Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Two weeks since surgery

This week I met with Dr. Vic, my radiation oncologist. Can I just say that he is so smart! Actually, I just have to take a moment to be in complete awe of doctors...period. It's hard to even express how incredibly smart doctors are. Before my surgery I had some procedure where a doctor was looking at all my blood vessels, and maybe it was the Valium, but I just kept thinking WOW, these people are just so amazing. Meeting my husband as he began medical school gave me the opportunity to see just how much work, how much studying, how much passion goes into being a doctor. And of course all doctors aren't perfect, and everyone has had different experiences, but I will forever be in complete debt to doctors and have nothing but honor for them.

So much has happened this week, so this post might be rather long.

As I mentioned, my husband and I met with my radiation oncologist early this week. Besides being amazingly smart, Dr. Vic is also incredibly kind and explains things so well to me (but as usual, don't expect me to reiterate information with any kind of medical accuracy or flair!). He was so apologetic about the cancer being found in my brain. I was joking with him to lighten the mood, "Doctor Vic, this wasn't supposed to happen. I'm supposed to be all done with this stuff." (The Zoloft I'm taking actually is working quite well). There's no need to be all sad about it. Let's just figure out what to do about it. Apparently it's really good that I am so ignorant to all the medical stuff that's happening. It's my poor husband who for his own sanity could probably use a little less knowledge merely so he wouldn't worry so much.

The basic treatment they're going to do is whole brain radiation. Just like when I had radiation for breast cancer, I will go everyday for about 5 1/2 weeks, minus the weekends. The actual procedure doesn't last long...I think I get zapped for 10 to 15 minutes at the most, and it's completely painless. The side effects vary. I can certainly have brain damage...which I already have from the surgery, (still dealing with a lot of time and number issues) but the doctor doesn't anticipate anything major. When I get radiated, they put this hard plastic mesh mold snugly over my face and secure me to the table so that I can't move. It's quite creepy looking...and I'll have to post a picture at some point. I can get fatigued, which I experienced a little bit of when having radiation for breast cancer, but with brain radiation, I don't know how the fatigue will compare. I also will have some irritation of the head. And then here's the doozy...what I didn't want to hear, but what I knew was coming...I'm going to lose my hair. Oh well. I'm alive. So in search of some very sassy hats and scarves again. Because I'm just going to be vain with my new little motto 2cute4cancer!

As I posted yesterday, the MRI I had yesterday was a bit hellish. They wanted to look at my spine and my brain again. The doctors keep ordering these tests telling me that they don't intend on seeing anything. But don't ya know, a spot turns up on my spine. Now having a metastasis to the spine is really bad. It would involve more chemo and radiation I'm sure, and I'm not sure what the cure rate is for something like that. So my husband was really upset today about them finding something on the scan. But he was able to have a bunch of doctors read the scans and they are pretty confident that it is NOT cancer. They think that the spot they saw was a hemangioma. That's a blood tumor that is benign, and something I should not have to worry about. My doctor might order a bone scan, but probably not. They will continue to monitor the blood tumor, but for now, it is fine. Praise God for that.

Today I got to meet again the doctor who took out my tumor, Dr. Jerone Kennedy. So what in the world is the protocol for this? Send a Hallmark Card note, "Um, thanks for saving my life. Hope I can return the favor!" Seriously, how in the world can I express my gratitude? I am actually looking for ideas. Also, I still need to do/send something to the floor that took care of me while in the hospital as well. But I just don't want to send some thank you flowers or something...would like to send something more useful and meaningful if I can. I talked with Dr. Kennedy about some of the issues I've been having lately, mostly my very painful headaches. And basically, everything just needs to settle in and work itself out. I have a couple appointments with different doctors, including a neurologist, to deal with some of these issues. Glad I have some experts to refer to now.

Some people have asked me why I'm still having all these tests? Honestly, I am so ignorant to them. These past two weeks I have walked into offices and just basically have been at everyones mercy. I have so many different scans, I can't keep them all straight. I just go in, do what they tell me to do, and let my husband sort out all the details for me. I know it's bad. I really need to be on top of my own care. I really need to be more proactive about understanding things. But for right now, I can barely figure out what time I need to leave the house so that my son gets to his football game on time. Maybe I can have my husband be a guest medical blogger and explain the difference between and MRI and a PET scan and why some tests pick up cancer and others do not...maybe he'll do it for me.

I've also had some people ask me about how this will affect my reconstruction. My what? That's what I think to myself. My reconstruction is so far from my mind right now I can't even think about it. But I actually have to...at least the preventative mastectomy part of it. That still needs to be done, and I feel now more than ever. So I'll make the appointments for everything in February probably. Now whether or not I'll be able to follow through with all the procedures we'll just have to see.

Continued thank you for EVERYTHING!

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At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coffee...or coffee cards...i guarantee the nurses and staff would make good use of that.


At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that you've gone through is just so unfair. I'm amazed by your strength. I will continue to pray for you and your family.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Caro said...

I found out yesterday PET scan is better than an MRI so I'm glad you're having it.

I know you just grew your hair back but I want to reiterate that you are beautiful with and without it.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger KC said...

you are doing everything you can - trust melvin and the docs to take care of the details.

thinking of you every day.

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have enough on your plate. It is ok to let somne else take care of the details of all your medical stuff. You have a great husband so i know you are getting the best Doctors and care. I work with your husband. I pray for you and your family. We as Nurses don't need gifts. It is are gift to care for you and see you get better. God bless you.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Fantastic Four said...

I am so glad that you posted your appointments from the week! I have been checking often-daily-hourly so that I can find out how you are doing-without calling and bugging any rest times!!! I also want to thank you so much for the beautiful heart-felt "thank you" card! I just wish I could do more to help you and hope that you will count me in when you need more help!!! You are always in our thoughts and prayers all the time~

Continued prayers come your way from the Sanneman Family!

Take care and call if you need anything- Traci

At 8:24 PM, Blogger LH said...

I'm very amazed by doctors as well. When my #1 Son was in the hospital as a baby I just could not believe the expertise of the people I was encountering there. They saved his life. I am so glad you're married to Melvin. GO MELVIN!!!
And all the other doctor folk as well!
Love 2 u, Cari!

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Wow. What words are there to convey **utter thankfulness to God** for giving you the perfect partner in life? What words does one YELL at this nasty fallen world that brings about such pain? What words can describe the amazing inspiration the testimony of one Godly woman can bring? For me, right now, there just aren't the words. I'll look to the Bible for them. Maybe Psalm 91.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger teacher friend said...

Hi Cari, It's Paula, your old teacher friend from x-rds. Your good friend there keeps me updated and shares pictures of your beautiful children with me. I will keep you in my prayers. Keep up your AMAZING spirit. Just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you.

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write so beautifully, Cari- what about writing a thank you letter and ccing it to the hospital administration (and the nurse manager for the the floor)? That way the staff not only gets your thanks, but they also will get some praise from their higher-ups.

Of course, I'm a big fan of the coffee thank you too :)

As always, prayers and love going out to you, Melvin, and the kiddos- Lauren

At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We nurses LOVE food of any kind and coffee!!! Letters are always a great idea, and as said before, send it to hospital administration/CEO. They forward it down the line so that everyone can view it before it gets to the nurses and recognition is given where it is due. Stay strong and with faith through all of this hardship-that's all any of us can do in times of struggle. My prayers will continue for you-and the family. With love and faith, Michelle

At 5:55 AM, Blogger LoveHopeFaith said...

Prayers of healing and continued strength. You are doing a great job explaining, it doesn't have to be in medical terms. You are an amazing women, amazing mommy, an amazing wife and friend- we are blessed
Love and big hugs

At 9:20 AM, Blogger mommyof3 said...

As a nurse myself, when I worked in the hospital we always enjoyed some kind of treat, coffee and popcorn. When the twins lived in the hospital for the month after they were born, there was so many staff because of the 24 hour care, for a HUGE thank you we gave them a thank you card and the BIGGEST tub of popcorn from Candy Land, where they do 3 diffrent sections, regular, cheese and carmelcorn, and they LOVED it. As for a doctor you are forever appreciative to, I gave mine a card and a willow tree angel, the thank you angel.

We are praying for you!!!

if you need anything please don't hesitate to ask


At 10:55 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

I LOVE the pictures you added to this post! Your kids are SOOOO cute!


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