I am sitting in chemo infusion on this beautiful, July morning. Mild, sunny and no wind! Matt & I rode our bikes.
We have so very few perfect days in South Dakota, I try to appreciate them to the fullest.
This morning, I met with my oncologist, Dr. Krie, whom I have not seen in 9 weeks. She has a Physician's Assistant, Missy, whom I see when she is not available. I asked once again if we could just skip the last 2 rounds of chemo, but alas, she was just as adamant as Missy that I will go the full 6 rounds, even though when you palpitate the affected area, there are no longer any lumps in my lovely lady humps. Wahoo!
Dr. Krie recommended that I get a plastic surgeon TODAY, and she gave me a short list of names- telling me not to veer from a certain 3 surgeons. I picked one and just made an appointment.
The plan for the next 2 months is currently this:
Meet with Plastic Surgeon. My appointment is next Tuesday. I picked the prettiest one on the short list that Dr. Krie gave me (she also comes highly recommended). Seems like if you're a plastic surgeon, you should look good, don't you think? Her name is Heather Karu, and she actually works at Sanford (the OTHER hospital in Sioux Falls), but plastic surgeons (much like musicians) apparently go where the work is.
Herceptin the next 2 Wednesdays. I bumped up a day this week because of the holiday, and I kind of like that, because after Herceptin infusions, I can go do yoga here at the Prairie Ctr.
Herceptin is one third of my chemo cocktail, the one that targets the HER-2 receptor on my cancer cells (the aggressive one). I get an infusion of this every week for the 6 rounds of chemo, then every 3 weeks for a year. I do not get nasty side effects from Herceptin. No more blackouts after the "big chemo" is over.
I will have a follow-up breast MRI on July 15 to determine how well the neo-adjuvant chemo (pre-surgery) has worked on demolishing the cancer cells. More on my first breast MRI experience here.
They will present me at Breast Conference sometime in there. I don't have to be present for this. I think it would be awkward. It's a meeting where the doctors get together and talk about my boobs.
My last chemo is scheduled now for July 23. I asked if we could bump one day earlier than Wednesday, so I would feel OK for Embrace's Outdoor Service on Sunday, the 28th. They were fine with that! Yay! There is a slight possibility that my platelets will be too low for this treatment and it may have to be delayed a week. See prayer requests below.
Breast surgery will be likely scheduled sometime between the 19th and 30th of August. We have to get the general surgeon and the plastic surgeon's schedules together. I may have to delay the start of the school year a bit if it's toward the end of this date range, but my students will be cool with that, and I will get all their lessons in during the semester. Look at me, rolling with the flow...
So this is my prayer request list:
Platelets: My platelet levels have been dropping with each round of chemo, and if the are not at 100K, they will have to delay my last treatment, which will delay my surgery date. Before my first treatment, my platelets were at a nice, healthy 300, and today, they were at 129. I just want to get this over with, and be back to "normal" as close to the beginning of the school year as possible.
I asked if there was anything I could eat or do with exercise to raise my own platelets, and she said, no. The only thing that works is prayer. So here you go, prayer warriors! Get on it!
Insurance: I have been very, very blessed to not have paid out of pocket for anything. I received a bill this week that appeared to have been rejected by Medicaid, then the pharmacy wanted me to start paying for drugs that have always been covered before, so I started to worry, but I got my trusty Insurance Advocate, Amber on the line, and she has me all taken care of. I mentioned to her another concern- that when I was accepted into the program, they mentioned that reconstructive surgery is not automatically covered, but she assured me that the surgeon will do all the pre-notification necessary and surgery will be taken care of. Whew! So... prayer request? I guess Amber was the answer to this one, but really that insurance will come through on this whole thing like they say they will. I'm very thankful for being accepted by Medicaid, and for my Amber. She's awesome. Everyone should have an Amber.
Finances: I have been VERY blessed by the above insurance coverage, and do not want to minimize that at all. I can not fathom how we would possibly recover from the hundreds of thousands of dollars that cancer treatments cost without it! Unfortunately, before I started treatments, I made the decision not to work all summer citing that God would provide, and He has in great and small ways- through His wonderful people. Now you all have seen how energetic I've been, and how good I have felt about 90% of the time this summer, but I really didn't know what to expect, so I didn't do any lessons, and I didn't pursue a summer job.
I sat down and did budget today with my friend, Bev (thanks Bev!) and I have enough in reserve to get us through the next 2 months, due to some very generous gifts, but we are going to come up about $1000 short before my paychecks start coming in again at the end of September. $1000 may not seem like much to you, but it is about 1/3 of our monthly income, so it makes a big difference to us. So this is another area of prayer that I humbly ask for.
Also, I decided to write a book: Due to the overwhelming response to my blog, and multiple suggestions, then reading an article about a guy from church who wrote his family's way out of debt, (unfortunately, money is a strong motivator for me, but not in the traditional, get-a-high-paying-job sense) I decided to take the plunge. I've told you guys and I've told Facebook, so now I have to do it. Prayer request is that I actually follow through. I'm really great at starting things, and then getting distracted and doing other stuff before I finish.
I am starting by using a personal study called "Storyline" by Donald Miller.