wait—anyone who’s been there more than once ought to know this is the case. I don’t mind because A) he’s the best and B) I know that part of the reason the wait is long is that new patients who have not yet been diagnosed are worked into the schedule ASAP. It wasn’t so long ago that I was one of those, and I’m thankful I didn’t have to wait weeks to get in to see him.

So, when we walked into the waiting room and it was almost completely full, we knew we were going to be there for a while. The seats we chose were back to back with a couple of elderly ladies. For the next 40 minutes we heard a running commentary about how long they were having to wait. Oh, there were a few little asides thrown in there, but for the most part it was, “Well! Those people came in after we did…I can’t believe how long we’ve been sitting here…I think they’re messed up back there…blah, blah, gripe, gripe, blah, blah.” Both went up to gripe at the girl behind the desk and asked when they’d be called. It was all I could do not to turn around and say, “You know, I WISH that the length of my wait here, and the fact that I might miss seeing Alex Trebek tonight were the only things I had to worry about!” Grrr!

The waiting room was so much more peaceful once they did finally get called in.

 

Processing

You’re probably all wondering where I’ve been.

Well, I’ve been processing. I’ve been mentally processing the information from my meeting with Dr Schmidt last Thursday, as well as processing items that I’m canning here at home.

First, about the medical stuff…I knew I was going to require another surgery, specifically a mastectomy on the left side. While that doesn’t thrill me, I’d pretty much dealt with it. Originally, Dr Schmidt had said his plan would be to do immediate reconstruction. That, however, was before my last surgery. Because he couldn’t get clear margins, and because of that second cancer spot on the opposite side of the breast, he now wants me to do radiation following the mastectomy. That means I can’t have immediate reconstruction. Just call me The Unaboober. Go ahead and laugh, you know it’s funny.

Also, because irradiated skin and tissue don’t stretch well, I won’t be able to have the relatively quick & easy procedure where a little inflatable tissue expander is placed under the chest muscle and gradually stretched to accommodate an implant. Oh no…that would be way to simple now wouldn’t it? You know what I always say: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth going over the top with. So, in keeping with that motto (what was I thinking when I picked that one, anyway?) I’ll now get to have a reconstruction procedure which involves taking muscle, fat and skin from my back, detaching it on one end, wrapping it around and attaching it to my chest to form a nice little built-in purse to hold an implant. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Now you understand why it’s taken me the better part of a week to process all that.

Okay, so on to the canning. I got this watermelon that was about the size of a school bus the other day, and decided to try making watermelon rind pickles. It was either that or add on to the house with the leftover rind, but I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get paint to stick to the inside of it. The thought of white walls was too much to bear, so I made pickles instead. I’m not a big fan of food coloring, but after the pickles sat overnight they looked more like pickled compost than anything edible, so I added green to try to make them look a little more like food. Now they look like pickled leprechauns.
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If you read my post of August 8th about wanting to get my head signed by Tony Dungy (and if you haven’t, you need to go back and read it—consider it prerequisite to reading the next couple of paragraphs) you know that I was unsuccessful in my quest. However, my good friend Susie—famous for her role in the Rumble at the Relay (see my entry from April 12th)—appeared on my doorstep Friday afternoon fresh from Colts Camp with a copy of Dungy’s book signed as follows:

To Moody,
Keep your eyes on the Lord
Romans 8:28
Tony Dungy

She had kept Mini Me for me while I had my appointment with Dr Schmidt, so when I picked Mini Me up Thursday night I told Susie about all my new information. She thought I could use a little pick-me-up, so she got the book and had it signed. Does Susie rock or what?

Yo MUGA

There’s something funny about saying you need a MUGA scan. Maybe it’s because it sounds like something you might expect late at night in Central Park. Or maybe it’s because it makes you remember all those yo mama jokes you used to know. Yo MUGA so ugly, she made an onion cry. Yo MUGA so skinny, she hula hoops with a Cheerio. In my case, is was more like, Yo MUGA so short, she models for trophies. Seriously, I think it took longer for them to set the IV than it did to do the actual scan. Short, easy, relatively pain-free. Word to your MUGA…

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On Wednesday, I had to run up to Dr Schmidt’s office and have my sutures removed. While I was in the building, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to visit the boutique. The boutique has all manner of breast cancer accessories, like wigs, fake boobs, bathing suits for you and your fake boobs, hats, scarves, etc. For the fun of it, I decided to try on wigs. Now, the funny thing here is that I’d just about decided not to get a wig, because I was getting so stinkin’ tired of be talked to about wigs. Really, when you’re facing a mastectomy, temporarily losing your HAIR is the least of your concerns. But, as I said, curiosity got the best of me, so I visited the wigs. Of course, there were NO curly wigs. Apparently no one has curly hair but me. And, there were no long wigs, except for one that was platinum blonde. I did however get to try on the hairdos of some of my family members. Particularly disturbing was trying on my Aunt Phyllis’s hair—not because it’s bad hair, but because I LOOKED JUST LIKE HER! Very strange for me indeed. One that I did not try on was the skullet. Made to wear with a hat, it only had hair hanging down on the sides, with just straps across the top. I don’t know who would think this was a great idea because in my world it would just be a recipe for disaster. I’m thinking I’d rather just be bald than be walking around with my fake hair, and have a gust of wind snatch my hat off to reveal Gallagher’s hairdo. If there had been a free Sledge-O-Matic to go with it, I might have reconsidered.

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I will be starting chemo on Tuesday. In anticipation of feeling crummy, and because I’ve been running around so much that housework has fallen by the wayside, I’ve been trying to catch up before my treatment starts. Preparing for chemo is a whole lot like getting ready to go on vacation: I’m trying to get the laundry caught up, trying to figure out what I want to take with me…except that when I go on vacation, I’m usually not so concerned about making sure the toilet is spotless in case I end up with my head in it. I hope it’s not *that* bad, but I’d rather scrub that toilet now then regret my slothfulness later. Thanks for the continued prayers and encouragement. I don’t post every day because I don’t always have something to say, or I’m gone, and also because sometimes I’m just tired of talking/writing about it and I just want to do my normal life thing as much as possible. But I do check my comments often and really appreciate your posts.

Making Lemonade

It’s amazing how quickly the mind dumps its old standards for new ones when you’re dealing with cancer. When I started this whole deal, my very first thought was, “I’ve got to write down my recipes” because at that time I was just sure I was going to die. Then, as I became more educated, I wasn’t really worried about dying, but I *was* stressing about losing my hair. I said, “I hope it’s not actually cancer, because I really don’t think I can pull off the whole bald thing.” (I’m vain, I know) Then, when I found out it was indeed cancer I changed my tune yet again, “I can do lumpectomy, take chemo, be bald, do radiation…but I cannot handle having a mastectomy.”

As you guys know, I had surgery last Wednesday. Dr. Schmidt called Tuesday night while we were at Mini Me’s concert, so we missed his call. Wednesday, Tana, the nurse at Dr. Schmidt’s office who takes care of me, called and said that the doctor was in surgery but wanted her to call and let me know that the margins (from the original site) are involved. I asked about the other two spots he’d removed, but she didn’t know anything because he still had my chart. I set up an appointment for Thursday at 4:50 to talk to Dr Schmidt.

When she told me that, I knew he’d tell me it was time for a mastectomy on that left side. I spent Wednesday in shut-down mode, not really even wanting to talk to anyone about it. By today, I’d come to terms with the situation a little better, and mentally prepared myself to actually go hear the bad news. The drag of it, I thought (other than the obvious) was that I’d be having a major surgery that would seriously put a cramp in my summer fun. No swimming allowed when one has incisions and drainage tubes.

So, I went to the doctor tonight and found out that not only were the margins bad, but the other spot on the left was also cancer. Okay, guaranteed mastectomy. I knew that. The spot on the right is a “pre-cancer” area which increases the likihood that I’d have cancer there later. Great—now he’s going to want to take both sides, I thought. But, he said that he didn’t intend to go that route. Instead, he’s having me start chemo right away. No surgery for at least 3 months.

I was strangely happy about this—like I said, it’s amazing how quickly the mind dumps its old standards for new. First, I don’t have to have surgery right away, which is beneficial for a couple of reasons. A) I have plenty of time to decide how I want my reconstruction done and don’t have to make any rushed decisions, B) I won’t have those pesky incisions & drains to keep me from enjoying the summer—as much as a chemo patient can. Also, I get to keep my original body parts for a little longer. And, Mini Me is finishing up with school, so I won’t have to worry about that while my butt is dragging from chemo.

Keep the prayers coming. I’ll be meeting with an oncologist early next week, and will have to do some testing before treatment begins. Probably within two weeks I’ll be starting chemo.